October 24, 2013

How California Courts Determine Amount of Child Support Payments

market-movements-2-1388612-m.jpgAs most people know, child support is a designated amount of money that one or both parents pays each month to support a child and to take care of related living expenses. When a couple divorces, separates or annuls a marriage, either parent may ask a judge to render a child support order. In San Diego and throughout California, there are guidelines that a court will look to when determining the amount of money to award. But this area of family law is not without its own nuances, and any parent who is seeking support or ultimately paying support for their children is encouraged to contact a local family law attorney with experience handling such cases.

In a widely publicized child custody and support case involving the famous actor, Jon Cryer, news reports say that his ex-wife, Sarah Trigger, is asking a judge to increase her child support payments from $8,000 to an exorbitant $89,000 a month. When the "Two and a Half Men" actor and his former wife divorced in 2004, the court allocated custody between the parents by awarding Trigger with 65 percent custody and $10,000 per month in child support. Trigger says she is seeking the additional support, claiming her son is humiliated that he does not have the lavish lifestyle that his fellow students have because she cannot afford it. Although he attends an expensive private school, his mother says that her son's fellow students have extravagant parties, expensive vacations, and fancy summer camps, all things she cannot provide.

At some point, Trigger's support payments were reduced to $8,000 per month at a time when Cryer essentially had full custody of the boy. According to Trigger's attorney, the two are now sharing custody 50-50, and she is seeking an increase in support payments. In California, there is a statewide formula (also known as a "guideline") for determining how much child support should be paid. In an ideal situation, the parents agree to the amount. But in many divorce cases, the parents do not come to a mutually satisfactory amount for child support. In those cases, the judge will use the guideline formula to decide the amount of child support.

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October 17, 2013

California Governor Signs Bill Allowing Children to Have More Than Two Legal Parents

family-990508-m.jpgUntil very recently, under California law, a child could have only two legal parents. For many families, that is just fine and serves the best interests of the child. But there are situations where limiting the number of parents can be detrimental to a child. According to an article in a San Diego newspaper, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that now allows children, under certain circumstances, to have more than two legal parents. The issue of parentage or paternity can arise in many different scenarios. Anyone who is confronting family law issues concerning custody and paternity of a child is encouraged to contact a local attorney with experience handling such serious matters.

Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 274, a measure allowing a judge to legally recognize additional parents where not doing so would result in detriment to a child. Once the governor signed the bill, California became the fifth state in the country to allow a child to have more than two legal parents. According to an extensive article on the subject, the bill was passed in reaction to the 2011 case, In re M.C. In that case, a man and two women appeared to meet the criteria to be a legal parent of the same child. The Los Angeles Times reported that one woman was in the hospital and the other was in jail, but their child was sent to foster care because her biological father did not have parental rights.

The California appellate court held that it could not award legal parent status to all three due to prior rulings on the subject from the state's highest court. Because of this legal dilemma, the court invited the legislature to reconsider the limitation of only two legal parents. Proponents of the new law argue that judges will not be forced to rule in a way that may actually be a detriment to the child's interests. It is suggested that the law will be invoked mainly when a child does not have enough parents, not when he or she has too many. Opponents of the bill include advocates for traditional families, who anticipate that children will see greater indecision and conflict over matters involving their well-being.

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October 10, 2013

Division of Property in Divorce Can Be Tricky: Tips for San Diego Spouses

my-last-cash-5-1138574-m.jpgCalifornia is a community property state, meaning that upon divorce, marital property (as well as any debt owed) is typically divided evenly. This is one of the most important and potentially impactful parts of a divorce proceeding. Identifying, valuing and dividing marital property can affect the whole family's future in significant ways. The risk of making a mistake during this particular phase of the process can be very costly down the road. Anyone in San Diego who is contemplating divorce is encouraged to contact a local family law attorney with experience handling all aspects of a family law case.

Under California law, there are several ways to characterize property in divorce, and certain categories are subject to equal division between the spouses while others are not. The first type is "community property," or property that the couple acquires during the marriage. It includes everything the couple purchased or attained while married -- including debt. What some people may not realize is that gifts and inheritances do not fall within the definition of community property and are not subject to division, even if attained during the marriage.

