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Los Angeles Divorce Law Blog

New domestic violence program being trialled in California

It is easy to think that whatever happens in a person's own home is his or her own business. While this is true the majority of the time, there are times when help is not only necessary, but is vital. For victims of domestic violence, a new program being tested in one California county may bring new hope.

Police representatives from across the country gathered in the Bay Area recently to learn about the work being piloted by the Contra Costa Alliance to End Abuse. The program receives funding from the federal government, and is also being tested in a number of other major cities in other states. Usually, victims of domestic violence would be given a pamphlet by the police about the help that is available, and encouraged to follow up. This is often ineffective for a number of reasons, not least of all because one may have used the last ounce of courage on that initial contact alone.

Will Richard Williams score the match point in his divorce?

It is said that it doesn't matter whether one wins or loses; rather, it's how the game is played. While it is certainly true that the way in which one conducts one's self is important, there are times when California residents may find themselves accused of behavior that is immoral or illegal. When divorce proceedings are contested, they can bring out the worst in people.

Richard Williams, the 75-year-old father of tennis players Serena and Venus Williams, recently filed for divorce from his second wife, 38-year-old Lakeisha. The couple had been married since 2010, and in 2012 Lakeisha gave birth to their only child, a son named Dylan. In his divorce petition, he states that his wife vacated the marital home the previous year, leaving their son in his care. He also claims that she sometimes picks the child up late at night, and alleges that his wife is in a relationship with someone who he believes has a criminal record, and thus has concerns about the safety of his child around this person.

Divorce isn't just another day at the office

For most people, business is just business. For some California couples, being in business together can seem like a natural extension of their personal relationship. When divorce rears its head, things can become complicated.

Many things will contribute to the way in which a business may be viewed during the division of assets. If the business was started or owned by one spouse prior to marriage, this may give that spouse a stronger claim to the asset. However, this may be balanced by the level of input that the other spouse has had in the business since becoming a part of it. Also, being a partner in a business is not necessarily the same as being an owner, whether wholly or partially.

Be prepared; scout out paperwork and finance before divorce

However hard one tries, it is impossible to anticipate every event that may affect one's life. There are certain steps, however, that California residents can take that make good sense in any event. In particular, getting a routine handle on day-to-day finances can be of more help than one might realize, especially if divorce rears its head.

Regardless of how stable a marriage is, it is not unusual for spouses to maintain personal bank accounts and credit cards. Due to life's unpredictability, having access to one's own money or line of credit can be a reassuring safety blanket. Having some money set aside for emergencies can be sensible, but if one is planning a divorce, then one will need to consider how much more might be needed to pay legal fees. Also, using credit cards to make the occasional purchase, then paying the bill on time, can also help to establish one's credit score.

Property division: does a short sale mean the short straw?

Mortgages and realty ownership can be complicated at the best of times. When a California couple divorce, the marital home may be dealt with in a number of ways. If there is no definite severing of rights and responsibilities on mortgage agreements and realty deeds, then problems may arise again in respect of property division, sometimes years following finalization of the divorce.

One couple who divorced were both named on the mortgage, however, the husband kept the house. Five years after the divorce, the house was subject to a short sale. The lender offered the husband $10,000 incentive as a relocation assistance payment, and his ex-wife felt that she was entitled to half of this payment. Despite the terminology used by the lender, the money need not necessarily be used for that purpose. Often, owners vandalize their homes prior to foreclosure or short sale, and lenders offer this incentive in the hope that the sale will be allowed to progress smoothly, with the realty left undamaged.

Love me, love my friends -- or face the possibility of divorce

It's impossible to please all of the people all of the time, however hard one might try. Many California residents are familiar with the tensions that can arise when they meet new partners, especially if he or she doesn't get along with the people closest to them. While much has been written about the difficulties experienced within families when such things happen, recent research has focused on what happens to divorce rates when one's closest friends don't get along with one's husband or wife.

Research was conducted by the Adelphi University in New York, using data collected from 355 couples who participated in The Early Years of Marriage project in Detroit. The project has been following the couples since they first married, from as far back as 1986. Each couple was surveyed individually every year during the first few years of marriage. Questions included whether one's spouse had friends with whom he or she would prefer the spouse not to associate, and whether the spouse's friends interfered in the marriage.

Post-divorce finance is like driving; it helps to look ahead

Sometimes, it is all one can do to keep putting one foot in front of the other, let alone giving thought to one's future. Many California residents will know that this can be especially true when going through a divorce. While some plans can be postponed, there are others, such as financial matters, that will need to be prioritized.

The most immediate consideration is likely to be one's post-divorce living arrangements. Whether one intends to remain in the former marital home or set up in a new place, many people will have to consider the cost of a mortgage or rent, as well as utilities and other associated realty costs. For those who did not customarily deal with financial matters during the marriage, this can come as a shock; however, it need not be as daunting as it can first appear. Gathering together as much information as possible relating to future income expectations is a good first step.

Money: the root of all evil, or the route to the divorce court?

The passage of time changes people in many different ways. While some couples grow closer together, others may grow apart. For some California residents, it can be difficult to decide whether changes that they witness in their spouses' behavior may be leading to the divorce court.

One California woman had been married for 20 years, during which time she believed that her relationship with her husband was stable, built on an understanding of their respective roles. The husband had a successful career and he repeatedly insisted that his income was sufficient to provide a good life for the family and a comfortable retirement. He travelled regularly for business and did not enjoy taking care of children or doing general household chores, so he had suggested early on in their relationship that his wife should be a stay-at-home mother. The couple had four children, two of whom had finished college, and the other two were due to start college.

Mother of Elizabeth Thomas faces accusations of child abuse

Childhood is often said to be the best time of one's life; however, even with a stable and loving home environment, adolescence can be one of the most confusing and difficult times in a young person's life. Child abuse can cause physical and emotional scars that may last well into adulthood, as many California residents will be aware. Children who have been subjected to abuse at home may become even more vulnerable, falling prey to manipulative adults as a result.

Young teenager Elizabeth Thomas made the headlines recently, when she was abducted from her home state by her teacher, Ted Cummins. The pair were later located in California. It has been alleged that Elizabeth's mother, Kimberly, began abusing Elizabeth and four of her nine siblings by means of severe beatings around November 2014, and that this may have made Elizabeth more vulnerable to manipulation by her teacher.

Child support: Don't underestimate child care costs

The joys of having children bring with them many years of responsibility. Some California couples are lucky enough to be able to afford to have one spouse bear the brunt of being a full-time homemaker and parent. If such a couple decide to divorce, this arrangement may not be sustainable, leaving both parents potentially having to consider the costs of child care as part of the child support arrangements.

The costs of childcare are ever increasing. In California alone, the cost of full time infant day care rose by around 7 percent between 2009 and 2014, from $940 to approximately $1,110 per month. The costs can vary by county, from around $1,000 at the lower end of the scale to $1,500 in more affluent areas. According to recent data, some families could end up paying as much as 20 percent of their household income toward child care costs.

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