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Family Law Blog

Can a Pandemic Force Modification of Your Parenting Plan?

Friday, August 21, 2020

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on the world, and that extends into the sphere of family issues and family law. While you likely prioritized the safety of your child over any plans put in place by the court during the pandemic, with the loosening of the restrictions, you may find push back when it comes to adhering to what was set in place.

Contemption 

One of the biggest issues that some families will face now is having one party willfully neglecting the previously stated parenting plan. In many cases, parents put aside their differences and agreed to suspend the previous agreement to keep their children healthy. However, now that the world is getting back to normal, some will find that the other parent is not willing to go back. What do you even do then?

If there is no quarantine in place, neglecting the set parenting plan is contempt. You can then take your ex-spouse to court where the judge will weigh in on their willful contempt of a court-set parenting plan. The judge will examine the circumstances that have been going on. For example, if your ex-spouse was exhibiting signs of COVID-19 and refused to be tested, you will not be held in contempt for not following the parenting plan. You were prioritizing the health of your child just as the judge would have ordered. However, if they found that they were tested, and it was negative, yet you were still not complying, then the judge may order sanctions, make up time, and attorney fees to be paid.

Learn More About How the Pandemic Changes Your Parenting Plan

Do you have an ex-spouse that you feel is violating your parenting plan? We can help. Contact us today to see what Jamra & Jamra can do to help you get your family back to normal and make sure all your family law problems are handled safely and professionally.

Step Parent's Quick Guide to Teen Custody Questions

Monday, July 27, 2020

With the way modern families form today, custody and parenting questions can get pretty complicated. There are rock-solid families where the parents are not married, dedicated spouses raising step-children, and co-parenting teams with two to ten different family members working together. One of the most common "gray areas" of custody is the role of step-parents who may be acting as active parental roles with limited legal grounds to make decisions.

This is especially challenging for step-parents of teenagers who are often at least partially aware of their rights and have a great deal of choice in which parent they live with, if they choose to exercise that power. Being a good parent to a teenager requires a balance of giving space and enforcing boundaries, something that can be uncomfortable for even the most dedicated step-parent. You may be wondering where your real enforceable authority begins and ends. As a child custody attorney office, we're here to answer those questions as clearly as we can in general terms.

Your Parental Rights as a Step-Parent

If you have adopted your step-child, you have full legal rights as their parent, the same as a biological parent would. So, that should clear up a whole slew of teen authority related questions. If you haven't adopted your step-child, then your authority comes through the biological parent you are married to.

You are, effectively, functioning with implicit permission to exercise parental duties and make decisions your partner -- their parent -- would agree with. Much like a camp counselor has implicit permission to care for kids under their supervision. However, as the spouse of the biological parent, you also have some extended rights to sign things like permission slips for your step-children instead of their parent.

Your Step-Parental Rights Against the Wishes of Your Spouse

What about in cases where you disagree or are splitting up with the biological parent of your step-children? This issue comes up often with modern blended families. Particularly, in cases where the step-parent has become the more dedicated caretaker. Without a custody battle, your rights are usually still limited to anything that is an extension of the biological parent's wishes.

However, in a legal separation or divorce, step-parents who are a dedicated part of a child's life have a surprisingly strong chance of winning at least partial custody. Your custody rights will more likely be determined by what is best for the child, including your existing parent-child relationship. This is true even if you are not the biological parent. However, your custody rights do not overpower those of both biological parents.

There are very few situations where a step-parent is able to take full custody or make a decision directly against the wishes of capable and reputable biological parents.

Your Parental Rights Dealing With a Rebellious Teen Step-Child

So, your teen step-child, about whom you love and care, has shouted that you're not their real parent and can't make them do __X__. Now, you're wondering if they're right. As we said before, your parental power are an extension of their biological parent's rights. Therefore, if their parents agrees with the rule you are enforcing, yes. You can probably ground them, lock their phone in a drawer, deny their allowance, or forbid them from dating someone for a few more years.

Alternately, your teen step-child has made it clear that they want to live with you and not their biological parent after a breakup. Now, you're wondering if you can support them in that. Would be charged with kidnapping, or something similar? This goes back to the custody question. The teen can absolutely speak at a custody hearing and make a strong case for living with you, as teens get a lot of say if they explain themselves well and their reasons are good.

Additionally, if your teen step-child shows up on your doorstep and insists on staying, most courts would not consider this as a qualified kidnapping. But the teen may be forced to go back to their biological parent's home once found. 