Community property covers not only earnings during the marriage, but anything purchased with those earnings. Essentially, each spouse owns one half of the community property. This includes any debts that were incurred during the marriage as well. Spouses may not realize the extent of the community property and debts and may want to seek the help of an attorney to sort it all out. The U-T San Diego recently ran a piece describing one woman's quest to get a hold of her inheritance assets that had been managed by her husband. They are now in the middle of a divorce and he has refused to tell her where the money is. The bottom line is that the inheritance money and related assets belong to the person to whom it was given.

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October 3, 2013

Woman Seeks Divorce in Mississippi -- Though Same Sex Couple Married in California

usa-maps-1055633-m (1).jpgThe U-T San Diego recently ran an article reporting on one woman's divorce filing in Jackson, Mississippi, from a woman she married in California. Her wife responded to the filing by asking the court to dismiss the divorce petition, arguing that Mississippi cannot grant a divorce in this case because the state does not recognize same sex marriage. Because of the variations among the states and their respective marriage laws, the regulation of marriage and divorce among same sex couples is sure to present complications for years to come. An experienced, local family law attorney can help sort through the details and competently guide you through the challenging process.

The spouse who filed the motion to dismiss the divorce petition asserted in her brief that Mississippi law prohibits same sex marriage. Specifically, she stated that the law provides that any marriage between two people of the same gender is prohibited and null and void from the beginning. The petition further argued that same sex marriage that is valid in another jurisdiction does not constitute a legal or valid marriage in Mississippi. Essentially, she is arguing that because the state of Mississippi does not recognize same sex marriage, it has no legal basis on which to dissolve such a union.

According to the article, the divorce petition could potentially have been filed in California, which exempts some out-of-state same-sex couples from residency requirements for divorces. But there is some concern that the courts in California may not have the authority to issue rulings on many of the significant matters that arise during a divorce proceeding. The California courts maintain a website that provides a great deal of information for couples seeking to divorce or dissolve their marriage. The site suggests that if domestic partners do not live in California at the time of filing to end a domestic partnership, the local court may not have the authority to make orders concerning property and debt, partner support, or the couple's children.

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September 26, 2013

Change in Child Custody Order Triggers Unthinkable Violence Against Kids

courthouse-1330873-m.jpgAn article in the UT-San Diego describes a mother's violent and deadly reaction to a court-ordered change in the family's child custody arrangement. Under the Georgia court's order, the mother had several days to hand over custody of her two children, ages 13 and 10, to their father. The day before she was expected to do so, the children were found dead in a California hotel room. Police found evidence of poison in the room. There are many reasons a judge may find it necessary to change or modify a child custody arrangement. Parents facing such potential changes, or any child custody matter, are encouraged to reach out to an experienced San Diego family law attorney who can help ease you through the process.

The couple in this case divorced in 2007 after nearly 10 years of marriage. According to court documents, the mother had claimed that her former husband failed to make child support payments. In the fall of 2009, the court awarded the mother full custody of the children. Just a couple of weeks ago, a judge reduced the child support payments and ordered joint custody. At that point, the mother moved to Arizona, stating that she received a job transfer. Due to the sudden move, it seems, a judge found that the mother was alienating her children from her ex-husband. The court changed the order awarding the father full custody of the children.

In this tragic case, as the judge was rendering his decision regarding the custody change, the mother walked out of the courtroom in the middle of his order. Reports indicate that the mother said she would bring the children back to the father. Instead, the two kids were found in dead in a California hotel room. When police found her, she had been driving a car that crashed into an electrical box outside a shopping complex in Costa Mesa. Apparently, the mother has since asked the court for the death penalty.

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September 19, 2013

Husband Indicted for Hiding Millions in Divorce Proceedings

dollar-army-1-1162216-m.jpgA recent news report underscores the extraordinary measures some people will take to hide assets from their soon to be ex-spouse. After being married for 28 years, Sheila Brandner filed for divorce in Alaska in 2007. According to the indictment by the United States' Attorney's Office, her husband Michael Brandner, a 64-year-old plastic surgeon, reacted to the divorce filing by secretly planning a scheme to defraud his wife by hiding assets from her. In any divorce proceeding, a huge issue is the division of marital assets. The ultimate outcome can significantly impact each spouse's lifestyle and comfort. Seeking the help of a local San Diego family law attorney with a record of success cannot be overstated.

The husband in this case is accused of setting up fake companies, loans and accounts in California, Colorado and Central America, to prevent his wife and the court handling the couple's divorce from learning the extent of his wealth. The indictment alleges that Brandner sought to hide property and money for his "personal control and use," and he allegedly did so through two corporate entities he created. The government seized more than $4.6 million from a bank in California that was deemed to be part of the scheme. According to prosecutors, the money was seized as Michael Brandner was trying to hide it via a fraudulent investment that ultimately would have been written off as a loss, when in fact he would still have the funds.

