Archive for the ‘ Family Law ’ Category

When Domestic Violence Affects Custody In California

Posted on: August 19, 2019 by in Child Custody, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Family Law
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If you have a domestic violence case, you might be wondering how it will affect your child custody right if you live in California. Is there a possibility you could receive less child custody because of the charge? That is why you should consult with a Cerritos divorce attorney so that you’re not leaving anything to chance.

It’s The Judge’s discretion 

According to California Courts, it is up to the judge to decide if domestic violence is an issue with the ongoing family case. If it is an issue, there are some rules that the judge must abide by when determining the custody of the child. There are two instances where the judge could treat the case as a domestic violence charge.

The first instance is when you’ve been convicted of a domestic violence charge in the last five years. The second instance is when the court determined that you committed domestic violence against the other parent or the child.

In case the judge determines that it is a domestic violence case, it will be impossible for you to be legally granted joint custody. You might get visitation rights depending on the circumstances of the case. You could be granted custodian rights by the judge if you’re able to prove:

  • That having joint or full custody is in your child’s best interest
  • You’ve successfully completed a 52-week batterer intervention program
  • Comply with the terms of the probation or parole
  • Comply with the rules of the restraining order
  • Successfully completed a court-ordered parenting program
  • Successfully completed a court-ordered substance abuse program

In addition to meeting the above mentioned requirements, you’re expected to refrain from committing future acts of domestic violence.

Your state might not have the presumption of domestic violence built in the statute. This because domestic violence could impact the decision of child custody based on moral presumptions. There are not a lot of judges who will be willing to give custody to a parent who has been violent to the partner or child.

Domestic Violence Offenders Will NOT Get Primary Custody

If there is a history of domestic violence, there will be a “moral presumption” that the abuser should not be given the right to be the primary caregiver of the child. This could also be the case if the violence is not directed towards the child but occurs when the child is present. The court will still be reluctant because of the violence the child is exposed to and might grow up with issues as well.

The domestic violence charge could also have an impact on determining the child custody of victims. A good example is when you’ve been divorced with your spouse for more than two years and you’ve found a new lover. You start living together. Your spouse temper flares and you start getting abused in front of the children. In such a situation, you’re not only a victim but also a parent. Your ex could file a petition to obtain custody of the children if they come to learn of such a predicament. This will be filed on the basis that you’re unable to protect the children from third parties.

Even though domestic violence should never be taken lightly, there are some parents that can fabricate details in order to have an advantage on the child custody hearings. In such a situation, the parent will seek a restraining order because of the domestic violence accusation.

A temporary restraining order will require a much shorter notice given the urgency of the case. The accused might have time to appear in court in order to defend himself or herself. A default order will then be awarded to the parent because the accused party will have failed to respond to the allegations in time.

It doesn’t matter if the state you live in has already adopted the domestic violence presumption, a domestic violence case will definitely affect the child custody dispute. There is a possibility that strong bonds could be formed by the child to the abusive parent as a survival technique. This kind of bond is usually referred to as Stockholm Syndrome which is described as a powerful connection that the oppressed develops for the oppressor.

The negative effects of children witnessing domestic violence are not likely to disappear quickly especially if they’re constantly exposed. According to statistics, children who come from homes where there is domestic abuse are more at risk of health problems when they become adults.

There is a common myth that non-abusive parents can’t lose custody. This is not always true, especially if the accused has a compelling case. The victim might be suffering from post-traumatic stress and might not present themselves well in court. The problem could be compounded when there is no proper legal counsel. This could lead to loss of custody to the abusive parent.

Definition of Domestic Violence in California

According to the laws of California, a person could be accused of domestic violence if he or she acted recklessly or intentionally caused bodily or sexually assaulted the partner. It could also apply in situations where the victim feels that physical harm is imminent. Domestic violence may include:

  • Hitting or striking
  • Threatening
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Destruction of personal property

According to California law, it is presumed that the abuser should not have custody of the children if there is enough evidence to show domestic abuse. Even though it might not interfere with visitation, getting custody is a different ballgame. The accused should take classes on what is presumed to be the root of the problem before thinking about filing for custody. There is no guarantee that the custody will go in their favor even after taking the recommended classes.

False accusations are rare but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you ever find yourself in a predicament, you will need an experienced family attorney to help with your case. You can reach out to the Law Offices of Paul J. Duron if you’re looking for experienced attorneys to help out with your case. Call us today to book an appointment.

Who Gets Custody If the Parents Are Unmarried?

Posted on: July 20, 2019 by in Child Custody, Divorce, Family Law
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Not all parents will be married when they have a child. There are occasions when getting pregnant is not enough motivation to walk down the aisle. The discussions about child custody can get very complicated when the parents are unmarried. That is why it is important that you look for a Norwalk divorce lawyer if you ever find yourself in such a situation. Have you ever wondered what would happen to your kids if you split up with your spouse when you’re not married?

There are legal implications to such a scenario and who gets the children will depend on a couple of factors. Is there a possibility that both parents could have an equal chance of having custody over the children? There is no clear answer to this question as it will depend on the circumstances of the case.

Fathers Establishing Paternity

As a father, you might be required to establish paternity of the children. From a general perspective, a father and a mother will share equal rights when it comes to child custody unless there is an issue with domestic violence. A father will have to go through a few extra steps in order to get full parental rights. The process of identifying a child’s legal mother is straightforward with no complications.

