Child Custody Rights and Visitation

It’s the first of the year crunch, and with the kids back in school and parents back to business as usual after the holidays, it’s time to look forward to the next chance at a respite: spring break. For one mother, however, it isn’t looking like blue skies just yet. When she and her ex-husband divorced in Texas many years ago, they agreed upon alternating who gets child custody of the kids during school breaks. For example, Winter Break with Mom and President’s Week at Dad’s. But now they are both living in California, and their children get two weeks for Spring Break instead. So, the ex’s have agreed on splitting it. The mother in the story is planning a family reunion in Hawaii so her children can spend quality time with their sick grandfather. But, the only possible time for her whole family to make the trip is during the second week of her children’s spring break, which was supposed to be the father’s week.

When she and her ex-husband divorced in Texas many years ago, they agreed upon alternating who gets child custody of the kids during school breaks. For example, Winter Break with Mom and President’s Week at Dad’s. But now they are both living in California, and their children get two weeks for Spring Break instead. So, the ex’s have agreed amongst them on splitting it by week. The mother in the story is planning a family reunion in Hawaii so her children can spend quality time with their sick grandfather. But, the only possible time for her whole family to make the trip is during the second week of her children’s spring break, which was supposed to be the father’s week. The woman tells us that her ex-husband has a history of being needlessly inflexible for spite. She asks: what can she do to ensure that her kids will be able to come on this once in a lifetime family vacation?

Child Custody Rights and Visitation

Child Custody Rights and Visitation

Our first tip is to not jump the gun. Start by sending him a very polite letter asking him to switch weeks, send it via US Mail, and keep a copy. The purpose of this letter is to make her look good if she were to wind up in court. If this doesn’t do the trick, she has two options. Miss out on the vacation and go through the long legal process to change the child custody agreement. Or, ignore the spoken agreement herself, take her children to Hawaii and send the father a postcard. I can’t advise you to violate a court order, but this spring break schedule isn’t a court order. Will her ex-husband be mad? Sure. But she’ll be too far away and far too tan to be bothered!

For more on child custody and visitation, visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/child-custody-and-child-visitation

Landlord Tenant Law – Tenants Rights

Tenancy agreementReconciliation. Making amends. Getting back together. For some divorced couples, it isn’t just a laughable notion or a vastly unlikely fantasy. For some, it can actually happen. This seemed to be the future for one potential client, a woman who reports she and her ex-husband have agreed that their parting of ways was a mistake and that they’re currently trying to get back together. However, an outside force is blocking the couple and their son from coming together under the same roof. What is this outside force? The landlord of the ex-husband’s apartment.

The woman states that the landlord “will not allow me in or on the lease because they don’t want a divorced couple living together. They think it will cause domestic violence which was never the case or ever happened.” She has been sneaking into the apartment at night to see her family, otherwise, the landlord will evict her ex-husband and son. Her question is this: can the landlord really refuse to allow her to move back in just because she and her husband are divorced, and are trying to reconcile?

If the lease agreement is in her ex-husband’s name and she is not listed as an approved occupant, the landlord could terminate the lease if her ex-husband lets her stay there. However, simply not wanting a divorced couple to live there is by itself probably a violation (at least arguably) of some California fair housing laws. She should find a lawyer that handles landlord-tenant law, specializing in representing tenants rights, and see how best to tackle this situation. We all know it often takes a court case to split up, but who knew it could take another to get back together?

For more on landlord and tenant related real estate law, please visit our website:  http://stanprowse.com/landlord-tenant-law

 

 

Service of Process

Judge Reading Documents At Desk In Courtroom

The definition of the word “serve” in terms of the law is as follows: To deliver a legal document, especially a process or notice; to present a legal notice or subpoena to a person as required by law. The actual service of person isn’t nearly as glamorous as some of the TV shows or movies make it out to be- still, the issue of service, and whether it was done properly or improperly, can be a confusing one. Let’s look at one woman’s situation to help us gain a better understanding of the service of process, especially in family law matters.

She starts by telling us this: “I had my ex initially personally served with a motion to set aside our divorce judgment. After that all papers and related motions have been served on his attorney…”. Some of those related motions were need-based motions for attorney fees and costs, a motion to compel discovery, and things of that nature. The attorney whom she served with the motion papers remains her ex-husbands attorney of record through all of this. Her question: Was this service process correct? Or did her ex need to be personally served at the start of every separate motion?

Service on an attorney for a party, rather than on the party himself, is proper if the attorney has made an appearance for the party, either by filing a paper with the court on the party’s behalf, or stating in court that he represents the party.  If she started serving his attorney after he or she filed a paper on behalf of her ex husband, or showed up in court for her ex-husband, service on the attorney was proper. If she started ‘serving’ the attorney with papers before he or she appeared for her ex-husband, service of those papers was improper. However, filing a response to an improperly served motion would generally be considered a waiver of the impropriety. It sounds as if it is too late for her ex-husband to complain about improper service, if there is any to be found.

For more on the process of service, family law, and more, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com

Child Support Guidelines

Currency, Law, Divorce.Like most law firms, we want nothing more than to provide clients and potential clients with sound and helpful advice and information. However, when given only pieces of the puzzle regarding someone’s current situation, it is very difficult to provide an answer or reach a conclusion that is 100% accurate. Still, when armed with decades of experience, a bit of prior knowledge, and even some bits of the puzzle, we can at least get those seeking help started in the right direction. Here’s an example.

