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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerIn a recent study, researchers asked participants who they would save if a runaway bus was hurtling out of control towards their dog or another human being, as reported by Psychology Today. The majority of participants chose to save their dog over a “foreign tourist” or a “hometown stranger” both by a wide margin. The participants also chose saving their dog over their “distant cousin,” “best friend,” “grandparent,” and even their “sibling.” We obviously place enormous emotional value in our pets, so why does the court system treat our pets as mere property?

During a divorce, pets are considered either marital or personal property. This means that if one of the spouses owned the pet before marriage, they will get the pet no matter what. If the pet was acquired during marriage, the pet is considered marital property, also called community property here in California. However, this is all about to change thanks to the recent signing of Assembly Bill 2274 by the Governor into law. Starting January 1st, 2019, the court can determine sole or joint custody of pet animals that are community property. If you are going through divorce and have a beloved dog, cat, or other pet and it is vital that your animal ends up with you, it is essential that you contact a San Jose divorce attorney.

What Has This Law Changed?

Under the old law, and currently existing law until the end of this year:

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Posted on in Family Law

CA family lawyerThere is no age limit to marry in the state of California. However, there are new restrictions that have been put in place to help reduce the number of unwanted underage marriages that have been forced upon the minors by their parents or others. These restrictions, which will begin January 1st, 2019, include the following:

  • Parents of the minor will have to meet with court officials separate from their children;
  • The minor, or minors, will have to meet with court officials, separate from their parents; and
  • Minors must wait at least 30 days before getting married unless they are 17 years old and have graduated high school or one of the spouses is pregnant.

These separate meetings are used to ensure that the parents or others are not forcing or coercing the minor to get married. If you have questions about underage marriage as a parent or a minor, call a San Jose family law attorney.

Reasons For and Against Underage Marriage

There are a number of valid reasons why two minors would marry one another, or why a minor would want to marry an adult 18 years of age or older. While underage marriage is somewhat rare in the U.S. (in Los Angeles County there were only 44 petitions for underage marriages in the last five years), it is common in third world countries.

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerRegardless of certain cultural and religious backgrounds, marriages do not always work out, even if a religion forbids or strongly discourages divorce. In these circumstances, having the marriage annulled (essentially erased) may be more desirable than a divorce. The benefits of an annulment include the following:

  • It can appease the demands of certain cultures or religions that say divorce is forbidden;
  • It erases all evidence of the marriage having taken place;
  • It may be less expensive than most divorces; and
  • An annulment is faster than a divorce.

An annulment can be finalized very quickly, compared to a divorce, because of the following:

  • No need to distribute marital assets because there are virtually none;
  • Child custody and child support will likely not be a concern due to the short duration of the marriage;
  • Alimony or spousal support is not relevant; and
  • In California, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period that both partners must have been living in the state, and three in the county, before a divorce can be finalized, under California law. This is another reason to consider an annulment, if at all possible, because there is no mandatory wait time.

However, there must be specific circumstances within the marriage for it to be annulled, and the marriage must have taken place fairly recently. A San Jose annulment attorney can help answer any of your questions surrounding divorce or annulment. Below are some reasons that would legally justify an annulment.

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerEither as the stay-at-home parent who raises the children or as the parent without health insurance provided through their employer, you will have an additional hurdle in the form of finding insurance after your divorce is finalized, provided that you have been covered through your spouse’s group employee plan. Unfortunately, because you cannot stay on your ex’s employer-provided health care plan, you need to take action now to ensure that you are covered from the day after your divorce papers are signed.

In amicable divorces, you will likely have more time (up to 30 days or so) for the policyholder to notify the insurance company of the change. However, not all divorcing couples are so good to one another. It is important to not allow any lapse in medical coverage because you never know when an accident or hidden illness may come out of nowhere. A San Jose divorce attorney can help you through your divorce and answer any questions you may have about health insurance.

Applying for Insurance Through COBRA

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CA family lawyerYou may be limited to just a few hours every couple of days, or an overnighter on the weekends, but this time with your child will go a long way in cementing your relationship with them and creating or maintaining a bond that will last a lifetime. A parent who has just gone through divorce and was awarded visitation time only, rather than shared custody, may lament the court’s decision, but it is important to keep a positive attitude for your child and to maximize the quality of time that you do have with your son or daughter. A San Jose child visitation and custody attorney can help you with visitation or custody and can offer suggestions on what to do with your child, how to make a plan, and other questions you may have.

