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no smoking.jpgOur Santa Rosa child custody lawyer has seen firsthand how easy it is for parents to fall into the trap of believing that their custody battle will be fairly straightforward and simple because they generally believe themselves to be “good people.” Often, parents fail to recognize what they are up against when it comes to fighting for custody with an ex-spouse or partner. They think that as long as they are not abusive, and as long as they are able to properly provide for their children, they will not face any real obstacles to being with their children. However, as our experienced Sonoma County divorce lawyer knows, marriages rarely end without any hard feelings between the parties. This is especially true when there are children involved. Therefore, parents must be prepared for every kind of attack, using any ammunition available to impinge their characters and their fitness as caregivers for their children.

One such attack that has been gaining ground and attention in courts across the nation involves the issue of parents who smoke cigarettes. According to an article in the Washington Times last month, family law courts in at least 18 states have begun to consider whether a parent smokes, and especially whether a parent smokes in the presence of his or her children, when making a child custody determination.

The article cites a study conducted by an anti-tobacco group called Action on Smoking and Health. The study analyzed thousands of child custody cases from all around the country to see what effect smoking had on a parent’s likelihood of being granted partial or full custody. Among other things, the findings revealed that (1) no court has ever ruled that the issue of whether or not a parent smokes is irrelevant to the custody decision; (2) judges often make it a condition of visitation that a smoking parent refrain from smoking in the presence of the child and in the day or two preceding a visit; and (3) some courts will even hear evidence about the smoking habits of other people who the child sees routinely while in one parent’s care, such as grandparents, close friends, or significant others. This means that even if one parent does not smoke, the fact that he or she is often around people who do can weigh against that parent when the ultimate decision is made.

Because of this growing concern, some parents will quit smoking altogether prior to filing for divorce or before a court proceeding to determine custody. However, California child custody law allows the court to reconsider a prior custody arrangement if the person seeking the change can demonstrate that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. According to the study cited above, courts have altered existing custody orders on the grounds that one of the parents is or has become a smoker. Therefore, even if someone quits before the date of a court hearing, if he or she starts back up again, it will be at the risk of losing custody and possibly even visitation rights.

As always, in our area it is important to have the advice of an experienced Santa Rosa divorce lawyer at Beck Law. Our attorneys are proud to serve residents communities like Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Clearlake, and throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County and Lake County.

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Divorce is a difficult process no matter what, but when infidelity is a factor in the dissolution of marriage the process can becomes even more complicated. For those who stray in marriages, it is important to be aware that the issue may have consequences in the legal proceeding. However the effect is often less than what some assume. In certain circumstances your wallet may suffer from the legal ramifications of a failed marriage due to infidelity. But in many cases the adultery itself may not affect many issues related to property distribution, spousal support, or child support. Our Santa Rosa divorce attorneys can provide the necessary information to understand your specific legal rights when going through a divorce when infidelity is an issue. Divorce.jpg

California is a “no-fault” divorce state. That means that the only two grounds for marriage dissolution are (1) irreconcilable differences and (2) incurable insanity. The insanity grounds are quite technical, and the vast majority of divorces are filed on grounds of irreconcilable differences. However, that does not necessarily mean that adultery has no effect on divorce.

Most are aware of the high-profile Hollywood divorces that usual come with the stock claim that the couple is splitting due to irreconcilable differences. For example, The Huffington Post reports that infidelity may have been a factor in the breakdown of the infamous 72-day marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Kardashian and Humphries wed last year in a lavish ceremony in California. However, the fairytale was short-lived as Kardashian filed for divorce just over two months after the wedding. The reason for the failed marriage has not been explicitly stated. However, recent reports have suggested that Kardashian was cheating on Humphries during their marriage.

There are many different ways that this might play out in a divorce. More than anything it may affect the negotiation process between the parties. Beyond that, Kardashian may be faced with the obligation of paying Humphries a certain sum of money if during their marriage, she spent any money on her other partner. Our Santa Rosa divorce lawyers know that under California law Humphries would be legally entitled to have the marital estate reimbursed money if it can be proven that Kardashian did in fact spend any money on her other partner.

Beyond the potential for money spent on a paramour being reimbursed to the marital estate, there are not many other issues where infidelity plays a key role. Spousal support cannot be granted simply because of adultery because that would be akin to a punishment (which is not a part of marriage dissolution). Similarly, adultery rarely affects child custody issues. The only way the infidelity would play a role is if it can be shown that the actions somehow directly interfered with the best interests of a child.

At the end of the day our Santa Rosa divorce attorneys appreciate that each divorce situation is different. Family law issues have changed substantially over the last few decades, and that includes the effect of issues like infidelity in a divorce. Whatever the case may be in your situation, it is important to ensure that you have experienced family law professionals on your side throughout the process. If you are in our area, be sure to contact our California divorce lawyers to see how we can help protect your interests.

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