Friday, December 28, 2012

I found out my ex is making more what?

When it comes to child support (and often also spousal support) it is inevitable that at some point after you receive an order from the judge that the income of one of the parties will change. When this happens you are under a fiduciary duty to notify the other side of your income change (and them to tell you about their income changes). After notification either party can move for a modification. The amount will then go up or down based on the financial situation (and custody time if child support) that the parties currently have.

You do this by filing a Request for a Modification Order. Along with this will come filing a revised Income and Expense declaration and providing the other party with copies of your paystubs, and also possibly taxes. The court will then put these equations into the magic calculator (also known as dissomaster) and come out with the new support payment amounts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don't get hung up on the label

Often people get hung up on the label of who gets physical custody.

Legal Custody = who gets to make the big decisions in life - health, education, religion, etc. Most of the time parents will share joint legal custody.

Physical Custody = who the child lives with the majority of the time.

Often it makes the most sense to label someone as having "sole physical custody" however what you really should pay attention to is the amount of visitation that the other party has. If you are getting 40% visitation then honestly your ex having the label of sole physical custody does not make too much of a difference legally.

The main thing to pay attention to is the amount of visitation time you get as well as making sure that you address the holiday time, school vacation time, and tax ramifications of custody time. Tax wise, unless you agree otherwise in your court order, the person who has 50.01% of the custody is the person that gets to claim the child EVERY SINGLE YEAR. So make sure that you also address taxes in your agreement. Typically parents who share custody (60/40, 50/50, or a similar split) will agree that parent #1 claims the children on even years (2012, 2014, etc) and parent #2 claims the children on odd years (2013, 2015, etc). Also if there are 2 children sometime parents will agree that every year each parent claims one child.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holidays and Custody

It is essential that when going through a parentage action or divorce, that you account for holiday custody arrangements to avoid problems down the line.

Typically people will alternate who has Thanksgiving and Christmas (for example mom gets Thanksgiving on even years (2012, 2014 etc) and Dad gets Thanksgiving on odd years (2013, 2015, etc). The same is done with Christmas, except the parent who gets Thanksgiving is usually not the person who gets Christmas that year. Parents often also give Christmas Eve to the person who does not have the child on Christmas days.

Of course there are different schedules for each family. If you live far apart, cultural/religious schedules, etc are all important factors that play a part on the schedule that your family will agree to.

No matter what schedule works for you, make sure it is part of your court order so that there is no confusion and so it can be enforced later.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Retirement Accounts

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they do their own divorces or use a paralegal/legal document assistant to help them, is not dividing the retirement account properly.

Certain types of accounts need to have the company joined to the suit as a "party" so that they are on proper notice of the final division and can therefore properly pay out to each party once they reach retirement age.

There are attorney's that are specialists that handle these types of accounts. They are called QDRO specialists and they are quite pricey - but cost less then trying to go after the 401k/pension company 40 years from now when you retire. Generally when I have clients with small amounts in their account at the time of divorce, I have them exchange it for another asset or see if they can roll it over into an IRA in their own name immediately. If those options are available they will be far cheaper than a QDRO specialist and there is usually not a point in paying 5-10k to restructure retirement accounts that are only worth 10k themselves.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Stepparent Adoption

In California there is a streamline process for stepparent adoptions. If you have the biological parent's consent then the process can be fairly simple. If you do not have their consent it becomes a lot more difficult. You will need the court to rule in your favor. The easiest way to do that is to show that the other biological parent has abandoned the child. This is defined as not communicating OR supporting the child within the past year. If that is the case, the judge will often rule in your favor. If not the case, the stepparent will likely not be able to adopt the child.

Additionally, keep in mind that if the stepparent does in fact adopt the child that in the eyes of the law they are a parent with all rights to support, visitation, etc after a divorce or death. The biological parent's rights are essentially terminated and the stepparent steps into their place.

Monday, October 15, 2012

730 Evaluations - Required in Most Move Aways

Sometimes the court looks at all of the evidence and still does not feel that they can truly determine the best interest of the child. Due to the need for more information, they order a 730 Evaluation. A marriage and family therapist who has does some other special training and approved by your county  courts will meet with both parents, the child, and anyone else that they deem necessary (teachers, half siblings, doctors, etc). They will also review report cards, letters from friends, medical records, and any other pertinent documents.

