Articles Tagged with California child custody attorneys

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visitation deadbeat parentsDeadbeat parents are one of the biggest complaints among divorced couples. While deliberately ignoring one’s financial responsibilities toward one’s progeny is, indeed, despicable, can a custodial parent respond by refusing to allow the non-custodial parent court-ordered visitation? The short answer is an unambiguous NO! That being said, there are other ways to deal with this situation. A local family practice attorney can address this and other issues in greater detail. 

Unrelated Court Orders

The fact of the matter is, a visitation order is separate and unaffiliated with a child support order in terms of enforcement. The only linkage between the two relates to the percentage of custody one parent has related to the incomes of both parties.  Just as a parent who is ordered to pay child support must continue to do so even if the custodial parent refuses to allow visitation, a custodial parent must continue to allow visitation even if the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support.

Collecting Payments

There are a number of tools available to parents who are struggling to collect payments on behalf of their minor children. Among them are:

  • Wage Garnishments: Income may be automatically deducted from a delinquent parent’s wages in order to ensure the required payments are made in a timely manner;
  • Interception of Federal Tax Returns: When deficits in payments occur, the state can intervene to snag federal tax returns;
  • Capturing lottery winnings: Delinquent funds may be stripped off the top of any such winnings;
  • Licensing Restrictions: Driver’s and other professional licenses may be suspended or revoked until payments are up to date;
  • Passport Revocation: The delinquent parent will not be allowed to travel outside the country;
  • Contempt Charges: The delinquent parent may be charged with contempt of court and ordered to pay fines and/or go to jail.

In the event none of these strategies gets the attention of a delinquent spouse, the Federal Office of the Inspector General can pursue delinquent parents who live outside the state wherein the child resides. Those actions might include fines and/or a prison sentence:

  • Fines and/or six months behind bars for a first offense;
  • $250,000 and two years behind bars if payments have been lagging for two years or more, or more than $10,000 is delinquent.

Will Bankruptcy Impact Child Support?

Even if a non-custodial parent files bankruptcy, the child support obligation remains. The only way to amend this order is to go back to court and convince a judge that future payments should be changed. Until that happens, the previous order stands and will be enforced. Continue reading →

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holiday visitation scheduleCreating a holiday visitation schedule. Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of any divorce revolves around custody and visitation issues, and those become exponentially more poignant during the holidays. Creating a holiday visitation schedule for visitation that extends for a lengthy period of time, yet maintains a certain level of flexibility, can help everyone enjoy the holidays with a minimum of stress.

Holiday Visitation Schedule – Days to be Considered

In addition to the obvious holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Independence Day and Easter, parents should keep in mind the numerous school breaks, such as President’s Day, Spring Break, and Memorial Day. Also important are Father’s and Mother’s Day, and each parent’s and step-parent’s birthdays. Clearly, the children’s birthdays should also be considered.

Typical Holiday Visitation Schedule Scenarios

California courts offer documents to help families take a long-term look at holidays and school vacations as they attempt to share the kids. One form lists common holidays that couples should consider as they determine their holiday visitation schedule, and allows parents to consider schedules for one particular year, or even for alternate years. Depending on location, work schedules, and circumstances, couples may contemplate a number of ways to deal with holiday visitation schedules:

  • Some couples divide important days by the hour. This way each parent gets to celebrate milestones with the children: One parent may enjoy breakfast and presents in the morning on Christmas Day, while the other has a family dinner that evening.
  • For parents who live significant distances away from one another, it sometimes makes more sense to split the holidays. One may get the kids for Thanksgiving, while the other has a significant chunk of time over the Christmas holidays.  
  • Many couples alternate where the children spend special days by odd and even years.  2018 may be Dad’s year for Christmas, but Mom gets the kids for the holiday in 2019.

Of course, most couples find that these and other scheduling strategies have to be adjusted and combined over time. That is because circumstances may change for one or both parties, the holiday schedule may interfere with regular visitation schedules, or children may become sick, interrupting a scheduled visit.

