Family Law Blog

Tips to Make Mediation Work

Thursday, April 18, 2019

man and woman going through divorce mediation

Though you may think that you need to go to court to get divorced, the truth is that there is a better way. Mediation can really save you time and money. It could also save your relationship, especially if you are parents. Parents who try mediation are often better co-parents because of it. They didn't spend months fighting through the court system because they found a way to make it work together.  

That being said, it isn't always easy. Here are some tips to make mediation work.

Choose the right mediator. 

Though any mediator will help you through this process, you need to make sure that you find one that you are both comfortable with. You may also want to make sure that he or she has helped others who were in a similar situation as you are. Some specialize in helping those who are dealing with cheating, have children involved, or are in a certain financial situation.

Have all of your paperwork together. 

Getting all of your paperwork together can be tedious. You are going to need information about the mortgage, your health insurance, any retirement accounts, and much more. However, if you don't have them when you come to mediation, it isn't going to help. In order to split up your things, you are going to need the information.

Don't be afraid to take a break. 

There are times when you are talking about things that are going to be hard for you. This is especially true when it comes to figuring out what is best for the children. Your emotions may get the best of you. Don't be afraid to ask for a break so you can compose yourself and try again.

When you are going through mediation, you need to choose the right person to help you through the process. You also need to make sure that you have all of your paperwork in order. If not, it will just slow down the whole process. Then, don't be afraid to take breaks when you need to. It is important so that you can come back refreshed and ready to try again.

Contact us for all of your legal needs. We will be glad to help you through this difficult time.

5 Factors to Consider Before Choosing A Divorce Attorney

Thursday, April 11, 2019

woman signing divorce papers

Once you start thinking about divorce, it pays to stay ahead of the curve. An experienced divorce lawyer will have valuable advice regarding actions you should take long before you file for divorce. This advice can save you time, money and heartache during an extremely stressful time. Retaining the right attorney can make a huge difference in how you fare in your divorce. It's important to shop around and make sure your time, money, and trust is being invested in the right representation. When the stakes are high, make sure you've considered the following factors before you make hiring decisions:

Cost

The first thing you'll want to know is how much the attorney charges. Most divorce attorneys will require a retainer fee and charge by the hour. These fee amounts will ultimately determine who you can reasonably afford to hire. You will want to get an estimate of the total amount you'll end up owing attorney but it's unlikely that he or she will be able to give you an exact figure during an initial consultation.

Experience

The attorney's work experience is a major factor you'll want to evaluate. You'll want an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law matters, as these proceedings have require a unique set of skills. A certification of specialization in family law is reassurance that you're dealing with someone who knows what they're doing. Additionally, each state has its own set of laws dictating divorce, and jurisdictions within a state may have their own local nuances in divorce proceedings. As such, it is important to retain an attorney who is familiar with the state law and the local practices in the county in which you'll file for divorce.

Reputation

One of the best ways to find a good attorney is to see who comes referred. Reach out to friends and family who have gone through the divorce process, ask which attorney they used and find out what their experience was. Even if their recommendations are out of your area or budget, it can be helpful to contact their offices and see if they can refer you to someone who may work for you. After you've spoken with a potential candidate, don't be afraid to do your research and ask around.

Convenience

Convenience shouldn't be a deal breaker in all instances, but you'll want to hire attorney who is easy to get in touch with and whose office isn't located in at unworkable distance. Finding a lawyer whose office is close to home, work, or your kids' school can make life much easier on you down the road.  

Comfort

The final factor may be the most important of them all. You will want to hire an attorney who you can feel comfortable around. Divorce cases are an understandably emotional process. Your attorney is a person who you'll depend on throughout this extremely tumultuous period. This is someone you will need to be excruciatingly honest regarding sensitive topics. As such, your divorce attorney will need to be someone you can trust.

 Going through a divorce is a difficult process. Don't make things any harder on yourself by hiring the wrong divorce attorney. Considering these five factors can help you find the right attorney for you. When you need an honest, experienced, and reputable attorneys handling your divorce, contact the lawyers at Jamra & Jamra today.


Shielding Children From the Effects of Divorce

Friday, April 05, 2019

parents getting divorced arguing with upset child

The disintegration of marriage brings about significant changes in the lives of a couple's children. Divorce can have lasting psychological and emotional impacts on children—but, there are steps that parents can take to alleviate these effects.

