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Gender bias in custody cases

When parents in California divorce, one major consideration is child custody. If there is conflict over where the kids should live, parents may seek mediation or other efforts to come to an agreement. When these efforts fail, the courts may have to determine what is in the best interests of the children. Many people believe that the courts are unfairly biased against fathers in custody cases.

While there has long been a history of awarding custody of children to mothers in U.S. family courts, times have changed. Fathers have often stepped up and requested fair treatment by family courts. This includes being considered for full or joint custody as well as significant parenting time.

How approaches to custody have changed over the years

When parents in California get a divorce, they may need to reach an agreement on child custody. It is increasingly common for parents to use mediation to create this agreement instead of going to court. A custody agreement addresses both legal and physical custody. The former refers to which parent will have the right to make decisions about the child's health care, education, religion and other major issues. The latter is about where the child will live.

In 1980, mothers got sole custody in 80% of custody cases. However, there have been significant changes as more women are working outside the home and more men are encouraged to play a substantial role in the lives of their children. In 2008, mothers got sole custody in just 42% of cases. Meanwhile, joint custody has been on the rise, going from 5% to 27% for custody arrangements in which the child splits time equally between parents and from 3% to 18% in situations where the time was spent unequally.

The consequences of losing parental rights

In some cases, the state of California or another relevant entity will determine that a person is not fit to raise his or her child. There is also the possibility that an individual will voluntarily terminate his or her rights to a son or daughter. When this happens, that individual is generally no longer required to pay child support or otherwise care for the minor in question. For all intents and purposes, it is as if the child and parent were never related.

This means that a former parent may not be able to see or otherwise interact with the child. It's important to note that parents cannot give up their rights to their children without some sort of justification. It may also be necessary to have the other parent's blessing before doing so. However, those who are able to terminate their rights voluntarily generally do so by filling out a form consenting to the termination.

Will your military service impact child custody during a divorce?

One of the most practical benefits of joining any of the branches of the United States armed forces is the pay scale that considers the size of your family. The housing funds you receive, as well as your cost-of-living allowance, will reflect the size of your family to better enable you to support your dependents.

When you have a spouse and children, their role in your life can impact the amount of pay you earn as a military member. During the course of your marriage, your military service can benefit your family as well as the country. Still, service can place a lot of strain on a couple, which can eventually lead to divorce.

The advantages and pitfalls of a strategic divorce

Wealthy couples in California and around the country sometimes go through what is known a strategic divorce. This is a divorce that's filed by spouses who still have a happy relationship but would be better off financially if they were single. The number of strategic divorces increased after the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2018, and analysts expect another surge in strategic divorce filings if the tax plans proposed by politicians such as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are implemented. However, there are situations where spouses with more moderate means may wish to consider a strategic divorce.

A strategic divorce could make sense if one of the spouses wishes to qualify for Medicaid to cover nursing home costs or financial assistance to pay college tuition. In these situations, the divorce settlement could leave the spouse who is seeking benefits with assets that would allow them to qualify. The alternative to divorce in such a situation could be depleting savings that have taken a lifetime to accumulate.

Helping kids handle custody changes

When parents in California separate or divorce, many are committed to staying fully present in the lives of their children. Joint or shared custody is increasingly common so that each parent has around half of the time with the kids. However, while joint custody can be extremely beneficial for children's emotional development and well-being, it can also come with complex situations during custody transfers. When kids move from one house to another, the process can be difficult and emotionally challenging. It is important for families to take steps to prepare for positive custody swaps in order to make them a better experience for kids.

While people may have some challenges communicating with their former spouse after the divorce, co-parenting requires communication. People will need to plan where custody transitions will take place and what time they will happen. Planning in advance can help avoid miscommunication. Sometimes, the other partner may request a change to the custody schedule; when possible, it can be good to be flexible. After all, each parent is likely to need flexibility at some point. In addition, the kids can be involved in the communication process. When they know what to expect, they are less likely to get upset or feel anxiety during the transition, especially when younger kids are involved.

Figuring out what to do with the house during a split

For many California couples going through the divorce process, the family home is the most valuable asset. Deciding what to do with it often becomes a major point of contention during property division negotiations. Couples have a few ways they can go about splitting up the home.

The first step in the process is figuring out how much the property is worth. Market value is just one of the things that matter. To figure out the market value, the spouses should hire an appraiser. It is a good idea to hire the appraiser together, but if both hire separate appraisers and they return with very different numbers, then a third appraiser will be needed to settle the value. If the house is mortgaged, the home's equity must be calculated to figure out the worth of each spouse's share.

Modification of child custody: Things to know

When you divorce, you'll work with your ex-spouse to create a child custody agreement that's mutually acceptable to both individuals. However, as the days go by, you may realize that a child custody agreement modification is necessary to maintain order.

While a modification of child custody is often necessary if your ex neglects to follow the terms and conditions, this isn't always the cause. For example, as your children get older, they may be involved in more extracurricular activities. This may call for a change of the child custody and visitation agreements.

Minor issues do not need to cause a divorce

In California and across the United States, chances of getting divorced exist even before couples pronounce their wedding vows. Marriages may have better prospects for survival when each partner comprehends their unique personality characteristics that can lead to divorce. Even though every person has some bad habits, being accountable for them can yield positive results in a marriage. According to professional marriage counselors and family law attorneys, people can take control of their marriages by mastering their negative personality quirks.

A process called "catastrophizing" can cause a marriage to fail. Making mountains out of molehills can lead to serious marital problems and emotional distress, including chronic depression and anxiety-related issues. It does not take much to get a spouse so irritated that they head for divorce court. Forgetting to put the cap back on a tube of toothpaste is enough for someone to file for divorce. Harmless events cause a spouse to catastrophize to a point where negative reactions do not match actual incidents.

Millennials are behind the rise in prenups

It is not just California residents who are interested in prenups. A recent study that involved surveying divorce attorneys showed that the number of clients requesting prenuptial agreements is on the rise across the nation, and it seems like millennial clients are behind it.

Millennials are interested in protecting their assets. While millennials do not own the same amount of hard assets, like property, as did previous generations, they do have significant assets that they are interested in protecting when going into marriage. In case a divorce does happen, they want to be able to protect the investments they have made in startup businesses, the tech industry and the stock market. One study showed that about 7 in 10 millennials have invested in something.

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  • OCBA | Orange Country Bar Associations
  • United States Court Of Appeals | Ninth Circuit
  • State Bar Of California
  • Federal Bar Association
  • AV Preeminent For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability 2014
  • AV Preeminent For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability 2018
  • State Bar Of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization
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