Family law can be one of the most sensitive areas in our judicial system. Legal issues that affect the family structure are intricate and delicate. Whether planning for the joys of adoption or struggling with a contested divorce, the Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney can help. With over a decade of experience servicing the San Francisco Bay Area, attorney Jenkins Toney has the knowledge and tenacity necessary to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Family court cases can be a challenge. With so many legal nuances and emotional tensions, these legal battles can quickly become overwhelming. Luckily, you don’t have to face your case alone. The Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins provides legal service in all aspects of family law, including child custody, child support, adoption, divorce, asset and debt division, complex litigation, and spousal support.
Married or not, when a couple splits, it is critical that there be an established agreement regarding the custody and care of the children involved in the relationship. This agreement should outline the custody and visitation rights of the parents, along with a plan for financial support of the child.
When a couple separates, and children are involved, the parents must make necessary decisions regarding custody. Often the former partners can achieve this amicably, but when they can’t, a judge will decide to award parents with either sole or joint legal/physical custody.
The California courts award child custody based on the “best interest of the child” standard. In determining the best interest of the children, the law follows two standards in its guidelines: the child’s health, safety, and wellness as a primary concern, and the benefit of frequent contact with both parents. In deliberation, the judge may take into consideration any information that they deem relevant to parenting, such as the parent’s criminal records, financial stability, parenting skills, and even the child’s preference.
In California, the judge will outline visitation during the custody court proceedings. If one parent has custody the majority of the time, the other parent will usually have visitation. Sometimes, a judge will give both parents legal joint custody — the right to make important decisions regarding the child/children’s lives — but not joint physical custody. In situations where one parent has sole physical custody, the judge may order the other parent visitation, supervised visitation, or no visitation.
A judge can also order a parent, or both parents, to pay the monthly expenses of raising a child/children. The court will issue a child support order based on statewide guidelines regarding parental income and the amount of time physically spends with the child/children. A court may also modify the child support order later on or begin a payment enforcement action.
The Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney also help families who wish to add another member through adoption. The adoption laws and process in California can be tricky, and an error could lead to years of costly litigation and even the potential loss of parental rights. Hiring an experienced attorney will ensure that the adoption case is legally sound.
Regardless of the specific details of your case, our trusted law offices are prepared to help you protect your parental rights and the best interest of your children.
When making important decisions regarding marriage and divorce, it is beneficial to have a competent attorney help you navigate your legal options with clarity. Whether you are drafting prenuptial agreements or need legal representation through a divorce, the Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney are ready to help you every step of the way.
Pre- and Post-nuptial Agreements
For many couples, a prenuptial agreement can provide a sense of security, and clarity, regarding what will happen to the property and finances if a divorce were to occur. A prenuptial agreement can outline property rights and other matters of the marriage, but it cannot hurt a child’s right to financial support or infringe upon the court’s power to decide issues of custody and visitation. For the agreement to be considered legally valid, both spouses must provide full consent and have a clear understanding of the full ramifications of the contract.
Married couples may modify the prenuptial agreement after they are married or create a postnuptial contract. Under California law, married couples have the option to clarify their financial relationship and property ownership interest. A postnuptial agreement allows couples to legally convert separate property into marital property or vice versa. This contract could also legally redefine community and independent income in the marriage.
Our law offices can draft sound marital agreements that can alleviate some of the stress, and avoid future legal problems if you ever divorce.
Divorce & Property Division in California
California is a community property state, which means that during court proceedings, the court considers all property incurred from the beginning of the marriage until the end is deemed to be marital property. In situations where prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are not present, the court will divide and distribute all marital property equally. Marital property includes all assets and incomes acquired by either spouse during the marriage, including but not limited to, bank accounts, tax refunds, 401K plans, life insurance, shared businesses, professional practices, houses, rental properties, and brokerage accounts.
On the other hand, separate property is any property or inheritance owned by either spouse before the marriage, any gift received from a third party, and the pain and suffering portion of a personal injury settlement.
Your divorce settlement will outline the division of marital property and may also include provisions for alimony. Alimony, or spousal support, is meant to limit any adverse economic effects of a divorce towards the spouse that earns no or a low wage. In deciding the amount and duration of alimony, a judge may take into consideration many factors, including the length of the marriage, the couples’ standard of living during the marriage, the former partner’s current situation, and the financial ability of the paying spouse.
