Practice Areas

Divorce 

Whether friendly or contentious, divorces or “dissolutions” are often confusing times.  It is important to have an attorney guide you through the process while also protecting your best interests.  Each couple’s divorce is unique and, therefore, will have its own specific set of issues to resolve.  Below is a list of some of the common issues you might face during a divorce.

  • Community Property:  Assets and debts acquired during the marriage are considered community property.  How were the assets acquired:  community property or separate property? 

  • Separate Property:  Was the property acquired before marriage, after the date of separation, or specifically given by gift or bequest to one party? 

  • Division of Debt:  Debt should be split evenly, unless there was a breach of fiduciary duty.

  • Fiduciary duties:  The marriage contract creates very real financial duties and obligations between spouses.  It is important to ensure that the parties have treated each other and their finances with the highest level of care.  Were your finances handled appropriately by your spouse while you were married?  Did both spouses act in the best interest of the marriage?

  • Length of Marriage:  How long were you married?  When did you separate?  Length of marriage effects important financial aspects of any divorce.

  • Lifestyle of the Parties:  Did you both work?  Did one spouse stay home?  Did you enjoy meals out or take vacations?   Your spouses’ lifestyle plays an important role in setting the level of support.

  • Spousal support:  Given the lifestyle of the parties during the marriage,  what is needed to maintain the standard of living during the dissolution?  How much should permanent spousal support be?

  • Attorneys fees and costs:  California law seeks to protect a stay-at-home spouse or lower wage-earner during a dissolution and wants to ensure that he or she is able to afford legal representation.  Do you both have access to funds to pay your attorney? 

  • Pre-nuptial agreement:  Is the agreement valid?  Can it be set-aside?  Is any portion invalid?

  • Post-nuptial agreements:  Similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, but signed after marriage.   

 

For couples with children, there are additional considerations, including:

  • Child Custody 

  • Visitation

  • Child Support

Child Custody

Child custody matters fall into two categories: Legal & Physical Custody.

  • Legal custody:  Who will make the legal decisions for the child related to medical care, education, and religion?  Who will decide if the child can get a driver’s license, passport, or even a tattoo? 

  • Physical custody:  Where will the child live?  What will be the visitation rights for the other parent?


Our office can help you secure legal and physical custody of your child so that you can protect their interest and safety.  Regardless of who has custody of your child you still may have rights as a parent to visitation.

  • Visitation:  What will be the schedule for visitation?  Do visits need to be supervised?  Who will do the transportation?  Where will the pick-up and drop-off occur?  What about holidays or vacation trips?


Legal and physical custody as well as visitation are achieved by securing custody orders from the court.   How are custody orders made? 

  • Agreement of the Parties:  If parents can come to an agreement on how custody orders are made, the agreement should be memorialized and made an order of the court.

  • Mediation:  Parents can work with a mediator to help them reach an agreement on custody and visitation.  The agreement will be made by a court order.  Parents must attempt mediation before the court will make custody or visitation orders.

  • Court orders:  A judge will hear evidence and issue a decision related to custody and visitation.

  • Child Custody Evaluations:  A social worker will meet with parents and children and recommend a particular custody decision for the court.

  • Minor’s Counsel:  The court can appoint an attorney for the children to represent their best inter

Child Support

Just as children need the emotional and psychological support of their parents, they also need their financial support.  California has enacted legal guidelines for child support to ensure that their financial needs are met.  As a former teacher, Mr. Sobottka is a passionate advocate for providing children the support and nurturing that they need.   Our office can guide you through the legal process of securing the financial support your child deserves.

Judges are required to order child support according to calculations based on certain relevant data.   The court considers the following factors when determining child support:

  • Number of children

  • Income of both parents

  • Percentage of time the children are with each parent

  • Hardships for both parents

  • School and child care costs, as well as other factors.


To get an idea of the support due to your children, try the State of California child support calculator.

If you have a current child support order in place, we can help with enforcement or modification of those orders.

Prenupital Agreements

A premarital or prenuptial agreement is an agreement regarding financial issues that is made between an engaged couple that will take effect when they get married.

California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs premarital or prenuptial agreements in California.  The text of the Act can be found here.

Premarital agreements can and should deal with the following issues:

  • Spousal support: Both parties must have counsel and enforcement of the spousal support provisions cannot be unconscionable at the time of dissolution

  • Financial disclosures: The parties must disclose their finances to each other

  • Community property

  • Separate property

  • Other financial issues


Premarital agreements cannot deal with the following issues:

  • Obligations during marriage, such as household chores or frequency of sexual relations

  • Penalties for adultery


Other Considerations

  • Premarital agreements must be in writing:  Oral agreements are not enforceable.

