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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counselingIn cases involving issues of child custody and visitation, parents may seek to introduce a wide array of relevant evidence to persuade the court of the correctness of their arguments. One thing a parent cannot do, however, is disclose information from her ex-spouse’s therapy that is protected by the psychotherapist-patient privilege when the patient did not waive the privilege. In one Northern California case, a mother sought to do exactly that but lost because, regardless of relevance or the children’s best interests, the information was covered by the privilege and had not been waived.

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suburban houseWhen you and your child’s other parent go to court on the issue of child support, the case will focus on several things, with one of the key items being your income and the other parent’s income. If you have a wealthy benefactor who is paying your expenses, your ex may try to use this against you in the child support dispute. In the case of one mother who received extensive financial support from a platonic friend, the Second District Court of Appeal ruled that the benefits the mother received were permissibly construed as non-income and not factored into calculating child support. The case is a very helpful one for recipient parents who receive financial help from people other than relatives or romantic partners.

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boxes movingA famous book and an accompanying menagerie of merchandise counsels us, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” In law, however, this isn’t always good advice. Sometimes, it’s the small stuff that makes all the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one. In a recent Southern California case, the Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s ruling denying a mother’s request to move herself and her daughters from Bakersfield to the Los Angeles suburbs. The mom lost because none of the custody orders in her case had “the words ‘final,’ ‘permanent,’ or ‘judgment,’ or words to that effect.”

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business valuationIf you are a follower of basic cable house “flipping” shows or of celebrity gossip, chances are you’re familiar with the stars of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” show. The weekly show follows a married pair of highly successful house flippers from Orange County, who appeared on screen as a happy husband and wife with two children. In late 2016, though, the couple announced that they were separated, and in early 2017, the husband filed for divorce, according to an Orange County Register report.

Before the husband filed, though, some online sources claimed that executives at HGTV were demanding that the couple go back to holding out the appearance of a happy family, at least for the remainder of their TV contract, or else face a lawsuit for breach. While your impending divorce may not lead to litigation launched by a TV network, it still may involve many complex hurdles you must address if you and your spouse share a business together.

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signing a checkIn most stereotypical child support cases, one parent makes a monthly payment to the other parent for the support of the child. So what happens if you have a court order that requires you to pay support to your ex-spouse, but then, some time later, the child stops living with your ex-spouse and thereafter lives with your parents? According to a recent ruling by the First District Court of Appeal, this situation may entitle you to pursue certain legal action regarding your child support, even if the child resided with a third party rather than in your own home.

The backstory was a complicated one. The parents married in 1978 and had the child in 1979, and the mother filed for divorce in 1981. The child, from 1981 to reaching age 18 in 1997, lived with the mother for two 10-month stretches. For the rest of the time, the child lived with the father’s parents.

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pile of cashChild support can be a complicated issue in any family. Even when the supporting parent is among the “1%,” the supporting parent may feel a need to seek a downward modification of his obligation when his income dips. That’s what a movie and commercial director claimed after his work-related income dropped by more than three-quarters. However, since the director also had more than $60 million in amassed assets, the Second District Court of Appeal concluded that the father had not demonstrated a material change in circumstances, and the trial court should have denied his request for a modification.

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gavelWhen you are going through a family law case, there are certain steps the court must take to resolve the issue, depending on which type of claim is involved. If your case involves a request for a modification of child support, for example, the court must identify whether or not there has been a material change in circumstances, regardless of the level of need the children may have. In one recent case originating in Los Angeles County, the Second District Court of Appeal overturned a trial court’s refusal to modify child support because, in that case, the lower court never completed the “material change in circumstances” analysis, which was required.

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gavelCalifornia has operated under a “no-fault” standard for divorce cases since Governor Ronald Reagan signed the country’s first no-fault divorce law in 1970. Since that time, spouses may seek a dissolution of their marriage in California as long as they meet the jurisdictional requirements and allege that the marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown due to irreconcilable differences. As a recent Southern California case decided by the Second District Court of Appeal demonstrates, the standard for deciding spousal support is not the same. In litigating spousal support, the parties may offer evidence of fault, especially if the at-fault party is the spouse seeking support.

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magnifying glassIn family law, as with many areas of the law, it pays to pay close attention to “the fine print.” Each detail and every term of any legal agreement into which you enter has the potential to have a profound impact on you. For example, if you agree in a marital settlement to pay alimony until your ex-spouse’s death or your ex-spouse’s remarriage, the law and the courts will hold you to that. As a result, if you want to end your alimony payments, you’ll need clear proof of an actual marriage, not just evidence that your ex is holding herself out as married to her new partner. That was what ultimately defeated one Southern California husband’s case, recently decided by the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

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moneyIn family law cases, as with many areas of life, one can sometimes lose an individual battle but still achieve a larger outcome of success in the end. In a recent example, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s ruling that raised an ex-husband’s spousal support obligation to make up for the man’s declining receipt of future military pension payments. The ex-wife was not allowed to receive this money as spousal support because the law doesn’t allow judges to increase spousal support just to make up for lost community property interests. The ex-wife was entitled to receive this money, but it just could not be in the form of spousal support.

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