What Should Be Included In A Parenting Plan?

We always want the best for our children, and when going through a divorce it can be a significant task to plan what co-parenting will look like between you and your ex-spouse. A parenting plan can make raising your children in separate homes a little bit easier, and acts as a great point of reference for the future when difficult parenting situations arise.

When writing out your parenting plan, there are many topics to consider. While it can be difficult to plan for unforeseen circumstances in the future, remember that writing this plan is centered around your children’s well-being and quality of life. 

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a document that outlines the parenting schedule agreed by both parents. This plan will include things like where the children will live during the week and weekends, who is responsible for picking up and dropping off at school, and other activities throughout the week. A parenting plan can also include things like summer vacation plans, holidays, and other special days worth being mentioned.

Each parenting plan is personalized and tailored to each parent’s concerns, values, and priorities. Many states require parenting plans as it can help reduce disagreements, take stress off both parents and their children, and help the divorce proceed easier.

Parenting Plan Checklist

Parenting Schedule

A parenting schedule determines how time will be divided for each home. This includes time taken to travel to one another’s house, who will be driving your children in this exchange, or if you plan to meet or drop off your children at a predetermined, safe location.

Holidays and Other Special Dates

Holidays, school breaks, vacations, and other special occasions with your family will need to be included in the plan. It can be beneficial to set a pattern in scheduling to help in future years.

Travel and Vacations

Having your children travel with your ex spouse can cause some anxiety to some, so communicating how far in advance trips need to be planned and how expenses will be paid for can make things easier for both parents.

Schedule Changes

Consider how much time ahead is required to propose any changes in your parenting schedule. Include how you each will communicate about changes, and how sudden changes will be determined in case of emergencies.

Important Upbringing Decisions

How you will make decisions about your child’s health care, discipline, religion, family time, and schooling should be discussed within this plan. When co-parenting, the court may already have decided most of this for you, but having these expectations communicated clearly in a parenting plan is necessary to refer back to.

Expenses

School tuition, medical expenses, hobbies, food, clothing, and much more that goes into the price of raising a child should be discussed ahead of time between both parents. While most of this will be determined in court ruling, it is still important to keep these details in your plan.

Communication

When you or your co-parent is not present with your children, make sure to include how you will communicate with your kids in your parenting plan. Phone calls, online messaging, text messages, or video chatting are all different ways of staying in touch with your child while they’re away. This is important to plan especially if one parent may not be able to be with their child as much as the other.

Determining how you and your co-parent will communicate in the future is also important, defining the types of information you will need to discuss and how often communication is necessary.

Legal Aspects 

Physical custody refers to the right and responsibility to supervise their child. Sole physical custody means that their children will reside with one parent, and the other non-custodial parent may have visitation rights if the court believes that visitation is required for the child’s well-being. Parents that have joint physical custody is where the child lives with each parent for specific periods of time.

Child Custody and Visitation Guidance with Azemika Law 

If timing cannot be agreed upon and both parents are unable to come to an arrangement, you will need to go to court and a judge will make custody decisions based on the best interest of your children. A neutral third-party mediator can help parents resolve their issues, and be able to offer advice with experience from other cases they have seen successful.

At Azemika Law, we’re here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future. 

Contact us today to find a family law attorney that can help you create effective plans and build a happy future for you and your children.

Why Hiring A Divorce Attorney Is So Important

hiring a divorce attorney

It’s a challenging and difficult task to make any large decision that changes your life, especially when it comes to ending a marriage with someone you grew in a different direction from. You’re faced with plenty of new challenges, from dealing with child support, alimony, to division of property and assets, and navigating this alone can be difficult and confusing. An experienced California divorce attorney can be your guide through your marriage dissolution process, providing financial security for the future and ensuring that your rights are protected.

Reasons to Hire a Divorce Attorney

Going through a divorce is stressful enough socially and emotionally, but financially and legally there’s things you might not be aware of. There are a few reasons hiring a divorce attorney may be helpful in navigating through your divorce:

An experienced divorce attorney understands the law

There are a lot of small details that are easily overlooked by someone who is not familiar with the complex laws that are in place. A divorce attorney will offer legal expertise, and have experience working with other cases. There is language used within court orders that have specific meanings, and having someone who is familiar with terms used in court allows them to apply their knowledge to your situation specifically. When your children are involved, you’re faced with the intricacies of child custody and support. Having an attorney help you go through arrangements that might work better for your family is extremely helpful, and makes sure your custody arrangement doesn’t skip any important details.

