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Redwood City Family Law Blog

DNA testing plays a pivotal role in family law

California residents facing child support issues, child custody cases and paternity questions may benefit from having a better understanding of the role that DNA testing plays in the court's decision. Many cases require some form of DNA testing before parentage can be determined.

A DNA test can determine whether child support will be paid. When an unmarried couple has a child, the man involved is not automatically named as the child's father. Instead, he is referred to as the "alleged father." His name does not appear on the birth certificate until he has been legally determined to be the father by DNA testing. Only after paternity has been determined will he be responsible for paying child support. He may also be granted visitation rights.

Does your divorce have you concerned about hidden assets?

Getting divorced is one of the biggest life changes many people go through. Because you know your life will be immensely different, you want to give yourself the best chance possible of making the most out of your court proceedings, especially when it comes to getting your fair share of the assets.

Because California is a community property state, you are entitled to half of the marital assets, including those your spouse acquired during the course of your marriage. Of course, your spouse likely knows this, and as a result, he or she may have tried hiding assets in efforts to come out of the case better.

Proving that a child is in danger

Parents in California and throughout the country should not be afraid to speak out if they believe that their children are in danger. Judges will thoroughly investigate any claims that a child has been abused or witnessed others being abused in a home. As part of the investigation, a court will seek assurances that a parent is not making false accusations as a means of obtaining custody of a child.

During an investigation, both parents may retain the right to see and interact with their children. If necessary, parents will be allowed to see visit with their kids in public places and under the supervision of a trusted neutral party. Temporary restraining orders may be granted if there is credible evidence that a child would be in danger while with his or her mother or father. There are many types of evidence that can be used to prove an abuse claim.

Tips for when a child wants to live with the other parent

After California parents get divorced, the children usually spend more time at one household. However, a child may eventually express a desire to live with the other parent. If this happens, there are several things the custodial parent may want to do.

Instead of arguing, the parent should be open and listen to the child. However, it's important to still enforce boundaries. The child should speak respectfully, but the parents must try to empathize and consider the child's point of view. If possible, the parent should try to bring the other parent into the conversation as well. The child will most likely mention it to the other parent anyway. A healthy coparenting relationship will help in navigating this process. If the parent believes that the move is not in the child's best interests, it may be wise to seek outside help from family friends, legal counsel or even a therapist.

When children disagree with physical custody plans

One of the most complicated challenges a custodial parent may face after a divorce is handling a child's request to live with the other parent. There are a variety of legitimate motives a teen or young person might have for making this request, but there are some guidelines for what to do in this situation. California parents may want to consider the following tips.

Whether keeping living arrangements as is or making changes, it's important to understand why a child is making the request. The child should be permitted to share opinions and concerns. It's usually best for parents to make an effort to stay calm and let a child talk without interrupting.

Protecting children after a marriage ends

Many California parents ending a marriage have a desire to make the process as easy as possible for their children. In order to achieve this goal, there are some steps commonly recommended that divorcing parents may want to keep in mind.

It's not uncommon for children of divorce to having feelings of guilt. For this reason, parents are encouraged to protect their kids from negative talk, such as discussing how the other parent was unfaithful. Parents shouldn't lie to their child if asked about the divorce. However, it's advised that caution be taken when it comes to sharing some of the more painful divorce-related details. Children also tend to appreciate being told directly that the end of the marriage was not their fault. At the same time, it's advisable to allow children to have the freedom to show affection and love equally for both parents and even for new stepparents.

Is a lopsided child custody order adjustable?

At the end of your divorce proceedings, you walked away with a custody agreement that may not give you as much time with your children as you would like. However, the court put the child custody order in place because it was thought best for the kids. Some time has passed and you feel a change is in order. Can you seek a child custody modification?

In the state of California, it is possible to seek adjustments to custody orders. Of course, any changes made still need to serve the best interests of your children. How can you go about seeking a modification?

Finances and getting remarried

California residents who decide to get remarried should be aware that there can be financial issues that have to be addressed. This is because people who get remarried tend to have more financial assets than they had the first time they were married. It is also likely that they may have lingering financial complications from a previous marriage. The situation can become even more complex when there are adult children.

People who remarry may feel that they have to balance their commitment to their new spouse with their obligations to their children. They want to make sure that if they die, the assets that they want to be given to their children will not be given to the new spouse.

Supervised visitation aims to protect a child's safety

Some California parents may not be considered fit or able to provide regular parenting care for their children. In addition, there may be concerns that kids could experience dangers or harms if regular parental visitation is granted. However, family courts recognize that children have a strong interest in an ongoing relationship with both of their parents. As a result, judges may order supervised visitation, which is when a noncustodial parent is only allowed to see their kids in the presence of another person acting as a supervisor. While the supervisor is often a professional like a counselor or social worker, it could also be another family member.

Supervised visitation can vary from case to case. It might take place at the parent's home, or it could be held at a specified visitation facility maintained for that purpose. There are a number of reasons why a judge may order supervised visitation. For example, the parent may be accused of child abuse or domestic violence. Others may experience certain troubling issues that prevent them from providing safe and effective care for their children. Examples include alcohol or drug addiction or untreated serious mental health concerns.

Student loans can threaten health of marriage

As California residents know, the costs of a college education have risen steadily over time. Paying for that education often comes with steep loan amounts that keep rising. What might be surprising to know, however, is the threat that student loans can pose to marriage.

While woes due to finances can hurt relationships in general, 13 percent of divorced people blamed college loans specifically for ending their marriages in a study conducted by website Student Loan Hero, but up to a third of divorcees mentioned student loans as at least a factor in the end of their marriage. With average school debt balances at $34,144, and even higher at $39,400 for 2017 college graduates, student loan debt does not only impact people's relationships but even their life plans in general. Millennials seem to be the hardest hit, with some commenting that student debt balances are preventing them from buying a house or taking vacation.

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The Law Offices of Oliver R. Gutierrez
600 Allerton St., Suite 200
Redwood City, CA 94063

Phone: 650-399-0962
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