Can’t Condone a Cheating Spouse Who Never Intended to Be Faithful and Then Ask for Annulment of Marriage

In the case of In re Marriage of Goodwin-Mitchell and Mitchell, Wife helped her Jamaican first husband obtain his green card, their marriage ended in divorce. In January 2015, she met another Jamaican (Husband) online, and they began dating over the internet. Husband told Wife that he wanted to come to the U.S., live with her, have a restaurant business, and join the U.S. Army. He started to discuss marriage between February and March of 2015. In June of 2015, Wife traveled to Jamaica to meet Husband for the first time. While she was visiting him, they got married.

Wife returned to the U.S. and applied for a two-year visa for Husband. The application was approved in September of 2016 and Husband joined Wife in November of 2016. According to Wife, Husband started soliciting call girls, prostitution, and other women off of sites within a week of his arrival.

In February 2017, Husband was jailed for several days after an incident of domestic violence, and Trial Court issued a restraining order against him. While Husband was in incarcerated, Wife discovered text messages he sent to his mother which indicated that he was staying with Wife until he got his papers and was urging her and his brother to come to the U.S. too. She also found text messages between Husband and another woman in which he repeatedly said he loved her, explained that he could not leave Wife until he got his papers or the Army came through, and said he would get a divorce when he could.

When Husband got out of jail, Wife let him come back home and she had the restraining order lifted. They resumed fully cohabiting, but no longer held themselves out as a couple. Wife would later say that she felt legally responsible for him until he was given permanent resident status.

However, in March of 2017, Wife found out that Husband had sex with another woman in their home. In June of 2017, Wife filed for an annulment on the basis of fraud or alternatively for a divorce. Still, Husband and Wife continued to live together and have sexual relations until November of 2017, when Wife asked him to move out.

At a subsequent hearing, Wife testified to the above-related facts and assertions. When Husband testified, he denied soliciting women on the internet, and claimed that the women in Jamaica was just a friend. He said he had told her that he loved her because hed been traumatized in jail, and was seeking comfort for his emotional wounds. In response to Husbands denial of cheating, Wife testified that he had taped himself having sex in their home with another woman. She described the sounds that led her to believe that sex was occurring, but did not submit the tape in evidence. Wife stated the she had found the womans phone number on Husbands phone, along with numbers for escort services, and had actually spoken with the woman. Husband then testified that the woman was an acquaintance who stopped by the house and had come on to him and demanded sex during her visit. Husband maintained that they did not have sex and that the woman was the one who recorded their encounter in order to get sexual favors from him.

When the hearing concluded, Trial Court, in a ruling from the bench, summarized the facts, noting that Husband had engaged in two relationships with other women before he had been in the U.S. for a year. Trial Court reasoned that Wife and Husband owed each other a duty of fidelity, to live together (not just cohabit) in full confidence of fidelity. Concluding that this was not the case here, Trial Court granted Wifes petition for an annulment. Claiming that Wife failed to prove the elements required for an annulment for fraud under California Family Code Section 2210(d), Husband appealed, and California Court of Appeals has now reversed the Trial Courts decision.

The Court of Appeals has ruled that (1) fraud must be shown by clear and convincing evidence that it directly defeats the marriage relationship; (2) under the case of In re Marriage of Ramirez (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 751, a fraudulent intent to be unfaithful held by a spouse at the time of the marriage may support an annulment; (3) under Family Code Section 2210(d), a party whose consent to marry was obtained by fraud may not obtain an annulment on the grounds of fraud if he or she freely cohabits with the offending spouse after gaining full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud; and (4) here, Wife continued to live with and have sex with Husband for eight months after she taped Husbands sexual encounter in their home. The Appellate Court thus holds that Trial Court made a mistake by granting an annulment on these facts and it reverses Trial Courts Judgment of Annulment, and sends the case back to Trial Court for proceedings on Wifes alternative petition for divorce.

Woman Who Had Sex With Minor Is Not Entitled to Spousal Support

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that a trial court properly denied spousal support to Mother who inflicted domestic violence on her children and caused them psychological damage through her conviction and incarceration for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor (one of their friends).

