Stockdale Law Firm Opens Second Office

By on July 1, 2016 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , , |
Stockdale Law Firm Opens Second Office

Stockdale Law Firm is excited to announce the opening of our second office! The new location is just minutes from the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville, CA. This new addition to the firm will serve as a partner to our current El Dorado Hills location. The new office opens on July 1, 2016 and is located at 915 Highland Pointe Drive, Suite 250, Roseville, California, 95678: Phone (916) 724-5200.

The firm chose to open our second office in Roseville because we have a passion for helping Northern California clients especially those in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. By opening a second office, we are able to reach out to those in need in Placer and Nevada Counties. Also, we are able to provide a closer location for meeting with our current clients who live closer to I-80 and Hwy 65.

In addition to serving more foothill clients, we chose Placer County because it has a reputation for having a well-organized and well-managed Family Law Division. As our aim is always the successful outcome of our cases, Placer County was an easy choice for our expansion.

In addition to having the new Roseville office, we have expanded our practice to include cases in Nevada County. The firm will now handle all family law issues in Nevada County including: divorce, legal separation, custody and visitation, child and spousal support, step-parent and family member adoptions, guardianships and domestic violence. In the coming months, we will also offer attorney mediation from our gifted Associate Attorney, Amber White.

This truly has been an exciting year for our firm. In September 2015, Rebecca Esty-Burke CFLS purchased the firm, bringing with her 11 years of excellent experience and expertise in both litigation and settlement negotiations. She also hired Paralegal Jasmine Emick as the Front Desk Legal Secretary. We have a solid 50 years of combined legal experience among our team members. Additionally, the firm expanded our practice to include cases in Del Norte County. This brings the total to nine counties in which we currently practice, which include: El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer, Amador, Nevada, San Joaquin, and Yolo.

We have many more exciting changes coming up in the next year. So please stay connected with us through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you would like a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call us at (916) 933-5545 or (916) 724-5200. You can email us at Be certain to ask about one of our specials or if we take your legal insurance.

What is Our Family Wizard?

By on August 27, 2015 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , , |
What is Our Family Wizard?

What is Our Family Wizard and how can it help you?

Our Family Wizard (OFW) is an online program that helps divorced or separated families effectively co-parent, but streamlining the communication process using online tools. One goal seems to be to keep children out of the co-parenting communications process.. Divorce is not easy, especially when there are children involved, and children do not need to be involved in divorce-related matters.  This program offers many features to help parents plan, organize, message and more, relieving of the stress some experience when co-parenting. . Several of the firm’s clients use this program and find great benefit in the tools.

Our Family Wizard makes co-parenting between two households more efficient. The program is available online as well as in app form for your mobile device. It also allows access for third parties and family law professionals, if desired.

The Calendar Feature

Working with two parents who have busy schedules can be challenging when there are children involved. With the OFW calendar, you can keep your family schedule in one central location. You can easily create a shared custody calendar in which you can request to trade or cancel parenting time. The other parent will receive a notification after you submit your request and can then accept or deny.

If they deny the request, the program prompts them to make a counter-request, keeping communication open and clear. If you overbook yourself or your schedules overlap, the system will alert you to let you know that you are booked to be in two places at once. This tool keeps all records for you, all at your fingertips.

The Message Board

There is a message board which is another tool for sharing information between parents. This message board is easy to manage, safe and secure and accessible.. All messages are protected and impossible to tamper with. Whenever a new email comes in, Our Family Wizard notifies you instantly, so there are no missing messages.

The ToneMeter

For emotionally charged conversations, a great tool that you can add on to your message board is the Tone Meter. This add-on helps you to identify and flag any emotionally charged sentences within your message. It gauges words and phrases against eight levels of connotative feeling and lets you know what the tone sounds like. This allows you to make corrections and adjust the tone of your message as needed.

