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. 

 

Annulment

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.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Understanding Child Custody in California

Legal custody- The right to make decisions and the right to obtain information.  

Physical Custody- Who the children will live with and the percentage of time the children will spend with each parent. 

Joint Custody- This can be used to describe either joint legal custody (the right to jointly make decisions about the children) or joint physical custody. Joint physical custody means both parents spend substantial time with the children. However, the term is most often used to describe parents having an equal timeshare with their children. 

Visitation- The actual schedule. A visitation order explicitly sets forth which days the children will spend with each parent. It also describes the time, place, and manner in which the exchanges will happen. 

Legal Custody
Courts will almost always award joint legal custody to the parents. This allows each parent to be involved in making decisions pertaining to the health care, education and day care for the children.

Joint legal custody gives each parent the right to obtain information about their children, their children's schools, their doctors, etc. It also requires each parent to notify the other if the children have any medical emergencies or are scheduled to undergo any non-routine medical treatment.  No prior consultation is required for routine checkups or minor illnesses.

Without joint legal custody, a parent cannot obtain information about his or her child from the child’s school or doctor; nor will that parent be able to take his or her child to any doctor for treatment if the child is injured.

Physical Custody
California has a policy that each parent should have frequent and continuous contact with their children; or, rather, children have a right to frequent and continuing contact with each of their parents. There is no standard physical custody order because each family has a unique set of circumstances which must be taken into consideration. The court considers a number of factors and then fashions an order that it believes will be in the children’s best interest.

Here are some factors the court considers:

·         Work Schedules: What is the schedule of each parent?
·         School Schedules: Will visitation interrupt the children’s schooling?
·         Distance: How far apart do the parents live?
·         Violence: Is there any history of domestic violence?
·         Drug/Alcohol Abuse: Are there any substance abuse issues?
·         Abuse/Neglect: Is one of the parents a danger to the children?
·         Mental Illness: Are there any mental health issues?
·         Living Quarters: Do the parents have room for the children?
·         Alienation: Is one of the parents attempting to alienate the children against the other parent?
·         Desire: Is there a particular schedule the parents are seeking?
·         Wishes of the children: Are the children old enough to choose?
·         Stability: Can each parent provide a stable home?
·         Comfort level: Is one of the parents in a situation which makes it uncomfortable for the children to visit?

The policy of providing each parent with frequent and continuing contact can only be overcome for limited reasons. All things being equal, the court will attempt to establish a joint physical custody schedule so the children's time is split nearly equally between each parent's home.
Joint physical custody does not have to be structured in any specific way. It could be a week-on, week-off schedule, or even an every-other-day schedule. It could also be that one parent has most weekends and the other has weekdays.

If joint physical custody is awarded, the children cannot move out of the area without an agreement between the parents or a court order. Any move that will make it more difficult for the other parent to exercise visitation cannot be made without prior approval.  Parents risk losing custody if they move the children without a court order

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why Should I Consult an Atorney?

        Even if you do not believe you need one, consult an attorney before you file for divorce. An attorney is the only person qualified to give you legal advice. A short consultation will help you assess your legal needs. An attorney will help you explore these questions: 

 

·         Should I file first?

·         Where will my case be heard?

·         Are there any emergency papers that must be filed?

·         Are there any reasons I should act immediately?

·         What are the legal issues?

·         Can an agreement be reached outside of court?

·         How complicated is my case?

·         What are my rights?

·         What are my responsibilities to my spouse?

·         What type of custody arrangement can I expect?

·         How much money will I get?

·         How do I get child support?

·         How long will spousal support last?

·         How much money will I have to pay?

·         How much will the divorce cost?

·         How long will it take?

·         How should we divide our assets?

·         How should we divide our debts?

·         Should discovery be conducted?

·         What will happen to our home?

·         Do I need a restraining order?

·         What information do I need to resolve my case?

·         Do I need an attorney?

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Initial Consultation: Interviewing Attorneys

Even if you do not believe you need one, consult an attorney. An attorney is the only person qualified to give you legal advice. A short consultation will help you assess your legal needs. An attorney will help you explore these questions: 

 

·         Should I file first?

·         Where will my case be heard?

·         Are there any emergency papers that must be filed?

·         Are there any reasons I should act immediately?

·         What are the legal issues?

·         Can an agreement be reached outside of court?

·         How complicated is my case?

·         What are my rights?

·         What are my responsibilities to my spouse?

·         What type of custody arrangement can I expect?

·         How much money will I get?

·         How do I get child support?

·         How long will spousal support last?

·         How much money will I have to pay?

·         How much will the divorce cost?

·         How long will it take?

·         How should we divide our assets?

·         How should we divide our debts?

·         Should discovery be conducted?

·         What will happen to our home?

·         Do I need a restraining order?

·         What information do I need to resolve my case?

·         Do I need an attorney?

 

If you determine that you need to hire an attorney, you will then need to select one.  This is an 

important decision because a good attorney will help you through the divorce.