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The California Courts have the authority to impose permanent spousal and child support obligations. Merely because a support obligation is permanent does not mean it cannot be modified, however. Recently, a California Court issued a ruling in which it discussed the grounds for granting a request for a spousal support modification in a case in which it ultimately reversed the Trial Court ruling. If you need assistance with a spousal or child support issue, it is advisable to contact a San Diego family law attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 1999, decided to separate in 2013, and were divorced in 2016. They had three children born of the marriage; two of the children are now independent adults, while the third, a minor, has non-verbal autism and requires constant care for the duration of his life. The mother is the minor child’s primary caretaker and has primary physical custody of him.

It is alleged that pursuant to an order issued by the Trial Court, the husband was obligated to pay permanent spousal support and child support to the wife. In 2020 the husband filed a motion to reduce his support obligations on the grounds that his salary had been reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trial Court ultimately granted the order, and the wife appealed. Continue reading

When people decide to legally end their marriage, it is not uncommon for the Courts to order one party to pay the other spousal support. Generally, when the California Courts impose a spousal support obligation on a party in a divorce action, the obligation will cease if the party receiving support remarries. There are exceptions to the general rule, though, as demonstrated in a recent California ruling issued in a divorce matter. If you are subject to a spousal support order and have questions regarding modification, it is in your best interest to meet with a San Diego spousal support attorney as soon as possible.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married for about 13 years before deciding to end their marriage. They stipulated a judgment of dissolution; as part of the judgment, the husband agreed to pay the wife $1,000 in spousal support each month for seven years. About two and a half months after entering into the stipulated judgment, the wife remarried. The husband then moved to terminate his spousal support obligation.

Allegedly, the Trial Court denied his request on the grounds that the stipulated judgment did not agree to apply Family Code Section 4337, which states spousal support obligations terminate upon the remarriage of the party receiving support unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. The husband appealed. Continue reading

Many people living in and around San Diego have substantial assets. As such, they will often ask their prospective spouses to enter into prenuptial agreements before they wed. The California Courts will generally enforce prenuptial agreements unless unenforceable under Family Law Code Section 1615, with some exceptions. For example, a Court may decline to enforce part or all of an agreement on the grounds that it is unconscionable. In a recent California opinion, the Court discussed when unconscionability is assessed in a matter in which it rejected portions of a prenuptial agreement despite the husband’s objections. If you have questions regarding the enforceability of prenuptial agreements, it is wise to promptly confer with a San Diego prenuptial agreement lawyer.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the husband and wife entered into a prenuptial agreement in 1994 that defined their rights and obligations with regard to spousal support and community property. The case proceeded to trial, during which the Court considered, among other things, whether the prenuptial agreement should be enforced. The Trial Court ultimately ruled that the provisions in the prenuptial agreement that limited the wife’s right to spousal support were unconscionable and declined to enforce them. The husband appealed, arguing that the Trial Court erred by determining whether the terms were unconscionable at the time of enforcement instead of when they were drafted.

Evaluating the Unconscionability of Prenuptial Agreements

The Appellate Court rejected the husband’s reasoning and affirmed the Trial Court’s determination. The Appellate Court noted that the wife struggled with mental health issues throughout her life and that she and the husband had vastly different assets when they entered into the prenuptial agreement. Additionally, the agreement provided very little for the wife in terms of property division and spousal support in contrast to the husband’s means and the couple’s standard of living. Continue reading

Few relationships are devoid of conflict; instead, it is common for romantic partners to have disagreements occasionally. Sadly, however, arguments lead to physical harm in some relationships, and in many instances, the abuse worsens when the relationship ends. Thus, many victims of abuse seek domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) protecting them from their former romantic partners. In a recent California ruling, the Court discussed the factors considered when determining whether to grant a DVRO in a case in which they ultimately ruled that both the woman seeking the order, and her children required protection. If you are accused of domestic violence or need assistance seeking a DVRO, it is smart to speak to a San Diego family law attorney as soon as possible.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married and had three children that were born between 2005 and 2013. They separated, after which the wife sought a DVRO protecting her and her children from the husband. The wife alleged that the husband persuaded the wife’s friends and mother to try to convince her to resume her relationship with the husband, asked the children to spy on her, and followed her male friend home and threatened to kill him.

