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A final custody determination can occur through either a stipulated order showing the parties’ clear intent that the order be final, or through a court order arising out of trial litigation or post-judgment proceedings. Yet, the term “final custody order” is somewhat misleading. Even after a final determination is made, the court retains the power...
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Spousal support orders are generally modifiable in Court unless your Judgment or Stipulation specifically and clearly states otherwise.  If a spousal support order clearly states it is a non-modifiable order, the Court does not have the discretion to modify the support order, regardless of whether a  hardship has occurred or may occur. It should be...
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When most people think about spousal support, they think of support payable after a divorce is final. We refer to this as “permanent” spousal support. However, sometimes this support can be anything but permanent. Permanent spousal support awards can be granted for varying lengths of time. Pursuant to Family Code section 4330, the court may...
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Protecting Community Assets in Divorce: Employment-Related Benefits During the course of a marriage, spouses often accumulate a number of employment-related benefits, such as pension plans, retirement plans, deferred compensation, stock, bonus income, and severance pay. There is a wide range of employee benefits, provided by both private and public employers. Step 1: Ascertain the Benefits...
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No two marriages are the same, and for that reason no two divorces should be treated the same. Consequently, there’s no perfect method to resolving a divorce, but if you’re a spouse contemplating a divorce you should be aware that there are several different options you may choose. Regardless of how many options one may...
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On many occasions, at some time after parents have obtained a court-ordered custody and visitation plan, one party may desire to relocate to a distant location with the minor child.  A parent’s desire to relocate becomes an issue when the relocation prevents the other parent from having frequent and continuing contact with the child.  In...
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The amount of a child support or spousal support award is based on the actual income of both parties among other factors. However, the Family Code gives the court discretion to modify these support awards by looking at the “earning capacity” of a party who is underemployed or who refuses to work. “Earning capacity” is...
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After fifty years of marriage equality litigation, same-sex couples around the country are finally able to feel a sense of equality.  Although the language within the Constitution of the United States has not changed, it appears progress has been made because of the country’s ability to truly understand same-sex couples and the discrimination to which...
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After the September 11th terrorist attacks, thousands of Americans left a spouse and children behind to enlist in the military to fight for our country.[1]  A few years later, some of these Americans returned to an ex-spouse and Court orders related to custody of and visitation with their children. For many of these service members,...
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The California Family Code does not impose penalties for extramarital affairs. Even so, a spouse who has been cheated on should seek to discover whether any gifts were secretly exchanged during the affair. If a spouse received gifts during an affair, these gifts may be counted as his or her assets. The value of each...
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If you are in the midst of a divorce or paternity action with minor children involved, custody will likely be an important issue in your case.  There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Understanding the different types of custody is crucial when going through a divorce. Legal custody is the...
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What is a Postnuptial Agreement? No one enters a marriage with the thought of getting divorced; however, the reality is that 50% of all marriages in the United States will eventually end in a legal separation or dissolution.  A postnuptial agreement can help protect your property in the event of a divorce, as well as...
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No one enters a marriage with the thought of getting divorced; however, the reality is that 50% of all marriages in the United States will eventually end in a legal separation or dissolution.  A postnuptial agreement can help protect your property in the event of a divorce, as well as during the marriage. While most...
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Child Support refers to a support obligation owing on behalf of a child or an amount owing to a county for reimbursement of public assistance paid on behalf of a child.  The California Family Code codifies the general obligation of both parents to support their minor children “in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.”...
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Guardianship vs. Conservatorship: Understanding the Difference Often times, the terms “guardianship” and “conservatorship” are used interchangeably, and in California, the general purposes underlying the two roles is identical: to establish legal decision-making authority in an individual over another person and/or person’s property.  Simply put, a guardian and conservator both have the power to make personal...
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Becoming a conservator for another human being is a long-term commitment with many rewards. A conservator is someone with authority to help an adult who is unable to manage his or her own affairs. A conservator might be the conservatee’s spouse, relative, or friend. If there are no friends or relatives who are willing or...
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Spousal support is one of many heavily litigated issues in a dissolution matter. A lot of factors are considered to determine what amount, if any, should be awarded for spousal support. Spousal support awards can be categorized as temporary or permanent. Pursuant to Family Code 3600, temporary spousal support, also known as “pendente lite” spousal...
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Tips for Dividing Marital Property California is a community property state.  That means all property acquired during marriage, other than by gift, bequest or devise, is community in nature, and as such, is subject to equal division at divorce.  All other property is presumed to be the separate property of the acquiring spouse, and not...
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A decree of adoption formally recognizes a parent-child relationship. It requires the child to be treated, in legal terms, as if he or she had born and raised from the outset as the biological child of the new parent(s). California places almost no absolute limitations on an adult’s eligibility to adopt a child. Citizenship is...
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Holidays are inherently stressful for a multitude of reasons – add the commencement of a dissolution proceeding and the stress surrounding the holiday time will likely be heightened.  When there are children involved, parents often feel a mix of emotions during this time of year. Ideally, after parents have decided to end their marriage, a...
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