Conclusion

As a step-parent, you exist in an interesting custody limbo unless you choose to step up and make yourself a separate entity in a custody battle. For the most part, as long as you are parenting with your spouse, you have all the parental authority you need to handle step-children and even rebellious teens. For more information about family law or to consult with a child custody attorney, contact us today!

Can You Relocate Your Children Following Divorce?

Friday, June 12, 2020

Divorce is never easy as there is rarely a clean break. Often, the most precious assets are children over which there are custody decisions. Usually, a custodial parent is named and is the one who will have the most time with the children. The other parent is generally given visitation rights on a set schedule. Sometimes, "joint custody" is agreed upon or mandated by the court in which both parents have equal custody. However, one is named the "residential parent" whose address is utilized for the purposes of postal mail and school.

Notice of Intent to Relocate

Many courts deem "joint custody" as the ideal situation ("in best interest of children"), but sole custody is ordered when declared appropriate. For example, in cases of domestic violence or other threats to a child's safety. When there is shared custody, one parent is required by law to provide notice of intent to change residence by certified mail at least 60 days prior to moving. This is the case with any relocation, even if it is within the same neighborhood.

This notice is required to include:

  • The new mailing address if known. If unknown, the city for relocation must be named
  • A current contact phone number for the relocating parent
  • Proposed date of relocation
  • Short statement describing reasons for intended move of the relocating parent and children
  • Proposed plan for adjusting custody conditions (including visitation) as necessary

Consequences for Failure to Provide Notice

A parent who relocates his/her children without providing the required written notice risks much with the court in which custody was initially decided. The court will take into account this breach and will use it as a factor when deciding how, when, and if custody and visitation will be modified. It is possible the judge will order the children returned from the relocation and the offending parent might be ordered to pay expenses of the non-relocating parent.

Objection Filing By Non-Relocating Parent

Once a parent is noticed of his/her ex-spouse's plan to relocate, he/she has 30 days in which to file an objection with the court which initially handled the child's custody issue. Should the parent fail to file, the court will most likely allow the other parent to move. If the petition is filed, most often the court will hold a hearing to determine if the relocation is in best interest of the involved minors.

Factors the Court Might Consider

  • How drastically the current custody agreement will need to change to accommodate the distance of the move. For example, if the non-relocating parent currently has his/her children every weekend, a far away move would likely make visits much rarer.
  • Both parents income might be taken into account by the court as funds are needed to permit frequent visitation to other parent's residence.
  • Does the move provide a more stable and safe environment for the minors. For instance, is the new home in better condition than the old one, are there good local schools, is the new location in a lower area of crime, is there less air pollution in the area of relocation?
  • Record of prior visitation; for example, does the parent filing the objection have a history of frequent visitation or is it sporadic or rare?

Learn More About Relocating Your Children Following Divorce

A qualified and experienced attorney in child custody is advisable for those who wish to relocate a child following divorce. Jamra & Jamra is a firm dedicated to help those with divorce issues including child custody and visitation concerns. Please contact us so we can help you with your situation.

Working Out Travel in Child Custody Agreements

Friday, May 29, 2020

When you are trying to agree on child custody during a divorce, there is a lot of consider. You and your ex-partner will likely be focused on where your children will live and when, but the key to a successful parenting plan is considering all situations. This is why you definitely need to take travel into consideration.

Travel With a Child

Travel as a child can greatly expand their horizons and it can be a very fun experience, but travel can be a pretty big disruption to the schedule. So, how do you factor in travel to your parenting plan when working out custody? In truth there are a few questions that you and your ex-partner will want to know the answers to:

  • When can travel be done? I.e. Will it interfere with school or parenting time?
  • Who handles providing travel necessities for the child?
  • How and if a child will be able to communicate with the non-traveling parent?
  • Will other parties be allowed to travel with you and the child?

Be Fair

It is best to approach these questions fairly, but also in a flexible nature. Such as if you aren't sure you want a child to be able to travel with the other parent and their new lover, you may want to set ground rules that you have to have met them first before it happens. This helps everyone feel more comfortable and does not completely close off the possibility. However, if you are in a potentially tumultuous divorce where there may be problems, you may also want to set stricter ground rules like barring out of country vacations, at least for awhile.

Learn More About Travel in Child Custody Agreements

Are you going through a divorce with difficult child custody? Let us help. Contact us today to see how Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help you get through this.


Property Division in a Nesting Situation

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Nesting is a term describing a situation in which the child stays in the family home while the parents move in and out on a specific schedule. It is one of those situations that sounds great on paper, but doesn't work so great in practice. While the child has superior stability, there are a few issues with nesting.

