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Los Angeles Divorce Law Blog

Are prison nurseries in the best interest of the child?

Motherhood is an amazing time in a woman's life. It is filled with time spent bonding and nurturing her babies. For some women who are incarcerated, a new program has allowed them to not only deliver their babies in prison but to keep them with them for the duration of their sentence. In California and other states, female prisoners believe that it is in the best interest of the child to raise their babies behind bars.

A woman who is a part of the Prison Residential Program in minimum-security facilities, and who is serving 30 months or less, can apply to keep her children with her until she is released. Inmates who come into the program are given a second chance to turn their lives around and raise their babies. Authorities within the facility say the best part is seeing the inmate's transformation into better people and better mothers.

Survivor speaks out about sexual assault on college campuses

The first year of college should be a time for learning, building lifelong friendships and self-expression. No one expects to become the victim of sexual assault by a fellow student. In California and other states, one student is speaking out and fighting for legislation to require authorities to have more training and incorporate trauma-based interviewing techniques into the initial interview process.

A 19-year-old woman who was the victim of a sexual assault on her college campus has been working to help other survivors. She claims the biggest hurdle after her ordeal was recalling details to police about the assault. After an interview with a nurse trained in the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview or FETI technique, she could give a complete interview. The woman believes that this FETI technique helped secure a conviction and put her attacker behind bars.

Ensuring a fair distribution of marital debt after divorce

On average, 40 to 50 percent of marriages will end prematurely, and some will end in a financial mess. When couples call it quits, what happens to the debt incurred during the marriage and who determines how it is distributed after a divorce? This may be determined by where one lives. California is one of nine community property states that recognizes that all debts are the responsibility of both parties.

All other states are known as equitable distribution states or common law states. Both parties are held accountable only if they are joint owners of the account. For joint credit card accounts, both spouses are responsible, but they may appeal to the account issuer to request that the debt is split. Mortgage debt is handled similarly; one spouse may refinance the home in his or her name only or initiate a buyout. Regardless of whether one is in a community state like California or an equitable distribution state, assets are divided along with debts during a divorce.

Former NFL player Aldon Smith arrested for domestic violence

Former NFL player Aldon Smith has been arrested again, derailing a promising career in the NFL. A top-ten draft pick in the 2011 draft, the first-team all-pro player registered 33.5 sacks over just two seasons. The rising star was suspended indefinitely from the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He has now been arrested for violating a court order of alleged domestic violence in California.

Aldon Smith is accused of assaulting a woman earlier this year. He pleaded not guilty to assault, domestic violence and false imprisonment. After posting bail, Smith received a protective order that prohibits him from having any contact with the victim. He violated that order recently and turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Grandparents assuming parenting roles in child custody cases

A growing number of grandparents find themselves raising their grandchildren instead of retiring to pursue hobbies and travel. Studies show that with the ever-present opioid epidemic sweeping the country, an overwhelming number of children are being removed from parents who are battling addiction problems. In California and other states, grandparents are being called upon during child custody cases to assume the parenting role.

According to a group focused on the support of intergenerational families, one-fifth of grandparents who are caring for grandchildren live at or below the poverty level. It is reported that 26 percent have a disability, and 39 percent are over 60 years old. They often skim money from retirement plans, go back to work to make ends meet, or they continue working to pay for unexpected expenses such as court and attorney costs.

Child custody remains a family affair for Josh Lucas and ex-wife

Living in the Hollywood spotlight, it can be hard to hold a marriage together. When one actor and his ex-wife split in 2014, they chose to adopt a co-parenting arrangement known as "bird's nesting" after their divorce and child custody hearings. In California, more parents are opting for unconventional ways to parent their children after a divorce.

Hollywood heartthrob Josh Lucas, who rose to fame in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, and his ex-wife, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, are trying to limit the disruption in their son's life since their divorce. The couple, who are both committed to their son, have maintained a united front in their relationship by putting their son's needs first. The goal for both is to create a stable life for him.

During the divorce process, how should income taxes be filed?

During the process of ending a marriage, is it best to separate finances or file taxes together as a married couple? According to the IRS, couples in the process of divorce but have not yet finalized are still eligible to file taxes together as a married couple. If filing separately, both must either take the standard deductions or both must itemize. In California and other states, couples can file joint tax returns if they are still married on the last day of the previous year.

One disadvantage of filing income taxes separately is that higher tax rates apply at lower levels of income. The amount of standard deductions declines, and itemized deductions are reduced or eliminated. More Social Security benefits are taxable when filing separately, and the likelihood of paying the Alternative Minimum Tax increases. Credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, educational Lifetime Learning Credits and Elderly and Disabled credits are off limits to those filing separate tax returns.

Child custody rights terminated because of addiction

Drug addiction is a severe epidemic, and children are usually the casualties. More and more children are removed from their parent's custody because of substance abuse. Experts say heroin is the most common drug of choice, making it the most difficult to treat, and the pain from withdrawal often has serious complications. In California, child custody rights are often terminated to protect the children of addicts.

Experts worry about the long-term effects on children who spend their childhood watching their parents get high. Sometimes, children who see a parent passed out from drug use are not sure if their mother or father is dead or alive. Children of addicts are used to taking care of others, often putting others ahead of themselves. Studies show that drug addicts can become good parents once they are free of drugs.

New laws may affect alimony and divorce outcome

Ending a marriage is rarely a pleasant experience. With new changes coming in the form of scrapping the current alimony tax laws, negotiations could get even more ugly. In California, the change in tax incentives for alimony payments could have lasting consequences for other payments such as child support that is often calculated together during divorce negotiations.

Under current laws, spousal support or maintenance can be deducted from taxable income to lower the tax burden of the spouse paying support. The recipient, who in most cases has a much lower income and is often in a lower tax bracket, pays taxes on the money received. With the present incentive, it allows people to pay more alimony because they are reaping the coveted tax benefit.

Preparing for divorce after age 50

The dissolution of marriage at any age can be unnerving and ultimately affect one’s thought process. Divorce is never easy and often causes increased stress and can take an emotional toll on a person. Being well organized and researching the state laws as they apply to divorce can help prepare for the often-tumultuous times ahead. In California, divorces over age 50 have doubled in the past 25 years.

Create an inventory of assets and identify which ones are held jointly, and be aware of any inheritances received over the course of the marriage. Make a list of all employers both present and past for both parties, and inquire about pension plans, profit sharing and stock options. It is not unusual for employer-funded accounts to be forgotten. Be sure to change the beneficiaries on accounts and property titles, which can sometimes go undetected.

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