Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

What is the Difference Between Legal Separation & Divorce?

By on May 18, 2015 | Category: Blog |

It doesn’t matter whether yours is a “friendly” divorce where you and your spouse agree on everything or whether it is “difficult” divorce that has frequent and/or complex litigation. It is a difficult and emotional time and you want to assure that your interests and rights are protected in the process.

The process of legal separation and divorce in California is similar — but at the end of a divorce you are no longer legally married. California is a community property state; legal separation severs the tie of community property at the time of the filing and is intended to resolve property, debt and child related issues. Legal separation cannot be granted unless both spouses agree to it. If one spouse does not respond to the petition within 30 days, it is considered a “default” which will terminate that spouse’s ‘voice’ in the legal separation. The respondent spouse may request a divorce instead of agreeing to a separation, at which time the proceedings would continue but it would be divorce proceedings instead of legal separation. If both spouses agree to legal separation, the process leads to a final judgment, resolving issues such as child custody, child support, and spousal support. In our firm’s practice, the most common reasons parties opt for a legal separation or divorce are health insurance or religious reasons.

If a couple decides to seek a divorce, the process begins just as with a legal separation, with the filing of the Summons and Petition, and the UCCJEA Declaration if there are minor children.

The soonest you could be divorced or legally separated is six months and a day from the date that you or your spouse was served with a Summons and Petition. The reality is that many times a case can continue for a year or two or even more.

The Stockdale Law Firm, Inc. in El Dorado Hills will let you know what to expect in your divorce or legal separation, and keep you informed each step of the way. We will discuss your options and help you decide which approach is best for you. We work diligently to avoid unnecessary litigation and unnecessary emotional stress, which usually works to lower your legal expenses. It is our Firm’s policy to refrain from escalating conflict but if it arises, we will help you resolve the conflict through litigation or negotiation.

The Role of DCSS

By on May 6, 2015 | Category: Blog |

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) works with parents and guardians, whether or not they are custodial or non-custodial. The goal of DCSS is to ensure children and families receive the deserved financial and medical support that the courts have mandated.

Services the DCSS provides include:
–        Locating a parent
–        Establishing paternity
–        Establishing, modifying and enforcing a court order for child support or health coverage

In years past, it could, at times, be very difficult to get in touch with some parents to collect child support. However, California’s child support program is now using technology that connects with local child support agencies, courts, county health and human services entities, employers and various state and federal agencies. With this technology, DCSS has an expanded ability to locate parents, helping children and parents receive mandated services in a more timely manner.

Stockdale Law Firm has significant experience with child support matters (both private and working with the Department of Child Support Services). In addition to advocating your interests regarding your child support case, we can review support calculations to estimate what guideline child support may be in your case. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced Firm’s attorneys to learn how we can help you with your child support matter, please contact us.

For additional information about DCSS, please visit the following pages on their website:
Child Support Services – Services the department offers to parents and guardians to help meet your responsibilities to your children.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Answers to the questions most frequently asked.

California Child Support Publications – General information about California’s child support services program and child support laws.

Ombudsperson Program – Information about the Ombudsperson Program, which helps parents, employers, and the community to resolve child support issues and they give valuable information about the child support services program.

Paternity Opportunity Program (POP) – Provides information on how unmarried parents can legally establish paternity (father of the child) without going to court.

 

Step-Parent Adoption

By on April 30, 2015 | Category: Blog |

Step-parent adoption is when the legal parent has custody of a child and his or her spouse or domestic partner seeks to become the child’s other legal parent. Most commonly, the step-parent/domestic partner wants to adopt the child born to the spouse/domestic partner from a previous relationship or marriage.

The process for step-parent/domestic partner adoption usually begins with the attorney preparing and filing the petition for adoption. There is social worker investigation of the prospective adoptive step-parent that will be conducted according to the rules of the county in which the step-parent/partner lives. Each county is different, and Stockdale Law Firm is experienced working with the courts and corresponding investigators in the counties we serve including Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado & Amador.

Our firm would then work to either obtain the consent to the adoption from the biological (other) parent, obtain a waiver of parental rights or request that the court terminate the parental rights in the case of an absent parent. Before the adoption can be finalized, one of the following criteria must be met:
– Both parents must consent to the adoption or
– The biological father/mother must waive his rights or
– The court must terminate the person’s parental rights.