Your attorney will also know exactly how to navigate through all the seemingly endless paperwork, eliminating unneccesary stress and potential errors. From knowing what to sign, when it’s due, where to send it all, an attorney can direct you thoroughly and keep up with you throughout your case, ensuring success in your divorce terms.

Having someone on your side

Some individuals are understandably emotional through the process of the divorce, so having a third-party can be helpful when making important decisions handling your assets. As you adjust to new everyday changes, as well as dealing with friends, work, or family through this process, it’s not uncommon to feel alone during this time. A divorce lawyer can offer unbiased insight, give you the support you need, and help you through making decisions for the future of your life, as well as your children’s.

Having someone who can handle the arguments for your case also is helpful, as they’ll be able to share your complaints, thoughts, and confirm your beliefs. In case you have to appear in court, your attorney also will be helpful in coaching your responses.

Someone to communicate with your spouse

Whether or not your separation is amicable, it still can be daunting and emotional to go through the details of your divorce with them. By hiring an attorney, you’re able to use them as a third-party mediator, and communicate with less conflict throughout the case. 

Leveling the playing field

When your spouse has a divorce attorney, they can take advantage of your lack of knowledge and experience. Without the legal counsel from your own attorney, you may agree to something that you didn’t know about, or feel pressured to agree to things you don’t want. With a divorce lawyer of your own, you’re able to navigate through your case with more confidence and expertise, and someone to speak on your behalf. Having someone who ensures that your voice is heard, and dedicated to protecting your rights, can avoid aggressive moves towards your marital assets or relationship with your children.

Takes the wheel when going through records

If there is any concern about your divorce, having someone who can effectively collect all the necessary information for you to present in court can be better for your mental health, and your case. Considering that they’ll be discussing your issues in court, letting them have control of looking through records and resources only will help strengthen your position in trial.

Managing asset allocation can be a struggle to do on your own, and a divorce attorney will be able to give you different options when choosing the best way to divide your assets and debts. For instance, if you or your partner do not have the funds to buy out the house you own together, you might come to the decision to sell the house and divide the money made from the sale, rather than one partner staying in the house. Other than your assets being divided, your debt also can be consolidated differently. If your spouse has accumulated a lot of debt during your marriage, it’s possible for you to not have to take on all that debt personally.

Finding A Divorce Attorney in California

To save you precious time and move on with your life post-divorce, we at Azemika Law are here to help you. We efficiently handle family law cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, division of property, child custody, and more. Serving all of Kern County for 28 years, we give attentive support with the best interest for you and your family. 

If you need someone to fight for you, and protect you through your divorce or domestic dissolution process, contact us at Azemika & Azemika Law.

Monthly or Lump Sum Alimony: Which Is Better?

lump sum alimony

Alimony is spousal support that is awarded in California court that allows one spouse to maintain their quality of living after the divorce. Each case has its own set of circumstances, so what may work for one couple isn’t always appropriate or possible for another. Sometimes a spouse has given up their career to raise their children, so may be more eligible for alimony payments from the higher-earning working spouse to keep things fair and ensure a quality of life for both the ex-spouse and their children. A judge and the paying spouse will be able to come to an agreement on how to deliver alimony payments, as a lump sum alimony, or with monthly payments.

Seeking advice from a trusted attorney can help in your decision of monthly or lump sum alimony, and here we take a deeper look into the benefits and disadvantages of both.

Lump Sum Alimony

Lump sum alimony is when a spouse fulfills their entire alimony obligation, with one lump sum payment. In many cases, this is an option when the paying spouse prefers to pay in this way, as an alternative to having monthly payments.

There are some pros and cons of lump sum alimony for both the paying spouse or payee. A benefit from a one lump sum alimony for both parties is being able to avoid a long drawn-out obligation to one another. A paying spouse is able to complete their obligation all at once, and avoid having monthly communication with the other. For those paying spousal support, a lump sum removes the chance that the other spouse requires maintaining life insurance to provide safety over the alimony in case of your death.

With a lump sum payment, the receiving spouse doesn’t have to worry about the paying spouse avoiding payments, receiving payments late, or having to track down a non-paying ex-spouse. You may earn income with a lump sum that is greater than the discount rate, and will have immediate access to the funds which allows you to invest or pay off debts you may have had to pay over a longer period of time. A financial advisor should be consulted to see what you can expect to earn from an anticipated lump sum settlement.

