Family Law Blog

Reasons to Choose Annulment Over Divorce

Thursday, September 28, 2017


It happens every day. Couples come to the decision that they no longer want to be together. If they were dating, the split is heart-breaking but simple. However, if they are legally married, splitting up is just ever so much more difficult. When it comes to dissolving a marriage, there are two choices: divorce or annulment.

Contrary to the belief, annulments aren't just for quickie weddings in Las Vegas, they can be employed for a number of reasons. Unlike divorce, an annulment can only happen if there are specific situations about the marriage. In most states, these include reasons of fraud, bigamy, underage or incompetent spouse, or the marriage has not been consummated.

Typically the difference between an annulment and a divorce is that an annulment makes it as if the marriage never happened, but a divorce will always be on record. In days past when divorce had a negative stigma, seeking an annulment was the preferred course of action. However, today most people seek annulments in order to protect their property and possessions. If you can prove that a spouse was already married or lied about who they were, then a marriage can be annulled and even in an equal division of property states, they will have no claim on what is yours.

Annulments may be the preferable option for some, but if you do not fit the strict requirements, then you will have to settle for a regular old divorce. However, that doesn't mean you have to lose everything. With the right divorce lawyer, you can make sure your divorce goes smoothly and in your favor. If you are considering a separation, contact us today.

Inheritance Rights of Domestic Partners

Thursday, September 21, 2017

When it comes to registering domestic partnerships, couples share many of the same rights as marriage. However, there is no argument that there are some distinct differences in rights when it comes to domestic partners and married couples, which is why it is always worth looking into your rights as a domestic partner.

One of the many things that domestic partnerships often overlook, or just plain don't want to think about, is the end of life. Do inheritance rights of domestic partnerships differ from marriage? Knowing and not knowing could mean the difference between being well cared for and losing everything.

In marriage, when a spouse dies without a will or intestate, the estate will still pass on to their living spouse, but is it the same with a domestic partnership? In California, yes it is. California recognizes many of the same rights of domestic partners as it does with married couples, meaning that if one partner dies, even without a will, the other partner will still have inheritance rights akin to a spouse.

However, not all states are as understanding. If the domestic partnership couple moves to another state, they may not be afforded the same rights. Some states will not recognize the inheriting rights of domestic partners at all. This means if they are not specifically written into a will as an inheritor, the living partner will receive nothing.

If you are in a domestic partnership in California, you enjoy a number of liberal rights, but that doesn't mean you don't need a lawyer when things go south. If you need legal representation, contact us today.

What About Our Home After a Divorce?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Divorce can be a devastating experience. Not only are you splitting from someone you once loved, but you must divide your assets. One of your biggest assets is likely your home. Deciding who gets the home can be a difficult and contentious decision, which should ideally be made by you and your ex rather than be left up to a judge's decision. When making decisions about your home, you have several options.

One of You Keeps the Home

Sometimes, the best solution is for one of you to keep the home. In some cases, the one keeping the home may buy out the other person, allowing one spouse to have the home while the other has the money.

One of you keeping the home is also often a good solution when you still have children at home. The children can continue to live in the home until they are grown. In some cases, the house may then be sold. In other cases, the person living in the home may continue to live in the home even after the children have moved out.

Sell the Home

For many splitting couples, selling the home and splitting the profits is the best solution. This might be the best solution if both of you want the house or if maintaining the home would cause a financial burden for the person wanting to keep the house. It is also often a good option if neither person wants to keep the home, especially if both people want to make a fresh start, in a new community, far from the memories of that home.  

Each Keep One

If you own more than one home, you may be able to come to a compromise where you each get one home. Of course, this may require some serious compromising on one or both of your parts, especially if one home is worth significantly more than the other.

Unfortunately, your home is just one of the property division issues you will face during your divorce. Contact us to learn how we can help you through the divorce process.

Three Tips to Help Your Children Through Divorce

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Divorce can be devastating on anyone. Bring young children into the mix and it becomes even harder. Parents often stay together for their children but it is not always the best thing. Even though your children are going to be hurt, divorce may be the right decision and life will get better.

Here are some tips to help your children through divorce.

The best thing that you can do for your children is learn to get along. 

Even though the marriage is ending, your family is not. You are going to have to spend countless holidays, special events, and even smaller events such as sports games together. The sooner that you are able to put your feelings aside and be friendly, the better off everyone will be.

Throughout the whole process, talk to your children about their feelings. 

