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Can I use the Compromise of Arrears Program with child support?

One of the most contentious issues that California parents will face as part of a divorce settlement is child support. This can continue after the case has been concluded as some noncustodial parents will have problems with delinquent payments and all the negatives that entails. Not only does it hinder the custodial parent's abilities in raising a child, but it is against the law and car result in a variety of legal issues of the noncustodial parent.

For some noncustodial parents whose children were receiving public assistance or needed to be placed in a foster home because the state was supporting them, there are alternatives to get their payments up-to-date and avoid harsh penalties. The Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP) is one such alternative. Noncustodial parents can reduce the amount they owe in delinquent payments with this program. For those who meet the requirements to take part in COAP, they can make compromise repayments to the state. This will be less than the full amount. If there is a reduction, it will be based on the noncustodial parent's income and assets.

Should I consider alternatives to child guardianship?

The State of California is vigilant about protecting children. In many cases, that requires a guardianship to ensure the child's best interests are adhered to. When a parent or the parents cannot care for the child appropriately, guardianship is an option. However, it is important for the parents and prospective guardians to understand the details and requirements of a guardianship and consider potential alternatives that might be viable.

It is not always required that there be a guardianship. A relative or another adult can care for the children on a temporary basis. Simply signing papers to grant another person the right to care for the child could make a guardianship unnecessary. This could avoid the requirement to go to court. One choice for giving another adult the right to care for a child that does not include a guardianship area is signing a Power of Attorney for a Minor Child giving physical custody and allowing the other person to decide on the child's life with medical care and education. With this, the adult must have access to the health insurance information for the child. The guardian is unlikely to be able to add the child to their own health insurance absent a guardianship. Parents have the right to cancel the Power of Attorney when they want to.

Can the state help in collecting overdue child support payments?

When a California court decides that a parent should pay to support a child, it is done with the best interests of the child in mind. The amount ordered is what is deemed necessary for the child to survive and thrive. If the parent fails to make those payments, it is a legal violation and it can cause problems for the supporting parent and the custodial parent. Custodial parents should remember not to take matters into their own hands when there is a child support dispute. There are steps that can be taken by the state to collect child support. Knowing how to go about getting this help is key.

When there is a child support order, the local child support agency (LCSA) can be contacted for help in collecting. The idea of the LCSA is to assist parents and children. It can find parents who are not making the payments as they should be and use various methods to get the payments. Examples of what LCSA can do if a parent is not adhering to the order is to: report it to a credit agency; deny them the right to renew a passport; place liens on property; suspend a driver license or a professional license; inform the Franchise Tax Board; intercept income tax refunds; take assets from financial institutions; intercept disability insurance; intercept unemployment insurance; intercept workers' compensation payments; and intercept lottery winnings.

Stop believing these prenup myths

There is a lot of misunderstanding and societal stigma surrounding prenuptial agreements. When getting ready to spend the rest of your life with someone, you focus on the specifics of wedding planning and romantic emotions. 

You may assume a prenuptial agreement is not necessary–or is a bad idea. However, there are plenty of advantages to signing a prenup with your partner. Take a look at these common myths and corresponding truths about prenups.

What is commingling with property division in California?

When a California couple decides to divorce, property division is a common source for dispute. Often, it takes some time to determine which party owns what and has the right to retain what property at the end of a marriage. While many items belong to one or the other, there are some properties that are part community property and belong to both and part separate property and belong to one of the spouses. This is known as commingling. It means the properties have gotten mixed. During the divorce process, it is important to understand how commingled property can impact the situation.

For example, if one spouse was the owner of a home prior to getting married and it was sold with the proceeds from the sale used to purchase a marital home, the down payment is separate property because it was accrued by the one spouse selling a property that belonged to him or her prior to the marriage. After the new property is bought, the value increase will be community property. This also holds true for other assets like retirement accounts. Contributions prior to the marriage are separate property. Contributions after the marriage are community property. Once the couple parts ways, then it will revert to separate property.