A lump sum payment also avoids a request for change in alimony on the basis of income changing. In the event of finding a higher paying job, coming into money, or even beginning a partnership where bills are split with the new significant other, a request can be made by the paying spouse for alimony payments to be lowered or stopped. This stands for the paying spouse as well, by receiving a raise or high paying job after the divorce, the recipient could go to court and request higher alimony payments. By paying a lump sum from the very beginning can avoid the headache of rehashing alimony payments in the future.

Monthly Alimony

Monthly alimony is where the paying spouse can make monthly alimony installments. It is not always possible for someone to pay a total amount of a lump sum all at once. Rather than taking out a loan that can accumulate interest, a paying spouse can agree to monthly installments. 

Monthly payments could benefit a paying spouse by having to make reduced payments in the future, in the event of lower income being made, or if the recipient’s status changes due to a new relationship or job. The courts may reduce the obligation, or eliminate it entirely. Also, if your ex-spouse declares bankruptcy, their creditors may be able to attempt recovering the entirety or a portion of your lump sum settlement, so monthly installments can be beneficial in unforeseen circumstances.

For the spousal support recipient, monthly installments can be helpful with managing money properly. With a lump sum payment, you risk spending your money faster, whereas a monthly payment allows you to control your spending and allocate the funds appropriately month to month.

Alimony Questions or Concerns Answered 

Divorce is unique to every couple, and settlements that might work for one isn’t possible or reasonable for another. While separating your lives is already a stressful situation to begin with, having to split finances always proves difficult regardless how civil communications can be.

Having a trusted attorney to mediate your decisions and process paperwork needed can make things more streamlined for you and your ex spouse. At Azemika Law, we’re here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future. 

For complete representation in divorce, contact us today to help you create effective resolutions and guide you into your next chapter of life.

Child Custody Modification in California: What You Need to Know

child custody modification

Life is never predictable, and as your children grow, their needs change with unexpected circumstances that affect everyone in the family. Certain court orders are able to be modified by California courts, even after a final judgment has been made. Common areas for post-judgment modifications are child custody, visitation orders, child support orders, and spousal support orders. In order to modify child custody, parents have to account for the change of circumstances and be able to prove how a child custody change could benefit their children.

Common Reasons for Child Custody Modification

Judges will allow modifications for a child custody order for the following:

  • Child’s needs have changed
  • The child is in physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual danger
  • One or both parents’ situations changed
  • Non-custodial parent’s work schedule changes
  • Non-custodial parent has moved closer to the other parent
  • The child wishes to live with or spend more time with the non-custodial parent
  • One parent needs to relocate
  • One parent acts irresponsibly (such as not getting their children to school on time, abusing drugs or alcohol in front of the child, etc.)
  • One parent refuses to follow the original child custody order 

Filing for Child Custody Modification

Seeking modification of child custody and visitation orders at any time, if you are able to show the court that a significant change in circumstances has occurred since the first order was made. You will need to show how the modifications can improve your child’s life, and prove that these improvements are in the best interest of your child. You may modify a child custody order at any point until the child turns 18. Typically the parent who wants to modify the order will make the request with help from an attorney.

Steps in Modifying Child Custody in California

  1. Filing court forms: A Request For Order form, and optional Child Custody and Visitation form are made to begin the child custody modification process. In these forms, explain why it is necessary to change the existing custody order. In the optional form, the filing parent should detail information about future visits, holiday arrangements, and other scheduled visitations for the judge to consider their order.
  2. Having forms reviewed by a trusted lawyer: Family Law attorneys will ensure your forms are filled out correctly. Parents also can hire a lawyer for legal advice and assistance through their claim.
  3. Make copies of all court forms: Each parent should receive their own copy of the original court forms that will be given to the court.
  4. Filing forms with the court clerk: A court clerk will stamp the two copies, and keep the original document to be filed. Filing costs with a clerk usually range from $200-400. A fee waiver can be given if a parent is unable to afford the fee.
  5. Receiving mediation or court date: The court clerk will provide the court date, and a parent may have to meet with a mediator prior to said court date.
  6. Serve papers to the other parent: You are able to hire someone over the age of 18 to serve the papers to the other party. Attach a blank Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order, and also check Form FL-300 to notice if there are any additional documents that need to be served. Your attorney will let you know if any paperwork must be served in person, or if a parent can be served by mail. Service of process is to be completed 16 days before the court date, or 21 days when served by mail.
  7. Filing Proof of Service: Whoever is serving the court orders will need to complete a Proof of Personal Service form, and give it to the parent to file at the court. If the process is served through mail, the server will need to fill out a Proof of Service by Mail form.
  8. Attend mediation or court: Your local court might require both parents to attend the mediation. If an agreement isn’t reached in mediation, both parties will need to settle their dispute in court. You and your attorney will need to bring copies of all filed forms to court.
  9. Post Court Proceedings: Once your request for modification has been approved, the judge will sign a court order. A courthouse clerk or staff will then prepare the document for the parent who requested a hearing. If either party had any legal assistance, their lawyer will prepare the document.

