People who intend to file for divorce often mistakenly think that they will have to engage in extensive courtroom battles to legally end their marriage. In many California divorce actions, though, parties can resolve their disputes and dissolve their marriage through the process of mediation. Mediation is not appropriate in every case, however, and it is important for anyone considering ending their marriage to learn more about mediation and what it entails in divorce actions. If you need assistance with a divorce action, it is smart to confer with a Bay Area divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

What is Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential dispute resolution process where a neutral third party, known as the mediator, facilitates communication and negotiation between opposing parties. Among other things, the mediator assists the parties in identifying issues, expressing concerns, and exploring potential solutions. Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator does not make decisions but guides the parties toward reaching their own mutually agreeable solutions. In California, mediation is widely used across various legal contexts, and California Evidence Code Section 1129 ensures the confidentiality of communications during the mediation process, fostering open and honest discussions to resolve disputes amicably.

What Does Mediation in a Divorce Case Entail?

California family law courts often encourage or, in some cases, mandate divorcing couples to attempt mediation before resorting to traditional litigation. In the context of divorce actions in California, mediation is a structured process wherein divorcing spouses work collaboratively with a mediator to address specific issues arising from the dissolution of their marriage. This can include discussions on matters such as child custody, visitation schedules, spousal support, and the division of marital assets and debts. Continue Reading ›

While people generally understand that the courts may issue orders imposing child support obligations in cases in which parents share custody of a child, few people truly understand the purpose of child support. Further, they may have questions about what it can be spent on and how long such support is available. It is important for anyone who shares custody of a child to understand California law pertaining to child support, however, to avoid unintentionally waiving important rights. If you would like to learn more about the goals of child support and what it can be used for, it is in your best interest to meet with a Bay Area child support lawyer as soon as possible.

What is the Purpose of Child Support?

In California, child support is governed by various statutes, with the primary purpose being the well-being and financial support of the child. The overarching goal is to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial responsibilities associated with raising a child, even if they are no longer together. The key statutes with regard to child support are California Family Code sections 4050 to 4076, which outline the guidelines and factors considered in determining child support obligations.

The purpose of child support is to provide for the child’s basic needs, including but not limited to food, shelter, clothing, and education. California law recognizes that both parents have a legal and moral obligation to support their children financially. The amount of child support is typically determined based on the income of both parents, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, and other relevant factors such as health care costs and childcare expenses. Continue Reading ›

I am a divorce lawyer, and also a product of divorce. I was fortunate enough that it was low-drama, and my childhood was not shaped by the fact that my parents were no longer together. Their amicable divorce helped inspire me to pursue this career, because I want to be able to do my part to help my clients achieve the same result, when it is possible.

When I was 15 years old, my parents informed me that they were going to split up. My dad was moving out to a nearby apartment complex in Pleasant Hill, that was actually a few minutes closer to my high school. My mom was staying in the house. My parents’ marriage had been wrought with some turmoil, but I always felt like they had “gotten through it” and so it would be smooth sailing for the rest of their lives. After they announced their split, I was shocked at first, but quickly grew accustomed to it.

My parents never put pressure on me to spend equal time with both of them, because my dad would make efforts to come to the house and hang out with my mom and I. He would frequently come over for dinner, and would be at all of my swim meets, water polo games, and other school events. One of my dad’s favorite things to do was to come over and mow the lawn at our house, and I would see him out there every Sunday without fail. Some of our neighbors did not even know that my parents had split. I would usually spend one full week out of the month with him at his apartment, but it was never compulsory- it was always based around my needs and my schedule.

When parents share custody of a child, it is not uncommon for the court to order the higher-earning parent to pay child support. The parties’ income can change over time, however, making modifications of child support orders necessary. As explained in a recent California case, such changes do not change the obligation to pay past due amounts. If you have questions about your financial obligations or rights with regard to your child, it is wise to talk to a Bay Area child support attorney at your earliest convenience.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that the mother and the father had a child in 2004; they divorced and were granted joint custody of the child. In 2017, the family court ordered the father to pay monthly child support of approximately $1,200, and he was found to owe close to $7,400 in arrears. In December 2018, the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) filed a stipulation and order, referred to as the 2018 Order, stating that the father would pay a minimum of $100 per month for a driver’s license and occupational licensing agreement with DCSS, emphasizing it as a temporary arrangement.

Reportedly, in November 2019, the father sought a court order specifying the child support the mother had to pay under the 2018 Order. The family court, in September 2020, granted Father primary physical custody, modified his monthly payment to $0 as of December 2019, but retained his arrears. In June 2021, DCSS claimed the father owed almost $8,000 in arrears through November 2019. Father, in August 2021, sought a determination of support arrears, arguing that, based on the 2018 Order, the mother should be responsible for child support in 2019. Continue Reading ›

The California courts generally find that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain a relationship with both parents. As such, if one parent attempts to obstruct the other parent’s right to custody or visitation in opposition to applicable court orders, it can have serious consequences. As illustrated in a recent California ruling issued in a custody case, if a court finds that a parent unreasonably interferes with their co-parent’s custody rights, they may go so far as to reduce their custody rights and impose sanctions on them. If you have questions about what measures you can take to protect your custody or visitation rights, it is wise to meet with a Bay Area child custody attorney promptly.

Facts of the Case and Procedural History

Allegedly, the father filed a paternity and custody action in Ohio, while two months later, the mother filed a custody petition in California. Both parents sought to dismiss the Ohio case and transfer jurisdiction to California. The California court temporarily stayed the case pending the Ohio court’s jurisdiction decision. The Ohio court then determined California was the child’s home state, allowing the father to withdraw the Ohio case voluntarily. The mother subsequently attempted to dismiss her California petition, but the court declined her request, and she filed a request for dismissal a few days later.

