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Pleasanton Family Law Blog

When will prenuptial agreements be considered voluntary?

California premarital agreements -- also referred to as prenuptial agreements or prenups -- are common. These are often used in marriages where there are significant assets at stake, but people can have them for a variety of reasons that transcend simple finances. Of all divorce legal issues that people encounter and result in dispute, the way in which property and assets are split at the end of a marriage is one of the most contentious.

It does not need to be a high asset divorce for this to be a problem. People who have a prenuptial agreement might believe they are protected. However, there are instances in which the agreement could be deemed invalid. One that comes up often is if it was not executed voluntarily. There are various factors that the court must consider before declaring the prenuptial agreement to be invalid because it was not agreed to voluntarily. If, however, certain factors are in place, then the court will consider the agreement to have been willingly agreed to.

How a mediator can help with a child custody case

For Californians whose marriage is at an end, it does not necessarily need to be a contentious situation as they battle over every issue. Mediation could be an alternative with a variety of factors that will arise in the proceeding. One of the most pressing is child custody. While the parties might have a desire to be the custodial parent, it is a subject that is open to negotiation. That is here a mediator can help to smooth the process, avoid rancor, and have both parents take part in a decision that they have agreed upon. Knowing what happens in mediation is vital. It is also wise to have legal assistance from an attorney.

The parents must be able to negotiate for mediation to be effective. If that is the case, then they can formulate an agreement regarding the living arrangements, visitation and care of the child. The mediator will meet with the parents. This can be individually or together. Questions will be asked to gather information as to the couple's past and how best to proceed. In cases where there was domestic violence, the parties can request that they meet separately. The issues will be discussed and steps will be taken to resolve them.

Divorce for the self-employed can be more challenging

If you are self-employed or are married to a self-employed spouse, if you get divorced, you could face a few different hurdles than divorcing couples who work for corporate bosses.

Unless your start-up is now a Fortune 500 company, chances are good that you have seen lean years. You may even still be at the helm of a fledgling business or struggling to keep your one-man boat afloat in an uncertain gig economy. Self-employment is often cyclical in nature. Especially if you are in retail, your business might be in the red for three quarters of the year, with Black Friday sales pushing it into the black only in the year's final quarter.

How does a vocational skills counselor impact spousal support?

When a California couple gets a divorce, one of the concerns that will be important is the possibility of spousal support. Alternatively referred to as alimony, this is a frequently contentious issue with a spouse being ordered to pay for the other spouse's upkeep until that spouse can self-support. It could last for an extended period. Many factors go into determining how much the spousal support will be and its duration. One issue that many might not be aware of is the possibility that the court will order the prospective supported spouse to take part in an examination with a vocational training counselor. Understanding what the law says about this possibility is important to a case.

In the examination, the counselor will assess the person's capabilities to gain employment that would let that person maintain the lifestyle from the standard of living during the marriage. This is only allowable when there is good cause and is done by motion. The party will be given notice as to the examination as will other parties. The location, conditions, what will be covered and more will be specified.

How does the length of the marriage impact spousal support?

There are many factors that will be important when a judge makes various decisions in a California divorce case. The divorce legal issues are vast and can impact multiple areas of the couple's life. Particularly contentious is spousal support. Perhaps the spouse who is set to be ordered to pay does not feel the amount the supported spouse is asking for is fair. The supported spouse might view things in the exact opposite frame. One factor that will be part of the process is the length of the marriage and how that fits in with how much will be paid.

Before thinking about how much will be ordered, it is imperative to remember that the idea behind spousal support is that the supported spouse will eventually be able to self-support within a reasonable time-period. When determining what a reasonable time-period is, it might be half the amount of time the couple was married. The judge maintains the ability to decide differently depending on the case's circumstances.

Hollywood couple heads to court over child custody dispute

Although California is a hotbed for Hollywood celebrity and there are many people who are prominent and in the public eye, most divorces and child custody battles involve "regular" people who do not have their every move documented in the media. However, there is value in examining how family law issues are played out with well-known people to have an idea of what to expect when there is a divorce or child custody dispute for the workaday person. Regardless of whether it is a famous couple or not, having legal assistance is one of the most important aspects of a successful resolution.

The movie stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have had an ongoing dispute regarding their divorce and custody of the six children they share. The case is set to go to court before the end of 2018. The couple is estranged and a retired judge has been named as the temporary judge in the case. He will oversee the pretrial motions, requests and issues. In addition, he will handle the custody case.

Are reimbursements for education possible in California divorce?

Property division is a frequent topic for dispute in a California divorce. While the law is relatively clear on basic matters regarding this issue in the state, there are always areas of nuance that might be somewhat confusing. One that might arise and should be understood is if one spouse contributed to the education of the other spouse and if, at the end of a marriage, there can be reimbursement for this as part of the settlement. Knowing what the law says about this issue is critical for both parties.

If there were payments made with property - quasi-community or community - and it was for education or training or to repay a loan for education or training, it is possible that there can be reimbursement. This is true whether it occurred while they resided in the state or not. There are limitations regarding reimbursement. There will be community reimbursement for these educational or training contributions if they provided substantial enhancements to the party's earning capacity. The amount will be paid with interest at the current legal rate from the conclusion of the calendar year when they were made. If there was a loan taken during the marriage and it was for education and training, it will not be part of community liabilities, but will be assigned to be paid by the party who took it out.

Signs that it might be time to file for divorce

In most situations, divorce is a hard decision to make. Many people agonize over such a decision for months or even years before taking the first step toward ending a marriage.

For some people, the decision to divorce develops over time as they realize they no longer love their partner. For others, there are some definitive signs. In these kinds of situations, staying in the marriage might be far more detrimental than getting divorced.

Options if there is dissatisfaction with a child support agency

California parents who have ended their relationship and are in a dispute over child support will need to deal with the appropriate child support agency. When the case is resolved, that does not necessarily mean it is over. The supporting parent and the receiving parent might be displeased with the way the case was handled individually or both parties might be unhappy with it. It is important to understand what steps can be taken when filing a complaint and if there can be a state hearing.

There are certain actions or failure to act for which the parent can ask for a state hearing. If there is an application for a parent to receive child support services and there was a denial or the necessary timeframe was not adhered to, it is cause for complaint. If there was an action, but it violates the law or regulations or was not done in the appropriate timeframe, there can be a complaint - this can include establishing, modifying or enforcing a child support order.

Will I be asked to put money into an account for child support?

It is not unusual for there to be a dispute over a variety of issues when there is a divorce in California. The impact of a divorce can be extensive and require people to take certain steps to handle situations such as child support. The state will want to make certain that there is a reasonable amount of certainty that the child support will be paid in full and on time. One way they will do this is to order a supporting parent - the obligor - to deposit money as a security deposit or into an account specifically for child support. Understanding the law as to when this will be done and the amounts required is an important part of a case and both parties should understand it.

When there is an order to pay child support, the supporting parent might be required to pay as much as one year's child support immediately. This is called the "child support security deposit." It can also be less depending on when the order of support will terminate. The court can also require that there be a trust account unless this is waived by the receiving parent. The court can decide not to do this once it finds that there is a child support trust account that is sufficiently funded or sufficient security has been paid.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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