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Los Gatos paternity rights attorneyModern families come in all shapes and sizes, and establishing paternity for some children is not always as simple as it may be in the case of a married couple. When a child is born or adopted within a marriage, both spouses are assumed to be the legal parents of the child. This applies for both heterosexual and same-sex marriages or domestic partnerships. 

According to California law, in the case of an unmarried couple’s child, paternity (also known as parentage) must be established through a court order or through the voluntary signing of a Declaration of Paternity. No custody and visitation agreements or child support orders can be set up until the parentage of the child is determined legally.

Determining Parentage in Different Types of Relationships

If an unmarried heterosexual couple has a child, the mother who gives birth to the child is obviously known, but the father may need to take a paternity test in order to prove parentage. In the case of a same-sex female couple, a mother who gives birth is, again, already clear, but the other mother must provide proof that she and her former partner had intended to parent the child together. For the child of a same-sex male couple, the spouses will have to prove that they had both planned to be parents of the child. In some cases, more than two parents may be named, if it is determined that loss of any existing relationship with a particular parenting figure may be detrimental to the child.

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Santa Clara County alimony attorney tax lawsThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been a major topic of discussion over the past year, and many people have been affected, whether positively or negatively, by the changes implemented in this law. Those who are in the midst of a divorce case or completed their divorce in the past year will need to understand whether they must file their taxes differently than in the past. In addition, alimony tax laws have been altered drastically, and this has resulted in increased conflict in many cases.

Spousal Support/Alimony Taxes

New laws have changed the way both payors and payees of spousal support claim these payments on their taxes. Those who pay alimony will no longer be able to deduct the spousal support from their taxable income, and those receiving it will no longer have to claim it as taxable income unless the parties otherwise agree. This may not have a large impact on some spouses, but for those in high-asset divorce situations, the money gained or lost could be significant, to say the least.

According to CNBC, the “divorce subsidy” that was previously available was responsible for saving some of California’s top earners as much as 50 percent in taxes. Those savings were enough of an incentive for many people to agree to more spousal support and settle their divorces out of court. Without this incentive, high-asset divorces may be more complicated and drawn out, and the payors of spousal support will be more likely to try to work out deals that will benefit themselves rather than their soon-to-be-exes.

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Los Gatos CA divorce mediation lawyer child custodyIn the heat of the divorce proceedings, sometimes one parent is willing to do just about anything to hurt the other parent. In other cases, one parent may have legitimate concerns about their child’s health and safety when they are in the care of the other parent, and they may be willing to fight for months or years to protect their child. When there is a custody disagreement, mediation can ease the financial and emotional burden on all parties involved by allowing parents to take a more personal approach to resolving their disputes while saving time and money by not dragging matters out in the courtroom.

What Is the Purpose of a Mediator?

Divorce mediation is designed to bring parents together and help them settle on a parenting plan that will work for their individual situation. A mediator assists in facilitating agreements and provides the necessary information to both sides to help them come to an agreement. An attorney experienced in mediation knows the laws but also understands the human, emotional part of parenting during and after a divorce. It can be difficult to see past one’s own anger and fears during a divorce, and as a neutral third party, a mediator can advocate for the child or children involved, working to overcome the parents’ emotional disputes. 

Litigation in court is clinical and impersonal, and it can become drawn out and expensive when resolving custody and visitation matters. Mediation allows parents to work together to reach an agreement that they can both be satisfied with. However, if mediation lasts a long time, and either or both parents still refuse to come to terms, a mediator can provide an assessment and recommendations to the court. This often helps the judge to make a more informed decision that is in the children’s best interests.

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Los Gatos, CA divorce alimony attorneyOne of the trickiest issues to negotiate in a divorce can be the matter of spousal support, or alimony. When a couple has enjoyed a comfortable standard of living for many years, with one party being the primary income provider and the other taking primary responsibility for home and family needs, the issue of spousal support can be as important as the division of assets and retirement savings.  

When a couple is unable to reach agreement on the question of spousal support payments, and the couple does not have a premarital or postmarital agreement that addresses the subject, then a judge must decide whether to order spousal support and, if so, in what amount. This is a very complex decision, requiring the court to study not only the couple’s assets and debts but also their lifestyle, occupational skills, income-earning capacity, childcare needs, and more. 

Note that this article will discuss only “permanent” spousal support,” that is, payments that will be made by one party to the other after a marital settlement agreement has been finalized. This is separate from the “temporary” spousal support that may be required while a divorce is pending. 

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Los Gatos spousal support lawyerWhen a couple gets divorced, the higher-earning spouse may be required to pay spousal support to a non-working or lower-paid spouse for some period of time after the divorce. This is called “permanent” spousal support, as opposed to the “temporary” spousal support that may be paid while a divorce is pending. 

However, do not let the term “permanent” confuse you. So-called “permanent” spousal support will not necessarily be for the rest of your life. Its duration will depend on several factors, including the length of the marriage and the ability of the supported party to become self-supporting. In fact, Section 4320 of the California Family Code states that a supported spouse is expected to become self-supporting “within a reasonable period of time.” 

Length of Marriage Affects Duration of California Spousal Support 

The duration of the marriage is a major factor in determining the duration of spousal support. If a couple has been married for less than 10 years, a “reasonable period of time” is generally defined as one-half the length of the marriage. For example, if a couple was married for six years, the court would typically award spousal support for no longer than three years. However, the court has total discretion to order support for a longer or shorter period of time based on the totality of the couple’s circumstances.

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