Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law
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Sonoma County Family Law Blog

Will you be eligible for spousal support after your divorce?

The end of a marriage will bring many significant changes for both parties. Some of the most significant adjustments you will have to make involve finances. You have concerns about your financial stability after your divorce is final, but it is possible you could be eligible for spousal support payments. 

Spousal support, also called alimony, can be a contentious and difficult subject for California couples to address. If you think you could be eligible for these types of payments, you would be wise to act decisively to protect your interests and fight for a fair support order. When it comes to your financial security after divorce, you would be wise to seek a full understanding of your legal options.

When and how should I tell my kids about the divorce?

You and your spouse are calling it quits. It may be your choice, his or her choice or a mutual decision. You know that eventually you will work out a settlement and move on. Your biggest concern is how it will affect your kids. When and how should you tell your children about the divorce?

This is a question plaguing numerous parents in California. Divorce affects a pretty high percentage of couples. At the end of the day, it does not matter if the divorce is amicable or horribly bitter, it will likely have a negative impact on the children. How you approach the topic with your kids can make all the difference.

Should you consider collaboration for your divorce?

The choice to move forward with divorce is not an easy one to make. This step will impact virtually every area of your life, and while it can be a complex process, there are things you can do to reduce stress and the chance of complications. One way to do this is to choose a collaborative divorce.

Collaboration is a way for you to navigate your California divorce in a way that is respectful and cooperative. The collaborative process is not the optimal choice in every situation, but it can offer you many benefits as you seek a workable and sustainable divorce order. Before you choose your path, you may find it beneficial to consider the benefits of this specific choice.

Are you seeking the guardianship of your grandchild?

For many reasons, grandparents are finding it necessary these days to take their grandchildren into their homes and raise them as their own. Sometimes it is because the parents of the children have died, are mentally ill or are dealing with substance addiction. For the safety and well-being of the children, grandparents may put aside their plans for retirement and reorder their lives to provide a stable and loving home for their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent whose grandchildren are living with you, you may feel it is time to take matters to the next step. After all, you really have no legal authority over the children, and this could prove significant if you need to make decisions about their health, education or other issues. For this reason, you may do as many others have done and seek legal guardianship over your grandchildren.

Vacation plans probably shouldn't be last minute post-divorce

Summer is rapidly approaching right along with the end of the school year. For many California families, this means figuring out what to do during the summer and where to go on vacation. Some of those families have the luxury of spontaneity when it comes to planning a summer vacation, but many others do not.

If you are a divorced parent and continue to raise children with your former spouse, you more than likely fall into the latter category. Hopefully, you and the other parent accounted for summer vacation in your parenting plan. If not, now may be a good time to address correcting that oversight. As each of you think about how you will spend your time with the children over the summer, you may want to keep some issues in mind. 

Are you considering divorce, but remaining in the family home?

When you planned your wedding, you probably never considered the fact that your marriage could end. You went about your lives, which included purchasing a home in which you thought you would raise your children and grow old together. For whatever reason, your marriage began to deteriorate to the point where you and your spouse are considering divorce.

One of the problems you face is what to do about the marital home. Even though the economy continues to recover from the recession and the housing market crash, you may be one of many California homeowners who can't afford to refinance the home or sell it. If the two of you are considering remaining in the home, but separating and beginning the divorce process, you may need to create a plan to do so.

Do you consider yourself the better parent?

You will undoubtedly face many struggles as you go through your divorce. Because your rocky relationship with your soon-to-be ex likely led to the decision to end the marriage in the first place, you probably expect that the decision-making process for any aspect of the divorce will prove difficult. However, you have one area that you feel particularly strongly about when it comes to achieving your desired outcome, and that area is child custody.

You keep your children at the forefront of your mind at all times, and you feel that their other parent does not have what it takes to care for the kids as well as you could. As a result, you hope to achieve sole custody. Because of your inability to come to terms with the other parent outside of court, litigation may be necessary. Therefore, you may need to prepare for custody hearings.

What do I need to know about uncontested divorce?

Not every couple wants to fight things out in court when ending their marriage. Some are actually able to agree on most things by talking them out and addressing any major issues with legal counsel. If you and your spouse find yourselves ready to move on and want to quickly end your marriage, there is one specific divorce option that may be good for you.  

Numerous people in California have been able to end their marriages without dragging things out in court or taking years to come to agreeable terms. If you and your spouse have an idea of how you want to divide your assets, deal with any financial obligations, and handle child custody and support -- if applicable -- you can write up a simple agreement, get it reviewed and, if everything looks good, submit it for court approval. This is a process called an uncontested divorce.

Is a child custody order adjustable?

You went through the divorce process. Your children are currently living with your ex full-time and only see you a few days a month. This was thought best for them as it keeps them living in one house instead of bouncing back and forth. You want to see them more often but your ex is not willing to budge on the matter. Does the state of California ever allow the modification of a child custody order?

The truth of the matter is that it may be. Changing a child custody order is not a request courts are going to take lightly, though. Such a change will have to serve the best interests of the children in order for it to receive approval.

What might your kids want to see when it comes to co-parenting?

No matter how much you attempt to insulate your children from your divorce, you can't avoid it affecting them. The life they knew is gone, and big changes are coming. Even though you and your future former spouse agree to focus on your children as you create a custody agreement and parenting plan, you could be missing crucial pieces of information.

Even though no one can deny that you are the parents and that what you say goes, it may help to view your future co-parenting relationship through the eyes of your children. After all, your goal may be to ensure that your children continue to have as much access to both parents as possible, but for them, that may go well beyond making sure they get as close to equal time with each of you as possible.

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