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Posted on in Mediation

California divorce lawyerDivorce is rarely an easy decision, but when couples take steps to end their marriage, they are likely ready to leave a relationship that is not working and move on to the next stage of their lives. However, the process of divorce can be incredibly complex, and people are often unprepared for the costs involved in the legal process of dissolving their marriage. However, if couples are willing to work together to reach a resolution, they may be able to use mediation, which can allow them to complete the process more quickly, efficiently, and effectively. Divorce mediation provides the following benefits:

  1. Cost savings - Litigating a divorce in court can be incredibly costly. Each spouse will typically need to hire an attorney, and they will be required to pay for the time their lawyer spends preparing documents, communicating with the other spouse’s lawyer, discussing the case with them, and attending court. When using a mediator, however, the couple will typically split the fees for mediation sessions or any other services the mediator provides (such as preparing documents), and mediation can result in savings of 40-60% over the costs a divorce completed through litigation.

  2. Time savings - A litigated divorce can be a lengthy process, requiring multiple court dates that depend on the availability of the spouses, their attorneys, and the judge. In contrast, mediation allows a couple to resolve the outstanding issues in their divorce (including the division of property and decisions regarding child custody and visitation schedules) in a much faster and more efficient manner.

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California divorce lawyerThe end of a long-term relationship is often a difficult time for everyone involved, and during a divorce or break-up, couples will likely experience a great deal of emotional turbulence as they establish new living situations, separate their finances, and determine how to move forward with their lives. These situations often involve a high level of conflict, and disagreements can become even more contentious when children are involved.

The decisions made about child custody will affect parents’ and children’s lives for years to come, so divorcing parents should be sure they fully understand their rights and keep their children’s best interests in mind. Here are some tips to follow when working to reach a resolution in child custody disputes:

  1. Do not involve children in conflict - It is important to protect children from arguments between parents, allowing them to maintain good relationships with both their parents going forward. Never try to alienate your children against their other parent or use them to send messages to your ex.

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California family lawyerChildren deserve to have their health and safety protected, whether they are at home, at school, or under the supervision of a daycare provider, coach, or doctor. In order to safeguard children from the threat of abuse, the state of California has put legal measures in place to ensure that potential cases of child abuse or neglect are reported and investigated. When a person is being investigated for suspected child abuse, they should understand the processes that will be followed, their rights in the investigation, and the potential outcomes.

Reports of Suspected Abuse or Neglect

According to the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), a person who reasonably suspects that a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect can make a report to a law enforcement agency. Certain “mandated reporters,” such as teachers, doctors, therapists, members of the clergy, or day care center employees, are required by law to make these reports.

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California family lawyerChild abuse is a serious offense in the state of California. Reports of suspected abuse will trigger an investigation that can result in an alleged abuser being placed on the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI). Inclusion in the CACI can affect a person’s employability in certain industries, their ability to volunteer for certain organizations, and their eligibility to adopt a child or act as a foster parent. When facing accusations of child abuse, it is important to understand what exactly constitutes abuse or neglect under California law.

The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) (California Penal Code Article 2.5) defines the following acts as child abuse or neglect:

  • Injury - Physical harm or death inflicted non-accidentally upon a child.
  • Sexual abuse - Acts consisting of (1) sexual assault, including rape, statutory rape, incest, lewd or lascivious acts upon a child, or sexual contact with a child, or (2) sexual exploitation, including the depiction of children engaging in obscene acts, compensating children for performing sexual acts, accessing or distributing child pornography, or sexual trafficking.
  • Neglect - Negligent treatment or mistreatment of a child by a person responsible for their care, resulting in a threat to the child’s health or welfare. Neglect falls into two categories: (1) severe neglect, which consists of failing to protect a child from severe malnutrition or wilfully causing or permitting a child’s health or person to be in danger, and (2) general neglect, which consists of the failure to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, supervision, or medical care, even if a child is not physically injured as a result.
  • Child endangerment - Wilfully endangering a child’s health or safety, including inflicting or allowing unjustified physical or mental pain or permitting a child to be placed in a situation in which they are in danger of harm.
  • Unlawful corporal punishment - Willfully inflicting cruel or inhuman punishment or causing an injury which results in a traumatic condition. The law makes exceptions for the use of reasonable force to deal with a threat of physical injury or property damage at a public school, including acts of self-defense and actions taken to remove weapons or dangerous objects from a pupil’s possession.

California law defines a child as someone under the age of 18. Harm suffered in a conflict between minors is not considered child abuse and reasonable force used by a police officer who is carrying out their duties does not constitute child abuse or neglect.

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California family lawyerChild abuse is an ongoing concern in the state of California, and the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) is designed to help protect children who may be at risk. Under this law, reports of suspected child abuse or neglect will result in an investigation, and if a social worker finds that the report is substantiated--meaning that they believe the alleged abuse was likely to have occurred--the suspected abuser will have their name added to the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), in addition to any criminal charges and personal repercussions they may face.

Mandated Reporters

CANRA states that certain people are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to a police department, sheriff’s department, county probation department, or county welfare department. These people are known as “mandated reporters,” and they include:

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