Family Law Blog

Property Division, Who Gets Custody of - Fido?

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Divorce and child custody battles often go hand in hand, with property disputes a close second among causes of high emotional and financial impact. Houses, cars, 401K distribution and what to do with the family RV provoke understandably strong emotions. Throw in disputes over who gets the family dog and the emotional stakes are even higher.

In most states, pets are viewed as property. The ultimate ownership of pets is dependent upon many factors, including which partner bought the animal and whether kids are involved.

Many pet owners find this approach heartless given that the animal's welfare isn't necessarily taken into account. The big screen TV and the car may hold high dollar values, but they also aren't granted quite the same status in the minds of owners, or, in fact, the law. Destroying your own television set rarely comes with legal repercussions, but animal abuse is another matter.

According to a new Illinois state law following in Alaska's footsteps, animals will be treated much like children in divorce proceedings. Effective January 1st, 2018, in cases where a divorcing couple is equally attached to a pet, judges in Illinois are now permitted to take the animal's best interests into account, much as they would a child.

The new law applies only in Illinois, but the results bear close watching. Most likely, who will make the better owner will be the main criteria for animal custody decisions, but, as with children, one wonders if that decision could usher in a host of other issues, including visitation. 

While California law still views pets as property, the California Family Code Section 6320 allows pets to be included in protective orders. Some California judges also consider visitation a valid option in pet disputes, as happened in the case of Gigi, whose ultimate disposition included a "bonding study" and cost her owners 100,000 dollars in legal fees.

Custody and ownership as separate issues is the standard in most states and under most conditions, but as pets have become normalized as part of divorce settlements, laws have had to keep up with human emotional bonds. Contact us to learn more about how pets factor into divorce proceedings.

Challenges of Early Life Divorces

Friday, January 12, 2018

You know what they say, your younger years are for making mistakes. However, for most people, those mistakes don't include a bad marriage, or rather, they don't realize it is a mistake until much later. However, if you get married young and realize it was a mistake, getting a divorce in your 20's can provide some unique challenges.

One of the most unique challenges you will face is the social stigma. Friends and family will likely have the "I told you so" of it all ready to go once the filing has begun. For many, this may pressure them into staying in an unhappy marriage because they don't want deal with the negativity. However, one of the benefits of realizing a marriage is not working while you are young is that you have plenty of time to start over. Don't let it ruin you for other relationships, but rather use it to know what you want out of your next one.

Furthermore, another unique challenge you face through an early divorce is the financial strain of the process. You may not have to deal with stock portfolios or retirement accounts quite yet, but many young divorcing couples find the divorce process more expensive than they can afford. This means it might be difficult to come up with funding for the legal process, but typically in early divorces, there is not much in the way of asset division. Neither you or your spouse have become accustomed to a lavish way of living because the wages in your early years are somewhat low. Typically this means asset division is easier, but you should both plan for post-marriage life before divorcing. Money may be tight and you should both allow yourself enough time to make arrangements.

While early divorces are stressful and expensive (though not more or less expensive than if you were married 10+ years), you still should not be afraid to go through with it. You deserve to be in a marriage where you are happy. If you are young and considering a divorce, contact us today.

What Happens if One Party Doesn’t Show Up to a Divorce Hearing?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Divorce is a very contentious time in the lives of divorcing couples. Emotions run hot and a lot of arguments can come up. It often gets to the point where bitterness can take over and one part of a dissolving marriage doesn't want to see the other's face ever again. They think that maybe they can trip things up a little by not showing up to a court date. However, not going to court when ordered to appear is perhaps one of the worst things you can do.

If you or your spouse fail to show up for your scheduled divorce hearing, then it is effectively wasting the court's time, and they are not pleased about it. If no good reason is given, the judge will hold the absent party in contempt of court, authorize a bench warrant for their arrest, and you will likely have to pay a fine for it. Furthermore, skipping a court date in a divorce only works in favor of the party that was present. It could cause a biased in their favor when it comes to the terms of the divorce.

