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Ventura California Family Law Blog

New Domestic Violence Statutes 3 of 3 by CLH

New Domestic Violence Statutes - Part 3 of 3: Effect on Support, Custody, & Property Rights

As promised, this segment will deal with the effect of the changes in Domestic Violence statutes, which became effective on January 1, 2019, on the property rights of the parties.

To the extent you believe spousal support affects your property - it certainly affects your paycheck! - please refer to Part 1 of 3 of this series of posts. This is limited to the new laws’ impacts on characterization and distribution of the community property estate.

Dependent adults can be especially vulnerable to abuse

Adults who depend on caregivers in order to have a good quality of life can be physically dependent, emotionally dependent, or both. With dependence comes an intrinsic amount of vulnerability that can make adults at risk for abuse and neglect.

If you have a loved one who is dependent on care, you may be concerned about their risk of neglect. In addition, you may have had observations that give you a cause for concern. In this situation, it is important that you take the time to understand what type of treatment counts as abuse, and how it can be recognized.

New Domestic Violence Statutes - Effect on Support, Custody & Property Rights, Part 2 of 3

As stated in the first installment on this topic, new laws went into effect in California on January 1, 2019, which constitute a significant reform of our domestic violence statutes. That reform continues the tendency of California's legislature to increasingly penalize domestic abusers.

The paradigm shift from "violence" as being the actionable harm, to any type of abuse being subject to judicial action, has been happening for a few years.

We discussed the effect of the new laws on spousal support rights in Part 1. This is Part 2, and here we are discussing the new laws' impact on custody and visitation.

The law which made the changes to the custody portion of the Family Code was A.B. 2044. Prior to the passage of A.B. 2044, the law required a Family Court judge to determine the best interests of the child for purposes of deciding child custody in proceedings brought under the Family Code. In making that determination, existing law did require the court to consider certain factors, including whether either of the child's parents habitually or continually uses alcohol or illegal drugs.

Using an expert witness in divorce

Every divorce is as unique as the people involved. Some will be business-like with few areas of disagreement, while others will be highly emotional and litigated in court. In the latter case, expert witnesses are useful for providing insight when the spouses have differing views on an issue. This may be the fitness of a parent, the worth of an ongoing business, real property or earning potential.

There are guidelines at the state and federal level about the qualification of an expert witness. Generally speaking, they are there to use their specialized knowledge to provide expert insight and analysis to the judge, or to strengthen one side's argument during pre-trial discovery. Either way, they can be very influential in the outcome of a case.

Legal Treatment of Frozen Embryos upon Dissolution. Part 2 of 6

Thanks to R. Benjamin Vojtik, asscoiate attorney, for his excellent research into the legal treatment of frozen embryos upon dissolution.

5 tips to break the divorce news to the kids

Telling the children about the divorce is the one thing that you dread. You know that it may upset them. You know that it will change their lives. While you and your spouse have talked it over and decided what you want to do, making your peace with the decision, you do not know how the kids are going to take it.

Don't rush into this or take it lightly. The key to making things go smoothly for the kids is to really think your way through this conversation before it happens. A few key things to consider doing include:

Johnny Depp sues ex-wife for $50M in defamation case

Actors Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard were married in a secret ceremony in 2015, but their 2016 separation grabbed countless headlines. As with many celebrity divorces, there were reports of salacious behavior and excess. The bad behavior of the rich and famous have long been entertainment for the general public, but Depp and Heard's case was more troubling due to accusations of physical and emotional abuse. This led to a restraining order in 2016 and the subsequent divorce in 2017.

Heard appeared on the cover of People magazine with bruises on her face. In 2018 she also published an editorial in the Washington Post portraying herself as a victim of abuse who was further vilified for defending herself.

Adoption and termination of parental rights

It is common for adoptive parents to secure the agreement and signature of the birthparent. By doing this, the birthparent gives up all parental rights, duties and responsibilities, which are then taken over by the adoptive parent. However, sometimes getting the consent of the other parent is difficult or not possible.

A parent's rights are among the most protected by law in the United States.  That is why, with few exceptions, a parent must consent to adoption before a child is legally placed with another family.

Confidentiality of mediation; an alternative to tradition

Mediation is an increasingly popular format for couples who wish to file for divorce. There are several benefits that stem from keeping the divorce out of court. Topping the list is a faster resolution process because clients are not at the mercy of a crowded court schedule, and a quicker resolution can also mean less expense. Many couples also like the fact that they themselves will find solutions for their disputes rather than having a stranger, a judge, decide. It also appeals to those who like privacy because mediation typically does not involve a public record of the case's details.

California's confidentiality clause

Courts are extending visitation rights to stepparents and extended family

Several years ago I had a client - who, of course, shall remain nameless. He considered himself the father of two girls. His eldest, as he called her, had been in his life since she was two years old. His youngest was his child with his wife. His wife had filed for divorce. The most important thing in the world to this client was that he stay in the lives of his two girls.

With the younger daughter, who was his legal and biological daughter, we were successful. She's in her 20's now, and her dad is very proud that she's in her third year of college - the first member of his family to get a college education.

The eldest daughter, though, had another father, previously adjudicated, who paid support, but hadn't seen her in years. My client was really the only dad she'd ever known. My client wanted, so very much, to have visitation with the older daughter, but the law at that time made no provision for stepparent visitation. His wife cut my client out of that child's life without a second thought. He'd been that young lady's stepfather, "daddy," soccer coach, softball coach, for just over 12 years - and with a snap of her mother's fingers, my client was removed from her life. My client was even disinvited to her quincinera, which - ironically - he'd just finished paying for at the time his wife filed for divorce.

Do you need to draft a custody agreement for your pet in divorce?

Many married couples facing divorce don't have children. However, that doesn't mean they don't have something precious in their lives that they both love. Whether it's a cat, a dog or some other exotic animal, companion animals can be very important factors in modern divorces.

Some couples even bring companion animals into their family in lieu of having children. The bond that they share with those animals can be very important and even part of their self identity. Thankfully, the state of California is now recognizing the importance of these animals to the people who live with them.

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