Archive for the ‘ Family Law ’ Category

More Millennials Want Prenuptial Agreements

Posted on: December 22, 2016 by in Family Law
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Millennials like prenuptial agreements almost as much as they like taking and posting selfies. “Prenups” are definitely “trending” among those under 35, according to a 2016 survey of family law attorneys conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). More than half of the lawyers said that millennials are more frequently requesting prenups, and only two percent said the number was declining.

Of those attorneys responding to the survey, 62 percent say they have seen rising numbers of clients seeking prenuptial agreements over the last three years. Family law attorney Arlene Dubin, a partner at Moses & Singer in New York, says the total number of prenuptial agreements has jumped 500 percent in the last two decades. Because millennials are marrying later in life than earlier generations, they typically have more property and assets to safeguard if a divorce happens.

John Slowiaczek, a Nebraska family law attorney and president of the AAML, said millennials have “been on their own, accumulated some wealth, either from a 401(k) or a stock program provided by their employer or some real estate, and they want to make sure that’s theirs if there are problems down the road.” Slowiaczek adds, “Millennials are predisposed to protect their interests.”

WHAT DO PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS COVER?

The AAML survey verifies that “predisposition” on the part of people under 35. Today, the three areas that most prenuptial agreements deal with are “protection of the increase of value in separate property,” inheritance rights, and the division of community property, according to the survey. Of course, many respective brides and grooms bring more than assets into a marriage. They also bring debt, especially student loan debt, which now totals well over a trillion dollars in the United States.

Prenuptial agreements can protect assets like retirement accounts, real estate, and investments, and prenups can also protect a bride or groom from a partner’s student loan or credit card debt. That was important for Rachel Ryan, 26, a freelance writer who is planning to marry next July. She told CNBC, “Because my fiance has a small business, it’s important for him to protect that. He also has quite a bit of student debt so I thought it could benefit both of us.”

Along with immediate financial concerns, personal life experiences may also make millennials “predisposed” to prenuptial agreements, according to attorney Slowiaczek. “Many millennials are children of divorce,” he said, so “they are predisposed to protect their interests.” A prenup gives couples the opportunity to work out issues that might emerge in a divorce in an atmosphere of peace and cooperation – and without the baggage and animosity that a divorce so often entails.

HOW DO MILLENNIALS DIFFER WITH TRADITIONAL VIEWS OF MARRIAGE?

Traditional views of marriage have little impact on the thinking of millennials. In a survey conducted by Avvo.com, only 42 percent of millennials believe that marriage is a “life goal.” Another difference millennials have with traditional views of marriage is reflected by their widespread practice of cohabitation. It’s a clear trend that’s easy to spot among those under 35. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, only 11 percent of the women who first married between 1965 and 1974 cohabited before marrying. By 2009, 66 percent of women cohabited prior to marriage – a 600 percent increase in a single generation.

According to polls conducted by the Pew Research Center, the marriage rate among the millennial generation is reportedly at the lowest it has been in six decades, with the percent of millennials who’ve married at only 26 percent. At the same age as millennials are now (ages 18 to 29), 36 percent of “generation X-ers,” 48 percent of baby boomers, and 65 percent of “the greatest” generation were married.

What has persuaded young people to postpone marriage and in some cases avoid it entirely? Millennials have grown up in a culture with a 50 percent divorce rate. They know divorce is ugly, so they’re careful about choosing a life partner and not rushing into anything. Most millennials also feel that they are not yet financially stable enough for marriage. One could reasonably conclude that rather than rejecting marriage, the millennial generation actually takes it more seriously than most of their elders.

HOW DOES A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT WORK?

For those who take marriage seriously, signing a prenuptial agreement is simply a sensible step. A prenuptial agreement is a financial and legal contract that a couple drafts with the help of a family law attorney. It becomes effective at the moment of marriage. Before signing a prenup, both partners may seek legal advice from an attorney of their choice. In southern California, if you are considering marriage, let an experienced Orange County family law attorney help you and your spouse-to-be come up with a prenuptial agreement that protects both of you and your long-term interests.

Prenuptial agreements cover most – but not necessarily all – of the issues that frequently pop up in a divorce: life insurance benefits, property rights, spousal support, even custody of the family pets. However, the law in California prohibits prenuptial agreements from denying a minor child’s right to future financial support from both parents. Couples about to marry should also take advantage of premarital counseling. If you belong to a faith community, you may want their guidance. Counselors and counseling resources, both private and public, are plentiful in southern California, and counseling can offer practical insights for developing a strong, stable marriage.

After a wedding, a prenup (it’s legally called a “premarital agreement”) may be redrafted, amended, or even canceled entirely if both spouses agree in writing. A family lawyer can review current prenuptial agreements to ensure they are legal, just, and suitable for both partners. Partners who are already married may want to consider a postnuptial agreement, which accomplishes the same ends as a prenup.

