If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that child custody and visitation are fluid orders as that often change with the needs of the child. This makes a lot of sense because a 3 year-old is very different from a 16 year-old and will therefore have a very different child sharing schedule. Also as a frequent reader, you know that a change in the time sharing percentage of the children often justifies a change in the child support orders. Small changes in the time share percentage are unlikely to make a big impact. Big changes in guideline child support require major shifts in the child sharing percentage. Continue reading
Child support in California can be very complicated and the changed circumstances rule is one of the reasons why. The changed circumstances rule requires a court to deny a request to modify child support if the court determines that there was no material change in circumstances since the time the last child support order was made.
First, let’s go over some basics. California, like every other state, is required to have a Guideline formula to determine what the proper amount of support should be. The Court is required to follow the Guideline, absent a few very narrowly construed exceptions (See Family Code section 4059). If a child support order is determined to be “above Guideline,” i.e. more than what the formula would provide, that child support order cannot be subsequently changed unless there has been a material change of circumstances. However, if a child support order is determined to be “below guideline,” no change of circumstances is required to increase that order to a Guideline order. 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.
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
If 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.
It’s that time again. Summer is slowly fading, the days are gradually getting shorter, and soon the whole world will be covered by pumpkin flavored something or other. As fall dawns on the horizon it also means a new school year is approaching. This exciting time of year presents both challenges and opportunities to divorced parents. This blog will provide 5 tips for parents for a new school year.
Talk To the Teachers
Teachers spend more time with your kids during the week than you do. As the Husband of a teacher I know how much she invests in her students and how those same students look to her as their school parent. Obviously she can never replace either parent, but she can be an amazing resource for parents.
Meet with the teacher and get to know him or her before the school year starts. Discuss your child’s strength and weaknesses both academically and emotionally. This not only helps the teacher to prepare for teaching your child, but assists her in understanding how to best reach out to your child. It is entirely possible that your child may exhibit behaviors at school that you never see at home. These could be both positive and negative behaviors. Building the relationship now can help everyone ensure your child’s success during the school year.
In family law we spend a good deal of time talking about court orders. There are orders for child support, orders for spousal support, custody orders, and orders for the payment of attorney fees. Getting more specific, all of the aforementioned orders can either be interim orders (also called temporary orders) or they can be final orders. The point of this blog is to discuss court orders in a family law context and to provide some basic understanding of how, why, and when they are made. This is only a basic discussion of orders, a topic that can be very complex. For this reason, you should speak with a qualified family law attorney about your specific case so you can be certain you fully understand your rights. Continue reading
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 taxpayers 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?
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. 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.
One of the first issues a new client will ask us about is support. Whether it is child support, spousal support, or both, support is one of the most important issues in your family law case. It’s easy to understand why. During your marriage income and expenses are shared and over time you find a happy medium between the amount of money you have coming in and the amount of money you have going out to pay expenses. After you separate, the income doesn’t change, but the expenses will often double. That means two rent payments, two food bills, two utility payments…the list goes on. If you and your spouse were just making ends meet before the separation, odds are it will be twice as difficult now that expenses have increased. Continue reading
Can a judgment establishing paternity be set aside?
Under California Family Code Section 7646, if there has already been a judgment establishing paternity and the parents later find out dad is not really the biological father, the judgment can be set aside. Continue reading