PRACTICE AREAS

FAMILY LAW

Fam­ily Law cases gov­ern the rela­tion­ships of fam­i­lies.  Com­mon types of fam­ily law cases are divorce (referred to as a dis­so­lu­tion of mar­riage case), sep­a­ra­tion, pater­nity, child cus­tody, child sup­port, guardian­ships, and con­ser­va­tor­ships.  Each type of case is unique and requires a thor­ough analy­sis of the situation.

A divorce case involves a divi­sion of assets and debts among the hus­band and wife.  Cal­i­for­nia is a com­mu­nity prop­erty state which means income and assets acquired dur­ing the life of the mar­riage is con­sid­ered com­mu­nity prop­erty.  You would need to dis­cuss your sit­u­a­tion with an attor­ney to deter­mine the proper dis­tri­b­u­tion of assets and income.  A prenup­tial agree­ment is a means by which spouses can devi­ate from the gen­eral com­mu­nity prop­erty rules.

The cus­tody of chil­dren among par­ents is often an impor­tant issue in fam­ily law cases.  There are many fac­tors to con­sider when deter­min­ing cus­tody such as the age of the child, school, med­ical, child’s desires, the sta­bil­ity of each par­ent and the over­all well being of the child.  The court must make deci­sions about the legal and phys­i­cal cus­tody of each child.  Legal cus­tody involves impor­tant deci­sions for the child such as the child’s school­ing and non-emergency med­ical care.  Phys­i­cal cus­tody involves where the child will reside.

With over 10 years of expe­ri­ence in the area of fam­ily law, I will meet with you and develop an indi­vid­ual strat­egy.  Resolv­ing your fam­ily law issues is impor­tant because they involve more than just finan­cial headaches.  Emo­tions run high and hav­ing a skilled lawyer to ease your mind is a good start.

Divorce, Sep­a­ra­tion, Pater­nity, Child Cus­tody, Child Sup­port, Guardian­ships, and Con­ser­va­tor­ships

Juvenile Law

Property Disputes, Personal Injury

Juve­nile cases fall into two cat­e­gories: Juve­nile Depen­dency and Juve­nile Delinquency.

Juve­nile Depen­dency cases are those cases in which the local Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices or Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices agency files a peti­tion with the Juve­nile Court assert­ing that a child has been aban­doned, abused and or neglected by their par­ents or legal guardians.  Most often the local agency is alerted of the abuse by a local law enforce­ment agency, school offi­cial, or other man­dated report.

If the social ser­vices agency believes that the child is at imme­di­ate risk, they may phys­i­cally remove the child from the parent’s home and place the child in fos­ter care or a relative’s home until the issue can be addressed in juve­nile court.  At that time, the Social Worker has two days to file a peti­tion with the Juve­nile Court ask­ing that the child be made a depen­dent of the court.  This first hear­ing with the juve­nile court is called an Ini­tial Hear­ing where the court makes orders regard­ing who will care for the child, where the child will stay and other interim orders to ensure the safety of the child.

At the next hear­ing called the Juris­dic­tional Hear­ing, the court will then decide whether the peti­tion filed by the local social ser­vices agency is true.  If the peti­tion is found to be true, the child can be made a depen­dent of the court and the court could return the child to the par­ent or guardian if the court finds there is not a sub­stan­tial risk to the child’s safety, pro­tec­tion or emo­tional well being.  How­ever, in many cir­cum­stances, the court does not return the child to the par­ent or guardian but rather orders the par­ent or guardian to par­tic­i­pate in a reuni­fi­ca­tion case plan.  The reuni­fi­ca­tion case plan often includes coun­sel­ing for the par­ent, par­ent­ing classes, anger man­age­ment and sub­stance abuse test­ing and treat­ment.  If the par­ent or guardian does not make sub­stan­tive progress in the reuni­fi­ca­tion case plan, the court could ter­mi­nate reuni­fi­ca­tion efforts with the par­ent and the court would then be required to imple­ment an alter­na­tive per­ma­nent plan for the child includ­ing adop­tion, guardian­ship or long term fos­ter care.  If the court imple­ments a per­ma­nent plan of adop­tion it would ter­mi­nate the parent’s rights.

These cases are extremely impor­tant.  A par­ent or guardian should seek to hire an attor­ney early in the process so they can be prop­erly advised on how to reunify with their child.  I have han­dled hun­dreds of these types of juve­nile cases.  I have been suc­cess­ful in reuni­fy­ing chil­dren with their par­ents.  I have fought to have cases dis­missed out­right.  Addi­tion­ally, I have assisted my clients in fol­low­ing the reuni­fi­ca­tion case plan to reunify with their chil­dren.  The Law office of MIchael A. Dedecker has won sev­eral juve­nile tri­als and has exten­sive expe­ri­ence in the juve­nile sys­tem to help you.