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Orange County Family Law Blog

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.

$1-billion divorce settlement offers lessons to Californians

The recent Harold and Sue Ann Hamm divorce settlement, worth nearly $1 billion, is about a lot more than money. Californians can take away one hard lesson from the saga of this high-profile couple, plan ahead. A newly married couple may feel that only bliss awaits them in marriage and that financial matters will sort themselves out, but a prenuptial agreement is a simple way to acknowledge a stark reality, 50 percent of marriages now fail.

When an Oklahoma court awarded ex-wife Sue Hamm $975 million from Harold Hamm's oil fortune, now estimated at more than $9 billion, most observers were shocked. When Sue Hamm appealed the ruling on the grounds that Hamm was worth far more and owed her because of her contributions as attorney and executive at his oil-drilling and exploration company, these same observers were incredulous.

What is considered quasi-community property in a divorce?

Many Californians know that divorce can have a big financial impact on people's lives. For this reason, some people consider or enter into prenuptial agreements before marriage that identify and establish specific assets as separate property belonging to just one or the other person. Separate property is excluded from property division but marital properties - that is, jointly owned properties - are subject to distribution. California law also addresses another category of asset known as quasi-community property.

What is quasi-community property? This is any type of property that is obtained by either spouse during the marriage while the couple was living in another state; it is considered quasi-community property and is considered akin to marital property because it would have been considered as such if it had been acquired in California. This asset can be real estate, income earnings from employment, investments and most other types of property that are not specifically designated as separate properties.

The essence of California's parentage or paternity laws

Many California couples are open to the topic of cohabitation before marriage. Some of them put off marriage and prefer to live with their significant other so that they can prioritize their career first. This is one of the reasons why many children are born to unmarried parents, resulting in more paternity cases. Basically, when a child is born out of wedlock, the mother's relationship with the child is the only one established, while the father's relationship with the child can only be legally recognized after establishing paternity or parentage.

In California, establishing parentage means obtaining a Declaration of Paternity or court order that identifies the child's legal parents. Unmarried fathers do not have any legal rights to their child unless he marries the child's mother. Otherwise, the father cannot claim rights and do not have responsibilities or obligation to the child.

Guiding you through your child-support modification request

For many children in California, financial support from a parent who lives apart from them plays an important role in their lives. In many cases, child support provided by a noncustodial parent becomes the main source of income for the children's households and something the custodial parent depends on each month. Child support buys food for the child and pays for school expenses and extracurricular activities.

Sometimes, though, big life changes change how much the supporting parent can provide. Whether it is an economic downturn and rapidly rising costs or a job loss or severe illness, the noncustodial parent may not be able to provide enough to meet a child's needs. This is when requesting a change in the amount of child support may be essential.

Protecting the business from a divorce

California couples are familiar with the concept of a family-owned business. Often, couples who own a business together work together to operate the business or perhaps one spouse does the work while the other provides investment funds. Often, couples who work together have long marriages and business partnerships.

The American Psychological Association recently stated that 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States are now divorced. When married business partners divorce, the business itself becomes a marital asset to be divided and the business then becomes part of the legal issues and process.

In-depth look at parenting plans in California

Following a parent's divorce, each party may have different plans on how they can rebuild their life after the marriage. That plan also includes how they can maintain a good relationship with their child, in spite of the divorce. A stable parent-child relationship, visitation time and time sharing are among the issues included in a parenting plan.

In California, a parenting plan is also called a custody and visitation agreement. It is a written agreement made by both parents that addresses time shares and decision-making when it comes to the child's education, health and welfare. The agreement may allow both parents and children on what to expect in parenting after the child custody is resolved. It can also minimize conflicts regarding shared parenting. A parenting plan is a court order signed by both parents in the best interests of the child.

What is spousal or partner support agreement in California?

Ending a marriage includes the process of property division. Upon property division, the marital properties, assets and debt would be subject to division. This would likely impact one spouse's financial stability during and after divorce. The income flow would be altered as well. However, family law solutions in California may permit a spouse to seek financial assistance from the other spouse.

There are different legal issues associated with spousal or partner support. Partner support is used when the couple are considered to be domestic partners. To be to legally established spousal or partner support, one party may ask the court to make a spousal support order upon a divorce, legal separation or annulment. A partner can seek a temporary spousal support order while the separation case is going on. It can also be ordered when the legal separation or divorce becomes final. The support order will become permanent or long term when the case becomes final. Aside from this, spouses and domestic partners can also create spousal or partner support agreements.

Why prenuptial agreements are valuable in California

Perhaps because the cost of living is higher than in some states, financial agreements before marriage are popular in California. Often, couples recognize that divorce is always a possibility and try to protect themselves in the event their marriages fail. Even so, some people hesitate to get a prenuptial agreement done.

Certainly drafting a prenuptial agreement in the middle of wedding planning can seem unromantic. Many people think that creating a prenuptial agreement means two people do not completely trust one another. For financial planning experts, however, belief in romance should never eclipse discussion of a topic that couples should have as soon as possible.

How parental alienation affects child-parent relationships

Wherever California parents divorce, the process of determining child custody can be not only an emotional battle between parents but also a traumatic experience for their children. Although both parents have their own ideas of how they can take care of their child, some end up losing their relationships with their children. Many researchers believe this parental alienation too often leads to disrupted relationships.

Few children want their parents to separate. In the vast majority of cases, they want the love and care of both parents. Some parents work hard to shield their children from the conflicts of divorce and child custody issues, but others work equally hard to alienate their children from the other parent. One researcher considers this a primary way some custodial parents try to bolster their value and perceived capacity to care for their child without the help or influence of the other parent. Unfortunately, such tactics often have negative effects on children.

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