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When Child Custody Agreements Become AbductionChild custody agreements are carefully crafted parts of divorce settlements. When the parents cannot agree on the custody arrangement, the court must determine how the custody of the child will be divided. The judge approves an agreement that is in the best interest of the child, while balancing the custody rights of the parents. Parents may disagree with the custody settlements, but they must not unilaterally change the arrangements. Parents who violate a child custody agreement can be charged with parental abduction and may lose their custody rights if convicted.

Custody Violation

California law defines parental abduction, or interference of child custody, as depriving a child’s custodian of his or her right to custody or visitation. Legal custodians can violate the law, most commonly if they:

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Combating Digital Domestic AbuseDomestic abuse by a partner or loved one takes many forms. Physical abuse involves overtly harming the victim through a physical attack. Emotional abusers use their communication skills to threaten, demean or control victims. Communication technology advances have created a new subcategory of emotional abuse: digital domestic abuse. Digital abuse occurs among people of all ages, but it is most prevalent with people younger than 30. Much like any other form of domestic abuse, digital abuse must be combated with awareness and action.

Identifying Digital Abuse

Internet users are familiar with the anonymous trolls that enjoy harassing people for entertainment. Most people have learned to ignore trolls. Digital domestic abuse is harassing or controlling behavior by someone you know. Digital abusers can be harder to ignore because of their personal relationship with the victims. Their abuse may be part of the common interaction people have with friends on social media or through electronic communications. Examples of digital domestic abuse include:

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Posted on in Family Law

Advice for Newly Single ParentsFamily life after a divorce can be a dramatic change for everyone. Depending on how child custody is divided, the children may need to adjust to having multiple homes and social environments. For parents, raising their children may become more difficult. As single parents, they are individually responsible for tasks that were once shared between two people. It can be daunting, but many single parents have raised strong and successful children. Here are tips for being a newly single parent.

Organization

Single parents may need to put extra effort into scheduling their family and work lives. Raising children often involves busy schedules of transporting children to and from school, extracurricular activities, social events and doctor’s appointments. Divorced parents add transporting their children between each other to the schedule. You can organize a transportation schedule by:

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Divorce Court Ruling Shows Risk of Inviting ErrorA California appellate court rejected a plaintiff’s request to overturn a lower court’s order that she must retroactively compensate her former husband for child support and legal fees from their divorce case. In Ann Drobner Darsky v. Aaron Darsky, the plaintiff claimed that the lower court did not have the power to order the payments because it modified a previous court-approved divorce agreement without going through the proper legal process. The appellate court sided with the defendant’s argument that the plaintiff invited the error by the lower court because she did not object to ignoring the agreement during the case. The ruling is an example of why you must be vigilant in enforcing divorce agreements.

Initial Agreement

The former spouses in the case had filed for divorce in 2010. After several motions in regards to who must pay child support costs and legal fees, the parties reached an agreement in August 2011 that:

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Changing Your Spousal Support Agreement After DivorceSpousal support payments are established during a divorce based on each party’s financial resources and obligations. However, circumstances can change in ways someone cannot predict. A party may want to adjust or eliminate payments due to changes such as:

  • Unemployment;
  • Increased income;
  • Disability; and
  • The recipient remarrying or cohabiting with someone as part of a romantic relationship.

If you believe your spousal support agreement needs to be changed, you should take action immediately. In California, payment increases and decreases will be enforced only after you request the adjustment, not retroactive to when the change in circumstances started. There are several steps to successfully changing the payments.

Understanding Your Agreement

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How to Obtain a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in CaliforniaIf you are a victim of domestic violence, obtaining a protective order against the perpetrator is one of the most important steps you need to take to ensure your safety. In California, a domestic violence restraining order can:

  • Force your abuser to leave your shared home;
  • Give you custody of your children and any pets you share;
  • Give you temporary possession of shared property;
  • Order your abuser to reimburse you for expenses related to your abuse; and
  • Require your abuser to make child support payments.

Applying for a protective order in California is a multi-step process that you should start immediately, because it can take several weeks to complete.

Application

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The Ups and Downs of Marriage and Divorce StatisticsAccording to national statistics, the divorce rate has dropped for the third year in a row, while the rate in the number of marriages that took place increased. The divorce rate has hit the lowest point it has been in almost four decades. There has been an overall decrease of 25 percent for the number of couples getting divorced since 1980.