Acknowledge their feelings and let your children know that what they are feeling is normal. Listen to them (over and over again) as they talk through their feelings.

Make sure that both of you are there for your children in the early stage (and throughout the rest of their lives). 

Your children need to know that they can count on you and their other parent, no matter what they need. There are going to be times when you can help and other times when they will need your ex. Don’t disappear from your children’s lives even for a short period during the divorce. Your children need you every step of the way!

Divorce can be awful for children but, the sooner you can get along for the children, the better off your new family will be. You also need to make sure that you are there for your children every step of the way. Though some parents feel like they should step away while their children adjust, there are going to be times when your children needs one of you more than the other. You can’t take that away from them!

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

What Happens if Your Spouse Doesn't Show Up For A Divorce Hearing?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

You have filed for a divorce and the day of the hearing has come. You are sitting in court, in front of a judge, and you wait. Your spouse hasn't shown up, and they don't show up. What then? Fear, guilt, apathy, depression, or spite may be keeping them away, but skipping court is never a good idea.

The justice system never likes to have their time wasted, and if your spouse doesn't show up for your divorce hearing, bad things will happen. If they failed to notify the court, the can be charged with contempt, and the judge can even issue a bench warrant for their arrest as well as a fine.

However, there are cases where the spouse agrees to the divorce but doesn't want to make a court appearance. This qualifies as uncontested divorce. In these cases, both parties must agree to the division of property, debts, child custody and spousal support. In doing so, the non-filing spouse won't be required to show up to the court hearing.

However, if both parties cannot agree, they are both required to appear in court. By not doing so, not only can the aforementioned bench warrant and fine be issued, but the courts are more likely to show favor to the party that did show up for their court appearance.

If you are filing for divorce and want to know if you need to show up to the hearing or feel your spouse might not show up, contact us today. As divorce lawyers, Jamra & Jamra are dedicated to providing the best legal representation and getting the outcome you desire.

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.

Things to Consider As You Start the Divorce Process

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting divorced can cause a lot of anxiety, due to a number of reasons. How will your property be divided? What happens when you are paying, or want someone to pay, child support out-of-state? Should seemingly insignificant things like the court date be thought about ahead of time? These are all important questions, each deserving your full attention and the sustained support of your legal counsel.

Property Disbursement

Property disbursement law in divorce cases is a complex issue. However, common sense rules still apply. For instance, property acquired before the marriage is typically sacrosanct from legal division. While this seems simple in principle, you might find you suffer from a lack of receipts or other proof that small-time items are, indeed, yours.

Child Support

Federal law requires each state to have an implemented child support system, but being the non-custodial parent out-of-state doesn't exempt that person from paying child support. Interstate legal proceedings involving child support are especially complicated. Each state has their own legal structure that determines who pays what to whose child and that state-specific legal structure has to interact with federal law which governs the whole thing.

Does timing matter?

The Huffington Post suggests that you think wisely about when you'll file for divorce. Your choice of date can determine how much of your 401k goes to your spouse. Also, filing for divorce before you have separated for a year could cause you to have to endure legal proceedings for a second time.

If you need help with any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Divorce: Mediation as an alternative to litigation

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Some people who plan to divorce might avoid a long and expensive litigation process by choosing an alternative dispute resolution process called divorce mediation. While some divorce cases are inappropriate for mediation, mancan be successfully resolved with it. Mediating a divorce provides several benefits for those who have good cases for this method.

Determining whether a case is appropriate for mediation

Divorce and child custody mediation have been available as alternatives to court litigation for some time. Not all cases are appropriate for these processes, however. People who have issues with domestic violence in their relationships and those who have spouses with addiction issues may be better off litigating their matters in court. If one spouse is suspected of hiding assets, income or debts, litigation may be a more appropriate choice as well. Most other cases may be successfully resolved with mediation.

Pros and cons of mediating divorces and child custody cases

One reason that people may opt to mediate their divorce cases or to go through child custody mediation is to preserve working relationships with their former spouses. Court litigation is often bitter, leaving people with hard feelings and making it difficult for them to work together after their divorce or child custody case. People who share children will have interconnected lives for years, making it more important for them to be able to co-parent effectively in order to raise their children.

Other benefits of divorce mediation include that it is a cooperative process where the spouses work together in order to reach a full settlement agreement. They will thus have more control over the outcome than they would if they instead leave it up to a judge to decide for them. It is also often much more cost-effective than court litigation, can be a significantly faster process and can provide added privacy.

