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Santa Clara County permanent alimony attorneyWhen a couple decides to divorce, one issue that can be difficult to negotiate is the payment of spousal support, also known as alimony. You might think that a high-earning spouse will automatically have to pay monthly support to a spouse who has not been earning a paycheck or whose earnings have been substantially lower. However, California law on this issue is fairly complex. 

While child support payments are determined by state-mandated guidelines, and there is a basic formula used to compute “temporary” spousal support payments that may be required while a divorce is pending. However, there is no simple formula for post-divorce, “permanent” spousal support payments. (“Permanent” is in quotes because the duration of support payments will be defined in the final settlement agreement. The agreement could, for example, require payments for the supported party’s lifetime, until their remarriage, or only for a specific number of years.)

Generally speaking, the objective of temporary support is to enable each party to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. However, Sections 4320-4339 of the California Family Code provide a long list of factors that the court must consider when deciding whether to order permanent spousal support, in what amount, and for what length of time.

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Los Gatos, CA temporary alimony lawyerMany married couples choose to have one spouse be the primary income earner while the other spouse attends school, develops a new business venture, manages family and household needs, volunteers in the community, works on a part-time basis, or works in a rewarding but low-paying job. However, in the event of a divorce, this can leave the non-wage-earning or lower-paid spouse in a difficult financial position. Thus, the question of temporary spousal support can be an important factor to consider before filing for divorce. 

Standard Calculation for Temporary Spousal Support in Santa Clara County

When one spouse files for divorce, either spouse may ask the court for a temporary support order. Such decisions need to be made quickly to ensure that one spouse is not left destitute. Therefore, most judges use a standard formula to calculate the amount of monthly temporary support to be paid. 

In Santa Clara County, for example, the standard formula is:  (40% of the net income of the higher-earning spouse minus child support expenses) minus (50% of the net income of the lower-earning spouse). 

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Los Gatos divorce lawyer limited scope representationA divorce can be costly in many ways. For example, your out-of-pocket living expenses will go up, at least in the short-term, as you pay for a separate residence and all the costs associated with moving and furnishing your new home. You may also be thinking ahead to years of child support payments and other child care costs, as well as saving for retirement as a single person rather than as a couple. 

In order to net the highest value from your division of property and minimize the cost of the divorce proceeding itself, you might consider handling some aspects of the divorce yourself. Rather than pay for a “full service” attorney for both spouses, you might want to consider limited scope representation, also known as unbundled legal services.

Typically, a divorce lawyer will handle all legal aspects of your divorce from start to finish. This commonly includes:

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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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Los Gatos divorce child relocation attorneyMaking sure a child maintains a good relationship with both parents after a divorce is a worthy goal. It can also be difficult to achieve. It is not uncommon for one parent to need to move to a new home and community for work or family reasons. When this happens, it can upend the child custody and visitation agreement that was originally worked out.

Overview of California Law on Child Custody

California law encourages parents to work out their own agreement with regard to child custody and visitation. Once that agreement has been approved by a judge, it has the force of a court order. Violation of that order can result in a criminal contempt proceeding. Specifically, if one parent violates that order, such as by moving to a location that would make it impossible to follow the agreed parenting time schedule, the other parent can file an Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Contempt with the court. The parent in violation can be subject to criminal penalties such as community service, jail time, and/or fines. 

How Child Custody Law Applies to One Parent Moving Away

California law does not specifically require that divorced parents remain within a certain distance of one another to facilitate visitation. Parents are free, however, to include a requirement in their parenting plan that both parents remain within a certain geographic area. Then, if one parent tries to violate that agreement by moving far away, the other parent has legal recourse. If such a clause was not included in the court-approved parenting plan, then the issue becomes less clear. 

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Law Offices of Benita Ventresca

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Los Gatos, CA 95030

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