What are the Different Types of Divorce in California?

What are the Different Types of Divorce in California?

Are you filing for divorce and unsure of where to start? Or perhaps you are legally separated and interested in exploring your options. Deciding to end a marriage is never easy, especially when there are children involved. Many people don’t know that divorce isn’t a “one size fits all” process. 

Having a thorough understanding of the divorce options available in California can help you determine a choice that is ideal for your situation. Being prepared in the initial stages can ultimately save you time, and put you a step ahead of the game when you meet your divorce attorney. 

Here we’re going to explore five types of divorce in California so that you can make an informed decision when it’s time to call a family law attorney. 

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorces are generally straightforward cases, in which both partners have reached a mutual agreement on all the vital aspects of the divorce. Both parties can negotiate and settle on critical financial matters, the division of property that they owned together, as well as child custody, and a host of other matters. Although both partners desire the dissolution of the marriage, only one can file a divorce petition.

This type of divorce is only an option for parties that can part amicably and cooperate well on a final agreement. 

One of the worst mistakes people make in uncontested divorces is not consulting with a divorce attorney ahead of time, due to the misperception of these cases’ “simple” and “easy” in nature. However, without legal representation, you can end up relinquishing rights to certain benefits that you didn’t know you were entitled to, such as alimony, a portion of your partner’s pension benefits, income from businesses, and real estate. 

In California, all divorces take a minimum of six months to finalize. However, uncontested divorces are still faster and less expensive, because they don’t require a lengthy court process. 

Contested Divorce 

Contested divorces are often very stressful, time-consuming, and can be costly to litigate.  In a contested divorce, one or both spouses can’t agree on important matters such as child support, alimony, and property division. In such cases, mediation may be able to help. In divorce mediation, both spouses and their attorney will meet with a neutral third party to help work out their issues. 

However, if the couple can’t agree on critical matters, the courts will have to intervene. Family law judges do their best to remain impartial and consider the interests of the parties involved. In reality, they don’t know your family personally, and can only make decisions based on what’s on paper. 

Simplified Divorce 

A simplified divorce is a relatively less messy way to dissolve a short-term marriage. To qualify for a simplified divorce, both partners must be residents of California for at least six months at the time of filing. In addition, couples must file a divorce jointly under the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences. There are additional criteria a married couple must meet to obtain a simplified divorce:

  • Cannot be married for more than five years
  • Couples don’t own joint property or have more than $4,000 in joint debt, excluding car loans.
  • Community property may not exceed $25,000
  • Individual property may not exceed $25,000 

When you agree to a simplified divorce, both parties waive their right to spousal support. Both partners also have to sign a waiver agreeing to divide all the assets they own. 

No-Fault Divorce

California was the first state to permit no-fault divorces. In this type of divorce, the courts don’t consider the misconduct or the wrongdoings of either partner. Therefore, the spouse filing for divorce doesn’t have to prove fault or present evidence as grounds for the divorce. This approach is ideal if the couple wishes to dissolve their marriage due to “irreconcilable differences” or “irreparable breakdown” of the marriage. 

Limited Divorce

A limited divorce is similar to legal separation in that the couple remains married, but they no longer live together. This court-supervised separation temporarily establishes specific responsibilities regarding child support, spousal support, health insurance coverage, and property division. A limited divorce is the least common type of divorce proceeding. If a married couple needs more time to resolve their legal and financial issues, a limited divorce is an ideal option. 

Azemika & Azemika Law is on Your Side

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional time. If you are trying to settle outside of court, make sure both party’s attorneys are aware of that. However, if there are issues that the two of you can’t agree on, you may need to get the courts involved. 

The lawyers at Azemika & Azemika have a combined total of over 56 years handling family law cases. This expertise allows our dedicated team to customize each situation to fit our clients’ specific needs. As our client, we will keep you informed on the status of your case, allowing you to make informed decisions as your case progresses.

Let the team at Azemika & Azemika help set you on a path to a better post-divorce future.  Contact us today for a consultation.

Can Divorces Be Resolved Out of Court?

Even if you are ending a marriage amicably, negotiating the terms of a divorce agreement can be challenging. And if there is hostility between the couple, it can make the process even more complicated.

When you think of divorce, you may think of a husband and a wife sitting in court, battling back and forth in front of a judge. However, it is far more common for a couple to settle their divorce outside of court..

If you are in a situation where divorce is inevitable, or if you are in the middle of a divorce now, and settling out of court interests you, there are some important details you should be aware of. In this article, we will cover some of the ways in which you can avoid litigation, advantages of coming to a divorce agreement outside of the courtroom, and touch on what you can expect if your divorce goes to trial.

