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How to Keep Your Spouse From Stealing Assets During a California Divorce

How to Keep Your Spouse From Stealing Assets During a California Divorce

Getting divorced can easily feel like a one-way ticket into The Twilight Zone. You thought you knew someone only to see a whole other side of them, and other, even darker sides may be coming out. With the relationship coming to an end, your spouse may be acting in ways that you never suspected or picked up on. And it’s easy to get paranoid about whether you can trust them right at the time you are entering into what is likely a financially precarious or at least uncertain time. Is your spouse stealing from you? It can be hard to tell, but here a few things to keep in mind during the California divorce process. You Have a Right in ALL Community Property First off, it is critical to understand the difference between separate property and community property in California. Separate property is the property you came into the marriage with, or received individually as a gift or inheritance. Each spouse does have a right to their own separate property and may take it with them at the outset. Community property, on the other hand, is all property that either spouse earned or acquired during the marriage. Thus, even if your spouse was the only earner in the family, and everything you and your spouse earned was purchased with those earnings, it is all considered community property. What that means is that neither property can claim sole ownership of it prior to a judge ordering a distribution of property in your final divorce order. Obviously, both spouses will need to have use of community property such as furniture and... read more
My Spouse is Cyber Bullying Me – Can I Get a Restraining Order in California?

My Spouse is Cyber Bullying Me – Can I Get a Restraining Order in California?

The state of California has long had laws in place to protect individuals from a dangerous spouse or ex-spouse, whether they are married, separated, or divorced. With the age of the Internet, there are unfortunately new ways for people to intimidate, harass, and threaten one another, literally from anyplace and at any time. But you do not have to suffer in silence when a spouse is cyber bullying you, whether through email, text, social media, on online chat boards, or through any other electronic medium. You may be able to obtain a restraining order against your spouse based on any type of electronic bullying, and an experienced California family law attorney can work with you to begin this process immediately. What a Restraining Order Can Do For You in California With a restraining order, you can prevent a spouse from coming within a certain physical range of you, but you can also obtain a restraining order that: Prevents your spouse from communicating by phone or electronically Prevents your spouse from contacting your children Prevents your spouse from coming to your residence Prevents your spouse from taking any action with regard to your personal or shared property Once the restraining order is in place, you can contact the police whenever your spouse violates the terms of the order and they can place your spouse under arrest for violating the order. Thus, while emailing you or posting on your social media account would not normally be against the law, if you have a restraining order in place which prohibit such actions, those actions by your spouse will become illegal and you... read more
Getting a California Divorce When Your Spouse Lives Out-of-State

Getting a California Divorce When Your Spouse Lives Out-of-State

It is not uncommon for a spouse who is presently living in California to want to seek a divorce from a spouse living in another state. The fact that you and your spouse live in separate states may well be part of the cause for your divorce (e.g. your spouse abandoned the marriage to go to a different state, or you wished to move to California without the spouse) or part of the effect of the separation (e.g. your spouse moved away after the marriage fell apart, or perhaps you came to California). Either way, now you are in separate states, and you are seeking to obtain the divorce. It is possible for you to obtain a divorce from your spouse in California, even if the other spouse does not live here and may have never lived here, but there are several important matters on this issue to keep in mind and discuss with your attorney. You Must Be in California For at Least Six Months California will provide a divorce from your spouse effective in all 50 states – regardless of the state you were married in or where you lived during the marriage – but California courts do require that you have lived in the state for at least six months prior to filing for the divorce. That said, there are a number of issues you will want to discuss with your family law attorney prior to filing your petition for divorce, and steps you can take to protect your financial and family interests prior to filing, so you should not hesitate to speak to a California... read more
Dating During a California Divorce: Bad Idea?

Dating During a California Divorce: Bad Idea?