In some marriages, when a divorce happens, one partner will challenge the prenuptial agreement. If a prenup gives one partner less than that partner would receive without the prenuptial agreement in place, the agreement can be challenged, and the court may set the agreement aside. An experienced Orange County family law attorney can help California couples draft a strong and enforceable prenuptial agreement that protects both partners if the marriage ends in divorce.

Common Questions About Child Custody in California

Posted on: November 21, 2016 by in Family Law
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Video Transcript:

Parents involved in child custody litigation commonly ask us what is the difference between joint and sole custody. By way a very brief summary, sole custody is the ability to solely make decisions whereas joint custody is a situation where neither party unilaterally can make decisions and both parties have the shared ability to make decisions about the child, as well as spend physical presence with the child. Legal custody refers to a parent’s ability to make decisions about a child’s welfare, education, and health; whereas physical custody refers to a child’s physical presence. Accordingly, a joint legal custodial arrangement, a pure joint legal custodial arrangement means that both parties share in the ability to make decisions about a child’s health, welfare, and education, and a pure joint physical custodial arrangement means that both parents share in the child’s physical presence.

Video Transcript:

A common question asked by family law litigants involved in child custody proceedings is how will a court determine the custody of the children. By way of generality, the standard applied by the court in determining the custody of a child is that child’s best interest. Now, how does a court determine what a child’s best interest is? There are various different factors involved in the analysis by the court of a child’s best interest. One of those factors is the child’s status quo. What does the status quo mean? Generally speaking, the court does not want to disrupt a child’s life unless there is a showing that the child’s current lifestyle or the current status quo jeopardizes a child’s general welfare, safety, or health. Absent a showing that the child’s general welfare, safety, and health are jeopardized courts generally like to maintain the status quo to which a child has grown accustomed. A second standard applied by the courts is how can a custodial arrangement, a new lifestyle for the child, ensure both parents frequent and continuing visitation with that child. Again, unless there is a showing that one of the parents will jeopardize a child’s general health, welfare, or safety, the courts want to have a custodial arrangement that allows both parents frequent and continuing visitation with the child. Again, the general standard applied by a court in determining a custody arrangement for a child is that child’s best interest. The best interest of the child however that analysis involves various different factors, the two most common of which are 1) what is the custodial arrangement to which that child has grown accustomed, and 2) what custodial arrangement will allow both parents, the custodial and the non-custodial parent, frequent and continuing visitation with the child.

New Law Expands Marriage Counseling Services For Low-Income Californians

Posted on: November 11, 2016 by in Family Law
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Currently, in the state of California, it’s difficult for low-income individuals to obtain the services of licensed marriage and family therapists. That’s because marriage and family therapists have been excluded from reimbursement by Medi-Cal, the state’s program for low-income Californians. However, California lawmakers this year passed legislation that will increase access to marriage counseling services allowing marriage and family therapists at federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and rural health centers (RHC) to be reimbursed through Medi-Cal like psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.

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Assembly Bill 1863, a bill authored by Assembly member Jim Wood of Healdsburg, was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September. The legislation will provide more marriage counseling services to low-income couples by allowing federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health centers (RHCs) to hire more licensed marriage and family therapists. FQHCs and RHCs are the federally-designated clinics that are required to serve medically underserved populations throughout the state. These health clinics provided more than 10.5 million Medi-Cal visits to low-income individuals and families in California in 2013.

WHAT IS THE AIM OF AB 1863?

Assembly Bill 1863 is aimed at expanding access for low-income individuals and couples to marriage counseling services particularly in California communities and locations where individuals or couples would have to travel long distances to meet with a marriage counselor. Additionally, the bill will actually allow a Medi-Cal recipient to visit his or her primary care doctor as well as a marriage therapist on the same day. Current law allows patients to bill Medi-Cal for only one visit per day.

Assembly Bill 1863 was actively supported by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. After Governor Brown had signed the legislation, Assembly member Wood said the following in a press release: “Access to mental health care services is essential to people’s well-being. Adding marriage and family therapists as providers at these centers is just one more way to increase a patient’s ability to seek the support they need. We needed to make that possible.”

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Expanded marriage counseling was needed at a number of health centers in the state, particularly at rural health centers in isolated locations. Clinica Sierra Vista operates a number of community health centers throughout California, and Christopher Reilly, Clinica Sierra Vista’s chief of behavioral health services said about AB 1863, “I am ecstatic that this passed. It means a lot more people are going to get attention for their behavioral health needs a lot earlier.”

The new law goes into effect on January 1. Approximately 40,000 marriage and family therapists are licensed to practice in this state, compared to about 22,000 social workers and 21,000 psychologists. Under the current law, clinics are able to hire licensed clinical social workers and psychologists for their Medi-Cal patients, but they often can’t find enough certified social workers and psychologists to meet the needs. Many clinics don’t provide any counseling services at all.

