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Does my child’s opinion matter in my California custody case?

In any divorce action involving children, the most important decisions will always revolve around the care and well-being of the kids. For most of us, our children are the most significant elements in our lives. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why child custody disputes are often the most hotly contested issues in any divorce.

Divorcing parents need to understand that California family courts are mandated to make decisions regarding custody based on the best interests of the children involved. In California, a child is considered a minor until he or she reaches the age of 18. That means that unless a child has been emancipated, he or she does not get to decide where he or she will live. However, California law allows judges to consider a child's wishes when determining which parent will receive primary custody.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

California allows prospective spouses to contract their future relationship and marital property rights, including whether or not a community estate will be created during the marriage. A prenuptial agreement can be fairly basic, addressing only a few potential issues, or can be extremely comprehensive. Prenuptial agreements become effective on the date of marriage and are enforceable without consideration; however, for an agreement to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by both parties. Also, it is imperative that both parties enter the agreement voluntarily and with fair and reasonable disclosure of the other party's assets and obligations.

What community property means to you in your California divorce

Generally, under California law any property that is acquired during a marriage is considered community property. In an earlier blog post, we discussed a scenario in which a divorcing spouse might be able to keep certain assets considered as separate property from a marital estate. However, it is more likely that most couples will share equal ownership of any property and assets they have acquired throughout their marriages.

Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service also considers both spouses as equally sharing the tax liability of the marital asset in community property states. This means that some spouses may attempt to conceal wealth during a divorce in an effort to avoid tax liability.

How is alimony decided in California courts?

There was once a time in American history where many married couples lived comfortably with one income source. Typically, the husband would work full-time and his salary would be sufficient to pay for all of the couple's needs. In that scenario, the wife would usually remain at home throughout the day and take care of the children and other household duties. Divorce under those circumstances usually proved disastrous for stay-at-home moms with few marketable professional skills.

Alimony, also referred to sometimes as spousal support or maintenance, was a way that lawmakers felt would provide some divorced spouses an opportunity to learn new skills and transition to single life.

Program aimed at helping parents behind on child support payments

The role that parents play in the development of their children's lives is extremely important. Research undertaken on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that the absence of a father in a child's life can actually have negative consequences for the child's cognitive ability and educational achievements.

California has recognized the social benefits of placing the need of children to have both parents actively involved in their lives above the need to penalize parents that are behind on their child support payments.

Parents can choose whether to fight a child custody dispute

In a previous article on our website, we discussed the importance of child custody and visitation rights during divorce proceedings. Arguably, issues involving children offer the most fertile ground for intense emotion-based decision-making.

What many parents fail to realize is their children are watching them throughout this process. Personal attacks against a spouse may adversely affect a child's future relationship with that parent.

Important facts regarding social media and your divorce

In one of our previous blog postings, we discussed the likelihood of one spouse using subpoena powers to obtain adverse information about their spouse's social media postings. In that article, we revealed that the social networking company Facebook has taken a rather defensive posture regarding such disclosure.

According to that company's website, a federal statute known as the Stored Communications Act prohibits them from disclosing user content such as photographs, timeline posts and other similar digital data to non-governmental parties in matters litigated in civil court.

Can California put a lien against my house for child support?

In California, a parent who does not have primary physical custody of a child is considered the child's noncustodial parent. Under California law, both parents are required to provide for a child's care and welfare. In most cases, that means that the noncustodial parent will be required to provide money to the custodial parent in order to offset his or her costs of providing housing, food, medical insurance and other services for the child.

The California legislature has enacted laws that enable the Department of Child Support Services to take enforcement action against a noncustodial parent who fails to honor a court awarded child support order. Some of these measures can be rather extreme in their operation. For example, the DCSS is allowed to suspend licenses, intercept tax returns, report negative information about the nonpaying parent to credit reporting agencies and even deny the issuance of passports.

Child custody complicated by international abductions

If you share a child with your spouse and are currently contemplating divorce, you should know that Alameda County will generally require both parties to attend counseling services. These services are offered at no cost to either party and are designed to smooth out issues related to child custody and visitation rights.

As mentioned in a previous blog post on our website, some parents are unable to reach consensus through the Child Custody Recommending Counseling Services. In the most extreme examples of these disagreements one of the parents may choose to abduct the child and abscond with them internationally.

Advice for divorcing California couples who need to divide art

When going through a divorce in California, people may find that one of the most lengthy processes that they go through is in dividing their wealth and their assets. While most of this may just mean splitting up bank accounts, investments, and other tangible things that can be split in half with relative ease, what should people do when they need to divide things like art, which cannot be evenly divided? How do they decide who gets a sculpture or a painting?

One thing to remember is that this is not going to be a strictly financial decision, like dividing a savings account. Art collectors often feel emotionally attached to specific pieces, so couples will need to work to find solutions that make both sides happy, even if those solutions are not perfectly even from a financial perspective.

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