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Tag Archives: Family Law

All About Mediation

If you feel you have exhausted all of your resources in trying to negotiate the settlement of your dispute with another party, you may find mediation to be the most efficient and painless way to solve your problems. Mediation is a quick, fair, private, and relatively inexpensive way to handle a civil dispute. Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where disputing parties of a lawsuit collaborate with a third party or mediator to settle the dispute. The overall goal of a mediation is to bypass the expense and time involved with further litigation by settling the lawsuit early in the process.

The Mediator

The mediator assists disputing parties better understand and communicate their interest along with their legal and practical choices. Simply put, mediators help both parties:

  • communicate more effectively
  • examine practical and legal options for settlement, and
  • come to a mutually agreeable and acceptable solution of the problem.

Stages of Mediation

Even though mediation isn’t as structured as the court process, mediation is typically more formal than most people assume. The typical mediation process involves the following six stages.

  • Mediator’s opening statement.  Is when the mediator conducts an introduction and explains the rules and goals of the mediation.
  • Disputants’ opening statements.  Is when each party explains the dispute, how they were affected, and their own proposed solution. During this time, you aren’t allowed to interrupt another person when they are speaking.
  • Joint discussion.  Is when the parties converse directly about their opening statements. This discussion allows the mediator to determine which issues should be discussed.
  • Private caucuses.  Is when each party meets individually with the mediator to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their position. Through one or many private caucuses, the mediator also discusses new settlement ideas for each party.
  • Joint negotiation.  Happens when the mediator brings both parties back to negotiate directly.
  • Closing.  Is the end of the mediation when the mediator puts their provisions in writing as the parties listen if an agreement is reached. Both parties may be asked to sign the summary of the agreement, or the mediator may suggest they take the summary to their lawyers to review. When an agreement can’t be reached, the mediator reviews the progress and advises the parties to meet later, schedule arbitration, or court proceedings.

Benefits of Mediation

Overall, mediation has several benefits over other forms of litigation, which include:

  • Confidentiality.  In most cases, what you say in mediation cannot be divulged outside of the proceedings.
  • Saves money.  In most cases, mediation is significantly less than litigation or other forms of fighting.
  • Quick settlement.  Mediation sessions are typically scheduled a few weeks to a couple of months from when it’s requested. Sessions can typically last anywhere from a few hours to a day, depending on the case.
  • Mutually satisfactory outcomes.  Since mediation requires both parties to agree, the outcome is typically more satisfactory and has a higher compliance rate in contrast to decision made by a third party, such as a judge.
  • Customized and comprehensive agreements.  Since mediation settlements can address both legal and extra legal issues, the agreement can include psychological and procedural issues. In addition, parties can specifically tailor their settlement based on their individual situation.
  • More control and outcome predictability.  By negotiating your own settlement, you will have more control over the outcome of the dispute and be able to better predict losses and/or gains.
  • Preservation of relationship.  Since many relationships must continue after the resolution of a dispute, mediation offers a way to preserve a working relationship. In addition, mediation can enable an amicable termination of a relationship.
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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Mediation

 

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When Can a Parent Expect to Stop Paying Child Support?

when-can-a-parent-expect-to-stop-paying-child-supportAlthough California’s Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is usually strictly thought of as an enforcer of court orders outlining child support payments, DCSS does much more than that to help parents and guardians.

The Department of Child Support Services helps to establish paternity, change or enforce court-ordered child support payments and change or enforce a court order for health insurance and medical payments.

 

Department of Child Support Services 

The Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) in California helps parents and guardians get the financial support they need to take care of their families.

Specifically, the California Department of Child Support Services makes sure that financial as well as medical support that’s been ordered by a court supports families and children.

Child support agencies throughout California work with the Department of Child Support Services to ensure that parents and guardians within the 50-plus county network that DCSS works through are taken care of.

 

Purpose of California’s Child Support Payments 

California ensures that the party making the child support payments and the party using those payments are supporting the welfare of the child.

The state of California takes child support payments seriously. Laws protect you from unpaid, court-ordered child support payments as well as repaying back support.

Child Support Modifications?