  • Premarital agreements are more likely to be enforceable in a court of law if both parties are represented by legal counsel:  If both parties have had the advice and counsel of an attorney to negotiate and explain the pre-nuptial agreement, the agreement will be much more likely to hold up in court.  It is significantly more difficult for a party to argue that they did not understand the agreement or were coerced into signing it if they had the benefit of legal representation.

  • There must be at least seven days between when the party is presented with the agreement and when it is signed. 

  • Premarital agreements can be amended or revoked after marriage:  If your situation changes, so can your premarital agreement.  An attorney can help ensure that your premarital agreement is amended or revoked appropriately.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a commonly misunderstood crime and can manifest itself in many forms.  As part of the abuse, victims are often manipulated into thinking that behavior is justifiable, acceptable, and will stop.  

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Have I been hit, punched, choked, slapped, or physically restrained?

  • Has my partner made threats toward me, the children, or other family members?

  • Have I been verbally abused?

  • Have I been sexual abused?

  • Do I make excuses for the other party’s behavior? 

  • Do I blame the behavior on drinking or drug use? 

  • Do I blame a bad childhood?  Stress?  Myself?  

  • Do I feel completely controlled by my partner?  Does he/she control me with money?

  • Have I been isolated from friends or family?  Have my friends told me that they don’t like my partner?   Have they stopped calling me?  When was the last time that I spent time with my family?


Domestic violence can be: physical (ex: hitting), emotional, sexual (ex: rape), verbal, and even financial.  Domestic violence in all its forms is a serious crime and one that must be addressed immediately for the health and welfare of yourself and your family.

What to do if you are being abused:

  1. If you are in danger or think you might be, immediately call 911.

  2. Make sure that you are in a safe place.

  3. When police arrive, ask police to arrest the abuser and ask for an Emergency Protective Order.

  4. Utilize local resources to help protect you such as:

  • LACBA Domestic Violence Project:   Volunteer attorneys, law students, and staff provide one-on-one legal assistance for the preparation of documents to file for a Temporary Restraining Order.  A donation of $20 is requested. 

  • Domestic Violence Council (County of Los Angeles):  For information on domestic violence resources.

  • Safe at Home:  A free P.O. box offered through the California Secretary of State so that victims of abuse can keep their address confidential while receiving mail, opening bank accounts, getting a driver’s license, enrolling a child in school, etc.

The Law Office of Sean C. Sobottka offers comprehensive family law legal services to Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

 

Check out our areas of practice below or contact us at for a free consultation!

LGBT Community

Legal rights for the LGBT community have undergone dramatic advances in the last few years.  As a member of the LGBT community, Mr. Sobottka has first-hand insight and experience in planning for and dealing with these developing issues.  Our office offers comprehensive legal services for all aspect of LGBT family law.

What issues should you be thinking about?  Here's a few:

  • Marriage:  LGBT marriages are now recognized in the State of California and nationally.  With the right to marriage, comes certain benefits, rights, responsibilities, and obligations; we can help you understand and plan for them.

  • Domestic Partnerships:  California law gives registered domestic partnerships the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as marriages.  However, domestic partnerships do not (yet) benefit from all the federal benefits of marriage, nor are they recognized in all states.  Our office can help you carefully consider if a marriage or domestic partnership is right for you and your other half.

  • Pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements:  Regardless of sexual orientation, a large majority of relationships in California end in divorce.   Carefully consider if a pre- or post-nuptial agreement is right for you and your partner.  If you have separate assets or business interests, you may want to determine how to secure those interests before marriage.  Often times, it is better to work through these legal issues as you begin your relationship, rather than at the end if the relationship breaks down.  A pre- or post-nuptial agreement can help protect you, your spouse, as well as simplify a potentially difficult dissolution.

  • Dissolution:  Marriages and domestic partnerships create a legal, binding relationship.  If it is time to end that relationship, you must ensure that the relationship is dissolved on both personal and legal levels.  Our firm's experience in dissolution and divorce can help guide you through this confusing process.

  • Parentage:  Like "straight" parents, LGBT parents must take the appropriate steps to ensure that they have established their legal rights as parents, especially when they are not the biological parent.  Our office can ensure that your rights as a parent are protected fully!

  • Adoption:  One way to protect your rights as an LGBT parent is to legally adopt your children.   Domestic partner or step-parent adoption is a straight-forward way to ensure that the relationship between you and your children is given the legal recognition that it deserves.  Plus, your kids deserve it!

  • Taxes:  You will want to consider the federal and state tax implications of your marriage, domestic partnership, or dissolution.  Our office has many connections with tax professional knowledgeable in tax issues for LGBT families; we'd be happy to put you in touch with them.

© 2017 by Sean C. Sobottka & Sobottkalaw.com

  • Facebook Clean
  • White Google+ Icon
  • LinkedIn Clean
  • Yelp - Grey Circle