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Family Law Blog

Child Custody Modifications on the Rise Due to Hard Economic Times

It is important to know that once a judge makes a child custody order, it can always be modified. Changes occur throughout our lives that may not have been taken into account at the time an order was put into place. The need for modifications are more important than ever with high national unemployment rates (7.9%), the enormous national deficit, significant trade imbalances and constant flux of gas prices. California, in particular, is suffering from some of the worst economic conditions in the country with unemployment rates currently at 10.2% and continuing high foreclosures of homes. The best way to deal with these changes due to circumstances sometimes out of our control, is to try to come to an agreement modifying custody with the other parent, but understandably that doesn’t always work out. If the parents cannot agree on a solution, they may ask the court to make changes for them.
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Pet Custody and Divorce

Divorce lawyers across the country have seen a dramatic increase in pet custody disputes over the last decade.  This is partly due to a shift in societal attitudes.  People have increasingly come to see pets as members of their family, deserving of affection and happiness, and whose presence in the home is essential to their personal happiness and the happiness of their children.  Because the law in all states still considers pets to be property, the problem of disputed pet custody and support has required creative legal solutions.

How Courts Handle Pet Custody Disputes

Although pets are considered property, their low dollar value and status as beloved family members means they cannot reasonably be sold and the proceeds divided in the same way as other property.  Rather, the court will either award custody of the pet to one party or craft a shared-custody or visitation agreement.  In doing this, most judges will consider: Continue Reading

Dividing Child-Related Tax Breaks After Divorce

Tax breaks can help reduce the financial burden of raising children.  Some – although not all – of these tax breaks can be divided between the parents after a divorce, which in turn can increase the net funds available to support the children.  Here is how this works.

Preliminary Requirements for Dividing Tax Breaks Between Parents

There are four preliminary requirements parents must meet before they can split the tax breaks for a child:

  1. The parents must be divorced or legally separated, or must have lived apart at all times for the last six months of the year;
  2. The parents separately or together must have provided more than half of the child’s total financial support;
  3. One or both parents must have custody during the year; and
  4. The custodial parent must have waived his or her right to claim the child as a dependent for that year, meaning that parent will not get the child’s exemption on their tax return.  For this waiver to be used, the custodial parent must sign IRS Form 8332, and the noncustodial parent must always attach a copy of the Form 8332 to his or her tax return for any tax year that he or she relies on the waiver. Continue Reading

Military Benefits Owed by a Non-Military Spouse in a California Divorce

A military divorce is uniquely complicated, in part because there are specific laws that determine what military benefits can be claimed by a nonmilitary ex-spouse of a service member.  If you or your spouse is in the military and are considering divorce, here is what you should know about the nonmilitary spouse’s benefit rights following the divorce.

Summary of Unique Military Benefits

If the nonmilitary ex-spouse of a service member meets all the required conditions, he or she may be entitled to military benefits that include: Continue Reading

The Benefits of a “No-Court” Divorce

A “no court” divorce, also called “collaborative divorce” is a way for divorcing spouses to resolve all the major issues of divorce outside of court. This gives control over important matters like property division, child custody, and support to the spouses rather than to a judge.

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How Divorce Affects a Family-Owned Business

When a couple owns a business together, the dissolution of their marriage or registered domestic partnership has the potential to seriously harm their business. Because the business is likely to be one of the most valuable assets the couple has, protecting the business during the dissolution should be a joint priority.  Both parties need to remember that unless there was a written agreement that the business would be the separate property of one of the parties, the community property will include the amount by which the business has appreciated during the marriage, and each of them will own half of that amount. Continue Reading

Getting Temporary Emergency Orders in San Diego Divorce and Family Law Cases

If you have a divorce or other family law case pending in a San Diego court, there’s a difference between getting a temporary order and an emergency order.  Temporary orders are common, and these are usually orders that a court makes after a hearing with all parties.  But sometimes one side may ask the court to make an order immediately—without notifying the other side and without a hearing.  This is called an “ex parte” order, and they’re not granted in the typical divorce or child custody case.  Continue Reading

How to Handle an Upside-Down Property in a Divorce

It once was the case that a jointly-owned house was a divorcing couple’s largest asset. However, in this poor economy, many divorcing couples find themselves with homes that are “upside-down,” worth less than amount owed on the mortgage. Upside-down property can be one of the most difficult assets to handle in a divorce.

When a divorcing couple owns a house worth MORE than the mortgage, one of two things usually happen: Continue Reading