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How can I communicate with my children when I don’t have custody?

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs you can do. However, that job can get even harder after a divorce. The divorce process is very stressful, and could possibly strain your relationships, including your relationship with your children. What’s more, child custody and visitation issues can impact your relationship with your child. It is inevitable that a divorce will affect the parent-child relationship in some way. The hardest part of maintaining a parent-child relationship after divorce is getting used to the new custody and visitation arrangements. After divorce, one parent who was living in the home with the child and interacting with them on a daily basis suddenly has to live in another location, and only see their children in-person for a few days every couple of weeks, or every other weekend. When they do not see a parent often, children sometimes lose the ability to freely communicate with the noncustodial parent. It is important to remember that this is not because the child loves the noncustodial parent less, and it is not because of something the parent did wrong. Feeling less connected to the noncustodial parent is a normal feeling for children of divorce, especially for younger children. It is a priority of noncustodial parents to make the transition between each parent’s homes as smooth and comfortable as possible for the child. In order to make your child feel comfortable, it is important that you do not interrogate your child about what is going on in the other parent’s home. If you try to have your child recite a play-by-play of their week, they will not feel at...

Do Marijuana Laws Affect Child Custody?

Recently, laws about medical marijuana have been changing more than ever. In California, medical marijuana is lawful and becoming increasingly common to treat certain illnesses.  Some divorced parents are wondering, does legally partaking in medical marijuana use affect child custody? The answer to this depends on the facts of each individual circumstance. Under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, “seriously ill Californians” have the right to use and cultivate medical marijuana for medical use, within certain parameters. The right to use medical marijuana is limited to protect harm or injury, similar to the right to consume alcohol. For instance, adults can legally consume alcohol and have it in their homes, but the government can still lawfully remove children from their parent’s home if a court determines that the children’s safety is threatened due to alcohol exposure or reckless conduct. As a general rule, smoking of any kind should not occur near minors. Exposure to second-hand smoke is dangerous, and it could warrant removal of the child from your household. In In re Alexis E. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 438, a father had the legal right to use medical marijuana in his home and near his children. However, the appellate court ruled that, since he had smoked marijuana near his children before he had the legal right to do so, the situation should be treated the same as a situation involving illicit drug use. What’s more, the father argued that he had the legal right under California state law to use medical marijuana, even with his children present. However, the court rebuked because of the circumstances. In court, one of the...

Alimony: Records You Should Keep After Divorce

Alimony, sometimes called spousal support, are payments made from the the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse after divorce. Alimony is not always awarded in a divorce, courts today are trending away from it, but alimony is typically granted when one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse, or that spouse has been out of the workforce for a period of time. It’s purpose is to allow the lower earning spouse to maintain their same standard of living while they work on becoming self-supporting. You and your spouse can agree on the amount of alimony and the length of time alimony will be paid. If you cannot agree, you can go to trial to settle the matter. If you are ordered to pay alimony, you are usually ordered to make monthly payments until: a date set by a judge several years in the future your former spouse remarries the judge determines that after a reasonable period of time, your spouse has not made reasonable efforts to become self supporting your children no longer need a full-time parent at home a significant event such as retirement occurs, which convinces a judge to modify the amount paid one of you dies. Alimony is tax-deductible for the person paying it, and is considered taxable income for the person receiving it. For this reason, it is very important to keep sufficient records, whether you are paying or receiving alimony. It is common for there to be disputes between the spouses about amounts paid or received, or sometimes the IRS challenges their claims. Without documentation of payments made and received, the...