A divorce, from a child's perspective, is the crumbling of their most basic foundational structure. Life suddenly becomes confusing and unpredictable. Children may have to cope with two homes, separate holiday celebrations, and the introduction of their parents' new love interests. Their parents' divorce will stand as a major marker in their history. Everything that happens in a child's life will be categorized as a pre-divorce or post-divorce event. 

Emotional Effects

Children coping with a parental divorce may experience a wide range of emotions, including:

• Sadness

• Anger

• Low self-esteem

• Low self-confidence

• Rejection

• Conflicting loyalty

• Sense of fault

For younger children, divorce intensifies parental dependence. To the contrary, it will expedite independence in adolescent-aged children. While young children will revert back to infantile behaviors, like tantrums and thumbsucking, older children will push away from their parents with vigor.

Reducing the Costs of Divorce

The end of a marriage is treacherous to navigate for all parties. There are, however, a number of ways to help reduce the impact on children. With adolescents, the goal is to increase their responsibility to slow their separation from the family unit. For younger kids, the priority should be to establish a routine to restore the structure. A sense of safety comes from predictability in a family. 

It goes without saying, fighting in front of children should be avoided. Emotions are high during a divorce and can be tough to restrain. However, children should not witness their parents insulting or berating one another. This behavior only confirms their fear that the family is falling apart. Emotional issues should be worked out privately with a therapist or counselor. 

Divorce comes with a price—that means financial, emotional, and time costs. There could be extended negotiations for custody of the children, finances, and property. A family lawyer can help resolve disputes amicably. Parents should avoid involving children in financial or property-related disputes.

Behaving with civility will increase a child's confidence in his or her parents' ability to uphold a functioning, loving family. Establishing a routine and providing reassurance are vital to reducing the negative implants of divorce on children.

 

Need Help?

Jamra & Jamra focus exclusively on family law, offering the highest possible degree of attention in your divorce case. For assistance in your family law matters, please contact us today.

Is Your Prenuptial Agreement Safe From Nullification?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

closeup of bride and groom holding hands

With all the uncertainty in the world, prenuptial agreements are becoming more standard in upcoming marriages. It is not that these agreements set guidelines for a marriage, but rather set a healthy foundation for what will hopefully be a lasting marriage. However, people change and a prenuptial agreement is meant to protect both parties. Yet, if you have one crafted, it is important to make sure it stands up to scrutiny. If you want to make sure your prenuptial agreement is protected from nullification, it is best to know the ways it can be nullified.

Verbal Agreements

Even if you have all the witnesses in the world, a verbal prenuptial agreement will never be legally binding. In essence, a verbal prenuptial agreement doesn't actually exist.

Invalid Provisions

Again, a prenuptial agreement is not a document on how both parties need to act in a marriage. In fact, by including such invalid provisions within, it can actually nullify the entire document.  Furthermore, if the circumstances of one or both parties have changed drastically, you may find that courts will not uphold a prenuptial agreement in which the terms have morphed into something grossly unfair.

Time Was a Factor

It is very important that when a prenuptial agreement is being drafted, you give your spouse an appropriate amount of time to read the document and sign it. If you finished drafting the document and pressured them into signing it that very same day, it could very well be your undoing. By proving there was pressure in signing or that there was not the adequate time given to read it, the courts may render it invalid.

False Information Was Included

Lies are neither something that helps build a healthy marriage nor will they work to your advantage in a prenuptial agreement. If it can be proven that you failed to disclose important information that would affect the prenuptial agreement and the terms set within, the courts could render the entire agreement invalid.

Are you crafting a prenuptial agreement for your upcoming marriage, or worse, challenging one from your dissolving marriage? We can help. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra does for you.

Can You Face Jail Time For Unpaid Spousal and Child Support?

Friday, March 22, 2019

stack of money sitting under gavel on table

Let's face it, you may be okay financially supporting your children, but no one really wants to give their hard-earned money to an ex-spouse after they divorced. Sometimes, it may feel like even though you only pay child support, that your ex-spouse is using that for their own fun money. However, if the courts have ordered you to pay a certain amount for a certain amount of time, you have to do it or you could find yourself behind bars.

