Divorce is never ideal. Even in the most amicable of divorces, it is never the outcome that any couple dreams of on the day that they fall in philippines-holiday-indicates-asian-vacation-or-getawaylove and decide to get married. However, as difficult as divorce might be, financially, emotionally, and otherwise, imagine the alternative. Imagine that you are stuck married to a spouse with whom you are miserable, just because the laws of your county make it that way.

This is exactly the case in the Philippines, the only country in the world (outside of the Vatican), where divorce is still illegal. There, couples may file for a legal separation, which would allow them to lead separate lives and split their property, but they remain legally married. If parties do become legally separated, they are not able to remarry later, and even worse, if they become engaged in a new relationship even after legal separation has been granted, they risk being criminally charged for committing adultery. Continue reading

There are few things that can affect a parent emotionally like discovering that the other parent has removed their child from California and filed a restraining order in another state. The California legal system is difficult enough to navigate. Having to deal with another state’s legal system can make this process even more daunting.file0001635828147

Generally, the system of laws between states is designed to prevent a spouse who removes a child to another state from having a litigation advantage, even when they file a restraining order. This is because every state’s laws (except Massachusetts) is based on a uniform law called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”). Continue reading

Bifurcation is an often underutilized procedure in civil cases (including family law cases) that, if used correctly, can significantly reduce the attorney fees and costs necessary to bring a case to a conclusion and can significantly increase the prospect of settlement.family-law-shows-blood-relative-and-court

So what is bifurcation exactly? In the process of bifurcation, the Court, usually on the motion of one of the parties, agrees to hear a trial on just one part of a case. Often times there are difficult issues, that once resolved, simplify the rest of the case. Continue reading

hard candySome family law litigants (and even some attorneys) may think an appeal is just a “do-over” of what happened at the trial level. However, trials and appeals are two very different proceedings.  In this post, we will address one of the most fundamental differences between proceedings at the trial level and proceedings at the appellate level – How does each court deal with findings of fact?

Trial courts ask: “What are the Facts?”

It is not unheard of for a family law trial to last several days, or even several weeks. However, the oral argument on an appeal of a week-long trial will almost never exceed 30 minutes and usually doesn’t impact a case. So, why is that?

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seperated-by-wall-1166017The California Family Code allows courts to issue orders removing a spouse from a home. These are commonly referred to as “kick out” orders or “exclusive use and possession” orders. Certain circumstances compel a court to make these kinds of orders. This blog post will discuss these circumstances. It turns out that the threshold required for a kick-out order differs depending on whether or not the application to the Court is brought in an ex parte (i.e. emergency basis) or if it is brought pursuant to a noticed motion.

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Time MarriageWe have written several blogs about the date of separation and its importance to a dissolution action. In some cases, the date of separation can be the most critical issue in a case. The reason is the date of separation can be a significant factor in determining how long spousal support will last , or whether a particular piece of property is separate or community. If you Google “date of separation,” your web browser will retrieve dozens, if not hundreds, of articles on this topic.

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The question of a party’s income available for support has been the scourge of many attorneys and forensic accountants for a long time. It is a difficult and evolving issue, with new cases coming out honing and refining the interpretation of Family Code section 4058. Below, we take a look at a few common topics that are raised in child and spousal support cases.file0002132358706

Inheritances

If one party gets a seven figure inheritance from Great Aunt Birgit, is that income available for support? This was the question raised in County of Kern v. Castle. The Court determined that inheritances are not income available for the purposes of child support. Continue reading

text message blackberrySteve Levitan, the creator of the hugely successful sitcom ‘Modern Family,” is in the middle of a rather nasty divorce from his estranged wife Krista.  Krista has filed two unsuccessful requests for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order and the divorce has been anything but inconspicuous.  The most recent incident was a scathing email Steve sent to Krista allegedly telling her if she didn’t back off he would initiate World War III.  That email is allegedly sitting on a Judge’s desk right now. There is no way to know whether there is any truth to this allegation or what the email said exactly, but even if the story is half-true, that is not the type of email you want the Judge who will decide you case reading.

Getting divorced is an emotional and difficult experience even in the most congenial of cases. It is no surprise then that in the heat of the moment parties often send emails or text messages to the other party they later regret.  More often than not the messages are filled with anger, frustration, and hatred – sometime deserved.  The reason this is such a problem nowadays is sending emails and text messages are so quick and convenient.  Before you have had a chance consider what you want to say and whether it needs to be said at all, you have hit the send button and the message is on sitting in someone’s inbox.  This situation is exacerbated only by the ease with which we can send emails and text messages through our smartphones. Right now, without picking up my phone, I could send a friend an email I dictated to Siri.

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prepare-family-law-courtYou’ve just had a hearing at the trial level and you lost. You think the judge really botched the law and you want a chance to let a three justice appellate panel review the order. In this case, you would definitely file an appeal, right?

Not always! In many instances, you could actually be required to file a request for writ relief and you could lose an otherwise winnable case if you were required to do so and did not! So when do you file a writ and when do you file an appeal?

First, let us address the practical differences between an appeal and a writ. Think of appeals as non-emergency cases and writs as emergency cases. Appeals can take a long time because the appellate courts are so busy. In California a party can reasonably expect the appellate court to rule on the appeal in about one year from the date the notice of appeal is filed. Also, in California, the judges are required to issue a written opinion in every case explaining their reasoning for either affirming or reversing the judgment. This is one reason why appeals take so long.

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glasses on book - studyingThe first in a series of presidential debates will have just taken place when the blog posts.  We do not know how each party fared in the first debate, but there is one thing we can be sure of; the last several weeks were spent preparing the candidates for the debate.  Whether it is reviewing materials, fielding test questions, or preparing to respond to attacks from the other side, you can be sure each candidate is working tirelessly with experts in the debate process to ensure they make a good impression. So what does this have to do with Family Court Services (often called “FCS”)?  The answer is everything.

As we have discussed many times, before a court can make a ruling on child custody and visitation, the parties must participate in custody mediation with FCS.  At the mediation, FCS will attempt to get the parties to come to an agreement about what the visitation schedule will look like for the children.  If they are unable to come to an agreement, the mediator will issue a recommendation for the Judge.  As you can imagine, these recommendations are given a lot of deference.

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