Fathers don’t give birth and there is a chance that the woman might have been intimate with someone else while still cohabiting with the alleged father of the children. As a result, there could be questions raised if the man is truly the biological father of the children.

Why Establishing Paternity is Necessary

A mother could make it harder for the man to gain child custody if the paternity is in question. The man might not be granted custody if he is not the biological father of the children. A man could also use it as an excuse to avoid paying child support if the paternity is unclear.

Establishing Paternity in California

There are two distinct ways of establishing paternity in California and this through court order or the declaration of paternity.

Declaration of Paternity

In order to establish paternity, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an argument or a fight. If both the parents are sure that the man is the father, they can sign a Voluntary Declaration. The form is usually signed at the hospital when the child is born. The father will be presumed to be the biological father of the child if both parties agree on the fact.

Genetic Testing

A genetic test might be ordered by the court if there are disagreements between the two parents. The court might require that the father go through a genetic test if:

He doesn’t have a Declaration of Paternity

Either of the parents has requested a visitation order, child custody, and child support.

A man can also decide to take a DNA test just to confirm he is the biological father of the child.

Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex couples are also not obliged to be married in order to have children together. It will be necessary for one of the parents to petition the court in establishing that they are the lawful parents of the child. This will mean that the couple has to establish they intend to be the child’s parents and also act in a manner to suggest so. It is only after the court legally recognizes the parents will they be able to enjoy the full benefits of having children.

Equal Rights to Custody

If all factors are held constant, both parents will have equal rights to custody over the child. This will happen when there is no question with the paternity of the father. The parents will have to agree on a custody arrangement that works for them. The court is usually involved when both parents can’t seem to agree on the details of the custody. The court will act as a mediator if the unmarried parents can’t seem to agree. If the mediation is not successful, the court will make a decision with the child’s best interest at heart. The custody could be taken away if one of the parents is abusing drugs or is involved in a domestic violence case.

Factors that Determine Custody and Visitation

In case of a contest, the court will be forced to look at a couple of factors before making a determination. The time spent with the child and the level of being involved in the child’s upbringing will significantly impact the custody and visitation rights. A court will not want to deprive someone of their rights unless it is completely necessary. Other factors that could be used in the determination of the case include:

Residence of the Parent: A child needs to be as comfortable as possible with the place residence. Will also include the surrounding community and school.

Moral Character: The moral character of each parent is analyzed when looking at who should get custody over the children. The parent needs to treat the child with respect and provide a safe environment that is nurturing and supportive.

Financial Status: The financial status of each parent is called into question when looking at who gets custody of the child. A parent needs to prove that he or she can properly take care of a child from a financial perspective.

In case the parents are not married, it will be in the best interest of the child that the parents remain friendly and amicable when deciding the custody. If there are no issues, both the parents have equal rights and it is something that can be worked out without involving the family court. It is good that you put your ego aside for the wellbeing of the children. Sometimes one parent could be difficult to reason with and there will be no other option but to involve in the court. You should also make sure you’re getting a good family lawyer to represent you.

What Should be Included In Your Parenting Plan

Posted on: June 26, 2019 by in Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, Family Law
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Divorce is never going to be easy and it gets complicated when kids are involved. You might be amicable with your ex but it will be challenging to agree on the details of the child custody rights. That is why it is important that you look for a good family law attorney in Anaheim so that your interests are well represented in a court of law. 

At the Law Offices of Paul J. Duron, we understand that you want what is best for your child without compromising on the legal situation. We help you in creating a parenting plan that will cover all aspects of the present and the future.

In order to prevent anything bad from happening with the plan, you need to be fully prepared. We’re going to highlight what a good parenting plan should cover so that you’re well aware when trying to get custody of your child.

Living Arrangement

This perhaps the most important part of the parenting plan. The child needs to be as comfortable as possible with the living environment. Will the child live with one parent or will have to be shifting between two homes because of the separation? When looking at this scenario, the geographical considerations will come into play. You will have to consider the movement of the child between homes and the effect it might have. A parent might decide to move away to another city. Both the parents will have to iron out who gets to stay with the child. In case of a disagreement, the court might have to be involved.

The parenting schedule could also have an effect on the living arrangement. One parent might not be readily available because of work commitments.

Vacations, Holidays, and Special Occasions

Arrangements for holidays and special days will have to be put into consideration when coming up with the parenting plan. Both parents have to be on the same page as this could get tricky because each one wants to spend time with the child. It will be better if such days are spent together as a family so that the child is not faced with the dilemma of having to make a decision.

No Bad Mouthing

This is something that often gets overlooked yet it should be talked about for the sake of the child. A marriage doesn’t always have to end when both parties are not in talking terms. Even if you’re not in talking terms with your ex, the children have the right to have a relationship with them. There should be a provision in the parental arrangement that gives the children exclusive rights to have the affection of both parents without being influenced. The parties have to make an agreement that neither of them will take an action that will estrange or discredit the parent in the eyes of the child.

