Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Sonoma County Family Law Blog

Get help when divorcing an abusive spouse

Unfortunately, domestic violence and abuse darken the lives of many California couples. After trying to remedy the abuse alone or after seeking professional help to no avail, divorce may seem like the only way out. However, in most situations, divorce may be as dangerous as staying in an abusive marriage.

In our practice, we have come face-to-face with far too many violent and abusive relationships. We have seen how these marriages tear all involved parties apart -- individually and as a family unit. We know that violence and abuse have negative effects on both spouses and on the children a couple may share. Our attorneys also understand that it is typically extremely difficult for victims of abuse to find enough courage to leave.

Information you may need regarding guardianship of a minor

In most situations, a child's parents are both capable and willing to make important decisions on behalf of their child. In situations when that is not the case, another adult may have to step in and act as a guardian for the child. This is easier said than done, even when it is a family member seeking to help him or her.

Appointing a guardian for a minor child is appropriate when a child no longer has a parent who can protect his or her interests. This may be because the parents passed away, are in jail or are otherwise mentally unable to care for the needs of their children. If this is happening to a minor child in your California family, you may want to learn more about how the guardianship process works.

Can a divorce lawyer help me find hidden assets?

In a best-case California divorce scenario, both spouses remain honest about their assets and their liabilities. Such honesty means that each spouse receives a fair share of assets in the final property settlement. Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst behavior in people and honesty may fall by the wayside.

Some spouses, both male and female, may attempt to keep some assets out of the divorce. There are many ways in which someone can try to hide money, real estate and other items of significant material value. A spouse may have opened a new bank account in which to hide cash. Another way of hiding assets involves using Bitcoin accounts and other forms of cryptocurrency.

Biological fathers have rights in a California adoption

For many pregnant women, the adoption of their infant is the best way to ensure that the child will have a loving and caring childhood. While it is typically a difficult decision to make, mothers who consent to adoption are acting in the best interests of the child.

Once they decide to allow the adoption of their child, these mothers usually feel at peace about their decision. However, in some cases, their plans are interrupted when the child's father objects to the process. Even when a couple is not married, biological fathers in California (and all states) have the right to participate in decisions about their children.

How to handle important life events after your divorce

Once you have separated from your ex, it can be tricky to figure out how you will share your child’s different events. There will be graduations, weddings and other special occasions in the future—and of course your child will want both of you there.

You want to be a part of your child’s big moments—but it may be tough to spend those times with your ex too. Focusing on what matters and anticipating potential issues can make these life events better for everyone involved.

What does life after divorce look like?

You probably already know that getting a divorce comes with big changes. Many people are particularly concerned about their finances after a divorce. It is a costly process and there’s a good chance you will be in a new financial situation after your divorce is finalized. These changes can be scary and you might not know what to expect.

However, life after divorce does not have to be intimidating. You may need to make some changes, but ultimately, you can bounce back.

Is your teen asking to move in with your ex?

Since the divorce, your California family has gone through many changes. With you having primary physical custody, your child enjoyed as much stability as possible. You tried to keep a consistent routine and maintain boundaries your child could understand and thrive within. It was not always easy, and your child may be showing the normal signs of restlessness and rebellion upon reaching the teen years.

That is why you may have felt blindsided when your child announced that he or she wanted to move from under your roof to the other parent's home. Your first reaction may have been hurt feelings and confusion. You may even have accused your ex of planting the idea in your child's head. However, the actions you take to deal with this request may have long-term effects on your relationship with your child.

How much can I expect my child to understand about divorce?

As you first tell your child about divorce and as you have ongoing conversations about divorce, it can be helpful to address your child’s concerns without talking over his or her head. Your child’s development will affect how much he or she will understand about divorce, so it can be helpful to know what children at various developmental stages typically understand.

Infants can feel tension in the home

How do courts handle debt in a California divorce?

As you may know, California is one of several community property states. Under community property laws, courts presume that married couples jointly own the property they have accumulated while married. With this in mind, courts seek to divide assets as equally and as fairly as possible during the property division part of a divorce. Community property also means that courts divide the debts a couple accumulates in a similar manner.

Although the state's divorce courts attempt to divide marital debt equally, the final outcome may not reflect this equality. This is because courts also keep fairness in mind when distributing debts. For example, if one of you takes out a student loan, the court may rule that only the borrower is responsible for this debt.

Keeping the peace during your kids' summer break

You may be one of many California parents who look forward to the end of the school year. Summer break means you no longer have to hustle your kids through a stressful morning getting them off to the bus or fight with them in the evening to complete their homework and study for tests. Even if you still have activities planned for your children, there is something less anxious about the summer months.

Of course, that may not be the case this year. If you are recently divorced, the upcoming summer months may already be bringing on frustration and anxiety. While your parenting schedule with your ex may work nicely during the school year, there are many unique considerations to make when summer rolls around, and some of them you cannot predict.

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