Allegedly, during the hearing on the matter, the Court heard evidence that the husband harassed and stalked the wife. The children testified the husband yelled at them, prompted them to fight one another for his entertainment, and pushed, choked, and slapped them, under the guise that he was playing. The Court granted the DVRO as to the mother and the children. The husband appealed, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that the children should be included in the DVRO. Continue reading

In co-parenting arrangements, it is not uncommon for one parent to earn a greater income than the other. As such, the Courts will often find it appropriate to order the higher-earning party to pay child support to their co-parent. While California policy favors providing children with adequate financial support, the Courts may reduce a child support award in certain circumstances. This was demonstrated recently in a California case where the Court ordered the mother to seek employment. If you share custody of a child and have questions regarding support obligations, it is prudent to meet with a San Diego child support lawyer to evaluate your options.

The History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father share custody of a 5-year-old child. When the child was first born, he spent approximately 80 percent of his time with the mother and the remaining time with the father. At that time, the father’s income was $15,000 per month, and he was ordered to pay the mother approximately $1,500 per month in child support. The mother did not work but received $5,000 per month from her father.

It is reported that in 2020, the father moved to modify his support obligation, as his time with his son had increased to over 40 percent. Additionally, he sought a seek-work order compelling the mother to work. The Court granted the order over the mother’s objections, and she appealed. Continue reading

It is not unheard of for the Courts to require parties in family law proceedings to undergo medical evaluations. Typically, the results of such assessments are confidential and cannot be disclosed in other matters. While parties may be tempted to use statements made by their opponents to their advantage in family law cases, doing so can result in the imposition of sanctions. This was demonstrated in a recent California custody case in which the father revealed information from the mother’s prior medical exam. If you are involved in a dispute over custody of your child, it is wise to contact a San Diego child custody lawyer to assess what evidence the Court may consider in determining parental rights.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the father and mother married in August 2014 and had a child in 2016. In 2017, the mother sought and obtained a domestic violence restraining order against the father, which is set to expire in June 2022. Additionally, the father pleaded guilty to battery on a spouse. The Court issued a criminal protective order against the father, and the mother was granted sole custody of the child.

It is alleged that the father subsequently filed a request for order seeking joint physical and legal custody of the child he shared with the mother. In his request, he referred to and quoted a confidential psychological report from an evaluation the mother underwent in the dissolution proceedings of her prior marriage. The mother opposed the father’s request and sought sanctions. The Court found in favor of the mother and issued $10,000 in sanctions against the father and $15,000 against his attorney. The attorney appealed. Continue reading

Parents who share custody of a child do not always agree on issues relating to how the child should be raised, like health care, supervision, and what is in the child’s best interest. As such, disagreements between co-parents are common. While parental views may not always align, parents must treat each other with civility; otherwise, it could escalate to the point where the Courts deem it necessary to impose sanctions. Recently, a California Court discussed what a party must prove to demonstrate that a co-parent’s actions rise to the level of abuse in a ruling issued in a child custody case. If you have concerns regarding custody of your child, it is smart to contact a trusted San Diego child custody lawyer to discuss your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the mother filed a petition for dissolution in October 2015, and the marriage was terminated in November 2018. The parties have one 10-year-old daughter born of the marriage and co-parent pursuant to visitation and custody orders. When the child was 8, the father had primary custody, and the mother had professionally supervised visits three times a week at a visitation center. During that time, the father brought the child to the visitation center even though she was sick.