How to Avoid Litigation

When going through a divorce, couples often don’t realize that they don’t necessarily need the courts to resolve their request. There are options such as mediation, negotiating on your own, or settling out of court that allows couples to come up with a fair divorce settlement without the court’s intervention.  

An uncontested divorce is when you and your spouse agree on the terms of a divorce without the court’s involvement. This route, when possible, can save you and your spouse thousands compared to a trial.

Some of the items that are parts of a marital settlement agreement that a couple can negotiate without going to court are:

  • Division of property
  • Parenting plans
  • Child support
  • Spousal support

If you and your spouse can agree on the conditions of the divorce, the process is simple. First, you must draft a settlement explaining what you have decided. Next, the attorneys for each party should review the document and make revisions until both parties believe that it is fair. The settlement agreement is then submitted to the court to be validated.

There will then be a short, informal hearing held where the judge will review the settlement agreement to ensure that it is fair to both parties and negotiated in good faith. If the judge believes that issues need to be revised, the judge can send the settlement back to the couple for further negotiation.

Since the terms are uncontested, the court has to do nothing more than to accept the terms on which you have agreed. At this point, the settlement will then be formalized into a decree specifying each person’s responsibilities in the future. At that time, the divorce is final.

Remember that even if you are on good terms with your spouse, the emotions involved in a divorce could cause things to go south quickly if you are trying to negotiate a settlement agreement without a lawyer. Involving lawyers (on each side) will help communicate clearly and ensure that each side articulates their requests and receives a fair settlement.

Benefits of Settling Outside of Court

It takes less time to finalize when settling outside of court, so your attorney will not have to do nearly as much as is required by a trial, which will in-turn save you money. It’s also much more likely that you will be happier with the outcome, since you and your spouse are the ones deciding on the terms of the divorce.

If your divorce goes to court and you don’t agree with the judge’s decision, there isn’t much you can do other than file an appeal. Filing an appeal can be challenging to win and be very costly. Working with your attorney in a neutral setting outside of the courtroom gives both parties a chance to come to an amicable agreement without leaving the decision up to a third party.

What Happens if The Case Go to Court?

Should you and your spouse not be able to agree on how the two of you should handle matters on your own, that is considered a contested divorce, and your case will have to go to court. Going to court will take much more time, incur far more fees, and likely cause more stress.

If your divorce goes to trial, your attorney will begin the discovery process. During the discovery process, they will start to collect evidence on unresolved issues, reviewing each side of the case and building an argument supporting your arguments and strategy.

On your hearing date, the judge will hear each side’s testimony regarding the issues and decide on a settlement based on state law. One thing to remember is that the judge’s decision is final.

Azemika & Azemika Law is on Your Side

Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotional time. If you are trying to settle outside of court, make sure both party’s attorneys are aware of that. However, if there are issues that the two of you can’t agree on, you may need to get the courts involved. 

The lawyers at Azemika & Azemika have a combined total of over 56 years handling family law cases. This expertise allows our dedicated team to customize each situation to fit our clients’ specific needs. As our client, we will keep you informed on the status of your case, allowing you to make informed decisions as your case progresses.

Let the team at Azemika & Azemika help set you on a path to a better post-divorce future.  Contact us today for a consultation.

Can a Parent Restore His or Her Parental Rights if They’re Lost?

Every state in the country has laws that dictate the termination of parental rights. Termination is always weighed carefully to focus on what’s best for the child, and it’s a complex process that is irreversible in many cases. However, there are also statutes and procedures in place in some states to restore parental rights in specific circumstances.

Can a parent restore his or her parental rights if they’re lost? The answer to this question is complicated. It depends on individual circumstances and whether or not the state in which you live allows for reinstatement of parental rights.

In California, parental rights that have been terminated may be restored in certain circumstances. While all cases are reviewed and determined based on individual circumstances, there are some situations where restoration of parental rights may be the best option for the child and the parents. 

Why Parental Rights Are Terminated

Termination of parental rights is not done lightly. In most cases, termination of parental rights occurs when there has been serious child abuse or severe child neglect. Occasionally, parents may choose to terminate their own parental rights, but they must petition the courts to do this.

Ultimately, the termination of parental rights is done when it is in the child’s best interests. Typically, once parental rights have been terminated, the child will be placed in foster care or adopted. However, for some children, the foster system does not lead to adoption or the stability that the child needs.

The Best Interests of the Child

When determining whether or not to reinstate parental rights, the courts must determine whether it is in the child’s best interest. Some parents who lose their parental rights may never get them back, but for others, restoring the parental relationship may be what’s best for everyone involved, especially the child.

