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Redwood City Family Law Blog

How can you fight for a fair spousal support order?

Did you make the choice to stay home with your children? Are there certain factors unique to your situation that leaves you unable to work? Do you have a job that earns significantly less than what your spouse earns? If you answered yes, then you probably have serious concerns about what your divorce will mean for your financial future.

One form of help available to you may come from alimony payments, also called spousal support. The intent of these payments is to offset the economic inequity that a lesser-earning spouse can experience in a divorce. If you think you could be eligible for these types of payments, you will want to fight for a fair amount. Pursuing reasonable terms in a spousal support order is a significant step in protecting your future interests.

Visitation rights not contingent on child support

When a California co-parenting arrangement gets contentious, the parties involved might act with malice toward one another, seeking to deny visitation for any reason. In most cases though, visitation rights cannot be denied unless the child is being subjected to violence, abuse, or imminent danger. Among the most common illegitimate reasons a parent might try to deny the visitation rights of the other are bitterness or resentment toward the ex or a new partner, falling behind on support payments, refusal by the child or sickness of the child.

Bitterness toward an ex is no reason to deny the latter's rights to visitation with a child, but it can be the only leverage the embittered party has in some cases. Denying visitation for such petty reasons is illegal though, and may be actionable. Resentment of the ex's new significant other is similarly petty and illegal. In either case, the custodial parent who denies visitation may face fines, loss of custody or jail time.

Steps to take after an ex has filed for child custody

Relationships can be complicated, especially when children are involved. California residents who have child custody on their mind, particularly when an ex-partner has started the custody process, may wonder what they can do. Here are a few things that can help an individual whose ex-spouse is filing for custody.

The first step a person should take is learning about child custody laws in their state. While each jurisdiction is going to differ when it comes to how decisions are specifically made, all courts are going to look at what is best for the children and the relationship between the parents and the children when it comes to determining who will be granted custody of the children.

Making co-parenting work with a toxic former spouse

When family law judges in California and around the country make child custody decisions, they tend to favor co-parenting arrangements. The results of several studies suggest that children are less likely to be traumatized by a divorce if they are able to spend time with both of their parents, but making co-parenting work can be extremely difficult when one of the parents is selfish, narcissistic or bitter.

The pitfall to avoid in these situations is being drawn into arguments that revisit the issues that led to the divorce in the first place. This can be difficult when resentment runs deep, and it can be extremely damaging to children when they expect raised voices and hot tempers at every custody exchange. The best way to avoid arguments is to anticipate them and plan exchanges carefully to ensure that any contact with a toxic former spouse will be brief. Remaining calm even when provoked avoids conflict and sets a good example for children.

Making a child custody hearing more convenient

Parents in California or any other state who get divorced generally have the ability to retain a relationship with their children. In most cases, a judge will determine who has custody of the child as well as the rights of the noncustodial parent. However, it is possible that a child custody hearing will be scheduled at an inconvenient time or in an inconvenient location. Fortunately, parents may be able to appear at a hearing by phone or by video.

It is also possible for an individual to request that the time or date of the hearing be changed to better accommodate his or her schedule. Rarely, a court will agree to change the venue of the hearing to make it easier for a mother or father to appear. A court will consider a number of factors when determining whether to make changes to the time, date or location of a custody hearing.

Why joint custody is becoming more popular

Traditionally, mothers usually got sole custody of their kids after a divorce. However, over the past three decades, it has become more common for parents to share custody of their children. Generally speaking, most child custody cases in California and throughout the country start by assuming that joint custody rights are in the child's best interest. In some cases, a parent may be entitled to legal custody without being granted physical custody rights.

When a parent has legal custody, they have the right to make medical, religious and other important decisions for the son or daughter. If a parent has physical custody, it means that the minor will live with them. There are many reasons why fathers are now more likely to get custody of a child than in previous years. One of the key reasons is that society is more accepting of divorce as it becomes more common.

Divorce involves finding answers to many questions

The decision to divorce is a double-edged sword. You may feel that you could lead a much happier life if you were no longer married, but ending your marriage will also come with many life changes that could be difficult to handle at first. Still, you and many other California residents may feel willing to take this risk.

Of course, you can reduce the risk of facing struggles during and after divorce by knowing what you are getting into ahead of time. You can take various steps to feel more organized and confident as you get ready to move forward with a life-changing process.

Take stock of assets prior to filing for divorce

Couples tend to start building wealth early in their marriages. This could result in considerable assets when they are ready to retire. However, California couples who get divorced before they exhaust those investment funds may have to divide those assets when they separate.

It's important for both spouses to understand the investment products they own. In many relationships, one spouse handles most of the financial matters. This could put the other one at a disadvantage if the marriage ends. Whether a spouse actively manages the family investments or not, they should know the addresses and values of all real estate they own as well as the financial institutions and balances of all of the couple's retirement accounts. This is true for both joint and separate property.

What to consider before getting a strategic divorce

California residents may see a reduced tax bill by divorcing their spouses. Furthermore, it may be possible for an individual to qualify for government health benefits by ending his or her marriage. This is because those individuals could have fewer assets and a lower yearly income on their own compared to when they were married. However, there is also a chance that a person loses out on the ability to benefit from IRA contributions or a 401(k) balance.

When a person is married and unemployed, a spouse may be able to contribute money into an IRA for that individual. This is only true if a married couple files their taxes jointly. If a working spouse has a 401(k), an unemployed spouse may automatically be named the beneficiary of that account. After a divorce, the owner of the account is typically free to choose another beneficiary.

Planning makes custody transitions easier on everyone

The implementation of a child custody plan can be as hard on the parents as it is on the children. For parents in California who are moving toward a new child custody arrangement, there are a few things to keep in mind that can prepare the whole family for the transition. Among the most important things are giving the children enough notice, communication between the parents and setting the kids' expectations.

Giving the children sufficient notice is important as they need to what they can expect during the drop-off and pick up. The more detail that can be conveyed, the better. Kids do better if they have a detailed account of what to expect. For example, if the father will drop off the kids but not come inside the mother's home, that can be conveyed to the kids so it's not a big deal when the drop off happens.


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

Phone: 650-399-0962
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