Family Law Blog

Divorce: Making Things Right During The Holidays

Friday, December 09, 2016

Anyone who has experienced a divorce or is currently experiencing a divorce knows that a divorce can turn things upside down. Everything can change during a divorce. When parents make the decision to split, it seems that everything will be impacted. This is especially true when it comes to the holiday season.

The holidays can be a very difficult time for a divided family who has to make arrangements so the children can spend time with both parents. The old holiday traditions are a thing of the past, and parents now have to create new traditions and start new memories.

If the parents are going to work together to give their children the best holiday experiences, there needs to be a detailed visitation schedule when the parents agree to co-parent. The schedules and agreements should not be vague because these types of agreements will likely fall apart very quickly.

The holidays should be an enjoyable time for families, but this is not always the case when families have separated and the children have to spend the holidays in two homes. However, when parents can agree and stick to a schedule and any other agreement, there will be a less amount of stress and there will be no arguments and disagreements.

The court system is available to help families figure things out and do what is best for the children, but one of the best things parents can do is try to work things out on their own. If families do not want to be stress and burdened with going to court, they should try to work together and keep things positive.

We do understand that sometimes families need to go through the court system so they can be advised of the best steps to take. If you need advice about your situation or if you would like a consultation, do not hesitate to contact us today.


Can a Divorce Include a Clause Negating Child Support Obligations?

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Is it possible, at the time of the divorce, to include a clause in the divorce contract whereas one parent is absolved, with the agreement and consent of the other parent, of child support obligations?

The first thing to know is that child support is something obligated by law -- parents must support their children, even if they are not currently married to the other parent. Child support obligations do not stem from divorce contracts and agreements.

This law is in place to ensure that children are adequately taken care of. It also is in the government’s best interests not to have too many welfare recipients.

Usually, clauses negating child support obligations will not be recognized by the courts. Unless you are able to prove that this clause is, in fact, in the child’s best interests, it will generally have no legal standing.

It goes even further. If there was a clause under which one parent paid a lump sum for the child’s needs, instead of having to pay monthly payments, and the money was squandered by the other parent who has custody of the child and the child now needs financial assistance, the first parent may have to start paying again for child support. This is because child support obligations are in place to benefit the child, and a parent's self-interest has no bearing on the issue, unless the parent is financially unable to support the child.

Child support laws are extremely complex. If you are considering a clause in your divorce contract concerning child support, it is best to contact a lawyer for legal help.

Divorce And Social Media: Can Ignoring Your Attorney's Advice About Posting Online Really Hurt You?

Monday, November 28, 2016

These days, many divorce lawyers advise their clients to stay off social media altogether until the divorce is final and custody and support issues are settled. But is it really all that foolhardy to ignore your attorney’s advice? Absolutely. Here are a number of different ways that social media can backfire on you during a divorce.

The opposing divorce attorney is going to mine your accounts for data.

Even if you put your privacy settings on "high," you still have no real expectation of privacy for anything you say online. That makes it fair game for an attorney to use if you one of your "close" friends decides to show your posts to your warring spouse.

Your spouse’s divorce attorney will be watching with the mindset of “Is this useful in court?” You likely don’t have the necessary expertise or experience to realize just what can and cannot hurt you.

For example, what if you have a bad day at work and post a picture of a glass of wine with dinner? That becomes an exhibit that suggests you have a drinking problem, poor coping skills, and shouldn’t be handling full custody of your kids.

Did you start a new romance? Your pictures of a weekend retreat with your new romantic interest could be considered “marital waste,” which will then entitle your spouse to a greater share of the remaining marital assets.

Are you frustrated and angry about your spouse’s failure to pay support on time? Spouting off on your Twitter account could violate the court order that prohibits you from disparaging each other in front of your children, especially if your children are old enough to have their computer access. That could be grounds to revisit your parenting agreement and shift custody to your spouse.

You may not legally be allowed to go back and delete what you posted.

If you temporarily lose your temper and post something that you know you shouldn’t, you may be tempted to delete the post seconds or minutes later. Unfortunately, that’s considered spoliation of evidence, which can also get you in trouble with the court. If word got around to your spouse, and he or she demands access to the post, you don’t want to be in the position of explaining to the court that you destroyed potential evidence.

As a result of the deletion, the court can order a negative inference against you, which means it can just assume that the post was destructive to your spouse’s reputation or disparaged him or her publicly.

As difficult as it may be to detach from social media for a while, consider the fact that your attorney is giving you advice for a reason—he or she has probably seen a lot of bad outcomes from posts that seemed okay at the time to the client.

For more information about this and other divorce issues, contact us today.

How Much Do You Know About Child Support?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Child support is always a hot topic, but this hot topic comes with many myths and misconceptions. Many people believe those things to be true, when in fact, many of them are very inaccurate.