For children who are not likely to be adopted or aging out of foster care, the options for their future care may be limited. In some cases, it may be in the best interest of these children and adolescents for them to be reunited with their parents.

If parental rights have been terminated, but children are not likely to be adopted for some reason, a parent may have their parental rights reinstated if the courts determine that it is in the child’s best interest.

Restoring Parental Rights in California

In California, parents who wish to have their parental rights reinstated must prove that the child is better off with them than in the foster care system. Other criteria must be met before courts will consider reinstating parental rights.

  • Three years must have passed since parental rights were terminated.
  • If a child is deemed unlikely to be adopted, parental rights restoration may be considered.
  • If a child is younger than 12, the courts must factually identify that restoring parental rights is in the child’s best interests.

Older children aging out of the foster system or who are unlikely to be adopted may wish to restore their relationship with their parents. If the parent can prove that restoring their parental rights is the best option for the child, the courts may agree. But each case is reviewed on an individual basis, and proving that parental rights should be restored can be difficult.

Getting Parental Rights Restored

Losing parental rights can be painful for both parents and children. Parents who make an effort to improve themselves to better care for their children may still face having their rights terminated and lose access to their children.

In California, parental rights can only be restored if the child requests. Parents cannot petition to have their rights restored. A child or the child’s attorney can petition to have parental rights restored three or more years after the termination of parental rights.

While this process may have some parents feeling like their hands are tied, having a skilled and knowledgeable attorney advise them on the process can be invaluable. Family law attorneys can help parents navigate the complex process and help parents better understand the laws surrounding the restoration of parental rights.

Let Us Help You With Your Family Law Case

Matters of restoring parental rights are complicated and it is highly important that they be handled by an experienced family law attorney. You don’t have to navigate the legal challenges and the family court system alone. We have helped many people in your circumstances.

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand the complexities of state laws and the family court system. The issues that you are facing are emotionally, financially, and legally challenging. Our practice is exclusively devoted to the field of family law. As a result, we can handle cases involving divorce, dissolution of domestic partnerships, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, paternity, abandonment, and adoptions. With efficiency and great attention to detail, our partners at Azemika & Azemika use our vast experience in family law to customize each case to our clients’ needs.

Contact us today for a consultation, and we will work with you to determine the best option for your future.

What Is a Postnuptial Agreement and Why Should You Consider One?

While the idea of a prenuptial agreement may not have even been on your radar as you got engaged and started your life with your spouse, we all know that circumstances in life change through the years.

The family law attorneys at Azemika & Azemika have been providing expert service to Kern County for over 28 years. Our clients have peace of mind knowing that they are receiving knowledgeable representation at an affordable cost.

Today, we will discuss what a postnuptial agreement is and why you may want to consider one.

How Long Have Postnuptial Agreements Been Around?

Before the 1970s, postnuptial agreements were not usually enforceable. When a couple was married, for legal purposes they were considered a single person, and a single person can not enter into an agreement with themselves.  

However, as more couples began pursuing divorces and more states began establishing “no fault” divorces, postnuptial agreements became more extensively enforced.

Why Would Someone Need/Want a Postnuptial Agreement?

In the past, like prenups, postnuptial agreements tended to have a stigma attached to them. They have often been viewed as “encouraging” divorce. However, just because a couple is entering into a postnuptial agreement doesn’t automatically mean they are thinking about divorce.

Here are some reasons that a couple may enter into a postnuptial agreement:

  • To clarify what each party’s intentions are for the property they brought into the marriage.
  • If a spouse has children from a previous marriage/relationship and they want to make sure that particular assets get passed on to those children.
  • One spouse has been irresponsible financially or has gotten into legal trouble during the marriage.
  • If one spouse receives an inheritance, wins the lottery, or encounters another type of financial windfall.
  • If one spouse leaves their job to stay at home to care for their children, a postnuptial agreement can ensure that they will have the resources they need financially if the marriage were to end in divorce.

What Provisions Are Included in a Postnuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements typically include the same types of provisions.   The primary difference is that a prenuptial agreement is entered into before a couple is married, and a postnuptial agreement is entered into after the couple is already legally married.

Typical items included in a postnuptial agreement are:

  • Protection from debts that your spouse has incurred
  • How mutual debt and assets will be divided
  • Provisions for children from prior marriages or relationships
  • Whether one spouse will pay spousal support and for how long the payments will continue
  • The ownership of businesses, property, family heirlooms, or inheritances
  • How assets will be handled in the event of the death of one of the spouses during the marriage

Postnuptial agreements can also include custody and child support if the marriage ends.  Sometimes, however, if the courts determine that the postnuptial agreement tries to restrict or limit child support or parenting time with children, they may not enforce that part of the agreement.

