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Family Law Blog

Divorce: Mediation Versus Arbitration

Monday, December 28, 2020

Often used interchangeably, if you are seeking an out-of-courtroom resolution to a divorce, you may think mediation and arbitration are the same thing. While they serve a similar function, mediation and arbitration are different and may suit different needs for a divorcing couple.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is often a cheap solution to more amicable divorces. In mediation, spouses meet together or separately with a neutral third party mediator. This mediator will help spouses divide assets and work out compromises. As this takes place out of the courtroom, this method is often a cheaper and more flexible way to sort out the division needed for divorce.

The key aspect of mediation to keep in mind is that anything worked out is not legally binding. Essentially, they work out compromises that the divorcing couple will take to court. The judge will then make it legal. Thus, there is nothing to stop one party from changing the agreement if they choose.

What Is Divorce Arbitration?

It is simpler to think of arbitration like divorce court-lite. Mediators cannot impose resolutions, but an arbitrator can. Essentially, arbitration allows both sides to argue their standpoint and the arbitrator passes down a solution to the issue that is a legally binding solution. It will then be finalized by a judge later. Arbitration helps keep the courts from being clogged up with long and complicated divorce cases. Though not as affordable as mediation, it is still a cheaper alternative to constant court fees.

Conclusion

Are you getting ready to go through a divorce? The process is long and complicated, but worth doing for your own sanity. If you are looking at divorce and need help, contact us today to see what we at the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you get through the process with as few headaches as possible.

What Is the Timeline Like for a First Time Divorce?

Friday, December 18, 2020

With any luck, the first divorce in your life will be the last divorce. However, like when you do anything for the first time, you may want to know exactly what the process looks like. Unfortunately, as a divorce can take months of simply waiting for things to move forward, it is not so easy to lay out a concrete timeline. Instead, we wanted to highlight events as they will happen. As to how fast they will happen depends on how busy your local court system is and how much other parties drag their feet.

Timeline for First Time Divorce

If you are wondering what the divorce process looks like, your lawyer should be able to walk you through every step of the process, but as a whole, it can be rather simply broken down.

  • One spouse gets a lawyer and will write up a petition for divorce to start the process. This will include what they want in terms of financial, custody, and property division.
  • The petition is filed with the court.
  • The petition is served to the other party, requiring their legal response. Without a response, the court assumes they agree with the terms. The response is how the served spouse wants to deal with the above issues.
  • Mediation for issues is pursued if desired. Otherwise, the court will require compiled information on finances and property to help make the division.
  • If a settlement is reached, there will be a court hearing to make the agreement final and binding.
  • If the divorce is not settled, both sides will argue their side in court to help the judge settle issues.
  • The judge grants the divorce.
  • Both spouses retain the ability to appeal the court's decision on the decided matters, but it is typically unusual to have that decision overturned.

Conclusion

A broken down timeline makes divorce seem simple. However, it can take months and making the decisions can be difficult. If you are looking at a divorce in your future, contact us today to see what the professionals at the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help.

3 Signs That It May Be Time to Consider a Divorce

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Deciding that it is time to end your marriage is one of the most difficult things that a person, or a couple, can go through. However, if lies, betrayal, or years of resentment have left you feeling detached from your marriage, you may find yourself wondering if it is time for a divorce. Yet, how can you know for sure if things are really over? If you are unsure about the state of your marriage, here is a look at a few common signs that a divorce may be in the best interest of you and your spouse. 

You Constantly Feel Criticized or Put Down By Your Spouse

A clear red flag that all is not well in your marriage is if you are constantly put down and made to feel not good enough by your spouse. Constant criticism and emotional abuse from your partner can leave you feeling worn out and even depressed. If you feel as though you are constantly criticized or made to feel inferior, it may be time to consider a divorce. This abuse is not good for your mental health, and you should consider taking care of yourself by moving on. 

You Often Feel Lonely Even When You're With Your Partner

Over time, you may have noticed that you and your spouse have drifted apart. Through no one's fault, you may find that you no longer have anything in common, and you may not even have anything to talk about. This can leave you feeling lonely even when you are with your partner due to a lack of affection, closeness, and intimacy. If this is the case, it may be in both of your best interests to have a frank conversation about the condition of your marriage and whether a divorce may be the best option. 

