Family Law Blog

When to Consider Getting an Online Divorce

Monday, April 06, 2020

Couples today have the option of filing for divorce online in the absence of an attorney, but this isn't the best decision in many cases

Many couples may hesitate to hire attorneys because of the costs associated with them, but the fact is that working with an attorney can help you reach a better settlement than an online divorce without representation.

When You Can Get a Divorce Online

If you decide to file for divorce online without an attorney, there are some specific conditions that you'll need to meet to avoid any issues during the filing process. If you want to file for a divorce online, you should only do so under the following circumstances:

Both Spouses Agree to Divorce

If both spouses would like to get a divorce, they may not need an attorney. On the other hand, if only one spouse agrees to the divorce, an attorney may be required to serve divorce papers to the unwilling party.

Both Parties Are Involved Throughout the Divorce Process

When filing for divorce online without a lawyer, both spouses also need to participate in the proceedings. Spouses will be required to perform specific tasks and collect all of the necessary documentation to complete the divorce process. If either spouse fails to cooperate, an attorney may be required to help maintain compliance between both parties.

Both Spouses Are of Sound Mind and Judgment

If both parties are capable of making key decisions throughout the divorce process, you may be able to file online without issue. However, an attorney's involvement may be required if either spouse is incapable of making these decisions for any reason such as mental incapacitation or substance abuse.

Agreed to Full Disclosure of Assets and Liabilities

Both parties in the divorce process will need to maintain openness and honesty to avoid the involvement of an attorney, including full disclosure of all liabilities and assets involved.

Conclusion

If both parties meet these circumstances, it may be possible to get a divorce online. In most cases, it can be beneficial to both spouses to work with an attorney to assist with the divorce process, which can be complicated. Contact us to learn about what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you navigate a divorce to secure the best possible outcome.

Some Child Support Myths Busted

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Child support is frequently misunderstood and, too often, feared. This is understandable since it deals with people's most precious assets - their kids and their money. In reality, the intention of child support is to ensure a child's well-being, in both households.

How well do you understand how child support works? 

MYTH

Given 50/50 custody schedule, there will be no child support payment by either parent.

BUSTED: Child support payments are not based only on the amount of time each parents spends with the child. Additional factors include gross income and certain expenses such as other child support payments or medical bills.

MYTH

The father always pays the child support.

BUSTED: Child support payments may be made by the father or mother and are determined by the amount of time each parent spends with the child, gross income and other eligible expenses.

MYTH

Once a child support amount is set, it never changes.

BUSTED: Child support may be modified when parental circumstances change. Examples include an increase or decrease in income, the birth of additional children, or unemployment.

MYTH

Only the child's parents are eligible to receive child support.

BUSTED: Parents, legal guardians, or any party receiving public assistance for a child may apply for child support.

MYTH

It's no big deal if a child support payment is missed.

BUSTED: Enforcement methods for nonpayment can be severe - driver's license/passport may be suspended or revoked, tax refund can be intercepted and a bank account levied.

MYTH

Dad is not listed on the birth certificate, so he cannot receive or pay child support.

BUSTED: Parentage can be assessed using genetic testing, which ultimately determines rights and responsibilities. It does not matter if the father is not on the birth certificate.

Conclusion

Still have questions or myths to be busted? The experienced lawyers at Jamra and Jamra are here to make sure you know the facts. You can learn more on our website about child support and child support modifications. Contact us anytime. 

Legal Marijuana Still Affects Child Custody

Friday, March 27, 2020

It may be legal in California and several other states now, but if you are divorcing and working on child custody, you may want to keep your marijuana use to a minimum. While the stigma is starting to wear off, the courts still look at marijuana use unfavorably despite being legal for any over 21 to use.

Marijuana Use

Certainly no parent is bragging about their marijuana usage, but your spouse could use it as a weapon to help their end of a child custody case. While it is legal, marijuana still affects you mentally and that can affect your care of a child. This means if they can show instances of your driving under the influence or your children getting hurt while you were high, it can strongly help their case to win custody of your children.

Furthermore, while it may be tempting to smoke in order to take the edge off a messy divorce case, it can leave you woefully unprepared for home visits that could affect your custody case. Overindulgence can be just as damaging. It is best to just keep use, even for medical matters to a bare minimum until your custody case is closed.

How This Affects the Case

If your spouse tries to bring your marijuana use into the case, you will also need to be ready to counter it. If you think this may become an issue, you will want to make your divorce lawyer well aware before it happens so they can formulate an effective strategy. If your spouse knows you used marijuana a lot, you can be pretty sure they will bring it up, especially if they get desperate.

Conclusion

If you are starting a divorce case and need help, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help you get the best results from your divorce and custody case even when facing difficult situations.

Are Divorce Record Public or Private?

