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San Francisco Family Law Blog

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.

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. 

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