≡ Menu


Maralee handles all aspects of family law with a passionate advocacy for her clients and a wealth of knowledge. You may want her to handle every aspect of a marriage dissolution (through traditional divorce or alternate proceedings); just help you with specific aspects of the process, such as conducting financial analysis, preparing or reviewing a settlement agreement, or assisting with support issues; or simply answering some questions as they come up. She also handles matters that are separate from dissolution proceedings, such as adoptions, guardianships, or post-divorce support and parenting adjustments.

Call Nelder Family Law at (530) 272-5672, or see our contact page for other ways to get in touch.

Divorce: Traditional/Litigated, Collaborative, and Mediated

Divorce or marriage dissolution is the primary service of Nelder Family Law. Maralee Nelder’s extensive expertise enables her to provide you with superior representation through the entire process. (Her expertise includes certifications as a Family Law Specialist by the California State Bar, Board of Legal Specialization and Divorce Financial Analyst by the Institute For Divorce Financial Analysts.) Maralee will help you consider every possible issue and insure that you receive a settlement that meets your goals.

Traditional divorce procedure involves settling disputes through attorney negotiations, with the Court resolving any lingering conflicts the parties cannot settle themselves.  Maralee is a highly skilled negotiator well-versed in the law who will help you achieve a suitable settlement.  In addition, she is a trained mediator who can assist you with a Mediated Divorce, as a mediator or as a consulting attorney.  As a founding member of the Nevada County Collaborative Divorce Practice Group, she also encourages Collaborative Divorce.

Call (530) 272-5672 to set up an initial consultation or get more information.  You can also view our contact page.

Marital Settlement Agreements / Stipulations for Judgment

The Marital Settlement Agreement or Stipulation for Judgement is the most important document in your case. It is the contract that specifies how all the issues in a marriage dissolution have been resolved. A well drafted settlement agreement will cover issues that come up in the future, and states all of the agreements. This becomes part of the judgment. This is part of a full divorce representation, but Maralee can also review an agreement you have received or want to propose, analyzing it and explaining it to you. If you’ve worked out the issues between yourselves, Maralee can draw up the document for you, making sure it meets all of the legal requirements.

This is the controlling document of your marriage dissolution. Be sure it is done correctly.

Settlement Conferences

Maralee will apply her experience and education as the designated neutral party supervising a settlement conference. Generally, this is a one or two session process. It may be done early in the case of at the direction of the judge as part of the standard pre-trial orders. A very high number of family law matters can be settled with a creative settlement conference supervisor who can give the parties multiple spreadsheets and explain options. A successful settlement conference ends with a binding written agreement on the issues which have been solved.

By bringing legal expertise and an outside perspective, Maralee may enable you to avoid a trial by brokering a reasonable solution. She drafts a Memorandum of Understanding so that all parties know exactly what was decided at the conference.

Parenting Arrangements (custody/visitation)

These issues concern all parents who have separated, whether they are involved in a dissolution action or not. The most stressful decisions can be where a child will live and how the time will be shared. Parenting arrangements often need to be made or altered when the divorce is past, when a couple is unmarried, or when a guardian needs to step in.

Maralee believes that it parenting issues are the most important issues in a matter, and that each parent should have full information about the law and practices which will affect their children.

Calculation of Child and Spousal Support

We work with parties and parents to calculate child, spousal and family support options and explore the range of solutions.

If you need to modify your support agreement, whether as the payor or recipient, make sure it is done correctly. You need to know that oral agreements and some informal agreements will not change a Court order. Handling support issues promptly is critical.

Support Enforcement and Defense

If you are being aggressively pursued for support and need relief, or you need to get the support you are entitled to, Maralee may be able to assist you in a variety of ways. Contact us to discuss your needs.

You should consider that if your problem involves non-payment of child support, your county Department of Child Support Services provides free assistance with a greater range of tools and options than are available to a private attorney. Sometimes, however, a private attorney is faster or more appropriate to your case.

Financial Analysis

What figure do you divide?

It’s pretty easy to divide by two. The question is: what is the figure that gets divided? What is the community property worth? How much debt is there? What remains separate property? Are there reimbursements? “It’s not the denominator, it’s the numerator,” notes attorney Maralee Nelder. And how will that be done?

Maralee, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, can evaluate even the most complex situations and work for an equitable division.