WILL AB 1863 HAVE OTHER POSITIVE EFFECTS?

Christopher Reilly, himself a marriage and family therapist, believes that an unanticipated side benefit may emerge from the new legislation. He expects that those seeking marriage counseling will be able to rely less on medication. Often, Reilly notes, individuals and couples suffering anxiety or depression will rely on medications simply because there’s no one available to talk with or provide counseling, which is clearly a superior alternative to pharmaceuticals.

Historically, access to marriage counseling services has been difficult for many low-income residents in California, especially those in remote areas of this vast state. Lawmakers began to meet the needs in 2014 when they allowed millions of additional Californians to qualify for Medi-Cal and for mental health services through the Affordable Care Act. But that new access put even more stress on the state’s mental health system, which wasn’t prepared for the large numbers of people seeking services. AB 1863 seeks to relieve that stress on the system.

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The staff at OLE Health in Napa sees about 25,000 patients every year. Tanir Ami, the CEO, says it has been difficult to hire enough social workers to meet with the many patients who are frequently anxious or depressed by marital or familial strife. Assembly Bill 1863 will benefit nearly one thousand federally-funded and rural health clinics in California, according to the state’s own analysis of the bill.

These federally-funded clinics can accept patients regardless of a patient’s ability to pay because clinics like OLE Health rely to a great extent on the Medi-Cal reimbursements that allow them to treat low-income Californians. “Now we get to recruit from a whole other pool of qualified candidates,” Ami said. “I am hoping it will make it exponentially easier to find the workforce we need.”

WHY DID SIMILAR LEGISLATION FAIL LAST YEAR?

Governor Brown vetoed a similar bill last year. Assemblyman Jim Wood, who authored and introduced that legislation as well as AB 1863, said the governor had been concerned about the costs. But this year, says Wood, the proposal’s backers persuaded the governor that more counseling services could actually lower overall costs to the state because counseling is preventive. The right counseling at the right moment means fewer future incidents of drug addiction, domestic violence, and divorce. “If you get people the behavioral health they need,” Wood explained, “you potentially keep them out of emergency rooms, which is a huge savings.”

Responding to the passage of AB 1863, Orange County divorce attorney Brian Bayati said, “Marriage counseling is important for the continued success of many marriages and may save many couples from ending their marriage. At Bayati Law Group, we are thrilled that California is taking the initiative to expand medical coverages to include marriage counseling.”

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Sometimes, of course, not even the best counsel can save a marriage, and divorce becomes the only realistic alternative. There’s no reason to stay in a marriage that’s unhappy or unhealthy and isn’t going to get better. However, divorce in this state can be quite complicated, and if you are divorcing in southern California, it is imperative that you do it with the advice and services of an experienced divorce lawyer who can look out for your best interests.

In California divorces, community property is to be divided equally. It might sound simple, but when extensive assets and property have to be divided, deciding who owns what can be exceedingly difficult. When children are involved, a divorce becomes even more complicated. The courts in California will always put a child’s best interests first. When a marriage cannot be saved, an experienced Orange County divorce attorney can help, but most people do want to save their marriages. With AB 1863, California lawmakers will help more couples do that.

The Impact of Social Media on Family Law

Posted on: October 28, 2016 by in Family Law
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The world is changing rapidly these days, and the legal system in the U.S. is changing rapidly too. In just the last decade, same-sex marriage became legal in every state, and marijuana became legal in a number of states. In many respects, however, the law has not yet caught up with 21st-century technology, so lawyers and judges sometimes have no law or legal precedents to provide guidance in the new legal territory of surveillance devices, GPS devices, cell phones, and social media sites.

Generally speaking, almost all of us rely more on technology than we did even thirty years ago. In the 21st century, millions of us share ideas, pictures, videos, and personal details about our lives on social media sites including Twitter, Instagram, and of course, Facebook. The impact of social media on every aspect of our lives is undeniable. Lawmakers and courts are now confronted with social media-related questions and issues that simply did not exist in the 20th century.

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Criminal prosecutors routinely study the social media pages of crime suspects and their associates for photos and status updates that can be used as evidence in criminal prosecutions. The attorneys for defendants in personal injury cases look for evidence that a plaintiff is not as disabled or injured as the plaintiff claims to be. In family law cases, depending on the nature of the dispute, evidence gathered from social media pages generally serves to discredit the opposing side’s character or honesty. Attorney Brian Bayati warns, “During family law litigation, you should not place a post on social media if you have any reservation about the opposing party or the court seeing that post!”

Dean Tong, a Diplomate with the American Board of Forensic Examiners, cautions, “As an expert witness in family law cases who is on Facebook and Twitter and has been for some time, and who has a combined Master’s Degree in Law and Psychology, I can tell you any post on social media can be introduced into evidence on a court record by an attorney and used against a litigant, negatively, in family court.”

IN FAMILY COURT, HOW CAN SOCIAL MEDIA HELP OR HURT YOU?