Fortunately in this case, the authorities were able to identify and locate the marital funds that the husband was trying to conceal. Identification of marital property is a critical component to every divorce case. California is a community property state. This means that the law treats married couples as one "legal community." Therefore, any property acquired during marriage is deemed to be "community property." Likewise, any debts that the couple acquires during the marriage also belong to the "community debt." All items must be divided equally.

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September 12, 2013

Divorce, Legal Separation and Annulment: Options To End a Marriage in San Diego

heart-rules---no-love-1130935-m.jpgA recent news article reports that Clint Eastwood's wife, Dina Eastwood, filed for legal separation in California. The couple has been married for 17 years. There is some question as to whether Ms. Eastwood will eventually seek a divorce. Divorce and legal separation proceedings each require the parties to follow specific steps as prescribed by state law. If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce or separation, it is important to fully understand your options and the ramifications of each process. An experienced family law attorney can help parties navigate the local court system, to reach a desirable outcome.

Making the decision to end a marriage is not an easy one. Often couples stay married longer than they would prefer, in an effort to avoid the many disagreeable matters that inevitably arise -- both emotional and financial. In California, there are three ways to end a marriage: by divorce, legal separation or annulment. What some people may not realize is it is not necessary for both spouses to agree to end the marriage. It could be the sole decision of one of them. If one spouse refuses to participate in the divorce, the proceedings will still go forward and the court may order a "default judgment."

Like many other places, California is a "no-fault" divorce state, meaning that the person asking for the divorce does not need to prove that the other party did anything wrong. Instead, the person filing for divorce need only state that the couple cannot get along, which is familiarly known as "irreconcilable differences." It also does not matter which spouse files first; the court will not favor one party over the other based on that reason. In any event, the person who initiates the divorce or separation (the "petitioner") must fill out forms required by the local courts. Before you even get to this point, be sure to go over your options with a local family law attorney who can give you information about the pros and cons of filing for divorce versus legal separation.

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September 5, 2013

Divorce Settlement Could Include Cost of Wife's Egg-Freezing Procedure

roads-sign-869848-m.jpgIn dissolving a marriage, divorcing spouses typically must sort through many important issues, such as spousal support, child custody and visitation, and child support, to name but a few. Add to these items the matter of a woman's fertility -- and spouses may have yet another, unexpected item to negotiate at the bargaining table. Navigating the San Diego family court system can be complicated and overwhelming, especially when facing the end of a marriage. It is vital that you contact an experienced, local family law attorney to help you get through the process with ease and a sense of confidence in the outcome.

According to a news article, a woman from New Jersey is asking her soon-to-be ex-husband to pay $20,000 for costs associated with an "egg-freezing" procedure, with the hope of preserving her fertility after the divorce. The couple had been married for eight years and had always anticipated that they would have a family. The wife is now 38-years-old and getting divorced. During the marriage, she had an expectation of having children. With the advent of fertility treatments, and advances in medical science, women now have the opportunity to preserve their eggs until they are ready to bear children. With this opportunity comes a way to measure the value of fertility: costs associated with egg extraction surgery, the number of eggs one can expect to obtain and preserve, freezing, the number of children one hopes to have, as well as the success rate of the clinic used. That amount is estimated at anywhere between $5,000 and $13,000.

In this case, the couple made several attempts at in-vitro fertilization during the marriage. The wife's attorney is suggesting that because of this, fertility treatments were part of the marriage and should be considered part of the marital lifestyle and, therefore, maintained as much as possible after the divorce. There is no state case law precisely on this issue. In some rare cases, courts have recognized the limits of a woman's fertility and awarded her custody of previously fertilized embryos. As the article indicates, the question of whether the cost of egg freezing should be included as part of a divorce settlement is complex.

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August 29, 2013

Child Custody Dispute Continues After U.S. Supreme Court Makes Its Ruling

watch-children-1415869-m.jpgLate this past spring, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that an American Indian child should not have been taken from her adoptive parents, a white couple with whom she had been living for the first 27 months of her life. The main issue in the case concerned an interpretation of a federal law intended to keep Indian families intact. The Supreme Court found that the law did not apply to this situation because the biological father relinquished his parental rights even before his daughter was born.