Monday, March 16, 2020

When you do anything in the legal system, you hope that the results will remain private. Unfortunately, they will likely be put on public record. This can be for public safety in terms of criminal records, but what about innocuous legal action like divorce? Are those records public or private?

Divorce Records

When you file for divorce in California and it concludes, those records will be filed with the state. By default, these records will be filed as public. What this means is that anyone interested in the case can obtain a copy of your divorce decree for whatever reason. However, only authorized copies are made to those mentioned in the decree. Any other copies are purely informational and typically used to establish some sort of identification.

Sealing the Records

If the public nature of your divorce decree makes you uncomfortable, you can pursue to process of having it sealed. The bad news is that it can be very difficult to get a divorce decree sealed. It will require a court order in which you need to persuade the court that you have valid reasons for sealing the record. Even if your ex-spouse agrees, you need to be able to justify your need for privacy.

Learn More About Sealing Divorce Records

In these cases, the reasons need not be particularly specific, but it can be difficult to find a valid reason that the court will accept. If you value privacy, you will want to work with your lawyer to document valid reasons to seal your divorce decree that the courts will accept.

If you are working towards divorce and want to make the best out of the process, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help you get the best possible results so you can close this chapter of your life as smoothly as possible.

Can Spousal Support Be Paid Retroactively?

Monday, March 09, 2020

When divorcing, those who ask for spousal support, or alimony, from their spouse with more earning potential, they tend to view it as a prospective affair. Thus, the checks won't start coming until after the divorce decree has been finalized and will only be paid starting after the divorce is final. This is true, in many respects. You won't get your initial check until the divorce is finalized, but that first check could be a bigger one if you ask for payments to be paid retroactively.

Many States Allow It

While there are laws in some states that prevent it, many states allow for spousal support to be paid retroactively. This is due to the length that a divorce case can have. It can take months or even years to wrap up a messy divorce case. Yet, even amicable divorces work on the schedule of the courts. As such, you can receive support payments after the decree is final for when you were sorting it all out.

The inevitable question is how retroactive are we talking about? Some state statutes vary on this as well. In some, it is retroactive to the date the divorce was filed. Others will only make it retroactive to when you asked that spousal support be paid. Obviously, if you leave spousal support negotiations until the end, you could be shooting yourself in the foot in terms of retroactive payment. However, your lawyer should be able to help you make the most out of retroactive spousal support payments so you get the money that you need.

Learn More About Retroactive Spousal Support 

If you are looking to get your divorce started, you will need the help of a skilled divorce lawyer. However, getting spousal support paid retroactively will always be a fight. If you are starting the divorce process and need help, contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do for you.

Is Health Insurance Covered By Child Support?

Monday, March 02, 2020

If you have won custody of your child, it is required that they are covered by health insurance. Indeed, failure to do so can result in serious criminal, civil, and even custodial penalties by the court. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that health insurance can be wildly expensive, especially for single parents. As the custody holder of the child, you are required to procure health insurance for them either through your employment, the government, or independently.

Finances

Parents can only stop a health insurance plan if the costs become cost-prohibitive. This means that the costs will exceed 5% of their income. However, from there, they must find a new health insurance plan within their range as soon as possible.

For parents that are struggling with healthcare and insurance costs, it may be best to return to court in order to ask for more money from the other parent. If it can be shown that the cost of maintaining health insurance for your child is creating a financial burden, then the child support required from the other parent may be raised. After all, it is child "support". Thus, it is meant to help support the raising of that child by a parent who is not financially beholden to the other parent through marriage or another relationship.

Learn More About Health Insurance and Child Support

Unfortunately, proving that health insurance upkeep is creating a strain can be difficult. This is when you will want a good family law attorney at your side to help the courts make the decision by gathering the right evidence. If you are struggling with child care costs or starting a messy uncoupling process, contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you get the best possible results.

Child Support Responsibilities and Incarceration

Monday, February 24, 2020

If your ex-spouse or parent of your child has committed a crime and is looking at jail time, it can leave you wondering about how they will uphold their financial commitments to you. If they are paying child support or spousal support, incarceration does not automatically forgive these commitments.

Incarceration

When an ex-spouse or a parent to your child is incarcerated, you should expect them to file for a modification of child support or alimony. Since an incarcerated person's income often drops dramatically, they can file for a modification with the court. The courts may end payments for the time they are incarcerated because they now have no income.

Finances

It is important to remember that while incarcerated, one party may not be making as much money. However, they could also still be making some. If the incarcerated parent of your child is still making money through rentals, investments, or even has a substantial savings account, they may still be required to pay support while in prison. The courts will examine their income and may decide they can afford a much lower payment rather than no payment at all.

Good News

The small bit of good news for the non-incarcerated parent is that prison doesn't mean payment stops forever. If the incarcerated parent is released and gets a new job, you can file for a modification of child support with the court that asks them to start paying support again. So, the payments may not be gone forever, but may resume after incarceration ends if they are still needed.