What Are the Different Types of Postnuptial Agreements?

There are three different types of postnuptial agreements in the United States.

Dividing assets and providing for spousal support – This is the most common type of postnuptial agreement.  It lays out how assets and debts will be split in the case of a divorce.  Spousal support is also addressed, as well as if one spouse waives spousal support in place of certain marital property.  This type of agreement includes property brought into the marriage by each spouse and any property acquired throughout the marriage.

A way for each spouse to waive spousal rights in the event of the death of their spouse – This type of agreement will supersede a will or state laws that give spouses certain property rights.  When signing this type of agreement, each spouse waives their rights to inherit property or other assets of the deceased spouse.

Provide a layout that can later be used as a separation agreement – This agreement spells out how custody, child support, and spousal support are to be handled and how the couple’s assets and debts will be divided.  This type of postnuptial agreement can be integrated into the divorce decree, limiting the time and cost of a divorce.

Let the Professionals Help You With Your Postnuptial Agreement!

Although no one wants to think of their marriage ending in divorce, a postnuptial agreement can help you avoid the burden and extra stress of hashing out the details in a very emotional and trying time in your life.

At Azemika & Azemika, we focus solely on family law so you can know, without a doubt, that your family law issues are in good hands.  Our clients can expect superior service from attorneys and staff that care about their needs.

Contact us now to schedule your consultation and see how Azemika & Azemika can help you!

How to Talk About a Prenup With Your Partner

When you get engaged, you’re not expecting or hoping that your marriage will end in divorce. You’re expecting happily ever after. But in reality, you know that some marriages do end in divorce.

There is a stigma attached to the idea of getting a prenuptial agreement (also known as a prenup). Many people see it as their partner not being “all in” on the relationship or that they are expecting the marriage to fail before it even begins. This can make it difficult to talk to your partner about it if you decide that a prenup is what you want.

At Azemika & Azemika, we have helped people navigate legal issues pertaining to family law in Kern County for over 28 years. Our practice focuses solely on family law, so you can be assured that we have the knowledge and experience needed to help you work through the process of any family law issue you are facing. 

Prenuptial agreements are a commonplace and wise way to ensure that in the event of a divorce, you and your partner’s assets are protected. Today, we’re going to take a look at the prenup discussion and address how best to approach the conversation with your partner.

Start the Prenup Conversation Early.

The sooner you bring up the conversation, the less pressure you will feel. Addressing the conversation shortly after your engagement can make your partner feel more relaxed and more willing to communicate with you.

Even better, if you address your desire for a prenup while you are still dating, you can use your partner’s reaction to decide how to handle the subject later in your relationship. Not only that, they will know your thoughts on the matter early enough to process the idea of a prenup. It is recommended that you have the conversation before your engagement if possible, so that it becomes less of a conversation of the trust between you and your partner as you become increasingly committed, and instead more of a conversation on the concept and benefits of the agreement.

Make Sure to Emphasize That There Are Benefits to Both of You.

If you point out the fact that a prenup can significantly benefit both of you, your partner may feel less intimidated by the idea.

Prenups can provide emotional and financial stability if your marriage ends in divorce. Since everything has already been planned, there is less fighting, less tension, and it allows both of you to move on with your lives with all the variables already considered.

Discuss and Decide the Terms Together.

If you go into the conversation with an agreement in hand, most likely, your partner will immediately become defensive. If your attorney has drawn up the contract, it will most likely have been drafted in your favor.  

Instead, look into hiring a mediator to write the prenup with your partner so that you both have input, and it will allow the two of you to discuss what expectations you each have for your marriage.

Be Upfront With What You Want.

If you want to draft a prenup without causing resentment from either party, you have to trust and communicate with each other openly.  

If you want something in the agreement, being open and honest with your partner will help them understand what is important to you. When you suggest a term of the agreement, especially one that you think will trigger your partner, make sure you take the time to help them understand why you want it. The more they understand your “why,” the better the conversation will go.

Listen to Your Partner.

There will be terms of the agreement on which you will both agree. But your partner will likely have some concerns that are different or even the complete opposite of yours. When this happens, be sure to listen to them with an open mind, and be sensitive to their needs and concerns.

Every disagreement that comes up allows the two of you to improve your relationship and understand each other better. This whole process isn’t to “win” or “be right.” It is a chance to strengthen your relationship and build a steady partnership for the union to come.

Make Sure You Leave Room for Change Through the Years.

A prenup should cover more than just what you have at the time of drafting the document. It should also consider things that haven’t happened yet.

Right now, you may not have much, but in the future, that could change. When the document is drafted, you could be running your own business while your partner has their own career. In the future, your partner may play a significant role in your business, or perhaps you or your partner steps back from their career to stay home and raise your children.

