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Sacramento Family Law Blog

Halle Berry given family centered plan deadline

In our last post, we explained how family centered case resolutions work in California divorces. In essence, a couple has 18 months to resolve their divorce or be required to go through a family centered case resolution process. During this process, the parties meet face to face to discuss and hopefully, resolve their differences. Movie star, Halle Berry, has now provided a real-life example of how a slow moving divorce is treated by the courts.

Berry filed a petition seeking a divorce from her husband, Olivier Martinez, in the Superior Court of Los Angeles on October 16, 2015. Apparently, the couple has not moved fast enough to bring their divorce to a conclusion. Last week, the Los Angeles Superior Court sent both parties a notice giving them the option of submitting a final judgement of divorce or participate in the family centered case resolution process.

What is a California family centered case resolution plan?

Most divorce attorneys in Sacramento and throughout California advise their clients to attempt to settle divorce issues by agreement without resorting to costly discovery and litigation. This is especially true if minor children are involved. However, many clients do not understand the negotiation process, and they are motivated more by anger than by a desire to resolve the divorce issues quickly.

Judges have many options to help couples resolve their differences, including early neutral case evaluation, mediation and referral to various experts for advice. The legislature has created another tool called family centered case resolution plans.

How to comfort your children during divorce

Your divorce will undoubtedly affect your kids. As they watch their parents fight and separate, they may feel a variety of emotions, including grief, anger, confusion and resentment. While you figure out the complex and stressful details of your divorce, make sure you are taking the time to comfort your children.

Your kids may struggle with the end of your marriage, but you can help them cope with it in healthy ways. Being an active and helpful parent will also help you during the custody process. Here are some tips for guiding your children through the dissolution of your marriage.

Lawyer can be key to finding hidden assets in California divorces

For Sacramento couples with a high net worth, dividing assets in a divorce can be a quagmire of emotion and uncertainty. Couples will fight over which assets are community property and which are separate property. And, one of the thorniest issues is whether one or both spouses have hidden assets.

A skilled divorce lawyer can conduct an effective search for hidden assets by using various forensic and legal tools. For example, a CPA can review financial records of business operations and investment transactions. A banker can review off-shore financial transactions. In the end, the attorney must coordinate the search and present its results in court.

Modifying an order for spousal support: why and how

Many people who get divorced in Sacramento assume that the court's order that sets allowances for child support and alimony are fixed and cannot be changed. California's divorce laws allow for modification to any order for spousal support if either spouse is experiencing what is called "a change in circumstances."

The courts realize that the financial and living conditions of the couple before the divorce may change. One ex-spouse may experience a sudden drop in income or loss of a job. Severe illness or injury can also affect the fairness of the original order. Sometimes, the income of the payor spouse increases substantially, and the receiving spouse may feel entitled to increased support.

Father kidnaps daughter to evade court order

California judges have broad powers to resolve the many issues in a divorce. Refusal to obey an order establishing the parties' rights to child custody and visitation can result in a citation for contempt of court, a fine, and, in extreme cases, criminal charges. A recent child custody incident in Northern California demonstrates the sort of extreme behavior that can lead to unhappy results for all concerned.

Deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office are searching for a 34-year-old male and his 23-month-old daughter. The Humboldt County Court recently issued an order granting full custody of the girl to her mother. The man and his daughter were last seen at the Humboldt County Courthouse on May 2. The girl's mother reported her missing on May 11. Deputies believe that the father intends to go into hiding and conceal the location of the girl to avoid the effect of the custody order.

How social media impacts divorce cases

Attorneys frequently bring electronic evidence into court to bolster their clients' claims for more alimony, more child support or other aspects of divorce. In addition to social media posts, lawyers may be able to acquire emails and even geotag locations to provide a clearer picture of how the other spouse spent assets. Social media often comes to court to prove whether the other spouse committed adultery.

Social media can work in your favor during a divorce, but it can also bomb your case if you are not careful yourself. An attorney can give you guidance on whether getting social media posts involved in the case could work to your advantage, and it helps to know how much may constitute evidence.

Drafting a parenting plan that will help your children

When a Sacramento couple decides to end their marriage, providing for the welfare of their children is one of the most important issues they will face. Unfortunately, divorcing spouses often do not view the issues involved in their children's welfare in the same light. A jointly drafted parenting plan can be a very helpful tool in resolving disputes about child custody and visitation.

A parenting plan is a written agreement between the spouses that is negotiated and agreed upon without the direct involvement of the court. Many parenting plans are written during the course of a divorce mediation. As the parties negotiate their parenting plan, they should keep in mind that the court will review the plan before it is signed and becomes an official court order.

Domestic violence and California divorces

Most people in Sacramento understand that domestic violence is a serious crime that entails serious penalties for a conviction. Less well understood is the effect of domestic violence on a California divorce.

Domestic violence is defined as any physical assault against a family member or member of the accused's household. Domestic violence also includes any threat of physical assault. Actual assault ranges from a shove to pulling hair to sexual assault. If the court finds that one spouse has been convicted of domestic violence against the other spouse within the five years immediately preceding the filing of the divorce petition, that spouse will probably not be eligible for spousal support and will most likely not be awarded either physical or legal custody of the children.

"I don't want to get divorced, but. . . ."

Most disagreements in California divorces concern child custody and support, spousal support or division of non-marital assets. In some divorces, however, the dispute centers on the basic question of whether both parties want to end their marriage. What happens when one spouse wants a divorce but the other one does not?

The first issue is to determine why one spouse is not willing to accept a divorce. The reason may be emotional, such as an unwillingness to end the relationship. Another reason is often the interests of the children. A third is fear of the unknown economic consequences that may follow a divorce. Many spouses who resist the idea of divorce simply do not accept the other spouse's proposal for any or all of the above issues.

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