Adoptions can also occur on the grounds of abandonment, which means the child was left without support or without communication by one or both parents for a period of time. The court considers the interests of the child, and recognizes that parenting requires a commitment to the child from the parent more than an occasional relationship or attempt at support. If the court considers the child to be abandoned, the parent(s) rights are terminated and the adoption can move forward to finalization.

If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our firm’s experienced family law attorneys to learn how we can help you with your adoption, please complete our online request form.

Child Support, When Parents Are Not Married

By on April 22, 2015 | Category: Blog |

To officially establish a parent-child relationship between a child (or children) and unmarried parents, a case may be filed under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA).

Regardless of whether the parents of the child were married or unmarried, the Uniform Parentage Act (2002) provides for:
– Establishment of paternity through voluntary acknowledgement (Voluntary Declaration of Paternity) or establishment of paternity through adjudication
– Genetic testing standards – set at 99% probability based on appropriate calculations.

The UPA helps define who the legal parents are. A legal mother traditionally was the one who carries a child to birth. But it can now also be one whose egg was fertilized, or who has adopted a child, or who is under a gestational agreement (also known as a surrogate agreement). With these last three examples, the woman who carried the child to birth would not be considered the legal mother. Also, a 2005 California Supreme Court case found that a child may have two legally recognized parents of the same gender. Elisa B. v. Superior Court (2005) 37 C4th 108, 105.

Things can be a little more obscure in determining the legal father. Under the UPA, genetic testing can be ordered by the court without initiating paternity litigation. To justify genetic testing, there simply must be a reasonable probability of sexual contact between the presumed father and mother. A presumed father may also seek genetic testing to prove that he is not the father.  The child, mother, father, a support agency, adoption agency, a representative for a deceased or incapacitated party, or intended parent under a gestational agreement may bring an action to determine parentage. A refusal to submit to genetic testing can result in an adjudication of parentage.

Once parentage is established, the court may make orders for child support, health insurance, child custody, visitation, name change, reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses, and restraining orders. Establishing parentage is also used to secure benefits, such as social security, veteran’s, and inheritance rights.

Child Support

By on April 16, 2015 | Category: Blog |

In California, the law requires both parents share the responsibility for the financial support of their minor children. Whether or not parents have ever been married or are now divorced, a child support order is usually appropriate.

What exactly is child support? It is the amount of money that one parent pays to the other parent on a monthly basis so that the children are financially supported, and this amount can include add-on costs such as child care or related expenses. Child support payments usually continue until a child reaches the age of 18 and is no longer a full time high school student, gets married or becomes emancipated. If a child is older but is still living at home, single, in high school, and unable to financially support themselves, then a court may order the child support payments to continue. A parent may also support a special needs child through adulthood.

How is the amount decided? Child support payments are determined based on set child support guidelines. These California guidelines set forth a formula, generally, by computing the net income of both parties, the percentage of income earned by the non-custodial parent, and the number of children. There are a number of other specific variables that can have an effect on the estimate guideline support amount, such as a parent’s tax filing status, imputed income to an underemployed parent, and a deduction for a child from another relationship.

What if they don’t pay? Enforcement can be difficult if a parent decides to stop paying child support. Often times, an attorney can help if a parent has become delinquent with their child support payments by pursuing legal action to enforce the support order. This helps to ensure you receive future support payments and any child support owed.

If you are the parent who is delinquent, we can assist you in working out a plan for repayment of owed child support, or if appropriate, assist you in modifying the support order so that it is more affordable.

Stockdale Law Firm can help. Our attorneys have significant experience in child support matters (both private and working with the Department of Child Support Services) and we can advance arguments to advocate your interests regarding your child support case. In addition, we can review support calculations to estimate what guideline child support may be in your case. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced Firm’s attorneys to learn how we can help you with your child support matter, please contact us.

 

El Dorado Hills Office

1107 Investment Boulevard, Suite 180, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762-4567

Phone: (916) 933-5545
Fax: (916) 933-9833

Email: legalteam@burkefamilylawfirm.com

Roseville Office

1380 Lead Hill Blvd., Suite 106
Roseville, CA 95661

Phone: (916) 933-5545
Fax: (916) 933-9833

Email: legalteam@burkefamilylawfirm.com

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