The possibility of all of this should be taken into account when drafting the prenup as well.

Need Help Talking About a Prenup With Your Partner? Call Azemika & Azemika.

A prenuptial agreement can help relieve undue stress during a difficult time in your life. Knowing that your assets are protected and that the solution has been laid out can help you move into your marriage with peace of mind.

Let the attorneys at Azemika & Azemika help you manage the process of drafting a fair agreement that will benefit you and your future spouse.  

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Do Mothers Have More Parental Rights Than Fathers?

If you are a father who is in the midst of a separation or a divorce, you may be wondering if you even have a chance to gain custody of your children. Often, fathers are under the assumption that the custody of their children will automatically be granted to the mother. This is untrue.

While it is true that the courts often leaned towards awarding custody to the mother in the past, the state’s views have changed, and there is no longer a preference of women over men in granting custody.

At Azemika & Azemika, Kern County family law practice, our attorneys have a combined total of over 56 years of experience in family law. Our practice strictly handles family law cases, so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands.

How Was Child Custody Decided In the Past?

In the past, men were generally expected to be the breadwinner of the family, while women were typically expected to stay home to care for the house and the children. Due to this being the expected cultural norm, when a couple pursued a divorce, it was very common for the mother to gain custody of the children.

Custody Laws Today

Many women, whether married or single, work outside of the home, and more men have begun staying home and becoming the primary caregivers to their children. In most cases now, both the mother and the father contribute to finances as well as raising their children. 

As familial responsibilities have changed, laws have changed as well. Scientific research has suggested that children fare better when both parents are actively involved in their lives. Courts now promote participation from both parents when deciding custody.

Why Don’t More Dads Have Custody?

Looking at the divorced couples that you know, it may appear that mothers are still the primary caregiver, and statistically, they are. You may be wondering how that is possible if there is not a bias in family court. The majority of the time, the courts are not who decides who has how much parenting time.

In over half of custody cases, the parents decide that the mom should have primary custody of the children without the court’s intervention. Only a small percentage of child custody cases ever go to trial, and very few go entirely through the litigation process. This means that family courts are usually not deciding who the primary parent should be. Typically, the parents are the ones deciding that the mother should have primary custody.

It is also possible that fathers do not pursue custody because they believe they will be discriminated against in court or simply don’t want to put themselves and their children through the process. The bottom line, however, is that statistics simply do not indicate that there is a bias in the courts toward awarding custody to a female parent versus a male parent.

How to Take Advantage of Your Rights as a Father

The excellent news for fathers is that if you choose to assert your child custody rights, the laws are on your side. Shared parenting is normally what the courts lean towards unless extenuating circumstances exist. It is absolutely possible for you to be awarded equal parenting time.

If you were married to the mother of your children when the children were born, you are generally assumed to be the legal father of the children, so it will not be necessary to establish paternity first. You can petition the court for custody arrangements as part of the divorce proceedings. If the divorce has been finalized, you can ask for a modification to the custody arrangements to allow for more time with your children.

If you were not married to your child’s mother, you might have to take steps to establish paternity. Once paternity has been established, the same rules apply as above. And even if you are an unmarried father, you have equal parenting rights as the mother.

It is important to know that research suggests that children do better when their fathers are involved in their lives. If you genuinely want to be part of your child’s life, take the initiative to ask for a custody arrangement that will allow you to participate.

Need Help Asserting Your Parental Rights as a Father? 

When facing a custody battle, you need the best representation possible — a lawyer that knows the judge and court as well as one who can help you fight for your rights as a parent who wants what is best for their child. 

Azemika & Azemika Law in Bakersfield has helped families navigate divorce and child custody cases for more than 30 years, providing strong trust behind their legal guidance. 

For a family-oriented firm at an affordable cost, contact Azemika & Azemika Law today.

How is alimony calculated in California?

People going through divorce need to know their rights and obligations regarding spousal support. Spousal support is gender-neutral, and you may either be on the receiving end or be required to pay alimony to your former spouse during or after the divorce. What exactly is alimony, and how much will you have to pay or be eligible to receive?

Spousal support, known as alimony, is a payment from one person to another during or after a divorce. In California, most judges use a standard formula when calculating support amounts. However, several factors are calculated by how much alimony you are entitled to receive or are responsible for paying.  

There are three types of spousal support in California. Temporary, Rehabilitative, and Permanent spousal support. The court must consider the controlling statute 4320 when determining spousal support. However, the courts also have a tremendous amount of discretion on what influences how much support one receives.