Haircuts

One of the biggest challenges with child custody is that you will only be with your children for some time and not all the time even if you wish to do so. This means that you will sometimes miss some important milestones in their lives. This does not mean that your ex has all the rights of raising the children. There should be a clause in the parental agreement that limits one spouse from making all the major decisions on behalf of the child. This could affect things like a haircut for example. Neither the parent has the legal right of substantially altering the appearance of the child without a legal consent form the other party. The idea behind the arrangement is to ensure that neither the parent is making an extreme decision that involves the child.

No Time Stealing

It is not uncommon to have negative feelings and thoughts even after the divorce has been long concluded. There are occasions where a parent might try to hurt the other using emotional manipulation and involving the child in the process.

One of the tactics that are used is a parent could try and schedule for activities with the child when it is the other parent’s turn to be with the child. This could lead to conflicting scenarios for the child because he or she will be faced with the dilemma of choosing between two parents. The parental agreement will be clear on what a parent can and can’t do when it comes to spending time with the child.

Itemize Some Expenses

There should be a detailed breakdown of how the child support is going to be spent in the parental plan. One thing a good and responsible parent can do is separating health care insurance form the child support payment. There are some states where the two are individual costs are addressed separately in the child parenting plan. Make sure you’re having a good attorney because some expenses can overlap and you might not be sure is to be included in the parenting plan.

Handling Technology

Children are spending a lot of time in front of their phones. As parents, you need to decide on the details and restrictions. There should be a provision in the plan that outlines the use of electronic devices by the children. It is not really a common provision that most parents will remember to include but doing so will help in preventing disagreements in the future.

Avoid Court

As parents, it will be in the best interest of the child to avoid court if it is possible. When you go to court, it means there is a disagreement that can’t be settled amicably between the two of you. There should be a provision in the parenting plan that advocates the use of a third party for mediation before the matter can be taken to court. Parents who use coordinators will avoid the courts. If you can’t seem to agree on the details, the court will have to be involved. This means that you to look for a good family lawyer to help you will the case.

Fighting False Allegations Of Child Abuse In A Child Custody Case

Posted on: September 17, 2018 by in Family Law
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Let’s say that you are fighting your spouse in court for the custody of your child. Your child custody attorney is reputable and experienced, your own record is spotless, and there is no reason why you should not be granted legal custody of your child.

But when you arrive at the courthouse for the child custody hearing, your lawyer takes you aside and explains that your spouse has accused you of something heinous – abusing your own child.

Suddenly, your confidence evaporates. You’re innocent, but you know that it is virtually impossible “to prove a negative” – that is, to prove conclusively that you are not a child abuser.

HOW OFTEN ARE FALSE ACCUSATIONS MADE IN CUSTODY DISPUTES?

California divorce lawyers and judges frequently see false accusations of child abuse in child custody and divorce cases. The accuser will be your spouse, ex-spouse, or the child’s other parent if you were never married, hoping to gain an edge in the custody or divorce battle.

How can you defend yourself against a false accusation of child abuse? Especially if the custody of your child is at stake, you must be able to offer an effective defense that not only refutes the false accusation but also helps you to win your child custody battle.

Keep reading for a brief look at the problem of false child abuse accusations in divorces and custody disputes – and what you can do if you are the target of a false child abuse claim.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN A FALSE CHILD ABUSE CLAIM IS MADE?

Let’s face it. Any bogus child abuse accusation is going to mean trouble. A false child abuse accusation could trigger a police investigation, a restraining order, or the loss of child custody.

If you are accused of child abuse in a divorce or custody battle, you could even be arrested and charged with a crime. You could lose your job – and your good reputation. If you are not guilty of child abuse, you must fight the accusation – aggressively and decisively.

If you are involved in or expecting a divorce or child custody dispute in southern California, it is imperative to have the advice and representation that a family law attorney can provide.

Once a false accusation of child abuse has been made, an accuser in many cases will petition the court for a restraining order and/or for sole custody of the child.

Your attorney’s job at that point will be to cast doubt on the accusation, challenge the accuser’s motives, and if possible, prove that the abuse allegation is, in fact, false.

WHAT CAN BE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A FALSE ABUSE ACCUSATION?

Here in California, several measures are in place that are designed to deter divorcing parents from making bogus accusations of child abuse.

For example, if a court finds that a parent lied about child abuse to improve the chances of gaining the child’s custody, the court will take this to mean that the dishonest spouse is not making the best interests of the child a top priority but is instead trying to manipulate the court.

If this is the court’s finding, the parent who made a false allegation may be allowed only limited and supervised visitation. The falsely accused parent can petition the court to have the accuser pay for the accused’s legal fees and other costs arising from the bogus accusation.

Subsequent to a divorce, a wrongly accused parent may also file a request for a modification of the custody order.

WHAT IS THE TOP PRIORITY FOR A PARENT WHO IS DIVORCING?

Divorces are often intense, emotional ordeals, but parents must place the best interests of their children above any other considerations.

When a divorcing or divorced parent makes a false claim of child abuse, it unfairly undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent, and it is also an attempt to exploit the court.

Which, as you might imagine, judges do not appreciate.

If you are divorcing and you are a parent – or if you are a parent who is already divorced – it never helps your children or your case to make a false accusation of child abuse against your spouse or ex-spouse.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU ARE FALSELY ACCUSED OF CHILD ABUSE?

