A Tough Divorce Lawyer Serving Stanislaus County, California

Modesto Family Law Attorney

The end of a relationship – whether married or not – is a stressful time. When children are involved, conflicts related to child custody and visitation can become heated. Finances that have become intermingled lead to questions of who pays which debts along with who stays in the current residence. You can find answers to these initial questions on our FAQ page.


A Tough Divorce Lawyer Serving Stanislaus County, California

At the Law Office of Tracy Y. Toledo, we understand the issues at stake. Attorney Tracy Toledo has more than 20 years' experience trying cases in Stanislaus County Court and knows the people who handle family law cases.

When dealing with the emotional issues of being hurt and anger a breakup often make reaching agreement challenging. We will represent your interests through negotiation and mediation.

However, when a former partner or spouse is unreasonable, we will fight on your behalf for a balanced custody arrangement and fair property settlement.

While we frequently handle complicated matters, our team also offers limited scope representation. For example, we can assist you with document review or a single court appearance related to a request to modify child support.

We handle the following types of cases from our Modesto law offices:

  • Establishing paternity when you were unmarried at the time the child was born
  • Resolving property division, spousal support and child custody in divorce proceedings
  • Filing restraining orders when you fear physical harm
  • Advising on relocation and modification issues after you already have an order in place

Call Our Law Office Today
When you have a family law issue, contact us as soon as possible. Call us at 209-523-5000 or complete the online contact form to schedule a initial 15 minute phone consultation. We are available to help.

Divorce/Dissolution Of Marriage

How often will I get to see my children? Will I have to move out of the home and when? What amount of child support will I receive or have to pay? How can we untangle our finances and divide the assets and debts?

Divorce is more than simply the end of a marriage. Decisions made in the process will affect those most important to you and can change your financial future. When filing for divorce, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney well versed in California state law.

At the Law Office of Tracy Y. Toledo, we take the time to answer all of your questions. With more than 20 years of litigation experience, our team will fight to obtain a fair settlement for you. We are selective of the cases that we take, so that we have the time to offer individual attention.

A Modesto Attorney Helping Clients With Marriage Dissolution

The issues that come up in a divorce are frequently complex and hotly contested. We can help you resolve the following disputes:

  • Where your child will live along with visitation schedules and child support issues
  • How you will pay the bills, which may include a battle to establish a fair spousal support or alimony award

Even when you and your spouse agree on all matters, working with a lawyer can smooth the process. Even a simple, uncontested divorce will require a court filing that includes detailed information about how you will divide assets and debts and arrange future child custody and child support.

Are you considering filing a petition for dissolution of marriage (divorce)? Do you need help defending against a divorce filed by a spouse?

Legal Separation

A legal separation does not end your marital status. There are many reasons that people chose legal separation over dissolution of their marriage. Here are some typical reasons we see people for a legal separation:

  • It allows time for the parties to decide whether they actually want to file for divorce. In the meantime, they can continue with their marital status.
  • Your religious beliefs conflict with the idea of divorce.
  • It allows for the continuance of medical benefits and certain other benefits that would terminate if you were no longer married.
  • It would allow you to remain married for 10 or more years which means you might be able to take advantage of certain social security benefits from or for your spouse.
Spousal Support/Alimony

Spousal Support, also known as Alimony, is a factor when there is a significant difference in the personal income of the parties. The purpose of support is to provide living expenses to the lower wage earning spouse regardless of gender.

For tax purposes, the paying spouse will be entitled to a tax deduction while the receiving spouse must claim the support as income. Some of the factors the court takes into consideration when awarding spousal support are the length of marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the age, health, earning capacity and job histories of both spouses.

If this is a post dissolution spousal support modification, a trial may be required in order to change an existing Spousal Support order.

Child Custody

Child custody is one of the most important issues that arise during any divorce or paternity action. While it is always in the best interest of the child that each parent agree on issues of custody and visitation, this is not always the case. Each parent does have custodial rights. If the parties cannot agree on child custody and visitation, the court will assist the parties by way of a Custody Order or Parenting Plan. These plans set forth a specific visitation schedule for the parties. Unfortunately, often times a party must fight for their visitation rights and schedule.

At the Law Office of Tracy Y. Toledo we can assist you in filing and/or defending against a custody issue.

Restraining Orders

Restraining Orders are not always based upon violence. Under the laws of the State of California there are certain mandatory restraining orders that will go into effect once a divorce is filed. However, there also restraining orders that, under certain circumstances, should be in place and which require a restraining order and have many appropriate uses. The Law Office of Tracy Y. Toledo is proactive in obtaining Restraining Orders for its clients to protect as well as defend then against acts that are harmful or inappropriate.