In the case of In re Marriage of Schu, Mother and Father were married in 1986, and subsequently had three children who are now adults. Between 1995, and 2001, Father worked in the oil industry in Algeria, spending 28 days there, and then 28 days at home.

Meanwhile, Mother became sexually attracted to one of childrens best friend (Victim), while Victim was still a child. When Victim was 12-years-old, Mother began having oral sex with him. Later the relationship progressed to intercourse, which continued until Victim went to college. On weekends, Mother would provide alcohol for her oldest child and his underage friends, and show them porn movies. The kids would drink until they were sick. The parties oldest son would have sex with underage girls in the house; Mother would have sex with Victim. Although Victim, who wanted to end the relationship, would plead and cry, Mother insisted that he continue to have sex with her. Mother threatened to tell Victims friends and family if he stopped.

The parties children all suspected that something was going on between Mother and Victim, but had no confirmation of the relationship until the parties second child came home to find Mother in the shower and Victim in only a towel. The parties oldest child became concerned after finding Mother and Victim in the bedroom with the door locked. The youngest child wondered why Victim was there when his best friend, the parties oldest child, was not. Fearful that the affair was discussed on the internet, Mother demanded that the second child give her Victims sisters social media password. When the second child refused, Mother had the oldest child hold the second child down while she cut a big chunk out of her very long hair. After that, the second child found it humiliating to go to school with her hair cut.

Subsequently, her home situation caused the second child to develop emotional issues serious enough to make her believe she needed counseling. When she asked Mother to send her to a counselor, Mother warned that a counselor would take her away. Second child understood this to mean that she was to keep quiet about things at home. Therefore, she kept her feelings bottled up to the extent that her friends called her mannequin; she also stated that she never wanted to have children.

Mother was subsequently arrested and pled no contest to seven counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. She was later sentenced to six years in prison. She and Father also began divorce proceedings, and Father paid her $500 per month for spousal support. After their divorce trial, Trial Court found that Mother had sufficient assets to be self-supporting, including $160,000 of her own money, and her name on five to six bank accounts with her father. Mother also received about $914,000 in the community property division, in which she got half of Fathers retirement. Citing California Family Code Section 4320 sections (I) [trial court must consider documented evidence of domestic violence], (m), (n)[other just and equitable factors considered], and (k) [trial court must balance hardships], Trial Court refused to order spousal support for Mother.

Claiming that Trial Court impermissibly considered fault in denying spousal support, Mother appealed. Now, California Court of Appeals has affirmed Trial Courts decision. The Appellate Court has ruled that:

(1) California Family Code Section 2335 precludes Trial Court from admitting evidence of specific acts of misconduct in connection with the divorce case [e]xcept as otherwise provided by statute;

(2) Family Code Section 4320 is that statute and mandates that Trial Court consider all enumerated factors before making spousal support order, several of which involve acts of misconduct;

(3) Family Code Section 4320(i) requires Trial Court to consider documented evidence of history of domestic violence by party seeking spousal support;

(4) Here, Trial Court correctly determined that Mothers conduct in permitting the oldest child to drink alcohol to the point of nausea and in cutting second childs hair as punishment constitutes domestic violence (physical and emotional abuse);

(5) Mother provided the oldest child with alcohol and porn and assaulted the second child in order to molest Victim, refused to obtain psychological help for the second child, humiliated and psychologically devastated all three children by being arrested and convicted of sex crimes, and caused inestimable harm to Victim, all of which more than justified Trial Court in denying spousal support to Mother. Finding Mothers assets sufficient for her support (she has beneficial interest in accounts held jointly with her father), the Appellate Court affirms Trial Courts denial of spousal support.

