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Bay Area Family Law Blog

You can lose custody and your freedom for parental kidnapping

Many parents don't realize that they can be arrested and charged with kidnapping their own child. However, the law in California is very clear: If you withhold a child from his or her lawful custodian or legal guardian, that's a crime -- even if you are the child's biological parent. This is usually referred to as a "parental abduction."

It's also a crime to intentionally deprive the child's other parent of shared custody or visitation when he or she is entitled to it. This is usually known as "interference with child custody."

Divorce season begins as soon as the holidays are over

When the Christmas season ends, "divorce season" usually begins. It's such a common occurrence that family law attorneys even refer to the first Monday after Christmas break as "Divorce Day," because their email boxes are usually clogged with requests for appointments and the phones start ringing off the hook.

Why is the end of December and the first of January such a big rush for divorces?

Putting all your assets on the table may help you preserve them

Marriages don't usually sour overnight. Instead, they tend to slowly fall apart, with each spouse gradually becoming more independent and thinking of himself or herself as an individual, rather than part of a couple. That's often reflected in their finances as well, because it isn't uncommon for one or both spouses to have hidden a little money away for a rainy day without telling the other person.

California's laws, however, make it very clear: In the event of a divorce, each spouse has a duty to disclose all of their financial information and assets. There's several different reasons for this:

Attorney tips to prepare for child custody litigation

Unfortunately, not all divorces proceed smoothly. One of the most common areas of contention between parents is child custody. While California courts always urge parents to work out child custody arrangements and parenting plans themselves, sometimes litigation becomes the only option remaining.

No one wants to go to court to determine how their children should be parented, but it is an unfortunate reality in California. As family law attorneys, we have seen even the most amicable parent-to-parent relationship dissolve into chaos. If you and your co-parent cannot reach an agreement regarding child custody, we would like to offer a few tips to help you prepare for a potential courtroom battle.

Child support: Working together for the good of the children

As a long-standing family law firm serving Livermore and Bay Area families, we have watched many parents struggle with child support issues. Most of the time, both parents want to do right by their children, but feelings of inequity or financial betrayal may muddy the waters. When this happens, the spirit of mutual cooperation crumbles, leaving parents bewildered and children hurt.

In our practice, we have seen how divorcing parents lose sight of the mission behind the child support system: Both parents contributing to the care and financial well-being of the children. Two scenarios in which the system has failed are discussed below.

Can you have your divorce petition dismissed?

Maybe you filed for divorce as an emotional response to something that you've now worked through with your spouse, and you'd like to stay married. Maybe there have been other significant life changes that make it appear your marriage isn't going to end after all. Once the paperwork is in, can you stop it, or are you stuck having to move forward with a divorce you no longer want?

You can definitely ask to have your divorce petition dismissed by the court. You'll need to file a motion to dismiss with the court where you initially filed for your divorce. This motion will then have to be granted by the court before the paperwork is taken off the books.

It's easiest when parents agree on a parenting plan

You may not feel like agreeing with your ex about anything after a divorce. However, when it comes to child custody and parenting plans, it is easiest if you both agree on how things are going to be done. The children will behave better if they have the same rules everywhere.

For example, it's dangerous for one parent to always be strict and for the other parent to be the "fun" one. A father who only sees his kids on the weekends may be focused only on making sure that they like him, for instance. He won't make them do homework, he'll let them watch TV and eat as many snacks as they want, he won't have a bedtime for them, and they'll basically be free to do what they desire. The kids, of course, will love this.

Post-divorce tips to help you move on

It can be hard to move forward after a divorce, even if you know that the divorce was smart and the best decision for all involved. These tips can help you move on and perhaps even reinvent yourself a bit as you step into this next stage in your life.

First, don't be afraid to mourn the loss of the marriage. There's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean you made a mistake. It just means a big part of your life has ended, and mourning is a natural step for most people so that they can move on to the next part.

Parenting plan changes may be needed as kids age

The kids are heading back to school, and it's never been so clear how your children have grown up and changed over the years. For some, it's a transition between elementary and middle school, or between middle school and high school. For others, it's just a new year with new opportunities and experiences.

As these changes manifest themselves, you may find that your parenting plan no longer fits. Since the plan is supposed to have the child's best interests in mind, it may be worth addressing.

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