Communication Has Fallen Apart

Towards the end of a marriage, it is not uncommon for communication to completely fall apart. You may even find that you are unable to have a simple conversation without things dissolving into arguments. Furthermore, these arguments likely don't get resolved, and you may find yourself arguing about the same things over and over again without finding a solution or common ground. This is often a clear sign of a relationship that has been damaged beyond repair. 

Conclusion

While it can be difficult to admit when it is time for a divorce, doing so can help you and your spouse to move on and heal from a broken relationship. However, if you plan on seeking a divorce, it is critical that you consult an attorney so that you have someone to walk you through this complicated process. Feel free to contact us to learn about how we can help you through this difficult time.   

Making the Grade: From Co-Parents to Virtual Classroom Co-Teachers

Friday, December 04, 2020

Educational decisions are typically custodial decisions to be made jointly by both parents. However, those decisions can be anything but typical when two co-parents must collaborate as co-teachers to facilitate at-home, virtual education. What if you and your co-parent cannot agree on how much parental supervision or cooperation a child needs? What if there are inconsistent resources or follow-through in each home? How can you ensure you remain equally involved in your child's education plan while still working within the parameters of your existing co-parenting plan?

Lesson One: Communication

Co-parents who are co-teaching must develop a plan for timely information sharing and decision-making. For example, it may be helpful to download a co-parenting communication app that provides a shared calendar for enrollment decision deadlines, assignments, and more. Then, even parents who are not on the same page can be on the same screen.

Lesson Two: Core Values

Not every parent understands the Common Core curriculum, but all parents understand their family's common goals and core values. If one parent is more available for supervised learning and the other parent has a rigid work schedule that cannot accommodate homeschooling, stop keeping score of hours and overnights and focus on the joint goal of successfully educating your child. Lean into your respective situations. Find creative ways for the homeschooling parent to get a break and for the non-schooling parent to be more involved.

Lesson Three: Continuity

For a child to have a successful virtual learning experience, there needs to be continuity between the "schools" in each home. So, if the child needs an internet connection for virtual learning, or a dedicated study area free from intrusion or interruptions, both homes should provide it. Allocating the responsibility and the resources for learning between both homes ensures fairness to both parents and gives the child security.

Conclusion

If co-parenting while co-teaching has you feeling overwhelmed or has left you with more questions than answers, you are not alone. Contact us at Jamra & Jamra for the thoughtful and specific guidance you need to ensure an A+ co-parenting experience.

Unique Issues With Same Sex Divorce

Monday, November 30, 2020

In terms of process, divorce is the same no matter whether you are a heterosexual couple or a same sex one. However, same sex couples do have two unique circumstances in divorce that they may face compared to heterosexual divorces. By knowing these potential issues, you can make sure you are prepared for them if they may be something you face in a same sex divorce.

Previous Domestic Partnership and Property Division

If you entered into a marriage when it became legal after years of domestic partnership, you may face some new difficulties when it comes to property division. While you did have a legal partnership prior to marriage, it may make property division work a little differently.

Property division and the establishment of shared property are strongly dependent on the date of the marriage. As such, it may be difficult for the courts to establish what is individual property and what is shared marital property if you were in a domestic partnership prior.

Typically, if you had a domestic partnership prior to marriage, you will want to work out as much property division outside of the courtroom as possible to avoid unanticipated splits.

Child Custody

The child custody between same sex couples can be particularly difficult. As a rule, the law will always side with the biological parent over those unrelated to the child. You can imagine the issues this causes with same sex child custody cases. However, if the non-biological parent is listed on the birth certificate or has formally adopted the child, they will have more standing. However, the biological parent will always have more.

Due to these unique issues, it is always more beneficial for same sex couple to work out child and property division outside of the courtroom. The courts tend to take awhile to catch up with new legal precedents sometimes, and unfortunately, this is one of those times. If you are a same sex couple going through divorce and need help, contact us today. Let the professionals at the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra come to your aid.

Is There a Benefit to Choosing Separation Over Divorce?