Although a wonderful way to ensure that the child is met with and all of the information is on the table, these can be incredibly expensive. If you can get a focused evaluation - meaning they look at just the move away and not custody as a whole (or whatever other issue you have in front of the court) you can usually find a flat fee of about 3,000-5,000. If you do an ENTIRE evaluation they can cost 10k-20k.

Due to the cost people try to avoid them wherever possible. However the court and mediators if you are in a recommending county, can request one if they feel that it is needed.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Sometimes people who have filed for divorce consider reconciliation. Some of these end up being long term and some of these reconciliations fall apart again a few months later. If you have filed all of your paperwork with the court and now are deciding to reconcile, instead of dismissing the case immediately, I would suggest that you and your partner enter into a Stipulated Order that basically puts the case on hold for the time being, but gives you until a certain date (usually a year) to reinstate the case without having to completely refile all of your paperwork from the beginning.

You do not want to just do nothing and let your case sit -- this is especially true if you are in a situation that may result in a default judgment, or if you filed an agreement or order that the court may sign within 6 months. It also can make things murky since CA is a community property state.  Talk to an experienced family law attorney about filing the correct paperwork to put your case on hold until you can determine that your reconciliation is forever.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Choosing a Family Law Attorney

Choosing an attorney can be hard - should you go with the person who has a tv ad, the person that advertises in the phone book, a quick yelp search, etc...

Honestly you might have to sort through a couple of attorneys before you talk to one that just clicks as the person who is right for you. You have to work with this person for months or possibly a year or two depending on the complexity of your case.

We all passed the bar, but those who chose family law for reasons other than money have a much different attitude then most typical attorneys. We care about the people involved - we understand that every decision or strategy impacts your life and the lives of your children (and gasp - even your ex's). Unfortunately even in family law we have the sharks that are only in it for the win, no matter how much it hurts the other side and as a result the kids.

1. You want to find an attorney that understands that you will have to co-parent with the other side. You may be livid with them now -  but for the rest of your child's life you will have to deal with them for visitations, major events, etc. Co-parenting is KEY if your lawyer does not understand that - MOVE ON.

2. You want to find an attorney who also understands your spouse/ex's behavior. This is imperative where it is a domestic violence situation. You will want an attorney that will not be bullied by the other person, but on the other hand understands how "charming" abusers can be.

3. Make sure that your attorney understands what you want and is realistic about you about what is possible or not based on your situation. Do not go with an attorney who just tells you what you want to hear in order to get the fee agreement signed. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Make sure that you are talking to an actual attorney and preferably the attorney that will be handling your case. Lots of times you talk to a paralegal/assistant or intern and not the actual attorney. Make sure you talk to the person that will be handling the day to day parts of your case - since you will be working with them closely and have to feel like you trust them.

5. Make sure you talk to your attorney about hidden fees/charges. Do they typically waive some of them? For example, I typically only charge clients for longer phone calls and not for leaving me messages. I do not guarantee them this, but I do tend to do this. With this you also need to make sure they are not in it for the money-- by this I mean are they more likely to drag on your case in order to collect more fees. or try to get you and your ex to reach an agreement that is best for all parties involved (again dont forget about the children). In family law if your attorney is not trying to lean you in the direction of an agreement - get another attorney.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Filing for a Restraining Order Yourself

This is one time you may not actually need an attorney. The state makes it very simple to handle a restraining order yourself. Most court houses have a self help area for victims of domestic violence so they are a great resource for you.

Basically the procedure is this.
1) Fill out the forms DV-100 and DV-100 (You can google these forms and they will come up or ask the court form them)

2) If you have children that you also want protected fill out DC-105 and DV-140 also

3) If you are asking for child support fill out an FL-150 Income and Expense Declaration.

4) Ask your court clerk or self help area if they have any special forms for your county that you should also fill out.

5) File the above with the clerk. Ask the clerk when you should come back to determine if a Temporary Restraining order has been granted (this is what will be in place until your hearing). Then come back when they tell you to and see if the judge signed the order. If they did file it appropriately.

