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While all family law cases are unique, many fact patterns are similar. Attorneys who practice in divorce, paternity and legal separation encounter similar fact patterns which have similar questions. An attorney should always be consulted for any divorce, legal separation or paternity case no matter whether the issues are just child legal and physical custody or alimony and child support and division of debts and assets or all of these together. The more issues, often, the more complex the case can be. These are a list of some of the frequently asked questions a San Diego family law attorney can be asked in a consultation. A free consultation is a very good way to obtain accurate information as well as realistic expectations.


Always, there is an issue regarding jurisdiction of where the case should be filed. To file for a legal separation or divorce in San Diego, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the State of California for at least six months and a resident of San Diego County for at least three months prior to the filing of the petition and summons. This does not mean, however, that all issues would be heard in San Diego. For example, if you have minor children, the jurisdiction for custody and visitation orders would be where the children have lived for the last six months. It is possible to be legally able to file your family law case in San Diego however not have the requisite jurisdiction for any orders [absent emergency] for legal and/or physical custody per the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdictional Enforcement Act. An individual analysis of the case must be made to determine where the family law action should be filed. Sometimes, when concurrent cases in different states, the Judges have a UCCJEA Conference Call to determine where the proper venue is for the case. Also, as is common in San Diego Military Families, one spouse may be on deployment for more than six months however they could still be considered residents of San Diego County depending on the documentation.

Knowing how an attorney in San Diego analyzes your family law case [whether a paternity, divorce or legal separation] is very important to your assisting your attorney and also helping you with obtaining your legal goals. Many professions have different methods for analyzation as well as different procedures for dispute resolution. Some professions use collaborative approaches and work together in a team for the best result. In San Diego, as well as other jurisdictions, attorneys are in an adversarial position with the opposing side. If no agreement, both sides will present their respective positions to a Judge who will then make a decision. In the law, there is the attorney client privilege which means confidential communications. As such, all information may not be known to the Judge by either side. This is much different, for example than a surgical team of doctors who are working together and share all information. Knowing that this is an adversarial procedure will help you in your pending case.

Attorneys analyze using a strategy called “IRAC”. This stands for issue, rule, analysis and conclusion. No matter what the field of law [family law which includes custody, visitation, alimony and division of assets and debts or car accident or criminal], all lawyers will analyze with this procedure. It is not, however, as easy as it sounds which is why legal education, experience and training is needed. The first, issue, can be very complicated. A husband or wife or mother or father will come to the attorney and tell them their factual situation. The lawyer has to decide what are the legal issues in the case. There may be many legal issues at the same time. “Issue Spotting” is the first [and some may say] most important since if you miss an issue than you will not continue with the rule, analysis and conclusion procedure. The next step is to determine the legal rule or law which controls. This is also very complex since the rules consist of statutes, cases and other legal authority. It is crucial to use the correct rule of law for the issue. The next is analysis. This is also very important since the legal analysis will consider the facts, evidence and law. Analysis can be very complicated. For example, for permanent spousal support orders and modification of permanent spousal support orders in San Diego Family Law Courts, the Family Law Code Section 4320 factor is used. Under a subsection of this Code, is that the goal is that the supported spouse should be self supporting within one half the duration of the marriage and, absent other factors, the Court will set a termination date of one half the duration of the marriage. If married for more than ten years, however, no termination date will be set per Family Law Code Section 4336 but the goal of self supporting still exists. For modification motions for permanent spousal support, this can be further complicated by whether or not a Gavron order was in effect or not for duration and termination analysis. The last is the conclusion. As with the above example, would a San Diego Judge order a termination date for a marriage of over ten years in a legal separation or divorce as of the date of judgment? The conclusion is “no” given above analysis. This can be further complicated by parties agreeing to a termination date for their long term marriage and other factors.

The law firm of Doppelt And Forney, APLC has experience with issue spotting, the rules of family law, analyzing family law cases and coming to a conclusion to try and give clients realistic expectations. A free consultation is offered in their office up to 30 minutes and confidential whether you hire the firm or not. During this consultation, the attorney will use IRAC strategies for your case. There is free parking and easy to find right off the I-15 at Bernardo Center Drive.

