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The courts will typically take numerous factors into consideration when determining child support obligations. In cases in which the courts lack adequate information to make a final determination, they will often issue interim orders pending the receipt of additional data. It is important to note that, as illustrated in a recent California ruling, such orders may not impose actual support obligations on the parties involved. If you have questions regarding the potential financial impact of sharing custody of a child, it is smart to contact a trusted San Diego child support lawyer to discuss what evidence you may need to produce to obtain a fair outcome.

The History of the Case

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in 2001 and had three children, two of whom are still minors. In 2015, the wife filed a divorce action. The following year, in accordance with a marital settlement agreement, the trial court entered a judgment of dissolution and granted the husband and wife joint physical and legal custody of their children. The court also ordered the husband to pay child support.

California is unique in that it allows for three people to be deemed the parents of a child. For example, a child may have a mother and two fathers. Simply because a person is entitled to status as the presumed father of a child does not mean they should be granted parental rights, though. Recently, a California court discussed the factors evaluated in determining whether to grant a party third-parent status in an opinion issued in a matter in which a child’s biological father sought custody rights. If you need assistance with a custody matter, it is advisable to confer with a knowledgeable San Diego child custody lawyer to determine your options for seeking a just outcome.

The History of the Case

It is reported that in 2015, the mother had two romantic relationships that overlapped: one with the third-party father and one with the father. She became pregnant and advised the third-party father that he was not the father of the child, based on the information from her doctor regarding the date of conception. The father signed a voluntary declaration of parentage and was listed on the child’s birth certificate. She later married the father.

Allegedly, a few years later, the mother determined that the third-party father was the biological father of her child, which was confirmed via DNA testing. She permitted the third-party father to visit with the child on a few occasions but later advised him she did not believe it was in the child’s best interest for them to form a relationship. The third-party father filed a petition to establish a third-party parent relationship with the child. The court denied the petition, and the third-party father appealed.

Factors Weighed in Determining Whether to Grant Third-Party Rights Continue reading

When a couple decides to end their marriage, who owns what property is often one of the biggest points of contention. Typically, in cases in which the parties dispute whether an asset is marital or separate, they will provide evidence in support of their positions. If they fail to do so, it may adversely impact their rights, as demonstrated in a recent California ruling. If you intend to end your marriage, it is in your best interest to retain a capable San Diego divorce lawyer to aid you in striving to protect your interests.

The Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in October 2007 and separated in April 2015. The wife filed a petition for dissolution of marriage a year and a half later. The husband purchased a home prior to the marriage, and the couple lived in the home from 2005 until they separated. They used community funds throughout the marriage to pay the mortgage for the home, however. Following a one-day trial, the trial court determined that a portion of the home was community property. The husband appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly calculated the community share of the home.

Evidence Regarding the Nature of Property

On appeal, the appellate court found in favor of the husband, reversed the trial court ruling, and remanded for further proceedings. The appellate court explained that where the parties do not dispute that there is a community property interest in a home, both parties are obligated to ensure that the court has the information needed to determine that interest. Here, the husband erroneously believed it was the wife’s duty to provide the court with such information and failed to offer any. Continue reading

There are many ways to raise a child, and some parents engage in childrearing habits that may be viewed as unconventional. For example, parents may choose to adopt a nomadic lifestyle instead of raising their children in one location. In such instances, it may not immediately be clear what state has jurisdiction over custody disputes. Recently, a California court discussed the assumption of jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the Act) in a matter in which the state terminated a mother’s parental rights. If you need assistance with a custody dispute, it is smart to meet with a dedicated San Diego child custody lawyer regarding your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother lived in a van with her two minor adopted children. In 2019, Montana’s child protective services removed the children from the mother’s care due to evidence she abused and neglected them. A court placed the children with their grandmother but later returned them to the mother’s care. The mother and one of the children then traveled to Washington, where she was again investigated by child protective services before ending up in California.

Allegedly, the mother, who had significant mental health issues, called the police regarding a perceived bomb threat and was placed under a psychiatric hold. The Department of Children and Family services moved to terminate the mother’s parental rights and the child was removed from the mother’s custody. The mother later objected, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter. Continue reading

Appointing a guardian ad litem for a parent in a dependency matter drastically alters the parent’s role. Specifically, it allocates control and direction of the litigation to the guardian ad litem rather than the parent. Although it is sometimes necessary to appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the parent, as explained in a recent opinion issued by a California court, the appointment of a guardian ad litem should not be used as a means to restrain a difficult parent, even if the parent repeatedly acts against their own interests and that of their child and interferes with court proceedings. If your parental rights are in jeopardy, it is advisable to speak to a skilled San Diego child custody attorney to discuss what measures you can take to protect your interests.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that in June 2018 and in January 2019, the mother presented to the emergency departments of a hospital complaining of migraines and pain. Blood tests during her visits revealed her BAC to be .297 and .296, respectively. Following her second trip to the hospital, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (the Department) filed a petition to have the mother’s minor son deemed a dependent of the state, alleging that the mother had an extensive history of alcohol abuse and suffered from anxiety and depression, which rendered her unable to care for her minor son.

