Family Law Blog

What to Do When Paternity is Filed Against You

Friday, August 09, 2019

man signing papers

For some men, there may come a day when they are served with a court summons to establish paternity. If you have not signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, then a woman can go through the courts to establish it formally through the court with a DNA test. If you have signed the acknowledgement, then you may also be served with papers demanding support for the child financially. Regardless of what you have been served with, what should your next move be when this happens?

When you are served, your first action should be to actually read the papers to discover what they want. They may be calling you in for a paternity test or they may be demanding child support. These are two different matters that require different approaches. However, the most important part of both is the time in which you have to give your answer. The complaint will be numbered and you need to either agree or deny each part of it. Unfortunately, you have a rather narrow time frame to do so. This is where your next action comes in.

After a complaint has been served to you, next you will want to get in contact with a family law attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you formulate a reply to the complaint and explain what each answer means. For example, agreeing to test paternity could also mean paying child support if it turns out to be true. Your lawyer will advise you on how best to answer for the outcome that you want to happen.

If you have been served with paternity or for any other family law matters, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra is dedicated to helping you get the outcomes you want so you can do what is best for your family.

When Co-Parenting Is Not An Option

Thursday, June 13, 2019

mother and son

When co-parenting is not an option for whatever reason, whether it is because of domestic violence, child abuse, or maybe addiction, you are on your own. One word can kill your chances at happiness and having peace of mind. It is called guilt, and it will make your life miserable. It will also have an affect on your parenting abilities.

Most divorced parents feel like they have failed as a parent to some degree. That guilt will surface time and time again in ways you would never suspect, but if you are aware of it, you can eliminate it from your new life as a single parent. 

Here are three ways you can eliminate guilt and make your new beginning a positive experience for both you and your children. 

1. Depriving yourself so your children will have more is a big mistake. You have as much right to happiness as your children. Don't give up your bedroom because it is bigger. Don't be a chauffeur if it makes your life harder, and don't spend your last money to give your children things they don't need. You need to give to yourself and do more for yourself because you are just as deserving. 

2. Don't try to be both a mom and a dad. You can't be both. Your kids will need a positive male role model, so look to your brother, uncle, cousin, father, and even a teacher for that positive male influence. You will be surprised at how well received and appreciated this will be. There are other people in your children's lives that can offer emotional support besides you. 

3. Pull together and work as a team. Everyone should pitch in to take care of the home front. Teaching your children how to be self-sufficient will help them greatly when they transition into adulthood. They might not like it now, but your children will be grateful for these lessons when they become adults.

 You can call with any questions or concerns about your divorce so please  contact us

5 Methods of Collecting Past Due Child Support

Friday, April 26, 2019

Man handing over cash to woman

After a divorce, finances are often tight. Single parents often rely on child support payments to make ends meet. What options do you have if your ex stops paying court-ordered child support?

Under the federal Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, districts attorneys and state's attorneys have the authority to collect arrears child support on custodial parents' behalf.

States have several options to collect child support payments in arrears, including:

Wage Garnishment

Child support arrangements often carry an order for the support payments to be garnished from the obligor's wages.  However, this may not be as effective if the non-custodial parent changes jobs frequently or is unemployed.

Tax Refunds

If a tax refund is owed to the debtor parent, the custodial parent may be able to intercept the tax refund to collect the support payments owed. If the obligor has remarried, only his or her portion of the tax refund can be redirected. The obligor's new spouse is entitled to keep their full tax refund.

Contempt of Court

Non-custodial parents who do not make court-ordered child support payments can face a contempt-of-court charge. Someone found guilty of contempt can be subjected to fines or even jail time.

Revoking a License

If child support is delinquent, another method of enforcement is to have the state revoke the obligor's driver's license. Other professional licenses may also be withheld—for example, licenses for physicians, attorneys, or those working in trades such as plumbing. Business licenses may also be included in some cases. The option to withhold a license may not be available in every state.

Property Liens

When child support is in default, states may place liens on any real estate or automobiles owned by the obligor parent. A lien prevents the asset from being sold until the delinquent payments are made.

If you need help collecting child support in arrears, contact us to set up a consultation.  


Can You Face Jail Time For Unpaid Spousal and Child Support?

Friday, March 22, 2019

stack of money sitting under gavel on table

Let's face it, you may be okay financially supporting your children, but no one really wants to give their hard-earned money to an ex-spouse after they divorced. Sometimes, it may feel like even though you only pay child support, that your ex-spouse is using that for their own fun money. However, if the courts have ordered you to pay a certain amount for a certain amount of time, you have to do it or you could find yourself behind bars.

