Carlsbad Family Law Attorneys
Family Law Glossary Compassionate in Our Approach, Decisive in Our Strategy

Glossary of Family Law Terms

Arrears
Refers to child support or spousal support payments that have been missed by the obligor parent and/or spouse. Child support and spousal support arrears accrue 10% simple interest per year.

Child Custody
Child custody refers to the issue of custody of children in the context of California Family Court. There are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Child Support
Child support is financial support paid from one parent to another. Its purpose is to ensure the financial stability of the children of the relationship. Child support in California is calculated using a statewide mandated child support guideline.

Commissioner
A judicial officer that is not a judge. Many family law cases in San Diego County are assigned to Commissioners.

DCSS
Department of Child Support Services. A California State Agency purposed to establish, maintain and enforce child support orders in California.

Dissomaster
A computer program used by California divorce lawyers to calculate and estimate proper child support and spousal support amounts.

DVRO
Domestic Violence Restraining Order. An order of protection that serves to restrain an abusing party from any contact at all with the abused. DVROs can be granted anywhere from 1 to 5 years.

Epstein Credit
A credit afforded to one party for his or her separate property contribution to a community obligation (mortgage payment on a house post-separation). Epstein Credits are considered in the final division of community property.

Equalization Payment
A payment ordered to be made from one spouse to another in order to equalize the division of community property. Equalization payments cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Family Support
Combination of child support and spousal support. Family Support is 100% tax deductible to the payor and must be claimed as income to the payee.

FCS
Family Court Services Mediation. Court-sponsored mediation regarding child custody disputes. Unless the parties stipulate to using a private mediator, any time the issue of child custody or visitation comes before the family court, the parties are required to attempt settlement through mediation prior to coming to court. FCS mediators write recommendations to the court in the event that the parties do not reach an agreement.

FOAH
Findings and Order After Hearing. A formal order prepared by one of the attorneys that reflects the order made by the family law judge at a hearing.

FRC
Family Resolution Conference.

Legal Custody
Refers to either parent’s right to participate in the medical, educational and general welfare decisions affecting a child’s life. Most parents share joint legal custody.

MSC
Mandatory Settlement Conference. This is the last step of the divorce process before trial. The MSC is a settlement conference at which the attendance of both parties is required. A temporary judge is assigned to help the parties settle the case without the need for trial.

PDOD
Preliminary Declaration Of Disclosure. This form is required to be served by both parties on the other before the case may proceed. By signing the PDOD, both parties attest under penalty of perjury that full financial disclosure has been made.

Physical Custody
Refers to the physical presence of the children during parental custodial time. Unless the parents share equal physical custody, one parent will be considered the primary custodial parent and the other will have the right of visitation.

Spousal Support
Financial support paid from one spouse (or ex-spouse) to another. The purpose of spousal support is to assist the supported party in maintaining the standard of living established during the marriage.

Status Conference
Much like an FRC, a status conference is set by the court in cases where both parties are self-represented. The purpose of the conference is for the court to determine the state of the case and to help the parties along the process if needed.

TRO
Temporary Restraining Order. A restraining order granted in conjunction with a request for a permanent Domestic Violence Restraining Order. The TRO expires automatically on the day of the hearing on the request for the DVRO.

Voc. Eval
Vocational Evaluation. An evaluation as to the job placement potential for a party to a divorce. These are often requested and ordered in cases wherein one party has not worked for a significant period of time.

Watts Charge
A monetary charge against one party’s share of community property for periods during which that party enjoyed the use of a marital asset (usually a house) without compensating the community for that use.

3048 Findings
Referring to Family Code Section 3048, standard Jurisdictional findings required to be made by a family law judge in conjunction with any orders made affecting custody and/or visitation of minor children.

4320 Factors
Referring to Family Code Section 4320, these are factors that the Court must consider when making a permanent order for spousal support.

50/50 Custody
True equally shared custody of children wherein the children spend half of their time in the custody of one parent and the other half with the other parent.

730 Evaluation
Referring to Evidence Code Section 730, this is a custody evaluation performed by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist trained specifically to provide a clinical evaluation to the court as to what custody and visitation orders would be most appropriate in a particular case.

