It is an unfortunate reality that many people living in California are victims of domestic abuse. Some survivors are reluctant to share their stories with others for fear the violence may become worse, and the signs of abuse are often subtle, especially if people are not aware of what to look for. As such, it is critical for people to know how to recognize the signs of domestic violence and what steps they can take to help themselves or other victims of abuse. If you or someone you know is being harmed by a family member or former domestic partner, it is prudent to speak to a seasoned California domestic violence attorney to assess your options.

Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Violence

Many of the signs of domestic violence are physical. For example, bruises on the face or body, broken bones, lacerations, and scratches may all indicate that a person is being abused, especially if they occur repeatedly. Victims often wear clothing that covers their wounds, like long sleeves and pants, regardless of the weather.

Domestic violence can cause psychological and mental symptoms as well. For example, victims of abuse are often agitated and apprehensive. They may also develop substance abuse issues. In many instances, they become anxious or depressed and lose interest in daily activities and hobbies. They are also frequently irritable and on-edge. In many instances, the abuser will be very controlling and will not let the victim go anywhere alone or have separate resources like cars, bank accounts, or phones. Abusers often isolate their victims from friends and family as well. Continue Reading ›

California is a community property state, which means that any property acquired by either spouse during a marriage is considered to be owned by each party equally. Either spouse can identify property as separate, though, and it will remain their sole property if they divorce. Certain actions can transmute or modify separate property into community property, though, and anyone with separate property must take care not to take actions that will impair their rights. In 2015, a California appellate court issued a ruling explaining how and when the character of a property is defined and how to determine if transmutation occurred. If you or your spouse own separate property and you are contemplating ending your marriage, it is prudent to speak to a seasoned California divorce attorney about your rights.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the husband purchased a home prior to his marriage. By the time the couple married in 1993, the husband had paid off the mortgage. He also had a retirement account that he contributed to prior to getting married, which he stopped paying into at the time of the marriage. The couple lived in the home but after a few years decided to move to a town called Westlake. The husband retained the separate home, however. He made the down payment for the Westlake home from the separate retirement account and took out a mortgage loan in his name only. The loan application stated that the title to the house would be in the husband’s name, and the deed stated it was granted to him and his sole and separate property.

It is alleged that the husband sold his separate home and used the mortgage proceeds to pay for the Westlake home. The wife filed for divorce twelve years later. A prime point of contention was whether the Westlake home was community or separate property or a combination of the two. The court ultimately ruled that it was community property, and the husband appealed. Continue Reading ›

California courts tasked with determining custody of a child will set forth an order that they feel is in the child’s best interest. The courts weigh numerous factors to determine what is best for a child, including the health of each parent, the likelihood of either parent to help maintain and foster the child’s relationship with the co-parent, and whether the child has special needs.

One factor that was not likely to be considered, though, is how a global pandemic would impact custody and visitation. As such, many parents find themselves questioning how they can safely maintain their custody and visitation rights while abiding by COVID-19 restrictions. If you share custody of a child and need legal advice on how to protect your parental rights and your child’s and your health, it is advisable to confer with a knowledgeable California child custody attorney to discuss your case.

The Impact of California’s COVID-19 Orders on Child Custody Orders

California’s Governor has issued multiple orders since March 2020 to protect the public health of Californians and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including stay at home orders. These orders do not permit parents to discard the terms of child custody or visitation orders, though. Rather, parents must continue to comply with such orders. Continue Reading ›

Generally, if a couple with children decides to divorce, and they are unable to come to an agreement regarding custody, they will ask the court to evaluate the evidence and issue a ruling. Parties that believe a custody ruling to be erroneous or unjust can file an appeal, but they generally must demonstrate a clear error to obtain a reversal. Recently, a California court issued an opinion describing how appellate courts evaluate custody rulings in a case in which the mother filed an appeal following an award of joint custody. If you are embroiled in a custody dispute, it is important to speak with a trusted California child custody attorney to evaluate your options.

The Trial Court Ruling

It is alleged that the husband and the wife were married in 2001 and had a son in 2007. They separated in 2013, and the husband filed for divorce three years later. During the litigation of their case, the mother had custody of the son sixty percent of the time while the father enjoyed custody forty percent of the time, but there was no formal arrangement. In the final order dissolving the marriage, the court ordered the arrangement to remain in place until a custody evaluation could be conducted. Following the evaluation, the court ordered the parents joint custody, with equal time with the child. The mother then appealed, arguing the court abused its discretion in issuing the order.