If you simply decide to stop paying spousal or child support that was awarded to your ex-spouse by your divorce court, their best option is to take you back to court. You will be served with a contempt of court notice that demands you appear in court and state why you haven't paid. If you fail to appear at this hearing, they will place a warrant out for your arrest.

However, once you get into that courtroom, do realize there is a big difference between "won't pay" and "can't pay" your support payments. If you demonstrate that it has been causing you financial hardship to make these payments, you likely won't go to jail and your payments will be amended. However, if you are maliciously withholding payments, depending on the amount owed, you may face jail time for it.

The small amount of good news is that you are not a hardened criminal. Awhile back in 2012 there was a case against NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman for non-payment of child and spousal support. He owed around $850,000 to his ex-wife but was only facing a punishment of 20 days in jail for not paying it. This is not to say that you won't face more time, or 20 days in jail is a small amount to pay for not paying support, but rather it is that you won't face years in jail for non-payment as this isn't a particularly heinous crime.

If you have perhaps neglected support payments or a spouse isn't paying you what was owed, contact us today. Let the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra help you.

Vaccinations As a Dispute in a Child Custody Case

Sunday, February 24, 2019

child getting vaccination in doctor's office

Divorce with kids has never been simple. There have always been things to fight over, but they were things that you would expect. What school would the kids go to? What religion would they practice and where would they do it? You know, more common things like that. However, there has recently been just one more complication that has arisen in divorce cases - should the kids be vaccinated?

There are those that argue that vaccinations cause autism and other developmental issues in a child. As such, these parents have decided to forgo vaccinations. However, does that decision need to be respected in the event of a divorce?

As you would expect, the issue is complicated in several different ways. A judge is responsible for making decisions that are in the best interest of the child, so going to court is likely to yield a decision that vaccination is indeed in the best interest for the child as well as other children they will come in contact with. Furthermore, parents will have to keep certain laws in mind. Some states and even some specific schools will only allow a child to attend school if they have their vaccinations. This can impede how both parents want to school their children, and may actually force their hand on the decision.

If you and your ex-spouse are split on the decision to vaccinate your children, those against should strongly prepare that if they head to court for the possibility that the court will force them to do so for the safety of the child and other children.

If you are starting the divorce process, you will need representation. It may not seem like it will be a contentious event right now, but every divorce has its complication. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do for you.

When to Use Witnesses During a Family Law Case

Friday, December 28, 2018

A family law case, be it divorce, child support, or anything else, is different than other areas of the law. It doesn't dole out punitive punishments for a crime, nor does it really award financial gain for the circumstance. However, like other areas of the law, a family law case can benefit from the testimony of a solid witness towards your character.

What can a witness do for your family law case? Much of family law depends on how you present yourself before a judge so they can make their judgment. How good of a parent were you? How good of a spouse? Witness testimony as to your character can help shape the opinion of the courts.

However, you need to choose your witnesses carefully. In most cases, family members are not allowed because they likely have certain biases. However, you want witnesses with firsthand accounts. For example, if your spouse beats you, your best friend may have seen the beating while a trusted colleague may have only seen the result of the beating. It is best to choose the friend that saw the beating because their account is a firsthand account and not just what you told them. Similarly, you would want to choose a nanny who saw both parents interacting with children rather than a friend that only saw how you were with them. These witnesses are the most powerful.

No matter what witness you choose, they are bound by law to be honest with the court and to act neutrally in their answers. If you want things to go your way, you are best finding a skilled lawyer to do so. If you are going through a family law case and need help, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra is dedicated to helping families get the best possible outcome for their cases.

Does My Spouse Have to Pay For a Child's College?

Friday, December 21, 2018

When it comes to child support, a non-primary custody parent only has the obligation to pay child support until the child reaches the age of majority, otherwise known as 18 years old. There is an exception that states they will continue to pay until the child graduates high school if that comes later as well. However, most parents care for their child, and at this age, they want them to go to college. Both parents may even want to help pay for it, even if divorced. However, if your spouse doesn't, do they still need to contribute to a college education?

In most cases, if two parents agree to pay for college during a divorce, specific language will be added to the final papers to make it legally binding. As it can be many years before a child reaches college age, this can be an important step. However, there will be certain exceptions made if the paying spouse suddenly has a change in financial circumstances.

