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Pleasanton Family Law Blog

Do felons have the right to retain custody of their kids?

If you get convicted of a felony here in California, what impact does that have on your rights to custody of your children? A felony conviction does not necessarily preclude a parent's retaining custody of their kids — but it definitely could have an adverse effect.

Part of the problem is the logistics. Most — but not all — convicted felons will spend some time in jail. However, with the overcrowded prison system here in California, they may wind up actually spending only a short time behind bars.

Dispute over pets in California divorce now addressed by law

Most California divorces have a dispute of some kind as part of the process. Some are contentious, others are amicable, most are in between. Property division disputes can be difficult when there are items of personal and financial value. If there are items that are of sentimental value, both sides are unlikely to express extensive flexibility on how it will be handled. A complicated factor in a divorce is when the couple has a pet that both want after the case is completed and they are unable to come to an agreement. In the past, this has been difficult to navigate. Now, there is a new law coming into effect as to how pets will be addressed.

With this law, the decision on which party owns the pet will be made by the courts. They can also give one party sole custody, have them share joint custody and take the animal's care and well-being into consideration. As the process is moving forward but is not yet settled, the court can decide that the pet will be placed in the custody of one of the parties until a final decision is made.

Preparing for post-divorce financial disputes before the divorce

One of the biggest factors in a California divorce is money. Financial issues can cause stress between the parties, lead to spiraling disagreements and spark other problems that make the marriage untenable. Often, however, even in cases where the couple has navigated all their issues and parted ways, finances can still cause disagreements long after the divorce has been completed. Understanding what possible financial landmines can undo even the most amicable divorce agreement can be useful to being proactive and preventing them beforehand.

Looking toward the future and accounting for possibilities inevitably misses certain steps. For example, with a child support agreement, there are always new costs that were not considered such as various camps the child might want to attend, purchasing a vehicle and going to college. Agreeing on how to pay for unexpected costs can avoid going point-by-point as they arise. In some cases, the parents can go 50-50; in others, they cannot. A basic agreement can avoid rancor in the immediate and distant future. Prioritizing is a smart strategy. For one spouse, a child taking part in an extracurricular activity could be non-negotiable while for the other parent, it is an unnecessary cost. The parent who wants this while the other does not could agree to pay for it.

Countdown on divorce tax benefits sparks rush to complete process

When a California couple is getting a divorce, there are many issues that will be important as part of the process. Ancillary factors might not be the critical considerations, but they should be factored in as the case moves forward. Previous posts have discussed how the new tax laws will impact certain benefits people get after a divorce such as deducting spousal support. Now, as time begins to grow short on completing a divorce in time to take advantage of the chance to retain that deduction, more couples are expediting their decision to divorce.

This is not just an issue that affects the paying spouse. The receiving spouse should also think about it as judges might begin reducing the spousal support because the absence of the tax deduction will lower how much a supporting spouse can pay. Since there was a benefit for both parties, many couples who were at the end of a marriage sped up the process and filed before June 30. There was a method to this decision because in California, the divorce cannot be finalized until a minimum of six months have elapsed from the start of the case.

Will the court order counseling in a child custody case?

Emotions can run high in a California child custody case. This is true whether the situation is somewhat amicable or it has grown into an outright child custody dispute. Above all, the courts will seek to achieve what is in the best interests of the child. Part of that might include a requirement that the parents or anyone else who is part of the child custody or visitation disagreement - including the minor child - take part in professional counseling. Understanding how the law handles this is critical to a case.

The counseling can involve mental health and substance abuse. It will continue for up to one year in the following circumstances: the dispute presents a danger to the child's well-being; and the counseling will be in the child's best interests. The court will have certain criteria when determining if the dispute has reached the level of "substantial danger" to the child. It will weigh factors such as domestic violence in the previous five years involving the parents, the child, or another party who is seeking custody or visitation.

What do I do for a court order for child custody and visitation?

Often, the biggest and most contentious issues a California divorcing couple must deal with is how child custody and visitation rights will be handled. Given the likelihood of there being a dispute as to which parent will be granted custody and the amount of parenting time the noncustodial parent will get, it is important for the participants to remember how to get a custody and visitation order. Even if these issues are understood relatively well, it is still imperative to have legal assistance as the case moves forward.

The best-case scenario and the easiest and most agreeable method to deal with custody and visitation is if the parents negotiate on their own and formulate a schedule they believe is fair. This will not be subject to court order. When the couple makes an agreement, it is binding and enforceable. However, should one of the parties not adhere to the agreement, the court will not be able to enforce it until there is a court order. When a couple negotiates an agreement and there is the possibility of future disagreements, it is wise to have a judge look at the agreement and approve it. Once that is done, it will be a court order.

Property division in California often requires teamwork

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is to divide the assets that you have as part of your marriage. On top of the division of assets, you have to split the debts. All of this happens during the property division phase.

There are several points you should think about when you are going through property division in California. Here are a few to get you started:

Is child or spousal support paid while the divorce is pending?

For couples in California who are moving forward with a divorce, spousal support and child support are two of the most common issues that are up for dispute. What many might not realize is that there might be a requirement for these payments to be made when the case is pending. It is important for both parties -- the prospective supporting spouse and parent and the prospective receiving spouse and parent -- to know the state law regarding support during pendency.

While the proceeding is taking place, it is possible that the court will order support payments. These payments will be made by the supporting spouse and will provide for the children as the case is underway. This is true whether the couple is seeking a divorce or legal separation or if there is a dispute over the support of a minor child or a child for whom there is support authorized. The order will be entered and remain effective until the court terminates it or it is terminated based on the law.

What is a Schedule of Assets and Debts in a California divorce?

After child custody and child support, one of the most contentious issues faced by couples who are getting a divorce is property division. That includes assets and debts and is a factor whether the couple has significant assets or is of more modest means. For those who have come to the end of a marriage, there are certain factors related to assets and debts that are foundational and should be understood from the start. When deciding how the assets and debts will be split, couples should list their property.

Spousal support at center of famed couple's divorce dispute

Many people in California who are protecting themselves against the idea of their marriage failing and a divorce taking place will formulate prenuptial agreements. For those already married and want to get that same protection, they will seek postnuptial agreements. Regardless of when the agreement is crafted, these can often be a source of dispute at the end of a marriage. This can come about for a variety of reasons, including a lack of knowledge about how the agreement will affect them or a change in financial circumstances. This is not limited to people with significant income and assets. The issue can arise for anyone, and it is imperative to have legal assistance to deal with it.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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