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Bay Area & Sacramento Area Family Law Blog

Necessary documents for child custody hearings

When parents in California decide to get a divorce, they tend to be understandably concerned about who will get custody of the children. After all, child custody hearings can be scary, and being prepared for them can make all the difference between getting custody and fighting for visitation.

Individuals who want to maximize their chance of receiving a favorable outcome in a child custody hearing need to show up with all the relevant paperwork. As a matter of fact, it is important that each parent submit his or her documents to court before the hearing as judges tend to review written submissions and familiarize themselves with cases before overseeing them.

Why mediation can be an option in divorce

In the event that a divorcing couple have issues communicating, they may believe that that the only way to end the marriage is in court. However, it is possible for California couples to use mediation as an alternative to litigation. It can be an especially effective tool for those who have a lot of assets and need time to decide what happens to them.

Mediation can be preferable to litigation because the latter may further push the parties apart. It can result in mistrust and hurt feelings, and those hurt feelings may make it harder to communicate. In mediation, an impartial third party can keep individuals focused on the issues at hand as opposed to battling each other. If one person starts to complain about the other, the mediator can redirect that person's attention to the important issues that need to be resolved.

Grey Divorce: A Light at the end of an Unhappy Tunnel

In California, older spouses involved in long-lasting marriages may view grey divorces as happy events. For many older couples, life is a burden too difficult to bear. Marriages often become unbearable because the spouses are no longer compatible. Divorce was frowned upon for generations, especially for couples involved in long-term relationships. Although the phrase "grey divorce" was invented in 2004, older couples had already been obtaining grey divorces for two decades. Today, older couples are filing for grey divorces.

Most people believe that marriage presents a challenge to each spouse. Sadly, spouses are not always able to cope with the challenges. The social taboo of getting a divorce is not as prevalent today. Nonetheless, the younger couple's living in today's society are not clamoring for divorces. Instead, older people, especially those who are over 50 years old, are filing for divorces. The reasons for getting a grey divorce varies from couple to couple. One important reason is that adultery is a growing trend among older married couples. However, a divorce caused by a cheating spouse may lead to complex asset divisions.

Jesse Williams and wife to go to court over support, other issues

California fans of the show "Grey's Anatomy" may be aware that one of its stars, Jesse Williams, is going through a divorce. He and his wife have been involved in a dispute over child custody and child and spousal support.

Williams and his wife, Aryn Drake-Lee, married in 2012 and separated in 2017. They have two children and share legal custody but have maintained a flexible schedule for physical custody since Williams has a shooting schedule for "Grey's Anatomy" that changes frequently. Drake-Lee says this is now causing problems for the children since their time with their father is so inconsistent and that he frequently cancels. She has asked for a copy of his shooting schedule.

HGTV star Nicole Curtis seeks unpaid child support in court

Some television viewers in California who watch "Rehab Addict" starring Nicole Curtis might relate to her real-world problems. Her most recent dispute with her former partner concerns $6,059.50 in unpaid child support for their 3-year-old son. The HGTV star filed a court petition that requires the child's father to appear in court and explain why he has not made payment. If he does not show up, he could be held in contempt of court and ultimately face arrest.

The parents have engaged in a long series of disputes over their son. In July 2018, the father pursued sole custody. His court filings described Curtis as unfit to be a mother. He claimed that she had defied a court order and tried to prevent him from seeing his child.

Changing or challenging a child support obligation

People in California who are dealing with serious financial issues or conflict with former partners over the children may wonder how to change or end their obligation to pay child support. Most of the time, when people want to cease paying child support, there are other actions that can help them achieve their underlying goals, especially when the issue is a conflict over visitation or parenting choices made by a former spouse.

However, in some cases, people are desperate because their financial situations have changed. Child support orders are issued based on a person's income. Disability or the loss of a high-paying job may mean that parents are no longer able to meet their monthly child support obligations and facing mounting debts. However, when people simply stop paying, they could face even more severe consequences. Instead, parents who are unable to pay their support obligations can go back to family court for a child support modification to reflect their changed financial circumstances.

Visitation Concerns After Divorce May Have Solutions

Visitation and custody rights are often at the forefront of California parents' minds when going through a divorce, and being denied these rights or having them limited can be devastating. Divorce already brings about large changes in a parent's life, but being unable to visit with one's own child can have a far-reaching impact on the future of children after a divorce.

According to NBC's Verywell Family, visitation rights are often denied or limited due to underlying concerns outlined by the court, including residential location and distance from the custodial parent as well as safety conditions in the home of the parent seeking unsupervised visitation. As such, an alternative to denying visitation outright may be for the court to grant supervised visitation in locations of its choosing.

Appealing child custody rulings

California parents who are going through a divorce and who are unsatisfied with the child custody ruling have legal options. They generally have the right to file an appeal if they disagree with the order, but there are certain exceptions.

Generally, a child custody order can be appealed if it is final and complete, or has been concluded by the court. This typically occurs when the child custody case has been heard on its merits, the parties involved have attended court and there are no more scheduled court hearings. The custody order is considered complete if there are no unresolved custody issues that have to be addressed by the two parties.

How to resolve child support issues

Parents in California and throughout the nation who struggle to keep up with child support payments aren't necessarily deadbeats. Instead, they are having legitimate issues providing for their children financially because of factors that may be outside of their control. For instance, a parent could have other children to support simultaneously or lose a job unexpectedly. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 45.3 percent of parents receive all the support that they are owed.

A child support order could be modified if a parent's circumstances change. Changes could include a loss of income or the fact that a child costs more to raise now than he or she did in the past. Unexpected medical expenses could also be a valid reason to ask for a support modification order. Parents should always have a judge formally change an order as opposed to agreeing to an informal deal as that may be difficult to enforce.

Why parents must pay child support

For many parents in California, child support is necessary for raising a family. That's why it is ordered so often after parents separate. While support is usually paid to the custodial guardian by the noncustodial parent, there are circumstances in which this is not the case.

A custodial parent is the one the child physically lives with most of the time. Legal custody is separate from physical custody and involves who has the right to make major decisions about the child's life. This might be shared even if physical custody is not. There is a widespread perception that the mother is usually the custodial parent, but this is not always the case. Fathers may be custodial parents as well, and mothers might pay child support.

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