If you and your spouse can both agree that you both want to contribute to a child's college education, it should be written down in the divorce agreement. Furthermore, the language should also be flexible to make sure one parent can still contribute even if they make less later. It is important to talk over how to do this with your divorce lawyer so that it is in the child's best interests. College can be particularly expensive, so help from your ex-spouse should be welcomed. However, it is best to also make sure it is legally binding.

If you are going through a divorce and want to make sure a spouse will actually pay when it comes time to send your children to college, contact us today. We can help craft divorce papers to make sure it is included.

How Does Child Support Effect Spousal Support

Friday, November 23, 2018

If you are divorcing, there are two types of payments you can receive. One is child support that is meant to support the raising of children as a primary caregiver and the second in spousal support that is meant to support the less financially-stable spouse as they seek employment to live independently. However, the question is, does receiving one affect your ability to receive the other?

In most cases, no, it does not. In fact, if you are the primary caregiver of children, receiving child support can actually mean a better spousal support payment. Say, for example, you gave up your career to raise your children. If you later decided to become divorced, the courts may not want to interrupt the child care that the child is used to and order your ex-spouse to support you with spousal support until the child comes of age. During this time, the courts suggest you also attend school so you can gain employment later. However, the trade off here is that the spousal support will have a notable expiration date that could be later or sooner than your standard spousal support grant.

However, in an alternate situation, if you receive spousal support, it will never mean that you are barred from child support either. Child support, while it can be used to pay things that benefit both parent and child like rent or groceries, is used to support the child and not the parent. Spousal support is awarded to support the spouse while they seek employment to become independent. Typically this means some sort of vocational training. As these two payments are supposed to be used for different things, there is no way that they can affect each other. If you end up with high payments from both, your ex-spouse may insist on a modification, but it is rare they will be done away with just because you are receiving the other payment.

If you are going through a divorce and need help, contact us today.

When Does Child Support End?

Thursday, November 01, 2018

child sitting on floor resting head on knees

If you are getting a divorce with children, there are a lot of considerations to make, primary among them, the payment of child support. Child support is put in place to help the primary custody holder, a now-single parent, help care for your child. However, you won't be required to pay child support forever.

Like in many states, California only requires child support to be paid until the child reaches the age of majority – the age of 18 – when they are legally recognized as an adult. However, there is a provision in place that requires payment to continue if the child is still in high school. So you may be required to pay past their birthday until they graduate or turn 19, whichever happens first.

If your child has certain disabilities, you may need to pay child support longer because, even at the age of 18, they may not be capable of taking care of themselves and will still widely rely on the primary custody holder as a caregiver. Furthermore, your ex-spouse may be able to return to court and ask for post-minority support. This will essentially ask you to make payments towards the child's college education.

If the child has gained acceptance to a school that is beyond the primary custody holder's means it is likely their request for post-minority support will be granted. However, post-minority won't be able to be used in order to essentially buy their way into a good school. Furthermore, if the child has not yet been accepted, it will be more difficult for the courts to grant this request.

If you are getting a divorce and about to go through the child support dance with your spouse, contact us today. Jamra & Jamra can help represent your interests to make sure that you don't get taken to the cleaners by your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

When Child Support Deviates From the Formula

Friday, September 28, 2018

When it comes to child support, the award isn't just a random guess on how much financial support a parent receives. Instead, judges will use a specific formula to decide how much child support is awarded. This means that in many cases you can sit down with your lawyer and do a pretty close calculation on what sort of child support you will be entitled to or need to pay. However, there are some deviations to the formula that can affect it. These deviations include:

  • Special Needs - If your child has special needs, then the expenses of their care may be far greater than other children. This means that costs due to their disability will need to be factored in.
  • Extraordinary Expenses - Similar to special needs considerations, if your child has any medical, psychological, or educational needs, this may cause a deviation. For example, if your child is accepted to a gifted program, that may merit a deviation.
  • Sufficient Debt - This doesn't have anything to do with the child at all. If you parted with your spouse and share a sufficient amount of debt, this can affect child support payments. Obviously, if you have to care for a child and pay your share of joint debt, it can affect how the child is cared for.
  • Time Spent - As the ex-spouse paying child support, spending more time with the child may lower the payment necessary for child support. Obviously, if you are watching the child while the other parent is at work, this should and does lower your financial obligation.

If you are going through a divorce with children and would like to learn more about the whole process, contact us today to see what we can do for you. It is a difficult time, but the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help.