Alimony support is required to help make the transition from a two-income household to a one-income household less overwhelming. While it may seem unfair, the goal is to help both parties be on as stable a financial foundation as soon as possible. Therefore, the court will determine spousal support after the establishment of child support.

We will help you understand the different types of alimony and how alimony is calculated in the state of California.

What Are The Three Different Types of Alimony?

1. Temporary Alimony 

The purpose of temporary alimony support is to help the person with a lower-earning income with expenses and maintain a standard of living they are accustomed to until permanent support is determined and assets and debts are divided.  Temporary alimony is paid while the divorce is pending. There is no expiration date, and there is no set time period for support. 

2. Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of spousal support and utilized when one person was the primary earner while the other person primarily cared for the children. The goal is to support the individual and allow time for them to gain essential job skills or education so that they may join the workforce and help themselves.

3. Permanent Alimony 

The purpose of court-ordered permanent alimony support is to provide a sufficient income that will cover basic needs and standards that meet the spouse’s lifestyle receiving the support. Permanent support is generally reserved for marriages that lasted ten years or more or one person can not work due to age or illness. 

Factors For Determining Temporary Alimony Support

There are four factors the courts look at for determining temporary alimony support in California:

  • Income
  • Assets
  • Expenses
  • Debts

Guidelines When Factoring Rehabilitative Or Permanent Alimony Amounts

  • Duration of Marriage
  • Assets and Debt responsibilities of each person, including properties
  • Health and Age
  • Standard of Living Established
  • The ability for the individual receiving support to have sustainable employment
  • History of domestic violence against either party or the children
  • The ability of the Supporting Party to Pay Alimony
  • The level which the supported party contributed to career, education, etc. by the spouse paying the alimony
  • The earning capacity of each person
  • Tax consequences to each person
  • The goal is that the person receiving alimony will be self-supporting in a reasonable amount of time. Generally, this period is half the length of the marriage, but this is left up to the court’s discretion and may be longer or shorter based upon the factors listed.
  • Criminal convictions In accordance with Section 4325, criminal conviction of an abusive spouse will be considered.
  • The court may include other factors that deem just and equitable, and the court will consider these in determining the alimony support amount. (CA FAM 4320)

The general guideline for calculating alimony takes 35% to 40% of the higher-earning spouse’s income and subtracts 40% to 50% of the lower-earning spouse’s income. Depending on what county you live in, it will vary.

Consult An Attorney

Determining or modifying your spousal support payments can be a complex and confusing process. There are forms, documents, and court hearings to consider. Even if you and your spouse agree to the modification, consulting an attorney and ensuring you file the right paperwork is critical to your success.

At Azemika & Azemika, our law firm is exclusively devoted to the field of family law. We handle divorce cases, dissolution of domestic partnerships, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, paternity, abandonment, and adoptions. Our partners at Azemika & Azemika will put their expertise to work for you and make sure your case is customized to your needs. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.

Options for maintaining child support while unemployed

The circumstances of your life are constantly changing, but that doesn’t mean your obligation to pay child support will. California requires both parents to help meet the financial needs of raising their child or children. So while changes in your income can alter your responsibility somewhat, you still need to go through the legal process to make it official and avoid punishment. But what can you do when you’re unemployed and have no income? 

At Azemika & Azemika Law, we specialize in many aspects of Kern County family law, including maintaining child support during difficult times. Because California courts make child support judgments in the best interest of the child, there are times when you may feel the amount you must pay is overwhelming or unrealistic. Thankfully, there are solutions available to ensure you keep making your payments on time—and we can help you sort through the options that best match your situation.

In this article, we’ll outline how different forms of unemployment can impact your child support obligations. We’ll also analyze how courts can calculate changes to your payment obligation should you find yourself unemployed. Then, with the help of an experienced family law attorney in Bakersfield, you can take the necessary steps to adjust your child support payments. 

Types of Unemployment

For child support, California considers three different types of unemployment:

  • Voluntary unemployment, wherein a parent chooses not to work (or loses their job) but doesn’t seek new employment.
  • Involuntary unemployment, where a parent loses their job through circumstances beyond their control and is unable to secure work despite their best efforts.
  • Voluntary underemployment, which sees a parent choosing to work less or receiving total income less than they were when the judge issued the initial child support order.

A judge will look at your specific circumstances to determine whether or not an adjustment to your child support order is valid. Understandably, courts don’t view all cases with sympathy. For example, if you quit your job and opt not to look for a new job, that’s a personal decision within your control that will warrant an adjustment.

A judge is more likely to adjust if you can demonstrate that the reason for your job loss or underemployment wasn’t your choice. For example, suppose budget cuts resulted in your termination, and you have been diligently searching for a new job. In that case, it’s more likely that a judge will alter the original support order until you can find employment. However, if you were terminated due to poor performance or bad behavior and still can’t find a job, that’s not out of your control.

