Family Law Blog

Circumstances That Can Cost You Spousal Support

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Divorce is expensive. When a couple legally dissolves their union, each faces a new financial reality. Often, the person with the higher income pays spousal support as determined by a court of law. It is not uncommon for these payments to continue for a long time. If you receive this support, however, you should know the circumstances that can cause you to lose some or all of your alimony.

  • In many jurisdictions, spousal support terminates when the supported party marries a new partner. It is important to note that courts might or might not end support when the payee begins cohabitation with another person without getting married.
  • Courts can modify or terminate alimony when the receiving party begins earning a larger income. It is up to the local court to decide whether an adjustment is warranted. For example, if the former spouse works a temporary job which has a fixed expiration date, the court might decide against modifying the support agreement.
  • An adjustment or end to alimony can occur when the paying party suffers a lost in income. For example, if she loses her job or becomes ill or disabled and cannot work, a judge will most likely reduce or end support payments. Most cases required a substantial loss of income for the court to alter or terminate spousal maintenance.
  • If the divorce degree contains an escalator clause, support is modified upwards any time the payor receives a pay increase. For example, the payee receives a share of a former spouse's cost of living raise.
  • Sometimes a change with spousal support occurs when the payor gains a new support obligation. For example, if the person paying support gives birth to or fathers a child, the court might decide to modify the alimony order citing a hardship. Note, though that the choice of a person to support stepchildren does NOT generally warrant a change in alimony payments.
  • When either party faces a financial emergency, the court can demand an increase or decrease in spousal support. For instance, if the supporting person must pay significant medical bills, the court might lower alimony payments.

Remember that either party in a divorce can request an increase or decrease in spousal maintenance by petitioning the court. Contact us to learn more about  support following a divorce in California.

Myths And Misconceptions Of Spousal Support

Thursday, March 02, 2017

It is amazing how many couples who are seeking to receive guidance through their divorce have false notions when it comes to spousal support. The internet is filled with a significant amount of false information about spousal support. There are some common myths and misconceptions that we want to address.

Myth 1: The Men Pay The Women

It is surprising how many people believe that only ex-husbands have to pay their ex-wives. Spousal support is based on who earned more during the marriage; it is not based on a gender. Men do not always pay spousal support. If the man and the woman make nearly the same amount of money, nobody will have to make payments. Spousal support can also be waived, unlike child support. 

Myth 2: Spousal Support Can Last Forever

The recipients of spousal support usually think they will be entitled to the payments forever. No one can receive spousal support for a lifetime. Indefinite alimony is awarded to someone who was in a long-term marriage if there was a difference in the incomes. Indefinite alimony can be changed by the court and it can also be ended by the court. 

Myth 3: Quitting My Job Will Prevent The Pay Of Support

If someone quits a job to avoid paying spousal support, the court can assume that he or she is very capable of earning income that he or she has earned in previous years. The court will usually impute income in order to make sure no one is treated unfairly and to make sure the other person receives a punishment as a result of not being honest about finances. 

Every case has its own facts so every case will be different. What happens in once case may not happen in your case. This is why it is so important to find the right legal team to help yu with your case. Contact us today if you need a consultation. 

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 attorneys at the law offices of Jamra &Jamra

What if My Spouse is Hiding Assets in Our Divorce?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Divorce is sometimes messy, and sometimes it involves one spouse hiding assets from the other.  Because California is a "community property" state, meaning that all property acquired during a marriage is marital property and jointly owned, spouses are occasionally tempted to keep some assets a secret so that they are not evenly split with their soon-to-be ex-partner.  

In fact, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education, nearly one-third of people admit to financial deception with their partner. It is logical to assume that divorce does not improve these percentages. Automobiles and other tangible items are hard to hide, but bank accounts, investment accounts and retirement accounts are more easily concealed.

California Family Code Section 2100 states that divorcing parties must provide "full and accurate disclosure of all assets and liabilities in which one or both parties have or may have an interest."  Although not doing this might be tempting, it is a bad idea and carries severe penalties.  

If one party does not accurately disclose all assets and engages in "oppression, fraud, or malice" as outlined in Section 3294 of California's Civil Code, then the court must award 100% of the hidden assets to the spouse from whom they were concealed. In other words, if a husband hides his $50,000 savings account from his wife during the divorce and meets the "oppression, fraud or malice" criteria, then a judge will award the $50,000 to the wife.  The court might also award attorney fees.