The most effective thing you can do to win the custody of your child or children is to have a skilled Cerritos family law attorney advocating aggressively on your behalf.

At the beginning of the divorce process, both parents start with joint custody rights and with the right to request sole custody, but the court’s priority in these cases will always be the best interests of the child or children.

WHAT MISTAKES COULD CAUSE YOU TO LOSE CHILD CUSTODY?

If you want legal custody of your child, avoid these mistakes:

1. alcohol or substance abuse or addiction
2. irrational or violent behavior
3. a felony conviction
4. disparaging comments in the child’s presence about the child’s other parent
5. false – or exaggerated – accusations against your child’s other parent
6. failing to heed good legal advice

A bitter, angry, or critical parent will be remembered by a judge, and if you’ve been angry or irate in the presence of social workers, teachers, or police officers, those persons could testify against you at a custody hearing.

Domestic violence and child abuse are real and serious problems in the state of California, and sometimes a child abuse charge made in a child custody dispute is a legitimate and true charge.

WHAT IF A CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATION IS TRUE?

If your child is genuinely at risk from his or her other parent, you must have the insights and sound advice of a family lawyer. Your attorney will help you obtain a restraining order, or if it’s appropriate, will help you file a police report.

Nothing is a higher priority than your child. A custody battle can be one of the most trying experiences of your life. A false allegation of child abuse can be devastating. You will need the advice of a knowledgeable family lawyer.

In Cerritos, an experienced family law attorney will help a parent avoid the mistakes discussed here and will provide the aggressive representation that a parent battling for child custody will need.

Especially if you are falsely accused of child abuse, you must have an attorney who has successfully dealt with such false accusations on behalf of previous clients. If your relationship with your child is at stake, nothing is more important.

How Do Across-State-Line Parenting Plans Work?

Posted on: July 8, 2018 by in Family Law
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Everyone knows that parenting is a difficult job. If you are a divorced parent, the job is even more difficult. But what if you have to share custody of your child with your ex-spouse who lives in another state?

Without regard to the reason why a parent may choose to move out-of-state, sharing custody of a child in two different states will require the parents to create a comprehensive parenting strategy and a flexible visitation schedule. A child support lawyer in California can help further explain your legal options.

CAN A COURT STOP A PARENT FROM MOVING TO ANOTHER STATE?

Most family courts in most states will not prohibit a parent from relocating to another state – but it can and has happened. Any modification to the custody order and parenting plan ordered by a California court must be approved by that court.

The court must determine how the child custody and visitation rights of the parents will be affected by a relocation, and the court must also ensure that any modification to the custody order and parenting plan is in the child’s best interests.

Generally speaking, a parent wishing to move out-of-state with a child must pass a two-part test:

1. First, show the court that the move is being made in good faith for legitimate reasons.
2. Secondly, show the court that the move is in the child’s best interests.

AFTER A DIVORCE, WHEN CAN CUSTODY BATTLES ERUPT?

A custody dispute may arise if a parent with a child’s sole or joint custody seeks to relocate far enough away that the current child custody and visitation arrangement becomes unworkable.

If the remaining parent does not agree to the move, that parent may choose at that time to seek custody by requesting a modification of the court’s child custody order.

If you are a parent on either side of a child custody, visitation, or relocation dispute in southern California, you are going to need the advice, insights, and guidance of a family law attorney. Get that legal help as early as possible.

HOW IS A VISITATION SCHEDULE MODIFIED?

When one parent wants to relocate to another state, creating a fair, reasonable, and flexible schedule for visitations is often the key to avoiding or resolving a legal dispute.

Even when a child’s parents are living in adjacent neighborhoods, putting together a visitation schedule that works for everyone involved can be a nearly impossible task.

Obviously, it is a task that gets substantially tougher if great distances and different states must be taken into account.

If the parents cannot agree on a two-state child custody and visitation plan, a judge will impose a resolution that is in the best interests of the child.

WHAT IS CHILD CUSTODY MEDIATION?

First, however, that judge will order the parents to attend mediation. Mediation is an out-of-court procedure that gives the parents one last opportunity to reach their own voluntary agreement regarding child custody and visitation.

If the parents fail to find common ground in mediation, a child custody and visitation order will be issued by the court. That order will be binding on both parents.

Although it is rare, a California family court has the authority to deny a parent’s request to move to another state. If you are the relocating parent, the way that you present your request to the court can make the difference.

That is why you must be advised and represented by a California family lawyer who has abundant experience handling child custody cases, relocations, and modifications of custody and visitation orders.

WHAT DO COURTS CONSIDER WHEN A PARENT ASKS TO RELOCATE?

What will the court take into account when considering a parent’s relocation request? The questions a court may ask include but are not limited to the following:

1. Is the new area and the new residence comparable to the current area and residence?
2. Is the new location child-friendly? Are parks, libraries, and hospitals nearby?
3. Will there be opportunities for the child to make new friends?
4. Is the relocation temporary or permanent?

If you are the parent who is planning to relocate to another state, you cannot make that move abruptly, and you must plan ahead.

IF YOU RELOCATE, WHEN SHOULD YOU TELL THE OTHER PARENT?

