Family Law Overview

The Law Offices of Ann Riley represents clients in a range of family law matters in San Francisco and throughout the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Mateo. We handle an array of cases, including:


California is a no-fault divorce state. Before a divorce can become final, a petition for dissolution must be filed and the spouses must resolve the issues of their divorce. Whether through negotiations or litigation, arrangements must be made with respect to the division of property, custody of the children, and financial support. For more information about divorce in California, visit the FAQ.

Complex Property Division

In California, community property is divided equally between spouses at divorce. Classification and distribution of property can become complicated in cases where couples have extensive assets, such as stocks and retirement plans. At the Law Offices of Ann Riley, we have successfully handled many cases involving complex property division, including claims of breach of fiduciary duty, which have increased in frequency in recent years.

Child Custody and Visitation

Ideally, divorcing spouses who have children will reach an amicable agreement on custody and visitation arrangements, whether through mediation or informal negotiations. Where litigation proves unavoidable, the family court will make a determination based on what it believes is in the best interests of the children, taking into account the health, safety, and general welfare of the child. Maintaining relationships with both parents is believed to be critical to a child’s welfare, so it is a policy of the California family courts to try to place custody with the parent who is most likely to foster continuing contact between the children and the other parent.

Child Support

A parent who does not have sole physical custody of the children is likely to be ordered to pay some amount of child support. The amount of child support is generally determined by DissoMaster software, which follows a formula dictated by the California Family Code. For more information about child support, visit the FAQ.

Spousal Support

At divorce, the court will occasionally order a period of spousal support, also known as alimony, with the goal of both spouses becoming self-supporting over time. In determining the amount and duration of support, the court will look at the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage. The court will also consider factors outlined in the California Family Code, such as the length of the marriage, the need of the requesting party, the other party’s ability to pay, relative income levels, and the requesting party’s education and potential earning capacity. More information about spousal support can be found in the FAQ.

Premarital and Post-Marital Agreements

A premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement, gives the intended spouses the opportunity to: learn about one another’s assets and liabilities; understand how California law views their various assets and liabilities prior to, during, and after marriage; and reach an agreement about how their property will be owned, classified, and handled during the marriage and in the case of divorce. Premarital agreements are often used to protect assets but have become more common as a way of starting a healthy and communicative marriage.

Post-Judgment Modifications

It is not uncommon for a family court to retain jurisdiction for many years after a divorce is final. This is to allow for the inevitable changes in circumstances that occur over time. For example, one spouse’s need for financial support may end after he or she becomes gainfully employed, or the custody arrangement may need to be reviewed when one parent wishes to move out of state. These adjustments are known as post-judgment modifications.


A paternity case is an action to establish a parental relationship. These actions are most often brought between parties who are not married. Usually, either a mother is seeking child support or a father is seeking to establish contact rights with a child where no marriage ever existed.

Certified Specialist in Family Law

Whether you are getting married, seeking to establish paternity, or considering divorce, obtain advice from a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. The Law Offices of Ann Riley provides trusted advice and representation to individuals in a variety of family law cases.