6) After filed and you have a hearing date - have someone over the age of 18, who is not protected by the order serve your abuser with the forms you filed as well as a DV-120 Blank response form. FYI you can ask the local sheriff to do this for free for you. Make sure you get a Proof of service DV-200 to file showing that the other side was served in case they do not show at the hearing.

7) Make sure that you have a copy with you of your restraining order at all times. 
  • Keep 1 copy with you, always. You may need to show it to thepolice.
  • Keep another copy in a safe place.
  • Give a copy to anyone else protected by the order.
  • Leave copies at the places where the restrained person is ordered not to go (your school, work, etc.).
  • Give a copy to the security officers in your apartment and office buildings.

    8) Show up to the hearing! This is where the judge will have a chance to hear both sides and determine if a long term restraining order should be issued.

    9) If you get the order, fill out a DV-130 and file it with the court for the judge's signature! 

    10) Once you have the signed by the judge copy of the DV-130 - have someone other than yourself who is over 18 serve it to your abuser. Again, you can have the local sheriff do this for you for free. 

    Good luck! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Save Money on your Divorce/Custody Proceeding

The average divorce in California costs $15,000! Now some of those cost 5k and some of them cost 20k, but still expect a divorce with a traditional private law firm attorney to cost at least $5,000. In fact they often ask for that as a retainer to start on your case.

So how in the world do you avoid this?

Technically you can handle the case yourself, cross your fingers that all issues have been resolved and all paperwork is correct, and pay just the filing fees - which average about $500 if you just have the petition and not a bunch of side hearings. If you have a stipulated agreement (you both agree on everything 100% and do not need a hearing) then maybe that is a realistic option if you have the time to spend at the self help center located at California court houses attending classes and asking questions about the paperwork you should file. For most people, however, I would definitely recommend having an attorney represent you.

So if you do hire an attorney here are both options and recommendations on how to save money.

1) If you qualify, fill out a fee waiver. In Alameda county a household of 1 person making under approximately $1100 or a family of 3 making approximately under $1300 per month would qualify for a fee waiver so that they can avoid the approximately $500 in court fees.

2) If you qualify you can apply for legal aid- is the SF Bay Area Option. You can also call us, All for the Family Legal Clinic, to be charged on a sliding scale based on your family income and size, or you can call your county bar association to see what volunteer attorney programs they have that you may qualify for.

3) Once you have an attorney, remember time is money.
Every phone call, every email, every contact that you have with your attorney, or that the opposing party has with your attorney costs you money. Look at your fee agreement because often every call is rounded to the nearest 0.15 of an hour. Every email, also rounded to the nearest 0.15 of an hour, etc. If they file paperwork for you they charge you travel time and wait time, etc. You can often ask if you can serve your own paperwork (have a friend who is over 18 do it, not yourself) or file your own papers at the court.

Also when you call them to vent - you are paying them. You may be paying them to be a therapist instead of an attorney, but you are paying them for their time to listen to you talk about your relationship. Some of that information will be relevant and you need to tell your attorney, but you do not need to tell them the same thing over and over again.

4) Make sure that you give them ALL of the information. It will save you money if you give your attorney all of the paperwork regarding your finances, etc. You can even take a look at forms FL-150 and FL-160 in advance to see what type of financial information your attorney will need to properly fill out your paperwork. You can also ask your attorney if you can fill out your own FL-150 and FL-160 (Income and Expense and property declarations) so that your attorney is not billing you for the time. However if you do this make sure that you address all of your assets and debts.

5) Talk to the other party and see if you can reach an agreement. Most attorney income comes from waiting around at hearings. You pay from the second we leave the office to the second we get back. If your hearing is at 9am expect us to leave our office at about 8:15am, wait around for your case to be called and possibly during day of court mediation when your attorney wont go in with you, but sits in the hall, while a court appointed mediator attempts to get both parties to reach an agreement, waiting for your case to be called to finalize the agreement or debate why one was not reached, etc. Expect to pay your attorney for 5 hours worth of work minimum for each hearing that you have. If you can reach an agreement then these hearings will not be necessary - in that case you can pay your attorney just to handle the paperwork.

