FLC is short for Family Law Code in California.  California’s Family Law Code contains all of the statues pertaining to issues related in the Divorce; Child Custody; Child Support; Spousal Support, Property Division and the list is not exhaustive.  Even though, this is an attempt to place all of the statutes in one single subject known as the Family Law Code, there are cross overs to the Code of Civil Procedure; Civil Code and Evidence Code which one needs to be aware in a pending action for Dissolution of Marriage and Divorce.

Often times, you will hear your attorney speaking a short hand. “Husband has a 2640 claim” The attorney is referring to Family Law Code Section 2640 meaning that Husband has a separate property claim to an asset for which he needs to be reimbursed.

California’s Family Law Code also governs the statutes relating to Registered Domestic Partnerships.



Contempt is a method of enforcing a prior court order which is being disobeyed. In Family Law, this should rarely, if ever, be used. Although when sitting waiting for court for a case I am handling, I see contempt being increasingly used by Self Represented (Pro Per) Litigants. Contempt is definitely not the most efficient use of accomplishing the goal of enforcing a court order.

First, contempt goes down in you family history, and do you really want your grandchildren sitting around a dinner table thinking what a crazy old person Grandma or Grandpa was for throwing the other in jail? For what at a later date may look like $1.00. Second, because contempt is quasi criminal in nature, your spouse is entitled to all kinds of criminal protections such as the right to a court appointed attorney (free of charge sometimes). I have never seen a self represented litigant properly try a contempt as the pleadings are thrown out at the arraignment level, leaving the self represented litigant frustrated and disappointed with the court system.

Side note: unless your family law attorney has previous criminal experience, such as a former prosecutor or defense attorney. Hire an attorney with a criminal background more so than a family law background to prosecute or defend a contempt. Most family law attorneys cannot properly put on a contempt case. With all this being said, contempt sometimes is necessary. It should be used carefully, and sparingly. If you really need to have a previous court order enforced, you cannot afford to lose a contempt because the message sent to the opposing party who violated or continues to violate a court order when you loose is that they can get by with anything. You have just opened the door to further bad behavior. So be smart, hire an attorney for a contempt.


Summons is the first pleading filed in any Civil Case. It is in essence calling or “summoning” the other parties to a case to court, usually with the opening line “You have been sued…” Since divorce is a civil case, this is regularly the top page of your initial divorce pleadings.

Originally only one Summons per defendant was issued in a case. The original Summons had the court’s seal which was an embossed portion of the Summons. The filing party (Plaintiff or Petitioner) would retain the original Summons and had to return the original Summons to the Court with a Proof of Services Summons. This is no longer required in California, but I do miss the original embossed seals, the embossing although old fashioned for authentication purposes, but nevertheless denoted the importance of the initial divorce pleadings.

While it is no longer necessary to return an original Summons to the court, a Summons alone is insufficient for the court. In order to have your divorce started, you must return a Proof of Service Summons to the court showing that you spouse has been served with the initial divorce pleadings.

Bifurcated Divorce, sometimes known as Divisible Divorce in jurisdictions other than California, is the entry of a Judgment on a single issue in the divorce. In California the most common use of a Bifurcated Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is for the termination of marital status. What does this mean? You are divorced in name alone, as you marital status has ended. All of your other issues such as child custody; child support; spousal support, who gets the house are still open for the court to decide at a later date.

However, sometimes attorneys will carve out a contingent issue, such as the date of valuation of a professional practice to save the parties time and money. For instance, due to court availability, lengthy discovery or other issues; a case may take years. So when should an asset such as a business or professional practice be valued? At the time that the parties separated two years ago or today? Depending on who is buying the other out of the practice, the argument is for the lower vs. the higher price. If there is a perceived (real or not) difference between the value of the business today vs. the value of the business two years ago, it is prudent to have the court determine the date of valuation prior to the performance of a business valuation, so that the professional appraiser, usually a forensic accountant, does not have to conduct two appraisals which would be costly. So the court would enter a Judgment that the business or professional practice would be valued two years ago when the parties separated.

Sometimes termination of marital status will occur so that another party has plans to remarry, and needs the termination of marital status by a date certain, so that their new marriage is valid.


Definition: Arrears, sometimes referred to as “Support Arrears or Arrearage” accumulates after a court order is entered for child and/or spousal support.  Arrears accumulate from the date of the court order (may be made retroactive to the date the filing for the hearing) to the date the order is modified or terminated.

Effect: Support Arrears are the darling of the legislature on both sides of the aisle and many laws abound on this subject.  In California, post judgment interest on support arrears accumulates at 10 percent per annum and child support arrears have additional penalties on top of the post judgment interest.  Do not rely on oral agreements with your spouse regarding support reductions or support suspension, the oral agreements are only as good as your former spouse is happy with you.  Once the working relationship sours, and you have no evidence of your agreement, you will find yourself facing the dreaded arrears.

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Definition: A Subpoena is a command to appear at a certain time and date to give testimony.  You can be subpoenaed to a court hearing/trial or you can be subpoenaed to a deposition in a private attorney’s office.   If you are requested to bring documents with you, the subpoena is called a Subpoena Duces Tecum.

Effect: Your testimony, at court or in a private attorneys office, will be given under penalty of perjury.  Subpoenas are used most frequently for witnesses, or non party participants, such as percipient witnesses to events or experts.  Generally, parties are issued Notices of Depositions.  If you should receive a subpoena for a hearing or deposition, you should consult an attorney before appearing for the hearing or deposition.  Your testimony will be recorded by a court reporter in a deposition or by the court reported inside the courtroom.  Often unwittingly, witnesses will testify to a fact which is later used against them in other proceedings.  I have often felt that Subpoenas should be issued with their own version of a Miranda warning.

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Definition: The acronym for “Emergency Protective Order” is EPO which is an order issued by Judge after speaking with responding police officers on site.

Effect: An EPO is a restraining order issued to protect against further domestic violence. The duration of the order is until the purported victim can make a court appearance for Domestic Violence Orders in court, usually 24 -48 hours.

All information displayed in this blog posting is the property of Sullivan & Guzman APC, and cannot be re-used without prior approval of the author.