Jennifer Isensee a family law attorney in San Jose provides social and legal advice to her clients. With her lengthy experience as a family law attorney practicing in the family court systems she provides social advice about how to manage the challenges that arise when irreconcilable differences emerge in our relationships, and advice to people looking for an attorney and how to best use the services of an attorney. For her clients in her law practice she guides them through the maze of hearings, evaluations, settlement conferences and trials.

Specifically, Ms. Isensee offers her expertise in the following areas:
1. Consultations for persons considering the ramifications of a break-up, separation or divorce who are looking for advice, resources and/or an attorney.
2. Legal Services in the following areas:


Ms. Isensee prepares the paperwork required by the court for Step Parent and Independent Adoptions for people who wish to formalize the relationship for a child already in their home. All adoptions require an investigation as to the suitability of the adoptive parents for the child. Each County has its own process and different counties have different investigative services. Once the recommendation is received which approves the adoption, Ms. Isensee schedules the hearing and prepares the Order for Adoption, the Adoption Agreement and other papers as required by the Probate Court and appears at the Adoption Hearing with her clients, the children and other invited family members. Adoption Hearings are usually held in the judge's chambers and are often festive events that include picture-taking .


Guardianship is the process whereby an adult obtains the legal right to care for a child that is not their own where there is no adoption. For instance, grandparents often obtain Temporary Letters of Guardianship and then after an additional hearing, Permanent Guardianship. Prospective guardians and the family situation of the child will be investigated by the County agency assigned that responsibility. Notice to family members, such as parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. is required by statute.

Ms. Isensee prepares the papers necessary for presentation to the Court for all stages of the proceedings and appears in court with her clients.

Separation and Divorce

Breaking up is hard to do! Ms. Isensee advises her clients as to the legal difference between Separation and Divorce, prepares all the papers that are to be presented to the Family Court, appears at all court hearings and guides her client through the legal process.

Uncontested Divorces can be cost-effective and quick, provided that the parties both know what they have to divide and actually agree on everything. Ms. Isensee has been known to prepare all the papers necessary from start (Summons and Petition) to the final Judgment within 2 weeks. However, those 2 key elements: knowing what you have and agreeing on what to do with it are absolutely essential to an Uncontested Divorce. Uncontested Dissolutions or Legal Separations usually do not involve a court appearance.

Many dissolutions are contested, but the good news is that most of them settle short of trial.

Custody and Visitation

Custody and Visitation are often the most important thing to parents who are no longer living together. People often do reach agreements about custody and the parenting plan without court intervention. However, when parents don't agree, each County has a department known as Family Court Services that employs a staff of mental health professionals to recommend solutions to custody disputes, and handle emergency situations. Private evaluation is often available to families who can afford it and that agree to it. Everyone, in the State of California, must mediate their custody and visitation issues before litigating them. The policy requiring mediation before litigation is based on sound social data. Most custody and visitation matters settle without trial, which is good for everyone.

If you can agree on custody and the parenting plan that meets the needs of your children, your children will benefit greatly from having this settled without drama. However, if you need the Court's intervention, it is essential that you be focused on meeting the daily needs of your children and be willing to go the distance with the court system to protect your children if the need arises.

Litigation over custody can involve a single issue, or a pandora's box full of challenges. It evokes intense emotions which means heightened sensitivity and the danger of losing one's personal compass and balance. Ms. Isensee takes particular care in preparing her clients for the challenge of a custody dispute to ensure the best possible outcome for their children. Consistency, perseverance and commitment are all needed to mediate, settle or litigate your custody and visitation situation.

Property Division

Practically everyone who marries ends up acquiring items, known by the Court as "personal property" and often real estate known as "real property." Once you marry in a community property state such as California, the earnings of husband and wife are community property. Generally speaking, anything you acquire between the date of marriage and the date of separation is considered community property, meaning it ss owned by both of you regardless of who holds title or who purchased it. The same goes for debts. Regardless of who charged against credit cards, and whether you knew about it or not, the community, meaning both of you, are usually liable for the debt.

In the State of California, community assets and debts are supposed to be divided equally. That means that when the debts and assets are divided, you each are supposed to end up with an equal net value of the community estate. It can be simple to divide your assets and debts, and it can be hard. The difficulty is not with the law, which is elegantly simple in its formula for equal division, but it only takes one person to make it difficult.