Under California law, the courts can impose sanctions in divorce cases to discourage behavior that hinders the resolution of disputes and unnecessarily prolongs court proceedings. Such sanctions must warranted, though, otherwise, they may be vacated. In a recent California divorce action in which the wife appealed a sanctions order against her, the court explained the grounds for issuing such sanctions, ultimately finding that they were appropriate. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is important to understand your options, and you should meet with a Bay Area divorce attorney promptly.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the parties were married and subsequently divorced. In November 2019, the wife filed a request to modify spousal support, which was set at zero, claiming she had monthly expenses exceeding her income. The wife also requested the division of a business asset, which the husband argued was his separate property, and sought attorney fees and sanctions.

In many divorce actions in which parents have joint custody, the courts will deem it necessary to order one parent to pay the other support. As child support obligations are largely income-based, in cases in which a parent’s income fluctuates, it may be difficult to determine an appropriate amount, and the support order may need to be adjusted over time. As discussed in a recent California ruling, the court that issues a support order will generally retain the authority to modify the order as long as it is in effect. If you have questions about child support, it is in your best interest to speak to a Bay Area child support attorney as soon as possible.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the parties were briefly married before separating and divorcing; they had one child during their marriage.  In the judgment of dissolution, the court ordered the father to pay child support. In 2015, the mother requested a modification, claiming the father had misstated his finances. After a 2017 trial, the court reduced the father’s support obligation and ordered him to make annual Ostler-Smith payments.

Allegedly, in 2019, the father requested a determination of arrears, claiming he overpaid support since 2015. At a hearing, the court assured the mother she could conduct discovery on the Ostler-Smith calculations and present evidence at a future hearing, as the court retained jurisdiction over that issue. Nevertheless, the mother served discovery requests seeking the father’s financial records. The father opposed producing the documents. Continue Reading ›

Under California law, parents are legally obligated to financially support their children. As such, in cases of shared custody, the courts will often set forth orders obligating one parent to pay child support to the other. Disputes often arise regarding each parent’s ability to pay, however, and in such instances, parties will often hire experts to support their opinion. A recent California ruling addressed the disclosure requirements for expert reports in child support actions, ultimately rejecting the father’s claim that a report should be excluded. If you need assistance with a child support action, it is smart to speak with a Bay Area child support attorney about your rights.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the mother and father shared custody of their minor son, pursuant to a paternity action, and that the father was obligated to pay child support to the mother. The father subsequently sought to reduce his child support obligation. The mother requested a vocational evaluation of the father. The vocational expert issued a report in which he relied on documents in the record since the father refused to participate in the evaluation. The father filed three motions in limine to preclude the vocational expert report, which the trial court considered and denied.

It is reported that the court held a hearing on the child support issue, during which the father testified about his limited ability to work due to a car accident and presented evidence from his sister in support of his assertion. The expert testified that the father had several job options, including the option of working as a legal assistant, which offered the highest earning opportunity. The court admitted the expert report into evidence. The mother testified about her income and expenses as well. Considering the expert’s testimony and the mother’s financial situation, the court increased the father’s child support obligation by approximately $275 per month. The father appealed. Continue Reading ›

When handling custody matters, the primary consideration of the California courts is what is best for the child that is the subject of the dispute. This includes assessing whether either parent has committed acts of domestic violence, as the law presumes that awarding custody rights to a party who perpetrated such acts would be harmful to the child. Recently, a California custody case shed light on what evidence is required to rebut the presumption. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is advisable to consult with a Bay Area child custody attorney who can guide you through the steps necessary to protect your interests.

Factual Background

It is reported that the father filed an action to establish parentage for two children born when he was romantically involved with the mother. In January 2018, a stipulated judgment was entered, awarding both parents joint physical and legal custody. However, within a year, both parents sought to modify the stipulated judgment.

Allegedly, the mother subsequently filed a request for order asking the court to set aside the judgment on the grounds that the father had bullied her into signing it. Meanwhile, the father sought a domestic violence restraining order, asserting that the mother had previously carried out acts of domestic violence against him. Following a trial, the court set forth a domestic violence restraining order against the mother. The court also held that both parties had partaken in acts of domestic violence but had successfully rebutted the presumption under Section 3044 of the Family Code. The father filed an appeal. Continue Reading ›

In the state of California, without a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement dictating otherwise, any property or income obtained while a couple is married is deemed marital property. Thus, when a couple makes the decision to end their marriage, it becomes vital to pinpoint the date they separated since any earnings obtained after that point are regarded as separate property. Recently, a California divorce case explained the factors evaluated in establishing when the separation happened. If you are considering ending your marriage, you should consult a Bay Area divorce attorney to evaluate your options for protecting your interests.

Case Background

It is alleged that the parties wed in 2007. A decade later, the husband filed for divorce. Disputes then arose over the date of separation. The wife claimed the separation occurred four months after the wedding, but the husband argued they only separated when he initiated the divorce. The case was tried before a judge, who court ultimately agreed with the husband’s perspective. The wife filed an appeal, contending the trial court neglected to consider her intentions and conduct towards the marriage, given the abuse she experienced from her husband.

Determining the Date of Separation in Divorce Cases

On appeal, the Court rejected adopt the wife’s reasoning and upheld the trial court’s decision. The Court explained that when a couple separated is a factual issue that must be established by a preponderance of the evidence. Upon review of a trial court’s ruling, the courts evaluate whether there is considerable evidence to support it, considering all reasonable and legitimate inferences. Continue Reading ›

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