Family law and social media can both be embarrassingly personal, and – like letters, phone calls, and emails – social media posts can indicate that a person may be angry, vengeful, out of control, or potentially dangerous. But for some people in some family law cases, social media evidence is helpful. For example, if your updates and photos generally convey that you are a devoted and responsible parent who spends quality time with your child or children, that’s obviously helpful in a child custody dispute. A Facebook page that depicts you as a “party animal” or as a “thug” is clearly not going to help you in family law court – regardless of the precise nature of the dispute.

Benjamin D. Moore, Esq., a family law attorney with Mayerson Abramowitz & Kahn, LLP in New York City, says, “Social media has shifted so much in our society, and the field of family law has been affected like everything else. Depending on the posting habits of an individual, the world can know when a marriage is strained, new “friends” arrive on the scene, and so much else that was once private. Also, adverse parties in a disputed case can find out things about their spouses, such as increases in spending or a new boyfriend/girlfriend, that can be used to their advantage in negotiation or litigation.”

If you are considering – or anticipating – a divorce in California, you might want to revise your social media pages before you take any legal steps. On either side of a divorce, posting or “tweeting” something you think is innocuous might come back to hurt you. Many divorce lawyers recommend refraining from social media entirely as soon as divorce papers are filed. You may want to discuss particular details with an experienced divorce lawyer – in Southern California, for example, an Orange County divorce attorney can address your concerns regarding your own social media accounts and their potential role in divorce proceedings.

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Quite candidly, Facebook provides a false sense of security with its privacy settings. If you are divorcing, you need to know that nothing you post online is ever really one hundred percent “for sure” private. Your spouse’s attorney may legally be able to acquire even deleted posts and use that information against you. If you read all of Facebook’s fine print closely, you’ll see that while the privacy settings protect your posts from others using Facebook, there’s no absolute legal protection if a court or opposing counsel wants access.

HOW IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACTING CUSTODY DISPUTES?

Your children are another good reason to consider avoiding social media during a divorce or any other family law dispute. Courts in California usually order parents to refrain from speaking with their children about their divorce, so if your child or children have access to your Facebook page, the court may strongly disapprove – especially if there’s anything on your page about the divorce.

“One of the worst things you can do,” according to Chris Griffith of Split Simple, a divorce mediation firm with offices in Denver and Chicago, “is take to social media to vent your frustrations about a family court case. Comments from friends and relatives present an even bigger wildcard and will never be helpful in the process of resolving a divorce. Your spouse’s attorney can present threats or abusive comments that you make on social networks to the judge, who might take them into consideration in your case. The wrong words on social media can affect the terms of a divorce, impact visitation rights and more.”

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Provisions regarding a child’s social media activity are now common in parenting plans. Parents need to agree if their child or children should or should not be allowed to have social media accounts, and if so, how those accounts will be monitored. Parents with concerns regarding social media should make certain that those concerns are made clear to your attorney and addressed by the parenting plan.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER SIDE’S SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES?

The other party in a family law dispute may have evidence on his or her own social media pages that your attorney can use on your behalf. If the page is public and you have direct access, there’s no reason why you can’t print out the material yourself and share it with your attorney. If you don’t have legitimate access, make sure that your attorney requests copies of the other side’s social media pages during the discovery process.

At this point, a word of caution: Never attempt to “hack” into your spouse’s accounts during a divorce if those accounts are not public or if you have been blocked. Creating a false account and identity to “friend” your spouse is also a really bad idea. Your lawyer – for example, an Orange County divorce attorney – can probably obtain legally whatever information will be genuinely useful in court. Any strategy of deception is likely to backfire on you and bring the court’s disapproval.

Social media’s impact on family law and the institution of marriage cannot be underestimated. In a recent survey of two thousand married people in the United Kingdom, one in seven participants admitted to considering divorce specifically because of what their spouses were doing on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. And back in 2010, 81 percent of the divorce attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said divorces, where social media evidence came into play, were on the rise.

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When you seek a divorce attorney these days, he or she may ask you for complete information about your social media accounts. If you anticipate an imminent divorce or any other family law dispute – and this cannot be stressed too strongly – it’s probably best to refrain entirely from Facebook and Twitter. Be extremely cautious even with emails and texts, because in a heated divorce, these will very likely be seen and read by your spouse’s lawyer(s) and by a judge. Family law proceedings, as mentioned previously, can be uncomfortably embarrassing and personal. Don’t do anything online to make things even harder for yourself.

Video Transcript:

In these modern times, I think we can all agree that social media has become a common part of most people’s daily lives, some people utilize social media in a social setting and others use social media in a professional setting. Regardless of how you use social media you should be aware that what you post on any form of social media can be used in a family law case. For example, we have seen cases where parties have contended in court that they were in one place and then social media revealed that they are not in that place. We have seen cases where parties have contended that children are with them and then social media has shown that children were not with them. In general, if you are involved in family law litigation you should be aware of the fact that what you post on social media can be used as evidence in your family law case. Either for or against you.

