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Oakland CA Divorce Law Blog

Pet custody battles

California couples who are going through a divorce may be worried about more than just child custody, spousal support and property division. Many people have pets that they consider to be part of the family. When a couple separates, there is often conflict over who gets to keep the animal. While in the past, pets may have been treated by the court as property, cultural changes have shifted how courts treat animal companions. Nowadays, a judge may treat an animal more like a human child and base decisions on what is in the best interest of the pet.

While people have always had strong affection for their pets, new understandings of animals has altered how they are perceived and treated. It is understood that animals have emotions and that their welfare is a reasonable concern of both the humans who care for them as well as those in legal authority. As a result, when judges consider property division in a divorce case, decisions regarding the pets may be considered separately.

How substance abuse issues may impact child custody cases

Although a California resident might assume that drug use would have a negative impact on a parent's petition for custody of their child, one cannot generalize. The specific details of a case may play a role in the amount of parenting time and terms of visitation ordered by a judge. If drug abuse is an issue that is far in the parent's past, for example, primary physical custody could be a reasonable option. Further, joint legal custody is typically ordered unless one of the parents has been declared to be unfit.

In the case of a recent announcement by reality tv celebrities Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick related to their pending split, there is speculation that the couple's three children would likely be placed with their mother due to the father's recent release from a drug rehab. However, many observers believe that the outcome could depend on whether the mother will fight for custody. Further, recent trends suggest that a parent might still obtain some form of custody in spite of negative behavior in their history.

Unpaid child support, more lead to arrest of rapper DMX

California residents may know Earl Simmons by his stage name DMX, but the New York City Sheriff's Office apparently knows him as a man who failed to pay $400,000 worth of child support among other things. According to a representative of the office, the rapper had multiple outstanding issues that led to his arrest on June 26.

The entertainer was detained because of delinquent child support payments, a bail jumping warrant from White Plains and criminal accusations. One of the accusations involves a robbery complaint from Newark, New Jersey, where DMX is listed as a suspect in an April 5 gas station robbery, but charges have not been filed in this case so far. The unpaid child support warrant comes from the Erie County Family Court.

How debt can be divided similarly to assets in a divorce

Many California couples who are getting divorced in court understand that assets from the marriage will be split. However, it's less commonly known that debt will be split among the spouses as well. Similar to other property obtained during the marriage, debt will have to be divided. Knowing how the debt might be divided is important for both parties.

If credit card debt accumulated during the marriage, the decision as to which spouse is responsible for it often hinges on whose name is on the account. An account in both names will likely wind up with debt shared between the two. If there was an individual credit card and the other spouse had no connection to it, the debt will belong to whomever's name is on the account.

California custody laws receive a D grade for shared parenting

California was one of 23 states that received a grade of D when the National Parents Organization rated how each state's custody laws treated shared parenting in 2014. Only the District of Columbia and seven states were awarded an B grade, and no state earned an A. Child custody laws throughout the United States have been criticized for basing decisions on outdated gender roles and ignoring a growing body of research that highlights the benefits of shared parenting.

The NPO praised California child custody laws for requiring courts to take friendly parent factors into consideration when custody decisions are made, but they criticized them for requiring both parents to agree before joint custody can be considered. California was also graded poorly for not explicitly providing for shared parenting arrangements during temporary orders.

Chris Rock in divorce battle

California fans of Chris Rock may realize that the comedian's divorce is no laughing matter. The case puts the star's $70 million fortune in jeopardy.

Rock initiated the divorce proceedings in December 2014. The two were married in 1996 after they met at the Essence Awards. Rock's wife says that she gave up her established career in public relations after she married the comedian so that she could become a full-time mother. The couple has two children together, a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old. According to court documents filed by Rock's estranged wife, she spends most of her time caring for the two children and does charity work in her free time. Rock asked for joint custody of the couple's two children as part of his divorce filing. He also alleged that his wife had been keeping the children from him.

Importance of Social Security planning in divorce

Many California residents have heard that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck are apparently preparing to divorce. Although initial reports indicated they would wait until after they had been married for 10 years, recent ones now indicate they will divorce before that milestone has been reached.

While future Social Security benefits are probably not that important to either of them, their case provides a good illustration about why people should take them into account. If people are married for at least 10 years before divorcing and then have not remarried, they are then later eligible to receive Social Security benefits based upon their former spouse's contributions. Getting divorced prior to reaching 10 years, then, can mean that they lose out on potentially thousands of dollars to which they would have otherwise been entitled.

Public opinion on child support laws

California parents who are contemplating a divorce may be interested in a recent study on child support that was conducted in both the U.S. and England. While the two legal systems are different in many ways, the study shows that people in both countries find the current child support regimen unfair. The research showed that the respondents largely believed that child support payments should take into account the custodial parent's income. In some states, child support is based only on the amount the noncustodial parent earns and does not consider the income of the custodial parent.

The respondents included a group of prospective jurors in Arizona as well as individuals from England. The questions focused on the child support payment system and asked participants to imagine the changes they would make. Respondents showed a significant difference from the law in most states when it came to adjusting support payments based on one parent's income. Respondents were also more likely to take into account a stepparent's income when adjusting theoretical child support payments.

Jon and Kate Gosselin in reported custody dispute

California parents may be interested to learn that Jon and Kate Gosselin of the former TV show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" are reportedly involved in a custody dispute over one of the couple's 11-year-old daughters. Kate Gosselin has had primary custody of the couple's eight children for six years, and they appear with her on the TLC reality show "Kate Plus 8." Allegedly, one of the girl's claims is that her mother forces her to appear on the show. Jon Gosselin reports that he and his ex-wife do not have a good relationship.

However, experts say it may be difficult for him to prevail. Generally, a change in material circumstances is required, and the burden of proof of those circumstances will fall on Jon Gosselin as the noncustodial parent. Courts will consider the best interests of the child and weigh factors such as the child's relationship with parents and siblings.

Over 1,000 children are abducted and taken abroad each year

Parents in California likely prefer not to think about children being abducted by a parent and taken abroad, but U.S. Department of State figures reveal that this happens more than 1,000 times each year. The department attempts to help parents to secure the return of these children, but their efforts are only successful in about half of the cases that it becomes involved in.

One of the problems that the Office of Children's Issues runs into when it seeks to resolve international child custody disputes is a lack of cooperation on the part of the governments of some foreign countries. This is sometimes blamed on a fear of negative publicity or a concern over trade agreements. The issue has been addressed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and the United States is one of 93 nations that are signatories to the resulting treaty.