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San Francisco Family Law Blog

Premarital agreements and blended families

Many people in California who get married these days have been married before. Whether their first marriage ended via divorce or the death of the other spouse, they may want to take extra care before walking down the aisle a second time, especially if they have children from their first marriage. Many complexities can arise when blending families and one of these includes how a person's estate is split up after they die. Perhaps surprising to some is that a premarital contract may be highly useful in identifying this.

As AARP explains, a premarital contract is not simply a vehicle by which a person protects themselves in the event of a future divorce. It may also act as a valuable estate planning tool. For a remarried person, there may be a natural desire to provide for their new spouse after death. At the same,time, people generally want to leave something to their children after they die. A prenup can be a great way of identifying what goes to a spouse and what goes to a child.

What are grounds for divorce in California?

When may be surprised when attempting to seek a divorce from your spouse in San Francisco to be asked for the grounds you are using to justify this action. "Grounds for divorce" have typically associated with assigning fault to one party to as marriage for its break-up. Yet you have probably heard that California is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. Why is it, then, that you need to cite grounds if the state does not care who is at fault regarding the end of your marriage

The confusion over these two topics likely comes from misunderstanding as to the application of their meanings. According to Section 2310 of the California Family Code, the state only recognizes two grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences or permanent legal incapacity. In defining "permanent legal incapacity," the state classifies is as cases where one has been proven (based off expert testimony) to be permanently incapable of making solutions. "Irreconcilable differences" refer to those scenarios where substantial reasons exist as to why a marriage should not continue. These may include: 

  • Abuse
  • Infidelity 
  • Fundamental philosophical disagreements

Can my child and I move out of state after my divorce?

Your California employer just gave you a big promotion with a big salary hike and life is looking great. Only one catch: Your new job is in another state. Since you are a divorced parent, now what? Can you and your child(ren) relocate with no problems? Unfortunately, the answer may depend on how your ex-spouse reacts to your proposed move.

Before you panic, find your divorce decree and do the following:

  • Check it to verify that the court awarded you primary physical custody, also called sole physical custody, of your child(ren). If so, so far so good. If it awards joint physical custody to you and your ex-spouse, either (s)he must agree to your move or the two of you must fight it out in court
  • Next check to see whether or not the decree contains any restrictions regarding a post-divorce relocation. If not, you are still on track. If it does, you will need to convince a judge that (s)he should lift the restriction(s).
  • Figure out how to go about talking with your ex-spouse so as to make the best possible case for your relocation, including how it will benefit your child(ren) as well as you.

Custody battle brewing between home improvement show star and ex

San Francisco couples that choose to divorce might think that their associations with each other have ended. That may not be the case, however, if two people have children together. The reality is that they may need to continue to work together to ensure that the best interests of their kids is protected. Part of that is having equal access to both parents. Ensuring that such access continues might potentially influence decisions that divorced parents want to make in their own individual lives, as whatever they do must be viewed with the perspective of how that might influence their ex-spouse's relationship with their kids. 

The ex-husband of a popular home improvement-show star is alleging that her recent actions have restricted his access to the 3-year old son the couple shares. This has prompted him to file for sole custody of the child. The father claims that the mother's decision to move to California from Michigan was done to purposely make custody exchanges with him more difficult. He also cites some of her parenting tactics are solely to keep him and the child apart. For example, the mother has continued to breastfeed the child while also encouraging baby-led weaning. The father has used these examples as reasons as to why he believes she is an unfit mother. 

Creating a summertime custody schedule

While it may be easy to view your divorce as the end of your association with your ex-spouse, the truth is that the two of you will likely have to continue a relationship with each other throughout the rest of your lives (particularly if you have children together). Part of this is sitting down and coming up with a parenting plan that allows you both equitable custody and visitation time. Many of the clients that we here at the Ruben Law Firm work with in San Francisco find that agreeing on an acceptable visitation schedule during summer break can be especially difficult. 

There is good reason for this; after all, summer is the ideal time to plan a family vacation. Your kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and popular vacation destinations often offer specials to entice you to visit. The state recognizes that this is a unique time in regards to your custody schedule, which is why The Judicial Branch of California specifically references a summer vacation visitation schedule in its parenting plan recommendations. 

