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California Family Law Blog

"Modern Family" star needs to work to fund costly divorce

For those who marriages end, things can be difficult financially. Apparently, that can also be the case for celebrities like Julie Bowen who divorce. The California-based "Modern Family" star says she has to keep working because the recent divorce from her husband of 13 years was a costly one. She made the statement after she was asked if she was prepared for the sitcom to come to an end.

Bowen, 49, who maintains an amicable relationship with her former husband, will be looking for a new gig since "Modern Family" will be calling it a wrap in April after 11 seasons. The couple first received negative media attention regarding their marriage in 2016. Bowen's then real estate investor husband did not attend the Emmy Awards with her.

Visitation often granted after child custody is denied

Just because a California family court judge rules that its best for a particular child or children to live full time with only one parent after divorce, it does not necessarily mean the court believes the other parent is unfit. In many cases, the reasons prompting such a decision might have more to do with children's ability to handle stress. If the court thinks traveling back and forth between households on a regular basis would cause too much stress for the children involved, then it might see fit to deny one parent child custody in favor of the other.

As long as the non-custodial parent in no way poses a detriment to his or her children, the court will typically grant visitation rights when custody has been denied. Some parents visit their children every weekend, while others see their children every other week. There are no specific rules about visits, but the court sometimes does place restrictions on a parent's visitation plan if it has a legitimate reason to do so.

How new spousal support laws affect divorce and taxes

In case you didn't hear about it, 2019 marked a big change in how to report spousal support, or alimony, at tax time. Before, those paying the support could list it as a deduction on their taxes, while the people receiving it had to pay taxes on the amount. Most experts said this actually worked in favor of both spouses, since it lowered the total taxes paid.

At the start of 2019, that all changed at the federal level. Payors cannot deduct their spousal support from their taxes, and recipients do not have to pay tax on the income. California's state taxes still follow the old rules, but the new laws still have a significant impact on families. Fortunately, experts have suggestions for those who want to save money and reduce their tax burden this year if they plan to divorce.

Child custody and money focus of Lisa Marie Presley divorce

When a California couple decides to divorce after 10 or more years of marriage, it is not uncommon for complex issues to arise. If disagreements persist, things can get quite messy before a settlement is achieved. This appears to be the case for Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. She filed for divorce after a decade of marriage to Michael Lockwood, a struggling musician who has stated that the situation has caused him to be homeless, and the two are battling over child custody and financial issues. 

Lockwood said that he had to move into a hotel when he and Lisa Marie separated. From there, he said he basically went from house to house, sleeping on couches for at least two years. The court ordered Lockwood to pay $140,000 in legal fees to Presley. Lockwood says he was barely earning $2,500 a month working in factories and providing music lessons to people, and that he had to sell all of his music equipment to help cover divorce expenses.

How California differs from most states in property division

Most readers would agree that California spouses often relate to one another when it comes to marital problems. While no two divorces are exactly the same, many spouse find the stories of others sounding quite similar to their own. When it comes to property division proceedings in divorce, however, California is somewhat unique because it operates under community property guidelines.

The majority of other states use equitable property guidelines in divorce. In this state, a judge overseeing a particular case is likely to split all marital assets and liabilities 50/50 between both spouses. Knowing this, some spouses resort to hidden asset schemes as a way of trying to beat the system and gain the upper hand in proceedings. This type of activity is illegal.

Property division: Are you ready to split everything 50/50?

Before 2019 ends, many California spouses will file for divorce. If you plan to be among them, there are certain issues you'll want to clearly understand ahead of time, such as how property division proceedings operate in this state. Whether you and your spouse are parting on friendly terms or you expect to have to fight for everything to which you may be entitled, it is best to learn as much as you can ahead of time to avoid surprises in court. 

California operates under community property division guidelines in divorce. This means family court judges typically split all marital assets and liabilities 50/50 between both spouses. Unfortunately, spouses who want to walk away with more than their former partners may try to fool the court by stashing cash or hiding assets.

How is pet ownership determined in a California divorce?

When a couple decides to end their marriage in California, they may decide to litigate certain issues. This is often the case when spouses disagree and are unable to achieve a peaceful compromise outside the courtroom. It is becoming more common for pet issues to be priority topics in divorce. The question is: Are they considered property division issues or custody matters?

The current trend in most California family courts is for pet ownership to be resolved in a manner that addresses the ongoing care of these companion animals. In fact, numerous celebrity couples have made headline news when battling over legal ownership of animals in divorce. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, for instance, went to court to resolve custody issues involving an entire farm and houseful of pets, including a flock of chickens, six dogs and three horses.

Police in another state now involved in a child custody case

Any California parent currently concerned about co-parent legal issues will want to review a case that is currently unfolding in another state. The case involves a 5-year-old girl who has reportedly been missing for a week. This situation is an example of how wrong things can go when a parent disregards an existing court order.

The father of the child was, at some point, under court order to take a drug test, which he is said to have failed. As is common for family court judges to do in such situations, the judge overseeing this case temporarily removed the man's custodial rights. The child's mother and maternal grandmother, however, have notified police that they believe the man violated the court order by taking the girl from her school.

Are child custody issues putting a damper on holiday planning?

No matter what time of year it happens to be, filing for divorce is never an easy decision. If you're one of many California spouses who is also a parent, then navigating divorce just before the holidays may be especially challenging. It is only natural that your highest priority is your children's well-being. If child custody issues have you concerned, there are several things you can do to be proactive toward finding a solution.

Even basic issues can spark contention between you and your ex if you do not agree. For instance, negotiating the terms of your co-parenting agreement would likely include resolving issues such as where your kids will live after you finalize your divorce, whether they will spend holidays with one or the other parent, or both, if they will have to change schools, as well as numerous other matters that might apply to your particular situation. If your co-parent is not willing to cooperate or to adhere to the terms of your agreement, it may definitely cause legal problems.

Child custody can be difficult but manageable with long distance

Ending a marriage might be the right decision for a couple who is no longer happy, but it can still be a difficult transition for parents and kids alike. Most California parents undoubtedly want to be in their children's lives as much as possible, but if work or other obligations cause them to move or the other parent to move with the kids, distance can make shared child custody more difficult. Fortunately, parents can do their best to keep in contact with their kids.

These days, practically everyone has a phone with them at all times. This means that parents have a convenient way to have regular contact with their kids even if they are not physically with them or live a considerable distance away. Parents can have scheduled calls and call, Skype or send texts at random times to let the kids know that they are being thought of.

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