Evidence Weighed in an Appeal of an order Dictating Child Custody

An appellate court tasked with reviewing a custody order will examine it for an abuse of discretion and apply the substantial evidence standard to the trial court’s findings of fact. In custody cases, a court will abuse its discretion if it issues an order despite no reasonable basis that the edicts in the order are in the best interest of the child. A court can also abuse its discretion by making wrong legal assumptions or applying improper criteria. Finally, a trial court can abuse its discretion by failing to maintain impartiality, issuing a decision not based on the evidence presented, or failing to use its reasoned judgment.

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Sharing custody of a child can be difficult, as parents and the courts have to not only determine what is in the best interest of the child, but also must develop a way for parents to exercise their rights. The struggles of sharing custody are often exacerbated during the holidays, as parents frequently wish to share time and make memories with their children and are reluctant to relinquish any time. There are ways parents can avoid some of the heartaches of sharing custody during the holidays, though, and it is prudent for anyone trying to determine how to protect custody rights during important events to speak to a knowledgeable California child custody attorney to discuss their options.

Shared Custody of a Child During the Holidays

When parents who share custody of a child are finalizing their custody arrangements with the courts, it is advisable for them to request that the courts determine custody exchanges on important holidays as part of any decree. Otherwise, exchanges during holidays will comply with the standard schedule the court develops.

In some cases, certain holidays may be more important to one parent than the other. For example, if parents practice different religions, they may celebrate important holidays on different dates. In other instances, a holiday will be of equal importance to both parents. Depending on how each parent feels about the holiday in question, there are several different ways in which they can share custody. Regardless of which option parents choose, establishing a clear holiday schedule ahead of time can help ease their anxiety regarding spending time with their children on important days. Continue Reading ›

Domestic violence is a serious problem affecting many residents of California. Thus, the law allows victims of domestic violence to seek restraining orders preventing them from suffering further harm. Prior to granting an order, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence of violent acts against a person so as to warrant a restraining order. Judges are required to issue rulings based on the evidence alone and cannot impart their opinions on the matter. As such, if a judge demonstrates bias during a domestic violence hearing, it may constitute grounds for a reversal. The evidence needed to demonstrate bias was the subject of a recent California ruling in which both parties accused each other of domestic violence. If you are the victim of abuse by a romantic partner or family member, it is prudent to meet with a skilled California domestic violence attorney regarding your rights.

The Hearing and Subsequent Ruling

It is reported that in the spring of 2019, the wife filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order against the husband. A month later, the husband filed a request for a domestic violence restraining order against the wife. The court issued temporary orders retraining both parties and scheduled a hearing for cause. During the hearing, the wife testified in detail regarding numerous acts of abuse over the course of two years. The judge issued an order against the husband but declined to issue an order against the wife. The husband appealed, arguing that the judge demonstrated bias.

Demonstrating Bias in a Family Law Case

Under the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act, a court may issue an order restraining any person to prevent domestic violence from recurring and ensuring a separation between the parties involved if the party seeking the order presents reasonable proof of past acts of abuse. Abuse is defined as an act that causes a person to have a reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily harm. It also includes conduct that is enjoined by other statutes such as sexual assault, battery, and molestation.

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Many times when the parents of a child end their relationship, they will turn to the courts to decide issues of custody and child support. There are numerous factors that a court should consider in determining an appropriate custody arrangement and support obligation. For example, a court will typically evaluate how much time each parent spends with a child in calculating child support obligations. Recently, a California court discussed a court’s discretion, or lack thereof, in determining an appropriate support obligation, in a case in which timesharing that did not exist was accredited to the father. If you share custody of a child and you or your co-parent wish to seek child support, you should speak to a trusted California child support attorney to discuss your options.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father were parents of a minor child. The mother sought child support, after which the court entered an order based on guidelines that required the court to determine the approximate amount of time the higher-earning parent spent with the child and use that number to calculate an appropriate support obligation. The trial court had attributed a twenty-nine percent timeshare to the father, even though for several years, he had no visitation with the child.