Make a Schedule and Keep To It

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the building blocks for structure are consistency, predictability, and follow through. Structure is important for children—so important, in fact, that the CDC, recommends creating structure in the following ways:

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerAccording to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 50 percent of retirees will run out of funds before during retirement. For many, this means that they will have to rely on family, go back to work, sell their home, or apply for government assistance. None of these options is ideal, and having to pay costly spousal support is one way to quickly drain your retirement funds, putting you at risk of falling short in your latest, most vulnerable years. Similarly, if you are receiving alimony and can no longer work due to advanced age or forced retirement, it is in your best interest to request a modification for an increase in spousal support. A San Jose spousal support modification attorney can modify your alimony payments to more accurately reflect your new financial situation whether you are the receiving or paying spouse.

Retirement Must Precede the Modification Request

Alimony (spousal support) can be modified whenever there is a substantial, continued change in circumstances for either party. This goes both ways; the paying spouse can request a modification if the receiving spouse’s income rises dramatically, and the receiving spouse can request a modification if the paying spouse’s salary increases. But how does retirement fit into this? As the paying spouse, the modification request must be made after retirement, not before or even the week before. A modification request needs to be in reaction to changes in circumstances (your retirement) that have already occurred, not for something that is expected to take place in the future.

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CA divorce lawyerAs a custodial parent, planning around visitations and dealing with the other parent’s behavior can be a challenge. Minor arguments and misunderstandings are not reason enough to petition for a visitation modification themselves, but when they are accompanied by actions that threaten the child’s emotional, psychological, or physical well-being, it is time to speak with a San Jose visitation modification attorney.

Invalid Reasons for Revoking Visitation

There are many reasons why visitation can be limited or taken away by a judge, and they all revolve solely around what is in the child’s best interest. First, there are some invalid reasons for child visitation modification. By themselves, the following characteristics of a non-custodial parent do not make up valid reasons for taking away or limiting the other parent’s visitation rights:

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Posted on in Child Custody

CA divorce lawyerA new approach to the parenting plans is being taken by thousands of couples in the Bay Area. While the traditional living arrangement method calls for moving the child back and forth from the mother’s house to the father’s house, “bird nesting” or “bird nest custody” keeps the child in the same home, while the parents move in and out as their time sharing agreement dictates. While bird nesting may not be for everyone, there are some striking positives to it that the traditional living split living arrangement for the child simply fails to meet. A San Jose custody attorney can explain bird nest custody in more depth to you.

How Bird Nesting Works

Bird nest custody requires that the child or children stay put in the home while the mother and father take turns living there and parenting. Whether parents have every other night with their children or every other week is up to you and the other parent. The goal is to reduce the stress on your child as much as possible during a separation or divorce.

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerWhether the spousal support that you pay or receive is temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent, no judgment is completely set in stone. Circumstances for either party may change, warranting a change in spousal support amount or duration. According to California law, one or both spouses or domestic partners must show that there has been a "change in circumstances" in order for court-ordered spousal support to be modified. An experienced San Jose spousal support attorney can help you accomplish your goals, whether you are receiving spousal support (alimony) or you are required to provide spousal support as the predominant earner in your former relationship.

Reasons for Modifying Spousal Support/Alimony

There are many reasons why one or the other party would want to or need to change the spousal support order, and most have to do with changes in financial circumstances. The following are reasons why the paying spouse or partner could change their spousal support order:

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerMany of us are aware of the potential conflict surrounding asset distribution during divorce. Deciding who gets the home, who gets which car, and how investments and bank account holdings should be divided is on the forefront of many divorcing couples’ minds. However, you may not have heard of the horror stories involving debt allocation/assignment during divorce. Just like property collected during the marriage is called marital property and belongs to both parties, debt is dealt with in the same way.

During divorce, debt will be distributed “fairly” amongst both parties, just like property is distributed fairly. Note that “fairly” does not have to mean equally, and in many cases, the debt incurred by one party should not have to fall on the shoulders of another after the marriage has ended. Instead of plodding through this treacherous terrain without any idea of what your rights are, and in so doing setting yourself up for potential crippling debt and bankruptcy down the road, consider reaching out to an experienced San Jose divorce attorney for legal guidance and protection.

California Is a Community Property State

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CA domestic violence attorneyThese are troubling times for immigrants living in the United States. While extreme hostility towards immigrants has become the norm in political speech and policy in recent years, non-U.S. citizens still have many rights. And one of these rights includes being able to not only leave an abusive relationship, but to pursue financial damages in civil court as well. As a non-U.S. citizen, if you are a victim of domestic violence, do not hesitate to contact a San Jose domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.