Friday, November 20, 2020

When marital relations break down, often separation is a precursor to divorce. For some couples, during the time apart they decide that life without their spouse would indeed be better and choose to pursue a legal divorce. Other couples learn that they may be able to work things out. However, is there a benefit to choosing a longer term separation rather than just divorcing?

While it seems quite silly to choose separation over the permanency of divorce, it does have some benefits for couples.

Health Insurance

Not all divorces are vicious battles between two people. Sometimes you still care for your spouse despite not being good in a marriage together. For many, they choose separation because they require the health insurance from their spouse. Many remain separated simply to keep the health insurance but live rather separate lives.

Benefits

If a couple is together for more than 10 years, they can be entitled to a portion of Social Security or military benefits. Some couples may live separately through separation in order for the spouse to collect these benefits.

Money

Divorce is expensive. You may no longer wish to be married, but that doesn't mean you have the extra money to pay the legal and court fees for a divorce. As such, some couples live completely separate for years because neither has the money to divorce.

Religion

Some take the vows of marriage very strictly. Sometimes, their moral or religious beliefs do not believe in a divorce. That doesn't mean they need to live together. Indeed, some choose separation instead of breaking these beliefs.

Conclusion

Are you considering divorce? Do you have any other family law issue that needs the help of a skilled lawyer? We can help. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you solve all your family law issues with as little problems as possible.

Making Sense of Custody Arrangements in the Era of COVID-19

Friday, November 13, 2020


Custody during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been simple. Parents accustom to a steady schedule of sharing the children have found themselves legally isolated either away from or enclosed with their kids. Whether you are the parent quarantined with the kids or missing your children for an unfair duration, we're here to help.

Quarantine and Custody Length

The fact that entire regions have been set under quarantine and ordered not to mix households has put a lot of pressure on divorced co-parents. We know that many parents are facing an extended time with their kids, past the normal exchange points.                                                                                                                  

Can You Trade the Kids Safely?

Yes, but only if you isolate for 14 days first. Both parents and the kids need to have 0 contact with others for 14 days - without symptoms - to be sure that it's safe to mix immunity bubbles. If you achieve a 14 day isolation, you can carefully exchange child custody.

What If One Parent Is Sick?

The good news is that children are very rarely harmed by this illness. However, they can carry the illness between parents, who are at greater risk. If one parent gets sick, move children to the other parent as soon as possible using the 14 day isolation rule.

Adapting Child Support to New Circumstances

Child support is calculated based on time supporting the kids each month. If COVID-19 has changed your schedule, you may need to adapt the child support terms. This can be done through online legal services to find the best possible solution for your current and near-future conditions.

Divorce Legal Services for New or Temporary Child Custody Terms

A divorce attorney experienced in child custody issues is the best person to help you with the current complex child safety situation. With a legal service, you can find the most mutually-productive and child-supporting solutions. Adapt your schedule, meet online, and make sure whoever is buying the kid's groceries receives the support they need. Jamra & Jamra is here to provide our expertise in guiding co-parents through this extended crisis.

Conclusion

Contact us to consult on your COVID-era child custody concerns.

Domestic Partnerships Are Legal and Must Be Dissolved in Court

Friday, November 06, 2020

Many people, of all genders and ages, are holding off on marriage and, instead, choosing a domestic partnership that establishes many of the essential rights that married people have without legally being considered a 'marriage'.

Men and women who have been damaged by divorce in some way or couples who want the same basic rights as a married couple without the entire commitment of a legal marriage can choose to establish a domestic partnership.

Sometimes this is the best course for a couple, but occasionally these relationships do not work out. We can't all be Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. 

Why Were Domestic Partnerships Created?

A domestic partnership in California is currently defined as an established adult couple who are romantically involved and dedicated to each other while not being legally married. They choose to live together, share property, and even have children.

The couple registers as a domestic partnership for legal purposes, such as in inheritance or adoption issues, and the concept was originally adapted in California as an option that resembles a marriage for same-sex couples who were not allowed, until fairly recently, to be legally married. 

