Family Law Blog

Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First in California?

Friday, November 20, 2015

There are very few situations where rushing to file for divorce is advantageous. Unless there is an urgent need to file immediately, such as physical abuse or the need to protect children and assets, the decision to divorce should be a well thought out and calculated plan. Generally, there is little to gain from rushing to file, however it may be beneficial at times.

First, filing first will determine the jurisdiction and venue that the divorce case is heard in. This is especially important if you and your spouse live in different counties, states, or even countries. The jurisdiction of the court allows your case to move forward. If you live in Orange County, but your estranged spouse files for divorce in Sonoma County first, the divorce proceedings will take place in Sonoma. This creates the need to find a local attorney in Sonoma County and to travel across the state for all court appearances. 

If you believe your children are in danger physically or your spouse may abduct them, you should always file for divorce immediately. Family courts have the power to issue immediate orders concerning the children. Choose a lawyer that will aggressively address your concerns. Not doing so can result in you being forced to file in another jurisdiction in an attempt to recover the children. It can also hurt your case later if the court questions why you did not take action if you truly believed the children were in danger.  

For more information on divorce proceedings, contact us today. Our experienced attorneys are ready to assist and will fight to protect you and your children. 

Get Expert Help with Your Child Custody Case

Friday, November 06, 2015

The hardest part of divorce for many couples is figuring out how to divide time with their children. This can lead to stressful battles in court. If you hope to avoid a court battle, or just desire an experienced attorney to help guide you through this rough time, Jamra & Jamra can help.

If you want to avoid making your child custody case a big court battle, you can get representation to help you navigate negotiation through conciliation court. This can help both parties come to an agreement that keeps the child's best interest in mind, but helps you make sure your concerns about how your child is going to be taken care of are addressed.

Sometimes mediated negotiations don't work as well as desired. If needed, we will represent you in court and help you fight for what you think is the best course of action for you and your child.

No two custody cases are exactly the same, so there is no tailored approach that fits everyone. Our lawyers will sit down to discuss the details with you to help form the best course of action to suit your needs.

Lawyers at Jamra & Jamra have over forty years of experience between us; and we are knowledgeable in the complex custody laws in California, but we also know how to explain the process in ways that keep our clients fully informed.

If you would like more information about how we can help you with your child custody case, contact us today and we'll get started working on a solution.

Tips for Better Co-parenting with a Difficult Ex-Spouse

Thursday, February 19, 2015

When you share custody of your children, you are required to work with each other with one goal in mind-the best interests of your children. That means that you understand right at the outset that you may be required compromise your own desires to ensure that your children have a healthy childhood.

But that isn't always easy to accomplish, especially if you are required to co-parent with an ex-spouse who is belligerent. In such cases, you may have no other choice but to accept that there are some things that you simply cannot control. You can co-parent better if you focus on your own parenting abilities and on changing the things that you can within your own self. Realize there are some things about your ex-spouse’s parenting that you cannot change.

Avoid letting the negativity over your ex-spouse consume your life. Don't allow those negative thoughts to intrude your space, when you are with your children. Be present in the moment when you are with your children, and avoid complaining about the other parent in front of your children all the time.

If the other parent cannot be relied on to provide a calm, stress-free environment, make up for it. Make sure that you have a calming environment at home for your children. Don't let things fall apart in your home, because things are chaotic at the other home.

Focus on all the good that co-parenting is doing for your children. If your children are growing up to be stable, emotionally mature individuals, in spite of the fact, that they have been through a major upheaval in their lives, then you have much to be grateful for.

For help creating a visitation plan, or protecting your rights to child custody during a divorce, speak to a Los Angeles family lawyer.

How is Visitation Decided in California?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

When a couple gets divorced, the court will identify one person as the physical custodian of the child, which means that he or she will have primary physical custody of the child. At the same time, the court will also sign off on a visitation schedule which allows the noncustodial parent visiting hours with the child.

The visitation schedule must be specific, and must include details like the number of hours the child will spend with the noncustodial parent, vacation breaks and so on. The visitation schedule is typically decided on by the parents. In fact, Los Angeles divorce lawyers recommend that you work together with the other parent to decide on a schedule. Even after a couple has agreed on a visitation schedule, it must be submitted to a court for approval. Your visitation schedule is not valid until the judge signs off on it.

