Los Banos and Merced County Family Law Attorneys


The experienced family law lawyers of Germino, Amaral & Jordan are well practiced in, and have a deep breadth of knowledge and understanding of Family Law. Our attorneys are ready to help with the complex and critical needs that arise in cases having to do with divorce, legal separation, annulments, child custody, visitation, child support, arrearages, alimony, paternity, adoption, prenuptial agreements and other related needs.


Family court can be quite complex. Filing the correct documents in the proper manner can be time-critical. Our attorneys understand the Merced County court procedures and can help navigate our clients through even highly emotional divorce and custody cases with skill, compassion, and professionalism.


- Divorce Lawyers -


Choosing the right divorce attorney to help in situations where divorce is contemplated is critical. Whether or not your divorce is expected to be amicable (friendly) or fraught with contention, it is important to have a lawyer who has experience and can provide clarity to their client despite the emotion involved in these cases.


Minerva, the Roman Goddess of Wisdom stands atop the old courthouse in Merced. Photo by Charles Guest of memorable Places Photography
Minerva, the Roman Goddess of Wisdom stands atop the old courthouse in Merced. Photo by Charles Guest of Memorable Places Photography

The attorneys and staff at Germino, Amaral & Jordan are very familiar with the state laws concerning divorce, legal separation, and annulments. We can provide excellent experienced legal council to our clients. Our attorneys have had a great deal of experience in this area and we understand the intricacies and requirements of the local Merced County family court system.


We do our best to help our clients see past the emotional turmoil so as to provide as positive and fair an outcome that is possible given the situation. We will help you understand what is going on with your case, the court, and the mediation process (if any) and we will explain things in plain English and not legalese.


When selecting a lawyer in Los Banos or Merced County to help represent you in a divorce, separation or annulment, it is important to find someone who has plenty of courtroom experience, but who is also adept at understanding 'the big picture'. The decisions made during the course of the divorce process will have life-long impacts. Emotional, relational, and financial courses are sometimes set, not to mention the most critical aspect - the course of the minor children's lives.

- Child Custody & Visitation -


When parents choose to no longer remain married and they have children, the most important aspect of the divorce is going to the disposition and care of the children. Our attorneys are experts in the area of custody and visitation.


Our legal team will work closely with our clients to help them determine what sort of child custody arrangement is really in the best interest of the minor children and would likely be acceptable to the court. We will work diligently with the other parent's attorney and with the Merced County Family Court to create an order that has both you and your children's best interests in mind.


Issues of child visitation are also crucial. When parents are divorced visitation which is in the best interests of the child should be written into the final divorce order. Sometimes this is not clear-cut. When the child is potentially endangered by the non-custodial parent, or when there are other issues regarding the fitness of a parent, there are times when the court and the mediation staff will require a non-standard visitation order.


Our attorneys are able to help parents to obtain a legally correct visitation order that has the best interest of the child as its core. We will work with you and the opposing party to come to a positive agreeable solution that is in the best interest of your children. If that is not possible or the other parent is not receptive, then our courtroom-tested attorneys are fully prepared to go to trial in order to obtain an order that is in the best interests of your children.


Child Support and visitation are sometimes very easily agreed upon, but in other cases these issues can bring out the very worst in otherwise good people. We work toward helping our clients see past the raw emotion in order to peruse the best legal course of action that is in the child's best interests.

- Child Support Determination Issues -


By enacting the current child support laws, The Federal and California legislatures have made it very clear that BOTH parents are to be financially responsible for their children even after the dissolution of a marriage. The government has made it clear that parents must ensure that their children are taken care of financially despite who ends up with custody.


We can help our clients to obtain a fair and just court order which will financially provide for the minor children while being fair to both parties


Issues surrounding the financial support of minor children are sometimes bitterly fought in family court despite the fact that the law and the usual legal means of determining the amount of child support a non-custodial parent will owe is usually pretty clear.


There are however many instances where special considerations need to be taken into account or there are financial intricacies that are not fully anticipated by the codified law. Determinations as to who will pay for the child's health care, schooling, activities, and other needs are also commonly written into a child support order. We can help our clients with the details which need to be considered when putting together a fair and workable child-support package that must be adhered to.

- Child Support & Arrearages Issues -


When a non-custodial parent fails to pay the child support that he or she is ordered to pay, the debt does not go away. The unpaid child support remains due to the custodial parent and is called a child support arrearage. The child support arrearages will usually remain due and payable, with interest, to the parent who is owed even after the child reaches adulthood and beyond.


Despite the fact that the State of California has passed laws that give judges very little (if any) leeway in canceling out child-support arrears that are already owed, there are still some non-custodial parents who will attempt to fight this in court. The good news is that the California legislature has deemed that BOTH parents MUST be responsible for the large number of expenses that are incurred in bringing a child into adulthood and that even if a parent has not paid in many years that the custodial parent should receive full remuneration with interest for ALL unpaid child support.


