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Pleasanton Family Law Blog

Is divorce mediation a path to resolve my situation amicably?

There is a perception that every California divorce must be contentious and filled with dispute. For some, that is true. However, many divorce cases can be resolved amicably through mediation. This can save money and time while simultaneously allowing the participants to remain on cordial -- or even good -- terms. For those with children or whose circumstances will remain linked possibly through a business entanglement, this can be beneficial. It is important to understand how mediation works and to determine if it is the right path for you.

In mediation, an impartial third-party will seek to settle issues and forge voluntary agreements. The mediator works to get the parties to communicate, see the situation from the perspective of the other party, try to find common ground and come to solutions. With mediation, the goals are to have an equitable settlement without going to court; avoid the costs and emotional issues that accompany a drawn-out divorce process; and keep hostility and disagreements to a minimum.

Protecting children from custody conflicts

Parents who face divorce have many difficult tasks ahead of them, and it is regularly tempting for one parent or the other to act out in unacceptable ways. Even when both parents intend to create a stable, loving home for their children, the tensions between them can lead to unfair behavior that not only violates the rights of the other parent, but harms the children they love.

Most standard parenting agreements include terms that forbid one parent's interference with the other's parenting time, but these are generalized and may require some specific attention. Far too often, parents want to avoid addressing these issues in detail because they want to foster an environment of trust and good faith.

How does domestic violence affect child custody in California?

One of the more difficult issues to navigate in a California child custody case is if there is a history of domestic violence. While a relationship with children is desirable for both parents, the best interests of the child take precedence. Multiple factors must be weighed when there are domestic violence issues and the parents should be aware of how the state handles these matters. There are plans in which parenting time and visitation rights can be given to a parent who has been accused of abuse, but the key is safety for the child and the other parent.

The judge in the case will determine if domestic violence was taking place. If it is determined that it was, it will be assessed as a domestic violence case if one of the following happened in the previous five years: a parent had been convicted of domestic violence against the other parent or there was a court decision that stated there was domestic violence against the other parent or the child. The court can take into consideration if the case goes beyond five years. In general, when there is a determination that it is a domestic violence case, the judge is not allowed to grant custody to the parent who committed it. The parent can receive visitation rights.

Understanding the factors that go into child custody decisions

Children are often at the center of the most contentious and emotional disputes that arise when a California couple parts ways. The decision as to where the child will reside the bulk of the time and how child custody and parenting time will be accorded can be a complex matter. Understanding how the courts will determine where the child will live is essential. There are many different factors that go into the decision, and parents and others who might want to have a say in the child's future must be aware of them.

The best interests of the child are the foundation upon which the court will make its decision. Since a child will be affected by the living arrangements, the court will examine how the child will be best served and use that as a significant part of its decision-making process. The court will also weigh multiple factors including the following: the child's age; his or her health; if there are parent-child emotional ties; if the parents can care for the child in a financial, emotional and physical sense; if there are links to a certain school or community; and if there is a history of problems such as abuse or substance issues with one or both parents.

What are residency requirements for a California divorce?

For California couples who are at the end of a marriage, it is important to understand all aspects of the case so they do not make a mistake they will regret or one that will hinder the process. The basics are occasionally the most complicated and one that should be addressed before even starting with a divorce is whether the residency requirements are met to file in the state. To divorce or for domestic partners to divorce in California, there are certain foundational necessities.

If it is a married couple, one of the two must have lived in the state for the previous six months and lived in the county in which they are planning to file for the previous three months. If the couple resided in California for the required previous six months, but were living in separate counties for a minimum of three months, it is legal to file in either county in which they resided. Those who do not meet the residency requirement still have the right to file for a legal separation. After that, when they meet the residency requirement to divorce, an amended petition can be filed to request a divorce.

Legal help with alimony in a high asset divorce in California

One of the most common causes for dispute within a marriage is financial problems or disagreements. When the dispute reaches the level at which the couple can no longer remain married and they choose to divorce, a high asset divorce can be complex and problematic. One spouse will likely want significant alimony. The paying spouse might want to limit how much must be paid. With a high asset divorce, each side must make certain they are protected by an experienced law firm that is well-acquainted with these complicated proceedings.

Couples will inevitably battle about a litany of issues when they divorce, but alimony is one of the most contentious. Limits as to how much will be paid and the duration of those payments will be among the points of contention for the paying spouse. Trying to maximize the amount awarded and keep receiving the payments for as long as they are deemed necessary will be important to the receiving spouse. In a best-case scenario, the couple will agree on the parameters and can negotiate. A lawyer can find common ground and perhaps bring the parties together to resolve the issues amicably.

3 financial tips for women considering divorce

You've been like many women and gone back to work after you had your child. You have your own accounts and your own money. Still, you and your spouse rely on one another to pay bills and create a savings.

You're starting to worry about the state of your marriage, though. Your husband isn't acting like he usually does, and you've noticed more money is going missing from your shared account than usual. What should you do? Here are three tips if you're considering divorce.

What is commingling property in a California divorce?

When a California couple decides to end their marriage, property division is a frequent topic of dispute. It can sometimes be an issue that can fester and extend the case as the parties determine who has the right to what property. In general, the property will be either community or separate property. Community meaning it belongs to both parties; separate meaning it belongs to the individuals. Some property, however, is mixed community and separate. This is also known as commingling.

Examples of commingling might be when one of the parties owned a home prior to the marriage and sold it to accrue the down payment on another house after the couple got married. The down payment is separate property because it emanated from a home the one person owned. However, with the new home the couple has purchased, the equity of the home being paid for is community property since it occurred while the couple was married. Therefore, the equity will be commingled, and this must be accounted for as the value of the property is split when the spouses part ways.

What should I know about grandparents' rights in California?

Child custody and visitation in California can be a complex and difficult matter to deal with. It can be more complicated when the parents are not the only ones who believe they should have the right to spend time with the child. In many instances, grandparents are an integral part of the child's life or are outright raising the child. Grandparents who want to have visitation with a grandchild must be aware of state law related to this matter.

In California, the grandparent can request reasonable visitation with a grandchild if certain criteria are met. The court must find that there was a pre-existing relationship between them and a bond must have been created with the best interests of the child hinging on continuing that relationship. The court must also find a balance between the best interests of the child and the rights of the parents to decide on such matters for their children.

What can be done in California to collect unpaid child support?

When a California couple has a child, but are no longer in a relationship with one another, one parent will likely be required to pay child support to the custodial parent. For many, this is not an issue. Sometimes, however, the paying parent does not pay what is owed in full or sometimes does not pay any of what is owed at all. Custodial parents who are unsure of their alternatives in such a circumstance should know that there is certain recourse to get the payments.

The Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) and Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) will take steps to recover late or unpaid child support. For example, the failure to pay child support can be reported to credit reporting agencies. When trying to renew a passport, those who owe at least $2,500 in past-due child support will not be able to renew it. Those who own property can have a lien placed on that property if they owe child support; if that property is sold, the lien amount will go toward paying the child support.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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