Multiple Residences

Primarily, most divorced parents can't necessarily sustain two residences as would be required. Furthermore, nesting requires excellent communication to do well. However, the biggest issue can be how the property is divided in a divorce if you are still sharing much of it.

Ownership

If you wish to make a nesting situation feasible at least for some period of time, it is crucial that when you are dividing the property, you both retain ownership of the house. Both names will want to be on the mortgage so one person does not have legal ownership of it. Furthermore, you will want to negotiate who handles what bills when it comes to upkeep.

Upkeep

Working out the financial and physical care of a shared residence is the most important matter of property division in a nesting-based divorce. Outside of that, the property division remains much the same as a regular divorce. You will want to split up the items inside that house and if possible remove them so that your spouse doesn't have access to them. If items do need to remain in the shared home, it is important to have "your own" space there in which they should stay. This helps to mitigate instances that can cause fights.

Learn More About Nesting

Are you going through a divorce? It is a tough time, but having a skilled divorce attorney by your side can make it a little easier to navigate. If you are divorcing, contact us today to see how Jamra & Jamra can help.

Reasons to Fight For Custody of Your Children

Monday, May 18, 2020

The truth is that most men lose custody of their children to the mothers. Some are lucky to see their children once in a while, though many hardly spend any time with their children at all, which is a shame. Children need their fathers. Thus, it is important for you to fight for custody of your children (even if it is only partial). Here are some reasons why.

Children With Both Parents Do Better in School

Children who have both parents in their life are more likely to do well in school.However, children without a father figure are less likely to finish school. If they do, they may not do as well as they could have done. Many drop out altogether, struggling to make ends meet for the rest of their lives.

Children Without Fathers Find a More Dangerous Substitute 

Children without fathers are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol (and a life of crime to support their habit). Drugs and alcohol are everywhere, and children without a good support system seem to find themselves in trouble. After they get hooked, they have to turn to crime in order to pay for their habit. Then, they may start out by stealing until the habit becomes too much, and they get desperate for their next fix.

Children Without a Strong Father Figure Don't Know How to Treat Women

Children without a strong father figure don't know how they should be treating women. You need to show your children how to treat a woman by treating their mother nicely, even if you aren't together anymore. You can also show them how to treat a woman that you love when you eventually move on.

Find More Reasons to Fight For Custody of Your Children 

The best thing that you can do for your children is to stay involved in their life. You can make sure that your children stay in school, do well, and have a good future. You can also show them how to treat women. Always respect their mother and anyone that you may be dating (or eventually marry).

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Tips to Stay in Your Children's Lives, Even If You Don't Have Custody

Monday, May 11, 2020

Going through a divorce can be one of the hardest things that you will ever have to do. Deciding how to divide your life into two and move on can be downright challenging. However, the worst part may be trying to figure out what to do with your children.

Though joint custody can be the best for children, that isn't always the case. If you have a job that keeps you away from home for most of the day, it may not be possible for you to have them as much as you would like. However, that doesn't mean that you can't be a part of their lives.

Here are some tips to stay in your children's lives, even if they live with their mother.

Get Along With Your Ex

Learn to get along with your ex for the sake of your children. If you want to stay in your children's lives, it is important that you find some way to get along. You are going to need to learn to communicate schedules, important events, and even problems that are going to pop up. The sooner that you can do this, the better off your relationship with your children will be.

Attend Big Events

Do your best to share the big events too! If you want to be a big part of your children's lives, you are going to have to show up for as many events as you possibly can. There are going to be school events to attend. You also want to find a way to share the holidays with your ex-wife. The better you can make these events for your children, the happier they will be.

Spend Time With Your Kids

Offer to watch the children when your ex goes out.If you don't get to spend too much time with your children, you should offer to watch them when your ex-wife needs to do something. Not only will she enjoy having someone that she can count on, but it also gives you more time to spend with your children.

Find More Tips to Stay in Your Children's Lives

It is really important to learn to get along with your ex if you want to stay in your children's lives. You are going to be involved in them together for the rest of your life. So, the sooner you can learn to communicate and spend time together as a family, the better off your children will be. This is true for normal daily events and even the big ones too!

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

How a Parent's Home Could Impact Child Custody

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Judges may take each parent's home and overall living conditions into account when determining custody in California. Although considerations can vary from court to court, a judge may consider the total number of children, their ages, and their genders when evaluating the parents' homes.

The Total Number of Children Involved

Judges will decide whether or not the number of children may impact their living conditions. If multiple children are involved, parents may need to make sure they have sufficient space to accommodate them.

