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Roseville Family Law Blog

Study find joint physical custody may be best for kids

Parents have a lot to figure out, including scheduling around school and extracurricular activities, planning meals, and figuring out how to make ends meet. Yet, as stressful as this may seem, it can pale in comparison to the thought of losing custody of a child. But many Californians find themselves in this position. Whether as a result of a nasty divorce or an unmarried couple's inability to agree, a child custody dispute can become extremely heated. However, all parties, and the judge, should be keeping an eye on what further the best interests of the child.

A recent study may have helped shed some light on what child custody arrangement benefits kids the most. The study, which analyzed more than 3,500 preschoolers, found that those who are a part of a joint physical custody arrangement suffer from less psychological symptoms than those who are a part of a different custody arrangement. These children also exhibited less behavioral issues. Some may find this study surprising, as some experts had previously assumed that shared time with a young child would disrupt his or her stability, thereby causing damage.

How to minimize the impact of divorce on children

For many Californians, divorce is something that they may have been building up to for a long time. They may have already developed a plan to secure financial stability and dissolve the marriage at a time that is suitable for them. However, for many children, divorce comes as an utter shock. This can be especially true when parents have maintained the fa├žade of a good marriage in order to protect their kids. Being suddenly hit with the knowledge that their home will now be divided can leave kids traumatized. Yet, there may be steps that parents can take to ensure that their children are protected as fully as possible during the divorce process.

First, parents need to make sure they are keeping any divorce conflict away from their children. Exposure to heated arguments can only add to the trauma a child already faces. Second, it is often helpful for parents to come up with a plan for life post-divorce and share that with their children together. Communication is key during marriage dissolution, and kids will respond better to open and honest lines of communication.

What you should know about prenuptial agreements

A valid, well-written prenuptial agreement can save a lot of trouble for California couples in the event of a divorce. While some people still feel reluctant to contemplate the possibility their marriage will not last, an increasing number of Americans sees prenups as a prudent measure.

As a good prenup should save you at least some of the litigation involved in a divorce, the last thing you need is protracted arguments about the validity of the prenup or the meaning of one of its provisions. An experienced attorney can draft a properly constructed document that clearly conveys your intentions.

Things to think about when considering guardianship

As we have discussed previously on this blog, there may be times when a California family finds it appropriate to either adopt a child or serve as guardian of a child. In many instances, this occurs when a child's biological parents are unfit or their parental rights have been terminated. Yet, there may be times when a child's parent or parents make the decision that they are temporarily unable to care for the child. In other instances, parents may want to consider guardianship as part of their will in the event that they suddenly pass away.

Regardless of which side of matter an individual falls, he or she needs to realize that there are important considerations to take into account when considering guardianship. For example, a potential guardian needs to have adequate time to actually care for the subject child. Additionally, a prospective guardian must have the financial resources necessary to appropriately provide for the child. It may also be important to consider how taking another child into the home will affect other children who are already residing there.

Property division and the concept of separate property

Marriage dissolution is a process that can affect an individual, and his or her family, in many different ways. While the emotional impact of ending a relationship can be devastating, it can also be tough on children who are suddenly left with limited time with each parent. Outside of the emotional realm, divorce can reshape an individual's financial well-being, which can completely redefine how he or she lives moving forward. In order to give one's self the best possible chance of obtaining a fair resolution and solid financial footing, divorcing individuals need to approach certain marriage dissolution issues with aggressiveness.

One of these issues is property division. California recognizes community property, which means that property that is considered to be jointly owned will be evenly split. So, dividing these jointly owned assets can be relatively easy. However, determining what qualifies as community property and not property separately owned by the parties can be challenging. This is where it may be key to put forth compelling legal arguments to show why certain property should or should not be subjected to equal distribution.

Alimony at the center of high-profile divorce

It's no secret that divorce can be expensive. Sure, most individuals have to pay legal fees, but the majority of the costs come in the form of property division, child support, and spousal support. Depending on the outcome of these issues, an individual can be left well-positioned for post-divorce life or face significant financial hardship. This is why it is critically important for Californians to protect their legal rights and aggressively argue their positions when these matters cannot be settled through negotiations.

One ongoing divorce case helps illustrate the financial challenges that those going through marriage dissolution can face. The case involves the founder of Cancer Treatment Centers of America and his ex-wife. The founder's ex-wife is currently trying to recover alimony in excess of $400,000 a month from the executive, which she claims is necessary to maintain the standard of living she enjoyed during the marriage.

Child custody dispute? Don't leave the outcome to chance

Although money is certainly a concern for many Californians who are going through a divorce, for many of them, child custody and visitation are also critical factors. Some couples are able to resolve this matter amongst themselves, but sometimes, whether due to negative animosity or a real concern for their child's well-being, some couples are not able to reach an agreement regarding custody and visitation. In these instances the issue will be decided by a family law judge who knows nothing about the family other than what is presented to him or her. Yet, as we have discussed previously on the blog, this judge will try to base his or her decision on what supports the best interests of the child.

Since a judge can look to a number of factors when determining what is in a child's best interests, it can be easy to try to craft arguments pertaining to each one. Although this is a strategy that could work, depending on the circumstances it may be better to pick a few key factors and focus on them. For example, if one parent has a history of domestic violence, and even a history of emotionally abusing the child in question, that fact alone may be worth focusing on primarily and letting go of other issues that may not be as important, such as where the child will attend school.

How can a California guardianship be terminated?

For one reason or another, many California parents find themselves unable to parent their children, or a court deems them unable to do so. In these situations there are essentially two options. The first is adoption, which permanently severs a parent's legal rights to his or her child. The other option is guardianship. Guardianship can give another individual legal custody of a child while a parent is unable to properly care for the child. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that guardianships are temporary in nature.

So, how can a guardianship be terminated? First, a guardianship automatically terminates when the subject child turns 18 years of age. At this point, he or she will be considered an adult and therefore guardianship will no longer be deemed necessary. Second, a guardianship can be terminated if one of certain actions are taken, including the child's marriage, adoption, enlistment in the military, or emancipation. Third, and probably the most obvious, is that guardianship can end in the event that the child dies. Lastly, guardianship can be terminated if the court deems it appropriate.

How spousal support works in California

Alimony ranks among the top hot-button issues in many California divorces. Spouses with high incomes worry about burdensome payments, while lower-earning spouses worry about not getting enough.

A valid prenuptial agreement can settle the issue of support payments well in advance. Unlike child support, couples are free to come to whatever agreement they like concerning alimony.

When is it appropriate to seek a child support modification?

Ending a relationship, particularly if it is through divorce, can wreak financial havoc on an individual's life. Sure, these individuals have to find a way to divide their assets and figure out whether alimony is appropriate, but they might also have to deal with child support matters. Regardless of which side of a child support one finds him or herself, the matter can be highly contentious for a variety of reasons. Chief amongst them is nonpayment. Another, and somewhat related issue, is child support modification.

Child support modification occurs when a court orders that an already established child support obligation be changed. The modification may either increase or decrease the amount of child support paid. However, before a modification can be made, either a custodial or noncustodial parent must petition the court. The court will then consider a number of factors to determine if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that justifies a modification.

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