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Oakland CA Divorce Law Blog

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and no state earned an A. Child custody laws throughout the United States have been criticized for basing decisions on outdated gender roles and ignoring a growing body of research that highlights the benefits of shared parenting.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.

Lack of prenuptial agreement does not guarantee loss of assets

However, many couples anticipating marriage do not execute a prenuptial agreement before the wedding. However, an individual can protect his or her assets even without a prenuptial agreement.

In a community property state like California, the pre-marital assets of each spouse are not subject to property division upon divorce. Assets acquired during the marriage, other than gifts, are considered marital property, and each spouse is generally entitled to one-half of those assets at divorce. By keeping pre-marital funds in a separate account, there is no danger of commingling, which may raise questions down the road of when the funds were acquired. A spouse can protect pre-marital real estate by keeping it in his or her name and by using non-marital funds to maintain it. Using marital funds to maintain or improve pre-marital property can create a community property interest, possibly resulting in some part of the property being subject to division.

The tax consequences of property division in divorce

When California married couples decide to divorce, matters such as spousal support, asset division, and child support and custody are the main issues that they have to resolve. However, some of them overlook the impact that some of their decisions will have on their tax situations in the near and far futures. The division of property is a matter that could have a significant and lasting effect on tax liability.

The first fact that spouses need to understand is that the transfer of assets in a divorce is not a sale or income for either party that can be taxed. As long as the spouses show that the transfer is the result of divorce, they can transfer cash and property between each other tax free. There is also no gift tax as long as both of the spouses are U.S. citizens.

Children experience less stress when parents share custody

Children in California who go back and forth between their parents' houses may not be too stressed out by the arrangement, according to a new study. Researchers in Sweden, where 40 percent of divorced parents have joint-custody arrangements, say that children who regularly see both parents after a divorce report fewer psychosomatic health problems.

In the recent study, researchers from the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Stockholm, Sweden, analyzed national data about children of married and divorced parents. During their research, authors of the study discovered that children who lived with only one parent had significantly more headaches, sleep problems, feelings of dizziness and other psychosomatic problems than children who went back and forth between two parents who were divorced. Children who lived with married parents had the least amount of these problems.

Determining child support amounts in California

In California, courts base the amount of determined child support on the parents' income. However, only certain monetary sources are considered as income.

The court takes the noncustodial parent's gross income into account when determining how much child support should be paid. Gross income includes all work-related income, including earnings from self-employment, severance, contracts, commissions, annuities, pensions, dividend payments, investments and fringe benefits. Government benefits such as Social Security, Veterans' and other military-based payments are also considered income by the state. Supplemental benefits such as workers' compensation, disability or unemployment qualify as income as well.