Wife Not Entitled to an Amount of Support Sufficient to Maintain the Marital Standard of Living

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that Trial Court was not wrong by concluding that the funds in the parties brokerage account were a marital community loan from Mothers parents (not a gift) or by ordering stepped-down spousal support payments that were not in an amount sufficient to maintain the marital standard of living. In the case of In re Marriage of Grimes and Mou, Father and Mother were married in January of 2004, and separated in July of 2015. Father filed for divorce in April of 2016. During the marriage, Father worked as an engineering manager at Google/YouTube earning a six-figure base salary, plus bonuses. Mother, a Chinese immigrant who is fluent in English and Mandarin and held a masters degree in finance, worked as a treasury analyst and generally earned six-figures as well. From 2011, through 2015, Mother and Fathers yearly gross income rose from $316,260 to $778,660. They had a middle to upper middle-class lifestyle in Palo Alto, a child in private school, three cars, yearly vacations, and regular restaurant meals.

For a year after separation, Father paid the rent and utilities on the Palo Alto house to the tune of over $5,000 per month. Father estimated that he had paid voluntary spousal support to Mother of between $250,000 and $300,000 from July of 2015, to May of 2018.

When the parties decided to buy a house, Mother assured Father that she could get money from her brother or her parents, as a gift or a loan. A total of $229,936 was deposited into Mothers brokerage account from various relatives. However, when Father filed their joint income tax returns for 2014, and 2015, he reported gains from the account as income to him and Mother.

At trial, a vocational expert testified that at age 49, Mother would be a little disadvantaged in the job market, but that she was readily employable and able to work toward being self-supporting. The expert opined that there was a range of appropriate jobs for someone with Mothers education and work history, and that she was capable of earning between $101,008 and $123,257 annually.

As to the funds in the brokerage account, Mother testified that after she and Father decided not to buy a house, she offered to return the money that her relatives had provided, but they told her to keep it and invest it for them. Father said he believed that the funds were a gift or at worst, a loan.

After hearing evidence and argument, Trial Court found that the funds at issue in the brokerage account had not been shown to be a gift from Mothers parents, but rather a loan to the community. Trial Court ordered the loan debt divided equally between the parties, with each party to pay half of the loan to Mothers relatives. Trial Court ordered the rest of the brokerage funds divided equally between Mother and Father. Trial Court ordered Father to pay step-down spousal support to Mother of $3,000 per month from June 1, 2018, through December 31, 2019, plus 20% of Fathers additional income over $300,000; $2,000 per month from January 1, 2020, through December 31, 2021; and $1,000 per month from January 1, 2022, through November 30, 2026. Trial Court noted that after it set Mothers earning capacity at $90,000, she got a job earning $96,000, but found that Mothers job search efforts were not appropriately and fully focused. Trial Court set the termination of spousal support at either partys death, Mothers remarriage, further court order or written agreement, or the date that the youngest child reached age 18 (November 30, 2026).

On October 29, 2018, Trial Court issued further findings and orders after hearing, ordering Mother to transfer half of the brokerage funds to Father and ordering Father to pay his half of the loan debt directly to Mother.

Claiming that Trial Court erred by characterizing brokerage funds as a loan and ordering so little spousal support, Mother appealed the first order after hearing. On January 23, 2019, Trial Court entered a divorce judgment that incorporated the earlier order.

Now, acting on Mothers appeal, California Court of Appeals has affirmed Trial Courts decisions. The Appellate Court has ruled that (1) Mother appealed from an unappealable order but justices choose to treat her appeal as having been taken from the January 23, 2019, judgment since it did not implicate the October 2018, order and doing so will not prejudice Father; (2) on the present record, Trial Court could reasonably reject Mothers testimony regarding the brokerage funds and infer that the parties treated the funds as a loan; and (3) Trial Courts spousal support award was not an abuse of discretion since Trial Court was not required to order support sufficient to maintain the parties marital standar of living, Trial Court considered the appropriate Family Code Section 4320 factors, and Mother could reasonably be expected to become self-supporting.