However, if the parents can't come to an agreement, the court will intervene, and will issue a child custody order. This child custody order will also include a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent.

Apart from the times of the week, vacation breaks and other details about the amount of time the child will spend with the noncustodial parent, your visitation schedule must also include other details, including pickup and drop-off times, who is responsible for making the pickups and drop-offs, and other details. It is important to have all of these details in order to avoid legal wrangling later.

The visitation schedule must also identify how the custody will be shared during special times like birthdays and holidays. The summer break must also be divided with the noncustodial parent getting a fixed number of days over the summer.

Murder-Suicide Linked to Child Custody Battle

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

When ex-veteran Bradley William Stone recently killed his ex-wife, five relatives, and then himself recently in Philadelphia, it wasn't immediately clear that the reason was linked to a family dispute. However, in the aftermath of the tragedy, it is becoming more and more clear that the man was in an ongoing custody battle with his ex-wife, and that the dispute likely sent him off the edge.

Stone was involved in a dispute with his ex-wife Nicole Stone over the couple's young daughters. Stone first went to his ex-wife’s sister's house, where he shot and killed the sister and her husband. He also assaulted the couple’s children leaving them with severe injuries. He then went to his ex-mother-in-law's house, where he killed both the ex-mother-in-law and her mother. After that, he went to his ex-wife's home where he shot and killed her too. Police officers found him two days, dead of self-inflicted stab wounds. The couple's two young girls, as well as his current wife and their infant son are currently in protective custody.

While the custody dispute has been mentioned in most news stories related to the murder, it is clear that this was a man with very serious psychological problems. However, this tragedy is also a reminder of what can happen when such important matters are left unresolved during a divorce.

Not every marriage will end with all strings neatly tied up. Resentment and bitterness may continue even after the divorce, which is why it is very important to try out all possible ways of alternative dispute resolution, like arbitration and mediation, before taking a matter to court. It’s also important to seriously consider psychological counseling during such traumatic times in one’s life. In fact, counseling or therapy, if you can afford it, is one of the important pieces of advice that Los Angeles divorce lawyers give persons who have just begun divorce proceedings.

How Does Joint Custody Work in California?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Joint custody allows parents to have joint physical and legal custody of the child. These parenting arrangements allow both parents equal access to the child. However, there are certain things that you need to know about how joint custody works.

In joint physical and legal custody, you will have both physical as well as legal custody of the child. Physical custody means that your child will spend a fairly similar amount of time with you and your spouse. Physical custody does not mean that your child will spend the exact amount of time with each parent. It is not possible to precisely divide the amount of time that the child will spend with each parent. One parent will end up having the child for a little extra time, compared to the other. In such cases, where the parents have joint custody but one parent has access to the child more than the other, the parent with more access is called the primary custodial parent.

Joint legal custody means that you and the other parent will have a responsibility to make decisions related to the child. Joint legal custody means that either or both of you can make joint decisions about the child's welfare, including his education, his medical care, his school, and other aspects of his life. However, that does not mean necessarily that you will share in every decision that is made. While the parents can make decisions together, each parent can also make the decision on his or her own. However, it is important that both of them communicate with each other and resolve these issues instead of taking matters to court.

It is also possible for the parents to have joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody.

Longer Commutes Increase Divorce Risks

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Couples who have longer commutes to work are at a much higher risk of meeting with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer. According to new research by three scientists, couples who have at least a 45-minute one-way commute to work every day, are much more likely to find themselves in divorce court, compared to those who have shorter daily commutes.

The study, which was published recently in the British journal Urban Studies, monitored millions of Swedish citizens between 1995 and 2005. The researchers found that 11% of the couples that were monitored as part of the study had divorced by 2000. They also found that couples who divorced, were much more likely to commute long distances to go to work.

13% of the couples in which one or both of the spouses had at least a 45-minute commute to work every day, ended up divorcing. However, according to the analysis only 10% of the non-commuter couples had divorced.

The results of the study point to the effect of stress on the relationship. Couples, who have long 45-minute commutes to work every day, are probably more stressed, especially when both of the couples have such long-distance commutes to work every day.

Stress can kill any marriage. Very often, that stress may simply compound problems that already exist in the marriage, and the couple may have no other choice but to call it quits. If you are currently considering divorce, speak with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer, who can advise you about your options for alimony, child custody arrangements, parenting time, and child support payments.