6) If you can reach an agreement before you even talk to an attorney, then negotiate a flat fee stipulated divorce with your attorney. Even a stipulated agreement  in many counties attorneys must draft the agreement  plus lots of additional forms to attach to it.   Even a 100% agreed divorce if there are children involved can be 50 pages worth of documents. However if you have a flat fee you know that the divorce cost (assuming everything remains 100% agreed) will not go over that amount.

Divorces and custody disputes are never easy, but if you work with an attorney that is concerned about the best interest of the children, your pocket book, and you then it will be as pleasant as possible. In family court there is no such thing as a winner or loser. You are real people that have to deal the consequences and the goal is to reach and agreement that is the best for everyone in the long run - especially when children are involved.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Custody and Support with Unmarried Parents

When the parents of a child are unmarried, even if the father's name appears on the birth certificate, the parties must have a ruling of parentage in order to get a judgment for custody or child support.

Parents can sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity before leaving the hospital, anytime after, or as part of a custody/support case. If the parties do not agree that both are the parents of the children then the court can order a DNA test.

You can do the case to establish parentage separate from a custody/support case or you can do them together. Any party that is declared a parent has the legal responsibility to support the child through child support as well as the legal right to visitation or custody.

It is also recommended that couples have a custody plan ahead of a break up that if you do breakup you can file for a stipulated order based on your agreement without having to fight it out. This will depend on your personalities though as the court will not enforce an agreement that was made before the breakup, but it can help both parties leave emotions out of it and think back to what they thought the best interest of the children was before they were mad at each other.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Deferred Action

If you know anyone that is considering applying for deferred action do not let them wait! There is only a limited amount of applications that will be accepted. Get them in soon and make sure they are accurate.
Any mistakes will make your application get bounced back and put you at the end of the line again.

Feel free to contact us for help. We charge on a sliding scale based on income and family size. Average legal cost range for a Deferred Action application range is $100-$300 (This is for legal costs only and does not include other costs such as the application/biometrics fee of $465 which is paid directly to the US Dept of Homeland Security).

To qualify for deferred action on must:

1. Be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
2. Have come to the US before the age of 16
3. Continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007
4. Lived in the US June 15, 2012 and at the time of filing the paperwork
5. Entered without inspection or have expired status before June 15, 2012
6. Currently in school, has graduated, or honorably discharged from an armed service
7. Clean background history - never convicted of a felony and does not pose a threat to national security.
8. Has evidence (medical record, school records, etc) of all of the above.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prenuptial Agreements? Postnuptial agreements?

With people getting married later in life, they come to the table with more assets. Luckily, California is a community property state, which means that anything that you acquired before marriage or during the marriage if by gift or inheritance is considered separate property that your spouse could not access upon divorce as long as you do not commingle your assets with the marital (community assets). Anything else acquired during marriage (with some exceptions) is considered community property, in which each spouse would be entitled to 50% of the property value upon divorce.

Even if you are okay with the law as written, you still may opt to have a prenup or postnup if you would like to agree in advance how the property will be divided. For instance if you want the house you can write that into the agreement in exchange for other property or you buying out your ex at time of dissolution.
Prenuptial agreements (prenups) are agreements between the parties, written before marriage that agree to how you would split your assets upon divorce or agree to keep all income and assets acquired during marriage separate property. Postnuptial agreements (postnups) are similar, but the agreement is formed after you are married.

Due to the high divorce rate in this country, I always suggest that my clients get a prenup or postnup. In my experience it is always better to agree while you still like each other then try to get both sides to agree to how to split up property during a divorce where one or both sides hate the other person. When it comes to these agreements, it is best for you to hire an attorney to handle them for you to make sure that the agreement will be enforced. Essentially the court will review the agreement to determine if it was fair, entered into voluntarily, all assets were fully disclosed, and that both parties had access to an attorney to review and negotiate the document. Additionally, the court will review your circumstance not only at the time of signing, but also at the time of divorce to ensure that the agreement is not inherently unfair. Where one party would be left on government assistance the agreement will likely be altered. Also, things get particularly tricky when discussing retirement accounts, child support, child custody, and spousal support. Due to this, it is essential that both parties talk to an attorney.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


When it comes to child custody, the ability to move away can be tricky. Hiring an attorney to handle this paperwork for you is always a good idea. Generally if there is no custody order from the court then both parents have the right to move the child.  However the other party still has the right to move them back... Should the opposite parent file an Order to Show Cause/Request for Order against the parent that has moved within 6 months, the California Court can order the parent to move back to the state of California, wasting time and money of the moving parent. 