The Info Bank

This tool keeps all of your files in one place. Whether it’s blood types, medical records, or clothing size, this tool keeps information safe and at your fingertips. Each parent can add and upload a file. Only the parent who created the file can edit or change the file, keeping confusion and manipulation out.

The Expense Log

This tool helps track expenses and payments from two separate households. You can add in one-time expenses such as medical reimbursements or recurring expenses such as child support. This tool can automatically calculate how much each parent owes on a payment. It keeps records not only of paid expenses, but also of requests for reimbursements. It will also send a notification to your message board when a payment or request has been made. It includes OFWpay, which allows parents to make electronic payments for transactions. Scheduling payments has never been easier.

The Journal

This tool acts as a virtual diary. You can keep records for yourself or anyone else. It can also act as an un-changeable personal incident log. With shared or private entries, you decide what family members will be allowed to see each entry. All entries are saved and protected in the Our Family Wizard servers.

Our Family Wizard is accessible online or through mobile apps. It is available through the Apple, Android, Kindle, and Blackberry markets, making it available for any device. With customizable notifications, Our Family Wizard is the perfect tool for any family. You can learn more about the program here.

Press Release: El Dorado Hills family law firm transfers ownership, remains strong

By on August 3, 2015 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , , |
Press Release: El Dorado Hills family law firm transfers ownership, remains strong

Stockdale Law Firm welcomes new era, previous owner moves to Office of Inspector General

El Dorado Hills, Calif. – Stockdale Law Firm, a well-known divorce and family law firm in El Dorado Hills, has announced it is transferring ownership at the end of August with the intent to carry on the success and trust it has built over the last 12 years.

Rebecca Esty-Burke will replace Myrlys L. Stockdale as the new managing attorney at Stockdale Law Firm Inc., which handles divorce, spousal support and custody disputes. Esty-Burke has worked in family law since 2003, most recently with the Law Offices of Fredrick S. Cohen in Sacramento.

“It’s fortunate that the incoming managing attorney brings with her impressive experience and qualifications,” Stockdale said. “She possesses a commitment to professionalism that will assure the continued delivery of excellent legal service to the firm’s clients.”

Having practiced law in nine local counties, Esty-Burke has been involved in successful custody cases and has litigated a complicated support trial that involved multiple periods for determinations of arrears, imputation of income and other complicating factors.

“The strength of this firm is remarkable. The attorneys here have more than 20 years of experience and I am looking forward to continuing the high-quality representation that the clients at Stockdale Law Firm have come to expect,” Esty-Burke said.

Stockdale, who is moving on to the role of special assistant inspector general with the California Office of the Inspector General, first opened the doors of the El Dorado Hills firm in 2003. Since then, the firm has grown to include two other attorneys and several legal professional staff. The firm was the launch of Stockdale’s third career — prior to becoming a divorce attorney, Stockdale worked as a newspaper reporter and a public affairs executive. She says the firm and its clients will always be dear to her.

“I have learned something new about life or law with every client and every case I’ve had over the years. I am most grateful for the opportunities I have had to touch so many lives with the work we have done,” Stockdale said. “When I hung my shingle in 2003, I had no law office experience. Establishing this firm has been both very challenging and very rewarding.”

About Stockdale Law Firm

Stockdale Law Firm handles divorce and separation, child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, domestic violence, guardianships, domestic partnership agreements and stepparent, family member and adult adoptions. For more information, visit


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Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders in Family Law

By on June 11, 2015 | Category: Blog |
Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders in Family Law

California Family Code Section 2040 provides that certain orders go into effect upon the filing of a Petition for Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity. Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders, often referred to in short as ATROs, go into effect at different times for each spouse. The spouse who files the action is immediately bound by the orders upon filing the Summons and Petition, while the other spouse is bound to the orders once he or she is served with the Summons.

The ATROs are listed on page two of the FL-110 form (see Summons form here). The ATROs put limits on what actions parties can take during a divorce which may harm the children involved or affect marital assets. The ATROs remain in effect until there is a court order that modifies them, the petition is dismissed or there is a final judgment. Court orders can be agreed upon (stipulated orders), which means that if both spouses agree to something that would otherwise be prohibited in the ATROs, they can be changed prior to the final divorce settlement judgment.

