Legal Services for Yuba County, Sutter County, Marysville, Yuba City, Colusa, Wheatland, Chico and surrounding areas since 1909.
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What Does it Mean to Be a Certified Family Law Specialist?
A "certified specialist" is a California attorney who holds a current certificate as a specialist issued by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization or any other entity approved by the State Bar to designate specialists. Family Law was first designated as a speciality area by the California Board of Legal Specialization in July, 1980. David R. Lane has been certified by them as a Family Law Specialist since July, 1980. Kimberly A. Steffenson has been a certified Family Law Specialist since July of 2012.
Family Law is the practice of law dealing with all aspects of the California Family Code and including, but not limited to, the following:
* property issues;
* enforcement proceedings;
* post-marital agreements;
* psychological and counseling aspects of family law;
* family law writ and appellate practice;
* non-marital domestic relationships;
* child custody; and,
* child support
No attorney is required to obtain certification as a certified specialist as a prerequisite to practicing law in any particular field. Any lawyer, alone or in association with any other lawyer, has the right to practice in any field of law and act as counsel in every type of case, even though he or she is not a specialist.
The purpose of the rules governing the State Bar of California Program for Certifying Legal Specialists is to establish a program for certifying specialists in specified areas of law, to identify to the public attorneys who have demonstrated proficiency in the speciality fields and to encourage attorney competence.
In order to become a "Certified Family Law Specialist," an attorney must:
1. be an active member of the State Bar of California;
2. have been engaged in the practice of family law for at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the applicant's time spent in occupational endeavors during the previous three years;
3. demonstrate performance of a minimum number of designated tasks in family law as follows:
A. an applicant must show that within five years prior to certification, the applicant was substantially involved in the practice of family law which includes actual experience in each of the following areas:
1. restraining orders/domestic violence proceedings;
2. dissolution of marriage, legal separation, or nullity of marriage litigation;
3. custody of children;
4. child support;
5. spousal support;
6. modification of support;
7. division of community property;
8. confirmation of separate property;
9. taxation issues incident to dissolution of marriage;
10. contempt and/or enforcement proceedings;
11. mediation and/or negotiation of family law disputes; and,
12. psychological and counseling aspects of dissolution of marriage.
B. an applicant must also make a showing of substantial involvement in the area of family law by completion of four (4) of the following five (5) categories:
1. principal counsel in twenty (20) contested family law hearings involving one or more issues set forth in the above list.
2. principal counsel in five (5) hearings or trials under the California Family Law Code which are within the family law definition and which are more than three hours in length and involve testimony of witnesses.
3. principal counsel in a minimum of thirty (30) negotiated family law judgments or negotiated marital settlement agreements.
4. principal counsel in thirty (30) stipulated temporary family law orders; or
5. principal counsel and principal author of the briefs in three (3) California family law appeals in which an opinion was filed.
4. demonstrate educational experience in family law by completing not less than forty-five (45) hours of educational activities specifically approved for family law and for each category required by the board of specialization;
5. pass a written examination; and,
6. demonstrate proficiency in the specialty area through independent inquiry and review by submitting references who are attorneys or Judges so that the commission may conduct an independent inquire and review of the applicant.
In order to maintain certification, among other things, we must comply with most of the above requirements and, in addition, we must complete not less than sixty (60) hours of education in the area of family law each licensing period.