Debora A Paul - Attorney at Law
FAMILY LAW
There are three ways a court can end a marriage or registered domestic partnership: dissolution, nullity, and legal separation. In any of these procedures, the court can make orders on property, debts, child custody, visitation, restraining orders, child support, and spousal or partner support.  There are three ways the court can order custody and support outside of a marriage: petition to establish paternity, petition for custody and a restraining order. 
DIVORCE MEDIATION
Through mediation, you and your spouse can work things out cooperatively, rather than engaging in an expensive and stressful legal battle. You will create your own agreement, with help, rather than allowing others to make decisions for you. Your agreement will include everything that is important to you.  
GUARDIANSHIPS
The guardian of the person of a child has the care, custody, and control of the child.  As guardian, you would have responsibility for providing for food, clothing, shelter, education, medical and mental health needs of the child.  You must provide for the safety, protection, and physical and emotional growth of the child.  As guardian, you have full legal and physical custody of the child and would be responsible for all decisions relating to the child.  The child’s parents would no longer be able to make decisions for the child while the guardianship was in place.  The parents’ rights are suspended, not terminated, as long as a guardian is appointed for a minor. 
ADOPTIONS 
If you have been a Guardian for two years, you are eligible to file for adoption.  This office also handles Stepparent, relative and Domestic Partner Adoptions. 
CARGIVERS ATHORIZATIONS
If you are a relative or a non-relative and need to be able to authorize medical and educational care for a minor without disturbing custody rights of the parents then a Caregiver’s Authorization might meet your needs.  The affidavit shall not be valid for more than one year after the date on which it is signed.  The declaration does not affect the rights of the minor’s parents or legal guardian regarding the care, custody, and control of the minor, and does not mean that the caregiver has legal custody of the minor. 
GRANDPARENTS VISITAIONS, STEP-PARENT VISITATION 
If your grandchild is the subject of a divorce proceeding and you have a pre-existing relationship/bond with the grandchild such that visitation is in the child’s best interest, a grandparent may begin a legal action for visitation.  If the parents are still married, the action may only be filed if: parents are living apart; one parent is missing; one parent joins the grandparent petition; or the child is not living with the parents. If the parents have begun a divorce proceeding, a grandparent may make a motion for visitation if it is in the best interest of the child. Step-Parents and Other interested persons can file for visitation if pre-existing relationship/bond and the best interest of the child is to maintain the relationship. California Law provides for a stick set of guidelines for grand parents, step-parents and other interested parties, please consult an attorney or the California Family Code prior to filing any documents.  
JUVENILE DEPENDENCY
You have the right to be present at the hearing and present evidence.  To protect your rights, you must appear in court and answer the petition.
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