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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vault safeIn a very instructive recent decision by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, the court concluded that California’s public policy in favor of the fulfillment of child support obligations could trump the contractual provisions of a trust agreement. In this specific case, that meant a trustee of a trust could be ordered to pay a woman’s back owed child support to the father of her children, even though the trust agreement had clear language forbidding the trustee from making payments to creditors of the mother, a named beneficiary in the trust. The decision offers a useful tool for parents seeking to analyze all avenues for collecting unpaid child support.

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contractOne way to resolve your divorce case is to agree to a stipulated judgment of dissolution. You should be very cautious about agreeing to a stipulated judgment without consulting counsel first, however, since doing so may involve your surrendering certain rights you might otherwise have. In a recent case originating in Orange County, that’s exactly what happened. In the Fourth District Court of Appeal‘s ruling, the husband could not pursue a termination of his spousal support, even though the statutes allow for cessation after a recipient spouse remarries, since he had contracted to continue paying even if his ex-wife remarried.

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magnifying glassOne of the central parts of any divorce is the division of property. In general, if you acquire an asset during a marriage, the law presumes that it is community property, but you can overcome that presumption if you have enough evidence showing that it is actually separate property. As a recent ruling from the Third District Court of Appeal demonstrates, if you seek to overcome this presumption by tracing the source of funds used to purchase an asset during the marriage, there is a very specific way you have to go about doing this. In this case, the wife failed to present the right kind of evidence, and she lost the right to reimbursement for the down payment on the couple’s Northern California home.

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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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