Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Understanding a Father’s Rights in a Military Divorce

Military Divorce
If you are a father going through a military divorce it is important for you to understand your rights.  Many couples make the false assumption that the mother always gets the kids and has the right to do whatever she wants with them.  Do to this misconception, many fathers don’t even try to fight for custody even if they do want to spend time with their children.  If you are in this situation, here are facts that you need to know:

Most courts believe kids should spend time with both parents.
This is unlike the common belief that used to be prevalent in the court system.  No longer is it thought that kids only need their mother.  To the contrary, the court will try to ensure that kids grow up with the influence of both parents.  This is beneficial to fathers because even if the mother attempts to maintain full custody with limited visitation rights if you fight, the court will probably rule in your favor to some degree.  The key is that you have to present a parenting plan that you want so that the court can decide between them. 

Things you need to prove.
If you are going after full or partial custody of your children, it is important to establish several things.  This is true if you are going through a military divorce or civilian divorce.  You will want to prove that you have stable employment and can provide for the needs of the children financially.  If you are in the military, this becomes easier to do but in both cases, pay stubs are typically enough to demonstrate employment.  You will also want to demonstrate that you have stable housing for the children within their current school district.  If you want to take them out of their school district, it becomes a relocation case.  

As a father trying to keep custody of the children, it is best if you can remain in the house you have been living in as a family or can find something in the same neighborhood.  While the natural reaction may be to move far away from your ex, moving creates a less stable environment in the courts eyes and could work against you.
It also helps if you can demonstrate a solid support system.  This could be family, friends, your church group, etc.  A support system is important when raising children and if your ex has it, but you don’t, this could make it more difficult to gain full custody.  It shouldn’t, however, influence your ability to maintain joint custody. 

Child support
When representing clients going through a military divorce, we also work to ensure that any child support agreements are fair and can be lived with.  This could be challenging if one spouse wasn’t working during the marriage.  In these instances, you may have one child support agreement at the beginning of the divorce and go back to have it renegotiated at a later date to reflect a lesser amount, once they become employed.  
Remember that if you are a father going through a military divorce, you have just as many rights as the mother does.  To learn more, call and schedule your consultation. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Divorce Attorney Explains the Requirements for Getting a Divorce in California

As a divorce attorney in California, we work with couples that no longer wish to remain married and are interested in ending their relationship in either an amicable or contested divorce.  The family laws in each state are different so if you recently moved to California or are unfamiliar with our laws it is important to have a quick review prior to filing.  
Here is what you need to know:
  • Residency. If you want to divorce here, you must have lived in the state for at six months prior to filing (three of those must be in the county where your filing takes place).  Otherwise, if you recently moved you would have to either file in the state you came from or wait for the six months to pass before proceeding.  Most couples simply wait for the six months because of how inconvenient it is to have a legal proceeding take place in the state you no longer live in. 
  • California is a no-fault state. In some states, fault must be established in order to “qualify” for a divorce.  Otherwise, the request may not be granted.  As a divorce attorney in California, we know that you can get a divorce simply because you want one.  It is important to remember, however, that the judge may take the circumstances surrounding the divorce into consideration when making their ruling. 
  • Waiting Period.  In many states, there is a waiting period to see if the couple can reconcile.  The intent is to decrease the number of divorces, though it mostly only creates further challenges for divorcing couples.  In California, a couple must wait six months after filing before a divorce can be finalized. The judge may also delay the proceedings by an additional thirty days if they feel like the couple could reconcile. 
  • Division of assets.  The court will make a determination for how assets, property, and debts are split up.  
  • Children.  During the course of the trial, the judge will hear testimony and take facts into consideration to determine what is in the best interest of the children.  They will then make a ruling on who will maintain custody, visitation, and child support.  This can be the most difficult aspect of a divorce, and if you feel that the ruling was unjust, you can file a formal appeal. 
As a divorce attorney, many of our clients are new to this process and unsure of what to expect.  During the consultation, we will walk you through the steps that must be taken from filing to your final ruling.  It can take months and even a year for more complicated cases.  We always recommend speaking with a lawyer before filing so that you can have your ducks in a row and ensure that you and your children will be protected.  A divorce is a serious and complicated legal affair and having professional guidance will help you to get through it successfully. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Child Support Attorney Explains Visitation and Custody in California

Child Support Attorney
As a child support attorney, we regularly represent clients that want to make an adjustment to what they are paying in support.  In order to do this, you or your ex’s financial situation will have needed to change significantly, or an adjustment needs to be made to the custody and visitation schedule. 

In California, a parenting plan is established that determines where the child will be living and on what days they are with each parent.  In many cases, a child will primarily reside with one parent while seeing the other on weekends and during the evening once a week.  While this is a standard agreement, yours can be completely different, based on your needs and what is in the best interest of the child.  If you and your ex both live in the school district, it becomes much easier to arrange a unique shared parenting plan.  If, however, there is a distance between your homes or one lives in a different state, a judge will want to keep the child in the residence closest to their school during the school year. 