If you simply decide to stop paying spousal or child support that was awarded to your ex-spouse by your divorce court, their best option is to take you back to court. You will be served with a contempt of court notice that demands you appear in court and state why you haven't paid. If you fail to appear at this hearing, they will place a warrant out for your arrest.

However, once you get into that courtroom, do realize there is a big difference between "won't pay" and "can't pay" your support payments. If you demonstrate that it has been causing you financial hardship to make these payments, you likely won't go to jail and your payments will be amended. However, if you are maliciously withholding payments, depending on the amount owed, you may face jail time for it.

The small amount of good news is that you are not a hardened criminal. Awhile back in 2012 there was a case against NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman for non-payment of child and spousal support. He owed around $850,000 to his ex-wife but was only facing a punishment of 20 days in jail for not paying it. This is not to say that you won't face more time, or 20 days in jail is a small amount to pay for not paying support, but rather it is that you won't face years in jail for non-payment as this isn't a particularly heinous crime.

If you have perhaps neglected support payments or a spouse isn't paying you what was owed, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra help you.

Should Gifts of Cash be Included in Spousal Support Calculations?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

husband and wife discussing alimony with lawyer

When it comes to spousal support, not every amount of income comes from what you make from a job. For some, their income includes regular monetary gifts from family. While if these funds come from something like a trust it will definitely be counted in the spousal support calculations if a family member regularly just sends you infusions of cash, that infusion could be counted in your income as well.

Take, for example, a husband is receiving regular $500 checks from his parents every month. They may be giving it to him as an early inheritance or because they simply need financial support. As it is a gift from a family member, it doesn't seem like it would be counted as income, but that is not so. If the couple is divorcing and the wife wants that monthly monetary gift counted in spousal support, her lawyer can argue that because they were made on a monthly basis, the payments qualify as a steady stream of income. The lawyer would then have to document a timeline that these gifts were made regularly for at least a few years and suggest that they would continue to be a regular occurrence in your ex-spouse's income.

If the family member making the gifts decides to cover and say they would no longer send the money but still did, the spousal support award could also be modified in the future to include the funds if the proper proof was provided. Typically, this proof would come from bank statements if you suspect that they are still receiving payments.

If you are filing for divorce, it is a tough and uncertain time. Let us help you through it and make sure you get what is rightfully yours. Contact us today to see how Jamra & Jamra can help you.

When a Mother or Father Opts Out of Parenthood Following a Divorce

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Divorce has tremendous effects on the partners involved. These adults face a loss that accompanies dissolution of their union. Fortunately, they can choose from a myriad of resources to help them adjust to their new lives without their former partner. Children of divorced families face difficult changes as well. Unfortunately, this can include the greatest of children's issues during a divorce, the loss of the ongoing presence of one of his parents.

Regrettably, there are many situations in which one parent abandons his child. If this parent chooses to forgo his relationship with the child, it is up to the remaining parent to help the child cope. Learn how to help him deal with this heartbreaking loss.

Communication is vital when a parent leaves following a divorce. Be as honest with your child as possible regarding the situation without overwhelming him with details. He will ask whether the other parent will return. Again, be truthful and tell him that you do not know if or when that will happen. Reassure him that YOU will not leave. Encourage the child to talk about his emotions. Listen to him talk and validate his feelings accordingly. Let him know he is not to blame for the divorce and/or the other parent's absence.

Set up a routine following the divorce. Children need structure to feel safe and stable. Enlist the aid of other adults to help establish a "new normal". For instance, teachers, coaches, and mentors are often invaluable at this time. If possible, keep your child in the same school and in the same activities as before. Balance the schedule with "downtime" so your child does not become unduly stressed and has time to reflect.

Look for changes in behavior or mood that commonly occur with kids abandoned by a parent. Often, children will act out in reaction to a parent leaving. They are angry and sometimes do not handle their emotions appropriately. Do not, however, use the other parent's absence as a justification for misbehavior. Discipline the child as necessary but let him know you understand his frustrations. Provide him with outlets such as athletics or arts which can help him direct what he is feeling in a positive manner.

