Articles Posted in California

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


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

angelina jolie and brad pitt wax figures

If you haven’t heard the news by now, I can only assume that you have been living under a rock or buried in a media-less hole for some time now. And yes, by “the news”, I mean the news of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s impending divorce.

When Angelina filed her petition for divorce on September 19 the split quickly became the only thing that anyone has talked about since, or so it seems. Although the couple has been together for 12 years, and have 6 kids together, they were only married for a short two years, and the divorce came as a complete shock to the public, and apparently also came as a complete shock to Brad himself. Continue reading

The rules of evidence can be challenging. Understanding it is a skill that must be honed and refined, which is what we try to do at the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford. In this blog, we will discuss two of the most important evidentiary privileges and their importance in family law cases: the physician-patient privilege and the psychotherapist-patient privilege.medical-record

Statements made from an adult to their treating physicians/psychotherapists are absolutely protected from privilege, unless the issue is tendered or waived. Continue reading

percentage childIf you have minor children and are paying or receiving child support, you are probably already aware that the timeshare percentage, or the percent of time that the child/ren are with each parent, plays a role in determining the amount of guideline child support. Once two parents have set a schedule and determined when the child/ren will be with each parent, it would appear that determining a timeshare percentage is a piece of cake. But, while this may be clear in many cases, there are certain situations where the timeshare percentage can become a contested issue that may end up having to be litigated in court.


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Last year, we wrote a blog post on the blockbuster case of Marriage of Davis issued by the California Supreme Court. In that case, the Court resolved a split among the lower courts and held that it was impossible for spouses to be separated unless they were physically living separate and apart. The date of separation can be the most important issue in a given case. The date of separation determines the duration of spousal support and it determines the end of the community and the end of the creation of new community property.

In another words, this case was a big deal.seperated-by-wall-1166017

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You probably didn’t need to come to this web site to know that California has laws compelling parents to financially support their children. The reasons for this are obvious. When parents make the decision to procreate, they are financially responsible for that decision. I think we can all agree that the taxpayNana supporters shouldn’t have to foot the bill to support a child when one or both of that child’s parents can do so themselves. It should be no surprise then, that Family Code section 4053 holds that “a parent’s first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children acceding to the parent’s circumstances and station in life” and that the “financial needs of the children should be met through private financial resources as much as possible.”

Did you know, however, that there is such thing as “parent support” in California too?

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It was recently reported that actor Jeremy Renner (best known for his lead in 2008’s The Hurt Locker and as Hawkeye in the Avengers movies) is refusing to pay his half of their daughter Ava’s preschool tuition.  the_avengers__hawkeye_by_yorkemaster-d4ykg4w Jeremy’s ex-wife, Sonnie Pacheco claims that she has asked for Jeremy to pay half of the $1,600 monthly tuition, but he has refused.   She also claims he has fallen behind on his child support payments to the tune of $48,367.  Now I have to admit I have never read Jeremy’s court orders, but I have a really good guess what order is he running afoul of.

In California, it is mandatory for the Court, when making child support orders, to allocate the costs related to the children’s uninsured medical expenses (e.g. co-pays, deductibles) and for the cost of child care so that a parent can work or go to school/training.  These are referred to as “mandatory add-ons” since the court is required to make them part of all child support orders.  Typically the cost of these expenses is split equally between the parents, but the court has discretion to allocate the cost however is most appropriate in light of the parties income and expenses.  So for example in Jeremy’s case above, if the court ordered that Jeremy and Sonnie were to split the cost of their daughter’s pre-school, then Jeremy would owe half of the $1,600 tuition or $800 each month.

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As much as Johnny Depp has tried to keep the happenings of his divorce from Amber Heard under wraps, the media continues to report as their story unfolds. The latest headlines from Johnny and Amber’s divorce indicate that the parties have each set depositions of the other, which may or may not be postponed. Regarding the depositions, each of their attorneys have made varying allegations about the other party. It appears that although Amber showed up for a previously scheduled deposition date, Johnny’s attorneys were unable to take testimony from her because she was in the next room room crying, pacing, screaming, yelling, and laughing the entire time. Of course Amber’s lawyers say that this is completely false. Amber’s “people” also stated that it’s “highly unlikely that Johnny will appear and cooperate” for his upcoming deposition.

It is unlikely that when you think of the divorce process, you associate it with the taking of depositions. That is because depositions may not be as widely used in family as they are in other areas of law, but even so, depositions can be a valuable resource in a contested divorce matter. The following are some facts regarding depositions as they relate to divorce proceedings.


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In Family Law, tracing is the method by which a party proves that funds in a particular account are, or were, used to acquire separate property.  Family Code section 760 holds that all property acquired during a marriage, regardless of source, is community property, it can sometimes be a difficult and expensive endeavor to try to perform a tracing. In California Family Law, there are three ways to prove a tracing: 1) Direct Tracing; 2) Exhaustion 3) Total Marital Recapitulation.

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home-158089_960_720There are so many reasons a client wants to remain in the family home after the divorce proceedings have been filed.  Often it is a custodial parent who wants to provide normalcy for their children.  Other times it is for financial or emotional reasons, or a combination of the three.  Whatever the reason, unless one party agrees to move out of the residence,  a court order will be required to exclude a party from living in the family residence.

Deciding who will remain in the residence at the beginning of a case is a problem nearly every family law litigant will face; requiring the assistance of the court in reaching that decision is far less common.  In most cases, one or both parties will decide to leave the family residence.  In these situations it is important to have a written agreement about who is leaving, who is staying, and how the expenses related to the residence are going to be paid.   These agreements are where most of the controversy lies, especially with regard to the payment of the expenses.  That is an issue that should be addressed in a separate blog.

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