Meet Our Team 

Honest. Fearless. Bold.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq.
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq.
  • Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq.
  • Joshua Yee, Esq.
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.
  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS

    Partner

    John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Prior to opening Griffith, Young & Lass, he worked as the managing partner of one of the largest family law firms in North County San Diego.
    John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS

    Partner

    Catie E. Young excels in child custody cases and move-away trials. She has a unique approach to child custody cases and clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases. Since joining the firm, she has continuously brought her zeal and compassion to representing clients in child custody and domestic violence cases, and in December 2011, she became a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass.
    Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS

    Partner

    Amy Lass, a certified family law specialist, was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting. Amy went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006.
    Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Photo
  • Shirin Asgari, Esq. Shirin Asgari, Esq.

    Associate

    Attorney Shirin Asgari has a broad spectrum of legal experience and has handled matters in family law, criminal law, business law, and national security law. Currently, she focuses on family law matters and is a strong advocate for the rights of her clients. She dedicates time and attention to the needs of each client and the unique circumstances their case presents.
    Shirin  Asgari, Esq. Photo
  • Eric Cowdery, Esq. Eric Cowdery, Esq.

    Associate

    Eric Cowdery earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before earning his JD from Golden Gate University as part of the Honors Lawyering Program. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in 2013 and has been working diligently in the field ever since. Taking a personalized approach to each case, Eric Cowdery is committed to working with clients to help them through the often confusing and complex legal process of divorce.

    Eric  Cowdery, Esq. Photo
  • Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq. Jeffrey Wittliff, Esq.

    Associate

    Jeffrey Wittliff is extremely attentive to his cases and believes in thorough preparation and the value of regular client communication. Behind the scenes, he has an extensive background in research related to all areas of family law, propounding discovery when necessary, and negotiation to settle cases with opposing parties.
    Jeffrey  Wittliff, Esq. Photo
  • Joshua Yee, Esq. Joshua Yee, Esq.

    Associate

    Attorney Joshua Yeereceived his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, from the University of California, San Diego. Joshua went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from University of San Francisco. His experience working with a local Certified Family Law Specialist solidified his desire to become a family law attorney. Since becoming an attorney, Josh has exclusively practiced in family law.
    Joshua  Yee, Esq. Photo
  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq. Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.

    Associate

    Shaudi Malekzadeh is a Carlsbad family law attorney at Griffith, Young & Lass, advocating for the rights and interests of Southern California families in a variety of family law cases, such as child custody, alimony, spousal support, and the division of community property. She is committed to delivering effective legal representation to our clients, aggressively advocating for their legal rights, and offering compassionate legal advice.
    Shaudi  Malekzadeh, Esq. Photo

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  • I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers.

    “I would highly recommend Griffith, Young & Lass to anyone looking for ethical, honest, hard-working and skillful lawyers (I would stress these are actually rare qualities within the legal industry and ...”

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    - Jennifer P.
  • All three lawyers worked together on the issues surrounding my case, which helped greatly when I was in need of answers or support.

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    - Kelsey L.
  • I couldn’t have made it without them! I highly recommend them!

    “GYL has been an extraordinary support and backing in my divorce. Being a male in the military, the process for divorce and custody is difficult. GYL was extremely helpful, and I was able to full custody of my children. That alone is such a monumental feat.”

    - Frankie S.
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    “I hate seeing anyone go through custody battles but if you’re in that situation and need someone who is trustworthy and great at what they do, then I swear this is the place to get the help!”

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  • I highly recommend GYL if you are ever in need of a family law attorney.

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    “Compassionate and kind, however, he will fight for you and your best interests. He is calm and calculated and extremely smart.”

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  • Extremely helpful, responsive, and reasonable and got the job done amidst tenuous circumstances.

    “She and her team were extremely compassionate, sensitive with me while concurrently advocating strongly on my behalf.”

    - Jeremy R.
  • I felt like she was practical and knowledgeable and most importantly, she listened.

    “The professional and succinct assistance was a much-needed breath of fresh air in the maze of hurdles and complications with our family law case.”

    - David R.
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Why GYL? 

Turn to a Team that Does It Best
  • We're Leaders in Our Field

    From case planning to preparation, to superior courtroom presence, our clients can be sure that they will walk into the Courtroom prepared and with the best chance of success.

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    Our representation is tailored to the unique circumstances of each client. We deploy the GYL strategic case trajectory dynamic to ensure the best chance at success at the most reasonable cost. 

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    We don't believe in wasting our client's time and money. Helping people is what drives us to excel at our craft. We first identify the goals and interests of each client, we then develop an efficient and effective case plan aimed at achieving those goals.

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    We believe in a responsible and ethical practice and stick to our values regardless of the situation. We're transparent and don't just tell our clients what they want to hear, unless it's what we believe, even if it may deter them from moving forward. We stand by our team's expertise and will always be upfront and honest with our clients. 

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