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Introducing a New Partner and Establishing Boundaries With a Co-Parent

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

When beginning a new relationship after a divorce with a co-parent, not everyone agrees with you beginning a new relationship. This can cause undue stress to you, your new partner, and your relationship with your child. Placing boundaries and procedures in place may be necessary to help everyone involved transition into a new status quo.

The end of a relationship, especially one that results in a child, causes pain to all parties. While everyone prefers co-parents put their pain aside to do what's best, this is not always the case.

Protect Yourself, Your Children, and Your New Partner

The introduction of a new partner may lead to emotionally compromised actions. This behavior ranges from inappropriate to violent. For this reason, many individuals consult their attorneys to determine what protocols to put in place. 

  • Establish boundaries: Establish what can be discussed, what behavior is acceptable in face-to-face situations, and how contact will be made between co-parents. Written communication is generally a better option as it is asynchronous and can serve as a record. Considering boundaries, what is and isn't appropriate, can help minimize misunderstandings and conflict.
  • Have a court order put into place determining custody: With boundaries, a co-parent might threaten to stop allowing visitation or threaten to move in response.  It will benefit and your child to have a court-mandated custody order to cement procedures for visitations, holidays, summer vacations, and other logistics in place. This minimizes the ability for a co-parent to retaliate or react irresponsibly. 
  • Consider parallel parenting: If a co-parent does not honor the boundaries set in place, parallel parenting gives autonomy to individual parents while minimizing communication. Ultimately, this is put in place in the interest of the child's welfare as it is intended to prevent conflict between parents in front of the child. This option further minimizes opportunities for inappropriate behavior. 
  • Consider if a restraining order is necessary: There are some scenarios when a co-parent cannot cope with the idea of the original relationship ending and, as a result, react aggressively. If you feel you and/or your new partner do not feel safe, a restraining order protects your household.

Reach Out for Help 

The sooner you put boundaries and procedures into place, the better. Having firm boundaries and a plan leads to less stress for you, your new partner, and your children.  

Don't hesitate to contact us for all of your legal needs. We want to ensure protection for you and your family during this transition. For more information on co-parenting, divorce, and child custody issues, please visit our blog.

Different Ways to Determine Child Custody Issues

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

There is no "one size fits all" for resolving child custody issues. At the foundation of every custody case, the law will always look to what is in the best interest of the children. Some parents may be able to agree on what that means for their family. They may agree where the children will live and who will have legal custody to make decisions about education and health. In these cases, the expense and time of litigation may not make sense. There may be other more effective ways to reach a resolution like mediation or a collaborative approach.

In other cases, the two parents may find it difficult to agree on anything. There may be one controlling adult who makes outlandish demands on the other parent. This can be especially frustrating. In situations like these, it might be best to litigate the case before a judge. However, because litigation can be a costly and lengthy process, it is best to consult an experienced family attorney to discuss your legal options. Our attorneys at Jamra & Jamra have extensive experience and are strong negotiators. They will help you make the right decision for your situation.  

Child Custody Options in California

There are several options to resolve a custody dispute in California. These include: (1) mediation, (2) collaboration, and (3) litigation.

Mediation

Mediation is when a mediator facilitates the child custody discussion. The mediator will always be a neutral party. They can offer insightful information and suggestions. However, a mediator will not advocate for your particular custody rights. If you are thinking about mediation, it is important to visit an experienced attorney so that you can know your protections as a parent.  Once an agreement is made, it may be harder to re-visit those agreements in the future.  

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law, like mediation, empowers the parties to reach an agreement. However, the major difference between mediation and collaboration, is that collaboration has an entire team working towards one common goal. This approach is more often used in divorce where child custody is one aspect of the divorce. The team may include two collaboratively trained lawyers, two divorce coaches, and one financial specialist. There may also be a child specialist or tax attorney.

Litigation

In some cases, mediation or collaboration is not an option. You want to protect your rights as a parent and protect your children as well. Going to court, gives the judge the power to decide what is in the best interest of the children, according to the law. Instead of having the parties decide, each parent submits evidence to show the judge what they believe is in the child's best interest. However, the judge will ultimately make a decision based on the evidence submitted by both parties.

Conclusion

If you would like to speak about your options for child custody, there are many ways to get to the result you want. Our experienced attorneys will sit down with you to discuss your particular situation, what the law allows, and the best way to get you there. We invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation.

Fighting False Accusations in Child Custody Cases

Friday, January 08, 2021

Divorces are notorious for being messy. When children are involved, a divorce can get downright vicious. Unfortunately, when the claws come out, so, too, can the false allegations. Your ex-spouse could start flinging false allegations at you to get the upper hand. They need not be proven to be true, but can have negative effects. If you are concerned about false allegations in your child custody case, here is what you need to do.

Child Custody Cases

As child custody cases are not criminal court cases where evidence needs to be presented to support your guilt, you need to consider it the reverse. If you believe that false allegations will be thrown around, you need to gather evidence to support your innocence. Witness statements from caretakers and teachers if your child is of school age are particularly helpful when it comes to allegations of abuse.

Legal Documents

However, one of the more problematic allegations is lying on legal documents, especially if it is technically true. There is a reason you want to be absolutely truthful on legal documents, and that is because it is a crime not to be. If your ex-spouse uses the fact that you may have stretched the truth on legal documents against you, it can be particularly harmful and can be very difficult to defend. A judge sees this and thinks you may not be as diligent in respecting a child custody agreement either.

Conclusion

When you believe that false allegations may become part of your child custody case, the best defense you have is a great lawyer. They can work to unravel these allegations before they have a serious effect. If you are starting the child custody process, contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you navigate these complicated waters.

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.

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.

Stepparent Adoption: Terminating Parental Rights When the Biological Parent Doesn't Consent

Friday, September 25, 2020

While there are a number of benefits to a stepparent adopting their stepchildren, the process is not an easy one. A crucial step in the process before it can be made official is for the biological parent to consent to the adoption by surrendering their parental rights. Yet, too often the biological parent does not consent. If that is the case, can the adoption proceed?

If the biological parent does not consent to a stepparent adoption of their child and refuses to surrender their parental rights, you must seek to terminate those rights. This can be done by exploring three key avenues.

Abandonment

If you have an uninvolved biological parent, their rights can be easily terminated. If the parent has not communicated or financially supported the child for over a year, they qualify as having abandoned the child and will lose their rights.

Unfit as a Parent

If you choose to try to terminate parental rights through proving they are an unfit parent, the courts will hold a fitness hearing. They will examine various factors that go into this where in you can present evidence to support their unfit nature as a parent. In order to terminate parental rights this way, you must prove that they are abusive, neglectful, mentally unfit, addicted to substances, or have failed to visit for a certain amount of time. If the biological parent is incarcerated and will be for a long length of time, this can also qualify.

Proven Lack of Paternity

Specific to fathers of children, if the mother can prove that the child is not really the child of their supposed biological father, then that person will no longer have their innate parental rights. This can be quickly done by a quick paternity test.

Learn More About Stepparent Adoption

If you are attempting to adopt your stepchild or are having any other family law issues, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help you navigate these difficult waters.

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.