Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Sonoma County Family Law Blog

Key terms of child custody

The single most important thing to determine when a California couple with children parts ways is with whom the children will live. Child custody can be a very contentious issue between separating or divorcing parents. However, it can be handled constructively. The parents can put together a parenting plan that works for them and for their children. In order to do so, it is important to understand some key terms about custody.

One is legal custody, which is about having access to information about the children and making decisions about the children. Regardless of with whom the children live, both parents may share joint legal custody. That means, for one part, that they are both entitled to get information about their children from schools, doctors and other sources.

Resolve divorce problems one issue at a time

No one can give you a specific format for avoiding all stress in divorce. The fact is that ending a marriage in court is seldom easy. It's understandable that you might experience emotional or financial distress, especially if you and your spouse were married for 10 or more years. There's a lot of history there and adapting to a new lifestyle after such a long time can be quite challenging. If you're a parent, it adds a whole host of other issues to the mix.

You've likely heard it said that you shouldn't bite off more than you can chew. This is definitely good advice when it comes to navigating divorce proceedings. It's best to build a strong support network from the start and to tap into available resources as needed if a particular problem arises.

Successful divorce starts with selecting the right lawyer

When you get married, your focus is on love, happiness, building a future together, and very possibly the honeymoon. When you divorce, your focus is on things like property division and determining what is marital property and what is separate property. The issues surrounding property division in California are very involved. For that reason, one of the first and most important decisions that you make in the process of divorce will be selecting your divorce lawyer.

The right divorce lawyer can do a lot of things for you when it comes to working through the division of your assets with your spouse. Your lawyer can:

  • Help you to understand the rules concerning marital property and marital debts
  • Give you guidance on what property you may be able to claim as your separate property to keep it from being divided in the divorce
  • Help you document the specific facts of your case in order to support any claims of separate property

Grandparents in California can pursue visitation rights

When it comes to custody, care and visitation of young children in California, usually the focus is on the children's parents. However, other people in the children's lives, like their grandparents, may also lay claim to an interest in time with the children and may pursue that claim legally. Grandparent rights and guardianship are an interesting area of law.

Those seeking grandparent rights should carefully consult with their attorney, because the requirements are very specific. For example, grandparents are usually not allowed to file for visitation rights when the parents of the children are married. However, there are exceptions so that, like the parents living separately though married, the whereabouts of one parent being unknown for at least a month, the children living away from both of their parents or a stepparent having adopted the children.

Tips to make co-parenting teens easier

You and your ex created a child custody agreement when you divorced, and it worked out great when your children were younger. Things are different now that you have teenagers. Co-parenting teens is an entirely different ballgame than younger kids, and it is understandable if you feel frustrated.

If what worked when your kids were in elementary or middle school is not working anymore, it is time to make some changes. Here are a few ways you and your ex-spouse can make co-parenting your teenager easier.

Productive and peaceful parenting plans are possible

Sonoma County couples who separate and divorce often have children. Those children are not at fault for their parents' issues, and shouldn't have to pay the price for them.

For that reason, the most important thing about separation and divorce is making sure that the children get to maintain full relationships with both of their parents, as long as neither parent is unfit. One key aspect of maintaining those relationships is establishing a schedule for parenting time.

Different types of child custody and your parental rights

When two California parents divorce, one of their main concerns remains the best interests of your kids. You may have serious concerns about how your choices will affect your kids, but there are ways that you can protect their emotional health and provide stability well into the future. This is possible with a thoughtful, intentional and kid-focused parenting plan.

If you want to craft a smart parenting plan or fight for a reasonable custody plan in court, this starts by understanding the different types of child custody. This will help you move forward with a plan that makes sense for your family while protecting your parental rights. The decisions made during divorce will affect your family for years to come, and the ultimate goal is to protect the best interests of the children above all else.

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.

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