Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Sonoma County Family Law Blog

A look at the grounds for divorce in California

Each state in our nation has different laws for getting a divorce. In most cases, these different state laws are very similar to one another, but it is still wise to learn the law when divorcing. If you have never divorced before, you might benefit from finding out what the grounds for divorce are in your state. In this post, we will talk about the grounds upon which California spouses can seek to end their marriages.

California is a no-fault divorce state. This means that couples can go their separate ways without calling attention to any wrongdoing on the part of either spouse. For example, if your spouse is cheating on you with another party, you cannot cite adultery as grounds for seeking a divorce.

How the court determines a child’s best interests

Maybe the biggest question mark for parents going through a divorce is what will happen to their children. Child custody is generally the most hotly contested topic in divorce, with money coming in second. If you are suffering nerves about where your child may end up, one of the best things you can do is inform yourself.

It is vital to remember that custody is determined by what is in the child’s best interests. As subjective as this may seem, judges will refer to several guidelines when deciding what a child’s “best interest” are. Below are a few of the main guidelines used to determine child custody.

How to create two homes for your kids

Going through a divorce is a complicated and confusing time for both you and your children. Additionally, the time after a divorce can be just as complex.

Chances are, there are a lot of changes happening in your family during this time. These changes can affect your children significantly. Your children will probably have to split their time between you and your soon-to-be ex. That means two homes, two sets of belongings and two sets of holidays. As a parent, you do not want the problems in your family to have too much of a negative impact on your kids.

Books can help young children understand and cope with divorce

When you told your children that you and their other parent are getting a divorce, you may have gotten a variety of reactions. Older children may have bombarded you with questions or expressed their frustration or sadness. However, young children sometimes do not know how to express what they feel and may have a limited understanding of the concept of divorce.

Young children, especially those between the ages of 6 and 11, may benefit from exposure to age appropriate books about divorce. These books are often crafted to help children make sense of the changes divorce is causing in their lives. Books can also help children to understand their own emotions about the situation. If you read with your children, you can use the topics addressed in the books to spark more personalized conversations with your children about their experiences.

Is there more than one way to adopt in California?

What is adoption? It is a procedure in which a person or a couple establishes a legal parent/child relationship with someone, usually a child. However, adoption is really so much more than this simple definition allows. Adoption means becoming a parent, experiencing the joys of loving someone, having that love returned and making the lives of all involved better.

All states have enacted laws that identify whether a couple or an individual can adopt a child. Many states, including California, try to make it as easy as possible for qualified and responsible people to adopt a child in need of a home and lots of love. While it is an emotional and sometimes lengthy endeavor, the rewards of adoption make it all worthwhile.

Tips for creating a successful parenting agreement

Child custody and parenting time are two of the most contentious elements of a divorce with kids. Typically, both parents want what is best for the children. However, they sometimes have different ideas about how to achieve their goals. Although the intentions of both parents are good, these disagreements can evolve into long-lasting and stressful conflicts. If the parents cannot create a mutually agreeable parenting plan, a California family court will decide the matter.

It's best for parents to resolve these issues together, but that feels easier said than done for many couples. Working with an experienced family law attorney can provide a great amount of help for those concerned about custody and parenting time. You can also help yourself address these issues by following these parenting plan tips:

  • If at all possible, collaborate with your co-parent when drafting a parenting and custody schedule.
  • Keep your focus on your children's needs in the present as well as in the long-term.
  • Remember to factor in holidays and other important events when creating a custody agreement.
  • Leave room in your parenting plan for you and your co-parent to address big decisions (education, discipline, etc.) involving the kids.
  • Have an attorney review your parenting plan to ensure the document is error-free and written in clear terms.

How to establish a second home for kids after divorce

Moving into a new home after your divorce can be stressful. If you are feeling stressed as a new parent, imagine how your kids will be feeling when they begin to live in a place they are not familiar with. Every child may feel different about this new experience. Some will see it as a new adventure and a new place to explore and have fun. Others will not feel comfortable being taken from what they know and may have a harder time adjusting.

Even the kids that are excited about the move may soon begin to feel confused and frustrated at a new place when they realize the stay is more long-term than short-term. To assist with the acclimation of a new second home for both you and your children, here are some ideas that can help you and your children become comfortably with this new normal.

California makes the top 20 for best places to raise a family

Parents can face various challenges when it comes to raising their family. What challenges may by particularly likely to come up depends on many things, including where a family lives. Different locations vary greatly when it comes to the many factors that touch on raising a family.

This can be seen in a recent set of rankings by WalletHub. In these rankings, the states were compared in five different categories of factors connected to raising a family. The categories were family fun, health & safety, education & child care, affordability and socio-economics. In addition to getting a rank in each individual category, each state was also given an overall rank.

What kids need most during a divorce

Divorce often devastates a person’s emotions, leading them down a long road to recovery and healing. Luckily, as adults, we have the capacity to undertake these issues with more maturity and understanding of the process than children. Unfortunately, children easily misinterpret the adult issues and problems, resulting in a more difficult transition.

Children tend to internalize the marriage problems and feel at fault for the changes they view as “wrong” or “negative”. Children are sensitive to disruptions in their regular daily routine and family structures. Major changes brought on by divorce may cause high levels of anxiety, depression, anger, etc. Even if parents are better off living separate lives and formally divorcing, children still need to go through their own healing and transition process.

Keep your kids in mind during the divorce process

Child custody, asset division, spousal support and emotional turmoil are just a few of the many aspects people have to consider and deal with during a divorce and it is easy for people to get overwhelmed. It is no secret going through a divorce is hard on the people involved, but what about the kids?

A divorce can be just as difficult for children as it is for adults. That is why it is important to be conscious about your kids’ feelings, thoughts and emotions during this time. How can parents be aware and considerate of their children’s mental and emotional state during their divorce?

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