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Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Blog

Establishing paternity first step in determining child custody

When a relationship that involves children comes to an end there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. For most parents, the child custody arrangement is at the top of the list. This makes sense when one considers that in many situations children are the biggest priority for parents.

Before custody arrangements can be determined exactly who the parents are must be established. While in most cases, particularly where the couple who is splitting is married, this is a foregone conclusion, other times a father must take steps to prove that he is, in fact the child's biological father. In the state of California paternity can be established by both the mother and father of the child by signing a voluntary Declaration of Paternity.

Financial spring cleaning can ease divorce process

The end of a California marriage is a process of personal renewal, and is often a doorway into a more positive future for all involved. When beginning the divorce process, there are several tasks that can make a significant difference in the final outcome. With warmer weather and winter in the rearview mirror, many of these tasks can feel like a form of spring cleaning, especially those related to financial matters.

One way that spouses can improve their financial standing during and after divorce is to understand the full breakdown of family finances before the divorce begins. By understanding the family's income, assets and debts, spouses are better prepared to work through the various choices within the property division process. Simply put: it is impossible to know where you need to be without first understanding where you are coming from.

Paltrow/Martin divorce can give insight to others

Within American popular culture, there are certain celebrities that many of us love to hate. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is certainly among those who provoke the ire of many in California, although she has certainly had a successful career. With the recent announcement of Paltrow's divorce from Coldplay front man Chris Martin, the media has had something of a field day, in no small part due to Paltrow's use of the term "conscious uncoupling" to describe the end of her marriage.

Conscious uncoupling, however, is not a term coined by the actress; it is a therapeutic approach developed some years ago. Those who choose this manner of dissolving their union do so based on a desire to remove much of the tension and contention within many divorce cases. At the center of the approach is the goal of recognizing and controlling the negative sides of each spouse's personality. This includes the part of us that is based on fear, misconceptions and bad habits that can impede a positive end to a relationship.

Divorce rates up for some demographics, down for others

When considering divorce statistics, it is important to understand how those numbers are calculated. Many of the data we use to research marriage and divorce comes from surveys, in which participants voluntarily answer questions about their lives and their choices. In looking at the results of these studies, however, it is important to note that the picture that may emerge is based on the experience of those particular respondents, and is not always accurate on a wider scale.

One recently completed study took a look at divorce rates, and determined that divorces may actually be on the rise. This contradicts much of recent social science work which has asserted that divorce rates are declining, in California and elsewhere. Here again, the conclusions were based upon survey data, and could be subject to reinterpretation in the years to come.

Supreme Court rules unanimously on domestic violence issue

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that anyone pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge will be banned from possessing a gun.  This even includes misdemeanor domestic violence charges and cases where there was no proof of physical injury or violence.

The ruling concerned a federal law where Congress had banned anyone convicted of felony or misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a gun.  This ruling also restores charges made against an individual for illegal gun possession which had been dismissed by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.  This individual had been charged with violating federal gun laws when he was found to possess firearms in 2009.

The mediating of child custody disputes in California

California is the first state to require child custody or visitation disputes to be mediated. There is concern that such mandatory custody mediation, however, could place victims of domestic violence in an unfavorable position. As domestic violence is estimated to be a factor in close to a third of marriages, this concern is not trivial. Besides the obvious discomfort, parties may not be placed in a position of equal power as would be hoped.

One commentator acknowledges that there are circumstances where mediation is not going to work out for divorcing couples. There are certain individuals that have no interest in taking part in any negotiation and instead will never be satisfied unless they win on every issue.

Re-entering the workforce after divorce can be a good thing

At the end of a California marriage, many women who have been stay-at-home mothers will have to return to at least part-time employment. For some, the prospect of going back to work is full of fear and uncertainty. There are a number of changes that come with any divorce, and fear of change is a significant part of the human psyche. When preparing for a return to work, it is important to understand that there are a number of positive benefits that accompany this particular change.

One thing that will happen almost immediately upon a return to work is a marked expansion within your social network. You will meet a wide range of new people, some of whom may become close friends. In addition, many former stay-at-home moms are invigorated upon returning to an interactive environment with their peers. Parenthood has its own rewards, but recognition for a job well done is often not among them.

Smart financial moves prior to and during a divorce

As spring begins, many California residents are ready to make a number of changes in their lives. For some, ending an untenable marriage is at the top of that list. In making this type of significant life change, however, there are risks involved, many of which are financial in nature. Spouses must act to protect their financial interests as they begin the divorce process in order to avoid financial losses.

One example lies in a failure to separate one's financial life from that of their soon-to-be-ex. Failing to close joint accounts can result in one spouse racking up charges that both will be held responsible for. In addition, spouses should open one or two lines of credit in their own name, which can help increase their credit score over a period of time. Doing so can help ensure that you have access to a line of credit if and when you need it.

Structured routines the key to success in visitation

At the end of many California marriages, parents become entrenched in a type of battle stance, in which each side is defensive against the other and ready to strike out over even minor items of contention. This, however, is not the best scenario in which to create a custody and visitation plan that focuses on the needs of shared children. The kids who are at the center of a custody arrangement will seek stability and consistency between the household of both of their parents. When this stability is not present, a wide range of adjustment problems can result.

One way that parents can take the focus off of their own interpersonal issues and refocus on the needs of their kids is to look for commonalities in how they would like to structure their new households. Whenever possible, shared routines should be put into place, so that kids can sense a degree of consistence when moving between the two homes. Routines can be as simple as eating dinner together every night, or setting aside a dedicated hour to work on homework or other school projects.

Living together may not increase risk of divorce

It has long been assumed that California couples who make the decision to move in together prior to getting married have a greater risk of divorce than those who wait until the knot has been tied. This belief has been supported by numerous studies in which researchers noted that couples who cohabitate had greater divorce rates. The belief has been a part of the dialogue among social scientists who study divorce for many years, and has become commonly accepted among the public, as well.

A recent study took a closer look at this data, and reached a far different conclusion. Researchers looked at data from thousands of women who were married, and their responses to the National Survey of Family Growth. The result was the determination that it is the age at which an individual chooses to marry, and not their decision to cohabitate, that leads to a greater risk of divorce.