Family Law paper and hammer

What Is Family Law in California?

Family law is an area of legal practice encompassing family issues such as marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, restraining orders, name changes, division of property, and other related negotiations. Attorneys who practice family law can represent clients in family court proceedings and draft important legal documents such as property division and petitions through the court.

Family law attorneys occasionally specialize in certain aspects such as paternity, adoption, property division, or other matters related to divorce. While the issues included under the umbrella of family law are universal, how the laws are upheld and dealt with will vary state by state. In this blog, our team of attorneys aims to discuss some of the main issues of family law and how they will handle them in California.


California is a “no-fault” state when dealing with divorce. No fault means neither spouse will need to show proof of what the other person did that led to them deciding to end their marriage. Instead, one or both spouses can express irreconcilable differences or irreparable breakdown of the marriage when filing for divorce.

Waiting Period

No divorce is final until six months after the paperwork is given to the estranged spouse or their first court appearance, whichever comes first. However, if the judge believes there is a possibility the spouses will reconcile, they have the power to delay divorce proceedings for up to thirty days.


To divorce, the person filing and the person responding to the divorce must be a resident of California for six months. Additionally, both parties must reside for three months in the county where their divorce is filed. If both parties do not meet the requirement, they can file for a legal separation until they reach their residency requirements.

Child Support

Child support is typically paid by the non-custodial parent because the parent who has custody of the child is already financially supporting the child by providing food, shelter, and other necessities. If a third party is awarded custody of the child, both parents may be ordered to pay child support.

Determining and Calculating Child Support

When the courts determine the amount of support appropriate for each unique situation, they look to maintain the child’s standard of living. Every family situation is different. What might be right for one child may not be best for another.

When calculating the amount of support, the court has a set of guidelines to assist them when determining an amount. There is no maximum amount of child support in California. Each amount is calculated based on income, custodial time, and other factors.

Spousal Support

Monthly alimony may be an amount agreed upon by the spouses as part of their settlement agreement or order by the court. Spousal support is awarded to alleviate economic burdens placed upon the spouse who earns less or not at all. Each alimony case is different and will vary in the amount and length of time for which payments are made.

Factors Considered

  • Spouses earning ability
  • Length of marriage
  • The ability of the paying spouse to support themselves
  • Age
  • Physical health/ condition
  • Standard of living during the marriage

Types of Spousal Support


This alimony is paid instead of a property settlement and does not consider whether the payee remarries or lives with another person.


Support will be paid indefinitely, usually until the remarriage or death of the person receiving the payments.


Payments will be made from one spouse to another during separation.


The payments will continue until the lower-earning spouse becomes self-sufficient.

Whether you are looking to file for a prenuptial agreement, child support, relocation, divorce modifications, or anything else regarding family law, our attorneys at Family Law San Diego are equipped with the experience and knowledge necessary. Our team believes every client deserves a voice and will walk through the process with you every step. Call us today at (619) 577-4900 and see how we can help you with your family law needs.