There are four main issues the Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders cover:
1.) ATROs prevent the children from being removed from California. They also instruct the parents that neither of them may apply for new or replacement passports for the kids. The parents can consent in writing to do otherwise.

2.) ATROs restrain certain community or individual property-related actions. The automatic temporary restraining orders tell each spouse they are restrained from “transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, whether community, quasi-community, or separate,” once again without the other spouse’s written consent or a court order.

3.) ATROs limit spouses from “cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage, including life, health, automobile, and disability held for the benefit of the parties and their child or children for whom support may be ordered.” This restraining order also requires a spouse to notify the other of any proposed extraordinary expenditures at least five business days before those expenditures are incurred; the spouse must also account to the family court for all such expenses made.

4.) ATROs automatically restrain a spouse from “creating a nonprobate transfer or modifying a nonprobate transfer in a manner that affects the disposition of property subject to the transfer, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court.”

There are a few exceptions to the ATROs, which include the following:
1.) A party is permitted to use any property or debt to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in order to retain legal counsel in the proceeding. Family Code 2040(a)(2) says: “Nothing in the restraining order shall preclude a party from using community property, quasi-community property, or the party’s own separate property to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in order to retain legal counsel in the proceeding. A party who uses community property or quasi-community property to pay his or her attorney’s retainer for fees and costs under this provision shall account to the community for the use of the property.” 

2.) Family Code 2040(b) allows a party to create a will or modify an existing will; revoke a revocable trust, pursuant to the instrument; and eliminate a right of survivorship to property, provided that notice of the change is filed and served on the other party before the change takes effect.

3.) California Family Code Section 235 states that: “Nothing in this part precludes either party from applying to the court for modification or revocation of the temporary restraining order provided for in this part or for further temporary orders or an expanded temporary ex parte order.” If a spouse feels that additional protections are needed for their case, they may ask the Court to assist by entering different orders.

To read the family code section 2040-2041, visit

The use of a family law attorney is advisable in certain circumstances. To discuss your case, contact The Stockdale Law Firm.

Family Law Facilitator

By on June 3, 2015 | Category: Blog |
Family Law Facilitator

The California family law court system offers a service that some may not know about. A family law facilitator is a lawyer with experience in family law who works for the superior court in any given county. The family law facilitator is not your lawyer, but rather a lawyer who works for the court to help parents or children who do not have their own lawyer.

This facilitator provides helps you navigate the system at no cost. The amount of money you make does not matter and is not a prequalification to using the services of a family law facilitator. However, you do not have attorney-client privilege with the family law facilitator and there is no confidentiality. They do not provide legal advice or represent you in court, but they assist self-represented family law litigants with the preparation of petitions, responses, motions and declarations.

A family law facilitator can:
– Provide information about establishing parentage (paternity) (You may also wish to see our blog post about establishing parentage here)
– Provide court forms you need
– Help you obtain, change, or enforce child, spousal, or partner support orders
– Help you fill out your forms
– Help you figure out support amounts
– Refer you to your local child support agency, family court services, and other community agencies that help parents and children.

Some family law facilitators can help you with divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and other family law issues, but each county is different so you should contact your county’s facilitator to learn about the specific services available. Here is a link to all courts in the state:

If you feel you need consultation and a lawyer to help you through family law issues, please contact the Stockdale Law Firm, Inc. We advocate for our clients and work to have the best possible resolution.


What is the Difference Between Legal Separation & Divorce?

By on May 18, 2015 | Category: Blog |
What is the Difference Between Legal Separation & Divorce?

It doesn’t matter whether yours is a “friendly” divorce where you and your spouse agree on everything or whether it is “difficult” divorce that has frequent and/or complex litigation. It is a difficult and emotional time and you want to assure that your interests and rights are protected in the process.