Understanding the nature of your assets is vital during divorce settlements. Our law firm will inform you of all of your options and help protect the fair share of assets you worked so hard to accumulate.
Complex litigation involves cases that need intensive judicial management. These cases include either lengthy trials with complex legal issues, multiple parties, or large amounts of money and assets. The Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney handle complex litigation cases including high-asset divorce, business valuation, inheritance, and children with special needs.
High Asset Divorces
Couples that are financially well off often face unique challenges during divorces. High-asset dissolutions concern various assets such as multiple bank accounts, trust, investments, inheritances, and gifts. Challenging property division may also arise during high-end divorce cases. These cases may involve the division of hidden assets, offshore accounts, royalties, executive bonuses, and other mingled assets.
Often in community property states, like California, the nature of assets — whether separate or marital — is often disputed. When numerous assets are in dispute, business and tax consequences may arise. For that reason, it is essential that you hire an experienced attorney who will guide you through the divorce process and advise you on the most beneficial choices to make during your divorce.
Joint business ownership between spouses may lead to complicated business and property issues. In the case that the business is considered community property and no prenuptial agreement is available, a business valuation is often required to determine an equitable distribution of assets. Usually, the divorcing couple will dispute the value of the company which would need the expert opinion of a business appraiser to assist the court in concluding value.
The California courts take into consideration various factors when assessing divorce related business valuations, including the business’s fixed assets, outstanding debts and liabilities, goodwill, accounts receivable, and intangible assets. The court’s goal is to reach a fair market value before deciding the equitable distribution of assets.
At the Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney, our team regularly represents business owners during the divorce process. With years of experience, we will work hard to protect your fair share of assets.
In California, inheritance qualifies as protected separate property if it is from before the marriage. However, if you inherit after the wedding, it should be clearly be stated in the will that the inheritance is solely reserved for you. If it is unclear or implies that the estate goes to both you and your family, California law would allow your spouse to claim it during the divorce. In this situation, you would have to prove that the decedent intended the gift to go to you alone.
In California, the separate property could lose its protected status if mingled with the marital assets; meaning that if the inheritance is solely yours, you must treat it that way. For instance, if you deposit the inheritance (separate property) into a joint bank account (marital property), it could lose its status as protected separate property. Ideally, the inheritance should be segregated into a separate account under your name.
You could also lose ownership of your inheritance through a legal process called transmutation. However, it is almost impossible to do this accidentally. Transmutation is when you gift all or a portion of your inheritance to your spouse, and to do so California law requires a written document stating that you fully consent to the change in ownership on the asset.
In the event of a contested inheritance, our law offices can help you protect what is yours.
At the Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney, our legal team is also skilled at maneuvering through the complex California laws to protect you, and your family’s rights, during juvenile delinquency and dependency trials.
Juvenile Delinquency Cases
Juvenile delinquency cases involve children who break the law. In deciding on appropriate action to take, the court will take into consideration the child’s age, their criminal record if any, and how severe the crime is. After deliberation, the court may decide to order your child to live with you under court supervision, be put on probation, sent to a probation camp, or be placed into juvenile corrections/rehabilitation.
It is important to remember that in some cases minors can be tried as adults. Moreover, California’s three strikes law states that some violent crimes committed by juveniles can count as strikes in the future, even if the records are sealed.
A child who is 14 and over can be tried as an adult for severe crimes including, but not limited to, attempted murder, rape, robbery with a weapon, auto theft, drug crimes, and escaping a juvenile detention center. In the case that your child is tried in an adult court, possible sentencing could involve incarceration in an adult prison.
Juvenile Dependency Trials
Juvenile dependency proceedings determine if the parents are abusive or neglectful and if they should be allowed to keep custody of their child/children. During these proceedings, the court may order the temporary or permanent removal from the home. The court may also terminate the parent’s legal rights and allow another family to adopt the child/children.
In cases with so much at stake, it is crucial that you get help from a family law attorney who can help you protect your parental rights.
Regardless of the legal details of your family court case, the Law Offices of Ayanna L. Jenkins Toney can help. With over 15 years of experience, attorney Jenkins has the legal knowledge and skill needed to support your case and achieve the best possible outcome. Our dedicated legal team will listen to your needs to reach the solutions you and your family need. Get the legal representation you need and contact our offices in the San Francisco Bay Area today.