There are several issues that must be ironed out before you finalize the divorce papers. Divorce can be at testing time for you, and if you aren’t careful can seriously impact your rights over your assets, home or children.

Co-parenting with a Problem Parent

Friday, July 18, 2014

Co-parenting is one of the most ideal child custody arrangements after a divorce in Beverly Hills. There are a number of advantages, including increased access to the father, and greater involvement of the father in the child's life. However, these arrangements can be difficult when one parent insists on being difficult.

Not every co-parenting arrangement is smooth and problem-free. Sometimes, parents try to create problems with their attitude, bad behavior, and lack of concern for the child. If you are in an unfortunate situation, where you are co-parenting with a parent like this, you will find coping a challenge. However, you have to place the best interests of the child as top priority, and must continue to engage with the other parent as best as you can for the sake of the child.

That does not mean unnecessary communication. However, it does mean that you continue to maintain open communication, and share information about the child with the other parent. Plan parent conferences where you discuss the progress of the child and problem areas that need to be rectified.

Realize that you can't do anything to change the behavior of your partner, and do the best with what you have. Use phone calls, e-mails, or SMS to keep in contact, if communication becomes problematic.

The one thing that you cannot do is stoop to the level of the other parent. No matter how bad the behavior is, it's important for you to make a stable difference in your child's life. It may not seem like a child sees much, but you can rest assured that your child is observing the behavior of his parents, and will appreciate the efforts that you make to be a stable and calming influence for him.

Shared Custody of Children on the Increase

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fewer child custody arrangements these days involve the mother getting sole custody of the child. In an increasing number of cases, parents are settling for joint or shared custody of their children.

According to a new study which analyzed Wisconsin Court Records between 1988 and 2008, the number of mothers who were awarded sole custody of their children after divorce, dropped dramatically from 8% to 42%. During the same period of time, there was a significant increase in the number of joint custody arrangements.

Equal shared custody arrangements during the same time increased from 5% to 37%, and unequal custody increased from 3% to 18%. There was little difference in the proportion of cases that involved father-only sole custody. These cases hovered at approximately 10%.

The study's findings may be slightly misleading. They don't seem to cover children born into single-parent households. About 45% of American babies are currently born to unmarried mothers. The study only included those families that were split up after divorce.

In a shared custody arrangement, the parents decide to share medical, legal, financial, and other decisions involving the child. Physical custody of the child may be split approximately 50/50. It is not possible to accurately divide the amount of time that the child spends with each parent.

But the study does seem to confirm that it is no longer a given that the mother will be granted sole custody of the children during a divorce. Joint custody is far moving towards the center, and in the future could actually be considered the norm. For decades, mothers were awarded sole custody, because of the general belief that they were better caretakers. In recent years, the interests of the children have taken the forefront during proceedings to determine the outcomes of such disputes, and those interests very often involve time spent with both parents equally.

Massachusetts Bill Could Ban Sex during Divorce

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An interesting bill that is pending passage in the state of Massachusetts could actually ban couples who are in the middle of divorce proceedings from having sex or even dating.

The legislation seeks to require that in divorce proceedings involving children, the party living in the home should not date or conduct a sexual relationship inside the home, until divorce proceedings are complete and all issues are settled. If the party does want to date, or have a sexual relationship inside the home, then he must seek the permission of the court.

The bill was originally filed in 2013, and must be considered by the state legislature by June 30. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Richard Ross who insists that he does not really support the bill, but has only sponsored it as a courtesy to one of his constituents. According to the constituent, he went through a bitter divorce, and believes that a bill like this would help protect children living in the marital home, during the divorce proceedings.

Obviously, this is just a bill, and for this to become law, it would have to be passed by the Massachusetts Legislature, and be signed by the governor. Whether the bill will pass the Legislature is anyone's guess.

However, this bill does raise one of the more important questions that people who are in the middle of a divorce often ask their attorneys - Does the divorce automatically put the brakes on dating, or are you free to see other people while the divorce proceedings have not yet been finalized?

The fact is that any personal or social relationships during a divorce can have a legal impact on your divorce case. For instance, it isn't uncommon for attorneys for the other party to spy on your activities to dig up dirt that can be used during the divorce proceedings, especially in child custody matters.