While this decision did not emanate from the courts in San Diego, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision would govern any case in the country under similar facts. This case presents a complicated child custody dispute, involving state and federal laws. Most child custody cases are chock full of serious issues and demands by the parents involved. It is vitally important to contact an experienced family law attorney to help navigate the local laws and court procedures.

Once the child was born, her biological mother agreed to allow a couple from South Carolina to adopt her daughter. Four months later, her biological father changed his mind and sought custody, arguing that he was not aware that the child's mother was planning to place her up for adoption. Citing the National Indian Welfare Act, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in favor of the biological father, awarding him custody of the child even though the couple was already in the process of adopting her. However, once the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision, the South Carolina Court ordered a family court judge to approve the child's adoption by the couple. The adoption was finalized on July 31.

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August 22, 2013

August is Child Support Awareness Month: Some Helpful Tips for San Diego Parents

man-woman-heart-5-1056041-m.jpgCalifornia Department of Child Support Services ("DCSS") reminds parents that August is Child Support Awareness Month. The DCSS supports programs to help parents be successful in supporting their children.

In California, child support is the amount of money that a court orders a parent or both parents to pay each month to help fund the support of the child (or children) and the child's living expenses. The state provides a formula (also known as a "guideline") for determining how much child support should be paid. It is important to understand that if the parents cannot come to an agreement on the amount of child support, the judge is authorized to decide the amount based on the guideline calculation.

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August 15, 2013

Music Mogul Usher's Ex-Wife Loses Emergency Motion for Custody of Their Children

happy-family-1389105-m.jpgAccording to widely publicized reports, Usher's ex-wife, Tameka Foster Raymond, filed an emergency custody motion with an Atlanta court seeking temporary custody of the couple's two children after their son almost drowned in a swimming pool. Just last year, Usher won primary custody of the kids after a bitter court dispute during which Foster Raymond made accusations that Usher was an absentee father. This past May, Foster Raymond filed for a custody modification, which had not been heard by the court prior to the swimming pool accident.

Parents who face child custody issues typically bring their case before a local family court. Anyone going through a custody dispute is encouraged to contact a local San Diego family law attorney who will work to achieve the best possible outcome for your family under the circumstances.

Despite the fact that Usher's five year-old son almost drowned while in the care of his aunt (at the direction of Usher), the court ruled that it did not amount to an emergency or crisis situation requiring that his two children be taken from him. The judge characterized the incident as "an awful accident," adding that no one person could have handled the situation better. The judge described the aunt as "a capable caregiver." In addition to this ruling, the court advised Usher to keep his ex-wife informed about his whereabouts and who is taking care of their children.

There are many factors to consider in any child custody case, especially one that involves a request for modification or an emergency custody motion. Under California procedure, once a judge issues a custody and visitation order, one or both parents may seek to alter the arrangement for various reasons. If both parents agree to the change, they may do so by changing the court order through an agreement. But if they cannot agree, one parent will be required to file papers with the court requesting a change (known as a "modification") of the current child custody order.

In order to modify a custody order, one must show that there has been a "change in circumstances" since the final order was rendered. Essentially, this would mean that there has been a significant change requiring a new custody and visitation arrangement in order to serve the best interests of the children. It is considered best for children to have consistent and stable child custody arrangements.

It is unclear whether Foster Raymond will have any success in her efforts to modify the custody order in Atlanta. We do know, however, that her emergency motion for temporary custody failed. Although this case did not take place in the San Diego court system, in most states, child custody orders will only be modified if the change would be in the best interests of the children. In any child custody proceeding, an experienced family law attorney who is familiar with the local rules and procedures will be able to provide the best possible approach to your family's case.

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August 8, 2013

Bill Pending in California Would Grant Sperm Donor Child Custody Rights Under Certain Circumstances

667713_-paper_family-.jpgFamilies come in all shapes and sizes. Thanks to technological advances and breakthroughs in medical science, families can now emanate from non-traditional methods. For whatever the reason, people may choose to become parents through alternative means, such as artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization and adoption, among others. But with each procedure comes a whole host of legal and practical concerns to weigh and consider, including who is entitled to custody rights should a dispute arise. A local San Diego family law attorney can help parents anticipate and resolve any legal issues concerning child custody matters, with a focus on obtaining the best possible arrangement for you.

In widely publicized reports, the actor Jason Patric's custody dispute with former girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, has inspired sperm-donor rights legislation in California. In 2009, Patric donated sperm as part of a fertility treatment that resulted in Schreiber becoming pregnant. He wants to help raise the child (who is now three years-old), but has encountered legal obstacles in attempting to gain partial custody.

