Law Office of Tony Escareno | Family Law Attorney | Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, etc. | Monterey, Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Salinas, Hollister, Gilroy, San Jose

High-Quality Legal Representation


The Law Office of Tony Escareño practices mainly in the areas of Divorce, Alimony, Child Support, Child Custody and Visitation and Property Division.

Below are brief descriptions of many of the legal services we frequently encounter. Also, please read our "Philosophy" page.

There you will find how the office strives to work.


There is no such thing as an easy divorce (also known as a “Dissolution of Marriage” or “Dissolution of Domestic Partnership.”) For most people, the mere thought of divorcing creates significant hardship and stress in their life. There may be issues with child custody, child support, alimony, distribution of property/division of community property, and/or emotional distress, not allowing you to thoroughly and carefully over-see your divorce process.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. A legal separation does not end a marriage, but has a similar effect. Also, a legal separation allows you to seek orders like child support, spousal support, partner support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, or any other orders you can get with a divorce case.


 An annulment is also known as a “nullification of marriage,” “nullity of marriage,” or “nullity of domestic partnership.” An annulment may be granted when the court finds that the marriage or domestic partnerships is not legally valid or “void.”

A marriage or domestic partnerships may be legally invalid in cases dealing with:

  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • Force, Fraud, or Physical or Mental incapacity
  • One of the two spouses was not of legal age to marry

Child Support 

Couples are encouraged to agree on the details and amounts of child support. The court is almost always pleased with such agreements and is willing to enforce that agreement. However, in cases where couples are unable to agree, California has a formula (called a “guideline”) for figuring out how much child support should be paid in all cases.

Although there are many factors in determining amount of child support, the court looks at three main factors: (1) Father's income, (2) mother's income, and (3) which parent has primary custody.

Child support payments are usually made until children turn 18 or 19 if they are still in high school full time, living at home, and can't support themselves. Parents may, however, agree to support a child longer. The court may also order that both parents continue to support a disabled adult child that is not self-supporting.

Parents can seek modifications of child support orders at any time before child support ends.

Child Custody / Visitation Rights

Similar to Child Support, a couple may agree on the specifics of how they will share custody of their children. In cases where the couple is unable to agree, the court will then look at many factors in deciding how child custody will be ordered. The court is always mindful of the child’s best interests. That is, the court takes into consideration what is most beneficial to the child. The court will consider the child’s health, safety, and well-being, among many other factors, in deciding how custody will be divided or if custody will be given to one parent only. 

The court will also look into a parent’s history of violence, domestic violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, and other indicators that the court feels may jeopardize the child’s well-being.

Grandparent’s Rights of Visitation

Grandparents can have special visitation rights under certain circumstances.  The judge will look at many factors, especially what the parent with custody of the child wants. The judge’s final decision will be based on the best interest of the child but the parents have a lot of say in what they think is best for their children.  The law gives special consideration to requests for visitation by grandparents when their son or daughter, the child’s parent, is deceased.

Grandparents wanting visitation should first make every effort to reach an agreement for visitation with the parents of the children.  If they can’t reach an agreement, grandparents can ask the court either by joining an existing case between the parents of the children, or by filing an independent request for visitation in court.

Spousal Support (Alimony)

When a couple separates or divorces, the court may order one spouse to pay the other a certain amount of support money each month. The purpose of alimony is to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse. Unlike child support, which in most states is mandated according to very specific monetary guidelines, courts have broad discretion in determining whether to award alimony and, if so, how much and for how long.

Although there are many factors in determining how much Spousal Support to order, the court takes into consideration:

  • Length of the marriage or domestic partnership,
  • Age and health of each spouse,
  • Spouse’s earning capacity,
  • Spouse’s expenses,
  • Whether there are minor children at home, and
  • The history of the way the couple handled money during the marriage.

Property Distribution/Division of Community Property

The Law Office of Tony Escareño recognizes the importance of protecting your property rights in a divorce property distribution agreement or judgment. Because California is a community property state, the courts seek a 50/50 split of all community property assets.  There are three basic steps in dividing property in a divorce action: 

  • Characterization: First, it must be determined whether the property is “community           property,” “separate property,” or “quasi-marital property.” 
  • Valuation: Second, the property must be given a value either by agreement or appraisal. 
  • Division: After the property has been characterized and valued, the goal of the court is to confirm separate property to the owner of that property and to evenly divide community property.

Parentage / Paternity

It is essential to establish paternity when a child was born to a non-married couple. A child who is born to a married couple is presumed to be the child of that couple. However, when the couple is not married, the court requires an official judgment of paternity.

If you know who your child's father is, but you have not put it in writing and obtained an official judgment of paternity, the child will not be entitled to the father's Social Security benefits and will not have inheritance rights in the father's estate. Even if the father's name is on the child's birth certificate, it is very important to get an official judgment of paternity so that the child can get the necessary benefits if something happens to his or her father before the child turns 18.

Pre-Nuptial & Post-Nuptial Agreements

A pre-Marital Agreement (also known as a Prenuptial or Prenup Agreement) can be extremely beneficial in establishing property rights upon divorce. It gives the couple exclusive power to make most decisions regarding how their property, assets, debts and even alimony will be awarded. Such an agreement can help you avoid the stressful process of having the court divide the property for you.

The Law Office of Tony Escareño can help you through this process with clarity and confidence.

Restraining Orders

A Restraining Order may be appropriate when a person is causing significant stress in your life. Meaning, a restraining order can protect you from emotional, physical or financial abuse. It can also protect you from being stalked or harassed. There are various types of restraining orders, but they all provide you with the protection and peace-of-mind you and your family deserve.

Enforcement of Court Orders

Too often are clients confronted with courts orders that the other party is not respecting or is simply choosing not to obey. For example, with a child custody order in place, one parent picks up the child too late, too early or not at all. Other times, one parent will not allow the other parent to see the child on a scheduled visitation.

There are other times when the parent who is supposed to pay child support does not pay the full amount, pays late or simply refuses to pay. In all of these cases, an attorney can help you enforce the court orders in the most effective and efficient manner.

Modification of Court Orders

Although a court order may have been appropriate at the time it was made, new circumstances can raise issues with that order and require a modification. There may be a change in employment, living arrangement, change of residence, etc., all of which may negatively affect your current child custody or child support order.

An attorney can guide you through this difficult process, which is usually met with opposition from the other party. The Law Office of Tony Escareño can help you come with a modification that is more in line with your current circumstances. 

Communities Served

Santa Cruz
San Jose
...and the entire Central Coast.

The information on this page is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Information on this page is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. 

© Copyright 2011 | Law Office of Tony Escareño