Barbara McNamara is an experienced family law attorney based in Huntington Beach and serving Orange County & surrounding areas
Dedicated To Helping You And Your Family Get Through Difficult Times
Family conflicts can be messy, challenging and emotionally draining. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, relationships fall apart and can’t be mended. If you find yourself in a situation in which you’re unable to resolve a family dispute on your own, it may be time to seek legal assistance.
Whether you are considering divorce, petitioning for child custody, seeking spousal support or defending yourself against a combative ex-spouse, it’s essential that you have a qualified family law attorney in your corner.
I’m Barbara E. McNamara and I’ve been helping families throughout Southern California amicably resolve conflicts for over 19 years.
In addition to my practice, I am a California State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist –a certification that less than 10% of all lawyers in the state possess.
This honor, in addition to my familiarity with the Orange County, Los Angeles County, and Riverside County courts, will give you the edge you need to secure a favorable outcome in your case.
Don’t let the legal process intimidate you. I provide a compassionate and supportive approach in dealing with sensitive family law issues. My firm is small, so you’ll receive personalized attention and care.
Call me today at (714) 740-2542 to schedule a low cost consultation. I will carefully review your case and let you know where you stand and what your legal options are.
Together, we can chart a course forward that is in the best interests of you and your family.
Gentle Yet Tough Representation
In every case, I believe it’s important to try to resolve disputes as amicably as possible. I attempt to do this by encouraging you and your family members to engage in communication, negotiation and mediation.
Mediation is a non-adversarial process that allows for the opportunity to reach mutually beneficial agreements on such issues as property settlement, spousal support, child support and custody.
An unbiased mediator facilitates discussions between you and your spouse to help you achieve compromise. When everyone is working toward the same goal, you save time and money and avoid additional pain and anxiety.
Resolving family issues outside of court gives you the power to make decisions about your future, instead of a judge making those decisions for you.
The reality is that sometimes compromise cannot be reached, and there’s no other option but to take your case to trial. As your attorney, I will litigate fiercely and passionately on your behalf to protect your rights and stand up for what you believe is right for your family.
Capable of Handling Any Family Law Issue
I offer exceptional expertise and counsel on a broad range of family matters including:
- Legal Separation
- Spousal Support
- Child Custody
- Parenting Plans
- Division of Property
- Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
- Civil Harassment
- Domestic Violence
Helping You Navigate The Divorce Process in California
The decision to end your relationship was probably one of the most difficult decisions you’ve ever had to make. As your attorney, I want to make the divorce process as quick and painless as possible so you can close this chapter of your life and get a fresh start.
I understand that you have a lot at stake personally and financially. You can count on me to help you resolve issues related to:
- Property division
- Child support
- Custody and visitation
- Spousal or partner support
- Who will be responsible for paying debts
Residency Requirement for Divorce or Legal Separation
In order to file for divorce in California, you or your spouse need to meet the following requirements:
- have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing;
- have lived in the county the divorce is filed for the prior three months.
If you live in California, but do not meet the residency requirement, you are still able to file for a legal separation. When enough time has passed to meet the requirement, an “amended petition” can be filed in order to obtain a divorce.
Filing the Petition
Legal paperwork can sometimes be very confusing and overwhelming. Let me handle it for you! I’ll make sure everything is filled out correctly and will proceed with “serving” your spouse the petition.
After the petition is filed, there is a mandatory six month waiting period before your divorce can be finalized.
A Quicker, Simpler Way To Divorce – Do You Qualify?
Filing for a Summary Dissolution can put your divorce on a fast track and bypass the need to go before a judge. To qualify for a summary dissolution of your marriage, you and your spouse must meet several requirements, including:
- residency requirement
- married no more than five years
- have no children
- do not own real estate
- have not incurred more than $6,000 in debt since the start of your marriage or domestic partnership (excludes car payments)
- have no community property worth more than $41,000
- no separate property worth more than $41,000, excluding debts on the property or auto loans
- agree to waive right to spousal support
- complete and sign a property settlement agreement which outlines the division of property
Need An Annulment?
If you want to get an annulment, you are asking the court to declare that your marriage never existed in the eyes of the law. A judge may grant a request to annul a marriage if:
- it was incestuous (you are close blood relatives)
- it was bigamous (one of you was already married or in a registered domestic partnership with someone else)
- a spouse was under the age of 18 at the time the marriage began
- the marriage was entered into as a result of fraud, and the fraud was something that directly affected the deceived party
- consent for the marriage was obtained as a result of force
- one of the spouses had an unsound mind
Dividing Marital Property: Who Gets What?
Any property or debt you and your spouse jointly acquired during your marriage is called “community property” and is subject to division.
You will be given the opportunity to negotiate an agreement with your spouse that you both feel comfortable with.
If, however you are unable to reach compromise, the Superior Court will evaluate your assets, place a value on them and then proceed to divide the estate 50/50.
