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Thumbnail image for child (Cia de Photo).jpgOur Santa Rosa family law attorney was interested to learn this week that the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a United States Army Sergeant’s challenge of a lower court’s ruling regarding custody of his five year old daughter. According to the Chicago Tribune, the challenged ruling was passed down by the Federal Court of Appeals under an international treaty. The ruling awarded custody to the mother, who resides in Scotland.

The Army Sergeant, Jeffrey Chafin, filed for divorce from Lynne Chafin, mother of the child at the center of this custody dispute. Mrs. Chafin, a Scottish national, has lived with her daughter in Scotland since 2007, while her husband has remained in the United States due to his military career. In February of 2010, Mrs. Chafin travelled to Alabama in an attempt to save the marriage but was not successful. She returned to Scotland, after overstaying her visa, without her daughter, following a ruling by an Alabama State judge awarding custody to Mr. Chafin.

In October 2011, a U.S. District judge in Alabama ruled that the daughter be returned to her mother in Scotland, as it was her “habitual residence” under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Mr. Chafin appealed the decision in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but his appeal was dismissed for being moot since the daughter was already living outside the U.S.

The United State Supreme Court will now hear the case in the upcoming term, ending June 2013. This decision could potentially change the harsh reality affecting the child custody cases of many service members stationed overseas and now engaged in international child custody disputes.

Child Custody Cases
This legal case is a stark reminder that child custody matters are not simple and often require complex legal arguments. International child custody disputes can be even more complex, and thus it is extremely important to contact a Santa Rosa child custody attorney for assistance if you are facing this type of child custody dispute in our area. A Santa Rosa Family Law Attorney with experience in child custody law will help you to analyze the various factors in your specific case that will be considered by the court in determination of the “best interest of the child”. The best interest of the child is used as the basis for a determination of child custody. Some examples of factors include the child’s age, emotional issues, parental behavior, and much more.

Getting Legal Help in Northern California

Our Santa Rosa family law attorney understands the difficulties of all types of child custody disputes. If you are faced with the harsh reality of child custody dispute, our firm has the experience needed to adequately protect your rights. For a free consultation call Beck Law P.C. at 707-576-7175 or contact us online.

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Prenup.jpgPrenuptial agreements commonly make the news when a celebrity is getting married. It is often assumed that celebrities of great wealth have such an agreement in place prior to their wedding, and speculation is generally made on the details of the possible agreement. For example, just this summer mandy many news outlets including CBS MoneyWatch, debated what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg may have done in terms of a pre-nuptial agreement prior to his wedding to Priscilla Chan. Although no details have been made public about any agreement that may be in place, it hasn’t stopped mass speculation about how Zuckerburg has protected his fortune in the event of a separation.
Although these types of agreements are common in the world of wealthy celebrities, are they needed for “everyday” couples? Our Northern California family law attorney believes that in order to determine if an agreement like this is appropriate for your situation it is best to know some basic facts about them.
What is a California Premarital Agreement?
In California “prenuptial agreements” are called premarital agreements. According to the California Family Code Section 1610 a premarital agreement is defined as, “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. After the marriage has occurred the agreement may be amended or revoked by a written agreement signed by both parties.
What Can be Included in a Premarital Agreement?
A premarital agreement can cover a wide variety of subjects, including property rights, the creation of a will or trust to carry out the provisions of the premarital agreement, ownership of life insurance benefits, choice of law, and other personal rights. A premarital agreement cannot adversely affect the right of a child to support from either parent. A provision can be made that limits or waives spousal support. However, a provision like this will not be enforceable if the party against whom enforcement of the provision is sought was not represented by independent counsel at the time of the agreement or if it is unconscionable at the time of enforcement.
Getting Legal Help in Northern California
Premarital agreements can be uncomfortable subjects for engaged couples, as they are intended to protect each party in the event of a dissolution of the marriage. However, they can be extremely important for people who are wealthy and/or have children from previous relationships. In addition, having a premarital agreement in place may make a divorce less contentious as most of the details are already in place.
If you believe that a premarital agreement may be beneficial in your personal situation and are interested in learning more about such an agreement do not hesitate to contact our Santa Rosa family law attorney. Our firm can assist you in determining what type of agreement is best for your situation and help make the appropriate arrangements to protect your rights. For a free consultation call Beck Law P.C. at 707-576-7175 or contact us online.
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Where do I File for a Divorce in California?

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Our Santa Rosa California divorce attorneys know that a divorce is an incredibly stressful event. The divorce process can be lengthy, emotionally taxing on everyone involved, and have major financial implications for both spouses. For some couples, there is another option to the traditional divorce process that can help avoid the negative consequences of a divorce. This method is called mediation. handwriting.jpg
What is Mediation?
Mediation in California is defined as a process in which a neutral person or persons facilitates communication between disputants to assist them in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. What does this really mean? It means that a couple seeking a divorce will meet with a person that has no interest in the outcome of the divorce agreement in order to hash out the terms of their arrangement. The neutral person in these cases can be a family law lawyer, though the attorney cannot be an advocate for any single side in the case.
Generally a couple seeking a divorce through mediation will meet several times with the neutral person (mediator) within a short time period. In each session the mediator will encourage open dialogue between the parties in order to resolve any issues standing in the way of a divorce settlement. The goal of these sessions is to come to an agreement on all issues involved in a divorce in a timely manner and as stress free as possible for everyone.
Advantages of Mediation
Mediation can has many advantages for the right people in the right situation. Mediation can be less stressful and more affordable for couples than the traditional divorce route. For couples that are flexible on reaching an agreement the process of mediation can avoid the stress of a drawn-out court battle, not to mention the financial cost of such an action. These advantages can also greatly benefit any children that the couple has.
Disadvantages of Mediation
Despite its advantages, mediation is not always the right option for couples seeking a divorce. For example, if there are complex financial issues involved the parties will need greater help to determine a fair outcome than mediation can provide. Another reason mediation might not be right in your situation is when there is a degree of animosity between the spouses that could be a roadblock in reaching an agreement.
Marital Settlement Agreement
Once an agreement has been reached through mediation it must be finalized through a Marital Settlement Agreement in order to be binding. This agreement is a document where all of the details of the settlement reached in mediation are documented. The agreement is then signed by both parties and becomes legally binding as it is technically a contract.

Getting Legal Help in Northern California
If you are interested in learning more about mediation as a means to obtain a divorce settlement, Beck Law P.C. can help you. The family law attorneys of the firm can help you through this trying situation and help you determine which method of obtaining a divorce is best for your circumstances. For a free consultation regarding mediation, or a traditional divorce action, contact Beck Law P.C. at 707-576-7175 or contact us online.
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