Ms. Rizzo’s practice is dedicated exclusively to Family Law, a dynamic and challenging legal field where clients face some of the most personal and difficult decisions of a their lives. Ms. Rizzo guides clients throughout La Jolla through cases with compassion, conviction and orientation to detail and to client goals.
Ms. Rizzo started her legal career in Los Angeles more than 16 years ago as a civil litigator in the area of medical malpractice defense. After several years a litigator, she availed herself of the opportunity for more intense trial and litigation experience at the Office of the City Attorney in San Diego, where she worked in the criminal division and gained vast courtroom and negotiation experience as a Deputy City Attorney in the Domestic Violence Unit. After working as a prosecutor for several years, she transitioned to Family Law domestic abuse matters and broadened her practice to cases in all aspects of Family Law.
State Bar of California
United States District Court for the Central District of California
United States District Court for the Southern District of California
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
United States District Court for the Eastern District of California
State Bar of New York
California Western School of Law, JD
University of California, Riverside, BA Sociology
About our La Jolla Practice
Located in the beautiful coastal city of La Jolla, we serve all of San Diego to help in any Family Law domestic abuse matters.
Please see the full list of our services below.
Child custody and visitation, whether brought as a stand-along proceeding or included in a dissolution or parentage proceeding, is a decision that will be made by a judge, or through an agreement between the parents, as to who will have primary responsibility for the child(ren) and when each parent will have parenting time. In an initial court proceeding on custody and visitation, the court will primarily focus on the best interest of the children in deciding what the custody arrangement should be. The court will focus on the health, welfare and safety of the child(ren), whether they have been subject to abuse by either parent or whether they have witnessed it, and whether there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse by either parent.
Child support in California is based on the income of the parties. The Family Code broadly defines income so that many sources are properly considered as income available for support. The income for each party, along with the estimated time share is used in the guideline calculation for support, which is presumed to be the correct amount of support payable for support of each child. Dissomaster is the computer program the courts use in San Diego to compute support.
A divorce in California is referred to in the Family Code as “dissolution of marriage.” The concept is the same, as is the form to file to start the proceeding. Where you live and how long you have lived there will matter when determining whether you are eligible to file for divorce. When petitioning for dissolution of marriage, the party filing needs to meet the residency requirements, six months in the State and three months in the County, at the time the action is filed, in order for the court to have jurisdiction to address your matter.
The Honorable Thomas Trent Lewis, the presiding judge of the Family Law Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court describes Domestic Violence this way: All violence is abuse, but not all abuse is violent. By this, he intends to convey that there are ways by which a person’s sense of peace and tranquility is disturbed that do not look like physical battery or assault. Sending frequent and unwanted text messages or emails or threatening to reveal or actually revealing intimate details about a person is domestic abuse and if it is conduct that can be restrained it is subject to orders under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
Whether a person will be found to be a parent of a child is less a matter of biology than it is of acting like a parent—receiving a child into your home and holding the child out as your own. Family law gives significant weight to the relationships forged between a person acting as a parent and a child. Presumed parents can be fathers or mothers and the law has changed and continues to emerge to encompass a broadened definition and understanding of family. Courts are called upon to resolve competing claims of parentage between a person who has a biological relationship to the child and a person who voluntarily signed a declaration of paternity, a legal form wherein a person claims parentage. Further, under Family Code section 7612, three people may be found to be parents of a child.
California is a community property state and, therefore, property acquired during marriage by married persons is presumed to be community property. If a party has assets or a family business in which he or she does not want the community to gain an interest, then the way out of the community property system is an agreement to manage property acquired during marriage in another way. Pursuant to the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (codified in Family Code sections 1600-1615), premarital agreements must be timely, allowing an opportunity for counsel to review any proposed agreement. Depending on the terms of the agreement, failure to allow enough time to hire counsel to review an agreement may make the agreement unenforceable and full disclosure of all property is required unless there is a waiver. As a matter of practice, counsel should be utilized by both parties entering into a premarital agreement to ensure rights are protected or knowingly waived.
The issue of property under the California Family Code is complex. Please contact Attorney Rizzo to discuss how your assets will be affected by divorce. Also, you are invited to check back from time to time to review property topics in the blog that may be of interest.
Spousal support is a complex family law issue. Contact Attorney Rizzo for a complimentary consultation about your support matter.