Finally, be willing to find professional help for your child. This includes counseling for him alone and both of you collectively. An experienced therapist can teach you how to handle the difficulties your family faces. Stick with treatment even if you do not see immediate results. Divorce and abandonment produce serious issues which require long-term treatment for your child and yourself.

Contact us when you need to know more.

Divorce When One Spouse Has Dementia

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

elderly woman with dementia

As the baby boomers move into their golden years, gray divorces, or divorces in a person's elderly years, have skyrocketed. In these divorces, typically they are more complicated due to the number of assets usually involved, but what if one person is not as mentally competent as perhaps they should be for a divorce?

Dementia is a difficult disease, and yes, it is one that can shake even the strongest of foundations. Some may not be up to the task of caring for or dealing with a person that has dissolved so greatly in mental capacity that they no longer even recognize them. For this, a divorce is an option, but it likely won't be your more traditional divorce, but it does not need to be more complicated than usual.

In states that need a reason for divorce, typically diminished mental capacity can be used. In states that don't need a reason for divorce, mental capacity doesn't really matter. However, what will likely need to happen is that the spouse with dementia will need to have a guardian appointed by the court to represent their interests in the matter.

Of course, guilt may play a major part in a divorce when one person has dementia, but it shouldn't. If they have become increasingly difficult to take care of, it can be increasingly stressful for the spouse that has to do it. For some, their golden years are the only time they can fully enjoy their life, and a partner with dementia can quickly end that.

If you are considering divorce of your spouse who has manifested advanced dementia, contact us today. We can help walk you through the process so both parties get what is fairly there without too much difficulty. Let the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra come to help you through this difficult situation.


Vaccinations As a Dispute in a Child Custody Case

Sunday, February 24, 2019

child getting vaccination in doctor's office

Divorce with kids has never been simple. There have always been things to fight over, but they were things that you would expect. What school would the kids go to? What religion would they practice and where would they do it? You know, more common things like that. However, there has recently been just one more complication that has arisen in divorce cases - should the kids be vaccinated?

There are those that argue that vaccinations cause autism and other developmental issues in a child. As such, these parents have decided to forgo vaccinations. However, does that decision need to be respected in the event of a divorce?

As you would expect, the issue is complicated in several different ways. A judge is responsible for making decisions that are in the best interest of the child, so going to court is likely to yield a decision that vaccination is indeed in the best interest for the child as well as other children they will come in contact with. Furthermore, parents will have to keep certain laws in mind. Some states and even some specific schools will only allow a child to attend school if they have their vaccinations. This can impede how both parents want to school their children, and may actually force their hand on the decision.

If you and your ex-spouse are split on the decision to vaccinate your children, those against should strongly prepare that if they head to court for the possibility that the court will force them to do so for the safety of the child and other children.

If you are starting the divorce process, you will need representation. It may not seem like it will be a contentious event right now, but every divorce has its complication. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do for you.

Divorce: Are You Responsible for Your Spouse's Debts?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

If you are thinking about divorce or in the midst of one, it's good to know whether or not you are responsible for your spouse's debt.

During the Marriage

California is a community property state. This means that property and other assets are owned by the couple jointly. As counterintuitive as it may seem, debts are considered negative assets by divorce courts. They are therefore subject to the same principles as assets. Debts are held in common just as assets are. Therefore, one spouse is responsible for the other's debts, even if only one spouse incurred the debt.

So spouses are both responsible for a jointly incurred debt, such as a mortgage or vehicle loan that both co-signed. Each is also responsible for debts the other incurred solely. In other words, if your spouse opened a credit card or obtained a personal loan during the marriage, you are responsible for the debt.

The key here, though, is that both spouses are responsible only for debt taken on during the marriage. If your spouse incurred debt in their name before the marriage, you are not responsible for it. So if your spouse is still carrying credit card debt on a credit card opened when they were single, you are not responsible for that.

After the Divorce

Community property rules no longer apply after the divorce. Any debt incurred after you are divorced is the responsibility of the party who incurred it.

The only exception is if you continue to maintain joint accounts (on bank or mortgage accounts, for example) or the debt is taken to repair jointly held property, such as a home or boat. In that case, because the accounts or property is held jointly, you would be equally responsible.

If you need to speak to an attorney about divorce, contact us. The first consultation is complementary.