Increased ICE Presence in Family Court Leads to Fear of Speaking Out Against Domestic Violence

Since President Trump took office at the beginning of 2017, the increased presence of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at civil and criminal court has caused immigrants to stop appearing in court as well as reporting a crime, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). One of the most affected areas of law has been family court, which is drastically decreasing the chances for domestic violence victims of finding relief and compensation for their tremendous damages. A survey of law enforcement officers, judges, and prosecutors found a striking difference between 2016 and 2017, as described below.

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CA custody lawyerDomestic violence is the most common felony offense in the U.S., and it goes largely unreported. Another unreported aspect of domestic violence is when the abuser harms their own child, which is more common than the average person might think. In fact, 30 to 60 percent of children living in abusive homes are, in addition to the other victim, physically or sexually abused themselves, according to Stop Violence Against Women. This startling fact is one of the main reasons that judges side with the victims of domestic violence when the couple splits up and child custody becomes an issue.

Child’s Best Interests

The court will always side in favor of the child’s best interests, and obviously being sexually or physically abused is not in their best interest. Moreover, even if children are not abused themselves while living in a home where domestic violence occurs, they are still more likely to suffer from emotional, behavioral, developmental, social, and learning problems. Early childhood trauma, such as seeing their mother get slapped, pushed, or threatened, can follow a child into adulthood, causing depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and lower economic status.

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California custody lawyerHaving been through a divorce or separation, your child has already suffered a high degree of emotional trauma. Enough early childhood trauma can cause serious developmental issues in regards to future relationships, education, emotional stability, and general happiness. According to Mental Health Connection, divorce/separation or loss of a loved one (parent) is an early childhood trauma. With that said, it is crucial to provide as much emotional and physical protection for your child in the years to come, and this includes protection from the other parent who has custody and who you know is not fit to be looking after your child. One common type of problem that our lawyers have helped solve is when a parent with custody, or a parent with visitation rights, is living in an unfit residence that poses a threat to your child. If you are in a custody battle or believe that your child’s well being is being put at risk from a parent with custody or visitation rights, you need to contact a San Jose custody attorney as soon as possible.

Types of Dangerous Residences

A home needs to be safe and clean, and the living conditions need to be stable. If non-family members are coming and going at odd hours, dangerous acquaintances or romantic relations spend time at the residence when your child is there, or the dwelling itself poses a physical risk, there may be grounds to revoke custody or visitation rights. A judge will always side with the child’s best interests, which may align with having a safe living environment over maintaining the living relationship with the other parent.

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California family lawyerA child’s declining behavior may be grounds for a custody hearing. In California, a parent may lose their custody rights to either the other parent or the state through foster care, if it has been shown that they cannot control their child and keep them from potentially harming themselves through reckless or illegal behavior. Recently, a teenage girl who repeatedly ran away from home, and who also gave birth to two children, was removed from her parents’ custody after an appeal was upheld by the California Supreme Court, according to the American Bar Journal. The decision was based on a California law that allows children to be removed from their parent’s home even if there is no wrongdoing on the parent’s behalf or failure to supervise their child. If you are in this situation, contact a San Jose custody attorney for help today.

Neglect Is Not Relevant, Only Failure to Supervise

Whether or not a parent neglects their supervising responsibilities, their child can be removed from the home if they are found to be at serious risk of harm as a result of failed parental supervision. This means that even if a parent who does all that they can reasonably do to keep their child out of trouble and safe and provide a stable and loving home life, it may still not be enough.

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California family lawyerGiven that divorce is so hard on adults, it is no wonder that for a child, divorce can be such a traumatic event as to cause serious developmental problems for years into their lives. High conflict divorces, in which parents yell at each other, use abusive language, break furniture, or resort to physical violence, can damage the way a child develops relationships when they become an adult. Divorces are bound to bring out the worst aspects of an already crumbling relationship, which is why it is so important to mitigate the conflict between you and your spouse during divorce for your child’s sake.

Four Steps to Reduce Stress on Your Child

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, there are four key steps to take to manage conflict during your divorce. These include the following:

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Posted on in Family Law

California family lawyerReproductive rights are currently, as always in the past few decades, a point of controversy. Abortion is the most hotly contested reproductive right, while issues of the rights to contraception and sex education are also fought fiercely against by various religious groups. As an adult, as a parent, or as a minor, understanding these reproductive rights is an important aspect of family law that a San Jose attorney can help you to better understand.

