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Pleasanton Family Law Blog

Can divorce mediation help with a contested divorce?

When there is a divorce in California, it is better for everyone if the couple can come to an agreement or at least be flexible in their demands as to how the process plays out. Unfortunately, the goal of an uncontested divorce is frequently unrealistic, and there are issues that can be difficult to settle. However, going to court is not always necessary. Instead, mediation might be useful way for a couple to work through their issues and settle their divorce.

When a spouse has filed for divorce and the respondent answers, and there are differences as to what each party is asking for, it will be considered a contested divorce. Understanding how to handle this and determining whether divorce mediation might be a suitable alternative is important. There are many reasons why a divorce can be contested. Some issues might be agreed upon with a few sticking points, or there might be disputes about basically the entire case.

When does child support start in California?

While divorce is an inevitable reality in life for some Californians, a portion of the basics with the process can lead to confusion. Most will have an understanding about child support, but there are nuances in most subjects, and child support is no exception. As the divorce moves forward, understanding child support is of paramount importance.

Parents must provide for the child's financial needs. The court, however, is not able to enforce the obligation until there is a child support order. A parent is required to request that the court make an child support order. This order will establish paternity, and request that there be child support. The child will generally be supported until age 18. If the child is still in high school full time, resides at home and is unable to support him or herself, it can continue until age 19.

Survey shows which careers have highest incidence of divorce

While career choices are not the deciding factor on whether a marriage will succeed or end, research examining the frequency of divorce in various jobs can be useful for Californians and people across the nation. A new survey from the U.S. Census Bureau shows which jobs have the highest incidence of divorce in the U.S. This information can be beneficial to people who are having problems in their marriage and are contemplating the issues contributing to marital discord as they determine whether the end of a marriage is at hand or it can be salvaged.

In the study, it was discovered - unsurprisingly - that finances were a big issue for couples who decided whether to stay together or part ways. Those who have the highest divorce rate are gaming managers at casinos at 52.9 percent. Right behind them are bartenders at 52.7 percent. Others on the list are metal and plastic machine employees, telemarketers, and flight attendants.

When a child support order can be modified

Californians who are ending a marriage and have children will generally have child support as part of the final order. The amount that is paid is calculated based on myriad factors. In many instances, however, the paying parent or the receiving parent would like to have the child support order changed. Either can make this request or the local child support agency (LCSA) can do so as well.

For this to be done, it must be shown that a change in circumstances has taken place since the previous order.A judge might have ordered an amount that is less than the guidelines indicate. If that is the case, the request to change the order can be made at any time. In such an instance, there does not need to be a change in circumstances. The agreement that did not follow the guidelines could have been made via an agreement between the parties. Even then, it can be changed by request.

A lawyer is essential when negotiating through collaborative law

Not every California divorce is contentious with the couple battling over every single issue large, medium and small. Since going to court can only exacerbate problems and add to the emotional stress, it can be useful to talk about factors that might be negotiable. In addition, going to court can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. If the situation is such that the participants can discuss their differences and negotiate, using alternative measures through collaborative law can be beneficial.

While it is vital to have legal help when going through a divorce, it is also imperative when using family law mediation. Even when there is a platform to discuss issues openly without anger or negativity, it is still vital to have a lawyer who can be a both a representative for one of the participants or a neutral mediator to help the parties meet in the middle, agree and move forward.

Considering divorce? Think about these quick questions

You've been considering divorce as an option for a while, but you haven't told your spouse. You aren't sure if you want to violate the contract you made to your spouse, but in many ways, you don't see another option.

Before you talk to your spouse, there are a few questions you can ask yourself. If you answer these questions and think your marriage can be saved, that's wonderful. If not, then you know the next steps to take.

At the end of a marriage, when can I get an annulment?

Californians are no stranger to divorce. Many marriages come undone for a variety of reasons and, in a vast number of cases, the sides are better off parting ways than dealing with the endless dispute and emotions that accompany a failing marriage. Some cases, however, go a bit further than a simple divorce being deemed sufficient and a person would like to have the marriage annulled. For those who would like to get an annulment, there are legal justifications that must be in place for it to move forward.

An annulment can be done if the marriage was not legally valid. A marriage will not be legally valid in the following instances: if it was incestuous or if it was bigamous. An incestuous marriage is when people are married simultaneous to being close blood relatives. A bigamous marriage is when one of the spouses was married to someone else at the time of the new marriage. There are other reasons why a marriage can be deemed invalid.

How will child support be calculated in California?

For California couples who are at the end of a marriage and have children, the issue of child support is unavoidable. Once it is determined which parent will have custody, the other parent might be obligated to pay child support. A common question that both parents will have centers around how the child support amount is calculated. This can result in a dispute and a range of emotions. Various factors both financial and person make this a vital issue that should be understood beforehand.

There is a state guideline that a judge will use if the parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own. There are numerous factors upon which the calculation hinges. It includes: what the parents earn or have the capability of earning; if there is other income and how much; the number of children the parents have together; the amount of time each parent spends with the children; the tax filing status of the parents; if there is support being provided by either parent to children from other relationships; health insurance costs; if there are union dues; if there are required retirement contributions; daycare and out-of-pocket health care costs; other issues.

When might prenuptial agreements be unenforceable?

For Californians who have prenuptial agreements, there can be concerns from both sides as to its enforceability. From the perspective of the spouse who has the assets that he or she would like to protect and the perspective of the spouse who believes he or she is not being treated fairly, it is important to understand the circumstances under which the agreement could be deemed invalid.

In some situations, the agreement will be agreed to involuntarily. If that is the case, then the agreement will not be enforceable. The agreement might have been considered unconscionable at the time of its execution. One or all the following must apply: the party was not granted full disclosure as to what the financial obligations and property belonging to the other party were before signing; there was no voluntarily written waiver to have the financial obligations and property of the other party disclosed; or there was no knowledge of the financial obligations and property of the other party. The courts will determine whether the agreement was unconscionable.

Should I respond to a divorce petition in California?

When a person in California is served with a divorce petition, he or she must decide whether to respond to it or not. Failure to respond will result in the process being a default or an uncontested case. There is a difference between simply not responding and not responding with the intention of negotiating a settlement with the other party and hashing out the divorce legal issues. It is important to know the difference and decide if negotiation is preferable to responding.

A case that is considered true default means that the case was filed, there was no response and there was no agreement as to the issues at hand in the proceeding. If the response is not made within 30 days and there is no agreement between the parties, then the person who filed will have his or her desires met without input from the other party. That will affect property division, child custody and other issues. A response gives the person a say in the case. Short of that, a negotiation on the important factors in the case precludes the need to respond. This is a tactical decision.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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