The process of legal separation and divorce in California is similar — but at the end of a divorce you are no longer legally married. California is a community property state; legal separation severs the tie of community property at the time of the filing and is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. Legal separation cannot be granted unless both spouses agree to it. If one spouse does not respond to the petition within 30 days, it is considered a “default” which will terminate that spouse’s ‘voice’ in the legal separation. The respondent spouse may request a divorce instead of agreeing to a separation, at which time the proceedings would continue but it would be divorce proceedings instead of legal separation. If both spouses agree to legal separation, the process leads to a final judgment, resolving issues such as child custody, child support, and spousal support. In our firm’s practice, the most common reasons parties opt for a legal separation or divorce are health insurance or religious reasons.

If a couple decides to seek a divorce, the process begins just as with a legal separation, with the filing of the Summons and Petition, and the UCCJEA Declaration if there are minor children.

The soonest you could be divorced or legally separated is six months and a day from the date that you or your spouse was served with a Summons and Petition. The reality is that many times a case can continue for a year or two or even more.

The Stockdale Law Firm, Inc. in El Dorado Hills will let you know what to expect in your divorce or legal separation, and keep you informed each step of the way. We will discuss your options and help you decide which approach is best for you. We work diligently to avoid unnecessary litigation and unnecessary emotional stress, which usually works to lower your legal expenses. It is our Firm’s policy to refrain from escalating conflict but if it arises, we will help you resolve the conflict through litigation or negotiation.

The Role of DCSS

By on May 6, 2015 | Category: Blog |
The Role of DCSS

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) works with parents and guardians, whether or not they are custodial or non-custodial. The goal of DCSS is to ensure children and families receive the deserved financial and medical support that the courts have mandated.

Services the DCSS provides include:
–        Locating a parent
–        Establishing paternity
–        Establishing, modifying and enforcing a court order for child support or health coverage

In years past, it could, at times, be very difficult to get in touch with some parents to collect child support. However, California’s child support program is now using technology that connects with local child support agencies, courts, county health and human services entities, employers and various state and federal agencies. With this technology, DCSS has an expanded ability to locate parents, helping children and parents receive mandated services in a more timely manner.

Stockdale Law Firm has significant experience with child support matters (both private and working with the Department of Child Support Services). In addition to advocating your interests regarding your child support case, we can review support calculations to estimate what guideline child support may be in your case. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced Firm’s attorneys to learn how we can help you with your child support matter, please contact us.

For additional information about DCSS, please visit the following pages on their website:
Child Support Services – Services the department offers to parents and guardians to help meet your responsibilities to your children.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Answers to the questions most frequently asked.

California Child Support Publications – General information about California’s child support services program and child support laws.

Ombudsperson Program – Information about the Ombudsperson Program, which helps parents, employers, and the community to resolve child support issues and they give valuable information about the child support services program.

Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) – Provides information on how unmarried parents can legally establish paternity (father of the child) without going to court.


Step-Parent Adoption

By on April 30, 2015 | Category: Blog |
Step-Parent Adoption

Step-parent adoption is when the legal parent has custody of a child and his or her spouse or domestic partner seeks to become the child’s other legal parent. Most commonly, the step-parent/domestic partner wants to adopt the child born to the spouse/domestic partner from a previous relationship or marriage.

The process for step-parent/domestic partner adoption usually begins with the attorney preparing and filing the petition for adoption. There is social worker investigation of the prospective adoptive step-parent that will be conducted according to the rules of the county in which the step-parent/partner lives. Each county is different, and Stockdale Law Firm is experienced working with the courts and corresponding investigators in the counties we serve including Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado & Amador.

Our firm would then work to either obtain the consent to the adoption from the biological (other) parent, obtain a waiver of parental rights or request that the court terminate the parental rights in the case of an absent parent. Before the adoption can be finalized, one of the following criteria must be met:
– Both parents must consent to the adoption or
– The biological father/mother must waive his rights or
– The court must terminate the person’s parental rights.

