Parents will typically go out of their way to ensure that their children feel safe and secure. Family law disputes can often become contentious, though, and it is unfortunately not uncommon for parents arguing over child custody to engage in actions that constitute domestic violence. If you share custody of your child and you have concerns about your parental rights or the protection of your child, it is wise to contact a Bay Area child support lawyer to determine your options. In the meantime, you can read on to learn more about how domestic violence impacts child custody and visitation in California.

 How does domestic violence impact child custody and visitation in California?

In California, the impact of domestic violence on child custody and visitation is addressed under the state’s family law statutes, particularly California Family Code Section 3044. This section establishes a strong presumption against granting custody to a parent who has been found to have committed domestic violence against the other parent, their child, or the child’s siblings within the past five years. This presumption reflects the legal principle that exposure to domestic violence can be detrimental to a child’s physical and emotional well-being.

When domestic violence is alleged or proven, the court must take specific actions to protect the child. This includes conducting a thorough examination of the facts surrounding the domestic violence incidents, considering factors such as the severity, frequency, and recency of the violence. The court will also assess any actions taken by the offending parent to address their behavior, such as completion of a batterer’s treatment program or counseling. These factors are crucial in determining whether the presumption against custody should be rebutted, meaning the offending parent must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that granting them custody is in the child’s best interest despite the domestic violence history. Continue Reading ›

Under California law, parents have a duty to support their children financially. In the context of shared custody, this often means that one parent will have to pay the other parent child support. Many people lack a clear understanding of the laws surrounding child support, though, and when they find themselves in a situation where they may be subject to a support order, they are unsure of how they can protect their rights. If you have questions about child support and how it is calculated, it is smart to speak to a Bay Area child support lawyer at your earliest convenience. In the meantime, you can continue reading to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about child support.

How is child support calculated?

 In California, child support is calculated using a complex formula that considers various factors including the parents’ income, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, tax deductions, and other relevant financial information. Factors such as each parent’s gross income, mandatory payroll deductions, the number of children, health insurance costs, and any other relevant expenses are all considered to ensure the support amount is fair and adequate for the child’s needs.

While people generally understand that spousal support is recoverable in divorce actions, few people understand or contemplate the specifics surrounding such awards until they are dealing with the impending end of their marriage. It is important for anyone who may get divorce to understand their rights and potential obligations with regard to spousal support, however. If you are considering seeking a divorce and want to learn more about regarding spousal support and whether you or your spouse may be eligible to recover it, you should read our summary below, and then contact a Bay Area divorce lawyer for more information.

Can the Department of Child Support Services help me obtain and collect on spousal support?

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) primarily deals with child support matters, but they can also assist in obtaining and collecting spousal support if it is part of a child support order. However, if spousal support is not included in a child support order, DCSS may not have jurisdiction to enforce it. In such cases, individuals may need to pursue enforcement through an enforcement action filed with the court that issued the order. 

People living in the Bay Area who want to end their marriage will typically file a petition for dissolution in the county where they reside and then wait for the courts to resolve any disputed issues in their cases. Divorce proceedings can take a long time, especially in counties where the dockets are overloaded. Some people may be able to obtain more expeditious relief, however, by proceeding with a private judge. If you are interested in ending your marriage and want to learn more about private judges and it whether it may be appropriate for you to use one, read our summary below, and then contact a Bay Area divorce lawyer for more insight.

What is a private judge?

In California, a private judge, as the name suggests, is an individual who does not sit on any court or work for the government. Instead, they are legal professionals hired by people to handle cases outside of the traditional court system. These individuals are typically retired judges or experienced attorneys with knowledge of the inner workings of the California courts. The use of a private judge is a type of alternative dispute resolution, similar to using a mediator or arbitrator.

Married couples throughout the Bay Area often share finances, but it is not uncommon for one spouse to substantially out-earn the other. In such instances, if the parties decide to divorce, the lesser-earning spouse may lack the economic means to provide for their basic needs. In such instances, the California courts will typically find it appropriate to award spousal support. People considering filing for divorce may feel apprehensive about how it will impact them financially, especially if they lack an understanding of California law regarding spousal support. We have provided an overview of numerous spousal support issues, below, but it is smart for anyone contemplating seeking a dissolution to consult a Bay Area divorce lawyer to gain more information.

What is the Purpose of Spousal Support?

In California, the purpose of spousal support, also known as alimony, is to make sure that both spouses can maintain a standard of living similar to that which they enjoyed while they were married, to the extent possible. It is designed to address any disparities in earning capacity and to provide financial assistance to the supported spouse while they become self-supporting. Spousal support can be expended on various living expenses, including housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, education or training for career advancement, and other necessities.

How is Temporary Spousal Support Calculated During a Divorce Case?

During a divorce case, temporary spousal support is calculated based on the income and needs of both spouses. California follows guidelines outlined in the state’s Family Code to determine temporary spousal support. Continue Reading ›

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.

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