Top 3 Mistakes People Make During Divorce

Divorce is a life changing decision that must be handled with utmost care. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce can take a heavy emotional toll on both parties involved.Thinking about or going through a divorce? Here are the top three mistakes people make during divorce.1. Letting anger get the best of youIn divorce, emotions may run high and an argument with your ex seems inevitable. However, behaving out of anger will not end well for your case. Saying something during divorce proceedings that normally would have been said during marriage can take a different connotation, and can be perceived as threatening. This may lead to your ex getting a restraining order and having you removed from the household.When children are involved, this can negatively affect them. Children may feel bad when one parent badmouths another, and began to believe it is their fault. It is important to never use children as pawns in your divorce, or you can further fragment your family. Children need to know that divorce is not their fault, and they have two parents who love them.2. Being passiveAllowing guilt or fear to dictate your actions during a divorce may prevent you from seeking what is fair and right. There is life after divorce, and it is important that you make sure you are able to live within your means after the dust settles.Some people mistakenly believe that allowing their ex to kick them out of the house, or voluntarily moving out, alleviates them of responsibility of supporting that household. Between paying rent on a different place and supporting the previous household financially, the costs can build up quickly. Understand that you have to make a living after divorce, and your children have the right to live a decent life. Being passive during a divorce may cause further setbacks, draining you both emotionally and financially.3. Not getting the right legal representationNot all divorces are created equal; there is no one advice that fits all divorces. Taking advice from family or friends who have “been there, done that” is not recommended. While their advice may be useful, they are not licensed professionals.Finding the right legal attorney means looking for someone who can maintain balance between you and your ex, while also doing whats best for your family. It’s important to choose someone who is well versed in family law, and will pay attention to the details of your case.Family law is changing all the time, and it’s best to stick with those who know how best to meet your needs. Take no substitutes for your family law legal lawyers! Acting on bad legal advice may have heavier penalties than if you had taken no action at all.At Azemika & Azemika Law, we exclusively practice family law. With the dedicated professionals at Azemika & Azemika, we give you fast, sympathetic, and effective solutions that you deserve. By creating a support plan, you will receive legal advice specifically crafted for your situation. We will fight for you and your family. If you need help in navigating your divorce proceedings, please contact us.

What is the difference between Legal and Physical Custody?

A big topic in headlines today, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt recently filed for divorce. Word has it that Jolie is seeking joint legal custody, but sole physical custody. While divorce is a sensitive topic for all those involved, it is important to understand these terms in relation to your children. What is the difference between legal and physical child custody, and which would be best suited for your children? Child custody can be a difficult and complex issue to navigate in family law, that varies from state to state. An experienced family law attorney can assist you in understanding these terms and their implications, outlining goals for your case, what you may expect from proceedings, and types of custody arrangements the judge may set up.

Physical custody refers to where the child will be living; whether your home, or your ex-spouse’s home. The judge may consider a wide range of factors when coming to a decision. The best interests of the child are top priority. The court may also consider each parent’s capacity for providing care, the stability of the home environment, each parent’s history of domestic violence, drug, or alcohol abuse, among other factors. It’s possible to establish joint physical custody, but this may be difficult for the child involved, even if both parents prefer this. Usually, a child may live at one residence and have frequent visitation with the other parent.

Legal custody is about having the authority to make major decisions regarding how the child is raised. This can refer to decisions relating to your child’s education (where they go to school), healthcare (whether or not they receive medical care), and religious preferences (what religions are practiced, and what kind of activities are observed). In emergent situations, legal custody grants the parent the right to make immediate decisions.

If knowing is half the battle, speaking with an experienced child custody attorney will help you minimize this traumatic time for your family. With the family law professionals at Azemika & Azemika, we will create fast, sympathetic, and effective solutions specifically crafted for your situation. Contact us today for assistance with Legal and Physical Child Custody.

What is the difference between Legal and Physical Custody?

A big topic in headlines today, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt recently filed for divorce. Word has it that Jolie is seeking joint legal custody, but sole physical custody. While divorce is a sensitive topic for all those involved, it is important to understand these terms in relation to your children. What is the difference between legal and physical child custody, and which would be best suited for your children? Child custody can be a difficult and complex issue to navigate in family law, that varies from state to state. An experienced family law attorney can assist you in understanding these terms and their implications, outlining goals for your case, what you may expect from proceedings, and types of custody arrangements the judge may set up.

