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Los Angeles Family Law Blog

How California courts decide child custody issues

Like those in other states, the courts of California will create parenting plans and make child custody decisions based on what the court sees as the best interests of the child.

The phrase best interests of the child basically means that, when deciding child custody, the court is always going to consider what is beneficial for the child over and above the desires of the adults in the child's life, include the child's parents.

What is a Certified Family Law Specialist?

Although it is not as commonplace as in other professions, attorneys can and do specialize in particular areas of the law. These specializations can be somewhat unofficial. For instance, a lawyer who does a lot of personal injury work could tout her years of experience representing clients and also point to her general knowledge and other credentials.

However, to call oneself a Certified Family Law Specialist in California, one has to go through a formal examination of their knowledge and must also pass other specific requirements set forth by the California bar.

Divorce litigation: When to get aggressive

As you think about your future, your kids and your decision to file for divorce, you may feel a bit anxious and stressed. It's understandable. After all, you'll have to negotiate many issues with your soon-to-be ex. It can be awkward, at first, to discuss such topics, especially if you've been married a long time. Your children, as well, may encounter challenges as they adjust to their parents living in separate households. It's also understandable that you want to keep the peace, if possible.

You don't want to seek revenge for all the hurt your spouse caused you in your marriage. You also don't want to spend every penny you have, locking horns with your spouse in court. If your spouse is quite angry that you're filing for divorce and has sworn to make things tough on you, you'll want to be prepared for aggressive litigation, if necessary. Knowing when and how to aggressively litigate divorce may be key factors toward obtaining a positive outcome.

Self-employment income is included in child support figures

Many of the wealthiest residents of Los Angeles and the rest of Southern California are so precisely because they are self-employed. While many people who go into business for themselves have a rough go with it at the outset, once a business takes off and succeeds, a Californian can do very well indeed.

As is the case with parents who work for a company as employees, California law adheres to the view that children are entitled to share some of their parents' good fortune. At a minimum, parents must meet their children's basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education. Additionally, a child is supposed to, to some extent, share in his or her parent's standard of living.

How are stock options divided in a divorce or separation?

As we have discussed in earlier blog posts, California is a community property state. This means that in a divorce or a separation, the general rule is that anything which is considered marital property, or community property, will get divided 50-50.

While this may make things simpler for some couples, for high-net worth individuals, the process of dividing their property may be difficult for a lot of reasons. For instance, Los Angeles residents who make a lot of money often hold professional jobs which provide a lot of valuable fringe benefits, including stock options.

Vaccinations and child custody

As those who follow the news may know, parents in the Los Angeles area and other parts of California more and more have strong feelings, one way or the other, about common childhood vaccinations that the medical community continues to recommend.

Some parents support the prevailing views of doctors, while others are not so sure that the risks of vaccines have been fully vetted.

Dividing complex assets requires special skill

Many people from all walks of life, but particularly those who earn a lot of income or have high net worth, may have their wealth tied up in assets that are difficult to put a precise value on. We've already discussed the difficulties of putting a value on a privately-held business, for instance.

However, there are other types of assets that, while worth a lot, just are not as easy to get a price tag on as, say, a car, a 401(k) or even a typical piece of residential real estate. For instance, many people may hold an interest in valuable collections, furniture or artwork, all examples of assets that cannot be evaluated without some skill and expertise.

Child support for high income earners

Like other states, California has Child Support Guidelines in place, and judges are supposed to use the formula prescribed in these Guidelines to calculate a parent's child support obligation.

In many if not most cases, the Guidelines ensure that a Los Angeles parent's child support will be a fair and reasonable amount that is consistent with other support orders across the state. However, there are some special situations in which strictly applying the Guidelines might not be fair.

What does co-parenting entail?

Many residents of Los Angeles have probably heard the phrase co-parenting mentioned among parents who live in separate households. Even many of the celebrities who live in this area have indicated that they practice co-parenting in their relationships.

The idea behind co-parenting is that it enables children to feel that they can and in fact do have a quality relationship with both of their parents. This has been shown to help children adjust after their parents end their romantic relationship with each other, assuming one ever existed in the first place.

Tips for avoiding property division mistakes

Going through a divorce is no one's idea of a good time. Certainly, you may feel that the process is worth it because you will no longer be in an unhappy marriage, but it can still prove draining to go through all the necessary proceedings. At certain points, you may find yourself at a standstill because you and your ex cannot come to an agreement.

This type of scenario is not uncommon during the property division portion of the divorce. In fact, this part is known for becoming particularly contentious because spouses often have differing views on who should get what or how much. It is also possible that your ex could lie or even try to hide assets, so you may want to try to avoid some common mistakes associated with property division.

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  • LACBA | The Los Angeles County Bar Association

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