State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced a bill that would allow courts to grant parental rights to sperm donors under such circumstances where the biological father has shown that he always intended to parent, did, in fact, parent - with the mother's consent - and never waived his parental rights. A Los Angeles Times article indicates that Patric and Schreiber disagree on the nature of their relationship and the extent to which Patric was involved in the child's life.

Critics of the legislation reportedly are concerned that the bill could "open the door to litigation by sperm donors" and lead to "male dominance." But others suggest that opponents of the bill do not fully understand the legislation, and in fact, may be doing a disservice to women and children. Many believe that the bill has been narrowly drafted, in that it only protects the relationship between a father and child when the father has assumed that role, acted as his child's father, and helped raise and care for him or her, with the mother's previous consent.

An overwhelming number of babies are born to unmarried mothers: statistics compiled by the Children's Defense Fund indicate that a baby is born to an unmarried mother every 19 seconds in the United States. Of course not all of these mothers conceived their babies via the help of a sperm donor, but for those that have, the legislation seeks to protect a child's ability to maintain a relationship with his or her father, if the child was conceived by artificial reproductive technology to unmarried parents.

Child custody cases are of supreme importance to the parents and children involved, as the outcome will likely impact the rest of their lives. Disputes over physical and legal custody have the potential to escalate, as both parents typically want to remain fully involved in their children's lives. In order to ensure that your rights and interests are protected to the greatest extent possible, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as a child custody matter arises.

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July 25, 2013

Husband Accused of Fatally Beating Wife After She Asked for Divorce - to Stand Trial

975584_broken_heart.jpgIn a San Diego courtroom, a judge recently ordered an Iraqi-American man to stand trial for killing his wife after she allegedly asked for a divorce. According to an article in the U-T San Diego news, the 32-year-old victim was fatally beaten in her California home. When the incident first happened, authorities believed that the murder was a hate crime because they discovered a note in the home that read: "Go back to your country, you terrorist." Naturally, the hateful message drew international attention and condemnation. But as the investigation continued, evidence revealed that her 49-year-old husband was unable to accept that his wife wanted a divorce and had allegedly reacted in a violent manner. Authorities ultimately arrested the man and charged him with a domestic violence murder.

At the pretrial hearing, the couple's 18-year-old daughter testified that she had gone with her mother to the courthouse to obtain divorce papers. She further mentioned that her parent's long-standing problems had deteriorated in 2012, and when her mother told her father that she wanted a divorce, he laughed. According to a recent news article, a judge in El Cajon ordered the husband to stand trial for the murder of his wife.

Domestic violence is a serious matter. In legal terms, it is the unlawful infliction of injury on the person of another. The victim may be a current or former spouse, a partner or a child. California domestic violence laws prohibit the use of physical force or threats to traumatize household members. Some of the common crimes of domestic violence include 1) corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant; 2) domestic battery on an intimate partner, 3) child abuse and endangerment, and 4) stalking and criminal threats.

Under the law, acts of domestic violence include, 1) hitting or striking another person; 2) exerting force or violence, 3) cruel or inhuman punishment, 4) physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, 5) conveying criminal threats of harm, and 6) neglect or endangerment of another's health or safety. In some cases, the risk of domestic violence increases when a woman tells her spouse that she wants a divorce.

A person contemplating divorce may resist initiating the process for fear that once the spouse is informed of the decision, he could exhibit violent behavior. But there are ways to seek protection in advance. In California, family courts can grant spouses a temporary restraining order to prevent the perpetrator from approaching the home for a certain period of time. A permanent restraining order would require that the perpetrator remain at least 100 yards away from the home for up to five years and prohibits any contact whatsoever with the victim. There is a certain amount of proof or evidence one would need to provide in order to receive the order of protection.

In the case discussed above, it does not appear that the wife/mother sought any protection from the San Diego court system. If a person is considering divorce and has any concerns about a potentially dangerous situation involving another, it is important to get help as soon as possible. A local family law attorney could help to protect your safety and your rights.