So What should you do?

1) If you can get the other parent to agree to your moving, you should get it in writing. I would suggest doing a stipulated order with the court so that everything is official. You do not want them claiming later that you said the move was temporary, or that they never said it was okay, etc. Too much hassle on your end. Make sure you have a written stipulation, signed by both of you in front of a notary (so they cannot claim later it was not them who signed it) to submit to the court. This will allow you to feel confident in moving before you actually have the order signed by the court, since it can often take time to get the order back from the court signed off on. Be specific in the written agreement regarding your rights to relocate - for how long? (temporary or permanent), do you now have sole right to determine residency within the United States and you can move again in a year to a different state if you want, etc.

2)  If you cannot agree then you need to do a Request for Order asking the court to allow you to move. In Alameda County expect the judge to send you to mediation on the day of the hearing. Be as cooperative as you can with the mediator. Almost 100% of the time, the judge will listen to the mediator's recommendation. If you cannot agree at that point and the mediator does not think you should move, expect not to be able to move for a couple of months so that you can do additional mediation and have a final hearing afterwards if you cannot agree. 

A lot of the mediator's opinion will depend on why you are moving - if the reason is just cost of living or you have family there then you will likely have to wait. If you have had sole physical custody and have a job opportunity that you could lose in the other state, the court will be more likely to rule for you to be allowed to move sooner.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

AND vs. OR on a Vehicle Title

Does a little conjunction really make that much of a difference? Yes! 
When buying a car with someone else, whether or not you are married, the dealer will ask you how the title should read.  It is important to:

1) Get your name on the title if you are going to be paying on the car loan or using your money to buy it. 
2) Use the word AND on the title. Examples : John Smith and Marie Smith ; Juan Lopez and Maria Lopez 
as the owners on the vehicle's title. 

Surprisingly it is not because of proving assets in court.  Although it will help when they try to claim the car as entirely theirs, it is also to stop the other person from selling the car without your permission. For some reason the person you are with who was kind and trustworthy turns into someone completely different during a divorce or breakup. The person who never would have thought about taking anything away from you now many be hiding money so that they have to pay you less, or taking things simply to hurt you. No matter the reason you do not want to give them ample ability to sell the car without your permission after a fight/breakup and before a court order on property possession and control. 

If the word OR is used (John Smith or Marie Smith) then either party can transfer the property.
If the word AND is used (Juan Lopez and Maria Lopez) then both parties must sign over the property. 

Protect yourself from the very beginning. When buying the car always have the title use the word AND. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Money Saving Tips

There are very few divorces that are pleasant. Part of this is because both sides find themselves having less money than before. So when people come into me and ask - "What am I going to do? I won't have enough money. " I answer with these money saving tips. Now to be honest, clients look at me like I am CRAZY when I tell them these things - and not all of them will work for everyone, but if you find yourself a stay at home mom with no job and getting spousal support and child support that equates to 1/3 the amount you were using to pay for things when your husband was living with you, you are going to have to resort to some major cost saving measures. Plus pretty much all of these double dip as environmentally friendly.

1) Become a paperless household - no paper towels, no paper napkins, no disposable diapers - no paper other than toilet paper, and there are some people that even use cloth for that.

