Family Law Blog

What You Need to Know About Child Custody

Thursday, February 23, 2017

If you're getting divorced, you are wondering what it takes to attain the custody of your children. Fortunately, it is possible to come to an amicable agreement with your ex-spouse concerning whom the children will live with, as well as visitation rights.

Negotiation

Negotiations can involve a professional mediator, or consist of just you and your former partner. This is preferable in many ways to pursuing the court option because time and money are saved, not to mention the psychological health of any children involved. Keep in mind that negotiations don't need to take place in an "official setting." For instance, you can arrange to meet at a local restaurant where you will both be put at ease and will be able to focus on the important and relevant issues.

The Courts

If for some reason negotiations fall through, you could try your luck in court. The judge will look at various factors to determine what is best for the child. What is in the child's best interest includes their psychological and physical health, as well as what seems best for him or her long-term. Usually a court appointed psychiatrist will assess any children involved, and this will heavily influence the court's decision as to which parent will be awarded custody.  

Physical vs. Legal Custody

The two main types of custody that you should be aware of are physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where your child will reside day-to-day. Legal custody concerns the ability to make decisions affecting the child's education, health-related concerns, and other important aspects of life. Despite which parent is awarded physical custody, legal custody is typically shared between both parents. 

Please, contact us immediately. 

Understanding a Change In Circumstances for Child Custody

Thursday, February 16, 2017

First and foremost, it is supremely important to understand that each state uses its own laws to determine which relevant factors to consider, and how much weight should be given to each factor as it relates to child custody. The information given here is in no way intended to be substituted for actual research for your state's laws and regulations concerning child custody.

Most importantly, the outcome of the child custody case will change the contour of life for you, your child, AND the other parent. Parenting requires a constantly moving, dynamic, and systemic series of decisions, that should NEVER be taken lightly. Hire an attorney, and listen to what they have to say. After all, they went to school for a very long time to learn to help you, and for the most part, they are much more emotionally detached from the situation than you will be.

The cold hard truth about child custody cases is that they are so state-specific and even judge-specific, that almost anything can beconsidered relevant. Although the judge's discretion ultimately prevails, most courts have several factors they weigh when determining the best interests of the child, and how it might be impacted by the adoption of a Permanent Parenting Plan (PPP). 

In custody disputes, the court is primarily trying to determine which parent should be the Primary Residential Parent (PRP) and which parent should be the Alternative Residential Parent (ARP). In order to make this determination, the court will consider any factors it deems relevant, including but not limited to, the age and cognitive abilities of the child, the prior relationship each parent held with the child prior to the divorce, any history of addiction, any history of physical or emotional abuse, the ability of either parent to assume the same, more, or less parenting duties due to work schedules, the geographic location of work or home of each parent, and the educational opportunities each parent can provide. 

Once the court weighs the factors and adopts a PPP, any proposed modification of the PPP must be accompanied by evidence that the circumstances which led to the court making the decision it made regarding the PPP, have changed to the extent that the PPP should bemodified to allow the ARP more time with the child. Because the parent opposing the change will NEVER acknowledge that the change in circumstances requires a custody modification, and the proponent of the modification will ALWAYS feel the opposite way, the court will rely heavily on the discretion of the judge making the rulings. 

Actually defining what constitutes a material change in circumstances can be just as challenging as the circumstances themselves. Basically, the person asking for modification has the burden of proving that the factors considered in the best interests of the child would be greatly impacted by the change in circumstances, and that due to said change in circumstances, continuing the PPP as ordered would actually be against the best interests of the child. 

Things such as serious changes in the needs of the child, or the financial or educational support being given to the child, the PRP or the ARP changing locations, changing jobs, getting remarried, developing illnesses, or any other factor the court deems relevant, can beconsidered a material change in circumstances. 

The bottom line is, if you and the other parent are at odds as to what is in the best interest of your child, both of you should make every attempt to reasonably accommodate the other parent. If you choose not to, the court can use any number of factors to determine what it thinks is in the best interest of the child. 

Remember that when life happens, if it happens in such a way that these factors need to be revisited to determine what is in the best interest of YOUR child, it is best to be the parent who acted in the most reasonable manner possible under the circumstances. If you don't, and either parent asks the court to decide what’s best for your child, it is possible you will not be pleased with the decision made.

If you are currently in need of advice regarding a child custody case, contact us

Keeping the Children Away From Divorce Drama

Thursday, February 09, 2017

When raising a child or children after a divorce, any resentments or unresolved issues between parents should be set aside. Both parents must focus on the children's best interests. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Here are some tips from a blogger and attorney about keeping children away from divorce drama.

After a divorce, don't talk badly about the other parent. Children know that everything isn't perfect between mom and dad if a divorce happens. However, they don't need the specifics. Experts and courts agree that children need a relationship with both parents after a divorce. When exposed to negativity about a parent, this just makes it harder for the child to have a meaningful connection with this parent. If you want to discuss your ex's flaws or the sordid details of a divorce, make sure the kids aren't around and definitely don't direct  mean comments about the other parent to the child.

After a divorce, each parent usually still wants their relatives to have contact with the kids. If a divorce involved tension or anger, some relatives may not have the best opinion of a loved one's ex. You might need to talk to your relatives beforehand so that they can avoid disparaging the other parent in front of the children.

Making the effort to shield your kids from disputes is what is most important. If someone slips up, keep trying. One or two comments aren't a big deal as long as both parents and others consistently attempt to remain positive in front of the children. When going through a divorce, contact us today for information about how we could help you.

Obama Administration Family Law Changes Affect Child Support

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Many divorced parents who have child support obligations may have found themselves facing difficulties making their payments. As a result, they may have fallen behind on their support and ended up incarcerated as an outcome. This type of family law situation is not uncommon, and it can often lead to a vicious cycle.

When many parents are in jail, they lack the ability to effectively make their payments, which only leads to their falling further behind. In turn, after their releases, they may return home only to find themselves potentially on their way to being locked up again due to having been unable to make their support payments regularly while incarcerated.

According to recent reports, in order to address this issue, President Obama's administration has made changes to child support rules that may help parents in such a predicament. These rules would supersede state law and require that states examine the true circumstances of each case when it comes to potentially allowing for support modifications. In many cases, incarceration is considered "voluntary unemployment," and this classification makes it nearly impossible for individuals to pursue more manageable support amounts while in jail. 

By having incarceration not deemed voluntary unemployment, individuals may be able to seek a lower support payments. As a result, they may be better able to make their payments while in jail or at least have the opportunity to not fall as far behind.

These child support rule changes could affect many California parents who have found themselves facing such predicaments. Individuals who are interested in how these rules could potentially affect their circumstances or who would like more information on child support modifications in general may wish to consult with experienced Beverly Hills family law attorney