For example, Restraining Orders that prevent your spouse from depleting assets or taking money from joint accounts, investment accounts or even incurring significant debt during a pending divorce can be extremely important to the ultimate outcome of your case.

Significantly, the most common Restraining Orders are those orders that limit contact between the parties and/or prevent inappropriate behavior around your children.


When one parent chooses to relocate and take the child with them, it can be detrimental to both the child and the non-relocating parent. However, relocating is a modern reality. Even if you have an existing parenting plan, relocating often makes the Custody Order unreasonable to follow. The State of California dictates what procedures must be followed when attempting to relocate a child. This is true for both the relocating parent as well as the non-custodial parent.

The Law Office of Tracy Y. Toledo understands the impact that relocation can have on all concerned. Your child's well being comes first. We will assist you in your relocation issues.


Paternity for an unmarried father can only be proven through DNA testing or through a Paternity Affidavit. However, unless paternity is established, a father cannot seek custody rights in the form of a Parenting Plan. If Paternity has not yet been established, the father can either submit to a paternity test or it can be ordered by the court.

A married man is the legally presumed father when a child is conceived during the marriage even if he may not be the biological father of the child. This presumption may be rebutted by DNA testing, however most courts require that an attempt to disprove paternity be initiated within a reasonable period of time after the birth of the child.

It Is Important That You Protect Your Parental Rights

At the Law Office of Tracy Y. Toledo we can assist you in filing and/or defending against a paternity action

Mediation Services

Often times the parties are in agreement with most of the aspects of either their marriage, the visitation of their children or the division of their assets. In that circumstances, mediation might be your best option. At the Law Offices of Tracy Y. Toledo, we are here to guide you to a reasonable agreement on any and all issues of your marriage or child visitation and custody issues.

At the Law Offices of Tracy Y. Toledo, we believe in resolving cases in a non-confrontational manner that is the best interest of all parties involved.

Uncontested Divorce

Often times the parties are in agreement with all aspects of their marriage. In this circumstance this is called an uncontested dissolution or divorce. The terms of the dissolution would have to include issues regarding the division of assets and debts as well as spousal support, parenting plans, child support and child custody.

If you can agree with your spouse, we can help you to prepare these documents and help you through this process in an agreeable manner and non-confrontational manner. Using our office for your uncontested divorce allows you to benefit our experience and allows you to rest easy knowing your divorce will be finalized in a professional manner. This will allow you to avoid the risk of procedural errors that are common when individuals attempt to handle their case on their own.

Divorce And Family FAQ

Get your phone questions answered at no charge by a local family law attorney experienced in divorce, child custody, child support, and other family law issues. The Law Office Tracy Y. Toledo can assist you in resolving your family law issues.

Can I represent myself without a family law attorney

While you can always represent yourself in any court proceeding. It is not usually recommended. You should always consult an attorney, particularly regarding decisions that will potentially affect the rest of your life.

How long does it take to get a Divorce in California?

The soonest a married person can become single in the State of California is 6 months from the date the opposing spouse is served. However, normally a divorce can take much longer, even years. If this is the case, you may have the opportunity to bifurcate the action and have your marital status terminated and have yourself declared single while continuing your divorce actions.

We know this process is very difficult on you and, therefore, we make it our goal to finish cases promptly.

Can I or should I move out of my home?

Unless you are ordered by the court, you do not have to move out of your home. Before you take this extreme measure, make certain this is the right decision given your situation. Moving out of your home is generally a bad idea. You should consult an attorney before making such a big decision that will affect the outcome of your case and your life for years to come.

Can my spouse move away with the children?

What is the difference between Legal Separation and a Divorce?

A legal separation can divide assets, debts and decide support issues. However, unlike a divorce, at the end of a legal separation you are still married. At the end of a divorce you are single. Other than this very important difference, the process, laws and legal system are essentially identical.

What is Child Support?

Unlike other family law issues, child support is based on guidelines created by the California state legislature. Regardless of whether you are going through a divorce, legal separation, paternity action or modifying an existing child support order, the amount of child support is based on the guidelines created by the California state legislature.

According to the statute, both you and the other parent will have a duty to provide financial support to the children. The amount you are expected to contribute for support of your children is directly related to the percentage of income between you and the other parent and other factors.

How is Support Calculated?