Physical custody refers to where the child will be living; whether your home, or your ex-spouse’s home. The judge may consider a wide range of factors when coming to a decision. The best interests of the child are top priority. The court may also consider each parent’s capacity for providing care, the stability of the home environment, each parent’s history of domestic violence, drug, or alcohol abuse, among other factors. It’s possible to establish joint physical custody, but this may be difficult for the child involved, even if both parents prefer this. Usually, a child may live at one residence and have frequent visitation with the other parent.

Legal custody is about having the authority to make major decisions regarding how the child is raised. This can refer to decisions relating to your child’s education (where they go to school), healthcare (whether or not they receive medical care), and religious preferences (what religions are practiced, and what kind of activities are observed). In emergent situations, legal custody grants the parent the right to make immediate decisions.

If knowing is half the battle, speaking with an experienced child custody attorney will help you minimize this traumatic time for your family. With the family law professionals at Azemika & Azemika, we will create fast, sympathetic, and effective solutions specifically crafted for your situation. Contact us today for assistance with Legal and Physical Child Custody.

Custody Should Not be Awarded to Perpetrator of Domestic Violence

In reversal, a California Court of Appeals has ruled that Trial Court was wrong in maintaining 50-50 timeshare after awarding Mother sole legal and sole physical custody of Children due to Fathers domestic violence. According to the Appellate Court, it was an abuse of discretion by Trial Court to award equal time to Father absent a showing that equal timeshare was in Childrens best interests.

In the case of Celia S. v. Hugo H., Mother and Father had a long romantic relationship. During their relationship, they had two children (now ages 12, and 6). The relationship ended after Father committed several acts of domestic violence. In February of 2014, Mother and Father stipulated to a Trial Court order for joint legal and joint physical custody of Children and an alternating weekly custody split.

In January of 2015, Mother invited Father to have dinner with her and the Children at her apartment. While dinner was cooking, Father left the room to take a phone call. Mother sat down where Father had been sitting and began to help their oldest Child with his homework. When Father returned, he demanded to have his chair back and when Mother refused, he allegedly pulled Mother up by her hair. While Mother tried to get away, Father punched her in her ribs or stomach. After they argued some more, Mother told Father to leave; Father did, but loitered outside. Mother called police, who arrested Father for domestic violence. The next day, Mother sought a Domestic Violence Protection Act restraining order and an order for sole legal and sole physical custody of the Children, per California Family Code Section 3044 [presumption that custody award to perpetrator of domestic violence is not in childs best interests].

Trial Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order and scheduled a hearing. At that hearing, Trial Court heard conflicting testimony about the incident from Mother and Father, and received social workers report detailing Childrens observations and fears regarding Fathers domestic violence. Trial Court issued a one-year restraining order, required Father to complete a 52-week batterers program, concluded that Mother was a victim of domestic violence, and awarded her sole legal and sole physical custody of the Children. However, Trial Court left the parties 50-50 timeshare in place, after modifying the exchange location.

Claiming that Trial Court was wrong in maintaining the 50-50 timeshare on these facts, Mother appealed. Now, a California Court of Appeals has ruled that (1) Trial Court must apply Family Code Section 3044 presumption in any case where it makes a domestic violence finding; (2) Section 3044 presumption may be rebutted by a showing that it would be in childs best interest to give custody to batterer; (3) Trial Courts maintaining of 50-50 timeshare effectively awarded [Father] joint physical custody even though it labeled the order as visitation; (4) Trail Court may not circumvent Section 3044 requirements by labeling an impermissible custody award as visitation; and (5) Trial Court abused its discretion by failing to apply the Section 3044 presumption properly and awarding joint physical custody to Father without evidence that doing so would be in Childrens best interests. Finding no merit in Fathers other contentions, the Court of Appeals reverses Trial Courts order and remands the case back to Trial Court for further proceedings consistent with its decision.