Conclusion

Are you getting divorced? Do you feel concerned that you may not be getting the child support that you need? Do you have any other pressing family law issues? We can help. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you.

Will Inheritance Be Divided in a Divorce?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Aside from the emotional impact, one of the most difficult aspects of divorce comes from dividing the assets between you and your spouse. One of the lesser considered aspects of property division in divorce are items gained through inheritance. Is inheritance considered community property that must be split or is it considered separate property that you will solely retain?

Shared Property vs Inheritance 

In most cases, property gained during a marriage is considered shared property that you will need to split. However, inheritance remains protected as individual property no matter when you get it. This means you will usually retain ownership except in certain circumstances. There are two primary ways your inheritance can go from individual property to shared property.

Monetary Inheritance

The first way is if you had real estate and ended up adding your spouse's name on the deed. This would help them inherit it if you passed away, but also transforms it into shared marital property that will need to be divided in a divorce. The second way to lose inheritance in a divorce is if you got a monetary inheritance and deposited it in a shared bank account. If it were kept separate from shared money, then it would remain as individual property. However, once your inheritance commingles with the rest of your shared money, it is considered shared property. As such, don't just expect a judge to say you can take your inheritance amount out of the bank account since that would now be impossible.

Conclusion

Are you getting ready to start the process of divorce or have any other family law issue that needs legal representation? We can help. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you get the best possible results from your uncoupling while keeping it as stress-free as possible.

Does Your Spouse Have to Pay for Your Divorce Lawyer?

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Typically when a divorce starts, your uncoupling starts formally. You need to start being financially independent and paying for your own expenses as an individual. However, after divorce, this can take awhile for some. This is particularly true if you have been out of the workforce or underemployed for awhile to take care of the family.

Finances

As there is the potential for a huge financial disparity between couples, it is possible to have one spouse responsible for paying legal fees on both sides to ease the strain.

If it can be proven that the legal fees for a lawyer will create an undue burden on one spouse, the courts may decide that the other party has to pay, at least in some part, the fees for both lawyers. When examining this, the courts will decide based on several factors, including:

  • The financial disparity between the parties
  • Assets of each spouse
  • Financial responsibilities of each spouse
  • An effort to find work

This means that if a CEO and a fast-food worker are splitting up, it would be easy for the courts, due to the huge income disparity between them, to tell the CEO that they need to cover both legal fees for the divorce.

Conclusion

It is also worth noting that the judge can also force payment of legal fees in bad conduct. This means if your spouse was beating you or has been trying to draw out the divorce to rack up high bills, the judge can decide to force you to pay the legal fees as a punitive measure.

Are you getting a divorce and need help navigating the complex area of divorce court or even child custody? Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you navigate this difficult time in your life.

The Destructive Effects of Drinking on a Marriage

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Many marriages are significantly stressed by problems with alcohol. Serious problems become apparent in a family marred by alcohol abuse.

Safety Issues

The ability to take care of children is severely impacted when alcohol is a problem in the home. Someone who is intoxicated cannot be relied upon to supervise children.

Domestic violence incidents usually involve at least one spouse being intoxicated. Anger and agitation can worsen over time. The "mean drunk" can turn more violent as mood swings widen.

Catastrophic Events

Loss of license due to one or more arrests for driving under the influence impacts the drinking spouse's ability to meet many of their responsibilities. They are not able to provide transportation for family members. They could lose their job if they cannot get to work, if their job requires driving, or because of the arrest itself.

Alcohol and Divorce

Either spouse could consider divorce in a marriage impacted by alcohol abuse. One spouse might have never been a drinker while the other is significantly impaired. Both spouses could have a serious drinking problem. Additional problems occur when one of two drinking spouses stops drinking either on their own or with treatment. When the other drinking spouse does not follow suit and stop, the behavior of the still drinking spouse is magnified.

Sobriety and Divorce

Once a divorce has been initiated, some drinking spouses will seek treatment. Others continue to drink. Those that do seek treatment might be doing so in the hopes of saving the marriage. It is often too late to resurrect the marriage. Getting help for a substance abuse problem is always a good idea. Further, getting sober after being served with divorce papers might be too late to save the marriage but the divorce could be enough to save the drinker from further calamity.

The Impact on a Settlement

While alcohol abuse impacts all aspects of a marriage and family life, this alone does not always have an adverse impact on the fair and equitable distribution of marital assets in divorce. The outcome of a settlement is impacted by the ability of both spouses to constructively participate in divorce negotiations. Staying sober through the divorce process makes the process go smoother.

Conclusion

Jamra and Jamra will provide professional legal representation to either spouse in a divorce due to drinking problems. Our firm has the compassion, knowledge, and resources to help spouses get through this difficult process.