A potential client approached us with questions about estimating child support, and how much she would be likely to receive once her divorce was finalized. Her husband is already paying $600 a month for child support to his ex-wife and one child in Texas. She, on the other hand, lives in California and shares two kids with her husband. She wonders if she will get “anything close” to the $600 a month her husband’s ex-wife receives. We also know that she works part time and her husband works full time.

Again, answering this question completely with only generalities is next to impossible, but when life gives you lemons at least slice them up until you’re ready to make lemonade. So here is our stab at this woman’s case: six hundred is a pretty low number, and sounds like an order that’s been around for a while and never modified to reflect her husband’s current earnings. We also would guess that child support in Texas is less than in CA. Particularly since she only works part time and he works full time, it would be surprising if she didn’t get more than $600. But it depends on his gross income, her gross income, and the comparative time the kids are in her custody or in his. That’s the best we can do with the given information, but it should at least give her some foundation to build from.

For more information regarding child support, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/child-support

Domestic Violence and Spousal Support

AdobeStock_73154055.jpegA woman approached us with questions regarding issues with spousal support in her marriage that involved domestic violence. She reports that throughout the couples’ four year marriage she was unemployed. There were several instances of domestic violence and several police reports made, but no arrest of the husband ever occurred. Still, she was granted a DVTRO, or a domestic violence temporary restraining order, by their family court judge. However, she has been unable to locate her ex-husband to have him served with the restraining order. He is now suing her for spousal support. Her question: since she was a victim of domestic violence by him, can he still be granted spousal support and attorney fees? She continues to struggle to find a job and has been living on no income.

We advised her not to worry- because she is unemployed and has no income, no Court is going to make her pay spousal support, so that needn’t concern her until she gets a job. Even then, if he’s employed, chances are he would be making more money than his ex-wife, and he would be paying her spousal support. Nonetheless, she probably would not get more than two years of support from the date the couple separated – they had a short marriage. Unless she knows he’s working and getting a paycheck he can garnish, her first order of business should be to find work for herself.

For more information on domestic violence and spousal support, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/spousal-support-california

Civil Judgement: How to Collect

Past Due billA man was awarded $11,500 by the court in attorney fees after being sued by his ex-wife. As of now, she refuses to pay any of the fees. What’s more, she has also quit her job. This man seeks advice on how he can collect the payments he was awarded. That wasn’t all, however. He brought up the topic of child support. Due to her recent quittance, the amount of money he pays in child support increased. He wonders if there is some sort of paperwork he can file to discontinue his payment of child support until she repays the judgement.

The first thing we made sure he understood: his obligation to pay child support is entirely independent of his ex’s obligation to pay the judgement. He can file a motion to reduce the child support because time share has changed, or his income has gone down, or income should be imputed to her because she has the ability and opportunity to work, but not because she refuses to pay the judgment. Now, the question of enforcing a judgement all together. Collecting a judgment from someone who isn’t working and has no money in the bank is difficult. If she’s collecting public assistance, he can’t get his hands on it. Perhaps she has a car with equity in it, or expensive jewelry. He can send the Sheriff to ‘execute the judgment,’ or ‘levy,’ by seizing things like that, but they may turn out to be exempt if she argues about it. Threatening her with that might get her to start paying the fees, but it sounds as if she’s a tough cookie. This man needs to consult a lawyer and tell the lawyer everything he knows about her assets.

For more information on how to collect payment from a judgement and more, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/enforcing-a-judgement

Lease Agreements: What Happens in Divorce?

Mani con chiave sfondo azzurroA man recently approached us with a complicated situation. Though he and his wife mutually agreed that divorce was in their family’s best interest, her reaction was negative to say the least when he served her with divorce papers.  She promptly threatened to give 30 day notice to dissolve the lease agreement on the condo the couple rent, which, problematically for the husband, is leased only in her name. After those 30 days, she plans to move to another town, into an apartment where she has already cosigned a lease with her new boyfriend. To add fuel to the fire, the couple share a 12 year old daughter who wishes to remain with the father because she is afraid of her mother’s boyfriend. Of course, the mother wants custody of the daughter. This man states he can’t afford the rent on his own, and he believes his wife is trying to put him on the streets. His questions: Can she just throw him out? Can she just end the lease?

The leasehold interest, although hers as far as the landlord is concerned, is community property, so it therefore belongs to both the wife and the husband. Legally, her ability to evict him as a subtenant is exceedingly dismal. If she proposes to stop paying the rent and move out herself, that might be prohibited under the automatic restraining orders printed on the second page of his petition, because she’d be disposing of community property without his consent. However, we of course had to give him the honest truth about this situation. This type of discrepancy is highly technical and academic; dealing with it in a divorce case would be time consuming, and the result problematic. The reality is that if no one is paying the rent, he’ll have the landlord evicting him, no matter the status of his wife. The best thing for this man to do for himself and his daughter is to find a place to live that he can afford. That way, he isn’t dependent on the actions of his soon to be ex wife.

For more information on community property, as well as tenant protection, please visit their following respective pages on our website: http://stanprowse.com/community-property and http://stanprowse.com/real-estate-law/landlord-tenant-law