A court of law is the only way in which one can obtain a decree of divorce, dissolution, legal separation, nullity terminating a marraige. Other than the termination of the marital estate, the court also has jurisdiction to resolve other issues that are intertwined in the existing marriage which include, but are not limited to: custody and visitation rights, division of property of the marital estate, spousal support, child support, restraining orders, etc. The Law Offices of Philip H. Shecter have the experience and commitment to detail to help and advise you through every phase of your divorce case.

Property and Debt Division:

Marital property attained during marriage, regardless of whose name it is under, can be divided. Marital property can include real estate (including a home bought in contemplation of a marriage), a pension plan, vehicles, bank accounts, income tax refund and/or household furnishings. However, property that is inherited by one spouse is not considered marital property; i.e., a family business or estate, unless transposed from separate property to community property.

If you are contractually bound with your ex-spouse on a debt, the creditor can require the entire payment of that debt from your share of the community property even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be able to have certain support obligations under it determined to be non-dischargeable by the bankruptcy court or in state court.

Spousal Support (Alimony):

Alimony is temporary or permanent financial support paid from one separated spouse to the other, either in one lump sum or in installments. Alimony is designed to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses over and above the money provided by child support. Alimony differs from child support because it is at the discretion of the judge. Child support is usually determined by state-sanctioned guidelines. The Law Offices of Philip H. Shecter will work hard to obtain the just and fair results you deserve.


Custody is the charge and control of a child, including the right to make all major decisions such as education, religious upbringing, training, health and welfare. Custody usually refers to a combination of physical custody and legal custody. Many factors influence an award of custody and the way a case is presented in court can have a large impact on the result for you and your children.

Child Visitation:

The right of a non-custodial parent to visit or spend time with his or her children is a crucial legal arrangement. The term "child visitation" refers to the time when the non-custodial parent has the right to be with the child. Child visitation can take a variety of forms or schedules. Some common arrangements include the following:

  • Alternate weekend visitation with the non-custodial parent, including three-day holidays.

  • Mid-week visitation with the non-custodial parent.

  • Sharing of the child during periods of school recess: winter, spring and summer.

  • New Year's Eve, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and Christmas with one parent or the other in alternate years.

  • Mother's Day with Mother, Father's Day with Father.

  • Alternate years on the child's birthday.

  • Open telephone contact by the parent who does not have actual physical custody of the child.

  • Exchange of a few days of visitation as mutually agreed without the need for a change or modification of the court order.

  • The Law Offices of Philip H. Shecter will stand up for your child visitation rights.

Child Support:

Child support is a periodic payment made to a custodial parent from a non-custodial parent to help compensate a child's living expenses; i.e., food, clothes, etc., and any other related debts. When one parent is awarded sole custody, as in the event of a divorce, the non-custodial parent is required to fulfill his or her child support obligation by making set payments, whereas the custodial parent meets his or her support obligation through the custody itself. When parents are awarded joint custody in a divorce, however, the support obligation is shared, and is based on a ratio of each parent's income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

The obligation to support minor children cannot be waived by either parent and is a right enjoyed by the child, not the parent. The State of California has guidelines that factor the amount of child support, such as the amount of time spent with the child, the income of both parents, and the standard of living the child is accustomed to. The court may allow deduction items such as catastrophic medical expenses and travel expenses for visitation.

Jurisdictional Issues:

When faced with a relocating custodial parent, the court will generally require that parent to give the other parent a minimum amount of notice prior to the anticipated move. This notice gives the non-custodial parent an opportunity to go to court and seek orders restraining the relocation of the child. These so-called move-away cases have gone back and forth on allowing and disallowing a move by the custodial parent with the minor children for over 20 years. While the best interests of the child have always been central to the decision, the uncertainty has made this area murky. Assistance of counsel is highly recommended if there exists disagreement between the parents. Issues involving two or more different states are governed by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) and the Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA).


Establishing legal fatherhood and the rights and duties that accompany it is known as paternity. There can be a difference between a biological father and a legal father. When a child is born, the mother's name automatically appears on the birth certificate. If she is married, her husband is assumed to be the baby's father. If the parents are not married, it is important for the mother, for the father, and above all for the child, to establish paternity. Call The Law Offices of Philip H. Shecter for help in making sure that you follow all the steps that are necessary in a paternity issue to protect your (and your child's) legal rights.

Take action to protect your rights …