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Melissa Gilbert to End Marriage

Melissa Gilbert filed for divorce from her husband, Bruce Boxleitner on August 22nd in Los Angeles. The move ended their sixteen year marriage. The former "Little House on the Prairie" star has been separated from Boxleitner since January of 2011. "Irreconcilable differences" was cited as the reason for the divorce. Gilbert, 47, asked for joint custody of their 15 year-old son, Michael Boxleitner. She also seeks to not pay spousal support to Boxleitner.

"We have loved each other for a very long time," Gilbert stated in March, "and we share four incredible sons together." In addition to their son Michael (named after Michael Landon), Boxleitner, 61, has two sons from a previous marriage and Gilbert has one son from her previous marriage.

A former president of the Screen Actors' Guild, Gilbert grew up in a Hollywood family and landed the starring role of Laura Ingalls on "Little House" at the age of eight. Boxleitner was best known for his role in the movie "Tron" in 1982 and his role on the TV series "The Scarecrow and Mrs. King".

While it appears their divorce will be more agreeable than other recent celebrity divorces, child custody issues and spousal support could be possible points of contention.

Child Custody Laws in California

Custody laws in California may vary slightly from other states. In California, the court has all the power to determine which partner will gain custody of the children involved. Like most states, California is constrained by divorce statutes which direct their decision on where to place the child. It is important to contact a family law attorney for more information if you are considering a California divorce.

As in other states, California courts first priority is to guarantee the best interest of the child. In the second statute, the courts consider "frequent and continuing contact." In other words, it is the court's duty to ensure that both parents (assuming both are "fit parents") remain an equal part of the child's life. This includes making joint decisions about important events in the child's life.

The court will give priority to the "natural" parent. If neither parent is judged to be suitable, the court will then look to a step-parent or grandparent.

It is important to seek the advice of a family law attorney when you are confronting a child custody battle. Divorce lawyers can help you mount a viable case in California courts. One thing to remember: the judge's main concern in custody battles in California is the best interest of the child.

Spousal Support laws in California

When California courts are considering spousal support in a California divorce case, the statute requires that they consider the following factors:

*Is each party able to sustain their standard of living? This includes employment opportunities, marketable skills, education and the need for training.

*The amount of time the receiving spouse was unemployed performing domestic duties and how this affected the spouse's earning capacity

*The extent to which the supported party contributed to the education and training of the supporting party

*The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support taking into account the supporting party's income, earning potential, assets and standard of living

*The duration of the marriage

*The age and health of both parties

These are the main points of emphasis when judges in California are determining the amount and duration of spousal support. If you are seeking advice regarding child custody or spousal support, it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney in your area who can help guide you to the best possible outcome for you and your children.