When the Holiday Visitation Schedule Conflicts with the Regular Schedule

It can be frustrating to be the parent whose visitation time is impacted negatively by a holiday visitation schedule, but parents need to understand that the holiday visitation schedule trumps any regular schedules, period. If kids spend time with parents on alternate weekends, in some cases, it could lead to more time than usual with a particular parent. For example, let us say December’s weekend schedule is Mom, Dad, Mom, Dad. In a particular year, Dad’s Christmas visitation occurs during Mom’s weekend three. So Mom loses that third weekend with the kids. And yes, Dad gets to keep the kids on his normal weekends, too, so he gets them three weeks in a row. Continue reading →

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stay at home dadAre you a stay at home dad who is contemplating divorce? As society adapts its expectations as to the make-up and configuration of American families, the courts have had to take a look at age-old traditions when it comes to dealing with issues of child custody, spousal support, and other matters when couples decide to call it quits. Even though every state in the union has laws on the books prohibiting such decisions from being based on gender, sometimes fatherhood is still considered less-than in a divorce. If you are a stay-at-home dad who is contemplating divorce, having your rights protected by an experienced local attorney could mean the difference between misery and satisfaction in the years ahead.

Stay at Home Dad – Custody and Visitation

In California, decisions regarding custody and visitation are required to be based on the best interests of the child. Generally factors such as the age of the children, parents’ roles in caregiving, and the health and safety of the child are weighed heavily. If Dad has been the primary caregiver, the courts must give this strong consideration when looking at physical custody assignments.

Child Support Payments – Stay at Home Dad

The amount of child support the custodial parent receives is the first thing the court will address, before ever looking at spousal support. It will be determined based on the other spouse’s net income, but the court will consider payments made to support other children, health care premiums, and mandatory payments for union dues and/or retirement programs.

Spousal Support

As a stay-at-home dad, chances are your earnings were significantly less than your spouse’s—if not altogether nonexistent. A number of factors are considered when making spousal support determinations, none of them designed to be punitive to either party. Some key factors the court will look at include:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • Your ability to maintain a similar lifestyle as the one experienced during the marriage;
  • Your ability to earn a living without it having a significant impact on your child-care responsibilities;
  • Any domestic violence issues;
  • The age and health of both you and your spouse.

Support payments may be temporary or permanent, depending on these and other factors. Continue reading →

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Custody ArrangementsIssues with Child custody arrangements? Although divorce and broken domestic partnerships are all too common in the country, your own experience is personal and potentially heart wrenching. Naturally, the most traumatic splits often involve children and custody arrangements. If you are seeking to end your relationship with a spouse or domestic partner and minor children are involved, it is imperative that you have an experienced family law attorney by your side from the beginning.

Considerations in Determining Child Custody Arrangements

California statute expressly commands that the best interests of the child be factored in when determining custody arrangements. A number of specific elements are included in this determination, with an eye toward consistency for the child:

  • Age of the children;
  • Relationship with other children in the home;
  • Type and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child;
  • Physical and/or mental health of everyone involved;
  • Parent attitude toward facilitating an continuing relationship with the other parent;
  • Care-giving history;
  • Stable and loving setting;
  • Physical environment and space;
  • Ability to provide adequately for the emotional and physical needs of the child, including medical care;
  • Current levels of attachment to the home, school, neighborhood, etc.;
  • The child’s wishes, when old enough to express them;
  • Domestic violence issues;
  • Illegal drug use or abuse of legal substances;
  • False accusations made by one parent against another.

Potential Child Custody Arrangements

Most people think of custody as having to do primarily with where the child lives, but there is another type of custody worth noting in California:

Legal custody refers to decision-making ability for the child. It may be awarded in one of two ways:

  • Sole custody: One parent has the final say on all major health, education and welfare decisions;
  • Joint custody: Parents share all major decisions.

Physical custody may be sole or joint as well. A parent having sole custody has the child most of the time and provides visitation with the non-custodial parent. In a joint custody arrangement, an attempt to provide equivalent amounts of time with each parent is made.

Custody arrangements are always particular to the specifics of each case. In fact, while one parent may have physical custody, the other may have legal custody.  A judge whose primary consideration is the best interest of the child views each situation carefully.

Child Visitation

In a situation in which one parent has less than half of the time with a child, visitation orders will be necessary. These comes in many variations, with four basic frameworks:

  • No visitation:  When physical or emotional harm is a risk;
  • Supervised visitation: When a professional agency, another adult, or the other parent is required to be present during the visit to ensure the child’s safety;
  • Scheduled visitation:  When the court lays out a schedule in concert with both parents;
  • Reasonable visitation:  When parents work out an open-ended visitation agreement based on communications between them.

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