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San Francisco Family Law Blog

What to include in a fair, workable parenting plan

When divorce is inevitable, child custody matters will be top of mind. You and your soon-to-be ex will want to devise a good parenting plan.

Give this your best effort because it will become a court order once each of you signs it, the judge signs it and the document is filed with the court.

Dissolution (Divorce) and Legal Separation


California law entitles you to a divorce (called a dissolution) based on irreconcilable differences. Fault in causing the breakdown of the marriage is no longer relevant in California. Your spouse does not need to give you permission, or even agree with you. To file for a divorce you must have lived in the state of California for the last six months, and in the county where you file for the last three months. If you do not meet these residency requirements you may still file for a legal separation

Before you file for a dissolution, understand that a divorce:

  • will legally end your marriage forever
  • may divide your property and debts
  • provide for child support and if requested, spousal support
  • determine who will care for the children and be entitled to make decisions on their behalf.

If you're not sure that you are ready for a divorce, you may want to seek personal or marriage counseling.

Considering a living trust? What about a will? Do you need both?


There are many benefits to having a living trust but, as with any legal document, it requires careful planning. In this article, you'll learn exactly what a living trust is, and explore five basic steps you should consider when establishing your own living trust.

The basics

A living trust is a legal entity that can own property and direct distribution of that property after a person's death, or if they become incapacitated.

One of the primary benefits of a living trust is that it isn't subject to probate, or its associated costs and delays.

If you establish a trust, you (known as the grantor) appoint yourself as the initial trustee and primary beneficiary of the trust. You retain full and complete control over the property during your lifetime. In the living trust document, you appoint the individual(s) and/or entities that will take on the role as successor trustee when you can no longer act as the initial trustee. The trustee manages and distributes the trust assets according to the terms of the trust.

TERM: Probate When a person dies, the property from his estate can be transferred to the intended beneficiaries via a will. Probate is the process of properly transferring the estate to the rightful beneficiaries. This process is also used to collect any taxes due on the transfer of the property.

Does a living trust take the place of a will?

A living trust is sometimes referred to as a "will substitute." Although, in some respects, it does take the place of a will, a will is still usually necessary to distribute assets outside the trust, and to nominate guardians for minor children.

So why should you consider a living trust if you probably need a will, anyway? Because it only becomes effective at your death, a will does not avoid probate and does not protect you or the management of your assets in the event of your incapacity.

One aspect of marital property that some spouses overlook is retirement plans.


California has long been known as a community property state but when couples in San Francisco decide to call it quits, the division of marital property can be quite complex. The divorce process can extend for months and even years in some cases, when there is considerable property to be divided. 

Child Custody in California


California family courts consider a number of factors before granting a parent either sole custody or joint custody. Parents who wish to file for child custody in California should first become familiar with the child custody laws in California.

Factors Considered When Determining Child Custody in California

  • The best interests of the child
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent visits with the other parent
  • Child's wishes, which are only considered if the child is of a certain age and maturity level (generally over age 12)
  • History of domestic violence
  • History of drug use

6 Little-Known Benefits Of Being Divorced

We're not going to cut corners here: Finalizing your divorce sucks, plain and simple. You struggled to make it work with your (now ex) spouse for years. You uncovered the half-truths and the deceptions, and at times even made excuses for them; you doggedly tried to brush off concerned questions from your family and friends. And while you didn't want to do it, you knew it had to be done. You filed for divorce.

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