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Oakland CA Divorce Law Blog

Children caught in domestic violence crossfire

An abusive relationship between California parents can be difficult to correct. Even when the victim files for a divorce, the safety and emotional health of the children could still be at risk.

Although the best interests of the child guide the law, the result could be unfavorable for a child. The organization Violence Against Women reports that a high number of domestic abuse victims do not have custody of their children. Domestic violence can inflict trauma and depression upon a parent to an extent that the person is not able to support the child or provide consistent care. A family court might not give custody to a parent unable to meet physical and emotional needs.

Reality TV star headed to court in child support dispute

Currently residing in California, Amanda Stanton has mediation scheduled with her ex-husband because of his desire to alter their existing child custody and support agreement. Stanton, who television viewers may know from her appearances on "Bachelor in Paradise" and "The Bachelor with Ben Higgins", reportedly earns considerably more income than when the original terms of child custody were established.

According to court papers, her ex-husband claims that the reality television star has been making $20,000 to $30,000 every month. He has to pay her $2,000 a month in child support. A court approved this amount when Stanton only made $100 a month. In his public comments placed on Facebook, he referred to this financial obligation as "adult support."

National alimony reform has not changed California's law yet

In our law practice, we regularly represent spouses who are divorcing and facing questions of spousal support or alimony, both those spouses who are potential recipients and those who are more likely to pay support. While some other states have recently enacted major reforms to conventional alimony laws, California is still in many ways fairly traditional in how it instructs judges to determine spousal support awards.

Alimony by agreement

Spousal support can be decided by the divorcing spouses themselves through negotiation, usually as part of a larger settlement agreement in the divorce. Negotiation is normally done through the spouses' respective lawyers or sometimes through an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation.

Asset division for baby boomers getting divorced

An increasing number of older couples are seeing their marriages come to an end. The trend appears to be ongoing and is not expected to decline anytime soon. California couples who have been married for years may need to think about their ability to retire when they are deciding how to divide their assets during a divorce.

Even if one person owns a retirement account to which he or she has faithfully made contributions throughout the marriage, the account is considered to be part of the marital estate and will be divided. Spouses need to pay attention to the value of the division after tax, dividing the accounts pursuant to that metric. Similarly, they may want to divide the accounts according to their separate tax brackets if those brackets as single people will differ.

Courts now encouraging shared parenting plans

Many California parents who are going through a divorce want to have joint physical custody of their children, and courts are now supporting shared parenting more than they did in the past. Though family court judges used to favor the mother in a majority of child custody decisions, they are now recognizing the benefits of maintaining a child's relationship with both parents.

Shared parenting is being encouraged across the United States, and several states have enacted child custody reform laws that favor equal parenting time for both parents after a divorce. Missouri has passed a shared parenting bill, as have Minnesota, Utah and South Dakota, among others. A child custody law in Arizona that favors equal parenting time has been seen as a format that is likely to be imitated by other states. There are many other states that have child custody reform legislation under consideration.

New California law will impact living together after separation

You hear about it more and more: the idea that a married couple might decide to separate, but remain under the same roof, often so they can easily co-parent and so as not to uproot the children. Sometimes it is to share residential expenses until a divorce is final or because each wants to be the one to stay, thinking they might increase the chance of staying in the residence with the kids after divorce.

They usually establish their own homes after the divorce is final.

Co-parenting and rules for screen time

Divorced Californians with children know that successful co-parenting often depends on open communication and negotiation. Usually, the best way to co-parent is for both households to agree to maintain certain rules and routines. However, some parents might have disagreements over certain situations, such as how much time their children should spend in front of smartphones, computers or television screens.

If parents find themselves in this situation, they have three options. The first option is to sit down and discuss the situation calmly with the other parent and attempt to resolve it in a way that does not cause additional tension or goes against what is best for the child. After all, the child's best interests are what the courts focus on when deciding on child custody.

Convicted of Domestic Violence? How it could affect custody

Everyone makes poor choices at one time or another. If you have a domestic violence conviction, it's probably not something you're proud of. You love your kids and you want to be a part of their lives. But you're getting divorced and you worry: how will my domestic violence conviction affect my relationship with my kids? Will I be able to see them? Does it mean I have no chance at shared custody?

What you need to know

The family courts have one thing in mind: helping families. In the long run, the courts generally assume that a relationship with both parents is in the interest of the kids, and they will work hard to make sure that happens. Still, with a history of violence, there may be some road blocks initially. A lot depends on the circumstances of your case.

Determining who pays for children's activities after divorce

For the children of divorced California parents, reaching for a dream can be very difficult. For example, gymnastics and other sports often have expenses that need to be covered, such as coaching fees, lessons and even equipment. These expenses only rise as a child reaches higher levels. However, the child support guidelines may allow for a portion of the child support award to go towards these costs.

In most child support guidelines, there is a small allowance that is earmarked for "entertainment." The money for basic activity costs may come out of this portion. However, reaching higher levels can mean more costs. For example, a swimmer who is reaching for the Olympics may have several thousand dollars in coaching fees, swimming outfits and travel costs each month. In these cases, the child support guidelines may allow support for "gifted" children.

Determining child support in California

Typically, a child support arrangement is either agreed upon by the parents voluntarily or through alternative dispute resolution proceedings. Child support matters may also be settled by a court order. However, it may be preferable for parents who have a reasonably good relationship with each other to work out their own arrangement. This may be done without legal counsel, but most couples will have their respective lawyers review the agreement.

Parents who are about to end their marriage may also choose to go through mediation or a collaborative law process to resolve child support issues. In such a scenario, each parent will work both together and with their attorneys to come to a child support settlement agreement without the need for a court order.