Adoptions can also occur on the grounds of abandonment, which means the child was left without support or without communication by one or both parents for a period of time. The court considers the interests of the child, and recognizes that parenting requires a commitment to the child from the parent more than an occasional relationship or attempt at support. If the court considers the child to be abandoned, the parent(s) rights are terminated and the adoption can move forward to finalization.

If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our firm’s experienced family law attorneys to learn how we can help you with your adoption, please complete our online request form.

Child Support, When Parents Are Not Married

By on April 22, 2015 | Category: Blog |
Child Support, When Parents Are Not Married

To officially establish a parent-child relationship between a child (or children) and unmarried parents, a case may be filed under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA).

Regardless of whether the parents of the child were married or unmarried, the Uniform Parentage Act (2002) provides for:
– Establishment of paternity through voluntary acknowledgement (Voluntary Declaration of Paternity) or establishment of paternity through adjudication
– Genetic testing standards – set at 99% probability based on appropriate calculations.

The UPA helps define who the legal parents are. A legal mother traditionally was the one who carries a child to birth. But it can now also be one whose egg was fertilized, or who has adopted a child, or who is under a gestational agreement (also known as a surrogate agreement). With these last three examples, the woman who carried the child to birth would not be considered the legal mother. Also, a 2005 California Supreme Court case found that a child may have two legally recognized parents of the same gender. Elisa B. v. Superior Court (2005) 37 C4th 108, 105.

Things can be a little more obscure in determining the legal father. Under the UPA, genetic testing can be ordered by the court without initiating paternity litigation. To justify genetic testing, there simply must be a reasonable probability of sexual contact between the presumed father and mother. A presumed father may also seek genetic testing to prove that he is not the father.  The child, mother, father, a support agency, adoption agency, a representative for a deceased or incapacitated party, or intended parent under a gestational agreement may bring an action to determine parentage. A refusal to submit to genetic testing can result in an adjudication of parentage.

Once parentage is established, the court may make orders for child support, health insurance, child custody, visitation, name change, reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses, and restraining orders. Establishing parentage is also used to secure benefits, such as social security, veteran’s, and inheritance rights.

Child Support

By on April 16, 2015 | Category: Blog |
Child Support

In California, the law requires both parents share the responsibility for the financial support of their minor children. Whether or not parents have ever been married or are now divorced, a child support order is usually appropriate.

What exactly is child support? It is the amount of money that one parent pays to the other parent on a monthly basis so that the children are financially supported, and this amount can include add-on costs such as child care or related expenses. Child support payments usually continue until a child reaches the age of 18 and is no longer a full time high school student, gets married or becomes emancipated. If a child is older but is still living at home, single, in high school, and unable to financially support themselves, then a court may order the child support payments to continue. A parent may also support a special needs child through adulthood.

How is the amount decided? Child support payments are determined based on set child support guidelines. These California guidelines set forth a formula, generally, by computing the net income of both parties, the percentage of income earned by the non-custodial parent, and the number of children. There are a number of other specific variables that can have an effect on the estimate guideline support amount, such as a parent’s tax filing status, imputed income to an underemployed parent, and a deduction for a child from another relationship.

What if they don’t pay? Enforcement can be difficult if a parent decides to stop paying child support. Often times, an attorney can help if a parent has become delinquent with their child support payments by pursuing legal action to enforce the support order. This helps to ensure you receive future support payments and any child support owed.

If you are the parent who is delinquent, we can assist you in working out a plan for repayment of owed child support, or if appropriate, assist you in modifying the support order so that it is more affordable.

Stockdale Law Firm can help. Our attorneys have significant experience in child support matters (both private and working with the Department of Child Support Services) and we can advance arguments to advocate your interests regarding your child support case. In addition, we can review support calculations to estimate what guideline child support may be in your case. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced Firm’s attorneys to learn how we can help you with your child support matter, please contact us.


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