The primary question is how is child support calculated? In the State of California child support payments are calculated using a mathematical formula, specifically CS = K (HN - (H%)(TN)). Because support payments are determined by a uniform calculation, it seems counter intuitive that it is such a contentious topic.

In California, child support is factored based on the net disposable income of the parents and the amount of time each parent acts as the primary caregiver. While the formula for calculating support payments appears to be straightforward, the variables used in the formula are flexible to some degree.

The purpose of support is to minimize the economic impact of the divorce and cover the basic costs of raising a child or maintaining the child's pre divorce standard of living. This, combined with net disposable incomes, is used in the calculation.

Another important factor is the amount of time each parent shares with the child. Therefore the percentage of time spent with the non-custodial parent becomes significant. Thus, the less time a parent acts as the primary caregiver the more likely their support payments to the other parent will increase.

For more information regarding child support in California you can find California Department of Child Support Services' Child Support Handbook by following the link. If you are looking to estimate support payments you can find a child support payment calculator here. https://www.cse.ca.gov/ChildSupport/cse/guidelineCalculator

Custody and child support are critical topics in divorce and family law. Every case and set of circumstances is different and it is imperative that you get accurate information regarding your situation. Information found on the Internet can be a great place to begin understanding custody and child support but shouldn't be a substitute for legal advice from a California family law attorney.

What other child expenses can I expect to pay?

The issues of daycare and medical insurance costs are often in addition to basic child support. While both parents are expected to contribute financially to child support, only one parent will actually be required to make a payment on a monthly basis. The other parent, most often the primary residential parent, will be responsible for the day-to-day management and expenditures associated with support of the children.

Does the court split our property 50/50?

Because California is a community property state, the general rule is everything you earn or acquire during your marriage is community property and should be split between the parties. However, there are many important exceptions to this general rule. It is important that division of asses and liabilities be done in a thoughtful manner to take advantage of financial planning and long term affects. It may be advantageous to take an unequal division of assets in exchange for lower support payments. It is critical that these issues be discussed with an attorney.

How does the court determine custody in California?

In short, the court will use its discretion to determine what is in the best interests of the children when determining child custody. Usually it is in the best interest of the children to have continuing and frequent contact with both parents. In addition, the court typically likes to establish a custody and visitation schedule this is commonly referred to a parenting plan. The purpose of this plan is to promote stability for the children. You should be aware that this does not always result in an equal time shared between the parents. In other words it could result in one parent having 99% of the time with the child.

Unfortunately, there are many times that parents cannot agree on the time share of the children. In this case, settling a custody dispute may require the use of a mediator, or the assistance of the judge in making the decision. You may even have to have your case referred to a custody specialist to have a full custody evaluation. Trial on the issue of child custody is not unheard of. In such a case, it is critical that you gather the necessary evidence to support your case.

What if the child is not mine?

Paternity for an unmarried father can only be proven by DNA testing or through a Paternity Affidavit. However, unless paternity is established, a father cannot seek custody rights in the form of a Parenting Plan. A paternity test can be ordered by the court.

A married man is legally presumed father when a child is conceived during the marriage even if he may not be the biological father of the child. This presumption may be rebutted by DNA testing, however, most courts require any attempt to disprove paternity be initiated within a reasonable period of time after the birth.

I am the father, what are my chances of getting full custody?

The stereotypical belief that fathers cannot have primary custody of their children is a myth. The courts will give primary custody to the best parent whether that is the father or the mother of the child. The court will consider all factors of the relationship and the best interest of the child when determining custody. Your attorney can help you to gather the necessary information to help you to obtain the most possible time with your children.

How do I tell my children we are getting a divorce?

Approaching the topic divorce with your children is often one of the most difficult parts of dissolving a marriage. Regardless of the age of your children, breaking the news that you are divorcing can be one of the most difficult conversations you will ever have. With young children the conversation can be even more challenging because toddlers and elementary school kids frequently do not have the emotional vocabulary to express their feelings and can have difficulty understanding the situation.

If you have children that are under the age of 8, "Sesame Street" has an initiative workshop called "Little Children, Big Challenges" www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/divorce that helps parents and these young children deal with the difficult issue of divorce. While this website assists children though the process, it also provides parents with the necessary tools to answer question asked by their children.

Discussing your divorce with your children at the appropriate time and place can begin to lay a foundation of open communication and trust. While your children do not need to know all of the truth, being honest with them during the process and demonstrating a respect for their other parent will help build a strong relationship in the future as well as help them transition through this difficult time.

If you and your spouse are on good speaking terms it is best to present a uniform front and let your children know that it is not their fault and that their life will change as little as possible.