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Los Gatos, CA grandparent custody lawyerWhen children are removed from their parents in California, no matter the reason, the law requires that they be placed with relatives if there are any fit to be considered as guardians. Relatives may be defined as any adults who are related to the children by blood or adoption, or even someone within the “fifth degree of kinship,” which means stepparents or siblings, grandparents, great- or great-great-grandparents, aunts, and uncles, even if the relationship was through marriage. In these cases, it is essential to work with an experienced family law attorney.

Qualifying for Placement

If a family member requests that children who have been removed from their parents be placed with them, they will be given preferential treatment, meaning that they will be considered above any other foster parents. When children are removed from their home, a social worker must conduct an investigation to find all adult relatives of the child and do background checks, follow up on any past allegations of abuse or neglect, and conduct a home inspection of the relative where they child may be placed.

Social workers may also speak to the children about the relatives in question to try and make sure they get a good fit for placement. Social workers will also need to consider the following:

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Los Gatos CACI defense attorneyThe California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) requires teachers, doctors, and others who work with children to report any “reasonable suspicion” of child neglect or abuse. Reports can also come from other sources. For example, allegations of child abuse or neglect are sometimes made maliciously in the course of a bitter divorce or child custody battle. Accusations may also be made out of an excess of caution, or due to a misinterpretation of something a child says or does. Whether true or not, the mere accusation can be hurtful and affect your access to your children. 

Child abuse reports are investigated by a child protective services agency in the county where the child lives. In Santa Clara County, that would be the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). These investigations must be taken seriously, because they could result in your name being put on the state’s Child Abuse Central Index (CACI). This will show up on a pre-employment background check for any job that involves working with children.

A child abuse investigation will conclude with a finding of unfounded, inconclusive, or substantiated. If a finding of “substantiated” is entered against you with the California Department of Justice, your name will be added to the state’s Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), where it will remain for your lifetime.

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Santa Clara County grandparents' rights attorneyAfter a divorce, grandparents can provide an important point of stability in a child’s life. Grandparents can also provide emotional and even financial support to their grandchildren that divorced parents often cannot, due to the stress of divorce, the juggling of child care and custody, and the costs of maintaining two separate households. 

However, it can be difficult to maintain strong lines of communication between grandparents and grandchildren in the wake of a divorce. Fortunately, the California Family Code (sections 3100-3105) directly addresses the issue of grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren.

When Grandparents May Request Visitation With Grandchildren

California law presumes that parents have the sole right to determine whether and when their children have contact with any grandparents. However, grandparents may ask a California court to award them visitation rights in certain circumstances:

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Santa Clara County prenup attorneyMost couples view marriage as a partnership of equals. They believe, for example, that major decisions should be made jointly and that there should be an equitable division of household responsibilities. It can be hard to achieve that sense of equal partnership, however, when a marriage begins with a major imbalance in terms of assets, debts, and/or family responsibilities. A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement or prenup) can help put new spouses on a more equal footing. 

There are a number of things to consider when developing a prenuptial agreement, including California legal requirements and the personal needs of the spouses-to-be.

Your Prenup Must Meet Legal Requirements for Enforceability

The California Family Code includes a chapter titled the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). This law sets forth the requirements for a prenup to be legally enforceable:

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Los Gatos cohabitation agreement attorneyMany people choose to live with a romantic partner on a long-term basis without becoming legally married. They may look and act like a married couple. They may share bank accounts, co-own property, and even have children together. However, when cohabiting couples in California separate—whether due to a breakup, death, or disability—they can run into serious difficulties, because California law does not grant cohabiting couples the same rights and responsibilities that are afforded to legally married couples. Unmarried couples can, however, sign a contract called a cohabitation agreement (also known as a “no-nup”), which is similar to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement signed by couples who do marry.

When Should I Consider a California Cohabitation Agreement?

If you and your partner both work and contribute fairly toward your household expenses but otherwise keep your finances separate, you may not see the need for a cohabitation agreement. However, over time, your circumstances might change, and your finances may become more intermingled. There are several situations in which a cohabitation agreement can be of significant benefit to you, such as:

  • You are the primary home-manager while your partner is the primary income-earner. In this situation, you could be sacrificing the opportunity to build your own career and income potential. If your relationship ends suddenly, you could find yourself in dire financial straits until you can find a job and rebuild your career. A cohabitation agreement can be written to provide protection in this scenario. For example, your partner could agree to pay you the equivalent of spousal support for some period of time after a break-up or provide you with a lump sum payment or inheritance in the case of their death.
  • You are the primary income-earner while your partner is working to obtain an advanced degree. Suppose that you agree to work and support your partner financially while he or she completes law school or medical school, with the expectation that you will both benefit financially in the future. In a cohabitation agreement, your partner could agree to reimburse you for that support if your relationship ends within a certain timeframe.
  • You and your partner buy a home together. A cohabitation agreement can document how much each partner shall contribute to the down payment, mortgage payments, and other costs. It can also define a process for managing or selling the property in the event that your relationship ends for any reason. 
  • You have significant assets that you want to protect. A cohabitation agreement can spell out ownership of assets acquired before and during the relationship. This can prevent disputes in the event of a hostile breakup. The agreement can also specify what you want your partner to inherit in the event of your death.

Contact an Experienced Los Gatos Family Law Attorney

You can enter into a cohabitation agreement at any time, even if you have already been living together for years. To make sure the terms of your agreement are clearly understood and legally enforceable, work with an experienced Los Gatos, CA cohabitation agreements lawyer. At the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca, we will help you understand the legal issues that your agreement should address and make sure that your unique needs are met. Contact us at 408-395-8822 for a free initial consultation.

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Law Offices of Benita Ventresca

20 S. Santa Cruz Ave., Suite 212
Los Gatos, CA 95030

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