Help Your Kids Deal With the Effects of Divorce

When parents are going through a divorce, one of their biggest priorities is making sure their children get the emotional support they need. Ideally, parents would like to minimize the impact of the divorce as much as possible. In order to make the divorce easier on the children, parents should recognize how divorce commonly affects kids, and take the necessary steps to make the process as painless as possible. Research on children and divorce typically show that kids will experience a sense of loss. This feeling of loss can manifest in a variety of different ways, depending on several factors. For instance, younger children may show signs of regression in areas such as toilet training, or they may throw more tantrums. Older children and teens tend to experience their loss as depression, rebellion, or other changes to their sleeping or eating habits. Whatever the child’s experience is, parents play a huge part in easing their child’s pain. No matter what your child’s age is, the most important thing to do is to be cooperative and non-confrontational, and to continually ensure your child that you love them and that they will always have two parents. There are several other ways to properly communicate with your child while you are reassuring them. First of all, try not to vent to your child about your own frustrations regarding the divorce. It is fine to be open and honest about your feelings, and it may make your child comfortable enough to open up about how they feel. However, try not to stress your child out with details about your own difficulties. Even years...

Child Support and Taxes

Child support payments are not tax-deductible by the paying parent. In addition, child support is tax-free , and neither the paying spouse or the spouse receiving payments owes taxes on it. It is important to know how support is characterized in your marital settlement agreement, because it can significantly impact your taxes. Below is important information regarding child support and taxes. In your divorce agreement, any payments must be clearly designated as ‘child support” in order to qualify as child support. Sometimes, child support is lumped in with spousal support as “family support.” If this is the case in your agreement, none of the payment will be considered as child support for tax purposes. This can affect your taxes because family support and alimony is taxable as income to the recipient. The party would be receiving alimony which is taxable to the paying party, regardless of what the money is used for. It is important to designate separate child support in your divorce agreement if you want to receive nontaxable child support. If a parent wants to claim the child as a dependent on their taxes, the parent must supply at least half of the child’s financial support during the tax year. When parents divorce or separate, only one parent can claim the child as a dependent. The IRS prevents divorced parents from both claiming the dependent exemption by cross-referencing the dependent’s Social Security numbers. If parents live apart for the last six months of the year, have a written divorce decree, maintenance agreement, or separation agreement, there is another ruler that applies to the dependent exemption. If the...

Special Issues in Late Life Divorce

A late life divorce includes many of the same challenges as a divorce when you are younger. However, older couples also face some unique, age-related issues as well, including health concerns, retirement, and greater emotional impact. One of the biggest differences in late-life divorce is the fact that you will have less time to recover financially afterward. If you are getting a divorce after 50, or are considering it, it is important to consider division of assets like your home, retirement plan, and Social Security When dividing assets in late life divorce,there is more to consider than just the market value of the asset. Some assets will be more useful to you later in life than they are now, such as your house. Your house could be of greater value to you since your age allows you to be eligible for real estate property tax exemptions. Your house could also be a more valuable asset since you could be eligible for a reverse mortgage once you are 62 years old, which could offer additional income. As you grow older you might want your house for tax benefits such as mortgage interest or exclusions from gains upon sale. The house might also be a more valuable asset to you since the house owner can qualify for public benefits such as Medicaid, and have access to equity and potential rent income. Another issue to consider in late life divorce is dividing retirement plans. Dividing retirement plans can be complicated, so it is important to consult with your lawyer. You may need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which is a separate court...

The Benefits of Having a Divorce Lawyer

When divorcing, there is no requirement to hire a lawyer. You may decide you want to file for divorce on your own, perhaps with help from court provided documents or online instructional guides. In a few situations, divorcing on your own might be acceptable, however majority of the time people should consider hiring a divorce attorney. Here are the top 5 benefits of hiring a divorce lawyer. A divorce attorney can help ensure that you get every asset you deserve in your divorce. You may be unaware that you are entitled to certain assets, and state laws do not always guarantee an even split of assets, depending on the couple’s situation. For instance, spouses are often entitled to retirement, and sometimes they are entitled to other income that the other spouse will receive in the future. A divorce lawyer is invaluable if you have any complicated issues to settle in your divorce, such as child custody and support issues, debt, assets, future assets, and other. If you are unsure how to settle any matter in your divorce, you need a divorce lawyer. Next, a divorce lawyer can help you avoid common mistakes. Often when a person is attempting a do-it-yourself divorce, they make mistakes due to the stress of the divorce, and due to the fact that the legal system is more complicated than they anticipated. It is easy to make mistakes for an inexperienced individual settling their own divorce. They might simply forget to address issues such as medical or credit card debt, or they may underestimate or overestimate the value of an asset, which can significantly affect...

