Low Cost Divorce Attorney

The San Jose law office of Vivian Carlson offers low cost divorce alternatives to those seeking to keep their costs to a minimum:

  • Educate yourself about the divorce process. It will help you decide how to control the process and make educated decisions.  Superior Court websites are a good source. Each county in California has its own website.
  •  Decide what is worth fighting over, and what isn’t.
  • Hire an affordable lawyer. There is a large range of per hour fees. There are lawyers who will charge a flat fee for certain services. Shop around.
  •  You can avoid using lawyers. Superior Courts in California have self-help clinics to help with document preparation. The self help clinics will not appear in court for you.
  • Use a lawyer in a limited fashion. You may need help on a few steps in the process. This is called limited scope representation. Read the article in this website about limited scope representation.
  • If you and your spouse/domestic partner, are willing to cooperate and maintain a goal of working together on your legal matter, consider the use of a mediator. Mediation aims to keep emotional issues on the backburner.

Visitation with Children

vivian_carlson_attorneyIt is the policy of California courts to provide children with maximum contact with each parent. In such a case, many parents assume that they are entitled to 50-50 custody. This is the ideal situation in some cases, but not all. Very young children may not do well with a strict 50-50 child sharing arrangement. Much depends on the maturity and temperment of the child, the environment in the household of each parent, demands of each parent, the children’s preference, and the ability of each parent to co-parent.

Even if a parent is not awarded a 50-50 child sharing, each parent must recognize and assert the right to maximum contact with one’s child. Visitation with one’s child is a right, not a privilege.   However, custodial rights can be removed in the case of domestic abuse or violence.

Santa Clara County Judgment Attorney

carlson mediaionVery often laypersons who submit the paperwork to obtain a finalization of his/her dissolution in Santa Clara County  fail to complete or submit the required documents properly.    The error may be something as simple as an unchecked box on the Judgment form or  failure to provide proof of service of disclosure documents.   The list is endless.   The most vexing problem is that a return of rejected documents may take several weeks to be returned by the clerk’s office.   The process starts over when the corrections are made and resubmitted to the clerk of the court.  The San Jose office of Vivian Carlson may be employed to correct documents and obtain the approval of a dissolution or legal separation Judgment packet.

Contempt of Court


Contempt is a violation of a court order that occurs in two situations: a disregard or disrespect of the court or court officers in open court or 2) a violation of a court order. Contempt is punishable by civil and criminal penalties. In the family law arena, contempt of court most often arises in the context of failure to pay a money judgment.   In order to establish contempt it must be shown that a person had knowledge of an order and had the ability to pay the judgment.  It is also critical that the order being violated is clearly stated.  For example:

Jane and John have finished their divorce and received their final filed Judgement.   The Judgement states that Jane must pay John $30,000.00 to equalize the division of community property.  The order does not state when this transfer must occur.   In the first month, John asks Jane several times for the $30,000.00, knowing that she has $30,000.00 sitting in her bank account.   John brings an action for contempt against Jane 30 days after the Judgement is filed.   Result:  John will lose the contempt action.   Even though Jane has the ability to pay, the court order does not state the time in which Jane must perform.   The court will not find contempt based on this vague order.



Support Calculators

California courts use software that determines the amount of child support. These calculations are used statewide, whether you live in Alameda County, Santa Clara County, or San Mateo County, etc. These programs are available online for free.

The state of California has provided this service to the public:


These calculations will generally cost you money when prepared by your attorney. There is a “first time” charge in the $100.00 range. Some attorneys will assist you for the limited purpose of helping establish child support

Santa Clara County Family Court changes

carlson mediaionThe court system has become entrenched  in  a bog of overworked judges, clerks and employees. This is due to budget cutbacks.  The cut backs effect everyone using the court system, especially the public.

  • The office for filing of documents has cut back on service hours; the Sunnyvale family court clerk and the downtown San Jose family court clerk close at 3:00 pm.  The Santa Clara County Family clerk Probate clerk will not pick up phones after 3:00 pm.
  • It takes months for certain family law documents to be approved and filed.
  • The court has eliminated court “calendars” that helped the court speed cases through the court system: “Fast track”. One such calendar was the Case Management Conference.    They were automatically set for a date several months after the filing of a new family law matter.
  • Effective in August, 2016 family court matters set by an attorney must be filed electronically.  This entails hiring an e-file vendor, which accepts documents online and then logs the document into the court filing system.  The vendor charges a service fee for each document filed, beginning at $1.00 per document up to $9.95, depending on the vendor.  The vendor charges one’s credit card for the filing fee and the document fee.   All vendors charge an additional bank fee of approximately 2.5% to 3%.  The e-file requirement does not apply to those litigants who do not have an attorney, a status known as propia persona, pro-per, for short.  Thus, they can file the documents with the court clerk in person, or by U.S. mail.