Also, be aware of the fact that what the opposing party posts on social media may be used in your family law case. With that in mind, be very mindful of what you place onto social media sites. Whether pictures or information, derogatory comments about an opposing party, lawyers, or even judges. We have seen examples of all. My recommendation to parties involved in family law litigation is if you could not post something in a pleading you should not post it onto your social media.

What Family Law Attorneys Do (Now) and How They Do It

Posted on: September 29, 2016 by in Family Law
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Orange County divorce attorney

In 1969, the nation’s first “no-fault” divorce system was adopted in the state of California. For the first time in the United States, either spouse could now obtain a divorce essentially on demand without having to state grounds or prove “fault.” All fifty states today provide no-fault divorce, and that change has opened up a variety of divorce options and alternatives for the average person. Contentious courtroom divorces not really that common today. Many couples opt for arbitrated divorce, mediated divorce, or collaborative divorce rather than going to court.

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Others, however, choose to take their divorce to the courts – but without an attorney’s assistance. Now that “fault” does not have to be “proven” in a divorce proceeding, many assume that they do not need legal counsel to obtain a divorce. Before World War Two, couples with troubled marriages often did not turn to the courts, because most couples simply could not afford to divorce unless they were affluent, and the law made hiring an attorney a necessity. Some probably lived together unhappily. Others simply separated without taking legal action.

No-fault divorce opened up a popular “do-it-yourself” divorce market. Thousands of self-help divorce books were sold in the 1970s and 1980s and are still sold today. Do-it-yourself divorce seminars and workshops are offered by various organizations. With the emergence of the internet, you can watch the do-it-yourself videos and download all of the forms you need. Most states have a website with help and instructions posted for those who are representing themselves in a “pro se” divorce action. (“Pro se” is Latin – and legalese – for “on behalf of one’s self.”)

WHI IS REPRESENTING THEMSELVES IN DIVORCE CASES?

In 1994, the American Bar Association reported “a steady and significant increase in pro se divorce cases from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s.” Those representing themselves in divorce proceedings tended to be young and well-educated but without children or substantial real estate or other significant properties or assets – mostly people married for less than a decade. Half of the cases in Florida’s family courts now, for example, are pro se on both sides, and in more than 80 percent of the cases at least one spouse is pro se. Recent surveys indicate a similar trend in family courts throughout the nation.

Spouses are more apt to act as their own divorce attorneys if there is not much at stake and if there are few resources to work with. Courts, bar associations, and legal aid groups routinely conduct clinics and educational programs, operate self-help centers, and sponsor alternative resolution programs. Self-help desks at most courthouses offer legal forms and educational materials. Alternative divorce resolution programs put divorcing spouses in touch with neutral professionals to help the couples resolve issues outside of the court system.

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Honestly, pro se representation is a workable option for some couples – a very few. If both parties can split everything down the middle easily, or if they don’t own much, they can save some money that perhaps they do not have anyway. But if you have children, or if there are disagreements regarding alimony or property distribution, you are going to need a divorce attorney. In these cases, there is simply too much at stake to do-it-yourself. In southern California, you’ll need the help of an experienced Orange County family law attorney.

WHAT CAN DIVORCE ATTORNEYS OFFER?

In some cases, a spouse may very much want to represent himself or herself but nevertheless ends up needing a lawyer’s help with a specific aspect of the divorce. By offering limited and specific services (known as “unbundling”), divorce lawyers often help divorcing spouses find a midpoint between pro se representation and hiring a lawyer to handle all of the aspects of the divorce. These are among the limited or discrete services that most divorce attorneys will offer:

  • providing legal advice in person or by phone, fax, mail, or e-mail
  • providing advice regarding mediated and arbitrated divorce
  • explaining and helping you conduct the discovery process
  • providing guidance about filing and serving legal documents
  • drafting motions, pleadings, and other legal documents
  • reviewing any legal forms you have completed or documents you have prepared
  • conducting public record searches
  • contacting and questioning witnesses
  • suggesting expert witnesses or even other attorneys who might be helpful
  • helping you evaluate settlement options
  • assisting you with an appeal

A 2010 American Bar Association survey told us that 54 percent of solo legal practitioners and 45 percent of the attorneys in firms with two to nine lawyers provide individual “unbundled” legal services. A comparable survey by the California Administrative Office of the Courts reports that half of the lawyers who responded prepare documents or review documents for divorce clients and only 25 percent do not offer any individual services.

WILL THE “PRO SE” TREND CONTINUE?

Lawyers, of course, have always provided “unbundled” services, but it is only in recent years – with the adoption of no-fault divorce and the emergence of do-it-yourself divorce – that this approach has been marketed and given a name. While no-fault divorce seems to make representing yourself in a divorce easier, the legal issues since the 1970s have become increasingly complex. Thus, combining pro se divorce representation with limited legal services is a trend that will probably grow in the years ahead.

