From the 1970s, the legal regime governing family issues in California has undergone a tremendous change. Nowadays, people treat sexes differently, leading to changes in the family structure.
In the past, the husband was the principal decision-maker in almost all issues affecting the family. Divorce was frowned upon, deemed to be scandalous, and it rarely happened. It was tough for a person to obtain a divorce because the party filing for divorce had to show the court that his/her estranged spouse was unfaithful, cruel, or violated a significant law.
In 1970, the Family Law Act was ratified by Governor Ronald Reagan. This act perpetuated the entire overhaul of the former draconian family laws in California and the whole of the United States. Because of this act, individuals who would like to obtain a divorce do not have to prove fault committed by their spouses. Also, the act advocates for joint custody, unlike in the past, where the full custody of children was always given to the mother.
Currently, the California family law system is complicated; and it covers a wide array of areas. Get in touch with the San Diego Family Attorney today if you would like to consult a Bonita family lawyer about your situation. We offer professional legal help to resolve your family problems. Read on to know more about our practice areas.
The California adoption process is not straightforward, though many orphaned and neglected children need a comfortable home. If you intend to adopt a child, you will have to enter into an adoption agreement with the child’s caregiver. When the adoption process is complete, you will assume all the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent.
Various factors can influence how the adoption process works. Some of these factors include the residence of the child you would like to adopt, the child’s biological parents, and the circumstances that have influenced the life of the child. For this process to be successful, you must liaise with an experienced adoption attorney.
You can choose to adopt a child whom you know or one who is completely strange to you. Most individuals who adopt children they already know include stepparents and relatives. Often, such children do not have caring biological parents; or their home life may have been disrupted.
You must involve the State Government of California in the adoption process. This is because adoption is a legal process, and it consists of the transfer of rights and responsibilities from one parent to another. The government ensures that the best interests of the child are taken into consideration during the adoption process. Individuals who would like to adopt a child must undergo a comprehensive background check, as well as a home assessment for the government to ascertain whether the home is suitable for a child to reside.
Even when the adoption process is complete, and you have moved in with the child, the government will still conduct periodic checks to evaluate whether the child is safe. A social worker will visit your home frequently to find out if the best interests of the child are protected, and you are fully meeting his/her needs.
You can adopt a child in Bonita using two ways. You may opt to deal with an adoption agency or work directly with the Department of Child Services. Adoption agencies are mostly not-for-profit corporations, which accept children from their biological parents. These parents entrust the agencies to find them a suitable home. On the other hand, you may work independently with the Department of Child Services if you have already identified the child you would like to adopt, and you know his/her biological parents.
California is a no-fault divorce state, and you don’t have to prove that your spouse did something wrong for the court to grant you a divorce. All you need to say is that you have irreconcilable differences, without even specifying what these differences are. Also, it isn’t a requirement for your spouse to agree to the divorce.
Though this process may seem to be straightforward, it is emotionally draining to you and your loved ones. If you don’t hire an attorney to help you with the divorce, some of your rights will be violated.
You can consider using alternative dispute resolution to negotiate the terms of your divorce, especially if you can still relate well with your partner. Alternative dispute resolution will help you save money and time, as well as control the outcome of the proceedings. However, if you fail to agree, the court will decide all the terms of the divorce, including alimony, custody, and child support.
Alimony and Taxes
You should consider some crucial tax implications if you are receiving or paying alimony. The term alimony refers to the amount of money one spouse should pay the other for support and maintenance after separation. You must know how alimony can affect your tax obligations before including it in your separation agreement.
Alimony can only begin when a family law court case is opened. A partner or spouse can request for alimony during divorce, annulments, legal separation, and domestic violence restraining orders. The primary purpose of alimony is to ensure the low-income earning spouse maintains his/her standard of living that he/she was used to during the existence of the marriage.
You must follow certain rules when paying or receiving alimony to fulfill your tax obligations. This is because the alimony payment moves from a high-tax bracket to a low-tax bracket. The high-income earning spouse may save some money that is meant for the IRS, though the recipient's tax brackets will remain unchanged.
You have an option of making the alimony non-deductible and non-taxable, provided you both agree. This is especially in situations where the recipient partner doesn't wish to notify the IRS of the income, and the paying partner does not want a tax deduction.
However, not all disbursements of alimony qualify for tax deductions. If you would wish to have the IRS deduct payable taxes from the alimony, there are specific requirements you must fulfill. These requirements include:
- Making payments by check or in cash
- Not paying the alimony in advance
- Presenting the paperwork and designating payments as taxable and deductible
- Not filing tax returns jointly with your spouse or former spouse
- Not describing alimony as child support or a share of assets payment
- Being clear that when the recipient dies, the payments will cease
- Not living together with your spouse or former spouse
These requirements are mind-boggling, and it can be challenging for you to understand all of them. There are other financial considerations that we have also not mentioned, but you must be aware of them when negotiating for alimony. You may not be in the proper state of mind to understand all the IRS requirements during separation or divorce. This is why you must consult an alimony tax attorney to help you get the best deal.
You will always feel disappointed and stressed up when ending your marriage. Your emotions may run high, and bitterness and anger may make you stop reasoning soundly and logically.
If you decide to end your marriage, you must consider all the available options. There are two ways in which a Bonita resident can terminate his/her marriage: divorce and annulment.
Divorce is the most common way of ending marriages in our society today. You may consult an attorney seeking how to file divorce proceedings, but you end up discovering that annulment is the best fit for you.
