ESTHER C. MOORE, Attorney At Law
2103 Redwood Street, Suite 200, Vallejo, Ca  94590 Phone:  (707) 648-3110



Esthe r C. Moore - Practice Areas

Divorce

This action can be filed by a married person to end the marital relationship between a husband and wife. Along with restoring the parties to single status, the Court will issue orders for custody and visitation of the minor children of the marriage, child support, spousal support, and confirm or divide community and separate property assets and debts.

Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the other party, Respondent, must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request an entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the divorce proceeding without the participation of the Respondent.

If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court's signature.

Legal Separation

This action can be filed by a married person who wishes to maintain the marital status but separate and resolve all of other issues of the marriage. The Court will issue orders for custody and visitation of the minor children of the marriage, child support, spousal support, and confirm or award community and separate property assets and debts. If the other party, Respondent, responds to the paperwork and requests a dissolution of marriage, the Court will grant the dissolution of marriage.

Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the Respondent must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request an entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the legal separation proceeding without the participation of the Respondent.

If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court's signature.

Establishing Parentage (Paternity)

This action is filed by an unmarried mother or by an unmarried father who have minor children together. Through this action, the Court will determine paternity (or non-paternity if the father is found not to be the biological father of the minor children), and make custody and visitation as well as child support orders.

Once an action is filed by a Petitioner, the other party, Respondent, must be personally served with specific paperwork. If the Respondent fails to file the necessary responding paperwork within thirty (30) days of service, the Petitioner may request the entry of default. Once the default is entered, the Petitioner can complete the paternity proceeding without the participation of the Respondent.

If the Respondent files the necessary responding paperwork, the case will then proceed as either a contested matter or an uncontested matter. The action is considered contested if the parties are unable to agree on some or all issues and the unresolved issues must be resolved by the Court. The action is considered uncontested if the parties are able to cooperate and agree on all issues outside of Court and the matter can proceed to its conclusion by submitting the necessary signed paperwork for the Court's signature.

Custody and Visitation

Before parents can address the issues of custody and visitation of their minor children, there must be an underlying action. If the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or nullity or file the petition for custody and support of minor children's action. If the parents are unmarried, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship or file the petition for custody and support of minor children.

In most counties, custody and visitation issues may also be raised through an action initiated by your local Department of Child Support Services, formerly known as the District Attorney's Office - Bureau of Family Support Operations.

Many parents make their own parenting agreement for custody and visitation. When both parents agree, the agreement can be filed with the Court. The agreement can be drafted by working with an attorney or by seeking assistance from the Court's Family Law Facilitator's office.

Parents who do not agree on a parenting plan will be required to attend mandatory mediation -- which is required for required for parents with a dispute regarding custody and visitation.

Mediation is provided at no-cost through the Family Court Services Department. Mediation gives parents the opportunity to discuss with a neutral mental health professional the best plan for their children. If the parents reach an agreement, the mediator drafts the custody and visitation plan. 

Child Support

Before parents can address the issue of child support, there must be an underlying action. If the parents are married, either the mother or the father must first file an action requesting a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, nullity or file the petition for custody and support of minor children's action. If the parents are unmarred, either the mother or the father must file an action to establish the parental relationship or file the petition for custody and support of minor children. There is no legal obligation to pay child support from one parent to the other until there is a Court order. A Court order is obtained by requesting a hearing.

Once an underlying action has been filed, the Court can address the issue of child support in the underlying action. Further discussion of child support can be located by referring to the appropriate underlying action.

Child support issues may also be raised by your local Department of Child Support Services.

Click here for more information on child support.

The Office of the Family Law Facilitator assists parties with child support, spousal support and health insurance issues. The staff consists of attorneys and paralegals, which will meet with parties individually to attempt to resolve their support issues. The staff does not give legal advice nor does it represent a particular party in an action. There is no confidentiality nor attorney-client relationship created or intended between the office and a party.

Spousal Support

Once an underlying action for dissolution of marriage or legal separation has been filed, the Court can address the issue of spousal support in the underlying action. There is no legal obligation to pay spousal support by one parent to another until there is a Court order. A Court order is obtained by filing a hearing. 

Guardianships

Guardianship is a court proceeding in which a judge gives someone who is not the parent:
  • custody of a child, or
  • the power to manage the child's property (called "estate"), or
  • both.

But, if Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved in your case, you probably have to go to the juvenile court to find out what you can do.

Sometimes, no matter how much parents love their child, they aren't able to take care of their child. Maybe one or both parents:

  • have a serious physical illness,
  • are in the military and have to go overseas,
  • have to go to a rehab program for a while,
  • are going to jail for a while,
  • have a drug or alcohol abuse problem,
  • have a history of abuse, or
  • can't take care of their child for some other reason.

The court will look at what is in the best interest of the child to make sure the child is raised in a safe, stable and loving environment. A legal guardian can care for a child when the parents aren't able to.

Restraining Orders

A restraining order is a Court order issued to prevent the recurrence of acts of abuse by a batterer. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, abuse is defined as any of the following:
  1. Intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.
  2. Sexual assault.
  3. Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
  4. Engaging in any behavior that has been or could be enjoined such as molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, contacting the other by mail or otherwise, disturbing the peace of the other party.

The act(s) of abuse/violence must be recent, within thirty days, and the batterer must be a spouse, ex-spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend, someone with whom the victim has or has had a dating relationship, an immediate family member (mother, father, in-laws, siblings, adult children), or a person with whom a party has a child/ren together. A victim that is a target of abuse but does not have the necessary relationship to the batterer may file a civil harassment restraining order, discussed below.

The restraining order can include the following: restraints on personal conduct by the batterer; orders for the batterer to stay-away from the victim's home/work and/or children's school; orders for the batterer to be removed from the residence; child custody and visitation and support orders and other miscellaneous orders.


Monday thru Thursday from 9:00 am to 5:00pm

and Fridays by appointment

Esther C. Moore, Esq.
2103 Redwood Street, Suite 200
Vallejo, Ca  94590
(707) 648-3110 * Fax (707) 648-1496