It does not matter if you receive child support payments or if you make child support payments, you will certainly need to gather all the facts. When you have a better understanding of child support, you will be able to make the best decisions concerning your child.

Here are some of the myths about child support that you have probably heard.

Child Support Only Has To Be Paid Until The Child Is 18

This used to be accurate, but that is no longer the case. Children who are 18 years of age and are still enrolled in a high school may still receive child support payments. If a child has a disability that holds him or her back from supporting himself or herself, child support payments can still be received for longer than 18 years.

Back Child Support Will Not Be Collected Once The Child Turns 18

If the parent paying child support still owes payments after the child has turned 18, the now adult can still collect payments.

The Child Support Payments Have To Be Spent On The Child

Many parents who pay child support have concerns with how the money is being spent. Child support payments can be used for a variety of things that are related to the child the payments are intended for. The payments can be spent on housing, utilities, clothing, food, school, etc. The parent on the receiving end is not required to show how the payments are being spent.

If I Quit My Job, I Will Not Have To Pay

If you choose to be unemployed, the court will not have any sympathy for you. If you quit your job so you can avoid paying child support, you will definitely pay for it in the end.

It is important that both sides understand child support so everyone can make the best decisions. If you have questions or if you need advice regarding child support, contact us today.

My Divorce is Amicable: I Don't Need an Attorney, Right?

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Many people going through an amicable divorce think that involving attorneys in the process is unnecessary. While this is sometimes true, there are many reasons why going through a divorce without legal representation can be dangerous—even when spouses are getting along with each other.

If you are going through a divorce, an attorney can help ensure that your rights are protected. An attorney can also ensure that the formalities of divorce agreements are met. Additionally, an experienced attorney will be able to forecast issues that may arise in the future, and help you plan for them accordingly.

Protect your rights

It is always a good idea to at least consult an attorney before signing or consenting to any major commitments. The terms of a divorce can influence your life for a long time. Play it safe and talk things over with an attorney, even if you feel like you have it under control.

Ensure that your agreements are binding

Like any contractual agreement, there are certain formal requirements that must be met for divorce agreements to be binding. An attorney can ensure that these requirements are met.

Plan for the future

Custody and alimony arrangements may need to change in the future. Sometimes property divisions that seemed fair at the time are revealed to be unfair later. An attorney can help you prepare for these types of occurrences.

If you there is no major property involved, no children, and no chance that either party will seek alimony, a divorce attorney may not be necessary. However, if any of these factors are present, an attorney can help make sure the process goes smoothly and that any agreements reached are fair and binding. If you would like more information about this issue, please contact us today.

Things to Consider As You Start the Divorce Process

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting divorced can cause a lot of anxiety, due to a number of reasons. How will your property be divided? What happens when you are paying, or want someone to pay, child support out-of-state? Should seemingly insignificant things like the court date be thought about ahead of time? These are all important questions, each deserving your full attention and the sustained support of your legal counsel.

Property Disbursement

Property disbursement law in divorce cases is a complex issue. However, common sense rules still apply. For instance, property acquired before the marriage is typically sacrosanct from legal division. While this seems simple in principle, you might find you suffer from a lack of receipts or other proof that small-time items are, indeed, yours.

Child Support

Federal law requires each state to have an implemented child support system, but being the non-custodial parent out-of-state doesn't exempt that person from paying child support. Interstate legal proceedings involving child support are especially complicated. Each state has their own legal structure that determines who pays what to whose child and that state-specific legal structure has to interact with federal law which governs the whole thing.

Does timing matter?

The Huffington Post suggests that you think wisely about when you'll file for divorce. Your choice of date can determine how much of your 401k goes to your spouse. Also, filing for divorce before you have separated for a year could cause you to have to endure legal proceedings for a second time.

If you need help with any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Are You Aware Of These Spousal Support Myths?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spousal support payments are payments that are paid from one spouse to the other after a divorce. There are various elements surrounding spousal support which can lead to people believing the different myths and misconceptions that are out there.

If you are near a separation or a divorce, you should be aware of the actual facts about spousal support. Here are some myths and misconceptions about spousal support:

The Spouse Will Always Receive Support

This is not true. Many people think that spousal support payments will be made for life. There is no set length of time for spousal support payments to be made. The length spousal support payments are to be made will depend on a variety of factors. The judge will consider various factors, including the other spouse's ability to earn money and make a living.

Women Do Not Pay Spousal Support

Women can pay spousal support. Women work and some women are the family's sole income earner. When this is the case, men will be the ones receiving spousal support payments.

The Spousal Support Agreement Cannot Be Changed

The amount of spousal support payments can be changed or stopped completely if certain circumstances come about. If the ex-spouse who is receiving child support payments is eventually able to support himself/herself without the need of support, payments can be stopped early. If the spouse receiving spousal support marries again, spousal support payments can also be stopped.