In most cases, even if one parent is awarded full custody the other will be granted visitation.  The amount of visitation can be adjusted up or down based on what is in the best interest of the child and the parents’ schedules. As a child support attorney, we understand that if you start spending more time with your children, the amount you pay in support should be reduced. This is often a good way to approach the adjustment.  We can file a Request for Order to Change or Modify a Previous Order.  This is a formal request to change how often you see your children and while doing so we will also request a modification to the support agreement. 

When the judge reviews our request, they will evaluate the current living situation for both parents along with what the child is used to.  As long as it doesn’t interfere with a child’s school schedule, a judge will typically agree to allow a child to spend as much time with both parents as is feasible.  They key is to demonstrate that the change would not disrupt the child’s life in any way or create a level of instability that they are not accustomed to.  

As a child support attorney, we always recommend going through the formalized process when making a major change to the parenting plan.  If you and your ex are helping each other out by switching days occasionally, that’s fine.  However, if you start to make a more permanent change such as taking them an additional day during the week, you should do it through the court system.  The reason being that if you are paying child support and start watching your child more often, the amount you pay in support will not change.  It will remain at a higher amount even though technically your ex is watching them less.  When you go through the process with the court, you can formalize the agreement so that they can’t go back to the old schedule without going back to court. 

Simultaneously, you can save money by getting your support order reduced. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Speak With a San Diego Lawyer to See if You Qualify for Spousal Support

San Diego Lawyer
As a San Diego lawyer, we help couples throughout the area as they go through a divorce.  One common question that we get is about spousal support.  Many spouses that were staying home or only working part time become concerned that they will be unable to support themselves.  This is understandable considering it takes time to reenter the workforce.  If you are seeking spousal support, here is what you need to know:

There are several types of alimony or spousal support.  Temporary alimony may be awarded while the couple is separated but not yet divorced.  In many cases, couples continue to share a bank account and pay bills jointly while going through the process.  This is a way to formalize the finances to ensure support.  Another type of alimony is for rehabilitation and provides for a spouse as they are going back to school or doing other activities in order to reach the point where they can support themselves.  Simultaneously, alimony can be awarded to strictly reimburse these types of expenses. Permanent alimony is where a spouse continues to receive funds until they die, remarry or for a set and prolonged period of time.  This can be in the form of monthly payments or in a lump sum.

As a San Diego lawyer, we know that the amount of alimony that a person receives is different in every case.  In some divorces, no alimony is given because both spouses earn an income and are self-sustaining.  In other circumstances, it is awarded but after the judge takes into accounts several factors starting with a review of the financial situation and standard of living that was maintained during the marriage.  If the couple had a high standard of living, more alimony would typically be awarded than if they were living on a tight budget.  It is all in relation to what life was like during the marriage.  The judge will also take into consideration the ability of the payer to continue supporting themselves while still paying alimony.  

In determining how much a spouse should be awarded, a judge will also look at age and potential ability to support themselves along with the length of the marriage.  For example, someone that is getting divorced after being married a couple of years and is in their thirties or prime working years, will probably get less alimony than someone that is near retirement age.  This is to ensure that those who did not support themselves during the marriage and would potentially be unable to do so will still maintain some standard of living and not suffer great harm due to a divorce.  On the other hand, those that are capable of earning a living may only be granted support for a short period while they get back on their feet. 

Every case is different so to find out what your chances are of receiving alimony and what a potential award would be, schedule a consultation.  As a San Diego lawyer, we can represent you both in and out of court to ensure that your rights are protected as you go through a divorce. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Happens to Your Pets in a Military Divorce?

Military Divorce
If you are going through a military divorce, it can be a complicated process both emotionally and practically.  There are many issues that will be decided during your divorce proceedings including how your assets will be divided, who gets to keep the house, and what happens with your child custody arrangements.
For members of the military, this entire process can be far more complicated because one spouse may want to move out of state in order to go back home.  Additionally, if one person is deployed the entire proceedings may need to be stayed until they get stateside.  With the variety of issues that can take place, we recommend working with an attorney that is experienced at working with military members and their families. 

Many people ask us what will happen to their pets in a military divorce.  Pets are members of the family but are not treated by the courts like children.  This means that the judge is under no obligation to consider how to divide “custody”.  Instead, a pet is typically treated as an asset would be. In other words, your pet could be treated like a car or the house.  During trial, the judge can make a binding ruling over who will keep your pet and what will happen to them. 

This is a risk because the judge will also be deciding what happens to all of your assets, your debts, your home and your children.  This is a lot to review and make a decision on, so there is no guarantee that they will spend the amount of time it will take to fully understand the relationship you have with your pet and why it is so important to you that you maintain that relationship.  

It is our job to prove the bond that you have with your pet and that you have been their primary caregiver.  We can help to demonstrate this by proving who took them to the vet and the groomers, who spent the most time with them, purchased them, etc.  The more information you can give us, the better as it will help us to build your case. After hearing the facts, the judge will decide who gets to keep your family pet. 

When handing a military divorce, with or without pets, we recommend that you try to mediate whenever possible.  This is non-binding negotiation with both parties and their attorneys.  You can be in separate rooms, and the negotiations can go back and forth while assets are divided, custody is determined, and the pets are discussed. The reason we recommend trying mediation is that you have more control over what happens that when you go to court.  You may not get exactly what you want, but you have the opportunity to compromise.  For example, we may be able to arrange a pet sharing schedule or your ex may agree to give up your pet if they get something else in exchange.  

To learn more or to get help, give us a call. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Speak With a Child Support Attorney if You Have Been Laid Off

Child Support Attorney
If you have lost your job, a child support attorney can help you to negotiate changes to your custody arrangements or child support.  When couples get divorced a judge makes a determination about where the kids will live, visitation schedules, and child support payments.  The goal is to create a plan that can last for as long as possible.  It is unreasonable, however, to assume that what is set when a child is five will still work when they are fifteen.  Life changes and when it does, adjustments need to be made. 

If you were working full time when the judge made their decision, this would have played a large role in determining the custody schedule and how much money you would either pay or receive on a monthly basis.  Losing that job could change everything.  For example, if both parents are working and one is laid off, that parent may want to provide child care now instead of paying for daycare.  This could impact the amount of days each parent has with the child since it is better for a child to be with a parent than in daycare. 

When the days that a child is with each parent are adjusted, the financial considerations must also be adjusted.  This means that if you gain days as a result of losing your job, the amount of money you would pay in child support would go down or the amount you receive could go up.  Simultaneously, there needs to be an adjustment made for how much money is exchanged because your income would have gone down.  As a child support attorney, we can help to make this happen by petitioning the court. 

As a divorced couple, neither one of you can make a change without the consent of the other or without going to court.  In many cases, ex-spouses do not agree so being able to negotiate is not a possibility.  In this case, we can try and mediate on your behalf.  This is a non-binding way to negotiate and take the emotion out of it at the same time.  Since they or their attorney, would be speaking with us the conversations should be more cordial and productive.  The goal of mediation is to attempt to settle outside of court where both sides have more control, and there is less cost involved. 

If they don't agree to any changes, we can schedule a court date and represent you before the judge.  We will build a case for how your job situation changing has impacted your schedule and your financial situation. The other side will likely argue against changing anything or reducing child support so it is important to provide us with as much detail as possible so that we can present a solid case that the judge will have a hard time disagreeing with.  

Remember, if your situation has changed you have the right to ask for your custody situation to change, as well.  To get help, call a child support attorney today. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Military Divorce Can Become Complicated Quickly

Military Divorce
If you are going through a military divorce, keep in mind that it will likely be more complicated than a civilian one, simply because of the various issues at play.  Active duty military members and their family face specific challenges that are unique; for example, when one spouse is on deployment another can still file for divorce. It becomes incredibly difficult to deal with a divorce from thousands of miles away where communication may be limited.

Are you currently deployed?

This puts you at a distinct disadvantage.  When someone files for divorce, the clock starts ticking on certain timeline issues and without a lawyer representing you, there may be no one local to ask for the process to be stopped or stayed pending their return.  JAG will sometimes get involved, but they are not going to represent you in divorce court.  You still need an experienced divorce lawyer to protect your interests.

Hiring an attorney is especially important if you are facing a military divorce and have children.  In this scenario, you need an advocate to present your side and how you are involved in caring for your children when you are home.  Oftentimes, active duty military members are portrayed by the other side as unengaged when this is simply not the case.  Being in the military is your job, and like any job, it does not diminish how you feel about your children.  Your responsibilities for work are simply different than if you had a 9-to-5 job.  We understand this and are experts at making a case for why you should still have joint custody of your children.

Dividing Finances

There are additional financial considerations that active duty military members and their spouse must consider.  When calculating things like child support, there are different forms of compensation that inexperienced lawyers don’t know how to sort through.  Things like housing allowances and combat pay need to be taken into consideration, and we know how to do so, when working with either party in a divorce.   Additionally, we can help to negotiate how things like retirement will be split up.

Where will you live?

This is a question that comes up frequently in a military divorce.  Typically, families move around a lot, but simply because you are stationed at a base, doesn’t mean that the divorcing spouse will want to stay there.  If you don’t have kids – it doesn’t matter.  Both parties are free to live where they choose.  If, however, you have children they will not be allowed to leave the state permanently without the courts consent.  An order of relocation will need to be filed as part of the divorce process and the judge will decide whether or not to grant it.  If the service member is obligated to stay stationed at a base for a period of time following the divorce, this can become even more complicated.

We are experienced with representing both service members and their spouses in a military divorce.  To get advice from an expert attorney, schedule your consultation today.