How to Enforce an Alimony

Alimony refers to monthly stipends payable to a spouse or domestic partner for a specific duration after divorce. When a spousal support order is acquired as part of a divorce, your former spouse or domestic partner must start making payments as per court order. A start date for the spousal support, also known as alimony, will be included with this order. Just like child support, an alimony order naming a payor is legally binding. If spousal support is not paid, you may have several options before seeking a contempt order.

Enforcement ActionsSpousal support enforcement begins with a judgement entered by the court. If child support is involved in your case, you may contact your local child support agency to provide an enforcement order. They can calculate payments owed and notify the payor of the amount due. The payor is given time to rectify their arrears, or make arrangements. Contempt charges can be filed against a payout for non-payment, partial payment, or late payment. However, this is usually the last resort, as filing the motion of contempt requires you to prove that there is an established alimony judgment entered by the court, that the payor must have knowledge of this court order, and the payor willfully violated said court order. With filing a motion of contempt towards the payor, the burden to prove violation of spousal support falls on your shoulders. Keeping a detailed record of payments received before and after an enforcement action taken on your behalf can assist your case.

One factor that may be considered is non-payment versus partial payment. Does the payor have other bills that need to be taken care of, like rent, car payments, utility bills, as well as spousal support? The question may lean towards the payor’s priorities, rather than ability to pay. Due to the recurrent nature of the alimony, each payment can be subject to separate proceedings, up to three years. Each case is unique. Depending on circumstances and the seriousness of the charges brought against the payor, whether fines or jail time, should not be taken lightly: an experienced spousal support attorney can handle the complex aspects of your case and assist you in arriving at the best solution for your needs.Garnishments and LeviesWage garnishment, also called an earnings assignment order, and levies are commonly used to enforce a spousal support order. Wage garnishment is a deduction from the debtor’s earnings payable to the entitled spouse; an employer is legally obligated to perform an earnings assignment within ten days of receipt. An employer who fails to comply with the wage garnishment is violating the spousal support order, may face legal action, and subject to contempt proceedings. If the employee had no control over the situation, they may not be guilty of contempt liability, due to the fact they did not willfully violate a court order. If your order involves child support, income types like Social Security or Disability that are usually exempt from earnings assessment become eligible for collection due under child support. Your local child support agency may garnish your wages or bank accounts, seize properties, suspend driver’s and professional licenses, or even divert federal and state tax refunds to ensure a spousal support order is met. Motion for HearingHas the payor still failed to bring alimony payments up to date after notification and enforcement action? Filing for a motion using Form FI-195, Income for Withholding Support, which is available online from the California Courts website, will call for a hearing in the civil court that handled your spousal support case. Through filing a motion for hearing, you bring court attention to alimony payments owed, financial aspects of both parties, and apply for any and all possible solutions for a genial conclusion. The motion must be served to the other party through third party over the age of 18; law enforcement or a private process server. The court will apprise the payor of the date and time of the hearing, in which each party has a chance to explain the circumstances relating to the status of the spousal support.Contempt Proceedings

Debts cannot be enforced by contempt through any California divorce and family law order. Spousal support and family support, which is a combined case of child and spousal support, fall under support obligationsand are not considered debts. Whereas payments made by the payor that satisfy a community liability or obligation, such as a house or car payment, are not enforceable through contempt unless the payee can prove that that these are integral to the support order. This can become a very tricky and rough area to navigate due to the complexity of the involved details.

According to the California Code of Civil Procedure 1218(c), for each act of contempt, the convicted spouse or parent shall be fined up to $1000 and or imprisoned for up to five days. Each nonpayment amount can be considered a separate act, meaning that the payor can be found in contempt several times, and charged ten percent annually on arrearage. The court can also assign community service.

Your Spousal Support Representation Matters

Unfortunately, having a spousal support order entered by the court does not remove the need for court intervention and legal counsel. When it comes to pursuing alimony payments, representing yourself pro-se can lead to difficulties in finding effective remedies and the resulting frustration. Having an experienced spousal support collection attorney ensures each available enforcement solution is explored.

