Divorce

Many people are unsure if, or when, they should seek the advice of an...

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PATERNITY

In San Diego, California there are many cases in which parents are not married...

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CUSTODY & VISITATION

For most parents, the most important issue in a divorce or legal separation...

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dollarsA Palm Springs wife, who who pled guilty to attacking her estranged husband with a deadly weapon, was turned away by both a Southern California trial court and the Fourth District Court of Appeal in her attempt to secure an award of spousal support. The original crime’s sensationalistic and graphic facts drew coverage from the news media, but the less publicized recent support case is a noteworthy one in terms of illustrating the impact of domestic violence on future spousal support litigation.

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drug screeningWhen you go to court in a custody or visitation matter, there are a variety of options available to the judge in your case. As a recent ruling from the Second District Court of Appeal demonstrates, one component of your custody or visitation order may involve making drug screening a condition of custody or visitation if one of the parents has a history of drug or alcohol abuse. What’s more, the law covering this testing says that the court can make the parent continue getting tested for as long as the court deems appropriate.

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child statueToday, there are many different types of families. Whether they look like fictional families from cinema (such as Three Men and a Baby) or real-world situations involving gay and lesbian parents, there are a variety of circumstances in which someone who isn’t a biological or adoptive parent might be placed in the role of parenting a child. For people in these situations, which legal rights do they have regarding that child? A recent Sixth District Court of Appeal case tackled that question, ruling that a child could possibly have three legal parents, allowing an uncle who was essential the only father-figure his niece had ever known to continue his fight for parental recognition.

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Witness standIn your spousal support case, there are many elements that go into achieving a successful outcome, whether you are seeking support or defending against your ex-spouse’s demand for support. As with many disputes in family law, one of the most important factors is having testimony that is more credible than your ex-spouse’s. One example is a recent case originating in Orange County, where the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled against a wife, stating that the trial judge in her case was free to credit or ignore the testimony of her expert witness, even if that testimony was “undisputed.”

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gavelA helpful way to reduce the length of a divorce proceeding is for the parties to agree on and stipulate to some of the significant issues to be resolved. Such a stipulation may address matters such as property division, spousal support, and child support, among many other items. While it is not always possible for the separating spouses to reach an agreement on all major issues, the ability to enter into a stipulated divorce judgment will likely result in a more acceptable and less costly process. To help ensure that you are doing everything in your power to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, you are encouraged to consult with an experienced family law attorney from the local San Diego area.

It is extremely important for the spouses to be forthcoming and honest about the issues addressed by any stipulation. Engaging in dishonest behavior or fraud during the divorce proceedings may serve to invalidate your stipulated judgment and all that it contains. In a recent California divorce case, the ex-wife brought an action to vacate the stipulated divorce judgment — eight years after it was entered by the court. According to the facts, the couple got married in 1974 and separated in 2004. At that time, their two children were adults. In August 2005, the parties reached a settlement, resulting in a formal stipulated judgment that determined the division of property, among other things.

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happy familyThere are state laws applicable to every aspect of a family law case. The California Family Code governs actions for divorce, spousal support, child custody, and many of the attendant issues to be resolved. Courts interpret such laws in light of the facts and evidence presented in each case. For this reason alone, it is important to understand how these myriad legal provisions may affect your family’s rights now and in the future. An experienced family law lawyer from the local San Diego area would be able to guide you through the California divorce process as seamlessly as possible.

One of the highly regulated areas of family law concerns the physical and legal custody of children. Courts are guided by the following principle:  which arrangement promotes the best interests of the child. Under the law, custody orders may be modified if the parent seeking the modification can show that there has been a “change in circumstances” sufficient to warrant the modification. In a recent custody case, the father lived in California, and the mother lived in Virginia. The court entered a permanent custody order giving the father (a Bay Area resident) physical custody of the child during the school year and the mother physical custody during the summer.

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USA MapsOne of the lesser-known legal hurdles in a family law case concerns the appropriate jurisdiction within which to bring your claims. Whether it is an action for divorce, child custody, spousal support, or any other related matter, parties must ensure that the court has jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. In considering the question of jurisdiction, courts often look at whether one location is a more “convenient forum” than another. Before couples are able to address the substance of their family law case, they must establish the appropriate jurisdiction. In order to move your case along as efficiently as possible, it’s important to contact a local San Diego family law lawyer who would be able to quickly identify the most suitable court for your case.

Issues concerning the appropriate forum often arise when the parties live in two different states. Section 3427 of the California Family Code provides that a court that has jurisdiction to make a child custody determination may decline to exercise its jurisdiction at any time if it determines that it is an inconvenient forum under the circumstances and that a court of another state is a more appropriate forum.

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Glossy FamilyIn most divorce cases involving children, the family court will order the amount of monthly child support to be paid to the supported spouse. That amount will remain in effect for as long as the court decides, or until one party can show a “change of circumstances” sufficient to modify the order. Under California law, there are no official guidelines governing when circumstances have changed enough to warrant a modification. The determination is typically made on a case-by-case basis and often rests on one’s ability to pay or one’s financial status. Child support is an extremely important issue in any divorce or separation case. An experienced San Diego family law attorney would be able to analyze your situation and determine the financial options for your family and you.

Courts often step in when a parent fails to make support payments or alleges that he or she is unable to meet the obligation. The California Family Code authorizes a court to require a parent who alleges that the parent’s default in a child or family support order is due to the parent’s unemployment to submit a list of at least five different places the parent has applied for employment. This is known as a “seek-work” order. In a recent California case, the ex-husband and father claimed that the court should not have issued a seek-work order and that the actual form was arbitrary. He also alleged that the family court abused its discretion by denying his request to modify the child support order.

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dollar armyParties are encouraged to reach agreement on as many issues as possible in divorce cases. When the couple is able to do this, they tend to be more in control of the ultimate outcome. Furthermore, such an agreement or stipulation typically leads to a shorter, less costly, and more amicable resolution. For the most part, courts look to approve such agreements in order to resolve the case as efficiently as possible. But the stipulation must adhere to applicable legal standards. In order to ensure that any agreement you enter into in divorce protects your rights and will stand up to court approval, you are encouraged to contact a local San Diego family law attorney as soon as possible.

A recent California divorce case involved the trial court’s rejection of a stipulation entered into by the parties prior to trial. Here, the wife filed for dissolution of the marriage in June 2009. The husband moved out of the family home in April 2010. There were two trials. The first took place in April 2011, dissolving the marriage and allocating support and child custody. The second addressed the division of assets, which is the subject of the matter at hand.

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law seriesThe California Family Code devotes an entire section to the regulation of child support. Under the law, a parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parent’s circumstances and station in life. Therefore, when a couple seeks to separate and divorce, the court will attempt to fashion a child support arrangement that suits the family’s circumstances. In order to do so, courts are required to consult and apply the Family Code’s Statewide Uniform Guideline. This is a crucial part of a divorce case that will ultimately dictate the parties’ financial interests going forward. To protect your family’s legal and financial rights, you are strongly encouraged to contact a local San Diego family law attorney as early in the case as possible.

Under the mandatory formula for calculating child support, courts will look at each parent’s “income from whatever source derived.” This includes a host of sources, including but not limited to “commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, and workers’ compensation benefits,” among many other items. The statute clearly contemplates additional sources of income not identified therein. In fact, at least one California case has pointed out that the codified items are “by way of illustration only.”

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