A SITE ABOUT our family law litigation practice APPLICABLE TO THE STATE OF california

Tristan teGroen Litigates Family Law Disputes

Tristan has twenty-five years of experience in family law as an licensed attorney in California and makes himself available as a litigator for family law matters.

What Does Litigation Entail?

Litigated family law cases are cases where the results cannot be agreed upon and results must be obtained using the court system and the rules set forth, among elsewhere, in the California Rules of Court, Evidence Code, Family Code and Code of Civil Procedure. Litigation is the process of obtaining temporary orders, information through discovery, and most importantly, bringing the case to trial. These cases are also called contested cases as opposed to uncontested cases which are resolved by agreement or stipulation. In truth, many cases are a hybrid, having elements of both contested cases and uncontested cases.

What are Temporary Orders?

Most commonly this involves obtain child support, spousal support, visitation and custody orders. Most cases start out with separation of the parties and a Request for Order asking for these orders is common. Having these orders in place prevents arguments regarding children and money. Why are they temporary? There are called temporary or 'pendente lite' orders as they have not yet been included in a Judgment.

Domestic Violence and Harassment Litigation

Litigation is much like a sports game. Two teams compete. There is usually a winner and loser; sometimes it is a draw. In domestic violence and harassment cases parties seeking to be protected appear in the court 'ex parte' to obtain a Temporary Restraining Order which is revisited some three weeks later at which time the court usually conducts an evidentiary hearing according to the rules of the evidence. Each party may call witnesses. Each party has the right to cross-examine the witnesses called for the other side. Upon resting, the court will make a ruling. The burdens of evidence are different in the these cases.

What is Discovery?

The legal way of obtaining information is called 'discovery.' A subpoena is a form of discovery. Other forms of discovery are interrogatories, demands for inspection, requests for admissions and depositions. Typically a formal response is due to a formal request in about 30-days; this gives the responding party time to formulate a response or collect documents. Responses are issued under penalty of perjury. Self-represented parties seldom conduct discovery; lawyers usually do.

Bringing the Case to Trial

Family courts are busy courtrooms and do not wish to clutter calendars with numerous trial dates unless the court has ensured that the issues are ready for a trial setting. Where parties have not even exchanged disclosure, the case is not ready for trial. Where the parties have never attempted settlement, the case is not ready for trial. The court requires a mandatory setting called a 'settlement conference' where the parties should make good faith efforts to either settle or narrow the issues for trial. Narrowing the issues means that the parties may settle some property division but still be locked in a dispute on custody or support; or they might settle all property issues but one. In preparation for trial, the parties shall exchange exhibit lists, witness lists and briefs. The setting itself involves the introduction of evidence, testimony and examination. After the court has heard the evidence, the court will announce a Judgment on the issues that were tried. Litigation is a test of a lawyer's trial skills - not only in being able to use the rules of evidence to convey the facts to the Judge, but also in being able to prevent irrelevant evidence from being considered by the court. Some trials might take hours; others may take several days.

Which Cases are Typically Litigated?

It is impossible to predict when litigation would serve the case best - however, where parties cannot agree, a trial may be necessary to bring the case to a conclusion. If the end result sought by the parties is very different, the case most likely would have to be litigated. For example if John wants to pay $2,000 per month in spousal support while Jill believes the evidence supports a payment of $5,000, the parties most likely will not settle in the middle and would need a court to hear the supporting facts and rule.

Choosing Our Office for Litigation

Our office provides family law litigation services to parties in all courts in the State of California. Tristan teGroen charges hourly for litigation services and a retainer for a case destined from trial will typically range from $6,500 to $25,000.