Oftentimes, people who are entering into the divorce process can feel starved for the affection, romance, and tenderness that might have been missing from their marriage for a very long time, and so there can be an overwhelming impulse to get “back out there” and go on dates, perhaps with someone who has long been in their life or with relative strangers. Of course, the definition of the word “dating” can have enormous differences among people, from meeting a friend for casual coffee to practically moving into a new partner’s apartment. And whether you think it is moral or ethical to be involved romantically with another individual while you are still legally married to another is an issue that you can only decide for yourself, it is good to think about the legal implications of dating while pursuing a divorce in California. Dating Does Not Affect California’s Grant of a Divorce… To be clear, there is by no means any law against dating while you are married, whether you are seeking a divorce or not, and California courts do not hold extramarital dating relationships against either spouse in granting the divorce. California courts will always grant a divorce to either spouse who seeks it, regardless of the issues that occurred in the marriage. …But It Could Potentially Affect Issues in the Divorce That said, there are potentially issues within the divorce that could in fact be affected by dating relationships. In the area of custody, the court will decide custody issues based on the best interests of the child. If a new romantic partner is living with you and/or... read more
Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney’s Fees in a California Divorce?

Can I Get My Spouse to Pay My Attorney’s Fees in a California Divorce?

One of the most common reasons people going through a divorce in California are hesitant to speak with an attorney is simply fear of the cost. It is true that a reputable family law attorney will need to be paid for their time in overseeing and navigating your divorce matters in your interest, but the cost of not working with an attorney who will take the time to zealously represent your interests in light of California law can often be much greater. This is especially the case when there are potentially years of spousal support and child support payments at stake, significant property distribution issues (e.g. real estate, retirement, business, etc.), and tricky custody and visitation matters to nail down. Thus, in a sense, the benefits of a well-handled divorce matter can easily outweigh the cost of an attorney, but, that said, California also allows spouses in divorce matters to seek the cost of attorney’s fees from the other spouse on top of any financial benefits/payments they receive in the divorce. How to Seek Attorney’s Fees in a California Divorce To obtain attorney’s fees in a California divorce, you will need to submit that request to the judge overseeing your divorce matter. This is a common request in a California divorce, and you will be required to submit a statement of facts regarding your personal situation which you feel justifies the other spouse being made to pay for part or all of your attorney’s fees. First, you will need to actually have an attorney working on your behalf for the court to award fees; it may sound obvious, but... read more
How to Create a 50/50 Joint Custody Schedule in California

How to Create a 50/50 Joint Custody Schedule in California

When parents of a child do not live together, but they have agreed to have 50/50 joint physical custody – or a judge has granted joint physical custody – there is the further question of what the schedule of the child staying with each parent will look like. As with other aspects of a divorce and/or child custody matter, a California family court judge will usually approve an agreement that the parents reach on their own, so long as it honors the child’s best interests, and the courts will prefer this over imposing the court’s own schedule as the parents should have a much better sense of their children’s needs and how their own schedules can best honor those needs. Parental Cooperation Will Be Key Clearly, if you and the other parent are not living together, then differences between you and the other parent exist, but those differences do not have to play a role in how you interact as co-parents working together on a parenting schedule. Moving from a single, two-parent home to a consistent, by-the-calendar schedule with clearly delineated times at which to drop-off the child and responsibilities may feel rigid and complicated at first, but the parents who are willing to make the effort to honor that routine soon find that the effort pays off big time in promoting civility, creating a civil and pleasant relationship, and providing a happy life for the child. Find a Timeline That Works For You, But is Built Around the Child Again, California judges are happy to sign off on schedules that are 100% created by the parents themselves, so... read more
Proving Paternity Outside of Marriage in California

Proving Paternity Outside of Marriage in California

A biological parent of a child has a legal obligation to financially support that child until he or she reaches the age of majority, typically 18. This is true whether the biological parents of the child were married for many years or they had a one-night stand and never saw each other again. For obvious reasons, determining the mother of a child is usually not an issue, but determining the father of a child is critical for obtaining court-ordered economic assistance from that father via a child support order in California. Why Proving Paternity Becomes an Issue When the parents were married at the time the child was born, the courts will presume that paternity exists (which means that the court will accept that the husband is the father without further evidence, but the husband can introduce evidence that he is not in fact the father), but, where there was no marriage (at least not at the time the child was born), the mother will have to establish in court the paternity of the father before the court will order child support. Likewise, if a father wants to gain custody rights or even visitation rights with the child, but he was never married to the mother, he too will have to establish paternity. In addition to child support and custody/visitation matters, establishing paternity can be necessary where the child wants to receive government benefits based off the father’s parentage (e.g. VA benefits) or where either the child or the father is seeking to inherit via the state laws of intestacy (where a person dies without a will and his... read more
Can I Receive Backpayments for Child Support in CA?

