Frequently Asked Questions

Why a Father’s Rights Law Center?

Attorney Peter Mueller has been practicing law for 35 years. He was licensed in 1972 Illinois and in 1974 in California. His background as a trial lawyer allows him to apply his trial lawyer skills to provide a service to fathers facing divorce. He has also served as Professor at Corporate Law at Loyola in Chicago and served as Assistant Dean of the Business School. In 1977,

Mr. Mueller began practicing in the domestic field and founded the FRLC in 1984. He founded the center for several reasons. First, he recognized a need for fathers and men in the divorce system to assist them with custody, visitation and support. His own relationship with his family gave him greater sensitivity for the issues confronting fathers in divorce. As the father of four young children, he confronted the divorce system first hand. From the struggles and mistakes made during those crucial years, he developed the concept that fathers should not have to go through what he went through to obtain reasonable contact with my children.

That was the time that the initial rumblings in the psychiatric world began involving parental alienation issues. They were not recognized fully until the late ’80s when Dr. Richard Gardner published “The Parental Alienation Syndrome.” Dr. Gardner appeared and testified for Mr. Mueller as an expert witness in 1996 in one of the landmark cases for FRLC. The rapport that was developed with Dr. Gardner allowed Mr. Mueller to develop advances and techniques in issues involving custody.

Since becoming a certified family law specialist 15 years ago, Mr. Mueller has represented over 1,000 fathers and has developed a rapport with courts and colleagues.

What should I know about support?

Support is known as alimony and includes both spousal support and child support. In California, as in most states, we have a guideline that is an arithmetic formula that takes into consideration time share, after tax income, and ability of a nonworking spouse to work where that nonworking spouse refuses to work.

We have a system at the Father’s Rights Law Center® of obtaining court orders for a vocational assessment for nonworking spouses/mothers who tend to want to rely on child support and spousal support for too long. We recommend enhancing the time share because it is a part of the arithmetic formula for support. We also try to enhance the ability of the nonworking spouse to work full time.

When is my case going to be over?

Once the divorce is underway, the initial hearings have passed, and the parties understand that it divorce is not about which party has the better lawyer but how soon can each of the lawyers work together to bring the matters to a conclusion, the divorce will be underway. We try very hard to bring each case to a conclusion through a mediated settlement that can either be with or without court assistance.

Typically we have opportunities to have four way meetings with the two attorneys and two parties in an effort to come to partial or complete resolution in settlement of contested issues. Failing that, the court provides for a formal settlement conference, where a judge and the parties try to resolve the case. In those 5-10% of the cases where there is no settlement of all issues, we can either go through a short or long trial. A short trial can be over within 3 hours, whereas a trial on more complex issues can go on a week or longer.

You can anticipate your divorce will be complete in one year, or a little bit longer, in the average cases. We have been able to resolve some uncontested cases in as quickly as 30 days.

Where should I call for an appointment?

Our San Diego headquarters is now in San Marcos, California. We also have the ability to meet with clients in Rancho Bernardo, Del Mar Heights, and Mission Valley, and Chula Vista. Typically the phone calls are made to our toll free number, 1-800-4-LAW-HELP. The initial consultation is without charge, during which we will be able to handle your questions.

Are fathers a discriminated participant in family court?

Historically, the now outdated “tender years doctrine” defaulted young children to their mother’s full custody. The default presumption has weakened but not fully transformed into a true “best interest and welfare” consideration for children 10 years old and younger.

What do we do to eliminate bias?

First, we guide our fathers to consult a child psychologist to prepare an age-appropriate parent sharing plan. Second, we are unfailingly vigorous in our efforts to expose and purge alienation and the brainwashing of children by their mother.

Why have I heard that modern-day divorce will bankrupt me?

The combined fiscal effect of insurance costs and ever-increasing paralegal and staff wages have had an impact on fees. In the past decade, average hourly attorney rates have risen by over $100 per hour locally and even more in the coastal counties to the north.

How do we streamline the process to make it more affordable?

Our efforts direct the case flow process toward ever more advancing the settlement process to reach a negotiated judgment on all issues amenable to reasonable settlement, even if partial judgments result progressively.

How long will I pay support?

Child support terminates on the child’s 18th birthday if the child is a high school graduate, and continues thereafter for a non-graduating child who stays enrolled full time before age 19.

Spousal support duration follows a multiple-factored set of considerations contained by section 4320 of the California Family Code. In marriages 10 years or longer, the usually applicable presumption that spousal support is payable for half the length of the marriage is expressly overruled by section 4320.

Therefore, in marriages of 10 years or more, spousal support can be made payable for more than half the length of the marriage. Get a 28 year marriage, in one case handled by our firm, we were able to terminate spousal support in the 18th year.

What can we do to make support more affordable?

Our efforts are primarily directed toward the discovery of the supported party’s true capacity to earn and sustain their livelihood as near as possible to the marital standard of living. We do this in several ways, including by deposition cross examination and by a vocational assessment ordered by the court. We defend vigorously against the supported party’s claims to entitlement to support for a college education in lieu of brief vocational training, which can enable that spouse to regain full-time employment as soon as practically possible, thus reducing the support payable by our clients. Very importantly, we also litigate, educate, and prosecute fair and balanced custody sharing plans that work also to moderate support payments by the high earner.  

What does it matter if I have a long marriage of 10 years or more?

 A long marriage brings with it consequences for longer court jurisdiction over the parties including longer support payments.

What do we do to counter the long marriage consequences?

Through discovery, cross-examination during depositions, and by vocational assessments, with focused emphasis on balanced child sharing orders, the greater spread for financial consequences attending longer jurisdiction for longer marriages narrows for our clients’ benefit.

Why are attorney fees so high in family law?

In addition to the escalating costs discussed above, no other area of the law, perhaps except for criminal law, brings to the courthouse such heightened expressions of emotion, remorse, anger, retribution, and domestic violence. These factors tend to fuel animosity and heighten the desire to “win” in a system that provides only for losers, not winners.

What can we do to reduce the cost of fees?

By immediate referral to an affordable child psychologist for focused child sharing counseling, we work to defuse hostilities and fears that tend to heighten and prolong the court room experience. Our principal focus, as explained above, is to bring our cases to a final settlement as soon as possible, thus saving heartbreak and reducing fees and costs.