The Federal government has also determined, and the federal legislature has written into the laws of the United States the necessity of paying your court-ordered child support.


Failure to pay child support is serious. Ongoing failure to pay your child support can result in extra interest, additional fines or legal financial sanctions, and in some cases can result in imprisonment and suspension of such things as state or federally-issued licenses, passports, and other privileges. This may include driver's, business, and other state issued licenses.


We can help the custodial parent with proper filings and legal argument should it be necessary to obtain a legally-correct judgment.


Our attorneys have a proven track record of obtaining judgments for arrearages owed to our clients. We have also been successful working through the courts while in conjunction the State's Department of Child Support Services in getting the non-custodial parents to begin making regular monthly payments against overdue child support. We can work toward a court order or DCSS actions which can include state-mandated garnishment of wages, government payments, certain 'entitlements', and other motivational sanctions which State and Federal law prescribes to motivate non-payers who have accumulated child support arrears.

- Alimony / Spousal Support -


Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a payment made (usually monthly) by one former spouse to another in conjunction with a court order or settlement. The intent of the law is to correct any economic unfairness to the divorced spouse such as a stay-at-home parent who suddenly finds themselves without a source of income.


In California, alimony is usually a temporary solution. Generally the court will order alimony for a period of months or years after which the payments will cease. There are exceptions, and there are good reasons for permanent alimony, but these are narrowly based and must follow a specific guideline which includes the circumstances of both parties.


Our attorneys have a good track record of obtaining proper alimony orders, getting alimony reduced or eliminated, as well as getting alimony fairly adjusted up or down.


In addition if you are owed arrears for alimony payments, we may be able to help get a court order for you by which you can collect them through various legal means including direct payments, garnishment of wages and other means.

- Paternity -


Many issues in family court revolve around the issue of paternity. Questions of child support, financial responsibility, custody, adoption, and more are frequently brought into better focus by determining who the biological parents of a child really are.


Our attorneys can help clients work through the courts to obtain a correct and legally proper paternity determination through genetic testing. Once the test has concluded who the parents are we can help in other legal areas which may be in contention.


- Adoption -


Adoption is a process by which a child is legally made part of another family - just as if they were born into it - with all of the legal obligations and rights that would attach to a naturally born child.


Letting a child go or bringing a child into your family is one of the most important decisions that you will make, both for yourself and for the child. Our lawyers may be able to help with the many legal issues that can come up including placement, finalization, putative father's rights, adoption of step-children, and much more.


Whether you are attempting to adopt a child or are contesting the placement of your child into another family, you should contact an attorney that has experience in this area and can help in this complex and sometimes long-drawn-out process. Our attorneys may be able to represent you with matters that come before the court. Please give us a call and discuss your situation.


- Prenuptial Agreements -


Many issues that appear before the family courts of this state could be resolved before they ever come to a boiling point if couples who are considering the bonds of matrimony could come to an agreement before they got married on what should happen should things not work out. This may not seem romantic, but, just like like making out a last will and testament or doing other estate planning, it is an important thing to consider. In fact, prenuptial agreements should be seen as a way to make sure that everyone is treated fairly should a marriage end unexpectedly.


Prenuptial agreements can cover any number of things such as marital asset distribution, money or property brought into the marriage, whether or not alimony or spousal support should be contemplated, marital debt assignment, financial responsibility during the marriage, whether or not there is a sunset clause (which will eventually cancel the agreement) in included, and any number of other important considerations.


For parents on a second marriage, prenuptial agreements can help to clarify intent and provide support for a will or living trust which will provide for the children of a previous marriage.


The range of things that can be covered in a prenup is very flexible and should be discussed at length by the couple and then gone over by TWO attorneys (one for each person.)


There are things that cannot be covered by a prenup in California. These may include potential future custody and visitation issues, child support, anything illegal, and things that are palpably unfair (unconscionable).


Our attorneys can help draft a prenuptial agreement and represent one of the parties to it. We expect and insist that the other party obtain legal counsel as well in order to be fair and to strengthen the ability of the prenup to stand up in court should it ever need to be executed.


- Other Family Law / Family Court Needs-


The areas listed above comprise many of the things that we do in the family law courts of Merced County but it certainly does not cover all of the areas where we are able to represent our clients. If you have other legal needs that deal with family law, please contact us and explain your situation. We may be able to help.


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Germino, Amaral & Jordan is based in Los Banos and primarily serves Merced County and the Westside. This includes but is not limited to Los Banos, Dos Palos, Santa Nella, Merced, Gustine, Patterson, Firebaugh, Newman, Chowchilla and the rural areas in between. We also regularly represent clients in Santa Clara and San Benito Counties.