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July 18, 2013

Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi Seeking "Swift and Amicable" Divorce

1108079_monthly_fee_5.jpgMost couples from San Diego enter into marriage with the expectation that they will be married for the rest of their lives. Over the ensuing years, married couples often have families, acquire property, incur debts, and share interests and experiences. Essentially, they share a life together - as intended. So when a couple makes the difficult decision to divorce, there are many issues and "loose ends" to tie up and settle. In an ideal world, the process would run smoothly, efficiently and with little or no strife. If you find yourself contemplating divorce, it is important to contact an experienced family law attorney who is fully knowledgeable in the local laws and court procedures and can help you navigate the process with as much ease as possible.

It seems that Nigella Lawson and her soon-to-be ex-husband are working toward the goal of a quick and easy divorce. According to a news article, the couple - each of whom is reported to be worth millions - intend to have an "undefended" divorce, and neither is expected to make a financial claim against the other. Media outlets have speculated that some widely publicized photographs of Saatchi with his hands around Lawson's throat during an argument may have led to the filing for divorce.

Saatchi said he was disappointed that his wife failed to make a public statement to explain that he opposes violence and never physically abused Lawson in any way. Another news source said Saatchi described the incident as a "playful tiff." But police reportedly issued Saatchi a "caution" after he allegedly admitted to the assault. After the extensive media coverage of the compromising photographs, it is no wonder the couple would like to expedite the divorce process as quickly and amicably as possible.

In California, when spouses seek to divorce, there are many issues to resolve, and working with an experienced family law attorney is one way to move matters along efficiently. Parties have to consider and address many matters, such as the division of marital property (identification and valuation), child custody and visitation (if the couple has children), and spousal and child support. In some instances, the law dictates how to handle and calculate these items. For instance, California law provides a set schedule for determining child support based on income. Parties have to keep in mind, though, that income can include finances received from a variety of sources, not simply a weekly paycheck. As for spousal support, there is no set schedule in San Diego County. Rather, judges rely mainly on court opinions, court orders and case law dating back decades.

Some additional issues to consider (to name a few): how long will you receive spousal or child support payments; who will be responsible for a child's medical insurance and expenses; who will pay for college; what if a custodial parent moves out of state; what is in "the best interest of a child" and who makes that decision? In order to obtain the best settlement for a client, the family law attorney will need to be experienced, prepared and fully apprised of the relevant procedures and local laws.

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July 11, 2013

Same Sex Couples Find Divorce a Long and Costly Process

1267479_broken_heart_pic.jpgJust last month, the United States Supreme Court paved the way for federal recognition of same sex marriages, by striking down Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"). But while gay couples in San Diego and throughout California have found some welcome relief from the obstacles to getting married, many are reporting great difficulties when trying to get a divorce. Deciding to divorce is no easy decision. Irrespective of whether the couple is heterosexual or of the same sex, the ensuing process is typically fraught with high emotions and complicated procedures. An experienced family law attorney can help to anticipate the difficult moments and seek to protect your rights every step of the way.

According to a recent Huffington Post article, gay couples have reported that when seeking a divorce, courthouse staff do not know what to do. At least one person interviewed indicated that the extra paperwork alone delayed the divorce for an entire year. Of course, with lengthy delays one may typically expect to find an increase in costs and fees. Part of the confusion seems to be related to the issue of geography. If a gay couple is living in a state that does not recognize same sex marriage, in all likelihood one of the parties will have to move to a state that does, in order to dissolve the marriage.

In addition to the complicated matter of geography and varying state laws (or lack thereof), there is the question of when a gay couple's relationship started. Because of the changes that have taken place (and continue to occur) throughout the country, courts have not yet reached a consensus about when a gay couple's legal bond begins. Such ambiguity will surely lead to confusion over when, where and how to obtain a divorce, should it come to that.

Furthermore, the article suggests that a same sex divorce costs twice as much as one involving a heterosexual couple. And if the gay couple also has children, they will find the costs could be tripled. Unfortunately, it seems that it may take some time for states to enact laws that protect same sex couples who seek to divorce, affording them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples experience at that stage of their marriage.

Another person interviewed for the article suggested that couples, those specifically who live in states where same sex marriage is recognized, should consider preparing a pre- or post-nuptial agreement in an effort to protect their rights as much as possible. There is no guarantee, however, that the agreement will be enforceable. At this point in time, there seems to be an inconsistency in the way courts have approached and handled divorce proceedings involving gay couples.

In California, registered domestic partners have some options under the law. There is a way to enter into a summary dissolution, should the couple together meet all of the requirements. But it is likely that the laws will be evolving in California and throughout the country. An experienced, local family law attorney can help you to navigate the changing divorce landscape with confidence and ease.

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