California Statistics

The state of California had one of the lowest number of divorces last year, coming in at number 45. This means that approximately every 12 out of 1,000 marriages ended in divorce. The national average was 17 out of every 1,000 marriages ending in divorce.

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Study Concludes ACA Helped Decrease Divorce RateThere has been debate over the past few months regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a.k.a. Obamacare. The ACA was passed into law in March 2010 as a vehicle for people to obtain affordable health insurance. The law also expanded Medicaid's coverage. Since its passage, the ACA has been a contested bi-partisan issue between Democrat and Republican lawmakers, as well as a major issue in last year’s presidential campaign. A new study reveals that one of the benefits of the current ACA is that it may be responsible for lowering the divorce rate, particularly for those couples on Medicaid who normally would have filed for a “medical divorce.”

How Did ACA Reduce Divorce?

The paper, which was written by two University of Kansas economists and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, discovered that states which expanded their Medicaid programs under the ACA law had an almost 6 percent decrease in divorce for people between the ages of 50 to 64, compared to states which did not implement Medicaid expansion.

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Hidden Assets and the Mutual Legal Assistance TreatyIt is not uncommon for couples involved in divorces to suspect each other of not being completely honest when it comes to full disclosure, especially when it concerns assets and property. The more assets a couple has, the messier the divorce can become.

California is a community property state, meaning that assets and property acquired by the couple during the marriage are equally owned by both of them. However, not all spouses agree with that law and attempt to hide assets from the other spouse. These assets often end up in other countries, and presumably, out of the reach of the other spouse.

The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty

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The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement ActOne of the most difficult – and highly emotional – issues when a couple splits up is child custody. Although parents want what is best for their children, they often lose sight of that in the midst of a custody battle. It is not uncommon for issues to continue to arise long after the courts have issued their “final” custody decision, with one parent or the other filing modification motions or asking the court to intervene on other issues that come up.

In 1997, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) was drawn up by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The UCCJEA was drafted to address the serious jurisdiction issues that arise when parents do not live in the same state or when one parent moves after custody decisions have been made. Different states have different custody laws, so the purpose of the UCCJEA was to establish a uniform child custody law that would cover intrastate custody issues. The UCCJEA has been passed in forty-nine states, including California, as well as in the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. It has not been adopted in Massachusetts or Puerto Rico.

Jurisdiction under the UCCJEA

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Community vs Separate Property in a California DivorceOne of the many issues that couples going through a California divorce must work through is how will the assets and properties they own be divided. If they cannot come to an agreement, then the judge who is overseeing their divorce will decide that for them. California is a community property state, which means the law says that all assets and property the couple acquired during their marriage belongs to both equally and is therefore required to be divided equally between them.

If there are assets or property one spouse owned prior to the marriage, or if that property was given to the spouse either through an inheritance or a gift, then the court may consider that asset separate property. Property can also be considered separate if the spouse came into possession of that property after the couple separated.

To determine what will happen to an asset, the court must decide if:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_california-child-custody.jpgEven in the most “friendliest” of California divorces, when it comes to issues regarding child custody, the relationship between soon-to-be-ex-spouses can quickly become contentious. Unfortunately, if this happens, not only does it affect the parents, more importantly is the negative emotional impact that a child custody battle can have on the children of the marriage.

Under California law, there are two different categories of child custody – legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody addresses who makes decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including their education and health. Physical custody refers to the time with each parent the child will have. This includes the child’s primary residence, visitation, holidays, and vacation time.

There are different variations of how these custody categories are awarded. For example, both parents may be awarded legal custody, meaning they have equal say on decisions about the child’s education or medical care, but only one parent is awarded physical custody (this is the parent the child will primarily live with) and the other parent is awarded visitation time.  

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Posted on in Divorce

california uncontested divorce, san jose divorce lawyerAn uncontested divorce in California takes at least six months to become finalized. This timeline assumes that one party has been living in California for six months and in the same county for three months. Divorce can be final six months after your spouse is served with the divorce proceedings.

California is a "no-fault" divorce state, which means that a divorce will be granted if one party tells the court that there are irreconcilable differences, which have caused the permanent breakdown of the marriage. The other spouse does not have to agree in order for the divorce to be granted.

The only other reason one can get a divorce in California is if the other spouse is permanently legally incapable of making decisions.

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