You must inform your child’s other parent of your intention to relocate at least 45 days before you plan to make the move. Here is what the law says:

“To the extent feasible, the notice shall be provided within a minimum of 45 days before the proposed change of residence so as to allow time for mediation of a new agreement concerning custody.”

Of course, if you are the relocating parent, you must understand that if your child’s other parent challenges your relocation request, that challenge will probably take more than 45 days to resolve. You should notify your child’s other parent immediately when you decide to relocate.

Everyone understands that the future is unpredictable. When you choose divorce or learn that your spouse is divorcing you, it is impossible to know how your life will change over the next few years.

Even if neither parent moves out-of-state, child custody arrangements, parenting plans, and visitation schedules can – sometimes quickly – become impractical, burdensome, or outdated.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD THE COURT KNOW IN A CUSTODY CASE?

A divorced parent who is requesting or challenging the modification of a child custody order in California should bring any issues that are unique about your child to the attention of the court.

For instance, if your child has a learning disability, health issues, or behavioral problems, the court will need to know so that the court’s final decision is genuinely in the child’s best interests.

Child custody and visitation disputes are often acrimonious and are always emotionally difficult. That’s natural, of course, because your child’s safety and well-being is your top priority.

HOW WILL A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY HELP?

If you need legal representation immediately, or if you merely need some guidance and legal advice for planning your family’s future, an experienced Long Beach family law attorney will address your concerns and help you choose the best options for yourself and your child.

Nothing is more important than your child. If you need legal help to ensure your child’s well-being, get that help immediately.

Can Spousal Support Payments Be Modified?

Posted on: October 23, 2017 by in Family Law
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If you have been ordered to make spousal support payments in a divorce proceeding, you may wonder if these orders can be modified from time to time as your circumstances, or your ex-spouse’s circumstances change.  The answer is yes.  Below, our spousal support attorneys take a look at some of the changes that may be considered to modify or terminate a spousal support order.

Gravon Warning

If you are considering asking the court to modify or terminate your order to pay your ex-spouse alimony, start by hiring an attorney.   Ask them to check and see if the order includes a “Gravon Warning.” This is a clause that requires the person receiving support to become self-sustaining within a certain, but reasonable amount of time.  They should be able to show evidence that they are moving toward the goal of being self-sufficient.  If they are not making an attempt to do so, you may request an adjustment or termination of your obligation.

Changes in Income

Once a ruling is made for spousal support in a divorce case, life goes on.  Things may change in your financial life, as well as your ex-spouses.  You may have a major pay cut or financial downturn.  Your spouse may get a huge pay raise, or another windfall.  All of these are reasons that you might want to make an appeal to the court for a change.

Going Through Bankruptcy

This will not weigh in your favor when asking the court for a modification in your spousal support order.  Alimony is not a dischargeable debt in bankruptcy.  You can petition the court because you have a reduction in income, or a business loss, but not on the bankruptcy itself.

Your Ex-Spouse’s Disability

This is another area that calls for legal counsel.  If your ex-spouse does not work, and is not trying to gain employment or become self-sufficient, you can request an independent medical evaluation.  Once you’ve obtained that, the evaluation can be considered, as you bring in a vocational counselor to determine what types of employment are suitable.  A person with a disability due to a back injury can, obviously, be unable to work in a warehouse, but they may be able to do other work.  Claiming a general disability due to stress or depression should be verified by a physician that is a specialist in those practices.

Remarriage and Cohabitation

Typically, you will not have to continue spousal support after your spouse remarries.  If they are living with someone else, or “cohabitating,” then it can be assumed that their need for supplemental income has decreased, at least.  In either case, you want to make sure that you go through the court to have the order amended or removed.  Don’t just assume that it’s alright to stop paying.

Make Your Appeal

If you feel a change is justified in your spousal support order, make an appeal to the court with the help of a spousal support attorney.  If you adjust the amount of payment yourself, without going through the system, it may bring you trouble with the law.  Make your ordered payments, until you receive and amended order.

Will Police Enforce Child Custody?

Posted on: October 16, 2017 by in Family Law
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Too many divorced parents have to deal with an ex-spouse who consistently violates the child custody order. A non-custodial parent might routinely be late picking up and returning the children for visitations, or a custodial parent might routinely make the children unavailable. How can you get help enforcing a custody order? Do you need a Cerritos child custody attorney? Can the police help? You’re about to learn those answers and more about your rights and options as a divorced parent.

Violations of a child custody order related to visitations are not the only violations that some parents must deal with. Most custody orders forbid disparaging comments about the other parent in the child’s presence, but it’s a common problem. And if the other parent – whether custodial or non-custodial – simply disappears with the kids for days at a time, you may begin to have genuine concerns about the safety of your children. What can you do? Where can you turn?

In most of these cases, the best first step is simply to try communicating clearly with your ex-spouse. Calmly, point-by-point, explain what you believe to be the problem, why you believe it is a problem, and how you think the problem can be fixed in a way that is fair to everyone. If you believe that your ex-spouse’s behavior is hurting the child or children, try to explain your feelings without accusations or anger.

SHOULD YOU CALL THE POLICE ABOUT A CUSTODY ORDER VIOLATION?

Keep a written journal of your discussions with your spouse regarding the custody order, and be as specific as possible, but also be forthright and candid – any vindictiveness or any attempt by either parent to manipulate the other parent will probably be spotted by the court. Be certain that you have several certified copies of the child custody order. If you have to call the police about a violation of the court order, they will ask to see it.