However, the circumstances of why you’re unemployed aren’t the only factor determining a change in a child support order. Besides investigating cases, California courts must decide what you should still pay, if anything, following state guidelines. To do this, they use imputed income to make a final calculation.

What Is Imputed Income?

Imputed income could be thought of as a baseline salary you could be making if you were still working full-time. However, rather than look at the job you previously held, courts usually use state or federal minimum wage guidelines to determine what you should continue paying. While this doesn’t altogether remove your child support responsibilities, it could reduce them considerably. 

Another purpose of imputed income is to punish parents who are acting in bad faith. For example, a parent who goes out of their way to get fired, or chooses to quit and not seek work, could be doing so intending to hurt their former spouse. Imputed income ensures they can’t weaponize unemployment against their ex-partner or their child.

Imputed income isn’t always used by courts when a parent is suffering hardships, however. For example, if you’re able to demonstrate that you’re putting in your best effort to secure work or have a valid reason for not seeking employment (like staying home to care for a loved one), imputed income likely won’t come into play. Instead, a judge may make a temporary change in your payments until you find work or can return to work.

What Counts As Income?

When they crafted your initial child support order, the courts looked at more than your employment wages to determine what you should pay. These revenue streams, such as stocks, bonds, and other investments, contributed to that final figure. So even when you’re unemployed, those additional revenue streams will still count towards your total income. 

That being the case, you may need to sell some assets to illustrate that you’re doing everything you can to meet your payment obligations, even if you aren’t actively earning an income from working. It’s a factor in showing that you’re doing everything to meet your obligations. However, this doesn’t apply to all assets, nor is it a steadfast rule.

You Can Count on Azemika Law

The complexities of child support laws can be overwhelming on their own, but meeting your responsibilities on top of unemployment can feel like an impossible task. However, how you try to solve the problem can significantly impact your future, so it’s best to work with Bakersfield’s best family law attorneys.

That’s where we come in.

At Azemika & Azemika Law, we have expertise in family law, including child support, child custody and visitation, father visitation, and divorce. Let us help you navigate these and other changes in your family life with compassion and understanding. Reach out to our office now to discuss your needs and learn what we can do for you.

Can paternity results be challenged?

Are you wondering if you can challenge paternity test results to determine if the results are accurate? The short answer is —  Yes. A paternity test is vital to establish who the true father is of a child. Once verified, it places legal rights and responsibilities on the individual to provide support and care for the child.  

There are different reasons why someone would want to establish or challenge paternity.

Before you begin, it is wise to research and choose solid legal support to help you gather evidence and build your case. Whether you are the mother or the presumed father who wants to explore the results of a paternity test, the outcome will have a significant effect on your life.

Going through the paternity process can be emotionally and mentally draining. Today, we will look into why establishing paternity is essential, the reasons one might want to challenge a paternity test, and how to challenge the results. We are here to help you navigate this complex issue and the family court system.

Why Establishing Paternity Is Important

In child custody cases, the outcome of a paternity test determines who will have input in raising a child, their daily life, schooling, medical decisions, and financial responsibility, which is excellent if you are the father and want shared custody. For a mother, paternity tests can help establish the right to financial support from the father and access to the crucial medical history of the father.

Perhaps a parent wants to collect support for a child, and you don’t believe it is your child. You don’t want the financial or legal responsibilities, you will need help challenging paternity.

Raising and being responsible for a child is a lifetime commitment. If you have a question, it is best to find out the truth sooner rather than later. If you are considering filing a paternity suit, here are some of the reasons why you may want or be able to take the next step.

Reasons To Challenge Paternity

While testing is primarily accurate, sometimes the results are wrong. Utilizing medical evidence in establishing the father of a child is normal, and here are the grounds for challenging the results are as follows:

  • Lab results that are inconclusive or inaccurate
  • Lab results are fraudulent because someone else went to the lab to take the test instead of the presumed father
  • Presumed father provides proof of infertility or sterility
  • Evidence that the results of the test were tampered with by someone
  • Proof of infidelity in the marriage 
  • To prove a child is yours in a child custody case
  • To establish a child is not yours in a custody or support case
  • To determine the child’s father for child support and to have access to the fathers medical history

If this sounds like you or someone you know, there may have grounds for a paternity suit. Protect your rights and privileges and the rights and privileges of the child you love.

Ways To Challenge Paternity

Establishing paternity and challenging paternity is done through very similar methods. State laws differ, so seeking local legal advice from an attorney is best to help navigate the complex state laws in family court.