Restraining Orders

Maralee can assist you with the restraining order options available in your specific situation. Get the action you need to protect yourself and your children.

If you are in danger, get safe first. Call the police if needed, especially on a evening or weekend. They can secure emergency orders if the fact pattern is there to support it. Those orders are effective for two court days, so you have time to seek a longer term solution.

There are various restraining orders available, and domestic violence orders are different from civil orders. What type you may be eligible for depends on the nature of your relationship with the person who is the subject of the order.

Three common orders:

  • Personal conduct restraint: this is an order not to contact, harass, threaten, strike, stalk, follow, or otherwise disturb the peace of the protected person.
  • Stay-away order–this requires the person restrained to maintain a certain distance from the party seeking the order, possibly including restraints from coming near a place of residence or business.
  • Move out order–this orders the subject to move out of the home, but requires that there be a viable alternative.  The person seeking the order needs to show that the subject has funds to stay at hotel, or has a bed available somewhere, and that there’s good reason why that person should move instead of the person seeking the order.

Parental Relationship

Establishing a parental relationship is the legal process of determining the parent of a child who is not born to married parties. Establishing parental relationship may be required so that other matters can be determined, including custody, visitation and support. Children benefit from emotional and financial support from both parents. In addition, health insurance and inheritance are important concerns. So even if one parent does no want to be involved, the other parent should consider whether the child’s best interests require establishment, in a legal document, of both parents.

Important Note: The Declaration of Paternity form that parents may sign in the hospital officially and legally establishes paternity, having the same effect as a court judgment. If that declaration was signed for your child, keep a copy in a safe place.

If you are a parent seeking to establish parenting arrangements or support, Maralee can guide you through the process of establishing parental relationship.

Adoptions and Guardianships

When the natural parents are unable or unwilling to meet a child’s needs, another party may step in and seek to adopt the child, or become the child’s legal guardian. In adoption, the adoptive parents assume all the rights and responsibilities that the birth parents had, in a permanent, lifelong, legal relationship. The parental relationship of the birth parents is terminated and a new birth certificate is issued in the names of the adoptive parents. This may be done with or without a continuing relationship with the biological parents.

In a guardianship, the guardian takes on all those same rights and responsibilities, without terminating the birth parents’ rights. Guardianship can also be established for specific issues. Guardianship can be for a limited time, or remain in place until the child reaches the age of 18. A birth parent can ask the Court to terminate the Guardianship, or change a visitation schedule.

The laws on this, including the legal burden of proof to establish the relationship, or to make a change, and which factors are relevant are complex. As with all family law areas, new cases are decided in the appellate and supreme courts which change this frequently. You need to discuss these issues with someone who keeps up with the newest cases and statutes to make decisions which assure the best possible future for a child.

Prenuptial Agreements

As people live longer, the trend is to marry later, sometimes after a first marriage. At that point people frequently have assets or children they want to protect. It is smart to know the rules about community property and community debt, and to decide for yourself whether or not you want to have an agreement which defines property and other rights before you get married.

You may not need an agreement, but you do need to be informed. For example, separate property owned before marriage, kept separately, and never supplemented with community property, will remain separate property, even without an agreement, as long as there is sufficient documentation.

Before you marry, consult Maralee so that you understand how your rights, relationships, assets, and obligations will be affected. Then you and your intended can reach clear understandings about the expectations each of you have, what assets and obligations you each have, and how you intend to manage your finances. If you do not have a clear written agreement entered into before the marriage, the statutes and case law will apply. And those can change without warning.


When do you need to consult an attorney?

  • When you are seeking a lawyer to represent you
  • When you need to know your legal rights and responsibilities
  • When you need a legal service performed
  • When you need your questions answered or to get some advice

Maralee offers both in-person and phone consultations. It is more productive to have the initial consultation in person if that is possible. She is willing to work with challenging geography and communication issues. If you have a Nevada County case, and an attorney out of the area, Maralee can act as co-counsel for local issues and appearances.

Maralee will work with limited-scope representation, where she is retained to address one or more specific issues. That can often help control costs of a case, if you feel you can handle the other issues.

Set up your consultation by calling Nelder Family Law at (530) 272-5672, or see our contact page for other options.

Read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about the initial consultation, and be sure to learn how to get the most value from your consultation time.

Maralee and Lynn confer