When you opt for an annulment, the court will declare your marriage invalid; and it will be deemed as if it never existed. The main distinction between a divorce and an annulment is that divorce terminates an already existing domestic partnership or marriage, while an annulment nullifies a partnership or marriage that was void from the start. When the annulment process is complete, the court will declare the two parties unmarried.
Before the judge declares your marriage invalid, he will evaluate whether you meet at least one of the specified grounds for an annulment. According to California marriage laws, the grounds for annulment include:
- Incest: Domestic partnerships and marriages between blood relatives are invalid and illegal.
- Physical incapacity: You have a spouse or partner who is impotent and cannot take part in normal sexual activities, and his/her condition is incurable.
- Bigamy: If a person who is already married enters into another marriage with someone else, the second marriage is void.
- Underage: The marriage ceremony took place when one of the parties was below 18 years old.
- Force: If your partner or spouse obtained your consent for marriage by force, you could apply for an annulment.
- Fraud: Your current spouse may have used fraudulent means to obtain your consent. For instance, a partner may hide essential facts that can affect your union, such as incapacity to conceive, having another child, or a prior criminal conviction.
- Unsound mind: One of the parties may not have been in the right state of mind at the time when the marriage was celebrated. He/she may have been intoxicated or have a mental problem that prevents him/her from making reasonable decisions.
You should contact a family lawyer to help you in the annulment process if you believe that you've met any of the above-listed grounds. A family attorney will help you prove your situation.
After a separation, lengthy illness, or loss of employment, you can find yourself having huge debts that you are unable to pay. During this situation, the best available option for you is to declare bankruptcy to keep your creditors off your back.
Of course, you may not wish to be declared bankrupt; because it can taint your reputation and self-image. However, you’ve possibly tried your best to avoid it; but to no avail. Maybe you have sold some of your stuff, or lowered your living standards.
You shouldn’t feel ashamed when you have made a decision to file for bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, it implies that you are willing to work on your finances and become stable again.
Filing for bankruptcy is a hectic and tedious process, and this is why you must have an attorney by your side who is extensively experienced in this field. When the court declares you bankrupt, most of your major debts will be canceled. Also, the court will allow all your creditors to receive a share of the money that you can raise. Your creditors will not be permitted to sue, call, write to you, or use any method to demand their money. Furthermore, bankruptcy can stop any garnishee proceedings against you, home foreclosure, and repossession of property.
There are several chapters under California’s bankruptcy laws that enlist how individuals can obtain debt relief. Among them, the most common are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
Chapter 7 provides for liquidation bankruptcy – a process supervised by the court that permits the defaulter to discharge or eliminate any outstanding debt that qualifies for discharge. You can file for bankruptcy under chapter 13 if you are not eligible for chapter 7 because you have a high income, but you are unwilling to surrender your property.
The term 'child custody' means the legal rights and responsibilities that parents exercise over their children. Child custody cases are emotionally draining, because you may feel threatened that your estranged partner is taking your children away from you.
During the child custody process, the court will decide where the child will live and who will make major decisions affecting him/her. The court will also grant visitation rights to the parent who does not obtain custody over the child.
According to California family laws, one parent can gain sole custody of the children; or both parents can share custody. The overall law that the court considers when determining which parent should have custody is the principle of the best interests of the child. The court may refuse to give you child custody if you are known to be irresponsible, a drug or alcohol addict, or a criminal.
There are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody determines who will make significant decisions affecting the child, including his/her education, healthcare, religious activities, extracurricular activities, travel, and residence. Legal custody can be either sole or joint. On the contrary, physical custody determines which parent the child would live with. Just like legal custody, physical custody can also be either sole or joint.
A parent whom the court awards sole custody is commonly referred to as the custodial parent, while the other one is the noncustodial parent. The custodial parent may live with the children, but the court will grant the noncustodial parent visitation rights. These visitation rights may be scheduled, reasonable, or supervised. However, if it is found out that the noncustodial parent may cause mental, physical, or emotional harm to the child, the court will not permit him/her to visit the child.
The court may order one spouse to pay the other spouse a specific amount of money to help bring up the child. Often, the parent who has primary custody is the one who receives child support payment. However, the court can still order child support payments in cases where both parents have joint custody, especially if one of them is in a high-income bracket.
Child support payments are meant to cover expenses brought about by childcare, including medical costs, daycare expenses, food, clothing, and extracurricular activities, among others. The court will determine the value of the child support during divorce proceedings, alongside child custody and visitation rights.
When determining the amount of child support, the court will primarily consider the child’s best interests. It will also use several guidelines, and some of them include:
- The total income of both parents
- Daycare expenses cost
- The number of children both parents have
- Retirement contributions
- How much time each parent spends with the child
- Mandatory union dues
- Healthcare bills
- The tax-filing status of both parents
- Whether one of them makes support payments to any child of other relationships
Child support law is intricate, and this is why you should hire a knowledgeable attorney who will represent your needs properly. Furthermore, if you are uncomfortable with the value of the child support payment, you can apply for it to be modified. You can use several reasons to show the court why you would like the child support payment to be adjusted. For instance, the paying parent can tell the court that he/she lost his/her sources of income, while the receiving parent may assert that the childcare costs have risen.
Sometimes, the paying parent may refuse to pay or stop paying child support. In such a situation, you should petition the court to make orders enforcing the payment, including garnishee proceedings and property seizure.
Find a Bonita Family Law Attorney Near Me
Family law cases are complicated. Each of them is unique, just the way each family is. You should hire a compassionate, dedicated, and experienced Bonita family law attorney to help you. We at the San Diego Family Attorney know that you have gone through a lot, and you need the best representation. Call us today for a free consultation at 619-610-7425.