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San Francisco Family Law Blog

It can be upsetting to be accused of being a Disneyland parent

If you have ever heard of the term “Disneyland dad,” you are not alone. This is a disparaging moniker that is given to parents of either gender to imply that the parent’s only involvement with the children is to provide fun, entertainment and gifts. While building memories with the children is usually a good thing for California parents, at the Ruben Law Firm, we understand that it can be insulting and hurtful for good parents to be called Disneyland parents.

According to the National Center for Fathering, many noncustodial dads – as well as some moms – who have limited time with their children want to ensure their kids have a great time during visitation. Often, a noncustodial parent will try to make up for lost time by taking their children on trips or showering them with toys and treats. How do you draw the line between being a fun and positive influence on your kids’ lives and being a Disneyland parent?

Do I have any options in receiving alimony?

Monthly alimony payments can be a double-edged sword. You want the money but would rather not have the reminder of a failed marriage at the first of every month. Even more than the reminder, you do not want to worry about whether you will receive a support payment this month, or next month or the month after. Do you have any options in a California divorce?

Yes, you do have an option, according to FindLaw. You can receive one lump-sum payment in lieu of monthly payments. All of the alimony due would then be given to you up front, releasing the payer from all future payments. There is no bargaining the price down, either; the lump sum must be equal to the total of all monthly payments.

What is a stepparent adoption?

If you and your spouse or domestic partner have one of California’s many blended families, you may have thought about adopting each other’s children so as to make the parent-child relationships legal as well as factual. The State of California is ready and willing to help you achieve your dream of stepparent adoption by making the process as easy as possible.

California has two different stepparent adoption processes. The stepparent adoption to confirm parentage process applies if (1) you were married to or in a registered domestic partnership with one of the child’s birth parents at the time of the birth; and (2) you and the birth parent are still married or registered domestic partners. The regular stepparent/domestic partner adoption process applies in all other situations.

The vicious cycle of child support plans in america

Many Californians are aware of the stigma attached to one's failure to pay child support. However, those experiencing issues with regular payments know the severity of the situation; after all, a child's entire wellbeing could be placed on the line with only a few missed monthly payments. Despite the seriousness of this issue, there are some shocking truths to today's child support system that could help clarify current obstacles. 

According to the Washington Post, failure to pay child support could result in a vicious cycle. With almost one in four children in the U.S. under some type of child support plan, only 62 percent actually receive financial assistance. Acknowledging the stereotype of "deadbeat parent," The Post reveals through recent research that poorer states have higher rates of missed child support payments. Poverty and child support collection rates have worked in tandem to create a debilitating cycle of financial worry for countless families. While enforcement of payment is certainly necessary, financial struggle ultimately affects the most important group of this process: the children. 

When past due payments become a misdemeanor

No matter what type of expense may arise, financial support in a child custody arrangement can be crucial. California parents who are experiencing difficulties in receiving the proper amount of payments - or support altogether - have valid concerns for their children. Timely payments may not seem a major aspect of a child support process, but just one missed payment could place a child's health, educational goals and even safety on the line. 

One common challenge for struggling parents involves the details of child support laws. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an accessible brochure on collecting child support, stating that the primary focus of a state's child support program is to ensure that children receive regular payments and the correct amounts. While each state may have varying forms of financial planning, Congress enforces an immediate income withholding in all child support orders. Unless a parent proves they are unable to make payments, they could face withholding through income tax, social security or payroll deduction. Child support offices may require further action if a parent fails to send child support payments entirely. 

Three reasons to get a prenuptial agreement

Divorce is at an all-time high in the United States, and couples are increasingly choosing to tie the knot later on in life—after they’ve accumulated property of some value. With these trends in mind, many couples are treating their nuptials more like a business partnership—with a practical understanding that the relationship may not last forever.

While this may not sound like the most romantic approach to marriage, planning strategically about the impacts of your legal partnership can be a smart move. Today we provide three reasons that a prenuptial agreement (prenup) can be a good idea for any marriage:

What to include in a fair, workable parenting plan

When divorce is inevitable, child custody matters will be top of mind. You and your soon-to-be ex will want to devise a good parenting plan.

Give this your best effort because it will become a court order once each of you signs it, the judge signs it and the document is filed with the court.

Dissolution (Divorce) and Legal Separation

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California law entitles you to a divorce (called a dissolution) based on irreconcilable differences. Fault in causing the breakdown of the marriage is no longer relevant in California. Your spouse does not need to give you permission, or even agree with you. To file for a divorce you must have lived in the state of California for the last six months, and in the county where you file for the last three months. If you do not meet these residency requirements you may still file for a legal separation

Before you file for a dissolution, understand that a divorce:

  • will legally end your marriage forever
  • may divide your property and debts
  • provide for child support and if requested, spousal support
  • determine who will care for the children and be entitled to make decisions on their behalf.

If you're not sure that you are ready for a divorce, you may want to seek personal or marriage counseling.

Considering a living trust? What about a will? Do you need both?

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There are many benefits to having a living trust but, as with any legal document, it requires careful planning. In this article, you'll learn exactly what a living trust is, and explore five basic steps you should consider when establishing your own living trust.

The basics

A living trust is a legal entity that can own property and direct distribution of that property after a person's death, or if they become incapacitated.

One of the primary benefits of a living trust is that it isn't subject to probate, or its associated costs and delays.

If you establish a trust, you (known as the grantor) appoint yourself as the initial trustee and primary beneficiary of the trust. You retain full and complete control over the property during your lifetime. In the living trust document, you appoint the individual(s) and/or entities that will take on the role as successor trustee when you can no longer act as the initial trustee. The trustee manages and distributes the trust assets according to the terms of the trust.

TERM: Probate When a person dies, the property from his estate can be transferred to the intended beneficiaries via a will. Probate is the process of properly transferring the estate to the rightful beneficiaries. This process is also used to collect any taxes due on the transfer of the property.

Does a living trust take the place of a will?

A living trust is sometimes referred to as a "will substitute." Although, in some respects, it does take the place of a will, a will is still usually necessary to distribute assets outside the trust, and to nominate guardians for minor children.

So why should you consider a living trust if you probably need a will, anyway? Because it only becomes effective at your death, a will does not avoid probate and does not protect you or the management of your assets in the event of your incapacity.

One aspect of marital property that some spouses overlook is retirement plans.

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California has long been known as a community property state but when couples in San Francisco decide to call it quits, the division of marital property can be quite complex. The divorce process can extend for months and even years in some cases, when there is considerable property to be divided. 

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