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Los Angeles Divorce Law Blog

New parenting bill may add a twist to child custody

When couples decide to end their relationship, it often involves children and a parenting agreement. For years, American culture dictated that mothers were naturally awarded primary custody and fathers were the every-other-weekend parents. In California and many other states, new shared-parenting bills could change child custody and visitation agreements.

This new trend of co-parenting will encourage shared-parenting even when parents disagree. The legal push for new custody arrangements results from lobbying by advocates for fathers' rights groups. For years, fathers have felt short-changed in their allotted parenting time and sometimes alienated from their children. Experts claim the current system is depriving children the chance to build relationships with their dads.

Stepmom takes the best interest of the child to heart

A new bride vowed to love, honor and cherish her new husband and her new stepson. She also vowed to do the same regarding the child's mother. During her marriage ceremony, the bride pledged her vows to her husband and included his former girlfriend and the son they have together in her new life and role as stepmom. In California, parents are taking a careful look at what is in the best interest of the child by co-parenting together.

When the future bride dated her soon-to-be husband, she learned that he had a newborn son from a previous relationship. What started out with quite a bit of tension between the two ladies has ended in friendship. The bride-to-be thought about what would be in the best interest of her future husband's son, who would become her stepson.

Soldier fights for child custody while serving his country

There is no greater heartache for a parent than being thousands of miles away from his or her child. Even worse is a soldier fighting for his country overseas and struggling to maintain custody of his son here in the states. In California, there are laws in place that allow service members to designate temporary child custody during deployment.

A soldier and his wife were granted primary custody of his son from the biological mother when the boy was just two years old. They have been raising the child together as a family ever since. Recently, a judge awarded the ex-wife temporary custody of the boy while the father is deployed in Afghanistan. The couple has been fighting to regain custody of the child ever since.

Spousal Support tax relief ends in 2019 with overhaul

A proposed tax overhaul was delivered to President Donald Trump who promptly signed it into law. The tax plan is set to touch every facet of life, including spousal support. The 75–year old tax deduction, sacred to those who pay alimony, will be scrapped effective January 1, 2019. In California and every other state, divorce negotiations may be harder and may lead to less alimony being paid.

Under the current plan, spouses paying alimony can deduct from their taxes the amount paid at the end of the year. The spouse on the receiving end currently pays taxes on the money. With the new proposal, the payer cannot reap the benefits of a tax deduction, and the spouse receiving the payment will no longer be required to report it as taxable income.

Smart decisions about marital assets during divorce

When a marriage ends, it can be both emotionally and financially crippling. It may be so painful that one cannot think clearly about making critical financial decisions. Dividing household contents, the marital home, bank accounts and vehicles, can take a toll on all parties involved. In California, proper planning can help safeguard assets during a divorce to secure financial well-being.

For many years, high rates of divorce have been reported, but in reality, numbers peaked highest in the 1970s and the 1980s. Rates have been declining ever since, and if the trend continues, two-thirds of marriages will never include a divorce. This is awesome news for proponents of marriage, but there are still many families affected by divorce. 

Potential pitfalls for divorce over 50

Studies show that one in four couples will end their marriage after the age of 50. Compare that to twenty years ago when one in 10 couples with a spouse over the age of 50 divorced. Some experts agree that with the surge in late-in-life break-ups, so-called gray divorces have become like an epidemic. In California, people are living longer and have more opportunities to grow apart. Studies show that social customs have changed, and there are fewer stigmas about divorce and living life as a single person. 

Divorce can sometimes be financially devastating and may shatter retirement dreams. Older people nearing the end of peak earning years will have less chance to make up for financial shortfalls. This is especially true of women who may find that they will live longer with a lot less income.

Child support and the rising gig economy

Contract work is making it easy for parents to avoid paying the necessary and court-ordered support payment to their children. It is causing problems for the parents who are trying to get paid as well as for state officials who are trying to collect it. Approximately 70 percent of child support money is collected through paycheck withholdings, but money earned by contractors cannot be captured if employers do not cooperate and disclose wages. In California, state officials have very few ways to make employers comply.

Child support is paid for a child's basic needs, and parameters are set by the court system when parents separate. About $114 billion in child support goes unpaid nationwide. Hiding income to avoid paying support is not new; it is merely an old problem resurfacing. Experts state that many self-employed people try to conceal their real income.

Pay child support or lose your business license

Failing to pay child support can have severe consequences for everyone who owes. Child support services on the state level can revoke an individual's driver's license and a business license for failure to pay. In California, marijuana business owners should be prepared to work out a payment arrangement with the Department of Child Support Services or risk losing their license.

The state of California is working to finalize its industry rules and cannabis licensing. Because the commercial industry did not previously exist, they could not use W-2 forms or other income documents to set up payments. Occasionally, receipts from purchases were used to establish payment amounts, but this was on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of state commissioners. With the legalized cannabis market, it will be easier to figure income for child support payments.

Social media may impact divorce outcome

When going through a marital separation in California, spouses may feel tempted to go to social media to vent. However, sharing too much can be a problem -- not just personally but also legally. A few tips may help those going through divorce to avoid harming themselves in the long run when using social media.

More than 800,000 marital split-ups happen in the United States each year. In addition, seven in 10 people in the United States utilize some social media platform to stay connected with others. An important rule of thumb when going through divorce and using social media is to remember that anything written online may end up being observed, heard or read by the divorce judge.

Are vaccines in the best interest of the child?

A mother was recently sentenced to serve five days behind bars for violating a court order. She is in contempt of court for violating an order that required her to have her son vaccinated. In California, it may be in the best interest of the child to receive vaccinations.

The mother insists that it is in the best interest of her child not to have vaccinations. She is hoping to avoid any future shots for her son and will head back to court to convince the judge. The woman's ex-husband is in favor of the shots and wants his son vaccinated. During her incarceration, the boy received two vaccinations while in his father's custody. The mother was reportedly devastated at the news.

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