Contact our experienced spousal support attorneys today. The professionals at Azemika & Azemika are dedicated in providing you with the immediate relief you deserve. There is no need to leave your situation up to chance when Azemika has your back. With exclusive experience in family law, Azemika & Azemika Law bring you knowledgeable alimony counsel and optimal strategies uniquely crafted for your situation.

Child Support Less Than Guideline Can Be Ordered Despite Father’s High Income

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that a Trial Court was not wrong by awarding child support which was less than the guideline support where Trial Courts order took into account Fathers extremely high income, Childs need for support commensurate with Fathers lifestyle, and Childs best interests.

In the case of S.P. v. F.G., Mother, a star in Swedish reality television, became pregnant by Father, a successful business man with a net annual income of more than $4 million. Shortly before their Child was born, Father agreed to provide financial support for Child to the tune of $9,200 per month. In early 2015, Father increased that amount to $10,000 per month, and continued his additional payments for Childs educational expenses, extracurricular activities, and medical expenses.

When Child was age 10, Mother filed a petition to establish Fathers legal relationship with Child. Mother followed up two years later with a request for a guideline child support order, along with a supporting declaration and an Income and Expense Declaration. Alternatively, Mother asked that the child support order be no less than $35,000 per month and to include Father paying for all of Childs medical care, education, and extracurricular activities. In a subsequent Income and Expense declaration, Mother claimed proposed needs of $78,155 per month, $69,420 of which was attributable to Childs needs. Mother sought enough support to upgrade their housing from the 2,700 sq. foot house in Pacific Palisades that they now rented for $5,480 a month to a furnished home that was comparable to Fathers and rented for $34,000 per month complete with appropriate staff and amenities. Mother claimed that Child needed $4,725 a month for entertainment, gifts, and vacation, $3,100 a month for groceries and eating out, more than $3,000 per month for clothing and dry cleaning, plus many thousands more for a Mercedes-Benz and attendant expenses, utilities, and phone services. Mother also stated that 14-year-old Child needed $1,200 a month for cosmetology, massages, and spa treatments because Child was extremely beautiful and would undoubtedly be a top model in the future.

After due consideration, Trial Court issued an order calculating guideline support at $40,882 per month, but deviating downward from that figure. Trial Court specifically determined that some of the proposed needs submitted by M appear to have no factual support or appear purposely inflated and facially unreasonable (such as summer camp for Child, who did not attend summer camp). Trial Court also found no evidence to support Mothers need for better housing or to indicate that Childs needs were not currently being met. Trial Court determined that the payments that Father had been making for Childs expenses were some indication of Childs needs. Trial Court listed the amounts it considered reasonable for each of the various categories of expenses Mother had stated in her Income and Expense Declaration and concluded that a child support order of $14,840 per month would be reasonable and consistent with Childs best interests. Trial Court also ordered Father to pay all of Childs reasonably necessary medical expenses, cost of Childs medical insurance, and as add-ons, private school tuition, school expenses, and costs of extracurricular activities. Trial Court stated that this order was an increase from Fathers prior payments, would supply Child with a high/affluent standard of living, and would meet Childs reasonable needs. Trial Court concluded that guideline order would not be in Childs best interests and would exceed Childs needs, and that Fathers timeshare was zero. Claiming that Trial Court erred in ordering below guideline support based on Childs historical expenses and not future expenses or Fathers wealth, Mother appealed.

The California Court of Appeals, however, has now affirmed Trial Courts decision. The Appellate Court has ruled that (1) Trial Court did not make its order based on Childs historical expenses, but also took into account Childs reasonable current and anticipated needs; (2) Trial Court properly failed to limit Fathers responsibility for Childs future expenses for tuition, school expenses, and costs of extra-curricular activities and took into consideration Mothers claimed need for better housing; (3) sufficient evidence supported Trial Courts deviation from guideline child support; (4) Trial Court was not wrong in declining to rubber stamp Mothers proposed expenses and weeding out the reasonable from the factually unsupported; (5) Trial Court correctly made detailed explanation for its reasons for deviating from guideline child support; and (6) Trial Court did not err in finding that its order was in Childs best interests.