That being said, sometimes one party just wants things to be over without going to court. If you agree to the terms of the divorce, but don't want to sit in court, either party can file for an uncontested divorce. In this, only the filing spouse needs to attend court. However, before this can happen, the separation agreement needs to have agreed upon terms by both parties in regards to spousal support, child support, debt repayment, and property division.

If you are filing for divorce and believe your spouse may be non-compliant to showing up to court or agreeing to an uncontested divorce, contact us today. The good news is that is your spouse is being difficult, the divorce will still progress after filing whether they like it or not. Furthermore, it may even come out more in your favor.

What Happens to the Family Home in a Divorce?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

You made a lot of good memories in your home, and even if your marriage started to sour, those memories may be something you want to hang on to. However, the messiest part of divorce is dividing up the stuff, and the family home is part of that stuff.

If you want to keep the property, your best course of action is to come to some agreement on it. When it comes to property division, real estate isn't physically divided by the courts, but rather it must be sold off and the monetary value is then split between the divorced couple. This means you lose the house and all those memories are now just solely in your mind.

However, there are some cases in which one party may retain ownership without having to make a compromise. The most common situation for this is if the home was bought before the marriage. If you bought the home before the marriage and your name remained the sole name on it, then it will most often be awarded back to you. However, even if you added your ex-spouse's name on to the house, it may still be argued that since you bought the property before the marriage that it is still yours.

Unfortunately, most married couples buy their first home together. This means that no matter how much you cherish those memories, your property will still need to be divided. If you still want to retain it, you will need to work extensively to compromise with your ex-spouse. If you are divorcing and desperately want to keep your family home, contact us today! 

If Divorce is on Your Mind

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Are you contemplating divorce? The legal process is complicated and can involve working with your spouse as much as possible to avoid unnecessary conflict, or it could mean a long drawn-out court battle. The important thing to remember is that no two divorces will be precisely the same, as different factors will come into play. 

The First Step

You will either be on the receiving end of a divorce petition, or you will be in the position of serving it to your former partner. You should consider where to file for divorce. Usually, the next step entails you filing papers in the state or county where you or your spouse lives. Also, make sure to familiarize yourself with your state or county's residency requirements so that you are filing in the correct location. If your partner serves in the military, you have the option to file papers where your partner is stationed. 

Will You File for a "No Fault" Divorce?

Choosing between a "fault" and a "no fault" divorce is an important part of the filing process. "Fault" divorces encompass the negative aspects of a marriage such as abuse or adultery. If children aren't in the picture or assets are at a minimum, getting a "summary" divorce is a possibility. Seeking the advice of a lawyer would be wise here, as you don't want to inadvertently surrender your property or child support rights. 

Mediation is Important 

Divorce doesn't need to be synonymous with bitter conflict. Mediation is a very valid option when it comes to resolving the finer points of separation, and can save you quite a bit of time and money. Mediation experts, while not perfect, are experienced in hammering out solutions to points of contention between you and your spouse. This process should be considered among the first steps to take after filing for divorce rather than a last resort.   

If you are contemplating divorce, contact us for more information. 

Will Your Spouse's Unemployment Affect Your Divorce?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

If there is one thing that can quickly ruin a marriage, it is financial issues. If one spouse is unemployed and not able to find work, it can put a lot of stress on your relationship. Combined with other marital problems, this stress might be just enough to make it break. However, if your spouse is unemployed, will it have any effect on your divorce?

The answer is yes. If your spouse isn't working and you have been supporting them, you may find that after your divorce, you will be responsible for paying them maintenance in the form of spousal support. Typically this makes divorces even more contentious because, well, who wants to pay someone they aren't even with anymore?

Luckily, the amount of spousal support is determined by the court. They take into consideration whether or not the unemployment is voluntary, who primarily handled any childcare activities, and if the unemployed spouse is disabled or able to get gainful employment.