What Happens to Biological Father’s Rights after Stepfather Adoption?

A child can have only two legal parents. Since a child cannot legally have three parents, the legal parent will have to voluntarily give up their rights. If a child is adopted by their stepfather, the biological father’s rights as a parent will be legally terminated. If the biological father wants any rights with his child, including visitation rights, he should not consent to his child’s adoption by someone else. A biological father has stronger legal rights over his child than the child’s stepdad. The law will favor biological fathers over stepfathers. Stepfathers have various options available to strengthen their rights to a stepchild. For instance, stepfathers can obtain a power of attorney from their stepchild’s biological father, put their stepchild into their will and other estate planning documents, and legally adopting your stepchild. If a couple has been together for a while and the father feel his spouse’s children are really his own, he may want to legalize that bond by adopting the step child. A stepparent’s adoption of the stepchild is one of the most common forms of adoption.If he adopts the step child, he becomes a legal parent to the child in every way. The child can inherit from the parent, the parent could seek custody in case of a divorce, and the parent can make serious decisions about the child’s life regarding things like schooling and health care. Some step parents choose to adopt the step children in order to solidify their family bond. If the stepfather wishes to adopt the step children and the other biological parent is still alive, the couple will have...

Will Unpaid Child Support Appear on my Credit Report?

Credit reporting agencies are required by law to include information about overdue child support in your credit report. This information may or may not influence creditors or lenders. Unpaid child support, called child support arrears, remain on your credit report for up to seven years. An agency could make an exception to that rule if you make a deal with them. For instance, if you agree to pay some or all of your arrears, an agency may agree not to report negative information to the credit reporting agencies. Still, usually child support enforcement agencies will not eliminate all negative information, and will at least report that you were delinquent in the past. Most state Department of Social Services agencies monitor monthly child support payments. They may also monitor when the support is received by the parent receiving payments. When a parent has overdue payments, they are alerted by the Department and the parent is allowed an opportunity to contest the arrears. Social Services send credit reporting agencies monthly a list of parents who have over $1,000 in arrears. If the parent continues to miss payments or does not pay back the debt, that information will most likely be included on a credit report. Creditors will continue to receive these reports as long as the arrears are unpaid. Balances that are unpaid for 180 days will appear as collection accounts on a credit report. Once overdue child support payments appear in a credit report, banks and other creditors may limit or deny credit until debt is partially or completely paid off. If you pay back your arrears, but still owe...

How do we end a common law marriage?

Many people are unfamiliar with how common law marriage actually works. Common law marriage is granted when a couple meets specific requirements determined by their state of residence. Many people believe that once a couple is living together for a certain period of time, they are considered common law married. In fact, there are usually more specific requirements than that. Before considering how to end a common law marriage, you should become familiar with your state’s laws regarding common law marriage to make sure you are legally in one. Majority of states do not currently recognize common law marriage laws. California does not technically recognize common law marriage laws, however, there are other options for couple who seek common law marriage. Some counties in California do recognize common law marriage laws, though there are not standard requirements in place to acquire this type of marriage. Most couples who seek this type of union in California achieve it through some type of loophole. If a couple wants the state to recognize their marriage without obtaining a marriage license, they can either sign power of attorney papers while in the relationship, or contract the common law marriage in a state and district which recognizes this type of marriage. A power of attorney is a document which gives an individual authority to handle another person’s affairs. Granting a power of attorney is a serious decision, because the person who gains control of the other person’s affairs has no restrictions on what they can do with the other person’s principal assets. A couple should take great care before granting a power of attorney....

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