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Westlake Village Legal Blog

How to discuss changes to custody or visitation

There may come a point when a child of divorce wants to live with his or her other parent. This can be difficult to hear even if a California parent has been expecting to hear it. It is important to have a calm and rational discussion about the matter even if it can be hurtful for a mother or father to discuss. However, it is a good idea to set ground rules and expectations as to how to talk about a change of residency.

For instance, the parties should agree to remain calm and respectful of each other's feelings. In some cases, it may be a good idea to actually allow the other parent to be part of the conversation. This can allow decisions to made as a family, and it is likely that the child has asked both parents about making a change.

Which co-parent pays for extracurricular activities?

Now that school is in full swing, the young one in your family may plan to play sports, join a dance group or participate in some other type of extracurricular activity. Because these endeavors can be pricey, you may wonder whether you or the child’s other parent bears responsibility for covering extracurricular expenses. 

Many benefits come with participating in activities that are not part of the normal school curriculum. Not insignificantly, a well-rounded student may be more likely to compete successfully for scholarships. If your parenting plan or custody agreement does not mention who covers the cost of extracurricular activities, though, you may have some options. 

More millennials seeking prenups than previous generations

California millennials might be requesting prenuptial agreements in greater numbers than their parents did. According to a survey by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 60% of attorneys say requests for prenups are on the rise, and of those attorneys, 51% report that more millennials have asked for them.

Ideas about prenups have changed. Once viewed as a document that could potentially damage a marriage before it even started, a prenup is now seen as a practical solution that can protect the assets people have when they enter a marriage. With millennials marrying at an older age than previous generations, they are more likely to have valuable assets compared to younger couples. Millennials have a strong interest in investing but are cautious about keeping their finances safe. A prenup can also be used to protect future finances. For example, people who expect to get an inheritance or a gift from their parents may want to include that in the agreement.

Is socioeconomic status linked to marital unhappiness?

People in California might expect that people who are less well-off financially might also face more difficulties in their marriages. After all, conflicts over money can be a major part of marital stress and an eventual decision to divorce or separate. During the divorce process itself, financial conflicts can be particularly challenging and difficult to resolve. However, some research indicates that other issues may be more strongly linked to a likelihood of divorce although the jury is still out on marital conflict related to new financial stresses, sudden spending or economic crisis.

Researchers identified over 400 couples in a lower-income area of California and sent them an eight-item questionnaire on five occasions between 2009 and 2014. The couples, relatively newly married in 2009, were identified to take part in a study looking at marital satisfaction and socioeconomic status. Researchers found that around 60% of the couples identified themselves as very happy when initially married while 30% were moderately happy and 10% were unhappy. Many expect that marital satisfaction declines over time with the "honeymoon period" wearing off in years to come. However, the researchers found that the couples who were initially happy with their relationships were likely to remain so throughout the five-year period.

HAVEN Act offers protection to veterans filing for bankruptcy

Veterans in California may be at a disproportionate risk for having to file bankruptcy. While veterans are only around 10% of the overall population, they make up 15% of bankruptcy filers. In 2017, there were around 125,000 bankruptcies filed by veterans. However, the Honoring American Veterans in Extreme Need Act of 2019 may offer additional protection to veterans.

The HAVEN Act was a bipartisan effort signed into law on August 23 for immediate effect. It makes a number of benefits exempt when calculating a veteran's disposable income for bankruptcy purposes. Until its passage, disability payments from the Department of Veteran's Affairs and the Department of Defense were included in these calculations. This also meant those benefits were vulnerable to creditors. Only Social Security disability benefits were protected. Advocates began pressing for the passage of the HAVEN Act after five bankruptcy courts ruled that veterans filing for bankruptcy were required to include these benefits.

Documents that are needed in child custody hearings

California parents who will be attending a child custody hearing may have a difficult time gathering all the necessary documents. Knowing which paperwork will be relevant could swing the hearing in one direction or another. It's better to have too much documentation as opposed to too little.

For custody proceedings to begin, written submissions must be given to the court before the hearing that outline what an individual is asking the court to order. All parties involved should have copies of all the paperwork that is submitted to the court.

Understanding California's pet custody law

Your fur baby is an important part of your family. During the divorce process, determining the new living arrangements for animal friends required the court to employ creative means.

However, a new bill helps to ease that process. There are a few important items to understand about California's new pet custody law.

Coparenting is a life-long commitment

Divorce in California is a process that should be worked through one step at a time, especially when there are children involved. No matter the reason for the split, it's important to be honest with the kids and for the exes to maintain a cordial relationship with each other. When the time comes for new love and perhaps remarriage, coparenting will be as vital as ever for the development of the children.

There are two primary issues for a divorced parent as a remarriage enters the picture. First, despite having a new spouse, the coparenting relationship must remain strong. This means being respectful, cooperative, communicative about the kids and generally encouraging of a healthy, loving relationship with the other parent. As much as possible, maintain a similar schedule and routine in both households.

Debtors may need to wait before filing for bankruptcy

A person who files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will need to liquidate all nonexempt assets and use the money raised to pay creditors. Typically, a liquidation bankruptcy case in California is completed in about four to six months. Those who wish to file a Chapter 7 case may need to pass a means test, which compares their income to the median in the state. In some cases, individuals will need to wait to file their cases.

A person who wants to file a new Chapter 7 case must wait at least eight years from the date of a previous filing. Individuals who have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the past must wait six years from the date a case is discharged to file for Chapter 7 protection. Upon seeking Chapter 7 protection, a debtor must wait four years before it can be converted in a Chapter 13 case.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 personal bankruptcies

The bankruptcy code provides two debt relief options to California residents who are struggling to cope with unmanageable financial situations. Chapter 7 bankruptcies are often referred to as liquidation bankruptcies while Chapter 13 petitions are commonly called reorganization plans, and debtors choose between these options based on the amount of money they earn and the kind of assets they hold.

Individuals hoping to file a Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy must first pass a means test. Those who earn less than the median income in their state for a household of the same size pass the test automatically. Those who earn more but cannot cover at least a portion of their unsecured debts after paying allowed monthly expenses may also be able to file a Chapter 7 petition. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out unsecured debts and the process generally takes between three and six months, and the exemptions in place allow Chapter 7 filers to keep certain assets such as their automobiles and tools they use to earn a living.

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