The child support payments you receive could be modified if you’ve had a significant increase or decrease in income. Other factors like your custody percentage changing or having another child could affect the amount of child support payments that you receive in California.

If, for instance, one parent went back to work and started earning significantly more than the other divorcee, and the other parent spent more time with the kids, then the amount that each parent paid in child support could conceivably be readjusted to take into account these new factors.

Any Financial Changes? File Right Away. 

It’s important to bear in mind that alterations to child support payments only occur after the lifestyle changes (e.g., one parent’s income increase) are brought to the court’s attention. In other words, you can’t expect to get retroactive compensation.

The above example dealt with an increase in income for one parent, but the same rules apply to a parent or guardian losing a job. You need to tell the courts that you’re unemployed for child support payments to get lowered or possibly eliminated.

It’s important to make another filing as soon as your financial situation changes. Seek out an attorney to help you reduce your child support payments if your income changes significantly, and especially if you’re making child support payments and have recently become unemployed.

 

How is Child Support Calculated? 

Child support in California is figured out based on each parent’s or guardian’s income as well as how much time each parent or guardian spends with the child.

Other financial factors that could impact child support payments include any mortgages that each parent holds or the total cost of child care.

Believe it or not, judges working in California’s legal system rely on a computer program to calculate monthly child support payments. That said, each parent works with an attorney specializing in family law to determine how the parents’ income and other personal factors impact future child support payments.

Child support payments apply to just that – children. At age 18 the support payments should cease. And remember, it’s the parent’s responsibilities to make another filing if his or her income changes.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2014 in Child Support

 

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How Child Support is Determined

In California, child support is predominately determined by two factors. The first factor is each parent’s monthly net disposablehow-child-support-is-determined income. The second factor is the percentage of time per month that each parent provides care for the child. This is commonly referred to as the “J factor”.

Income. A parent’s disposable monthly income includes formal sources of personal revenue that are taxed by the state of California and the federal government as well as non-traditional sources of income. Types of income include the following: wages, commissions, tips, bonuses, self-employment earnings, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, interest, dividends, social security, pensions, lottery winnings and money from rental properties. The amount that a parent must pay each month for child support is partially determined by the percentage of the couple’s combined income.

Deductions. Child support has more determining factors than just the couple’s earnings. Certain payments and expenses are reduced from these sources of income. Typical deductions include taxes, other child support payments, other child care expenses, healthcare costs, job search expenses, home mortgage payments, required contributions towards retirement and union dues. It is important to note that other child support payments must be court ordered or they won’t be eligible as deductions. Also, the parent must actually be making these child support payments for the money to qualify as a deduction. Parents will not be allowed to deduct subsequent child support payments from their income.

The Calculation. After all the sources of income and eligible expenses and payments are determined, the net disposable monthly income can be calculated for each parent. The court uses these figures along with the percentage of time that each parent spends caring for their child to determine the exact amount of child support payments. Courts expect that a parent who spends more time with the child will incur significantly more expenses. It is quite common for parents, attorneys and the court to run calculations according to the above guidelines and come up with completely different figures. This happens because each party has their own personal opinions as to how much time each parent spends with their child, the number of exemptions claimed by the parents, what sources of income actually exist and which ones are taxable.

These discrepancies are exactly why parents need legal representation. A family law attorney will be able to protect your financial interests and help you keep your emotions separate from your financial and legal concerns. Remember that child support payments will extend all the way until the child turns 18 years old. This means that there is the potential for enormous child support costs over the long haul as well as the opportunity to re-calculate monthly child support payments throughout the years.  An attorney will be able to negotiate with the judge to ensure that certain information is included or excluded from child support calculations. These calculations are run by a complex computer program known as the Dissomaster.

The key to obtaining an acceptable outcome from the Dissomaster’s calculation is to convince the judge to either allow or disallow key pieces of input from being entered into the Dissomaster’s calculations.  To put it bluntly, judges have the power to shape child support payment determinations.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Child Support

 

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Seeking a Reputable Child Custody Lawyer for Help

Seeking a Reputable Child Custody Lawyer for Help

Counselling helps either new or old couples to nurture their marriages and grow it to become healthy and going. Along with that, counselling also recommends that somehow couples need to also be apart from each other in order to understand themselves better and if there are faults and flaws, they may be able to re-assess that and rebuild themselves. Otherwise, it can lead to separation or divorce.

