Family Law Blog

Divorce: What About The "Fur Babies"?

Thursday, April 06, 2017

We have reached a point in the journey of man where a canine companion is no longer viewed as a tool to be disposed of when it is no longer useful. Dogs have truly become "man's best friend" and couples even talk of their "fur babies" as members of their family. 

We have also reached a point in the journey of mankind where the divorce rate is above 50 percent. This begs the question, what happens to the dogs in the event of divorce? 

What Does The Law Say?

How dogs are treated in a divorce depends on the state the divorce is taking place in. Some states treat dogs as if they are inanimate property, while others have detailed statutes about how to divide up canine custody. For example, Alaska recently passed a law that will treat dogs as children while Texas treats dogs no differently than Grandpa's work bench. 

In California, pets are considered to be personal property, with courts working only to award a pet to one of the spouses in the event of divorce. While some courts will consider the best interest of the pet in making a decision, this is not a given. Where possible, it can be beneficial for the couple to work out a contractual agreement on their own in order to avoid litigation. 

Peace Of Mind For Beverly Hills Pet Owners

If you are considering a divorce and have concerns about what will happen to your dog, speaking to an experienced divorce lawyer can help put your mind at ease. Contact us to schedule a consultation.


Terminating Your Domestic Partnership

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Many people are a part of a domestic partnership. Unfortunately, just like marriages, there are times when it doesn’t work out. Unlike marriage, you can’t get divorced when you are in a domestic partnership. Instead, it needs to be terminated.

There are several ways to go about this, depending on several factors. Some people are able to mail a form to the Secretary of State’s office. To do this, you need to meet the following requirements.

  • Your partnership has lasted less than five years.
  • Neither of you can be pregnant or have children.
  • You or your partner do not own any property.

When you meet these requirements, your partnership will be dissolved six months after you file the paperwork. These types of partnerships are simple to terminate. It is when you have been together for years, own homes, and have children where it can be a little harder to terminate your partnership.

For this reason, most people will need to go to court to terminate their partnership. The court will help you divide up your assets. If children are involved, child custody and support are determined. The courts will also determine if spousal support is needed.

If you filed in California but no longer live there, you may have to go through their court system in order to terminate your domestic partnership. This depends on where you live so be sure to consult a lawyer who is local you live. If you have to go through California, you have to agree to accept the way that their courts dissolve your partnership and your assets.

It is possible to terminate your domestic partnership though it depends on several factors on how you can go about it. Simple partnerships (where you don’t have property or children) can be terminated easily with a form while others need to go through the court system.  

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Requirements for a Domestic Partnership

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Often compared to marriage, a domestic partnership is a contract for those who are committed to each other but may be unable or unwilling to marry. The main reason that two people would want to go through a domestic partnership is to be considered family. It allows two people to share health insurance, just as if they were married.

There are some requirements that must be met prior to become domestic partners. These include:

  • Both parties need to be over eighteen years old.
  • No one is married to another person.
  • Neither parties are in another domestic partnership with someone else.
  • Both parties can’t be related by blood. This essentially means that the couple could get married to each other in the state of California if they wanted to.
  • They have to have a common residence which means that they live in the same home. This doesn’t mean that both of their names need to be on the deed. It just means that they live together. They will not be disqualified if they both own separate homes, as long as they are living together at the time of the court hearing.

Domestic partnerships are often done for couples who are the same sex, though some people who are older than sixty two are more likely to join a domestic partnership over marriage. To register as a domestic partner, you need to fill out the form and sign it at a notary’s office. It then needs to be mailed to the Secretary of State, along with the fee.  

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Benefits of a Domestic Partnership

Thursday, March 16, 2017

domestic partnership is often compared to marriage. These partnerships are contracts between unmarried couples who live together. It is even more common for people who are in same-sex relationships to apply for domestic partnership especially in states where they are unable to get married.

Some benefits of applying for a domestic partnership include:

  • Domestic partners can get coverage on a family health insurance policy. Health insurance can be quite costly so it is often helpful to get the entire family on a single policy.
  • Domestic partners have visitation rights in hospitals and jails. Before domestic partnerships, many couples were not allowed to visit each other in hospitals and jails. There are many times when only family is allowed to come in. Under a domestic partnership, you are considered family.
  • If your partner is sick or dies, you are allowed family or bereavement leave under a domestic partnership. Prior to domestic partnerships, you were not allowed to take time off when your significant other was sick. With a partnership, you are treated as family, getting family or bereavement leave.

Though it is not as common as it used to be, domestic partnerships are a valuable alternative to marriage. It allows couples to be treated as a family. They can share their health insurance, as well as take bereavement and family leave when needed. It also gives you the right to visit in hospitals or even jail when only the family is allowed to visit.  

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

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 Beverly Hills family law attorney