The Helliwell Law Firm handles both contested and
uncontested divorce cases. We provide our clients with a wide
range of family law issues including: divorce; legal separation;
child custody and visitation; child and spousal support;
modification of previous orders; prenuptial/premarital
agreements; marital settlement agreements; restraining and
protective orders; and drafting of surrogacy agreements.
The Helliwell Law Firm believes that your
family law issues should be handled in a professional and
sensitive manner. Although our philosophy is “obtain an amicable
separation and divorce”, when necessary, we will provide
aggressive and zealous litigation to obtain the most favorable
results for you.
Divorce can take so much from a person emotionally that they find they are unable to focus on the legal
fact of dissolution. It is important to have knowledge of the legal issues involved to avoid being
overwhelmed by the emotional aspects. The Helliwell Law Firm will help protect your legal interests by
providing you with realistic, honest legal advice to allow you to decide on an informed course of action.
In a legal separation, the court will outline the rights and responsibilities of each party while they are
legally married but living separate lives. In legal separation matters, the court can make determinations
on division of assets, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support and other case specific matters.
Child Custody and Visitation
California judges are required to consider the best interests of the child in determining child custody and
visitation. Child custody is usually broken down into two categories: (1) Physical Custody, which determines
where the child(ren) will reside; and (2) Legal Custody, which determines who will make decisions regarding
the needs of the child(ren), such as health, education, or religion.
Child and Spousal Support
California has a statewide formula used to calculate which parent, if either, shall pay child support and how
much it should be. The guidelines are presumptively fair and equitable and take into account several factors,
including income, standard of living, how much time each parent spends with their child(ren), support given to
child(ren) of other relationships, as well as other factors. If parents are unable to agree on child support,
the judge will set the amount based on the guideline calculations. To estimate child support based on the
California guidelines, click the below link: www.childsup.ca.gov
In California, the court must consider numerous factors in determining spousal support. There is no statewide
formula used for this calculation. Some factors considered are length of marriage, earning and earning capacity,
age, education and health of the parties, whether there are convictions for acts of domestic violence by one spouse
towards the other, as well as other factors which are case specific.
Modification of Previous Orders
California law allows parties to request changes to prior custody, visitation or support orders issued by the
court when there has been a change of circumstances
Marriage is not only a statement of a couple’s commitment to one another, but it is also a strong legal and
economic relationship. For many couples, preparing a prenuptial agreement allows each party to be proactive
in their financial affairs and determine which assets will be considered joint and which they want to maintain
as separate. Should your circumstances change through the years, The Helliwell Law Firm can assist you with
modifying your existing prenuptial agreement.
Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
An MSA is a written contract, designed to protect both parties, by outlining the division of your property and
spelling out your rights and obligations concerning your marriage and separation. An MSA alone does not end a
marriage. If the MSA is attached to divorce papers filed with the court, it then is incorporated in the decree
and is enforceable by the court.
Restraining and Protective Orders
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and
should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
A restraining order is a court order designed to protect individuals from being physically abused, threatened,
stalked, or harassed. Once a restraining order is filed and properly served on the abuser, the abuser must stop
any form of harassment or they will be in violation of a court order and will have to face serious consequences.
for more questions about Family Law