Court orders – such as arrest warrants, search warrants, and subpoenas – are issued every day by California courts, and a child custody order carries the same legal authority as any other court order – meaning that it can be enforced by the police. Even so, many police departments in California will resist getting involved in a family law dispute unless a crime like kidnapping or abuse has occurred.

Some police departments in our state will be more helpful than others. The police may try talking to your ex, or they may simply tell you to take your problem to the court. If that happens in southern California, obtain the advice and services of an experienced Long Beach family law attorney.

Still, a parent should not be rushing into a courtroom every time there is some minor violation of the child custody order. While the courts in our state expect adherence to custody orders, they also expect sober and rational behavior. Demanding a hearing just because your ex is thirty minutes late with the kids might even backfire against you.

IF YOU GO TO COURT OVER A CUSTODY VIOLATION, WHAT WILL YOU NEED?

Judges want to see facts, not emotions, wild allegations, or trivial allegations. If you are alleging that the other parent regularly causes the kids to be tardy for school, for example, bring a copy of the school’s attendance records or a statement from the school administration. Carrying yourself calmly and having your facts and documents in order will work in your favor.

If one parent is uncooperative or consistently violates the custody order, a judge can modify the order, impose a fine, or even send that parent to jail for contempt of court. Usually, however, a judge will modify the custody order to address the particular violation. For example, if a parent always brings the child back late after overnight visits, overnight visits might be eliminated.

What if you are the non-custodial parent, and the custodial parent routinely will not make the child available for scheduled court-ordered visitations? In such cases, the court may choose to revise the custody order entirely. However, judges will always work to avoid the appearance of punishing a child by reducing the amount of time the child may spend with either parent.

WHAT IS A CALIFORNIA COURT’S TOP PRIORITY?

In fact, in any legal situation that involves a child, a California court’s utmost priority will always be the child’s best interests. What a parent needs to demonstrate to the court is precisely how the other parent’s violations of the custody order are harming the child and how you have attempted to resolve the situation calmly and reasonably. Always show the court that you are putting your child’s interests first.

If you are a non-custodial parent and you want to enjoy more visitation time with your children, take full advantage of the time you already have. Do not miss visits that are already scheduled, and be on your best behavior. That’s the lasting lesson to take from a recent ruling handed down by California’s Third District Court of Appeals.

In that case, a non-custodial mother had missed a number of scheduled visits, and she seemed to behave irrationally when she did show up. The Third District Court upheld a lower court decision and refused to order additional visitations. The judges held that by missing scheduled visits, the mother generated anxiety and distress in the children, so the court refused to give the mother more chances to cause that anxiety and distress.

WHERE CAN A PARENT TURN FOR LEGAL ADVICE AND HELP?

If you do end up calling the police about the violation of a child custody order, cooperate with them – even if they seem reticent to cooperate with you. A call to the police is almost never the end of a custody order violation complaint, and if you go before a judge, any prior lack of cooperation with the police will inevitably work against you.

If you are on either side of a child custody dispute, a child support dispute, or a child visitation dispute, or if you have any concerns or questions regarding child custody or any other matter of family law in southern California, arrange a consultation with an experienced Long Beach family law attorney. Nothing in this world is a higher priority than your children, so you must be represented by a skilled, experienced attorney who will fight aggressively on your behalf.

Unmarried Parents and Child Custody in California

Posted on: October 14, 2017 by in Family Law
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In California, when a child is born to parents that are husband and wife, the law makes the assumption that the child is conceived and born as a result of that marriage.  The husband and wife are said to be “mother” and “father” … the child’s parents.  If the parents are not legally married when the child is born, the legal status of the parents change. Can child custody lawyers in California help?

Determining Paternity

According to California law, there are two ways to determine paternity of a child if the parents are not married.  The most common way is for the father to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP), according to our child custody lawyers.  This is usually done at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, and as part of the paperwork surrounding the happy event.

The other way to determine parentage is through a court order.  In this case, the court determines who is the child’s father.  This sometimes involves a court-ordered DNA test.

This is the way throughout most of California.  In Sonoma County, it’s a bit more complicated, as several forms must be filed and answered.  How smooth or difficult this procedure is depends a lot on whether it’s contested.

The Status Quo

Several factors will be considered in a custody case hearing.  In preparation for the hearing, the attorney will evaluate the case, including history, “status quo,” and future projections for the child’s wellbeing.  The status quo considers how things are working now.  How is the child used to living their life, and sharing their parents? If the arrangement has been working well for the child, this is what the court will generally default to.  If, as a parent, you are trying to make changes in the status quo, you should be prepared to show why these current arrangements are not in the best interest of the child.

Get it In Writing

There may be an assumption that once parentage has been determined or decided, that a parent has an automatic right to see their child.  This is not so, and can depend a lot on how the parent with physical custody feels.  That’s why it’s always better to get a custody and visitation agreement in writing.  Don’t leave your relationship with your child up to someone else’s whim.  If you do not have a legal custody and visitation agreement in force, you may pay more in child support, and have less power to object to being denied visitation.  You will not have any recourse if communication between parents breaks down, and your informal agreement is not honored.