Reportedly, the mother appealed the order as it pertained to the periods in which the father did not spend time with the child, which was approximately five years. The court found in favor of the mother and ruled that the order must be recalculated based on the father’s actual timeshare of the child during the disputed period.

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Recent changes in technology and currency have not only altered the global economy, but they have also modified settlements and property division in divorce cases. This was demonstrated in a recent California case in which the court found that the husband violated the fiduciary duty he owed his wife as well as her interest in the community estate by failing to disclose information regarding his cryptocurrency investments. If you are in the process of determining whether to end your marriage, it is important to understand how the investments you and your spouse own may be evaluated, and you should consult a knowledgeable California divorce attorney regarding your rights.

Facts of the case

It is reported that in January 2013, the wife filed a petition for divorce and, along with the petition, served her husband with a restraining order that prohibited him from transferring, concealing, or disposing of any property, whether community or separate. In April 2013, the husband made three bitcoin-related transactions. Ultimately, most of his $45,000 were tied up in a bankruptcy action. He eventually recovered a small amount, and in his financial disclosures in February 2014, disclosed ownership of 1,062 bitcoins.

Allegedly, the court found the bitcoins to be community property and divided them equally between the spouses. Only after the wife sought to collect her half of the bitcoins was it disclosed that the remaining coins were tied up in bankruptcy. The value of the bitcoins had increased greatly at that time, and the original investment of $45,000 was now worth $8 million. The wife filed a motion to have half of the value of the bitcoins transferred to her and to grant her attorneys’ fees. The court granted the motion, finding that the husband breached the fiduciary duty he owed his wife. The husband then appealed.

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In any family law dispute involving custody, the court’s primary concern is what is in the child’s best interest. While normally it is beneficial for a child to have ongoing contact with both parents, in cases involving domestic violence, the court may decline to grant a parent custody or visitation rights, unless the evidence demonstrates it should rule otherwise. In a recent California case, the court discussed what evidence is needed to demonstrate that a party has perpetrated domestic violence and that awarding custody to that party would be detrimental to a child. If you are immersed in a disagreement over custody that involves allegations of domestic violence, it is prudent to speak to a dedicated California child custody attorney to discuss what measures you may be able to take to safeguard the interests of you and your child.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the mother met the father when she attended his karate class. She was thirteen at the time, and he was thirty-four. When the mother turned eighteen, they married and shortly thereafter had a daughter. The mother filed for divorce when the child was eighteen months old. The mother sought sole legal and physical custody of the daughter with limited visitation rights awarded to the father, alleging that the father had sexually molested her when she was a minor and routinely engaged in acts of domestic violence against the mother, in the form of stalking and verbal assault.

Allegedly, the court found that there was insufficient evidence that the father perpetrated acts of domestic violence and awarded the father joint custody, ordering a schedule that would allow him to have physical custody approximately thirty percent of the time. The mother appealed, arguing that the court abused its discretion in finding that the father should be granted custody rights.

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Given the global economy and the ease of establishing a life outside of the United States, it is not uncommon for a family to reside in another country for an extended duration. When a couple that regularly spends time in other countries decides to divorce, however, their international travel habits may present challenges in terms of determining custody. The hurdles of protecting custody rights when the parties have lived abroad were demonstrated in a recent California case in which the parties lived overseas prior to seeking a divorce. If your child’s co-parent is attempting to keep your child in another country, it is essential to retain a diligent California child custody attorney to help you fight to protect your parental rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father were married in Italy in 2006 and lived there until 2008 when they moved to California. They had two children in 2009 and 2010 while living in California. In 2016, they moved back to Italy as a family, but the mother and the father became United States citizens prior to moving. They eventually gave up all of their assets and property in California and established a life in Italy. The children attended school in Italy and routinely received medical treatment there as well.

Allegedly, in 2018, the mother and the father began experiencing marital problems, and the mother advised that she wished to move back to California with the children. The parties never agreed regarding where the children would reside, however. The mother moved back to California, and in 2019 the father filed for divorce in Italy. The mother then traveled to Italy and returned to California with the children. At that time, the children had lived in Italy for two years and nine months. The mother subsequently filed a divorce action in California in which she sought, in part, sole legal and physical custody of the children. The father then filed a petition for the return of the children under the Hague convention.

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