With all those things considered, spousal support may be permanent, limited, of a rehabilitative nature, or even meant to repay the spouse for their past financial contributions. So depending on the nature of your spouse's unemployment, it is likely you will have to pay them some spousal support, but it may not be forever. The duration is usually lengthened if they are disabled or if they were the full-time care taker for young children or those with special needs. As those children grow and develop, the court may also expect them to seek employment.

If you are preparing to file for divorce for financial or other reasons and are concerned about paying spousal support, contact us today. The Law Firm of Jamra & Jamra can help you go over your case to see how likely spousal support might be.

How to Come to a Property Division Agreement

Thursday, May 25, 2017

In California, division of property in a divorce follows community property rules. That means that the marital property is not split equitably, but rather evenly across both parties. However, separate property, which was bought by one party in a marriage alone is kept by its owner. However, if you are the major earner in a marriage, and are likely getting the short end of the stick with community property rules, there is a way around it.

While you can let the court decide property division, it is better for both parties to come to an agreement themselves. A property division agreement is an informal agreement with your soon to be ex-spouse where you can both negotiate a fair split. This is a way to easily get around community property rules, but only if both parties agree. Naturally, when the other party could legally be getting more, getting them to agree to a property division agreement is not easy, but not impossible either.

One of the most important things to consider when sitting down for a property division agreement meeting is whether or not to have attorneys present. No matter how friendly you still are with your ex-spouse, it is best for both parties to be represented just so things stay fair. Some parts of the property may have more sentimental value than they do monetary value, which is the major reason to do division of property independent of the court in community property states. By sitting down and doing it independently, everyone can get the specific things they want.

If you are filing for divorce and are looking to sit down to a property division meeting with representation, contact us today.

How Long Do You Have to Pay Spousal Support?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spousal support, or alimony as it is commonly called, is used to make sure both parties are not driven to poverty after a divorce. If one side of a divorcing party is used to a certain standard of living and does not have a way to support that standard themselves, then the other side of a divorcing party will be expected to pay spousal support for them. However, the bright side is that spousal support is not forever.

Most commonly, spousal support will be deemed as rehabilitative. This means the supporting spouse will only need to pay alimony until the receiving spouse has received education or training into order to become self-supporting.

However, not all spousal support awards will be so reasonable. If your divorce decree does not specify an alimony termination date, then the payments will have to continue until the court orders it. Typically alimony can be ended for a number of other reasons, such as if the paying party suffers a significant loss of income. However, most commonly, alimony will end if the recipient remarries or the paying party dies. However, if the recipient still can't support themselves when the paying party dies, alimony can continue to be paid from their estate or life insurance proceeds.

If you are starting divorce proceedings, then alimony may be one of your big worries, but definitely not the only worry. As there is no such thing as an amicable divorce, you need representation to make sure you get your fair share of a dissolved marriage. For consultation on your case, contact us today.

Getting a Temporary Restraining Order

Thursday, April 13, 2017

When most people hear the words restraining order, they think about an abused and scared woman. However, they can also be needed during bitter divorces. They are also called an order of protection and are put in place to help people going through divorces.

Everyone knows that divorce can really hurt people and families, causing them to act inappropriately. They may lash out physically, emotionally, and even financially. For this reason, many people get a temporary restraining order in order to protect their family.

Some people will do anything when they are faced with an awful divorce. They may try to move the children without the other parent knowing. They may wipe out combined bank accounts, leaving the other person with no money at all. Really scared people may take a loan out on the house without the other person knowing.

Because of this, temporary restraining orders can maintain the status quo until your divorce is over. It is temporary and will end as soon as your divorce is all settled. By then, you will know how everything is divided and settled and there will be no need for any harsh actions. It will be time to let go and start to move on.

In order to get a temporary restraining order, the party will need to file a petition for a restraining order at the same time that he or she files for divorce. The sooner this is done, the less likely that you will have to worry about protecting your family and your money. However, a temporary restraining order can also be issued at any time during the divorce if the need arises.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for all of your legal needs. We want to make sure that you and your family are protected during this scary time in your life.

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.