Filing a complaint with the court is the first step. The court will likely order DNA tests for the child and the father to determine the actual father. The court allows the use of medical documents and blood tests as evidence. DNA is the most accurate way to determine paternity and is the final factor. Once a DNA test is complete, the court will officially establish who is the child’s father with a Declaration of Paternity.

Another thing that some states consider is the emotional and psychological impact on the child if a man has been considered their father for many years, which can make proving paternity more difficult.

We Can Help You Challenge Paternity

Determining if the evidence provided is sufficient to use in court to challenge paternity results is best done by an experienced attorney. You don’t have to navigate the legal challenges and the family court system alone. We have helped many people in your circumstances.

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand the complexities of state laws and the family court system. The issues that you are facing are emotionally, financially, and legally challenging. Our practice is exclusively devoted to the field of family law. As a result, we can handle cases involving divorce, dissolution of domestic partnerships, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, paternity, abandonment, and adoptions. With efficiency and great attention to detail, our partners at Azemika & Azemika use our vast experience in family law to customize each case to our clients’ needs.

Contact us today for a consultation, and we will work with you to determine the best option for your future.

Should You File for a Divorce or Legal Separation in California?

Should You File for a Divorce or Legal Separation in California?

Are you considering filing for divorce in the state of California but unsure whether there’s a better option? Maybe you’ve heard that filing for a legal separation would be best, but what exactly are the differences between the two.

Divorce and legal separation are both serious legal matters. But, when you’re already preoccupied and attempting to navigate a rocky marital situation, having to figure out your best course of action can be even more distressing.

Knowing the details about each process can help you make a more informed decision regarding your future. Today, we will take a closer look at the details you need to know to help you decide whether a divorce or legal separation is a better option for you in California.

What Is a Legal Separation

Both divorce proceedings and legal separation proceedings begin with a petition filed to either dissolve the marriage (divorce) or invoke a legal separation between the two married people.

A legal separation agreement is a document that details things such as how you and your spouse will split your property, custody arrangements for your child(ren), and how you will pay for things during the legal separation process. This document is important during a legal separation, but it is also commonly one of the first things arranged during the beginning process of a divorce.

When you obtain a legal separation, you are still technically married. When you are legally separated, it means that you cannot remarry unless you convert your legal separation into a divorce. In a legal separation case, you still have to declare your assets and settle custody issues just as you would in a divorce case. 

How Are Divorce and Legal Separation Similar?

In both divorce and legal separation cases, both parties must disclose their assets and agree to custody arrangements set by the court. Property, as well as assets, are usually divided between both parties in a legal separation.

The two processes are very similar, save for the outcome. In a divorce, your marriage is dissolved, and you may have limited access to your ex-spouse’s future retirement income. 

Why Would I Consider Legal Separation?

In California, you must have been resident in the state for at least six months and a resident in the county where you are filing for divorce for at least three months. This residential requirement must be met by one or both parties for a divorce to occur.

  • There are no residential requirements or ‘cooling off’ periods required in a legal separation. Because there is no waiting period for a legal separation, it may be a better option for someone who has just moved to the area.
  • Some people have very personal reasons for wanting to avoid a divorce. For example, certain religions frown on divorce, and one or both parties may wish to avoid the stigma of being legally divorced. Others may simply want to avoid being called a divorcee.
  • Occasionally, couples choose legal separation to try and keep healthcare benefits for the spouse of the insured. However, legal separation isn’t a guarantee that the health insurance provider will have to keep the spouse covered, so this can be a risky plan.
  • If you are legally separated, you may still be able to file taxes as a married couple. Filing this way could help you with certain tax breaks.

Are There Negatives to a Legal Separation?

A legal separation isn’t a ‘clean break.’ Because your marriage has not been dissolved, you can’t legally remarry. And you are still financially tied to your spouse despite being separated. 

Since you are technically still married, you could be liable for your spouse’s tax debts. If they fail to pay their taxes, the IRS might come looking for you to pay it. If there is no financial benefit for either party under a legal separation (and there is no chance of reconciliation), it may be a better option to file for divorce instead.

For most people, a legal separation is simply the necessary first step towards a divorce. If you are sure that you want out of your marriage, a legal separation will only prolong the process.

Let Us Help You Navigate Your Separation

Divorce and legal separation are both difficult and draining processes. With so many moving parts and conflicting emotions, trying to map out your best legal options can be extremely difficult.

At Azemika & Azemika, we are dedicated to the practice of family law. We have seen numerous legal separation cases, divorce, custody matters, and many other family law issues. We can help you navigate the course of your legal proceedings so you can focus on healing your family.

Contact us today for a consultation, and we will work with you to determine the best option for you and your family’s future.