Legal Separation and Separation Agreements

In California, there are three ways to end a domestic partnership or marriage: dissolution, commonly known as divorce, legal separation, and annulment, also known as nullity.

When it comes to divorce, there never is an easy way to tackle this complicated issue. Legal separation may be a choice you make depending on the unique circumstances you and your partner encounter.

According to the Superior Court of California, legal separation is similar to the dissolution of marriage, except both parties remain married to one another. Both parties can include resolution of issues regarding child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, asset and debt division, former name restoration, and restraining orders. During the tenure of legal separation, neither party can marry or enter a domestic partnership with another person.

Legal separation has been viewed as the foundation for a divorce agreement. You may find information on how to file for a separation agreement, but it is important to consult an experienced family law divorce attorney so you are apprised of your legal rights and on important legal issues regarding your situation during this process.

California is a no-fault state, which means when filing for divorce or a legal separation, the asking party does not have to prove the other party did something wrong. For both divorce and legal separation, you must choose between irreconcilable differences or the incurable insanity of your spouse. While divorce requires you to be a resident for six months then wait six months before the divorce is final, there is no residency requirement or waiting period for legal separation.

Some couples may choose legal separation instead of divorce for the simple fact of needing to maintain the marital status. Some may need to maintain their marriage status in regards to tax filing status, health insurance, or immigration. Having a legal separation allows them to live apart without affecting their other rights.

Another strong reason one may choose legal separation over divorce is that one may feel that legal separation gives them the necessary legal space apart to be able to consider their options. Legal separation is a softer action to take, rather than the finality of divorce.

For comprehensive legal counsel on your options during your divorce or legal separation, contact Azemika & Azemika Law. We will craft fast and effective solutions for your unique circumstances and needs. We will fight for and protect you and your family during the separation and divorce process.

What is Quasi-community Property?

On October 18th, Tobey Maguire and wife Jennifer Meyer announced their separation after nine years of marriage. Shortly after their breakup, they placed their Santa Monica property on the market for $2.995 million. They purchased this house together a little over a year ago. Due to the impending separation, who is legally entitled to the proceeds of this sale? The fact they were married during the joint purchase of this Santa Monica home marks this real estate commodity as community property.

The term community property refers to any asset or income acquired during the tenure of a marriage, whereas separate property is defined as assets or income acquired before a marriage, as a gift from a benefactor, or after separation. Property can refer to anything that can be purchased or sold, like houses, vehicles, furniture, and clothing; or can refer to bank accounts, pension plans, security deposits, businesses, and the like.

While Tobey Maguire and Jennifer Meyer’s Santa Monica home is considered community property, what if one individual received a family heirloom as a gift? Simply, this gift, which was bequeathed to one individual and not both as a couple, may be considered separate property. If one made the down payment for their house from their own individual account before they married, the down payment for that home may be considered separate property.

California is a community property state meaning that property and assets are equally divided 50/50 between both parties if it was acquired during the marriage.

If Maguire and Meyer owned properties in a different state, would they have to file in that state in order to properly divide those assets? While each case is unique and there are exceptions for this rule, for the purposes of addressing quasi-community property, we will suppose the simple answer is no. Community property remains community property regardless of the jurisdiction. Quasi-community property refers to the property and assets of a married couple acquired together in a non-community property state. Currently, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin join California as community property states.

An example of quasi-community property may be husband and wife married in California. They purchase their permanent residential home in California. They then move to Colorado and purchase a vacation home there. After seven years of marriage, they have decided to file for divorce in California. Their California home is considered community property, while their vacation home is quasi-community property, because it is a home purchased during their marriage in a non-community state. The assets will be split according to California law. However, as California jurisdiction does not extend to Colorado, this quasi-community property must be handled with special attention. It is highly recommended that you work with an experienced community property divorce lawyer who can take care of this important matter for you.

Divorce can be a highly stressful time for you and your family. When it comes to handling the necessary details concerning community property, separate property, and quasi-community property, your concerns are our priority. With the family law experts at Azemika & Azemika Law, we focus on family so you can focus on your future.