  • Cloth Diaper - it isn't what it used to be. I use gdiapers 100% cloth option, which basically work like disposables in terms of how you put them on the baby - put have an outside cloth, an inside cloth, and a snap liner to hold the inside cloth in place. Even my husband loves them. We paid about $400 originally for everything and we have never had to pay anything else since. Honestly that originally money was mostly gifts/gift cards so not much of that came out of our pocket.
  •  Cloth wipes - You can also do cloth baby wipes. I understand why many don't do this - and quite honestly I dont either (hubby won't let me). Instead I buy seventh generation wipes on Amazon in bulk and spend about $5 a month on wipes (1 box lasts us about 2 months). Amazon has a great Amazon Mom program that will give you discounts on diapers (if you do paper), wipes, and lots of other baby products. 
  •  Cloth Pads - Yep, I said it - cloth pantiliners and pads (I like the brand Gladrags). I think that is all I need to say about the matter. 
  • Cloth Napkins - Reuse! Buy or make cloth napkins and use those instead of paper towels or paper napkins
  • Dish towels - Instead of using papertowels, I clean my house with dish towels. I even clean my floors with them instead of having a mop (I clip them into a swiffer and use that instead). 
2) Cleaning Products- You don't need all of these fancy cleaners! Back in the good old days people cleaned their entire house with just baking soda and vinegar. (If you dont like the smell you can add water and lemon). Vinegar and lemon are natural anti-bacterials. Clean your glass (wont leave smear marks!), your floors and counters (I let the baking soda foam when I do these and then do a second and third rinse with just vinegar and then just water again to make sure there is no residue), clean all your furniture -even wood with vinegar. Use baking soda on your tile, toilets, and shower/tub. It is that simple. 

3) You can always be extreme and make your own laundry detergent. There are a ton of different recipes; just google "make your own laundry detergent"

4) Go Vegetarian - if not for all of your meals - a lot of them. Beans, lentils, brown rice, soy, quinoa, leafy greens, corn, squash, and dairy are all low cost sources of calcium and protein with lots of other good vitamins and minerals mixed in there. 

5) Buy in bulk -, Costco, and Sams all have great bulk options that cost a little more right this second (ie you cant spread out the cost over a number of weeks) but cost you way less per ounce.

6) In a pinch - do you really need a landline and a cell phone? In most cases you can drop the landline and save about $30 a month. 

7) If you cant afford it - cut the cable. If you still have internet you can do netflix watch now or Hulu and get many shows and movies that way for much lower cost than cable. 

8) You may be able to cut internet as well - this will mean likely you have no tv, but you can get access to internet at many coffee shops, bookstores, etc as well as the library (yes bookstores and libraries do still exist) 

9) In some areas you  need heaters and air conditioners. In California you can probably sweat/chill it out just a little bit. During the winter, set the thermostat to keep the house warmer than 62; in the summer set it to keep the house cooler than 85 and use fans. Unplug anything that you are not using and turn off the lights if you dont need them. Use natural light whenever possible. This will save you money on electricity. Now don't give me a look on this one. I lived in Texas for 6 years - where it is humid as hell, we had over 100 degree temps for 45 days straight during the summer, and during the winter it got down to the teens. My thermostat was set to not get hotter than 90 in the house during the summer and not colder than 50 in the house during the winter. Once we had the baby we made it no colder than 60 and no hotter than 85 - so if we can do it, so can you. 

10) Buy things that arent in packaging. You can get some good bulk deals even at places like Wholefoods and Safeway when you bring in your own containers and fill up from the dry goods sections (beans, lentils, rice, popcorn, snacks, granola, etc) 

11) Don't eat out - cook for yourself. Seems pretty self explanatory, but you would be surprised how much money most people spend eating out. We are all busy. I cook our lunches for the week on Sunday and put them in the fridge or freezer for us to grab and take to work. I used to do lunches and dinners on Sunday, so do as many meals as you need to and then you wont have an excuse later and eat out because you are busy. 

12) Make a budget and track your spending - you will be surprised how much over budget you are on some items or how much you are spending on one thing. At one point we were spending  $80 a month on frozen yogurt. It was coming from our eating out and entertainment section on the budget. We werent going over budget, but when I started tracking we definitely slowed down on the fro-yo. 

13) If needed apply for assistance- WIC, Food stamps, and Section 8/public housing are all out there. 

Visit us at 510-999-7732

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Help Escaping Domestic Violence

Visit our website 
Always use a computer that your abuser does not have access to - your abuser can track your computer activity. 

Help Escaping Domestic Violence: 

It is important that you have a detailed safety plan for you and your children before filing paperwork for divorce or custody.  You need to have a plan for where you will live, contact an attorney for a restraining order, and make sure to get copies the following to bring with you. 

