Family Law

Committed to Excellence and Equality in Family Law

The Law Offices of Michele M. Poteracke in Santa Rosa and Fairfield, CA provides excellent legal representation to our clients. We do our best to keep you informed and involved in every aspect of your case.

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Understanding Family Law

A family law dispute is one of the most stressful legal matters you can face. Emotions can run high, which is why you must seek legal assistance to educate you about your rights, responsibilities, and the law. Attorney Michele Poteracke strives to do just that.

Our legal system is adversarial by nature. It is based upon a competitive desire to win or best the other party. However, this approach in family law can have devastating results and is not necessarily the right or best direction to take.

Family law is unlike any other area of law. While it is bound by the same rules of civil procedure and evidence, resolving family law issues calls for making the best of a bad situation. It truly is an area where the best to be hoped for is a win-win and lose-lose for both parties. In other words, a compromise they can accept.

By its nature, family law means a sharing or division of a) time spent with your children; b) all assets and debts accumulated during the marriage; and c) financial support for your children and possibly the spouse. It means a change in your status quo. That’s why we believe you’re better able to address this trying time by knowing your rights and obligations.

We can help you with the following areas of family law:

  • Divorce
  • Establishlishment of Paternity
  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Division of Debts
  • Division of Assets
  • Spousal Support

For more information, send us an email or call (707) 571-1109 to schedule a initial consultation.

Some of the Basics of California Family Law

  1. California is a “no-fault” state—if one party to a marriage wants it to end, the other party cannot stop a divorce.
  2. Parties who can cooperate and communicate with each other and create a shared parenting plan for their children are better able to help their children through the confusion and trauma of divorce.
  3. If the parents cannot cooperate and agree on a shared parenting plan that will work for them, the court will do it. The court does not look to the wishes and conveniences of the adults when determining a plan for child custody; instead, the court will determine what is in the best interest of your children, without ever having met them.
  4. Both parents must use their best efforts to support their children financially. Even so, the parent earning less than the other may be entitled to child support from the other parent.
  5. Both husband and wife are expected to act as responsible adults and therefore be self-supporting to the greatest extent possible. The party earning less may be entitled to spousal support from the other for at least a limited time.
  6. California is a community property state. Generally, all earnings and the accumulation of wealth and debt during the marriage belong to both husband and wife equally.
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Sometimes, finding mutual ground upon which to resolve issues is impossible—emotions may be too raw or personal dysfunction may be an issue—and an adversarial litigated divorce or paternity/custody action can’t be avoided. At such times, you need effective legal assistance. Attorney Michele Poteracke is prepared to help you through the litigation process, prepare your case, and present you in the best way possible.

Representation Options

Getting legal help is easier than you think. The Law Offices of Michele M. Poteracke offers a variety of options to meet your specific legal needs and budget. Whether you need an attorney to handle your entire case or need help on individual issues, we can assist you.

Representation Options

Getting legal help is easier than you think. The Law Offices of Michele M. Poteracke offers a variety of options to meet your specific legal needs and budget. Whether you need an attorney to handle your entire case or need help on individual issues, we can assist you.

Full-Service Legal Representation

This means Michele Poteracke acts as your Attorney of Record. She will represent you in court hearings and manage all telephone calls, emails, and correspondence regarding your case.

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  • Opposing attorneys are prohibited from communicating with you directly unless your attorney is present or consents.
  • All legal documents are prepared by the attorney and not by a paralegal or legal assistant.
  • This includes unlimited service (billed at the attorney’s hourly rate).

A RETAINER AGREEMENT is required, along with payment of the retainer. The retainer is a guestimate of the anticipated attorney time and costs (like court filing fees and service of process). IT IS NOT A FLAT RATE FEE.

Attorney time and costs are billed against the retainer, which shows as a credit on your billing statement. When the retainer or credit balance is running low, an additional retainer may be requested for the anticipated work still outstanding. Or the attorney may ask you to go on a monthly billing cycle, with payments due within 20 days of the bill.

Flat-Fee, Uncontested Divorce

  • Parties must agree in advance on all issues, including division of assets and debts, child custody and support (if applicable), and spousal support.
  • You are self-represented (or In Pro Per). Michele Poteracke is not your Attorney of Record (see above). If issues become contested and/or a court appearance is necessary, your service option must be converted to full-service legal representation.
  • All legal document preparation is completed by an attorney and not by a paralegal or legal assistant.
  • This includes legal advice/consulting of up to two hours cumulatively (in addition to the half-hour initial consultation).

Half of the flat-fee is due upon initiation of services. The remaining half is due before the preparation of the Marital Settlement Agreement/Judgment. The flat-fee charged is based upon the factors involved in your divorce while a base flat-fee is charged for all flat-fee divorces.

If your divorce involves no children, no community property rights to a home, no pension/retirement/401(k) accounts to divide, and no spousal support, you’ll only be charged the base flat-fee. The flat-fee increases for divorces involving children, spousal support, pensions/retirements, and home/s to divide. It does not include court filing fees or fees for process servers. Contact our office for further fee information.

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Limited Scope Representation/One-Time-Only Court Appearances

If you are representing yourself in a divorce, custody, visitation, or child or spousal support matter but prefer to have an attorney represent you in court, Attorney Poteracke can appear for you for what is called “limited scope” representation.

A small retainer fee is required in advance. You will be billed at the attorney’s hourly rate for preparing for the hearing and the court appearance. The fee will be deducted from your retainer. Any additional amount due not covered by your retainer will be billed to you and due within 20 days of the bill. The remaining amount in your retainer will be refunded to you.

In-Depth Consultations

If you’ve gone through much of the divorce process representing yourself but need to make sure your paperwork for a settlement agreement and judgment has all the elements it needs to protect you, ask for an in-depth consultation. We will review your documents to tell you whether or not they’re correct or if you’re giving up assets you shouldn’t.

These consultations usually last more than an hour and involve the review of your court document history, disclosures, and the draft of your settlement. Attorney Poteracke can then advise you about the problems with your paperwork. You’ll be responsible for making the changes she suggests if you agree.

A small retainer fee is required in advance. You will be billed at the attorney’s hourly rate, and full payment is due upon rendering of services.

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Speak With a Knowledgeable and Experienced Family Law Attorney

Learn more about your rights and obligations and explore representation options. Contact us for a consultation.