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Roseville Family Law Blog

How social media can poison a marriage and cause a divorce

One of the most pervasive social changes that has occurred in California and the United States in the last 20 years is the increasing use of social media to begin, renew or maintain personal relationships. A person may think he or she are pursuing an innocent relationship with an old friend and suddenly, platonic feelings become romantic. Divorces that spring from information posted on social media are often called "Facebook divorces."

The California Rules of Evidence make no special allowance for the use of social media in a divorce case, but the existing rules provide plenty of guidance that should also serve as a warning to anyone who is a frequent user of Facebook or Twitter. A Facebook posting, for example, may be admissible as the statement of an adverse party or an admission. Photos taken by a third party can used in court as evidence of marital infidelity. Social media posts can also be used to gather evidence about a spouse's business or the existence of an extra-marital relationship.

Reviewing California's community property laws

Most residents of Sacramento who are considering ending their marriages are aware that California is a "community property state," but they may not know exactly what the title means. Familiarity with the state's community property laws may assist in resolving disputes about dividing a couple's assets and in planning for the economic consequences of a divorce.

Any married couple who has lived in California for at least a few years has most likely acquired a number of assets with significant value. These assets can include a house, automobiles, furnishings, art collections, a vacations home, and similar items. These same individuals may have acquired significant assets before getting married to their current spouse. California law provides clear directions for dividing these assets.

Guidelines for high asset divorces in California

Divorcing couples in Sacramento who own significant assets face a number of issues that do not usually come up for couples who are not as well off. That issue is the division of their assets to comply with California's community property laws and also the requirement that the division be fair to both spouses.

The first hurdle in a high asset divorce is coming to grips with the state's community property laws. The most important provision is the requirement that all property acquired by the couple during their marriage is community property and must be divided equally. This requirement first requires each party to identify assets that are community property and assets that are individual property. Also, income produced by assets during the marriage are considered community property.

The ingredients of a successful parenting plan

All California couples with minor children who are ending their marriages must prepare a joint parenting plan, sometimes called a "custody and visitation agreement." Some divorcing spouses use child custody and visitation issues as weapons to bludgeon the other spouse into making concessions on other issues, such as property division. Most couples, however, want the best for their children after the divorce becomes effective, and they are usually willing to invest the time and emotion that is required to forge a beneficial parenting plan.

The parenting plan, at the very least, must address a time-sharing schedule that will specify when and for how long each parent may visit or have custody of the children. The plan must also address making decisions for the child's health, education and welfare. The plan must also address physical custody, that is, the times when each parent will have custody of the child and responsibility for the child's welfare. A plan must also address "legal custody," that is, which parent has the power to make decisions about schools, daycare, medical and dental care and religion.

Tips for getting custody of your pet in a California divorce

In light of the new California law that treats pets like family in divorce, you have a lot to consider when splitting up. If you see your dog, cat, guinea pig or snake as your own family, you want to keep as much custody as possible. The last thing you want is to lose custody and never see your beloved pet again.

Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure you get sole or joint custody of a pet in California. Here is how to better your chances.

Guidelines for dividing assets and debt in a California divorce

California courts usually expect divorcing couples to prepare a mutually agreeable plan for splitting their assets and debts. However, some couples cannot reach such an agreement, and the court is required to step in. Couples also misunderstand the effect of the state's community property laws. The following guidelines may help solve deadlocks about property division.

Couples who were married when neither of the parties possessed significant assets can assume that they must split their property fairly equally. This rule does not mean that every asset must be split in half; instead, the parties can achieve an equal distribution by allocation ownership of separate assets so that the end result is an equal division of their property. Assets should also be allocated on a "net" basis, that is, debts should be subtracted from the market value of the assets and the remaining amount divided equally. In allocating debt, parties should bear in mind that creditors are not obligated to accept the couple's decision to divide and assume various obligations.

Understanding the differences between a divorce and an annulment

When married couples in Sacramento decide to end their marriages, they most commonly think that a divorce is their only option. In most cases, this assumption is correct. Other factors, however, may make an annulment a preferable option.

Apart from the procedures that are involved, an annulment differs from a divorce in that the former represents a determination that a lawful marriage never occurred, while the latter is a legal process used to end a valid marriage. In California, a marriage may be annulled for only a few specified reasons: one or both of the couple lacked the legal capacity to consent to the marriage, one or both parties had another living spouse, the consent of one party was obtained by force or fraud or one party was physically incapable of entering into the marital state. A marriage may also be annulled if it is a "prohibited" marriage, i.e., a marriage between an ancestor and descendant, between a brother and sister, between an uncle and niece or between an aunt and nephew and bigamous and polygamous marriages.

Enforcing an order for spousal support in California

The subject of spousal support can be one of the most contentious issues in any divorce in Sacramento County. When the court issues its final order declaring the parties to be divorced and setting an amount and schedule for alimony payments, many people feel that the worst is behind them. Unhappily, the future does not always cooperate. Many ex-spouses fail to pay support to their former spouses. The failure to pay either child or spousal support can often be justified by a change in the financial situation of one or both parties, but in too many cases, the payor spouse simply chooses to disregard the court's order.

Fortunately, the law in California provides several remedies when former spouses fail to satisfy their support obligations. The California Department of Child Support Services can provide significant assistance in finding the ex-spouse and collecting delinquent child support, but the agency may not be able to help collect delinquent spousal support. In those cases the ex-spouse who is entitled to the support payments must go to court to enforce the original judgment.

Law concerning custody of pets takes effect on January 1

California's community property laws can present unexpected issues in a divorce. How does a couple divide a valuable work of art? Or divide a valuable antique piece of furniture? And what about the family dog or cat or parrot? Until this past year, California judges treated pets as personal property and awarded custody of them as if the animal were merely an item of personal property. A new law becomes effective on January 1 that will change all this.

After January 1, either party to a divorce can request the court to determine custody of a family pet based on the care that the animal will receive. Under the new law, the court can assign sole or joint custody of the pet based upon its finding as to which party is better able to provide adequate care to the animal. Adequate care includes prevention of harm or cruelty and the provision of adequate food, water, veterinary care and safe and protected shelter. The statute is not restricted to cats and dogs; it applies to any animal that is treated as a family pet.

How mediation can ease the stress of getting divorced

Most Sacramento residents who are contemplating a divorce are aware that the process is often stressful, emotionally painful and exhausting. What many people in this position do not realize, however, is that using a divorce mediator can make the divorce process far less taxing than is commonly imagined.

Mediation uses a trained neutral party to meet with the divorcing spouses to review their disagreements and to suggest possible compromises. The mediators are trained to stay impartial and to refrain from taking sides. Mediators are also trained to be empathic listeners. For example, many divorcing couples have a hard time listening to their estranged spouse and understanding what is being said. Mediators know how to let the parties each speak their mind before interrupting.

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