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Changes in society are always eventually reflected by changes in the law, and changes in the law have substantially changed the nature of the services provided by divorce and family law attorneys. Family lawyers in the 21st century solve a wide range of legal problems for their clients, work with divorce arbitrators and mediators, and often assist or belong to family-oriented agencies and community groups. Anyone who is considering a divorce in southern California – and anyone whose spouse is filing for divorce – should speak right away with a good divorce lawyer.

“Family law attorneys,” according to Orange County family law attorney Brian Bayati, “represent litigants in the legal arena while simultaneously counseling clients as to the practical implications involved in dissolving a marriage and determining custody of minor children.” In the future, family courts and lawyers will face new and difficult challenges. Many families – and courts – will have to accomplish more with fewer resources. By offering unbundled individual services, family law attorneys are now making it possible for more people to accomplish their legal goals, including divorce.

Video Transcript:

I would classify my top two priorities in handling a case as, one, to inform a client or perspective client about laws applicable to their family law situation. And I would say my second equally important objective is to spend time knowing the facts of their case, the underlying emotions, objectives, and to walk them through the family law litigation process, which can sometimes be very emotionally challenging.

Staying in touch with clients long after a family law case has successfully been completed and asking them how they reflect upon it, they commonly say that it is and was the most challenging chapter of their life, and I believe a good family law attorney is not only responsible for navigating a client through the legal aspects of a family law case, but also work with the client. If necessary, bring in experts or other professionals that have knowledge on how to navigate a client through their emotional challenges, what may be their socioeconomic challenges, tax challenges, as well as grieving challenges that they may face, depending on the facts of their case and the dynamic of their family.

Modifying Child Custody In Orange County, California

Posted on: January 13, 2016 by in Blog, Family Law
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Orange County family law attorney

Even in the 21st century, a divorce is still always difficult in every circumstance, and when minor children are also involved in a divorce, those difficulties are multiplied. If you are going through a divorce in southern California and you are a parent, if you and the other parent can resolve between the two of you any potential dispute regarding the custody of your child or children, it will save you both a considerable amount of time and money and a great deal of aggravation. It’s actually best for the two of you to decide on a child tutelage arrangement before even going to a divorce court if you can.

Of course, developing a parenting plan is not always easy for parents or even possible during the process of divorce, especially if your divorce is contentious, but if you go to court before you resolve the matter of youngster tutelage, you can be certain that the tutelage decision will be made for you by a complete stranger – a California judge. Obviously, nothing is more important than your children, so if you are a parent and you are divorcing in southern California, your first step should be to consult with an experienced Orange County family law attorney. A good family lawyer can answer your questions, explain how the law impacts your own youngster custody dispute, and guide you through the often-confusing California family legal system.

OBTAINING A CUSTODY MODIFICATION

What will happen, however, if your circumstances change after your divorce is final and you need to have an existing child tutelage agreement modified? For example, if the educational needs of your child change, if your child’s medical needs change, if one parent wants or needs to move away, becomes seriously injured, ill, or unemployed, or if one parent remarries or becomes the parent of a new child, the court order regarding child tutelage may need to be changed. Either parent can ask the court to modify the youngster tutelage order if that parent’s changing life circumstances dictate a modification.

To ask a California court to modify a youngster custody order, your family law attorney can help you fill out the forms and documents you’ll need to complete and submit to get the process started. You and the child’s other parent will be required to schedule and participate in a mediation procedure where an experienced professional mediator will help the two of you reach an agreement regarding child tutelage and visitation arrangements – if you haven’t already reached that agreement. Then a hearing will be scheduled where a judge will assess any tentative agreement that you’ve reached, consider the new circumstances in your life, and make a final decision regarding your request for a child custody modification. If your divorce took place in another county or another state, you may be able to have the case moved to Orange County, but you will need to discuss the specifics of moving the case with your family law attorney.

Orange County family law attorney

THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD

After conducting a divorce hearing – and sometimes after conducting a youngster custody evaluation as well – and then issuing a child tutelage order, California courts will not modify that order for any trivial reasons. The changed circumstances that generate the request for a child tutelage modification must be substantial life changes. The courts will consider a youngster custody modification when either parent’s income has changed, when the child’s educational or medical needs have changed, when either parent has lost a job or been injured or incarcerated, when another child has been born to either parent, or when a modification is clearly in the best interests of the child. In all child tutelage matters, California judges are required by law to make the best interests of the child the absolute highest priority.

In deciding precisely what is in a child’s best interests, the law in California states that the safety, health, and welfare of the youngster must be a court’s top concern, and that – as a rule of thumb – regular, consistent contact with both parents benefits most children in most circumstances. Based on that initial presumption, the judges who handle California youngster custody disputes may consider literally anything that may impact a child’s best interests. A recent arrest or a recent criminal conviction, illegal drug use, and even excessive consumption of alcohol can genuinely hurt your chances if you are a parent and you have to fight for the custody of your child.

