Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Sonoma County Family Law Blog

Taking control of your custody and parenting time schedule

If you are like most people who live and work in the Sonoma Country region of California, you probably lead quite a busy life. If you have children and are divorced or getting a divorce, your life is probably even more complicated. Child custody and parenting time is extremely important for all members of a divorced family, but it is also one of the most difficult areas of divorce to resolve.

Those finding it difficult to balance home, work and parenting time in the wake of divorce often speak with their family law attorney for advice. Sometimes, the solution to these difficulties becomes apparent during these discussions. Other times, a simple calendar might meet your family's needs. Below are several i9nternet-based tools designed to help you create a custody and parenting time schedule.

  • Google Calendar (free): You can create a schedule with this tool that gives you, your co-parent and even your kids the ability to access and edit scheduled activities.
  • Coparently (paid): With this tool, you and your co-parent can create and share your schedule online. It offers a 30-day free trial as well as additional features like mobile apps to improve your communications.
  • Cozi (free): Creating shareable calendar pages is just one way this free tool helps divorced families. It also offers apps, list capabilities and a family journal feature.
  • Our Family Wizard (paid): This company is all about helping divorced families improve communications. You can create calendars and visitation schedules and it also gives you a place to share important information about your kids with your co-parent.
  • Talking Parents (free): With this tool, you can create a complete system-of-record detailing all communications between you and your co-parent. This is especially valuable for parents with a history of disputes and conflicts. The service is free for use, but you must pay a small fee to download your records.

Property division: Is keeping the family home a wise goal?

If you are in the midst of a divorce, you know how complex property division can be. California is a community property state, which means the court presumes that both spouses jointly own all marital property. On paper, this sounds like a simple process, but that is not always the case.

Of all the property couples own, the family home often causes the most conflict. Spouses can argue indefinitely about what to do with the home, but when emotions rule these discussions, a fair and realistic resolution may be elusive. After creating a family inside the home, it can be difficult to let go, but in many cases, keeping the house is not the wisest goal in terms of property division. Here is why.

Uncontested divorces prove beneficial for many

Oftentimes the reality of a divorce makes a person want to “delete” the soon-to-be ex from their life entirely and move on as quickly as possible. There’s something about scouring through the house and physically removing any reminders of your relationship. It often feels healing to clear out your space (and hopefully your mind) of the other person.

Uncontested divorces are appealing to couples who wish to have the fastest ending to their marriage relationship. There are different ways to approach a divorce, but when you know there is nothing you want to fight about in court, an uncontested divorce may be the answer. Going through a divorce doesn’t have to be long and drawn out, or expensive. In fact, it could be the exact opposite.

Acquiring emergency guardianship of a California child

If you are a family friend or a relative concerned about the welfare of a child that you have a close relationship with, you may be interested in pursuing emergency guardianship of that child. Guardianship and adoption often fall within the same legal area because they both concern minor children. Family law attorneys are equipped to handle these cases due to their training and experience with guardianship and adoption.

Our attorneys have great admiration for those want to help a child in need or at risk. As such, we take an interest in helping residents understand how to pursue and acquire emergency guardianship of a child.

How does divorce during college affect your kids?

You and your soon-to-be-ex spouse worked hard raising your kids and setting them up for success. But at some point during that time your own relationship with each other may have started to fizzle.

Now they are off on their own in college, and you feel ready to officially split with your spouse. Your children are more grown up and you think they are better equipped to handle a divorce. But even adult children may have a hard time dealing with their parent’s relationship ending. How do college-age children handle divorce?

These property mistakes can affect your divorce and your future

Undoubtedly, the property division aspect of divorce is complicated. Since it is often an issue that brings out negative emotions like anger or a sense of betrayal, it is easy to make mistakes when property is at stake. Unfortunately, such mistakes can end up costing one spouse more than the other in the end.

Seeking solid legal guidance cannot guarantee an error-free divorce. However, it can give you the opportunity to avoid at least some of the costlier errors some couples make when divorcing in California. Continue reading to see three examples of property division mistakes that could leave you worse off than before your divorce.

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.

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