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Posted on in Property Division

California divorce lawyer, California family law attorneyDuring a divorce, everything that constitutes a marriage must split into two separate lives. While this is a natural process for some couples and even for select assets, for others, the disunion is much more complicated. Occasionally, the bond that ties the two may not ever be entirely separated, such as those with children. In other scenarios, the large assets of property division are where contentions arise. The most common question asked by couples struggling with the last scenario pertains directly to the most significant investment many couples make: who gets to keep the house?

What Is the Purchase Date of the Home?

Believe it or not, the purchase date, or closing date, of a home, can make a large difference as to who gets to keep the home. Consider that California is a community property state, meaning all items purchased and investments made during the marital union all belong to both parties equally as “community property.” Anything owned before the marriage began, after filing the divorce papers, or any items earned outside of the marriage, all are “separate property.” Separate property stays with the owner after the finalization of the divorce. However, this is not a certainty as other factors may play a factor, such as mortgage payments, improvements, and maintenance. Occasionally, a separate property home becomes community property with the right investments.

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Posted on in Paternity

California divorce lawyer, California family law attorneyWhen establishing paternity, or lack thereof, there is a chance that a “paternity test” or a DNA test will become a necessity. In some cases, one or both individuals receive an unexpected response, leaving them left to wonder the validity of the results and how it affects their case. Can these tests give incorrect answers?

The short answer is “yes.”

Can a test be wrong? Absolutely. No test is 100% accurate all of the time. There are paternity testing labs that do each test twice to ensure the validity of the results, however not every company does this, even some of the accredited facilities. Although there are several methods for running the comparison, the simplest and most non-invasive solution is collecting a DNA sample through a cheek swab of both the child and the potential parent. Scientists at the lab review the DNA strands within the sample.

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California divorce lawyer, California family law attorneyThe school year is coming to a close, which means for many families with a child visitation schedule, housing situations swap. If you are the non-custodial parent who makes regular child support payments, you may have custody during the summer months. This alteration from the normal schedule raises questions about the continued payment of your responsibilities. If your child is with you for a month or more, are you still obligated to make a payment to the other parent?

Modification Options

As much as we may wish that we can alter payment schedules on a whim, this is not possible without court approval. When you set the payment arrangements, the decision became a court order which is unmodifiable, except through the court. To make a change, you must show proof to a judge that there is a significant change in circumstances requiring the change. Unfortunately, vacation and the predetermined visitation arrangements do not typically constitute a substantial change of circumstances. Instances that may qualify include:

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California divorce lawyer, California family law attorneyAs parents, we try to do everything in our power to protect our children. In California state law, the determination of custody and visitation schedule revolves solely on what is in the best interest of the child. However, past a certain age, the child begins to have a significant amount more weight in the decision-making process, especially when it comes to child custody and visitation.

When the Child Decides

As parents, we know what is best for our children. However, there comes the point in their life when they begin to have wants, needs, and opinions that may differ from ours. It is a part of the growing up process, and our children will inevitably reach this point as we did with our parents. That age is different for each person, so who determines at what age this is an age appropriate decision? A few years ago, California resolved the dispute by setting guidelines for which to follow. According to California Family Code 3042, consideration will be given to the preferences of the child if:

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California family law attorney, California mediation lawyerMany children grow up envisioning their wedding day, dressed up as a prince or princess and marrying the person of their dreams. With today’s family dynamics coupled with a high divorce rate, this dream shatters, and many are left in an alternate situation. Perhaps they find their soulmate, the person with whom they are intended to travel through life. However, a growing number of couples choose to cohabitate rather than legally tie the knot. A common reasoning for choosing to remain legally separate is that “there is no need if what we have is good; marriage is just a piece of paper.” However, that “piece of paper” can make life easier down the road and provide protection because eventually, all good love stories come to an end, be it through natural death or separation. If your ending to a long-term relationship is a breakup, what are your options for property division or child custody? One great solution is divorce mediation.

A House Divided

Those who choose to cohabitate in California are not under any protection from a common law marriage that couples in other states enjoy. California has no such laws; if you never made it legal, the union never existed. With that said, no one enters into a committed long-term relationship knowing or even hoping that it will fail. If we all were able to see into the future, perhaps we would choose the marriage option to make a separation easier to navigate under the divorce laws of the state. Since divorce litigation is not an option, there are alternatives to assist splitting couples who were never married. One such example is mediation. This solution supports those who wish to guide their post-relationship agreement without the inclusion of a judge. Together, with the assistance of a mediator, you and your now ex can work out a legal agreement for all of the pieces of your lives together. Benefits of mediation include:

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