This having likely been one of the most divisive political campaigns and presidential nominations in history, it may not be surprising that the widespread political divide and contempt has spilled over into many households and left countless numbers of people questioning relationships with their significant others. For several months, we suspected that this would be true, but a recent Google search led way to an astonishing amount of op-ed articles and message board discussions regarding women (at least mostly women from what we could tell), detailing the rift that differing opinions regarding President Elect Donald Trump had caused in their marriages.Some even took to message boards or wrote into advice columns to seek guidance as to whether the difference in opinion was a legitimate reason to end the marriage or relationship at issue. Continue reading
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 love 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
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
We 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.
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.
Consanguinity comes from a Latin word “consanguinitas” and meaning “blood relation.” In English is just means your blood relatives. That would be your mother or father or your children. There is also what is referred to as “affinity” which in layman’s terms it is the property of being from the same kinship as another person. That is your relatives that are not a blood relation. Your spouse, your in-laws, your aunt or uncle by marriage are all examples of non-blood relations. In even simpler terms, they both refer to your relatives.
In family law consanguinity and affinity are very important terms when it comes to Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (“DVRO”). Under California law, in order to obtain a domestic violence the party seeking protection and the party to be restrained must 1) be married or formerly married, 2) in a current or past dating relationship, 3) be current or former cohabitants, 4) be the parents of a child or the child themselves, or 5) be any “other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree.” Family Code §6211.
There 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.
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
As a cast member of the Real Housewives of New York, Jules Wainstein is no stranger to drama. Surprisingly though, Jules’ impending divorce from husband Michael Wainstein filed in June has already been deemed the most dramatic divorce in Housewives history. And while it may be the most dramatic divorce the show and its cast have ever seen, Jules’ situation is actually not all that uncommon out here in the REAL, real world.
According to all of the press that the couple has received as of late, it would seem that Jules caught Michael cheating on her with one of her close friends. At that point Michael was prompted to file a petition for divorce after their eight year marriage. Since then, numerous accusations of domestic violence have surfaced, along with recent pictures of police outside the couples’ apartment. Continue reading
All Americans, religious or not, are in an undeniable state of excitement upon Pope Francis’ first arrival on U.S. soil. As we are bombarded with media coverage of the visit at every turn, the divorce attorneys here at the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford find it a fitting time to discuss annulment in California and the Pope’s recent reform to the Catholic Church’s annulment process, announced by the Pope’s September 2015 Letters motu propio.
An annulment under California law and an annulment in the eyes of the Church are not synonymous. The Catholic Church does not give divorced people permission to remarry. So, if a Catholic person wishes to remarry, the Church must find that their first marriage was void before they are free to do so.
In California, there are three legal options available to couples wishing to end or alter their marital status: dissolution (a.k.a. divorce), nullification, and legal separation. Divorce can only be granted where there has been a valid marriage. Nullification can only be granted if there was no valid marriage to begin with. Incest (see CA Family Code §2200), bigamy (see CA Family Code §2201), and lack of a lawful marriage contract (requires both issuance of a license and solemnization, see CA Family Code §300) would be grounds for a “void” marriage, one that will never be valid in the eyes of the law. Minority (under the age of 18 in CA), prior existing marriage, unsound mind, fraud, force, and physical incapacity are factors leading to marriages that are “voidable” (see CA Family Code §2211) meaning that they are valid in the eyes of the law until the parties seek and receive a judgment of nullification from a court.
For more information on grounds for annulment in California, see our April 1, 2015 blog titled, “Do I Qualify for an Annulment.”
For Catholics wishing to remarry, even after receiving a legal judgment of dissolution or nullification, they must still seek a decree of nullity from the Church. This process has faced a lot of criticism throughout the world for being a slow, expensive, and difficult process, and in some countries it is even considered basically impossible to do. So, Pope Francis’ new reform is meant to make the Catholic annulment process quicker and more accessible especially to the Church’s low-income members.
The most notable changes to the Church’s nullification process are as follows:
1. Now only one judgment of nullification is required. Automatic appeal to a second tribunal is removed, but appeal still remains an option in contested cases;
2. The Bishop is named as the principal judge in his diocese, who is able to designate this responsibility to a cleric if so desired;
3. Creation and addition of a third, quicker, process for cases where evidence of nullity is especially clear, to be decided by the Bishop himself. There are a number of situations where the new process can be used. Some examples include cases involving very brief marriage, existence of an extramarital affair at time of wedding or very soon thereafter, malicious concealment of things like infertility or a serious contagious disease, and more; and 4. Reintroduction of the ability to appeal the Bishop’s decision to the metropolitan bishop (or the Metropolitan Bishop’s decision to the Senior Suffragan Bishop).
Regardless of religious or cultural background, dissolution and annulment can be difficult for anyone. There are strict legal requirements and specific timing requirements associated with these requests. Our team of experienced attorneys can provide you the outstanding counsel you may need during these difficult times and will ensure that your needs are met as we help you navigate through the divorce or annulment process.