Family Law Practice

When dealing with a personal matter such as a divorce or a dispute involving your children, it is important to find an attorney who will be with you every step of the journey. I will provide you with the guidance and support you need to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your loved ones financially and emotionally. One of the key ingredients in any relationship is trust and it is important to find an attorney you feel you can trust to do what is in your and your children's best interests. I also assist clients who are married or considering getting married and would like a pre- or post-nuptial agreement that outlines how they will handle their finances during the marriage. Matters such as these can be complicated and stressful, which is why it is so important to find counsel who can provide the assistance necessary to relieve your stress and give you confidence that your case is in good hands. 


 With respect to family law, I provide legal services in the following areas: 


  • Dissolution 
  • Legal Separation 
  • Premarital Agreements
  • Post Nuptial Agreements
  • Child Custody 
  • Child Support
  • Spousal Support 
  • Child Visitation 
  • Paternity 
  • Enforcement or Modification of Decrees 
  • Domestic Violence matters including Restraining Orders  
  • Pension Plan Division  
  • Payment of Marital Debts


Frequently Asked Questions

How is Child Support calculated?

There are a number of factors used when determining child support. In California, the child support guideline is based on a complicated math formula and the Court uses a computer program called Dissomaster to determine the amount. The main factors used in calculating support include gross income; number of children; percent of time that each parent physically has responsibility for the children; your income tax filing status, deductions, other hardships. We have the same Dissomaster program that the court uses so when you meet with her she can tell you what the calculations based on your circumstances. An important fact to remember is that the court CANNOT change child support retroactively. This means that if you lost your job or became disabled you have to file a request to modify your child support immediately. Contact Us if you need further assistance with child support.

My child just turned 13 years old. Will the court allow her to decide where she wants to live full time?

There is NO specific age where a child's choice to live with one parent or the other is considered as a sole factor in making a custody order. California law requires that the court award custody according to the "best interest" standard of your children and many different factors are considered in determining what is in the best interest of your children. Your child's opinion can be considered as one of the factors that the Court uses in making its determination. 


What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?

Sole physical custody means that the child resides with one parent most of the time. The other parent may have visitation such as dinner visits or weekend visits. Joint physical custody means that each parent spends a significant amount of time with the children. It doesn't necessarily mean that the parents have a exactly 50% timeshare.

Legal Custody has to do with the right and responsibilities associated with decisions regarding a child's health, education and welfare such as where they will go to school, whether they should have braces or what church they will attend.Legal Custody can either be sole or joint. 


The Law Office of Darlene R. Kemp is centrally located at 8070 Soquel Drive, Suite 120 in Aptos and is only minutes away from the courthouse located in Watsonville where all family law matters are heard in Santa Cruz County. We also serve clients in the Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, San Jose and greater Bay Area. (831) 688-0700  

Law Office of Darlene R. Kemp

8070 Soquel Drive, Suite 120 Aptos, CA 95003 Telephone: (831) 688-0700 Fax: (831) 688-0708 Email: