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Bay Area Family Law Blog

Legal dispute over frozen embryos highlights unique divorce case

A California case involving frozen embryos has sparked a debate on child custody issues long after a divorce. According to news sources, a San Francisco, California, judge is prepared to issue a verdict in a follow-on divorce dispute that emerged after the couple's divorce was finalized in April.

At issue, are five frozen embryos that the ex-spouses decided to have frozen after doctors discovered breast cancer in the wife just days before the couple married. At that time in 2010, the couple decided that freezing the embryos might preserve the wife's only chance of naturally conceiving a child. The mother of those embryos now says that she was unaware that the document was legally binding. According to the mother, both her and her then husband considered the documents as merely routine consent forms.

How criminal charges could affect your child custody case

Divorces that also include children inherently give rise to important decisions that need to be decided prior to the final divorce decree. Paramount on that list of concerns is the issue of child custody. In a previous article on our website blog, we discussed how most family law courts in Alameda County will require both parents to attend Child Custody Recommending Counseling Services. These are provided free of charge to both parties, and they are designed primarily to assist parents in working out the specifics of their child custody and visitation rights.

You need to know that the Family Court Services of California recommends that parents seek guidance from their attorneys and obtain the support of any therapists or family members prior to attending the CCR meetings. For couples where at least one spouse has criminal charges, meeting with an attorney prior to these visits can be very important.

Understanding child support and extracurricular actitivities

Normally, California requires both spouses to pay equal shares in support of their child's extracurricular activities. That being said, a court will sometimes consider a different apportionment of those financial obligations if circumstances indicate that it might be more appropriate to require a greater child support obligation from one party. This does not necessarily mean that a court will grant additional child support in each case, but it does illustrate how some requests to modify existing child support orders might be presented.

Under section 4062, the California Family Code generally recognizes that additional child support can be added under certain circumstances. Things that might reasonably be necessary for a child's education or training for employment skills are included on that list. Also included are costs related to a child's educational or other special needs. Perhaps most importantly, section 4062 allows each spouse to present documentation that might demonstrate how it might be more appropriate to require the other spouse to pay a greater percentage for extracurricular activities.

Celebrity divorce offers lesson in prenuptial agreements

In early July, the famed Hollywood couple of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced that the pair would be splitting up and ending their marriage of 10 years. Most striking, is the couple's decision to wait until they had been married for precisely 10 years and one day before filing divorce papers. For the last several months tabloid media outlets have been reporting about the couple separation. Many speculated that Garner, 43, had initiated the separation from Affleck, 42, due to his penchant for gambling.

According to one California family law expert, the decision of when to file for divorce may not have been a coincidence. Under California law, a couple who has been married together for at least 10 years is presumed to be in a long-term marriage. This status can have significant repercussions with regards to alimony, also known as spousal support. Generally, the spouse earning the lesser amount of money in a long-term marriage can ask a court for more spousal support over a longer period of time than their counterparts that have only been married for a few years.

When is a guardianship in a child’s best interests?

In a perfect world, both parents of every child would have the capacity to look after their children's needs and see to their proper development. Unfortunately, we live in a society where overseas military service, incarceration, substance abuse, mental illness and other factors may deprive children of having meaningful and beneficial relationships with their parents.

Thankfully, California courts currently recognize two different types of custody arrangements for non-parents. Basically, a court can order a person who is not the child's parent to step in place of unavailable or incapacitated parents and make decisions on behalf of the children's best interests.

Child support considerations for disabled children

Under California law, both parents are legally responsible for providing their children with adequate support for their day-to-day needs. When couples divorce, family courts generally use California's child support guidelines as a way to determine just how much support each parent should pay. Generally, courts will examine the income of both parents as well as which parent provides the principal source of care and housing for the children involved. That parent is often referred to as the custodial parent.

In most scenarios, a family law judge will order a noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. The logic of those determinations are based on the idea that whomever has principal custody of the children will invariably incur more expenses related to their care. That is especially true when the custodial parent is also raising a child with special needs.

How mediation might help you if you may be considering divorce

There are many people who frequently consider divorce, yet for one reason or another, they never seem ready to pull the trigger. Perhaps those unhappy spouses choose to remain in loveless marriages due to financial concerns. Others stay married because they believe that a split from their partner might adversely affect their children's development. Still, there are a few individuals who have been married for a long time and have grown apart over the years, yet don't know how to proceed with divorce.

Marriages with distant spouses can happen for a variety of reasons, but some occur because each spouse begins to gradually live a different life. In some of these cases, one spouse is completely devoted to his or her work, while the other spouse strives to satisfy other interests. Regardless of the causes for the divergent interests, it's important for you to know that California requires a "cooling down" period of at least six months before a long-married couple can divorce. The primary reason for that is because many couples will reconcile once the divorce proceedings have started and the papers have been served.

What can I do if I’m being sued for child support?

The state of California takes a keen interest in making sure that parents help provide for the care of their children. That is one of the main reasons why a local child support agency will file suit against a person who is suspected of being a child's parent. Typically, this is done automatically whenever a child receives support provided by the state.

In most cases, a local child support agency will personally serve you, or someone you know, with a summons and complaint. This is known as personal service, and you must respond to those documents within 30 days of the day that you received them. It's important that you don't ignore these documents because they will not simply disappear and go away, and they could ultimately have a serious impact on your life for many years down the road.

How your child custody situation can affect your divorce

California has long recognized the importance of both parents being actively involved in their children's development. Generally, family law courts throughout the state will attempt to allow both parents to share in child custody and visitation unless there are obvious circumstances which may adversely affect the children involved in any particular case.

Things like child abandonment, endangering the safety of the child, a parent's drug or alcohol dependency and domestic violence are some of the things which may convince a court to amend an existing child custody order.

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