  • Financial Documents- bank statements, IRA/401k documents, tax returns
  • Insurance - Health and car insurance information 
  • Personal Documents- Birth Certificate, Marriage License, Social Security Card, Driver's License, and Passport or other citizenship documents (originals if at all possible) 
  • Asset documents- if possible bring the title to the car and other items with you 
  • Child documents- immunization records, school records, and other medical records
  • Any legal documents - previous custody or divorce papers, premarital agreements, important contracts, etc. 
  • Valued belongings- photos, jewelry, and other possessions. If you have a plan in place you can take more with you.

Other things to do:

  • Change your password on your email, bank account, credit cards, and any other important accounts that your abuser may have access to. 
  • Get a new cell phone or prepaid cell phone so that you can use that phone to call your friends, attorney, domestic violence hotlines, etc without your abuser being able to track it. You can also ask the phone company to block the abuser's known phone numbers. 
  • Have a bag of clothes packed for you and the kids so you can grab and go when needed. 
  • Consider renting a post office box to get items mailed to when you start looking into government aid, etc. or have things sent to your work or a friend. 
  • Make a budget of your expenses - make sure not to live beyond your means. You can live without cable, internet, smartphones, etc at least temporarily. Make your money last as long as possible. 
  • If you do not work - start looking into jobs and government assistance right away. 
  • Make a general list of property assets 
  • Have your name, address, and phone number unlisted. 
When you leave:
  • Get the restraining order right away so that the abuser cannot come near you and your children. Note that if you get a restraining order, the address information will be on the restraining order as well as any police reports that you file. 
  • Be careful who you give your new contact information to 
  • Alert your child's school, daycare, and doctor's offices about the situation. Consider changing schools,  daycares, doctors, churches, etc if possible. This includes going to different grocery stores, gyms, post offices, etc than you used to visit so that you are less likely to run into your abuser. 
  • Reschedule any appointments that the abuser might know about 
  • Alert neighbors and co-workers and ask them to call the police if they feel you may be in danger. 
  • Install security alarms, motion sensors, etc 
  • Provide schools/daycares with a copy of the restraining order so that they know the abuser cannot pick up your kids 

This may seem incredibly overwhelming, but it is better for you and for your children to get out of an abusive situation.

If you need help getting a restraining order or filing for divorce/custody please visit our website for an application for our services. We charge on a sliding scale based on income and family size, starting at $10/ hr.

You can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800-799-SAFE (7233) or if you are in the Bay Area you can also contact 650-312-8515 or 800-300-1080 for assistance. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Restraining Orders

Visit our website

Topic today: Domestic Violence. 

Unfortunately 1/3 romantic relationships involve some form of abuse.  Although that statistic involves verbal, mental, physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse, the state of California defines abuse in terms of getting a restraining order as:

1. Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury 
2. Sexual Assault
3. Placing a person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or another. 
4. Engaging in the following behaviors: molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting,  
    battering, or harassing 

In order to qualify for a restraining order, the above must be caused by someone that you have a close relationship with, typically a present or past romantic involvement. If someone else is causing the abuse you would file for a Civil Harassment Order instead, which has the same legal protections as a Restraining order.  

If you need help filing a restraining order, please call 510-999-7732 or email today. We will also need you to fill out an application from our website

Please use a SAFE computer or phone when contacting us. Your abuser may use computer software to track your history even if you clear your web browser. Use a work, friend's, or public computer or phone when looking for help to get out of an abusive relationship. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Please visit our website for an application for our services. 

Our focus is filling in the gap that exists in this country for those that “make too much money” for traditional legal aid to help them, but not enough money to pay $250-450 per hour for a traditional attorney.
That is why we charge on a sliding scale based on income and family size. Our formula typically results in charges of $10-$100 per hour.


We handle specifically landlord-tenant disputes, divorce/custody, estate, probate and restraining orders. If you have a different kind of case you can still contact us to discuss if we are interested in taking on your case.

We are located on Castro Valley Blvd in the offices above Lucca's Deli. Our address is:

All for the Family Legal Clinic, Inc.
3137 Castro Valley Blvd, Suite 210
Castro Valley, CA 94546

No - you must fill out an application and mail or email it to us for review. We will then contact you for an appointment to discuss your case in further details. The consultation is free. Filling out the application does not create an attorney-client relationship. Although we will not share any information that you provide us on your application nor that you tell us in the consultation, you will not be represented by our firm until a fee agreement is signed.