Spousal support decisions can impact one's life in a number of ways. Decisions about spousal support should be made carefully, with the assistance of a professional. Contact us today if you need a consultation.


Property Division Options for Houses

Friday, September 09, 2016

Property division is a big part of dissolving a marriage, and California couples often have trouble deciding who gets what. A particularly sensitive issue might concern what to do with a house. This is a big asset that both parties may have a right to, so here are just a few possibilities for handling divorce and real estate.

Sell the House

The easiest thing to do might be to sell the house. Any profit gained would be split between both parties. While selling a house involves its own hassles, this is a fairly straightforward approach when it comes to dividing assets.

Divorcing With Kids

One or both parties might wish to stay in the house. If children are involved, it may be a good idea to let the custodial parent stay in the home with the kids to make the process easier on the children. Otherwise, both people might need to negotiate.

One Person Keeps the House

If staying in the house is a big priority for one partner, the other person must get something in return for his or her share of the house. Here are two options:

1. Buy out the other person. This could involve giving them a bigger share of a savings account or more valuable assets.

2. Agree on a fixed price for how much the other party receives when the house is eventually sold. A fixed amount gives the other person peace of mind if the housing market goes down while ensuring the person who keeps the home does not have to share profit that comes from improvements made after the divorce.

To find out more in-depth information about property division and options for real estate, contact us today.


Divorce: Mediation as an alternative to litigation

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Some people who plan to divorce might avoid a long and expensive litigation process by choosing an alternative dispute resolution process called divorce mediation. While some divorce cases are inappropriate for mediation, mancan be successfully resolved with it. Mediating a divorce provides several benefits for those who have good cases for this method.

Determining whether a case is appropriate for mediation

Divorce and child custody mediation have been available as alternatives to court litigation for some time. Not all cases are appropriate for these processes, however. People who have issues with domestic violence in their relationships and those who have spouses with addiction issues may be better off litigating their matters in court. If one spouse is suspected of hiding assets, income or debts, litigation may be a more appropriate choice as well. Most other cases may be successfully resolved with mediation.

Pros and cons of mediating divorces and child custody cases

One reason that people may opt to mediate their divorce cases or to go through child custody mediation is to preserve working relationships with their former spouses. Court litigation is often bitter, leaving people with hard feelings and making it difficult for them to work together after their divorce or child custody case. People who share children will have interconnected lives for years, making it more important for them to be able to co-parent effectively in order to raise their children.

Other benefits of divorce mediation include that it is a cooperative process where the spouses work together in order to reach a full settlement agreement. They will thus have more control over the outcome than they would if they instead leave it up to a judge to decide for them. It is also often much more cost-effective than court litigation, can be a significantly faster process and can provide added privacy.

The cons of choosing the mediation process include that it can't address emergency situations in which temporary orders are needed immediately such as for temporary spousal and child support and child custody. Mediators are also not allowed to give either party legal advice but must instead act as neutral third parties.

What to expect

Couples go to the mediator's office or other agreed-upon location. The mediator will then explain the goals and rules of the process. Each spouse is then able to explain the issues that are in dispute from his or her perspective and without interruption from the other spouse. The mediator may either meet with both spouses together or may have them in separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth between them to work out agreements about the various issues. After having the discussions, the mediator will then attempt to negotiate an agreement. If it is successful, the mediator will then write out the agreement and ask each spouse to sign it with the advice to review it with a lawyer. The attorney may then file the agreement with the court, and it will become the court's order in the divorce. If it is not successful, the parties may then decide to return to court and litigate the issues instead.

Choosing a mediator

Divorce mediators are typically lawyers who have specialized training in mediating family law cases. It is a good idea to choose a mediator or who is local and whose practice is primarily focused on divorce and family law cases. If you would like to learn more about whether mediation is appropriate for you, contact us today.

Tips for a Successful Child Custody Case

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fighting for child custody of your children can be daunting and stressful. Courts look to the "best interests of the child" when determining custody. It's your job to show the court why you're the parent the courts should consider. Here, we'll provide you with some ways to be successful in your quest.

Strong Relationship

Not only do you have to build and maintain a strong relationship with your child, you need to show the court how strong the relationship is. Have friends and family members write character letters of support that outline the types of activities you do with your child, or that state your heavy involvement in the child's schooling or extra-curricular activities.

Room in Your Home

Prepare a room in your home that's specifically for the child, even if you live in a small space. The court will want to see that your home is ready for the child and that the child will be comfortable and safe in your home.

Prepare in Advance

Be sure to be ready to answer the many questions posed by the court, including financial preparedness, your plans for the child's schooling, and how you'll arrange daycare for times you're working and the child is not in school. Show the court that you're ready to take on this role in every aspect.

Retain an Attorney

The best thing you can do for yourself, your case and your child is to retain an experienced family law attorney who can help prepare you for winning custody of your child.

For more information, contact us.