Friday, May 15, 2015

Paternity Actions:

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will my case take?

There is no set time for a paternity action. Most cases are resolved within one court hearing, which takes about six weeks to obtain. However, if there the court needs additional information to make a decision, there could be additional court hearings.


How does paternity differ from divorce?

The issues surrounding a paternity case are simple. The court only has to resolve four things: paternity, child support, child custody and child visitation. A divorce involves multiple other issues, such as dividing property and debts. Additionally, there is no waiting period in a paternity case. A judgment can be entered after the first hearing and usually does not require a trial whereas a divorce has a “waiting period” before the marriage can be dissolved.

Is there any way to speed up the process?

Yes. The parties can agree on who the father of the child is. This will avoid a paternity test, but both parties must be 100% sure before entering into such an agreement. However, getting into court requires the parties to wait for their court date. Many other people also have disputes and need a court hearing, as well. One has to wait his or her turn.

Is there any way to avoid court?

You can avoid having to go to court altogether if you and the other parent agree to the terms of the judgment from the outset. If you cannot agree, you will have to go to court at least once.

Does it matter who files first?

While it usually does not matter who files first, there are some times when it will make a difference. The most common reasons are: there is a controversy over venue or there is an allegation of domestic violence. There are other instances when timing matters. Discuss the “how” and “when” of filing with your attorney because each person’s situation is different.

How do I keep the kids spending time with the other parent’s friend?

If the other parent is in a new relationship and you do not like the person around your children, there is very little you can do. You cannot withhold visitation, nor can you dictate what the other parent does during his or her time with the children. It is up to the other parent to make good decisions for the children and act in their best interest when he or she is with them. This is a parenting decision and the court will defer to the parent. However, if this new person poses a danger to your children, the court will intervene and not allow him or her around your children.

How do I make sure the other parent spends child support on our children?

You cannot dictate what the other parent does with support money.  The court has no power to oversee how the money is being spent. Support money can be spent as that parent sees fit. If you believe the other parent is not spending the support on the children and your children are being neglected, you should petition the court for full custody.

I am not receiving support, what do I do?

There are multiple ways to obtain and enforce a court order for support. Start by notifying your lawyer. If your spouse is not paying support, do not withhold visitation. Those are separate issues. You can lose custody of your children if you withhold visitation.

How can I be sure the child is mine?

Genetic testing is available in most instances. You can ask the court to order testing, which is a relatively quick and inexpensive process.

We agree, will the judge approve the orders?

If you and your spouse have an agreement, the court will approve the agreement and make it a court order even if your agreement is something the court would not, or could not, order on its own.


Can I move out of state with the children?

It is extremely difficult to move out of state if the other parent objects. It requires permission from the court or the other parent. Even if the father is not listed on the birth certificate, consult an attorney before you move.

Who pays for our children’s college?

Child support orders terminate when the first one of these events occur:

·        The child turns eighteen (18) years of age and is already a high school graduate,

·        If the child is still a full-time high school student and living with a parent when he or she turns 18, child support is paid until the child graduates from high school or reaches age nineteen (19) years, whichever occurs first,

·        The child dies,

·        The child becomes emancipated,

·        The court changes or terminates the order.


There is no obligation for a parent to help pay for college once child support is terminated.

Can I change the orders later?

Orders concerning custody, visitation, and child support are always modifiable. However, once a judgment is entered, the court may require a change of circumstances even to change a modifiable order.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hollywood Madam comes to Hemet

Former "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss recently appeared in our Hemet courthouse to defend a restraining order against her former girlfriend, Julie Bailey-Savage. The two met while incarcerated, and then began living together in Temecula. Among other allegations, Ms. Bailey-Savage claimed that Ms.Fleiss' birds attacked her on several occasions. After a day of testimony, a two-year restraining order was issued against Ms. Fleiss. The former madam then asked one of the court deputies for his cell phone number. He declined the offer.

New courthouse planned

Riverside county is planning to build a new courthouse in the next few years. Expected to be completed in 2018, the courthouse will be located in Menifee, near the 215 freeway and Newport. The courthouse will be located in the Menifee Town Center. It will replace the aging Temecula and Hemet courthouses. The new courthouse will house all family law and probate matters for Southern Riverside county, allowing the matters to be heard in a central location. Menifee was chosen as the new location due to the rapidly growing populations in the Temecula and Murrieta areas.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Alternatives to Divorce

There are several other choices one should consider before the filing for divorce in California, these are:

Summary dissolution

A summary dissolution is actually a type of divorce proceeding. It is a simplified divorce process that few people qualify for. The requirements are:
  • Both parties must sign the papers
  • Each spouse has only limited assets
  • Each spouse has only limited debts
  • Neither spouse has any real property
  • There are no children of the marriage
  • The date of marriage is within five years of the filing of the action
  • Neither spouse is asking for spousal support
In theory, a summary dissolution can be completed without the assistance of an attorney. Many clients want an attorney to handle their case anyway, for convenience and peace of mind. 



An annulment voids the marriage, and, in the eyes of the law, the marriage never happened. There is no six-month waiting period like in divorce actions, but a court trial is mandatory even if the other spouse agrees to the annulment. A short marriage is not automatically annulled, and changing one’s mind after marriage is not a basis for an annulment. This action has very specific requirements. Marriages are usually annulled for fraud or bigamy. Some examples are:
·         Bigamy- one of the parties was already married
·         Fraud- the parties never intended to live together
·         Fraud- one of the parties never intended to have children
·         Fraud- the marriage was only for immigration purposes
An annulment is not sealed and is public record. Anyone can access information about the annulled marriage. Because an annulment always requires a court trial, it is as expensive—or even more expensive—than divorce. Many people who qualify for an annulment choose not to obtain one for these reasons.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is litigated just like a divorce. All the assets and debts are divided. Spousal support orders are made. If there are children, custody and child support are ordered. 

The only differences between a legal separation and a divorce are that a legal separation requires no waiting period and both spouses must agree to the legal separation. If both spouses do not agree, the matter automatically converts to a divorce.  If one spouse wishes to convert the legal separation into a divorce after the judgment is entered, he or she must then file new paperwork with the court to have the marriage dissolved. 

A legal separation is appropriate only in limited circumstances. The most common circumstances include:
·         Religious Reasons: the spouses' religious beliefs prohibit a divorce
·         Medical Insurance: one spouse needs the other spouse's medical insurance due to health reasons
·         Pension Benefits: one spouse will receive additional Social Security or Retirement benefits if they remain married
·         Residency Requirements: the spouses have not lived in the state or the county long enough to file for divorce

Most clients who inquire about legal separation are unsure of divorce. A legal separation is not a solution to a bad marriage. It should only be filed if the spouse has already decided the marriage is over and a divorce, for whatever reason, is not the best choice.

Physical Separation

Oftentimes, spouses physically separate long before paperwork is filed with the court. This usually means one spouse has moved out of the house, but not always. To be considered “physically separated,” one spouse must make the decision that the marriage is permanently broken and take action toward ending the marriage (like moving out or consulting with an attorney). If a spouse is uncertain as to whether the marriage should be saved, an alternative is to obtain a separate residence. This gives the parties time to work on the marriage before ending the relationship once and for all.