Take the Right Steps

To recap, follow the proper steps to ensure that you have a chance to parent your child and be a part of their life.  Determine parentage early, preferably at birth.  Establish a sensible support system for the child that involves both parents.  AND… get a legal agreement in writing.  This last step is important because it protects the future parent-child relationship.  Don’t leave things to chance if you are not married to your child’s other parent.

For more information, speak to our child custody attorneys today.

Legal Separation Vs. Divorce In California

Posted on: September 22, 2017 by in Family Law
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In the state of California, marital partners who are seeking to dissolve their marriage can choose from a variety of legal options. The alternatives are a “conventional” divorce trial, arbitration, mediation, “collaborative” divorce, legal separation, and annulment.

Before you choose to divorce in this state, legal separation is an option that you should thoroughly consider. Here in California, legal separation differs in several ways from an annulment or a conventional divorce, but you will still need the help of a divorce attorney in Cerritos.

However, a legal separation can provide marriage partners with some breathing space and some time to reappraise their marital circumstances. In a legal separation, marriage partners remain legally married, but they do not live in the same residence.

Partners with children must arrange for child support payments and visitations. You can learn more about the option of legal separation in California – and about whether legal separation may be right for you – by discussing your own situation with an experienced Long Beach family law attorney.

Simply living separately from one’s spouse does not establish a “legal” separation in California. Marriage partners must file court papers to obtain a legal separation. What leads couples to choose legal separation rather than divorce?

Separation is a practical choice for partners with religious principles that forbid divorce. Others choose separation to retain benefits they might forfeit by divorcing.

In California, there is one additional advantage to a legal separation. If you are new in this state, you can sometimes expedite the divorce procedure if you file first for legal separation.

HOW IS A LEGAL SEPARATION “CONVERTED” INTO A DIVORCE?

How does that work? Although a marital partner must reside in California for six months before that partner can file for divorce, there is no residency requirement for obtaining a legal separation.

The law in California allows marriage partners to “convert” a legal separation into a divorce when the separation has been finalized – or at any time during the process. Either partner can submit a request for conversion.

Thus, if a spouse needs to divorce quickly, but that spouse has not yet established residency in California, the spouse can file immediately for separation, and when the six months for the residency requirement have passed, the spouse can then immediately convert the legal separation to a legal divorce.

A legal separation, of course, is never the last word in a marriage; over time, the partners either must reconcile or begin the divorce process. And the Census Bureau reports that fourteen percent of married couples who choose legal separation later reunite.

For those who are not using legal separation as a way to deal with California’s residency requirement for divorce, there is no tangible, quantifiable legal benefit to legal separation, apart from having some private time to think things out.

Generally speaking, separation is for marriages that have deteriorated to where the partners no longer want to live together, but for whatever reason, one partner or both cannot divorce or are not yet ready to divorce.

Legal separation in California requires the consent of both marriage partners, although a spouse served with a petition for legal separation may refuse to take part in the process but may still allow it to proceed without objection.

If the spouse who is served with a petition for legal separation objects to the separation, the filing spouse may have no choice but to continue the marriage or to file for divorce.

IN WHAT WAYS IS LEGAL SEPARATION COMPARABLE TO DIVORCE?

Petitioning for legal separation in California is just as complicated as filing for divorce. This is a no-fault divorce state where a divorce and a legal separation require identical legal grounds – either “irreconcilable differences” or one spouse’s incurable insanity.

The two actions are almost identical, from serving the divorce or separation petition to the full disclosure of both partners’ finances. In legal separations as well as divorces, the partners can personally resolve any disputed issues in the marriage, or a court can make those decisions when the partners cannot reach agreements.

One provision in California family law allows very few marriages to qualify for what the law calls “summary” divorce, which is a much simpler procedure – and usually much less costly – than either legal separation or conventional divorce.

However, only marriages of five years or less with no children, no real estate, and limited assets are eligible for the summary divorce process.

WHAT DOES A LEGAL SEPARATION DECREE ADDRESS?

A legal separation decree issued by a California court deals with the same questions as a divorce decree. Both types of decrees divide and distribute the joint marital property.

Both types of decrees also spell out the arrangements for spousal support, if any, and if children are involved, both types of decrees specify the precise arrangements for child custody, child support, and visitation.

Both types of decrees are legally binding. The main difference is that legal separation doesn’t dissolve a marriage. In a legal separation, one spouse can remain covered by the other’s health insurance, for example, and neither spouse can marry someone else.

In both divorces and separations, the spouses can reduce their time, expenses, and anxieties by reaching agreements on as many topics as they can before they formally initiate legal separation or divorce proceedings.

Having the insights and advice of a Long Beach family law attorney is imperative for anyone who is seeking a legal separation or a divorce in southern California.

In summary, these are the steps that you must take to obtain a legal separation in the state of California:

– Determine the grounds for your legal separation: irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.

– Complete Form FL-100 and submit it to your county court. The form includes options for both divorce and legal separation. A family law attorney can help you complete the form.

– If you have children under age 18, complete and submit Form FL-105/GC-120. A family law attorney can help you complete this form too.

– Pay the filing fee. Those with low incomes and those receiving public benefits may qualify for a waiver of the fee.

– Have your spouse “served” with the court papers.