Allegedly, the court sustained the allegations in the complaint and deemed the mother’s son a dependent child. The mother underwent a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, and the doctor that examined her concluded that she suffered from anxiety and anger issues but that they arose out of the dependency proceeding and not a mental illness. Due to the mother’s erratic behavior and repeated disputes with her attorney during the pendency of proceedings, the court raised the issue of whether to appoint a guardian ad litem for the mother. The court ultimately decided to appoint a guardian ad litem for the mother, after which she appealed. Continue reading

In many marriages, one spouse’s salary far exceeds the other’s. If a couple with disparate income divorces, it is not uncommon for the lesser earning spouse to seek some form of spousal support while the divorce is pending. If a court finds the circumstances warrant a temporary support award, it will typically examine the obligor spouse’s most recent income to arrive at the amount of support owed. That is not always an appropriate means of calculating alimony, however, as demonstrated in an opinion recently issued by a California court in a divorce action. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney to discuss how ending your marriage may affect you financially.

The Underlying Facts

It is reported that in 2018, the wife filed for divorce after close to 35 years of marriage. The couple had no minor children at that time. A short time later, the wife filed a request for an order seeking pendente lite spousal support. The court ultimately granted the wife ongoing pendente lite spousal support of over $31,000 per month. It based the support obligation on the husband’s income for the most recent historical year. The husband filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that as his income fluctuated drastically from year to year, the trial court erred in solely analyzing his income from the prior year to determine the support obligation.

Calculating Pendente Lite Spousal Support

The Court of Appeal agreed with the husband and ruled that the trial court abused its discretion in calculating his prospective income on an unrepresentative sample period. The Court explained that while a dissolution of marriage action is pending, the court may order either spouse to pay any amount it deems necessary to support the other spouse. Temporary support is based on both the obligor spouse’s ability to pay and the supported spouse’s needs. While permanent support is determined by the financial situation of the parties after a dissolution, temporary support is used to maintain the standard of living as close as possible to the status quo while the trial is pending. Continue reading

Since the relatively recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriages in all 50 states, hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples have wed. Unfortunately, not all marriages last, and some same-sex couples living in California will decide to sever their relationships. It is important for people contemplating ending same-sex marriages to understand their rights and obligations before filing for divorce. If you have questions about your options for legally dissolving your relationship, it is critical to speak to a knowledgeable San Diego divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Do I Have to File Separate Actions to End my Marriage and Domestic Partnership?

No. Under California law, same-sex couples may not only legally marry but may also legally register as domestic partners, and many same-sex couples entered into domestic partnership relationships prior to marrying. As such, if they decide to sever their relationship legally, they must end both their partnership and their marriage. Fortunately, the law allows same-sex couples to do so through the same case and petition. They simply must indicate that they are ending both their marriage and their domestic partnership.

Do I Have to Explain Why I Want a Divorce?

California is a “no-fault” state. In other words, a person who wants to obtain a divorce does not have to prove that his or her spouse bears responsibility for the downfall of the marriage. Instead, the petitioner, who is the party that files the initial divorce complaint, can merely assert that there are irreconcilable differences. This means that the couple cannot get along with each other enough to salvage the relationship, and therefore, the marriage is irretrievably broken. Continue reading

Typically, engaged couples intend to marry and spend the rest of their lives together. In reality, however, a large number of marriages end in divorce. Many people living in the San Diego area have substantial assets and want to take the practical step of entering into a prenuptial agreement before they marry. Prenuptial agreements permit people to delineate their property rights in the event that they divorce, but many people do not understand the scope and limitations of such contracts. If you have questions about prenuptial agreements, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted San Diego family law attorney to learn about your options.

What Renders a Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable in California?

In California, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) sets forth the requirements and rules regarding prenuptial agreements. Specifically, it states that such agreements are contracts that are not valid unless the parties that signed the agreement marry. Prenuptial agreement are not enforceable unless they are in writing, signed by both parties and a notary, and each party is given at least a week to obtain independent legal counsel before signing. Agreements that are not be signed voluntarily, without intimidation or coercion, are unenforceable as well.

What Can I Include in a Prenuptial Agreement?

Essentially, prenuptial agreements establish property rights. In other words, they can define what assets are the separate property of one spouse, what belongs to both parties, and how any property obtained during the marriage should be divided in the event of a divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also dictate whether either party will receive alimony should the marriage end. They cannot be used to define the right to child custody or child support, however. Continue reading

There are a number of difficult aspects that parties go through during a divorce, which include the division of assets and debts and child and spousal support.  However, there is nothing more difficult than the issue determining child custody and visitation.

The end of a marriage is emotional, whether or not children are involved; however, when children are involved, the issues become more complex and difficult.  Understanding the court procedure of child custody and visitation and the law, may assist with the issues that arise.

Understanding Child Custody

Every marriage has its ups and downs; however, increasing conflict may trigger strong negative feelings, which could begin to corrode the relationship. Those negative emotions may manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Ultimately, all the frustration and aggression may result in domestic violence.

Domestic violence is not limited to one partner physical abusing the other.  In reality, there are various kinds of domestic violence, and each of them has its own overwhelming consequences, which could include the issuance of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order.  (See Family Code section 6320).

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Kinds of Domestic Violence

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