At the Law Offices of Cynthia A. Magnus, we focus our practice exclusively in the areas of divorce and family law in Pleasanton, Dublin, Livermore, and communities throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. We handle all aspects of divorce and legal separation including child custody, child support, spousal support and property division. In addition, we represent parties in paternity proceedings and restraining orders, both within and without the context of a divorce.
Below are some highlights of our major practice areas. For immediate advice or assistance in a divorce or other family law matter, contact the Law Offices of Cynthia A. Magnus.
Whether entering into a legal separation or a final dissolution of marriage, issues of property division, custody and support must all be decided. Unless the spouses can agree upon all these matters themselves, an adversarial process in court or with a private judge is required, with the judge making the final decisions. This process does not need to be hostile, but it is vital that you are represented by a competent legal professional. In every aspect of a divorce, the judge has discretion to decide how to rule based on the evidence and persuasive arguments presented by the parties through their lawyers.
Property Division – All community property is divided equally between the spouses. Depending upon the size and nature of the marital estate, determining whether an asset is community property or separate property can be a complicated matter. Also, there many different ways of valuing property, and arguing for the appropriate valuation method requires sophistication and experience in marital property law. It can be difficult to locate property if it is being deliberately hidden by a spouse. It is essential to a fair property settlement that every marital asset be located, properly characterized and appropriately valued. Our office provides assistance in this area.
Child Custody – Child custody may be granted solely to one parent or shared jointly by both. Essential to the custody arrangement is a visitation schedule and parenting plan that meets the needs of both parents and the children. In addition to physical custody (possession), the judge will also decide legal custody – who has the responsibility to make decisions regarding the child’s health care, education, religious upbringing and more. Legal custody may be shared jointly, placed solely with the primary custodial parent, or legal custody and physical custody may be awarded to different parents.
Child Support – Child support is normally awarded to the custodial parent according to an income-based formula created by statutory guidelines. Here again, however, the judge has the power to deviate from the support guidelines if convinced it would be in the child’s best interests.
Spousal Support – Spousal support (alimony, maintenance) is not granted in every case but depends upon a variety of factors, such as the length of the marriage, the income and earning capacity of each spouse and their financial needs, and how the couple handled money during their marriage. Support can be awarded to either the husband or the wife, over a period of time, or indefinitely. If the parties agree, it can also be awarded to either spouse in one lump sum. We understand all the factors which go into a judge’s decision and argue persuasively for an award that meets our client’s best interests.
Legally establishing parentage can be crucial to a divorce, child support, or child custody proceeding. A legal father has the legal right to share in custody and visitation, and at the same time the legal responsibility to financially support his children. Custody and support decisions may both hinge on whether or not paternity is properly established.
Paternity may be challenged or established through a hearing in court. Genetic testing is often ordered, although other evidence and testimony is often presented to persuade the judge on what the proper ruling should be.
A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) can help put an immediate stop to domestic violence, including physical and verbal abuse and threatening behavior from a current or former spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend. With a TRO, the judge can order a person out of your house and forbid the person to have any contact with you, your children and other relatives, and other people you live with.
A restraining order can do many other things as well, including ordering a person to comply with domestic relations orders, such as child custody and visitation orders, and child support and spousal support obligations.
In most cases, a divorce court will not grant custody to a parent who has committed an act of domestic violence against the other parent. Such a parent is also unlikely to be able to receive spousal support.
A TRO is temporary by definition and will soon expire if not replaced by a "permanent" restraining order. A formal hearing in court is held before a final restraining order can be granted, and the subject of the order has the right to appear and challenge the imposition of a final order.
A stepparent adoption allows the stepfather to enjoy the legal status of father, along with the all rights and responsibilities that go along with it. However, a stepparent adoption also results in the termination of parental rights in the biological father. This generally cannot be done over the objection of the child’s natural father. However if the biological father has abandoned the child for six months or more, which includes having no contact with the child as well as failing to provide any financial support, the court may determine that the biological father’s consent is not needed for the stepfather adoption to proceed. We can help you determine if you are eligible for a stepparent adoption and if so, we can work to obtain the biological parent’s consent or move through other available procedures.
For over 25 years, we have been providing quality, competent legal services in the area of family law to residents of Pleasanton and throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. If you need help with a divorce or other family law matter, contact the Law Offices of Cynthia A. Magnus for a free consultation.