Finally, if you are considering a separation or a divorce in Long Beach or anywhere in Orange County, Los Angeles County, or elsewhere in Southern California, obtain the reliable legal advice you need, and arrange to meet with a trustworthy Long Beach family law attorney.

How Do You Modify A Child Custody Order In California?

Posted on: August 22, 2017 by in Family Law
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You already know that divorce is never easy, and when children are involved, the difficulties multiply. If you and your spouse are parents who are divorcing, try to work out a child custody agreement even before one of you files the divorce papers.

If you can come to your own custody agreement, you’ll both save yourselves a great deal of time, money, and aggravation. In southern California, a Long Beach child custody attorney can help.

When divorce is hostile or acrimonious, and spouses can’t reach any agreement regarding child custody, the decision is made by a judge.

The well-being your child or children is your top priority, so if you can’t come to an agreement with your spouse regarding child custody, you must be represented by a skilled California family lawyer.

Your attorney can address your concerns, explain how the state’s child custody laws apply in your own case, and advocate vigorously on your behalf.

WHAT IF A CHILD CUSTODY ORDER NEEDS TO BE CHANGED?

Whether spouses reach their own agreement, or it’s left up to a judge, at some point after a divorce, circumstances will almost certainly change, and the child custody arrangement will require some modification.

A parent may request a modification of the custody order when a parent’s income changes or a child’s needs have changed.

A modification may also be requested when:

– One parent has suffered a severe injury or illness.
– One parent wants or needs to move out of the jurisdiction or out of the state.
– One parent has received a criminal conviction or has lost his or her job.
– One parent has married a new partner.
– A new child has been born to either parent.
– The time a child spends with a parent has significantly changed.
– The child’s medical, educational, or other needs have changed.
– Anything else arises that substantially affects the custody order or the child.

To request a child custody order modification from a California family court, have a family law attorney help you complete the paperwork that’s needed to start the process.

Again, if you can reach an agreement with your ex-spouse regarding the modification of a custody order, it can save you both a great deal of trouble.

However, if your ex-spouse disputes the need for the modification that you are requesting, you’ll both probably be ordered by the court to meet with a professional mediator and work through the mediation process.

A hearing date will be set. A judge then will consider any tentative agreement proposal reached in the mediation process, and that judge will make a final decision on your child custody modification request.

If you divorced in a different county or state, it’s possible to move the case to Los Angeles County, but you’ll need the help of a family law attorney.

WHY WOULD A CHILD CUSTODY MODIFICATION REQUEST BE DENIED?

Child custody order modifications are not approved for negligible or frivolous reasons. The change in life circumstances must be substantial, and any modification must serve the child’s best interests.

In all matters involving children in California law, a judge is required to consider the child’s best interests as the paramount priority.

California law presumes that in most situations, consistent and regular communication and time with both parents is in the best interests of a child.

Thus, judges who determine custody disputes in this state have wide discretion to determine what is in the best interests of a child.

If you are seeking custody, a recent conviction or even an arrest, a record of recent drug or alcohol abuse, or any recent history of violent behavior can sabotage your chances to become the custodial parent.

A skilled family law attorney can assess your particular circumstances and advise you regarding your wisest course of action.

Sole custody of a child to one parent is ordered by a California court only if that court is persuaded that sole custody is genuinely in the best interests of the child.

Sole custody means the other parent no longer possesses any legal authority regarding concerns such as a child’s religious upbringing, healthcare, or education. When sole custody is the court’s order, the court must explain its decision in writing.

But even when a California court authorizes the sole custody of a child to one parent, visitation privileges are usually granted to the non-custodial parent.

A judge, however, may in some cases order an agency of the state – or authorize another third party – to supervise those visits. In some cases, a judge will order a custody evaluation to obtain more information about the parents and the child or children before issuing a custody order.

HOW IS A CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATION CONDUCTED?

When a “730” evaluation is sought by a judge, a mental health professional will conduct the evaluation and recommend a parenting and custody plan.

Most California family law judges now rely on 730 evaluations to help them make custody determinations.

A custody evaluation may include interviews, psychological tests, and professional observations and judgments. The evaluation process can take as long as six months.

Parents are scrutinized closely during the evaluation period and expected to exercise their best parenting skills.

If the decision regarding your child’s custody is made by a California judge, the law in our state requires that decision to be in the child’s best interests.

Thus, in any child custody dispute – or even a dispute over child support or visitation privileges – it’s imperative for a parent to be sober, rational, and cooperative.

Making defamatory statements or claims regarding the child’s other parent, for example, never helps you in any divorce-related legal dispute.

A family law attorney can help many divorced and divorcing parents resolve a child custody dispute using the mediation or arbitration process. Mediation and arbitration help many parents avoid an acrimonious courtroom battle.

However, if you need to have a child custody order modified and your child’s other parent is uncooperative, you must have the counsel of a southern California family law attorney who routinely and successfully handles child custody disputes.

Relocations, new jobs, and new marriages happen to parents all the time. Injuries, illnesses, and unemployment are frequent as well, and the courts in California understand that everyone’s circumstances change over time.

Child custody order modifications are not unusual, but a request for a modification will require an attorney’s help. Don’t hesitate to seek that help. Nothing is more important than your child.