Women’s Rights to Medical Services and Her Own Medical Choices

Under Roe v. Wade, it is a federal right to be able to terminate a pregnancy by getting an abortion, to have access to reproductive health services, to have access to contraceptives, and do not have these right interfered with by politicians. Patients also have the right to get pregnant, plan a family, raise their children, and the right to privacy (confidentiality with their physician). As such, a patient can keep a pregnancy test secret, as well as any other medical procedures they have done.

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Posted on in Divorce

California divorce lawyerWhen most people think of divorce, they imagine a courtroom, drained bank accounts, yelling, and both sides leaving unsatisfied and traumatized by the experience. However, divorce does not have to be like that. In fact, many divorces are not settled in court by a judge and go nowhere near a courtroom. One pathway that may be right for you and your spouse is what is called an amicable or collaborative divorce. To learn more about collaborative divorce, you must get in touch with an experienced collaborative divorce attorney in San Jose.

How Does a Collaborative Divorce Work?

A collaborative divorce is settled by a mediator, who is usually a retired judge or lawyer, with both parties' attorneys present. This takes place outside of the courtroom, far from any judge or jury. Instead of a judge hearing the arguments and pleas of both sides and then making a decision, a mediator will help the two sides come to a conclusion on their own.

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Posted on in Family Law

California family lawyerBringing a child into your home through adoption is cause for joy and excitement, but along with it comes some very complex legal paperwork, rules, and regulations. Adoption law can quickly become confusing, even to the legal-minded, which is why working with an experienced and trusted family law attorney who has a focus on adoption is necessary. Some of the most common questions that prospective San Jose adoptive parents have are outlined below.

What Monetary Support Must Be Provided to the Birth Mother?

If you are adopting a yet-to-be-born child, the adoptive mother may request certain things to be paid for in order to sign a termination of parental rights agreement. Typically, requests of medical bills, legal costs, food, and possibly shelter are made by birth mothers. However, there are no laws or rules that mandate certain items or services to be provided. There is, however, a law that strictly prohibits payment to any party for placement of a child or consent for adoption.

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Posted on in Divorce

California family lawyerA woman who had gone through a divorce a year earlier took her car to the mechanic, who found a GPS device that the woman’s ex-husband had installed--a GPS device that still had 25 to 50 percent of its battery left, which meant that it had only been on the car for a few weeks. The woman knew that her ex had been tracking her, but she did not know how. She had gone out of town and stayed at friend’s houses in an attempt to escape her ex, who was physically abusive to her. He ended up knowing where she was at all times because of the GPS device, which, if the car was owned jointly during the marriage, he had a legal right to install a GPS device on. While bizarre, particularly because there was evidence of abuse, this type of spousal stalking is legal. Stalking cases such as this have become more prevalent with technology as ex’s attempt to control or monitor the other party. A San Jose family law attorney may be able to shed light on whether such tracking measures are legal or not.

California’s Gray Area Law

In California, it is legal to put a GPS tracker on a car as long as the owner gives consent. For jointly owned vehicles, it is generally legal, though the law is somewhat less clear. Personal investigators are using GPS devices frequently to track their targets. A husband may wish to track his wife or ex-wife, and because he jointly owned the vehicle and gave his consent, the majority of personal investigators feel legally entitled to use GPS, according to an investigation done by one media outlet. Of 20 personal investigators that were contacted about this, 16 replied and only one refused to use GPS in this regard.

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Posted on in Family Law

California family lawyerAs caretakers of their senior citizen parents, adult children have many responsibilities that range from making meals and ensuring that prescriptions are taken, to arranging doctors appointments and helping their parent up and out of chairs. As elder parents grow older, they can become even frailer, their balance may fade, and generally even their cognitive abilities diminish. With poor balance, skin that breaks easily, and a poor understanding of what is going on if they suffer from dementia, accidents can mistakenly lead to domestic violence charges of elder abuse. If you have been wrongly accused of domestic violence, you need to speak to a San Jose family attorney as soon as possible.

Wrongly Accusing a Family Member

Elder abuse is certainly a problem in California and throughout the U.S., and family members of the victim are often the perpetrators. Doctors and paramedics are sometimes quick to jump to conclusions because they do see real domestic violence on a regular basis, and may inform law enforcement of the incident. You may have just been taking your elderly parent to the hospital for stitches after they stumbled and fell, but you could end up in jail if things go wrong. Even worse, the elderly person may not fully understand, or remember, what actually happened. Law enforcement may even coax out information from the elderly person by leading them on; their testimony may have been completely fabricated.

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