Reviewing the issue of parental relocation

Following a divorce, one may feel a strong desire to move away from San Francisco. The pain of separation may still be fresh for some, and seeing reminders of their married days might prolong that pain, A move represents a clean break and a chance to start over in a new area. Americans in general are movers; information shared by Psychology Today that 16 percent of Americans change residents every calendar year. Yet if one has children with his or her ex-pouse, moving away can suddenly become quite complicated. 

Several states require that certain procedures need to be followed before the court will allow one to leave the area while still maintaining their current custody situation. Fortunately, California does not. Per the Judicial Branch of California, parents who have sole physical custody have already been granted the presumptive right to move away with the kids. No formal notice needs to be given to the court. If the other parent opposes the move, it is up to him or her to convince the court that moving away would be detrimental to the kids as well as his or her relationship with them. However, even if the court agrees with that argument, it typically will not bar a parent who wants to move from leaving. Rather, both parents will typically be asked to revise their custody or visitation schedule. 

Applying for a passport with back child support

Falling behind on child support payments can result in many different consequences and we have gone over some on this blog. From financial ramifications to the loss of a person's good reputation, parents who are unable to stay current on their child support obligations may go through a number of difficulties. However, there are other reasons why it is important to pay child support. Not only do non-custodial parents who fall behind on these obligations have to worry about possibly being taken into custody, but they could be unable to obtain a U.S. passport, which can be especially upsetting for those who have had travel plans in place.

Owing a certain amount of unpaid child support will mean that a passport application will be held up and current passports will be revoked. Not only can this prevent someone from going on a vacation they may have been planning for years, but it can also spell disaster for those who were planning on traveling for business purposes or wanted to head to another country in order to attend an important family event, such as a funeral or a loved one getting married.

Premarital agreements, explained

The wedding date is on the calendar, the ceremony plans are well underway and the excitement has fully settled in. At this stage, most California couples would likely ask, what could go wrong? Needless to say, it be difficult to contain one's elated feelings during such big life changes, but there are often details of the marriage process that get left behind. The below information explains the steps of a premarital agreement, as well as the importance of completing these documents. 

A premarital agreement, as defined by The Knot, outlines a couple's financial plan for marriage through a legal lens. Of course, discussion of divorce is probably the last topic future newlyweds would prefer to discuss, but The Knot reminds readers that it is crucial to communiate openly during this process. Avoiding this talk might only invite complications in the future. In a similar vein, rushing this procedure could make way for trouble. Placing emotions momentarily to the side to discuss these vital steps can leave more room for the enjoyable aspects of the union itself. 

How to bring up the topic of a postnuptial agreement

There are many reasons why married couples would want to sign a postnuptial agreement. They may have intended to sign a prenuptial agreement but forgot before the wedding. Perhaps one or both spouses acquired more assets during the marriage and want to protect their assets in the event of divorce. Regardless of the reason, it is a tricky subject to broach, especially if you do not know if your spouse will be okay with it. 

Some people believe signing a prenup or postnup is indicative of one spouse believing the marriage will end eventually, which is not the case at all. A marital contract will help immensely in the event the marriage ends, but it can also provide both parties with the peace of mind that they will retain assets or receive support during this time, too. 

Common issues with spousal support

Many Californians assume that divorces without children involved generally see smooth sailing. While this observation is true in some cases, determining spousal support after divorce can be an incredibly complex process. It can be helpful to not only clarify common terms in this procedure, but to learn more about state-specific guidelines when it comes to spousal support. 

In sum, Findlaw explains that alimony is a process in which the court awards spousal support from one ex-partner to another in attempts to balance out any unfair economic effects of the separation. A couple may decide an alimony plan, or the decision may go to the court. Findlaw points out that one reason determining alimony can become more difficult than child support lies in the broad guidelines applied to spousal support in most states. Most courts refer to the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act to best decide on an alimony plan, ultimately considering aspects such as a spouse's age, emotional state, physical condition and financial condition. Courts may also consider the length of the marriage, as well as the couple's standard of living.

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