Can I Receive Backpayments for Child Support in CA?

If you have been raising a child on your own in California without the financial support of the other parent, then you may be entitled to obtain a child support award from that parent, which will be set based on a variety of factors, including each parent’s incomes and the time spent with the child. Presumably, if you are seeking child support, you have been spending significant time raising the child on your own – possibly since birth – and so the question arises whether you can obtain retroactive child support payments from the other parent. This will largely depend on whether you have already obtained an initial order for child support and are seeking to enforce the order or whether you are seeking child support for the time. When You Are Seeking Child Support for the First Time A parent seeking child support cannot usually seek child support for the period before the petition for child support was filed with a California family court. Thus, if you wait until a child is 14 to seek child support, you will usually not be able to get support for the prior years of raising the child on your own. What this means is that a parent should work with an attorney to file for child support as soon as possible after a divorce or after the child is born where the parents were never married. A court can, however, award child support payments retroactive to the date of the filing of the request, so the sooner you file, the better. If there is evidence, however, that the other parent concealed... read more
What to Do if Your Ex-Spouse is Late on Child Support Payments in CA

What to Do if Your Ex-Spouse is Late on Child Support Payments in CA

Your ex-spouse should be paying the child support payments owed to you, in full, on-time, every time, period. It is not only your ex-spouse’s legal and moral obligation to help financially support your child, but, when there is a court order, it is absolutely the case that payments are supposed to be made in exact accordance with the order. Excuses about money and convenience are unacceptable and irrelevant, and you should not have to beg or even ask for the funds that you and your child are legally obligated to under the order. But, of course, many parents are nevertheless delinquent in fulfilling their obligations, and the responsibility will generally fall on you as the receiving parent to take steps necessary to make sure payments are made on time. Explain to Your Ex-Spouse Your Intention to Take Action re Child Support While there are numerous legal tools available in California to more quickly obtain your child support payments on time, sometimes an ex-spouse who is more careless than greedy in their delinquency can get their act together via a direct and intentional conversation about the steps you are prepared to take to ensure that your child receives the financial support owed. Most people would prefer not to have their employer contacted and/or wages garnished when they can simply transfer that same amount of funds voluntarily. By telling your spouse calmly and clearly that you will have to contact a lawyer to accomplish those efforts, you may be able to secure more timely payment without further action. Going to Court to Arrange Enforcement of Child Support Payments If a sternly-worded... read more
Can I Receive Backpayments for Child Support in CA?

Can I Receive Backpayments for Child Support in CA?

If you have been raising a child on your own in California without the financial support of the other parent, then you may be entitled to obtain a child support award from that parent, which will be set based on a variety of factors, including each parent’s incomes and the time spent with the child. Presumably, if you are seeking child support, you have been spending significant time raising the child on your own – possibly since birth – and so the question arises whether you can obtain retroactive child support payments from the other parent. This will largely depend on whether you have already obtained an initial order for child support and are seeking to enforce the order or whether you are seeking child support for the time. When You Are Seeking Child Support for the First Time A parent seeking child support cannot usually seek child support for the period before the petition for child support was filed with a California family court. Thus, if you wait until a child is 14 to seek child support, you will usually not be able to get support for the prior years of raising the child on your own. What this means is that a parent should work with an attorney to file for child support as soon as possible after a divorce or after the child is born where the parents were never married. A court can, however, award child support payments retroactive to the date of the filing of the request, so the sooner you file, the better. If there is evidence, however, that the other parent concealed... read more