Allegedly, the mother then became argumentative and demanded the father take the child to urgent care. The father agreed, and she accompanied him to the hospital, even though he argued it violated the terms of their custody order. The mother reportedly yelled at the father the entire time. The father then filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) seeking protection for himself and the child from the mother. Following a hearing, the Trial Court found the mother disturbed the father’s peace and issued a three-year DVRO. The mother appealed. Continue reading

Many couples have bi-coastal relationships where they reside in cities on opposite sides of the country. When a married couple that lives in different states decides to end their marriage, they may not agree over which state should hear their divorce. This was demonstrated in a recent California case, in which the Court was forced to determine if California or Massachusetts was the proper forum to dissolve a marriage. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is in your best interest to speak to a skilled San Diego divorce lawyer to evaluate your options.

The Dissolution Filings

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in 1989 in Rhode Island. In March 2019, the husband filed a petition for a legal separation in a California Court. He then mailed a summons to the wife in Massachusetts. The wife admitted that she signed for receipt of the summons, and the husband filed the signed receipt with the appropriate Court. Approximately one month later, the wife filed a petition for dissolution in a Massachusetts Court; the summons was served on the husband nine days later.

It is reported that the day after he received the Massachusetts summons, the husband amended his earlier petition to seek dissolution and then sent a new summons to his wife. Upon receipt of the summons, the wife filed a request asking the Court to abate and quash the California action. Specifically, she argued that she filed her dissolution petition first and that Massachusetts was a better-suited forum to handle the dissolution. The Trial Court ruled in favor of the wife and abated and stayed the California case. The husband appealed. Continue reading

In some divorce matters, the parties will stipulate to certain conditions. For example, they can agree that a specific Judge will decide matters throughout the proceeding. In such instances, the scope of the Judge’s authority may not be immediately clear. This was illustrated recently in a California case in which the wife objected to the Judge’s issuance of a domestic violence restraining order. If you wish to seek a divorce and you have questions regarding how domestic violence allegations may impact your proceeding, it is advisable to confer with a skilled San Diego divorce lawyer to evaluate your rights.

The Historical Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife were married for 39 years when the wife sought a divorce. The parties then stipulated to the appointment of a specific temporary Judge. Subsequently, the husband asked the Judge to issue a domestic violence restraining order preventing the wife from contacting him and his girlfriend or entering their residence. The Judge granted the requested and issued an order she deemed a non-CLETs (California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) domestic violence order. Domestic violence restraining orders (DVROs) are reported to law enforcement through this system. The wife appealed, arguing that the Judge exceeded the scope of her authority in issuing the order.

Authority of Appointed Judges

The Court of Appeal rejected the wife’s argument and concluded that the Judge did not surpass the scope of her appointment in issuing the domestic violence restraining order. Under California law, when a temporary Judge is appointed to a specific case, the Judge has the power to act until a final determination is issued in the proceeding. In evaluating whether a temporary Judge has the authority to resolve a particular issue, the Courts will evaluate whether the issue is directly derived from the “cause” they were originally tasked with hearing or are ancillary to the cause. For example, a motion to reconsider or vacate is directly related, while an ancillary matter relies on a separate record. Continue reading

Under California law, the Courts’ driving concern in any child custody case is what is in the best interest of the child. Among other things, this means the Courts will consider whether either parent has a history of domestic violence, and if they do, will presume that it is not beneficial for their child to live with them. The presumption can be rebutted, but only if certain evidence is offered. This was demonstrated in a recent California ruling, in which the Court reversed an earlier ruling that failed to apply the presumption. If you have questions regarding domestic violence in the context of child custody, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced San Diego child custody lawyer to assess your options.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife had two minor children that were born of the marriage. The wife filed a lawsuit seeking a dissolution of the marriage. At the same time, she sought a domestic violence restraining order against the husband via a separate action; the Court dismissed the case, however, due to the wife’s failure to serve the husband. The Family Court granted the dissolution by default and granted the wife sole custody of the children. She then moved with the children to Utah.

Allegedly, the husband stated he did not know about the divorce proceeding and moved to set aside the default. The wife again sought a domestic violence restraining order in Utah and presented the Court with evidence that the husband subjected her to abuse for years. The Utah Court granted the wife a temporary restraining order, while the California Family Court set aside the default and granted the husband joint custody. The wife appealed. Continue reading

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