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

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Infidelity and Divorce

AdobeStock_89927467.jpegAs much as some of us wish it would, the law has no sympathetic ear. It is black and white, numbers and figures. There is no special stipulations for unfortunate individuals who simply just were played a bad hand of cards. In a nutshell, the Court doesn’t care if someone “hurt your feelings”.

But that doesn’t stop people from approaching us with their story of how their spouse did them dirty and left them out to dry. And of course, that’s understandable. Everyone wants to be heard. Perhaps that’s what one man really wanted when he sought advice about his “immigrant wife” of two years cheating on him. He informed us that his wife recently filed for her 10 year green card but it has not yet been granted. Based off of his recent discovery of her affair, he no longer believes the marriage was in “good faith”. In fact, he wishes to pass this information along to immigration officials. His question: what would be the best protocol to ensuring a favorable settlement in the divorce process with the current information regarding her falsification of a “good faith” marriage?

This is where we had to break it to him: the divorce court doesn’t care if you’ve been cheated on. They also won’t take into consideration whether his wife is legal or not. All the court cares about is dividing the couple’s community property and whether either spouse gets spousal support (which is highly unlikely). The feds may care if the marriage was phony, but using the threat of reporting her to get her to give up anything she’s entitled to would be extortion. A no-no, although people do it anyway. This man needs to see the matter of divorcing this woman and his vendetta for seeing about her deportation as two separate subjects, or else he will most likely be unsuccessful in both.

For more information on questions in divorce, including those regarding cheating, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/divorce-attorney-questions

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

Alimony: What’s taken into (or out of your) account?

moneyGoing through a divorce is never fun. There’s no sense in denying that. The best thing you can do is work hard to succeed in other aspects of your life. For example, a potential client recently came forward with some good news despite his in-process divorce. He’s been promoted, and starts a new job with a signifciantly higher salary next week. His concern regards alimony. When he filed for divorce earlier this year, he was making considerably less money. The couple has yet to go before the judge and finalize their divorce; the date is set for later in the month. So, will alimony be calculated from his reported earnings when he initially filled for divorce, or will it be based on the higher salary he is about to receive?

We started by informing this man that he is under a fiduciary responsibility to inform his soon to be ex-spouse regarding his change in income. The question of whether his new income will be the exclusive number considered in setting spousal support is another matter. The average of the last twelve months earnings is statutorily presumed to be a proper basis. Some judges stubbornly stick to that even under situations such as the one this man is in.  Since he will have already started his new job, and if it is likely to be a long term position, I expect his judge will probably use his prospective income when it comes to his ability to pay, one of the factors the judge must consider. However, the primary factor is the standard of living during the marriage, which was undoubtedly based on this man’s previous income. There is no computer formula used for spousal support awarded in a final judgment, so there is in fact no “calculation” to be made by the judge. It’s a matter of weighing a number of factors set forth in Section 4320 of the Family Code.

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

 

 

Spousal Support: A Case of Waived Rights

Couple problem

Is a piece of paper sufficient protection? Are words signed in ink adequate defense against an ex-spouse going against his or her word?

Let’s take a look. A woman recently approached us with the following question: can a spousal support ruling be reversed despite the fact that both parties signed the waiver? In her specific case, she and her ex-husband signed that they “voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently” waived their rights to spousal support. It was specifically stated that neither party could change his or her mind, even if circumstances changed.  But then, the issue of child support arose.  This woman’s ex-husband threatened to return to court for spousal support if she seeks out child support for their children. Is this threat a water gun spray painted black, or can he actually reverse their agreement?

When this couple mutually agreed to forever waive their rights to spousal support as part of their divorce agreement,  the court’s ability to order spousal support was terminated. This woman need not fear; the court would not be able to grant her ex-husband’s request if he files a Request for Order.

For more information on spousal support and possible modifications to spousal support, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/modifying-child-support

Marriage Annulment; grounds for annulment?

relationship concept couple in divorce crisis

A woman recently approached us with an inquiry regarding the annulment of her marriage. She has been married to her husband for 13 years. However, one couldn’t call this a “happy” union, as it isn’t much of a union at all other than on paper. Though the couple do share a child, he was born before their legal marriage. According to the wife, her husband lives with another woman if she is his wife, and the two share multiple children. The woman asks us to determine whether this is enough to receive a marriage annulment.

The short answer to her question is simply no. However, if we were provided with more information regarding the marriage, we would be able to provide more insight. For example, did the couple live together AT ALL (even one night) after the marriage ceremony? Did the couple have sex AT ALL after the marriage ceremony? Was the husband already sleeping with someone else when the couple was officially married? There’s a case called Marriage of Johnson, (1993) 18CA4th 499, 502, which suggests that a spouse’s intent to ignore his/her marital obligation of fidelity may support a finding of fraud, which is one of the few grounds for a voidable marriage, and thus an annulment. If this is indeed the scenario for this woman, she could possibly obtain an annulment. With that being said, she should consult with an attorney to see if she is able to avoid a formal divorce, or if she will need to file for dissolution of marriage.

For additional information on marriage, divorce, and family law, please visit our website: http://stanprowse.com/family-law-2