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San Francisco Family Law Blog

Social media and premarital agreements

Just a few decades ago, most people in California may have thought that a premarital agreement was only something that celebrities or other people with extensive wealth needed to have. Today, however, more couples who might consider themselves "everyday" people are finding that these contracts can indeed be useful to them.

One of the more recent trends with premarital agreements is the inclusion of clauses that outline what is and what is not acceptable for a spouse to do on social media during and after a divorce. As explained by CNBC, these clauses are sometimes referred to as social media prenups. These clauses have arisen likely out of the fact that some disgruntled husbands or wives have made negative and even slanderous posts about their former partners on social channels. They may even have posted unflattering pictures.

Getting what you want in an uncontested divorce

Divorce can be contentious, no matter how much you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse are willing to cooperate with each other to get it over with. At the Ruben Law Firm, we know that this is a difficult time in your life. We also know that uncontested divorce can benefit many couples. For you and other Californians, an uncontested option may be better than litigation, depending on your situation.

As FindLaw explains, uncontested divorce options, such as mediation and collaborative law, typically have numerous advantages over a litigated divorce. These include the following:

  • Being less costly and time-consuming than going to court
  • The ability to negotiate terms you and your ex can agree upon
  • Reducing conflict for everyone, including children
  • Teaching you communication and negotiation skills
  • Giving you privacy, rather than your divorce details becoming a matter of public record

What are your rights as a grandparent?

One of the greatest gifts that your children can give you are grandchildren. Your love for them can often be equally as strong as that which they share with their parents. The same may often be said about the relationship you establish with them in San Francisco. Is it fair, then, that your rights to have access to your grandkids change when familial circumstances shift? 

According to California law, the answer to that question is no. You (as a grandparent) have the right to request visitation with your grandchildren if and when their parents divorce. To qualify, however, you must be able to show to the court that you have "engendered a bond" with them. Such a bond is assumed to be present if it is proven that severing your ties with your grandkids could cause them serious emotional harm and distress. When considering this, the court must also determine whether or not your continual presence in your grandchildren's lives might serve to undermine their parents' authority. 

How to talk to your kids about custody

Going through a divorce is never easy, but it is often even more difficult when you and your ex have children together. While separation is often the best decision for giving kids a healthy home, it can be complicated to explain this to children in a way that does not add further stress to the situation. Explaining custody can be particularly difficult, but there are ways to do so effectively.

The following tips are a good place to start with talking to your kids about custody arrangements during a divorce. Rather than approaching the topic with negativity, take a positive stance and use the following suggestions to make the discussion a productive one: 

How can I prepare for a custody hearing?

When it comes to custody decisions in a divorce, California judges base their decision on the child’s best interests. To determine where those interests lie, a judge must ask parents several questions that may make you uncomfortable at first. However, as your attorney can tell you, being open and honest is always best. Your attorney should prepare you for these questions, which require you to go into detail about your financial situation, as well as your ongoing relationship with the other parent.

Verywell Family notes that you should be prepared to discuss what type of custody plan you want and why. Courts are likely to prefer a joint arrangement that allows both parents time to maintain a relationship with the child. If you plan to ask for sole custody, you must be prepared to explain why and give evidence to support your application.

How can I locate my ex for child support?

It is any custodial parent’s nightmare: My ex-spouse has disappeared and is not making child support payments. I need that money to help feed, clothe and shelter my child—what should I do? What can I do? In California, the Department of Child Support Services is your first and best resource for help.

According to the state agency, your first step should be contacting the county or regional office of DCSS and opening a child support case. A caseworker will interview you to gather information about the family, including the non-custodial parent who has disappeared. To help enforce a child support order, or to obtain one, the agency must first locate the missing parent. Several resources can help in finding the parent, including these:

  • Military records
  • Social Services records
  • State licensing boards
  • Credit reporting agencies
  • U.S. Post Office

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. 

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