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Bay Area Family Law Blog

Pop star subpoenaed in child support matter

Prior posts on this California family law blog have discussed how child support arrangements may be modified in the event that the parents or children experience changes in their circumstances. For example, if a child is diagnosed with a medical condition and requires more support than they did in years past their custodial parent may petition to have the noncustodial parent contribute more to the child's care. Additionally, if a parent suffered a financial setback and became unable to pay the child support they are bound to provide they may request a modification to lower the amount they are due to provide.

Recently Kevin Federline subpoenaed pop star Britney Spears to provide current information on her financial situation. Federline and Spears were previously married and together they share two young sons. Spears pays child support to Federline for the care of their children but Federline and his lawyer claim that the amount she pays should be increased.

When after my divorce can I stop paying my ex spousal support?

Most spousal support agreements and orders contain in them provisions that address how and when payments from one party to the other may be terminated. It is for this reason that California residents should first start with their own divorce documents to find out how their particular spousal support cases may be treated when it comes to ending a payment obligation.

Generally, though, a spousal support obligation will endure for a set period of time. That time period may be established to allow the recipient spouse to get back on their feet financially after their divorce, or to allow them to gain important and necessary skills to allow them to reenter the workforce with the capacity to earn what they need to survive.

Negotiating a fair division of debts in your divorce

If you and your spouse are trying to keep your divorce as amicable as possible, you may have decided to try to work out a preliminary agreement for difficult issues before heading to a mediator. Maybe you have already reached a reasonable decision about who will get the TV and which of you will keep which car. The house was tricky since it is a delicate balance of asset and liability, but you figured out the most beneficial resolution for all involved.

Now comes your debt. Understanding how California laws regulate the division of debt during a divorce will be an important factor in your negotiations and may make a difference in the outcome of your agreement.

My ex will not help me pay our child's medical expenses

Any unexpected medical costs can put a significant strain on the finances of a California family. In fact, a simple trip to the emergency room can cost thousands of dollars out-of-pocket if a person's insurance provider elects not to cover the basis of the sought medical treatment or if the family has not met its deductible. For a single custodial parent trying to provide their child with everything they need, the expense of an uninsured or excessive medical bill can be downright impossible to manage on their own.

Custodial parents will often turn to noncustodial parents for help with significant medical expenses. Though the parents may have provisions regarding medical costs worked out in their child support agreement, uninsured costs may be a different type of issue for them. It is not unreasonable for both parents to contribute to the costs of paying off a medical bill, though different cases may proceed in different ways.

Family mediation can ease the divorce process in California

While it is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to become adversarial, it can be considerably more productive - and much less emotionally draining - when spouses remain amicable throughout the divorce process. In California, one way to help encourage amicability is by working together with a neutral, third party known as a mediator. Mediation can help resolve any issues, such as maintenance, or child custody and support matters, that the spouses have not yet agreed upon.

When spouses enter into family mediation, they are agreeing to a cooperative (and voluntary, of course) manner in which to resolve any disputes that have arisen as a result of the divorce process. In some cases, a court may even order mediation in a divorce proceeding. However, voluntary mediation without litigation can save considerable time, money and stress during the dissolution process.

Child custody plans can change as children's needs change

Parents often watch in amazement as their kids acquire new competencies and skills. A San Francisco parent may marvel at the grace of their young child moves when only months before they were a clumsy toddler. The parent of a teenager may lament the passage of time as they assist their high schooler with college applications. Despite their efforts, parents cannot stop their children from growing into the special individuals that they were destined to become.

As such, parents must adapt to the every-changing needs that their kids exhibit. What a baby requires of their mother and father may be different from what a middle school-aged child needs. Whereas one's needs are primarily focused on staying alive and receiving nourishment that they cannot provide themselves, the other's needs may be those of necessity but also of emotional support to get through the trying times of adolescence.

Parents' interactions affect children's post-divorce behavior

California parents may be aware that their mental states can transfer to those of their kids. For example, when a parent brings stress home from work and is short-tempered in their familial interactions their children may exhibit similar behaviors in their interactions with others as well. A recent study builds on this phenomenon and suggests that post-divorce parental interactions may affect children's behavior as well.

The study looked at approximately 1,500 families that had gone through divorce. In general, the study found that where parents successfully co-parented their kids and treated each other with respect the kids were better behaved and less prone to outbursts. Conversely, when parents argued and when custodial parents moved in with new partners and spouses children reacted with more deliberate negative behaviors.

Seeking resolution through divorce mediation

When a California marriage has come to its end, there is no doubt that the parties to it have spent more time fighting than they ever thought possible. By the time they decide that divorce is their only option they may want to seek out a means of achieving marital dissolution without having to argue about every detail of their post-divorce lives. This can mean avoiding court all together and using divorce mediation as the means of bringing their legal relationship to its end.

A mediated divorce is one in which the parties to the ending marriage work together to set their own terms for custody, support and property division. They do not appear before a judge. Instead, they work with a mediator who helps them find balance and resolution to their differences. Their mediator does not make any decisions for them: the goals of a mediated divorce are to manage conflict in the divorce process and to give the parties control over how the important aspects of their lives will be managed after their divorce is completed.

Can my ex's new spouse adopt my child?

The structures of California families are subject to change when parents' divorce or separate and create new relationships with new partners. A child may have a biological mother and father as well as a step-mother, step-father and step-siblings if their biological parents enter into subsequent legal relationships. However, a parent generally does not lose their rights to their child when their ex-partner remarries. This post will examine how parental rights are established despite changing family structures.

After a divorce or a separation parents may put into place a plan that establishes their rights and responsibilities to their children. Even if one parent has sole physical custody of the kids, they both may share legal custody of the kids. These parental rights endure despite the divorce and can only be relinquished through consent or termination through the courts.

What should I expect from the mediation process?

California couples know that divorce is a lengthy and complicated process, but there are times when a couple can minimize complication. Not every divorce has to end up in divorce court, and there are ways to work through specific disputes without litigation and a lengthy, stressful battle.

Mediation can be an effective way to resolve family law disputes peacefully and respectfully. If you are considering this option for your divorce, it can be helpful to understand how this process works and what you can do to pursue a reasonable and sustainable outcome.

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