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Orange County Family Law Blog

What should spouses know about the divorce process in California?

Most Californians are loosely familiar with the legal issues involved at the end of a marriage. Some have experienced them firsthand, and others have seen friends or family members experience the range of emotions that comes with the end of this most intimate relationship. However, before divorce papers are filed and a couple is forced to deal with issues such as child custody, spousal support and asset and property division, they might want to look more closely at what the process entails.

By definition, a divorce is the process of dissolving the marriage or, as is now allowed under California law, the domestic partnership of two individuals. Once the divorce is complete, both parties are considered single again and can remarry.

We can help you nullify or create a prenuptial agreement

No matter their income or assets, for California residents at different levels of wealth on the verge of marriage, a prenuptial agreement provides a way to make the important financial decisions about money and other priorities in the relationship before marriage. While having a prenup has certain advantages, not all prenuptial agreements are the same. While prenups are supposed to be created under mutual agreement, they may still result in inequitable power split between the spouses.

For one, there are situations in which prenuptial agreements are made under coercion or duress. A soon-to-be spouse may be coerced into signing a prenup without having full knowledge of the consequences. Some spouses feel they must enter into a prenup to please their soon-to-be husband or wife, or they may sign the prenup before properly reviewing the marital contract.

How California differs when it comes to grandparents' rights

Over 40 years ago, visitation rights were granted only to the child's parents. However, as family law evolved, many people recognized the significance of granting grandparents visitation rights to their grandchildren. Several studies also showed the potential benefits of grandparents' involvement in a child's life. For these reasons, every state, including California, developed a law that allows visitation rights to grandparents.

Families should be mindful of the different laws among the states that recognize the legal rights of grandparents to visit their grandchildren. Although there are states that have similar statutes on grandparents' rights, the court may choose to apply certain provisions differently. These rights vary on a state-to-state basis, and from case to case. Nevertheless, the primary factor in awarding visitation rights to grandparents would be the best interests of the child. It is also the basis for awarding visitation rights to non-parents, such as other family members and foster parents.

Stevie J's $1 million child support case

Music artists and celebrities typically live better than many other residents in Orange County, California. Despite this, many controversies still surround celebrities regarding missed child support payments. Such is the case for rapper Stevie J, who has been accused of failing to pay child support.

Stevie J recently made the headlines not because of another album or music single but because of a continuing family law issue. According to the report, the star of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta has failed to fulfill his financial obligations to his son and daughter. He reportedly owes more than $1 million in unpaid child support.

Can Californians end a marriage in ways other than litigation?

Many people in California think that divorce requires "litigation," meaning in common parlance that their attorneys argue in court over the details of the couple's positions in front of a judge who makes a final ruling. Historically, litigation has been used in most divorces, but as increasing numbers of attorneys and legal observers have noted, it has certain disadvantages. It can be emotionally difficult for the divorcing couple and their children, expensive and can lead to conflict will that can last for years. Fortunately, another option called "collaborative law" is available for couples who want to save themselves the emotional and financial challenges of litigation.

How long has the collaborative law approach been around? First used in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this form of alternative dispute resolution has compiled a strong record of marriages ending peacefully and without undue legal costs. A national nonpartisan organization called the Uniform Law Commission continues to help states enact standards for collaborative law and how it resolves family law issues. The approach has been so successful that it has been adopted in many other countries, including Canada, Australia and several countries in Europe.

Protecting children during child custody proceedings

In the aftermath of divorce, many but not all parents want to take custody of their children whether they are in Maine or in California. Parents who want custody will often do whatever they can to get it, even if it means portraying the other parent as unfit for custody. Unfortunately, parents who do this are not paying attention to how their actions are affecting their children. The more parents battle and disagree with one another, the worse the emotional impact on their children.

These emotional effects are the principal reason why child custody is often hard for courts to address. Our Orange County family law firm understands the challenge this presents for parents and judges alike. Fortunately, time and experience and keeping abreast of current information on the effects of parental separation and divorce on children has helped us develop strategies that can resolve child custody issues without emotionally damaging children. We start by evaluating our clients' circumstances and then identifying ways to minimize difficulties between parents that make resolving custody issues more difficult. We also listen to what children have to stay about their parents' separation.

Is child custody mediation helpful?

Determining child custody in a divorce is not a simple task. The rights, responsibilities and access of each parent to a child are at stake in a child custody process. That is why many parents find it difficult to communicate effectively with the other parent during and after the divorce. If that happens to be the case, the process of establishing a parenting plan may be affected.

In California, a parenting plan is an agreement that indicates how the parents will share their responsibilities of taking care of their child. It includes the details of visitation schedules, how each parent will spend time with the child during weekends, holidays and vacations and limitations of travel and other activities. Aside from that, it outlines the legal custody and physical custody of each parent. Physical custody recognizes where the child lives while legal custody determines how parents will make decisions regarding health care, education and the well-being of the child.

Lifestyle and infidelity clauses often found in California prenup

Marital agreements are generally important for Californians seeking matrimonial bliss. The cost of living, commodities and other expenses in California are higher compared to other states. So, the financial impact felt from the end of marriage can be more significant. California residents are also no stranger to prenuptial agreements. While some Orange County residents may consider this kind of marital contract as unromantic, some residents would not be married without one.

A prenuptial agreement does not provide only asset protection. It may also set certain guidelines for a couple to follow during marriage by the addition of lifestyle clauses and other conditions included in a prenuptial agreement. Lifestyle clauses can be considered as a guideline for spousal behavior and are frequently included in prenuptial or postnuptial agreements drafted today.

Former Apple CEO sued for allegedly hiding assets

Once a California divorce is finalized, it is usually safe to assume that both ex-spouses can finally forget all the heartache and pain of separation, and move forward with their lives. However, at times, that is easier said than done. Sometimes, there are family law concerns that may re-emerge and complicate the divorce. This most often happens in high-asset divorce cases.

Every detail and piece of information related to a divorce is significant, particularly if it involves assets, properties and other financial resources. During a divorce, both parties are required to disclose all assets, debts and properties to ensure that the asset distribution will be fair and reasonable for each spouse. Unfortunately, there are spouses who want to have a greater share of the assets and they may hide some of those assets. The subject of hidden marital assets is the recent controversy linked to former Apple CEO, John Sculley. According to reports, the co-founder of Apple is named in a lawsuit, which was filed by his ex-wife, for allegedly hiding over $25 million of his assets when they got divorced in 2011. Scully has an estimated net worth of $200 million.

Ensuring that child support calculations are just and fair

Whether parents have an amicable divorce or not, California family law views children as the innocent ones who can be negatively affected by their parents' separation. The law also sets a standard for parents when it comes to responsibility and obligation towards their child, particularly in the financial aspect. This is where child support comes in. Child support is a financial obligation that remains regardless of the marital status of the child's parents.

In California, child support is based on a certain formula and guidelines. The formula usually takes into account the income of both parents, the type of custody awarded by the court and the capability of the child support payer to provide financial support. Under such circumstances, it is important for both parties to truthfully disclose all sources of income. Just like in the property division process, full disclosure is important in order to ensure that the amount of the child support calculated is fair and reasonable.

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