How child support is impacted by subsequent spouse income

After a California couple has divorced and there is a child support agreement, there are often questions as to when it can be modified and what circumstances are necessary to do so. The supporting parent and the parent who has custody and receives support will frequently start a new relationship with different individuals that result in marriage. Under the law this is referred to as a "subsequent spouse." Understanding how the child support guidelines address a subsequent spouse in the context of what is paid and if the agreement can be modified is important for both sides.

When the paying parent (the obligor) has a subsequent spouse, that subsequent spouse's income will not be factored in when the child support is determined or modified except in cases where the circumstances are deemed extraordinary and the exclusion would result in severe and extreme hardship to the child. The court will gauge whether the inclusion of that income would result in severe and extreme hardship to the child the obligor supports or those supported by the subsequent spouse. The receiving parent (the obligee) is in the same situation when deciding whether the income should be counted.

Experienced legal help is imperative with surrogacy

California individuals and couples who want to have a child, but are unable to will often think about their options to start a family. There are many ways for them to achieve their goals. One that is frequently used is to have a surrogate. Surrogacy is effective and can be successful. However, before moving forward with it, many couples and even the prospective surrogate will have concerns about how the law assesses these cases with legal rights, custody and more. A law firm that is experienced in helping people who are considering surrogacy is essential.

When a surrogate assists a couple by carrying the child, a contract is required to list the various aspects of the case. There is a litany of issues that should be mentioned in the surrogacy contract. To ensure that all the bases are covered, having legal assistance is a must. This can extend from determining who would be a good candidate to carry the baby all the way to disputes related to the agreement.

New California law addresses pets when a couple gets a divorce

For California couples who are at the end of a marriage and are planning to divorce, there are many issues that will be of concern. This can be part of an extended dispute and delay the process while costing money and leading to emotions being frazzled. While it might be considered secondary to some, a new law that will go into effect on Jan. 1 centers around how pets are handled when property division is addressed. Understanding how this law can impact couples as they divorce is an important factor in a case.

With the law, the judge in the divorce case will assess how the best interests of the pet are best served. No longer will the pet be treated as a piece of property. With this law, the judge will have the right to account for who will best care for the animal while also creating a shared custody situation. Whereas in the past, pets were treated as if they akin to a motor vehicle that needed to be considered in a property division, that is no longer the case. If, for example, one spouse took care of the dog's needs by taking it for walks, feeding it and playing with it, that will be a major factor in who gets to retain the pet.

Dealing with the consequences of divorce under the new laws

If you were not able to finalize your divorce before midnight on New Year’s Eve, you will have to face the new laws that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. You have many concerns to address, especially if you and your spouse are dealing with a high-asset divorce.

Whether you are a physician, CEO, public official, athlete or small business owner, divorce and the resulting property division may seem overwhelming. Here are four new concerns to keep in mind, courtesy of the new tax laws.

What are the options to respond when receiving a divorce summons?

If a California marriage is heading towards divorce, the process will often begin with one spouse serving the other with a summons and petition to move forward with the process. Once the person has been served, there will be various pieces of information including restraining orders as to what could be done with assets, property, money and debts. If there are children in the marriage, there will be an order not to move out of the state or for getting a new passport unless there is written consent. After reading and understanding this, it is imperative to know the options to respond. Having legal advice during this time is wise.

In some cases, the person is willing to end the marriage without dispute and concern over customary divorce legal issues and they do nothing. If that is the decision, then it means the judge will generally decide to grant what the petitioner requested in the filing. This is a true default divorce. In such a circumstance the recipient will not take part in the case. Another way in which a recipient will do nothing is if there was an agreement in place. This must be notarized and the couple has decided on the marital issues. It is a default since there is no response, but with the negotiation process, there is a written agreement the recipient is taking part in, so it is not a true default divorce.

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