Damon B. Forney is a Certified Family Law Specialist with the State Bar of California. This is the highest designation for specialization which the State Bar offer. He practices in San Diego County in the areas of divorce, paternity, child custody, child visitation and other family law areas. Mr. Forney was born in Ohio and went to undergraduate at the University of California. He then went back to Ohio for his law degree at Case Western Reserve University which he obtained in 1997. Since that time, Attorney Forney has been a San Diego County Deputy District Attorney and an Assistant United States Attorney in San Diego. He has worked in the family law field for over a decade. In January of 2017, Mr. Forney and Mr. Doppelt formed a new law firm: Doppelt and Forney San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APLC. Mr. Forney has committed his life to protecting the rights of his clients and also trying to obtain their goals.

Lawyer Damon B. Forney practices in all of the San Diego Family Law Courthouses including San Diego Main Family Law as well as in North County at the Vista Courthouse. He also represents clients in South Bay at the Chula Vista Courthouse and in North County at the Vista Courthouse. His practice is limited to family law which can be a very complicated area. Attorney Damon B. Forney is an experienced litigator due to his many years as a Prosecutor and has been lead attorney on many cases which went to jury trial. In family law, there are no jury trials so many family law attorneys have never actually done a jury trial. This experience assists his clients who have to litigate their case before a Judge. Mr. Forney has also had many non jury [bench] trials. Bench trials are the only trials for family law cases except for a paternity case in which there is a right to a jury trial and also court appointed counsel. Mr. Forney brings his years of experience to try and settle cases if at all possible. He is able to negotiate many settlements on complex and non complex cases however, if the case cannot be settled, then he will go to court with the client and argue their case to the best of his ability.

Family law is a very complicated area and consists of many different subsections. To begin with, there are three main areas of family law: divorce; paternity and legal separation. It becomes more complicated as some of these have the same issues and some do not. For example, both legal separation and divorce have issues of division of debt and assets as well as [if there are a child or children] child support and also may have spousal support among other issues. In a paternity case, there are no issues of alimony or division of assets and debts. An experienced family law attorney, such as Mr. Forney, knows the intricacies of all of these issues and can help you.

Legal News GavelWhat began as a seemingly routine surrogacy situation evolved into an international news story and a protracted court case, due to the emergence of some unique twists and turns in the case. Ultimately, the California courts rejected a surrogate’s efforts to be declared the legal parent of the triplets she delivered. The Second Appellate District Court concluded that the agreement the woman signed was legal and was entered into knowingly and voluntarily, meaning it was enforceable, and the surrogate was not entitled to parental rights.

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Legal News GavelA recent case before the Second Appellate District tasked that court with addressing an unusual case of reimbursement following the post-divorce sale of a couple’s marital home. The appeals court reversed a trial court’s order of reimbursement in favor of the wife because that trial court made several procedural errors, including improperly refusing to consider the husband’s argument that the wife unreasonably delayed in selling the home.

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legalnewsIn 2015, the New York Times reported that, while divorce rates were falling in many groups, they were rising among seniors. According to a Bowling Green State University study reported by usnews.com, the divorce rate among seniors doubled between 1990 and 2010. Divorcing seniors face their own unique set of issues. One of these is the interaction of spousal support and retirement. A recent ruling from the Fourth Appellate District Court offers an important reminder that, just because you are seeking spousal support, that doesn’t diminish your right to retire.

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Legal News GavelRomantic relationships can take many varieties and forms. While many partners desire to ensure the comfort and well-being of their partners, what happens when one partner allegedly enters into an oral contract to support the other for life? That was the issue presented to the First Appellate District recently, which upheld a lower court ruling that found the absence of a valid contract because the case lacked proof of a “meeting of the minds.”

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Legal News GavelAs a parent, one of the chief objectives most people seek to accomplish is to protect their children, particularly their minor children. This is especially true when the threat posed involves an element of sexual overtones. That was the scenario allegedly faced by one Los Angeles County dad, with regard to whom the Second Appellate District indicated that the law allowed the father to take action, not only in family court but also in civil court in the form of a restraining order.

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gavelSometimes, divorce cases are extremely contentious. Sometimes, a party will make extremely incendiary and potentially damaging allegations, even though the courts would later declare that “not one iota of proof” supported those claims. Even when facing unfounded claims, it is important to take them seriously, retain counsel, and contest them aggressively. If the courts conclude, as they did in the recent case of one California father, that your ex-spouse purposely prolonged the case and delayed resolution, you may be entitled to an order demanding that your ex-spouse pay some of your attorney’s fees.

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Legal News GavelIn a case in which the couple has considerable assets, one of the bigger challenges can be dividing the community estate. In one divorce that involved a high-value community estate and allegations of hidden assets, the Sixth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s order that divided the estate. The trial court’s division improperly gave the wife duplicative benefits regarding certain assets when the statute did not allow the wife to receive such benefits.

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