Sonora, CA
Modesto, CA

Family Law

Family Law

A divorce or family law matter may be one of the most difficult life challenges you face. The resolution of your case will have a lasting impact on your children, finances and family structure. It helps to have a trusted counselor on your side. We look forward to discussing your challenges with you.


In California, the formal procedure for ending a marriage is known as dissolution of marriage or divorce.

In the divorce process, the courts will determine the spouses' rights to property, obligations to pay, custody, spousal support, and child support. In addition, the court will return the spouses to the status of single people.

Child Custody & Visitation

If parents are unable to agree on a custody arrangement for their children, then the courts will impose an order which the judge determines to be in the best interest of the children. As part of the custody process, courts require parents to participate in child custody recommending counseling (formerly known as mediation) prior to the judge issuing any orders.

Child Support

California law requires parents to support their children according to their financial ability.

The State of California has a fixed formula to determine the amount of monthly support one parent needs to pay to the other parent to support the parties' children. This formula relies primarily on each parent's income and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.

In addition, child support can include orders for one or both parents to pay for health insurance, medical expenses, daycare costs or other expenses.

Spousal Support

Spousal support (formerly called “alimony”) is name for temporary or permanent payments by one spouse to the other. The intention of these payments is to give the lesser-earning spouse the ability either to become self-supporting or to maintain a reasonable standard of living as established by the marital lifestyle.

Property Division

California is a community property state, which means that income or assets earned by either spouse during marriage (before separation) belong to both spouses.

California generally requires all community property to be divided equally between the spouses. However, additional factors can affect whether property items are actually divided equally. For example, one spouse may have a right to be reimbursed for any separate property contributions used to acquire a community property item.

Determining whether an item is separate property or community property is a critical step in deciding how property will be divided. To ensure fair division of assets and debts, it is often necessary to seek advice from an attorney in determining the characterization, valuation and division of assets — including real property, retirement accounts, businesses, vehicles, or personal property of particular value.


California law allows for an annulment of a marriage only in very specific situations. If an annulment is granted, for the most part, it is as if the marriage did not occur, though the court may still treat some property item as community property. Generally, annulments are not favored by the courts.

Services Available throughout Modesto & San Jose

Modesto Office
Phone: 209.521.6260
1014 16th Street
Modesto, CA 95354

San Jose Office
Phone: 866.609.8844
560 S. Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95128 

E-mail: info@gianelli-law.com

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Based in Modesto, CA with a location in Sonora, CA, Gianelli Nielsen, PLC serves clients throughout California.

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