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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
Preventing Your Spouse From Hiding Assets During a Divorce

Preventing Your Spouse From Hiding Assets During a Divorce

For as long as there are divorce proceedings in California, there will be spouses trying to hide assets from the other spouse for any of the following reasons, among others: To avoid having to share community property 50/50 with the other spouse To prevent the other spouse from having cherished pieces of property, e.g. family heirlooms or jointly-acquired property with sentimental value To make the spouse look less wealthy in an attempt to lower the amount of spousal support or child support to be paid or to increase the amount he or she can demand To simply drive the other spouse crazy through the emotional process of divorce Family court judges are tasked with requiring both parties to be truthful in their filings with the court so as to make fair determinations, but they only have so much power they can wield in investigating the accuracy of filings, meaning such matters often come down to “he said, she said.” Or, worse yet, “he hid tons of assets, and she never found out about them, and neither did the court.” Thus, the responsibility of preventing a spouse from hiding assets during the divorce lies on the shoulders of the other spouse. Here are a few tips to help in that process. Gather All Financial Records Before You File Perhaps the most important thing you should do is make sure you have current copies of all financial records between the two of you (tax returns, savings and retirement account statements, credit card statements). In addition, you should get access to all accounts, regardless of whose name they are in, keeping in... read more
Going Through a Divorce? Be Careful What You Post on Facebook

Going Through a Divorce? Be Careful What You Post on Facebook

People going through a divorce can often rapidly change their relationship with social media. On one extreme, a person may not want anyone (including a soon-to-be ex-spouse or nosy third parties) snooping in on their business, or they may just not have the bandwidth for seeing other people’s highlight-reel family photos while going through their own personal battles. Other people may see sites like Facebook as the place where they vent, get things off their chest about their spouses, find solace, and maybe even get reacquainted with old friends who may have fallen by the wayside during the marriage (or meet new friends now that their relationship status is heading towards single). But posting on Facebook during a divorce comes with some significant risks that you should keep in mind. Certainly, you probably do not need to avoid social media altogether during a divorce (although a divorce attorney may tell you differently for your specific situation), but here a few things to keep in mind. What You Post May Reflect On Your Fitness as a Parent Although many states, including California, do not consider fault (e.g. adultery, cheating, etc.) when granting a divorce, the courts will conduct a deep examination of the character of both parents when making decisions regarding custody and visitation matters. Pictures on Facebook or references to you partying all night long, having extremist views, or being on the arm of a dubious significant other prior to your divorce can raise questions as to your ability to provide a stable home life for your child and encourage contact with the other parent, issues a court will... read more
Does Abuse During Marriage Affect Alimony Payments in CA?

Does Abuse During Marriage Affect Alimony Payments in CA?

Domestic abuse is an epidemic in the U.S., affecting marriages across all types of demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds. Furthermore, domestic abuse often plays a role in many divorces, as partners seek to remove themselves and their children from an abusive and dangerous environment. While divorce in California is granted without proving fault by either spouse (meaning it is not necessary for either spouse to present the court with a reason such as abuse for why a divorce should be granted), a history of domestic abuse can affect spousal support, also called “alimony,” decisions. The Presumption Against Awarding Alimony to Convicted Abusers Not all forms of domestic abuse necessarily meet the standard for a criminal conviction in California – and many instances of domestic violence go unreported – but, under California Family Code Section 4325, there is a rebuttable presumption against awarding spousal support payments to a spouse who has been convicted of domestic violence perpetrated against the other spouse within the past five years. Thus, if a husband was convicted of domestic violence perpetrated against his wife in the past five years, there is a presumption that he should not receive a temporary or permanent spousal support award from her. This presumption, however, may be rebutted if the husband presents evidence to the court that he in fact was also a victim of domestic violence perpetrated by the wife, as well as any other evidence a court deems just and equitable to be heard. Domestic Abuse Without a Conviction Will Also Be Considered Even if there was no conviction for domestic abuse, a California court determining a final spousal... read more
Can We Create a Settlement Agreement Without a Lawyer in a CA Divorce?

Can We Create a Settlement Agreement Without a Lawyer in a CA Divorce?

When two spouses decide they no longer want to be married to one another, a flood of emotions usually ensues. While some spouses deal with anger and suspicion of one another that might send them into a battlefield mentality, other spouses want to avoid any further drama and do everything they can to move on from the marriage with as little argument and expense as possible. In these latter situations, it is often the case that spouses consider the possibility of creating their own settlement agreement without the assistance of an attorney under the impression that doing so will be mutually beneficial. While it is possible to create a settlement agreement without a lawyer, doing so can easily backfire, causing more drama and expense in the long run. Furthermore, many California family law attorneys are more than happy to work with spouses who seek a collaborative, drama-free divorce and can help them facilitate just that. “No Lawyers” Does Not Mean “No Drama” First off, it is important to understand that, even if you create your own settlement agreement, you will still need to follow all of the court procedures for obtaining a divorce, which includes multiple court filings by both parties which contain comprehensive financial information (among other information), and a state court judge will need to review your settlement agreement and will only approve it if is fair with respect to issues of property distribution, spousal support, and any issues relating to children.   For many couples, obtaining a divorce in California without legal counsel is a far more complex and challenging process than first contemplated. Attempting to... read more
What You Should Do After You Have Been Served With Divorce Papers

What You Should Do After You Have Been Served With Divorce Papers

If you have recently been served with divorce papers, you are no doubt not having your best day ever. Whether you were more or less expecting this moment to come or whether it was the last thing you expected, the critical thing to understand at this point is that, apart from whatever personal and relational concerns you are feeling right now, the courts are now involved. This is not like breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and, even if you think you can salvage the relationship (or if your personal feelings toward your spouse veer in the opposite extreme), your primary concern at this moment needs to be properly responding to the legal action to which you are now officially a party, putting your economic future (and potentially your relationship with your children) at stake. Regardless of whether you want to repair the relationship or erase your spouse from your memory, now is the time to take cool, level-headed steps to protect your interests without incurring further damage to yourself. Be Careful What You Say to Your Spouse Your first impulse may be to call up or confront your spouse and give him or her a piece of your mind about what you really think about the marriage and all their shortcomings, much less what type of future they can imagine for themselves in response for serving you with divorce papers. In short, you should resist that temptation, as it is unlikely to help you and will probably only hurt you. Divorces take a number of months at a minimum to finalize, so at the very least there... read more