For example, Rick and Steve have been together, romantically, for thirty years before Rick finds out that he has terminal cancer. Before domestic partnerships, Steve had no legal right to make health or money decisions for the person he loves and has always cared for. Steve could not inherit the home he had shared with Rick for thirty years and many hospitals could ban him from his boyfriend's hospital room because he was not considered a legal family member.

Filing for a domestic partnership changed that and gave Steve and Rick the rights they deserve. But what happens if the domestic partnership we are in does not work out and we decide to separate? What do we do?

Separating While in a Domestic Partnership 

What many people don't understand is that a breakup of cohabitating sexual partners can be just as intricate as a legal divorce. A breakup of a legal domestic partnership can be just as intense even though the separation may follow a slightly altered, and constantly evolving, set of rules.   

Since the establishment of the relationship is a legal matter, then you must go through legal means to dissolve it. The dissolution of the partnership is a legal matter and you should acquire the help of an attorney who stays up-to-date on the ever-changing rules of the process.  

Conclusion

Our team at Jamra & Jamra, LLP, understand the domestic partnership laws behind the division of properties and businesses, child custody, and even issues surrounding domestic violence and other forms of abuse. We have direct experience with both homosexual and heterosexual dissolutions and we prefer a mediated process over a contentious fight.

No matter what, we will support you and protect your rights, even if that means going to court.

Contact us anytime and we can help you understand your position, your rights, and your responsibilities towards your former partner. We can outline what your next steps should be and work with you for a diplomatic end to your relationship. 

What to Expect From a Child Custody Hearing?

Friday, October 23, 2020

Ideally, a child custody hearing is something you never have to go through. However, because of that, it is a bit of an unknown that is likely causing you stress. What will happen? How will everything be sorted? For your specific circumstances, your lawyer can (and should) give you a full rundown on what will happen inside that courtroom, but here is what you can expect.

Child Custody Hearing in Court

In truth, most child custody hearings, when they make it to the courtroom, are almost all finished up. Due to how pressed the courts are for time, you do much of the planning, debating, and agreement outside of the courtroom with your lawyer, your ex-spouse, and their lawyer.

What you can expect is to form a parenting plan with your ex-spouse. This will be a lot of mediation on what is fair time that the child gets to spend with each parent. It is best that you go into very specific details. The more details that are covered in a court-approved parenting plan, the happier everyone will be. Be sure to cover things like holidays, school vacations, emergencies, transportation, and vacations.

When you do enter the courtroom, usually you don't need to be ready to debate your side. If there is any disagreement on issues that you and your spouse cannot agree on, the judge will weigh in to make a more final decision. This decision will be based on not so much what is fair to the parents, but rather what is in the best interests of the child. Other than that, the purpose of going to court is so the judge can look over the parenting plan and give it legally-binding approval.

Learn More About What to Expect From a Child Custody Hearing

Are you going through a divorce and need help navigating this difficult process? Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do for you.

Three Questions You May Have About Spousal Support

Friday, October 16, 2020

If you and your spouse are currently planning to get divorced, you might have questions about spousal support, sometimes referred to as alimony. Here's a look at three questions you may have.

What Are the Different Types of Spousal Support?

Spousal support is generally divided into two types, temporary spousal support and permanent spousal support. Temporary spousal support is being paid while the divorce is going on. Once the divorce is final, permanent, or long-term spousal support may be awarded to one of the partners.

Is Permanent Spousal Support Always Permanent?

"Permanent" could be misleading. While it is sometimes permanent, changes in circumstances may also mean changes in the amount of money that is received through spousal support. If either party has a change in employment, the amount of money could go up or down. If the person receiving the money remarries, spousal support will end. If you are concerned about these factors or other factors concerned with spousal support, a spousal support lawyer can help.  

How Is Spousal Support Determined?

Several factors go into determining how much spousal support the person is given. One important factor is the length of the marriage. If you were only married for a short time, you might not get spousal support, or it may be smaller than it would be if you'd been married longer. Age, health, and how well each partner can continue to support themselves based on their current standard of living are also considered. If one spouse helped with the other's education or other work-related training, that may also go into determining the amount of spousal support awarded.

Have More Questions About Spousal Support?

You may have other questions about spousal support, and we are here to help you. Contact us if you need a lawyer experienced in spousal support cases or if you have any questions about spousal support.