The cons of choosing the mediation process include that it can't address emergency situations in which temporary orders are needed immediately such as for temporary spousal and child support and child custody. Mediators are also not allowed to give either party legal advice but must instead act as neutral third parties.

What to expect

Couples go to the mediator's office or other agreed-upon location. The mediator will then explain the goals and rules of the process. Each spouse is then able to explain the issues that are in dispute from his or her perspective and without interruption from the other spouse. The mediator may either meet with both spouses together or may have them in separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth between them to work out agreements about the various issues. After having the discussions, the mediator will then attempt to negotiate an agreement. If it is successful, the mediator will then write out the agreement and ask each spouse to sign it with the advice to review it with a lawyer. The attorney may then file the agreement with the court, and it will become the court's order in the divorce. If it is not successful, the parties may then decide to return to court and litigate the issues instead.

Choosing a mediator

Divorce mediators are typically lawyers who have specialized training in mediating family law cases. It is a good idea to choose a mediator or who is local and whose practice is primarily focused on divorce and family law cases. If you would like to learn more about whether mediation is appropriate for you, contact us today.

An Experienced Divorce Attorney Advises Against Using DIY Divorce Kits

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Your marriage is ending and you're getting ready for a divorce. You think everything will be cut and dry. After all, you and your spouse agree to everything: the division of assets, the amount of child support and visitation, and who will keep the marital home. As such, you've decided to proceed with a do-it-yourself divorce kit.

Before you move forward, however, you may want to consider retaining a divorce attorney. Even if the divorce is amicable, it's best to ensure that everything you do is in compliance with the law.

Uncontested Divorces Are Not Always Easy

Even though you're going the uncontested route, you must still consider alimony. All marital property needs to be properly divided, and there's more than just child support and custody surrounding the kids. You'll have to consider insurance, tax exemptions, and tax deductions. Agreements need to be drafted, executed and filed with the court. Unless you or your spouse are very familiar with court procedure, the DIY kits won't explain this to you.

No One To Advise You

DIY kits may provide FAQ's on their website, there's no one to talk to in the event you run into a problem. You will have questions, which will leave you to using Google as your "attorney". Keep in mind that laws change all the time, so even if you find an authoritative source online, you won't know for sure if the information is accurate and up-to-date.

Hire an experienced family law attorney to handle your divorce. If the divorce is uncontested, the attorneys fees won't run as high as they would if you were to take the case to trial. For more information, contact us today.

Staying Strong: 5 Tips for Divorcing Parents

Friday, April 15, 2016

A divorce is a difficult change for everyone in the family. Learning what to expect during a divorce will not only help your children, it will help you and your spouse work through the complex emotions that arise. Here are some things to keep in mind for the sake of yourself and your children.

You're Not a Failure

You need to be aware of your own feelings just as much as your children's. It's common for divorcing parents to feel like they've failed, but that's simply not true. Your marriage has nothing to do with your ability to be a good parent. Know that you can still be there for your child in your own way and that it's okay to feel confused. You're not alone.

Vent About Your Ex - But Not to Your Children

Avoid negative talk about your ex. Anger and guilt are the most common emotions during a divorce, and it may be tempting to vent your frustrations. Don't do so around your children. It's okay to talk to your kids about what's going on and your emotions, but try to talk about it in a productive way. If you need to let off some steam about your ex, consider talking to a therapist or writing in a journal.

Don't Discuss the Details Around Your Kids

You and your spouse will have a lot of complex topics to discuss, like the division of assets and child custody. These are topics that are best discussed when your kids aren't around. Of course, it's important to talk with your children about the separation, but leave the more "adult" topics for a later date.

Be Prepared for Behavioral Changes

Children react in different ways to a divorce. Some kids will act up at school or at home. Other children may bottle up their emotions, which can manifest as physical illnesses. Keep an eye on your child's eating and sleeping habits, and don't be afraid to ask teachers for progress reports. Sometimes, asking your child how he or she is feeling is enough to start the conversation and come up with a solution together.

Make Your Own Joy

Take a little time every day to find happiness, independently and with your kids. Take a day off from work and go out for ice cream. Make a new tradition with your kids, like a game night after dinner. Intentionally spending time like this will help you to rediscover your ability to live in the moment and be grateful for the little joyous moments that happen every day.

You don't have to go through this on your own. Jamra & Jamra can help you with the divorce process and all the emotions that come along with it. Contact us today.