In California, child custody includes both legal tutelage – the right to make decisions regarding a child’s health care, education, religious training, and other concerns – and physical custody, meaning the actual day-to-day obligations of child-raising. Thus, there are actually four “types” of child custody: sole physical custody; joint physical custody; sole legal custody; and joint legal custody. Legal custody and physical custody are typically the central issues in any custody dispute; their resolution more or less determines how the other matters regarding your youngster will be resolved. Sole custody is ordered only when the court is convinced that it is truly in the child’s best interests. When sole custody is ordered, the other parent loses any legal right to have a say about concerns such as the child’s medical care, religious upbringing, or education. Still, when a court does not order joint custody, the court must offer a written explanation for its decision.

THE CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATION

Every child custody situation, every family, and every youngster is distinctive and unique. Even when a California court grants a child’s tutelage to only one parent, the other parent will usually be allowed to have visitation privileges. In some cases, however, a judge may order that the visitations must be supervised by a state agency or by another authorized third party. A judge may also order a child custody evaluation (sometimes called a “730” evaluation) to provide help with making the child tutelage decision. California judges ask for youngster custody evaluations in order to have an outside professional’s insights regarding the family, the parenting skills of each parent, and the child’s needs, feelings, wishes, and long-term best interests.

Court-authorized mental health professionals conduct these child custody evaluations, which conclude by recommending a specific child tutelage and parenting plan that a judge may accept, modify, or reject. Originally, child custody evaluations were conducted only in the most contentious child custody disputes, but California judges in recent years have come to lean heavily on the child custody evaluations for guidance regarding what is in the best interests of the child or children. A child tutelage professional’s advice gives a judge more confidence that he or she is making the proper decision. In fact, in most cases, judges accept and implement the recommended child custody and parenting plans without any changes. The professional in charge of the child custody evaluation may conduct psychological testing, interview family members separately or together, and may also interview third parties who can provide pertinent insights or information. A youngster custody evaluation can last up to six months. You’ll be heavily scrutinized throughout the period of the evaluation, and you’ll be expected to adhere to high standards of good parenting.

If a California judge makes a youngster tutelage determination for you and your youngster, that determination will ultimately be based on what that judge has concluded is the child’s best interests. In any child custody matter, it’s imperative that you do not go to court with an accusative, vindictive, or argumentative attitude. Judges also view very unfavorably any parent who interferes with the child’s relationship with the other parent by making defamatory or fictitious claims. A much better strategy is to work with a good family law attorney to demonstrate to the court why it really is in your child’s best interests to have you as the custodial parent.

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MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE

Sometimes divorcing parents can resolve their child custody issues with the help of family law attorneys in arbitration or mediation proceedings and without the need for a contentious trial in front of a judge. However, in southern California, if you have to fight for the custody of your child during or at any time subsequent to a divorce, you will need to retain the advice and services of an experienced Orange County family law attorney who routinely handles child custody disputes. Child custody squabbles are always tough on everyone who’s involved, but nothing is of more importance than your relationship and your future with your child or children.

Moves, career changes, and remarriages are among the many reasons a child custody order may need to be modified; it’s not at all unusual for child custody orders to be occasionally changed after a period of time. Everyone’s life changes eventually, and the courts understand that. However, if you need to seek a child custody modification because circumstances have substantially changed in your life, you will require an attorney’s advice and services. Interested in learning more about divorce in California, child custody orders or about child custody modifications? Comment below or reach out to us on our social media channels, we’d love to hear from you. If you need legal help regarding a divorce California, contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney today.

A Child’s Absolute Right

Posted on: November 16, 2015 by in Blog, Family Law
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By law and tradition, both parents have a responsibility to support their minor children. In California, both before and subsequent to a divorce, both parents are required to asssist their children. Child support must be arranged during a divorce, and that arrangement must be enforced. All children in California – whether they are born in or outside of a marriage or adopted – have the absolute legal right to parental asssist. In Orange County, if a child support dispute emerges between you and your child’s other parent, immediately seek the counsel of an experienced Orange County family law attorney.

When a California court orders a child support arrangement, it considers a number of items including the financial situation of both parents, the number of children, and the best interests of those children. After most California divorces, a non-custodial parent will be expected to pay child support to the custodial parent to help cover a child’s basic expenses such as food, housing, clothing, schooling, and healthcare. Typically and with rare exceptions, child support payments continue until a child’s 18th birthday.

Nothing is more important than your children and their future. When you are divorcing or dealing with a child support dispute in Orange County, it’s imperative to have an attorney you trust – someone who can put you at ease and address your legal concerns regarding your youngster or children. If you are a custodial parent and you need to receive child assist– or modify a current child support order – get legal help immediately. If you are involved in – or expect to be involved in – any dispute over the custody, support, or visitation of your child or children, contact at once an attorney who will fight aggressively on your behalf. Call an experienced Orange County family law attorney regarding any family law concern, question, or dispute. Help is here. If you need it, make the call now.