Therapy in marriage is also highly required.  Sometimes in a relationship, it is also difficult to deal with differences and gaps. There is a need to understand your own separate needs as different individuals. There are situations when we need much of constructive communication so it needs to be carefully considered so as to be clear. That way, it can give a couple the chances to talk nicely and properly about each other and get a better idea on getting their relationship better.

However, if the couple are not able to patch things up and work things well, that’s the time when divorce comes into the picture. This is a very coarse issue to tackle concerning the children and how will this affect their lives. With this, the service of a child custody lawyer is needed.

Hiring a child custody lawyer is very much different from hiring any other type of a lawyer. This is because in this case, it’s not just about you but your personal interests but the child’s interests. Some of the key things that a parent should consider when hiring a child custody lawyer includes the following:

Firstly, the parent should analyze their financial wellbeing and the cost of hiring a child custody lawyer. Most lawyers, especially the child custody lawyers tend to be quite expensive. So, in case you are unable to afford one, you can always opt for a free or low cost representation via a family court. The negative side of this is that the family court may base this to you been financially unable to bring up your child.

Another determining factor is how complex the case is. Some of the things that may make the case to be complex include if the couple live in different states. Although a parent can chose to represent them, once the case has been determined to be too complex, then, it’s best to hire a private lawyer who is knowledgeable on that area. This indeed increases the probability of you winning the case.

Lastly, you will have to do a background check on the reputation of the lawyer. The ideal lawyer is who has a reputation of winning their client’s child custody cases for no parent wants to hire a lawyer who is doomed to make them loose. The parent should further check the strategies that the lawyer employs in order to win the case to ensure that s/he is a bit ethical. To find the right one, you can request for referrals from friends or family members who may have worked with child custody lawyers before.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Family Law

 

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Divorce and Its Aftermath

Divorce and Its Aftermath

Some marriages don’t go the easy way and it’s not easy when this relationship ends. It is really difficult no matter whose side you take, or how much you wanted to save it or not. The breakup just hurts so bad that it can turn your whole world upside down and you are like left without a choice but to start all over again. This triggers anxieties and feelings that you have never felt before, and it causes such disturbing painful feeling. But there are a lot of things that you can do to overcome these ill feelings in this difficult time so will be able to continually move on and get a brand new life ahead of you. From this, you can also learn to become a wiser and much stronger person than you were in the past.

Divorce carries along with it all sorts of negative uneasy emotions. Majority of those can even cause you stress that will get in between the body and mind’s ability to function normally. The best thing that you can only do for yourself is to take full control of yourself, relax and just let it go. Think about youself more and be focused on making yourself active, healthy and able to move forward than staying at the same place while crying over spilled milk. All that you need is to be harmless to yourself and bigger respect. To handle stress properly is very important in the process of healing.

If you have been through a divorce you are familiar with the range of emotions involved. There are feelings of anger, depression, remorse, regret, guilt and loss. Add to those emotions the conflict that may come with the process and a person begins to feel overwhelmed. The resources on this page will help you cope with the negative emotions you will experience, before, during and after the divorce process.

You ask, “Why do breakups hurt so bad even if the relationship itself does not feel good anymore either?”. A divorce, separation or breakup is painful because it symbolizes the pain and the loss, not just the demise of the relationship but also your promises, memories, commitments and shared dreams when you were still together. Romantic relationships inspire you to build your dream for the future and keep you high. When the relationship does fail, you also fail along with your dreams and it causes anxieties, pain, frustration and disappointment.

Recovering from a breakup or divorce is already like risking your own life as well. It’s either you take the pain and go on with the relationship, or just let it go and slip away along with your memories and bright dreams before.  It is very important to acknowledge that a time will come that you can eventually move on and live your sought brighter days. But of course, healing is a process. It takes time, patience and perseverance. While emotional support helps people go through the initially painful syumbling blocks of divorce, the essence of shoring up help for practical purposes post-divorce cannot be overstated.

 

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Family Law

 

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