For example, a parent with four children will need to ensure that the home has enough bedroom space for each child to spend the night comfortably, or else the judge may rule unfavorably.

The judge will also consider whether the children are from multiple relationships and the primary parent with whom they live.

Ages and Genders

Generally, older children will need more space than younger children. Thus, courts could consider this whether the older child shares a bedroom with a younger sibling when determining custody.

Regarding gender, the court may require parents to maintain children's privacy if the children are of the opposite sex. This could include providing each child with his or her own bathroom or bedroom.

The Children's Safety

The overall safety of the children is also a huge consideration, including the safety of both the parent's home and the surrounding area. If the judge perceives any risk of injury at home or in the neighborhood, this could result in certain visitation restrictions. Parents should gain a good understanding of their neighborhoods, including the specific kinds of crimes that take place, the presence of sex offenders in the area, and the frequency of crimes.

Ability to Adjust 

Another factor that could impact visitation and custody could include the child's ability to adjust psychologically to a new living environment. For instance, a child may find it difficult to adjust to smaller accommodations when used to living in a more spacious home.

Conclusion

Contact us today to learn more about child custody and visitation and find out how the attorneys at Jamra & Jamra can help you.

Determining Parentage During a Same-Sex Divorce

Friday, April 10, 2020

Establishing parentage is important to make sure that same-sex parents maintain parental rights and are allowed to participate in parental responsibility allocation during the divorce process. However, there are still legal uncertainties in many locations throughout the U.S. when it comes to establishing parentage for same-sex couples. In California, the same rules applied to traditional paternity suits and divorces also apply to same-sex divorce and parentage.

Keeping the Divorce Out of Court

Same-sex couples going through the divorce process can benefit from staying out of court when resolving child-related issues. Couples can do so by discussing the matters with each other, in therapy, or with the help of a custody mediator who may be mandatory regardless of whether the divorce is in or out of court.

If the divorce goes to court, the rules pertaining to parenting rights for traditional couples will also apply to same-sex parents.

If Both Spouses Are the Legal Parents

Many divorces will involve two spouses who are both the legal parents of the child, which can be the case if both parents jointly adopt a child. The spouse of the child's biological mother is also considered the legal parent if:

  • The child was born prior to the legal marriage between the mother and father
  • Birth occurred 300 days of terminating the marriage
  • Non-biological parent adopted the child through a second-parent or stepparent adoption or developed a parent-child relationship via another parentage action.

If both parties in a male same-sex couple wish to establish dual parentage, either the non-biological parent will need to adopt the child, or if both parties are nonbiological parents, they must jointly adopt the child.

If One Spouse Is a Legal Parent

If only one individual is the child's legal parent, the other parent won't benefit from any parenting rights under any circumstances. Without establishing parentage, it may be difficult to secure visitation rights, although the legal parent will be able to determine if the second parent should be allowed to be involved in the child's life, as long as it is in the child's best interests.

Conclusion

For help with the same-sex divorce process and to learn more about establishing parentage, contact us today to see how Jamra & Jamra can assist you.

Some Child Support Myths Busted

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Child support is frequently misunderstood and, too often, feared. This is understandable since it deals with people's most precious assets - their kids and their money. In reality, the intention of child support is to ensure a child's well-being, in both households.

How well do you understand how child support works? 

MYTH

Given 50/50 custody schedule, there will be no child support payment by either parent.

BUSTED: Child support payments are not based only on the amount of time each parents spends with the child. Additional factors include gross income and certain expenses such as other child support payments or medical bills.

MYTH

The father always pays the child support.

BUSTED: Child support payments may be made by the father or mother and are determined by the amount of time each parent spends with the child, gross income and other eligible expenses.

MYTH

Once a child support amount is set, it never changes.

BUSTED: Child support may be modified when parental circumstances change. Examples include an increase or decrease in income, the birth of additional children, or unemployment.

MYTH

Only the child's parents are eligible to receive child support.

BUSTED: Parents, legal guardians, or any party receiving public assistance for a child may apply for child support.

MYTH

It's no big deal if a child support payment is missed.

BUSTED: Enforcement methods for nonpayment can be severe - driver's license/passport may be suspended or revoked, tax refund can be intercepted and a bank account levied.

MYTH

Dad is not listed on the birth certificate, so he cannot receive or pay child support.

BUSTED: Parentage can be assessed using genetic testing, which ultimately determines rights and responsibilities. It does not matter if the father is not on the birth certificate.

Conclusion

Still have questions or myths to be busted? The experienced lawyers at Jamra and Jamra are here to make sure you know the facts. You can learn more on our website about child support and child support modifications. Contact us anytime.