What types of assets are typically divided?
- Family home
- Commercial real estate
- Rental property
- Furniture, furnishings and appliances
- Jewelry, art, coins and collectibles
- Bank accounts
- Stock and investment accounts
- 401(k), pensions or other retirement accounts
- Businesses and partnership interests
- Life insurance policies
- Patents, copyrights and trademarks
The only assets not subject to division is separate property, or property you and your partner acquired on your own prior to getting married.
Separate property may include:
- student loans
- gifts received by one spouse before or during the marriage
- property owned before the marriage
Spousal Support in California
In California, spouses can request temporary spousal support, permanent spousal support, or both.
Temporary Spousal Support
- A regular payment made from the spouse who earns more money to the one who earns less. It is referred to as “temporary” because it helps the lower-earning spouse meet his/her expenses during the divorce proceedings
Permanent Spousal Support
- Long-term financial support that helps the lower-earning spouse maintain the same standard of living he/she had while in the marriage.
What Factors Does A Judge Consider When Determining Spousal Support?
When deciding who should receive spousal support and in what amount, several factors are taken into consideration, some of which include:
- earning capacity of both spouses to maintain standard of living established in marriage
- age and health of both spouses
- assets and debts of both spouses
- length of the marriage
- the paying spouse’s ability to sustain payments
- the requesting spouse’s ability to work outside the home without interfering with children in his/her custody
- whether the requesting spouse aided the aided the other spouse in gaining training, skills or education
- tax consequences of both spouses
- any history of domestic violence
I can help you gauge the approximate amount the court is likely to award you for temporary spousal support. I can also help you formulate your best arguments for obtaining a long term spousal support award after the Judgment is entered.
Protecting Your Kids In A Divorce
If you have children and are in the midst of a separation or divorce, your emotions are probably at an all time high.
As a mother myself, I know the importance of wanting to protect your children and making sure they are happy and well-adjusted.
The best case scenario in dealing with child custody is to reach an agreement with your spouse that allows you both to co-parent, or share custody.
If you fail to reach compromise, you put your child’s fate in the hands of the
judge, who will decide a custody agreement and visitation schedule he/she feels is in the best interests of your children.
A judge will consider the following criteria when ruling on these issues, including:
- health, safety and welfare of the children
- any history of abuse or drug use towards the children
- relationship between children and each parent
- the child’s wishes if the child is of a certain mature age, usually age 12 and up
- whether or not the children are currently living in a stable environment
There are two types of custody orders, which can be either joint or sole:
- Legal: determines who makes decisions related to your children’s upbringing such as: healthcare, education, welfare, medical care, religion, extracurricular activities, etc.
- Physical: who your children live with and for what period of time
Joint legal and physical custody is generally considered to be ideal because it allows both parents to be actively involved in their children’s lives.
However, every family dynamic is different and a joint custody arrangement may not be in the best interests of your children.
Develop An Effective Parenting Plan
A parenting plan, also called a “custody and visitation” agreement, is one of the most important documents you will file with the court.
The plan is essentially a template that outlines the specific ways you and your spouse wish to co-parent.
By establishing an agreed upon set of guidelines, you’ll be able to avoid and/or manage conflicts with one another in the future.
When creating the plan, make sure it’s tailored to your children’s ages, personalities and sensibilities.
A comprehensive parenting plan would include the following items:
- Living arrangements and visitation schedule
- Regular school year schedule
- Summer schedule
- Holiday, birthday and vacation schedules
- transportation arrangements
- medical, dental and other healthcare needs
- instructions for education and extracurricular activities
- preferred methods of discipline
- preferred religious upbringing
- instructions for spending time with relatives
- parent to parent communication guidelines
I have extensive experience helping parents craft parenting plans that are mutually beneficial and acceptable to the court.
Calculating Child Support
You and your spouse have a legal duty to provide financial support for your children until they are 18 years of age.
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on a fair and reasonable child support payment plan, the court may order ongoing payments to cover your children’s living expenses.
The court will use a statewide formula called the Income Shares Model to calculate a financial amount.
This formula contains the following variables:
- How much money you and your spouse earn or can earn
- Number of children together
- How much time each of you spends with the children
- Current living arrangement
- The actual tax filing status of you and your spouse
- Support of children from other relationships
- Health insurance expenses
- Mandatory union dues
- Mandatory retirement contributions
- The cost of sharing daycare and uninsured health-care costs
- Other relevant factors
Court-ordered child support must be paid until your child:
- marries or registers a domestic partnership
- is emancipated
- turns 18 and is not a full-time high school student
- or turns 19
One of the best divorce lawyers in Orange County!
If you are facing any kind of family law issue, you need an experienced, qualified family law attorney by your side to help guide you through the process. Call me today at (714) 740-2542 for a consultation.