About “Dear Texas”

Posted on: November 2, 2015 by in Blog, Family Law
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“Few things are as devastating as a parent losing contact with her children,” playwright Jane Eisner told The Advocate while discussing her groundbreaking one-act play, Dear Texas. The story portrays the case of a transgender parent who loses legal custody of her son after transitioning to be a woman. The play includes powerful courtroom scenes where the parent, who chooses the name Virginia, must persuade a Texas family court that hostility toward an individual’s gender identity should never be used to foster legal discrimination. In California, if you are involved in any child custody dispute, retain at once the advice and services of an experienced Orange County family law attorney. Nothing is a higher priority than your children.

Eisner says that in the play, Virginia enters a Texas courtroom to fight for her child but soon realizes that she is fighting discrimination instead. Separating the courtroom scenes, a transgender woman named Nan provides comic relief by explaining her transition from drag queen to complete womanhood with wisecracks and lightheartedness. The play is based on interviews with real-life transgender persons and on the experiences of transgender activist Jessica Lynn, who lost custody of her youngest son after she transitioned. Dear Texas premiered in October at the California Polytechnic State University’s Chumash Auditorium in San Luis Obispo.

Nothing can cause you more concern or anxiety than a child custody dispute. You might be worried about who will raise your child or children, when and if you’ll be able to see them, how California family law courts determine child custody, and what the future holds for you and your offspring. In any California child custody dispute, you need the trustworthy advice and services an experienced child custody lawyer who understands your concerns and anxieties. If you are involved in or anticipate a child custody dispute, contact an experienced Orange County family law attorney as quickly as possible.

The Unwritten Rules of Family Law

Posted on: September 18, 2015 by in Blog, Family Law
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Divorce for some people is almost unbearably painful. Others are stirred to anger and sometimes even to violence. Before you initiate a divorce, a custody dispute, or any other legal action involving your household, discuss your rights and options with an experienced Orange County family law attorney, and learn these “unwritten” rules of conduct for anyone involved in a family legislation dispute.

  • Don’t focus on the trivial. Fighting over who owns the microwave or who gets the kids for a holiday is a waste of your emotional energies. Compromise when possible. Focus on the final settlement and your long-term best interests.
  • Likewise, inflammatory language and unsubstantiated charges during negotiations and hearings are useless and actually work against you. Stick to the facts, state them soberly and dispassionately, and heed your family law attorney’s advice.
  • Restrain any impulse to be rude, mean, or inappropriate. Every text, tweet, Facebook post, and email “can be used against you in a court of law.” Opposing attorneys and a judge will see every word. If you express a lack of control or maturity, it cannot help your case.
  • Don’t let the kids decide on the parenting plan. You may not realize it, but giving children those decisions in effect forces a child to choose between parents. Of course you should consider the feelings and wishes of your children, but the decisions must be the responsibility of the adults.

The failure to adhere to these “unwritten” rules can only hurt you in a family legislation dispute, and while every family law case is both difficult and unique, following these recommendations can make a family law case quicker, less complicated, and less contentious. If you need to file for divorce or initiate any other household law action – or if you need legal representation because of a legal action someone else has initiated – arrange at once to speak with an experienced Orange County family law attorney.

When You Fight For Child Custody

Posted on: August 28, 2015 by in Blog, Family Law
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In child custody disputes in California, courts will always make the best interests of the child a top priority. If you expect to ever fight in a courtroom for the custody of your youngster or children, you can best prepare for that fight by avoiding illegal drug use, criminal behavior, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Even the hint of illicit drug use could mean losing custody of your child or children. If you’re involved in a child custody dispute in southern California – or expect to be – discuss the case at once with an experienced Orange County family law attorney.

Even though it’s not directly related to a divorce, a recent case from northern California is a reminder of how serious child welfare authorities are about parental drug use. A woman who became stranded and gave birth in a northern California national forest says she took methamphetamine to get an energy boost after delivering her daughter. Amber Pangborn, 35, told the Chico Enterprise-Record that her daughter is healthy, but Butte County Child Protective Services placed the baby in foster care. Ms. Pangborn says she’s trying to regain custody after both she and her daughter tested positive for meth. No criminal charges have been filed.

Divorce and tutelage disputes are always difficult. After a divorce, the court will modify a custody order only if one parent can prove that a modification of the tutelage order is in the best interests of the youngster. Nothing is more important than your relationship and your future with your child. Divorce is tough for both parents and children, but help and advice are available. In Orange County or anywhere else in southern California, if you are fighting for the custody of your child or children, discuss your circumstances and your legal alternatives as soon as possible with a trustworthy and experienced Orange County family law attorney.