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Sacramento Family Law Blog

Does California family law allow visitation for grandparents?

In California, when there is a divorce and visitation rights are determined as part of family law, it is often centered around the parents. However, there are other people who want to have visitation with a child even if the relationship that bore the child is no longer intact. Grandparents fall into this category. For grandparents who want visitation, it is important that they and the parents understand how the law handles this relatively common circumstance.

The law allows for grandparents to seek reasonable visitation with their grandchild. There are certain factors that must be in place for the court to grant this visitation. The child and the grandparent must have a pre-existing relationship. With that relationship, a bond must have been formed. It must be in the child's best interests to have visitation with the grandparent. In addition, the best interest of the child will be assessed in the context of the parents' rights as to who gets to see and spend time with their child.

How does California family law address parental relocation?

Child custody is one of the most complex issues in California family law. When there is a divorce and the parents are trying to get as much time with the children as possible, it can be made even more difficult if a parent decides to move away and relocate. This can impact visitation and more. It is a fundamental requirement to understand what the law says about parental relocation following a divorce.

A parent with sole physical custody has the right to move away without the other parent's permission. The other parent must show that the move would be detrimental to the child. However, the duration of the move is critical. Whether it is temporary or permanent will affect the case. For parents who have a joint physical custody agreement, a parent who objects to the move has more of a right to do so and prevent it. The parent who wants to move must prove that the move will be in the child's best interests. Parenting schedules are a critical factor in how the court will assess the case.

In family law, does the marriage length impact spousal support?

There are many decisions that must be made in a California divorce. Those going through a divorce may be concerned about a key part of family law: spousal support. It is a good idea to understand how the determination is made regarding how much spouse support will be paid. Another key factor that should be grasped by the spouse who will be paying support and the spouse who will be receiving support is how the length of the marriage will impact how long spousal support will be paid and if it will be permanent.

The amount of time the couple was married will be a foundational factor in deciding on the duration of spousal support. In most cases, the idea behind spousal support is not for the paying spouse to care for the supported spouse and pay for his or her upkeep forever. It is to give the receiving spouse time to find their own means of self-support. This should be done in a "reasonable period of time." Under the law, that phrase generally means half the duration of the marriage.

What are my options after being served with divorce papers?

Californians might be under the impression that a divorce stems from a slow and incrementally worsening series of issues that culminates in the decision to part ways. In many cases, that is true. Sometimes, however, being served divorce papers comes as something of a shock. Regardless, most situations have one spouse filing a petition on the other. The spouse who receives the petition and a summons is the respondent. It is important to understand that there are several alternatives after being served. To handle the case in the manner best suited to the individual, legal advice is key.

The petition specifies what the petitioner wants. In the summons, there will be information as to the respondent's rights and how the process of divorce works. There are standard facts like what can be done with assets, property and other items. The petitioner and the respondent are prohibited from moving out of California with children from the union or from seeking a new passport or renewing an existing one without first receiving consent.

Custody concerns when your ex has an addiction

Divorcing a spouse with a substance abuse problem can involve complex emotions. You certainly feel some anger and resentment, but you may also understand the overpowering control an addiction can have over your spouse. These matters can be even more complicated if you have children.

If your spouse was able to demonstrate to the court that he or she could control the addiction, the court may have ordered some form of shared custody or visitation. While this may have worked for a while, if you are noticing signs that your ex has returned to drugs or alcohol, you have justifiable reasons for concern over the safety and wellbeing of your children.

Can a child have a say in child custody decisions in California?

There are many factors that are considered when there is a child custody case in California. The best interests of the child are paramount and various considerations toward that end will be part of the process. In many cases, the parents will make their argument to have custody, visitation rights will be determined and the child has little say in the matter. However, in some instances, the child will be granted the right to express his or her preferences regarding custody. Understanding what the law says about the child's capacity to be heard is an important part of a case.

The child's age and maturity will be critical factors in deciding whether their preferences should be given weight. If the child is deemed to be sufficiently mature and able to understand the consequences of the case, then the court will take the child's preferences into account. When a child is examined as a witness in the case, the court will have strict control over how it is done to serve the child's best interests. A child who is at least 14-years-old who wants to address the court about the case can do so except in cases where the court decides it will not be in the child's best interests. The court will give its reasons if it does not allow the child to speak.

Finding hidden assets in a California divorce

The divorce laws in California are predicated on the assumption that both spouses will provide a complete and accurate financial disclosure to the other spouse. This assumption cannot always be trusted if the divorce involves a high-asset couple. Humans being humans, some may find that the instinct to hide assets from the other spouse to avoid sharing those assets is strong. This instinct can lead one or both parties to wrongfully attempt to hide significant assets from the other party.

The assets most commonly hidden are cash, bonds, mutual fund accounts, cash value in insurance policies, annuities, stocks and bearer municipal bonds. Assets can be hidden in several ways. One of the most common gambits is the transfer of ownership to a third party, such as a foreign bank. Another common method is the creation of a fictional entity to take possession. Repayment of phony or exaggerated debts to family members is another common method. A spouse who is the sole owner of a small business may use such an entity to retain income that is, in fact, a marital asset.

Modifying an order for child support in California

Child support can be one of the most critical issues in a California divorce involving minor children. The court's order requiring one party to pay child support to the other party usually runs through the child's 18th birthday.

In a family with more than one minor child, the order expires for each child separately, a fact that can mean a very long payment period. What happens if during a period that could exceed 15 years the parent who owes the support obligation suffers a disabling illness or loses his or her job? Such events are known as "changed circumstances" and such an event can be the basis for asking the court to modify or alter its original order for support.

Appraising the value of a business in a California divorce

When a divorcing California couple turns to valuing their assets, one of the most difficult issues is the value of a jointly owned business. Many couples start small businesses early in their marriage and devote significant energy to making the business a success. Whether the success is modest or significant, the value of the company can add significant stress to settling property division issues, especially if the couple is looking at a high-asset divorce. One of the most efficient ways of determining the value of a business is to hire an experienced business appraiser.

Many people wonder why an appraiser is necessary in a community property state. After all, isn't the business divided equally between the spouses? The answer in theory is "yes," but businesses often cannot be neatly sliced in half. Some businesses must be sold, either to a third party or to the other spouse. In such transactions, both parties will want to know whether the price is fair.

What will a divorce mean for your retirement savings?

Divorce will bring several significant changes to your life, including your finances. You understand you will have to make significant adjustments to your spending and your plans for the future, including your retirement. In fact, many people have concerns that the end of their marriage will mean the end of their hopes for the future. 

Simply because you are divorcing does not mean that you will have to give up on your retirement plans. You will, however, have to be intentional about protecting your future interests and pursuing a final order that grants you a fair portion of all marital property. There is a lot at stake, and it can be helpful to put temporary emotions to side and focus on what will truly be best long term.

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