If you are considering divorce, then please contact us.  Our skilled, dedicated attorneys will review your situation and determine the best path forward.  We are here to protect your rights.

Dealing With Tardiness in Child Custody Matters

Thursday, January 19, 2017

When figuring out a parenting plan and child custody schedule, parents might work something out before finalizing a divorce or have matters settled by a judge. Either way, everything won't always go according to plan. A visitation order might list how often and at what times a noncustodial parent receives access to a child or children. Problems may arise if one parent stops following the schedule by showing up late or not showing up at all. Here are some tips for dealing with tardiness or absences.

Occasional Slip Ups

Parents should try to work with each other when possible and realize that unplanned events do arise every now and then that could interfere with the regular schedule. Being late once or twice will happen, and it's better to not get worked up if little things like this occur.

When It Becomes A Habit

If a parent is always late or frequently changes plans without warning, start by talking to them. Maybe there is a reason and an easy fix for the problem or the person doesn't even realize there is an issue. Though a fixed schedule is helpful for kids and adults, real life can get in the way. Changes to a schedule might be needed as time passes.

When Parents Can't Work It Out

Mediation could be the right solution if both parents want to reach an agreement but are unable to communicate and solve the problem. A mediator could help parents find and agree on a compromise. If mediation doesn't work and nothing improves, going to court to enforce or change an order might be necessary. Try to document what is happening and how it affects your children.

When divorcing or trying to raise children after a divorce, an attorney's assistance may be needed. Contact us today for information about how we could help you.

What To Do When Your Ex Is Alienating You From Your Child

Thursday, January 12, 2017

After undergoing a divorce, you may find that your ex-spouse is alienating the child from you. When they are preventing the child from meeting you, it is simply known as parent alienation. The case becomes more complex, however, when the other parent is having a damaging psychological effect on your child’s relationship with you.

The other parent may be denigrating you in front of your child or telling them that you do not love them. When the child develops negative feelings towards you, it is called Parent Alienation Syndrome, which was researched by Richard Gardner some decades ago.

The problem over here is to get the court to recognize what is going on. Parent Alienation Syndrome is not a medically recognized syndrome. Of course, if the court determines that the other parent is undermining your relationship with your child, they will probably step in and attempt to remedy the situation by setting up therapy sessions for the child or even by giving you child custody (in severe situations). The court is looking out for your child's best interests, which is to have a healthy relationship with both parents. 

However, before the court will take action, they will usually order a third-party psychological evaluation for the child. This can take time, and before you know it, the case can drag on for a year, with the alienation only getting worse.

The key to winning over here is to get the court to take action quickly, without dragging their feet. That’s why you need a lawyer who is knowledgeable in child support and alienation matters. For legal help, and to save your relationship with your child, make sure to contact us.

Child Custody: What Are The Best Interests Of The Child?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

One of the most heated and intense moments in your life can happen when child custody becomes the topic. For years, people have made their claims on why they should obtain custody of the children when a marriage or relationship ends. 

This is why it is so important to have the help of an experienced child custody attorney who can help protect the rights you have as a parent. You are fighting for your children, and you deserve to get the best results for the children you love so much.

Many people think that child custody cases are always ruled in favor of the mother. However, this is no longer the case. Many states across the United States will view both sides of the situation and determine the best situation for the child.

The child's best interest should always be number one. Several factors will determine where the child will live and who gets to make the important decisions in the child's life. 

If you do not understand how child custody battles work and you need someone to fight on your behalf, an experienced family law attorney will explain everything you need to know so that you can move forward with getting the results your child needs.

Some of the factors that are taken into consideration during a child custody case include the following:

  • Where the child wants to reside(if he or she is old enough to determine what he or she wants)
  • What the parents want
  • How well the child adjusts to the current environment
  • The mother/child and father/child relationship
  • The type of home life each parent can provide

This is only a small list of the things that will be considered when you are in the middle of a child custody battle. It is important to remember that the best interest of the child is what the judge will consider. 

If you need to be advised on what your chances may be in obtaining custody of your child, contact us today.