In order to prepare to divide your community estate, it is essential that you know what is owned and what is owed. You can save yourself a lot of time by compiling a detailed list of your assets and debts with supporting documentation while you still have access to the family filing cabinet. It is always a good idea to collect this paperwork before your separation so that your attorney can get to work on your property division without delay.

Child and spousal support

Child and spousal support are often the immediate concerns of parties when they first separate. Yet child and spousal support serve different needs.

The purpose of child support is to ensure that the children are raised in two households that are in accord with their parents' station in life. Admittedly, since two households require more money than one combined household, the standard of living for both households is often reduced. However, the reason for child support is to ensure that the children are provided for in each household. It is the child's right to receive child support from his or her parents until the child turns 18 and graduates from high school, or turns 19 if he or she is attending high school full time. Since it is the child's right to receive support, the right to receive child support can never be waived by the parents.

The purpose of temporary spousal support is to prevent the reduction of family savings and assets by equalizing the net income of the parties before the property can be divided, with the higher earner providing support to the lower earner or non-earning spouse. The purpose of spousal support after Judgment of Dissolution, which is called "permanent" spousal support is to maintain the Marital Standard of Living for both parties, as much as is possible. The Marital Standard of Living also sets the maximum that a payor spouse will have to pay. For instance if the former husband starts making a fabulous income that far exceeds what he earned during marriage, his former wife does not get to have her standard of living raised beyond the standard of living the parties had during marriage. The Marital Standard of Living therefore sets a cap on spousal support. The right to receive or request spousal support can be waived and spousal support can be terminated by agreement, court order or operation of law (such as when the receiving party remarries or the paying party dies). It is the policy in California that each party make reasonable efforts to become self-supporting.

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is taken very seriously in our society because it is now generally accepted that violence in the home hurts everyone-the victims of it, the witnesses to it, and the perpetrators of it.

A restraining order restricts certain behaviors by one party in favor of protecting another party. It is designed to prevent behavior that the court has determined is detrimental to the person for whose protection the order was created. It empowers law enforcement to enforce boundaries established by the court order whether the protected party knows the order is being violated or not. Violation of a restraining order can be prosecuted as a crime.

The issuance of a restraining order can protect a person from harm and affect the employability of the person who is restrained by it. A request for a restraining order should always be stated accurately and without exaggeration. An agreement to be bound by a restraining order should never be taken lightly and should always be considered as a long-term commitment that may affect a person's future and ability to obtain employment.

Ms. Isensee has requested the issuance of restraining orders on behalf of her clients and has defended against the issuance of such orders when the facts did not support the need for it.

Family Law

Family law includes a broad spectrum of situations: Adoptions (making a child legally your own), Guardianships (obtaining the temporary or permanent permission to provide for a child that is not legally your own), Juvenile Dependency (where a County agency has assumed custody of the child) and Delinquency (where the child has violated the law), Custody (of one's own children) and Child Support (whether the parents have married or not), Separation, Divorce or Termination of a Domestic Partnership, Property Division, and Spousal Support for couples who did marry or form domestic partnerships, and Domestic Violence (allegations and defense against those allegations). All of these matters are considered Family Law even though they are handled differently.

Adoptions and Guardianships are handled in Probate Court. Juvenile Dependency and Delinquency are handled in Juvenile Court and most other matters are handled in Family Court. These 3 court systems for families have different priorities, time lines, procedures and rules. It is vital to the success of your case that you know how to interact with the professionals who will make recommendations about your family to the judge and that you know what information will be helpful to present when in court. Once your case is called in court, sweeping changes can be made for your family very quickly. The court has a limited amount of time to consider your case, so the presentation of your point of view needs to be short and to the point.

The challenge in every family law case is to obtain an order that meets the specific needs of your family in the short amount of time the court has to hear you. All families are unique. Some children are lucky to have two good parents who always cooperate with one another. Some children have one good parent and must learn to cope with a not-so-good parent. Some children need to Some children have four good parents. Some children are raised by grandparents, great-grandparents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, foster parents, adoptive parents, or older siblings. Many households are blended families. The better versed you and your attorney are in the requirements of the court systems, the more you can concentrate on presenting your particular point of view in a way that is meaningful to the judge.