Kern County Family Law By Your Side 

Having a trusted attorney to guide your decisions and process paperwork needed can make things easier and more streamlined for you, which is especially desired when it comes down to the future of your children. 

At Azemika Law, we’re here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody and visitations, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible for your future. 

Contact us today to help you create effective resolutions and build a happy future for you and your children.

Everything You Need To Know About Adult Adoptions

Everything You Need To Know About Adult Adoptions

When we hear about adoption, we immediately think about the adoption process for children. Less talked about, and less common, is adult adoption. Adult adoption happens most typically when step-parents adopt their spouse’s adult children, but we also see cases where families are reunited later in life and want to legalize their rekindled relationship, or can occur if someone needs care with a disability. 

Adult adoption doesn’t give the same legal rights as when adopting a child, due to the adoptee being able to legally make their own decisions, but adult adoption has its own benefits.

What Is Adult Adoption?

Adult adoption is when one adult is adopted by another adult, which legally terminates the parental relationship with the biological parent. In California, the adult adoptee must be 18 or older, and at least 10 years younger than the adopting parent. Everyone involved, including spouses, will have to agree to the adoption in writing. 

An adult adoption establishes all the legal rights and responsibilities between parent and child, which can include things like organizing next of kin, who holds power of attorney, and other legal requests. Once the adoption is completed, the birth parents no longer carry any of the parental duties, rights to, or responsibilities over the adult adoptee. If desired, the newly adopted adult may take on their adoptive parent’s last name, and have their birth certificate amended once the whole process has been completed. Adult adoption does not change any immigration status.

How Do You Adopt an Adult?

When adopting a minor, the consent of both biological parents is required. While adopting an adult, the only consent needed is from the adoptee themselves, and potentially their spouses. There are a few required documents for adult adoptions in California:

  • Adoption agreement: A document that states the parties agree to assume the legal relationship of parent and child, and have all the rights and are subject to duties of that relationship
  • Petition for approval of the adoption agreement: A formal request that the court approves the adoption agreement. This document includes specific details pertaining to the relationship of the child and parent, and why the adoption would be best for both parties.
  • The order of adoption: A formal court order granting the adoption, which should be brought to the adoption hearing to be signed by the judge.
  • Spouse consent: If either parties are married, consent from their spouse(s) is necessary

Adult adoptions are finalized at a hearing in front of a judge. The judge considers a number of factors, and decides based on the best interest of all parties involved. Adult adoption hearings can be made easier when represented by an attorney who has experience navigating adult adoption law and can help avoid any unforeseen circumstances in filing, or in court.

Reasons for Adult Adoption 

There are a few reasons adult adoption happens, and can be beneficial to everyone involved in the relationship.

Legal inheritance can be difficult if there is not a legal relationship between the parent and child. Formalizing the relationship makes the process smoother, less likely to be challenged, and easier to manage under law terms.

Caregivers of adults who have any mental or physical disabilities may adopt to be able to make decisions legally when an adult is unable to care for themselves. Sometimes biological parents are unable to continue caring for their child, and having another caregiver adopt can make legally providing care easier. Other times, maybe an aging parent needs to let their child make important healthcare decisions. This lets the caregiver make legal decisions for another adult that isn’t capable of doing so. 

Foster care situations where a family has fostered a child and have formed a bond, once that child is a legal adult they can legally recognize that relationship. This is beneficial for any children who grow out of the foster care system but don’t wish to return to their biological family.

Older siblings who have cared for their younger siblings and assumed the position of parental responsibility can formalize their relationship by adopting, and make legal situations easier in the future.

Reuniting with a biological family happens when adult adoptees who were adopted as children seek out their birth families, and the biological family chooses to formalize their relationship. This makes the biological family legally their parents again. 

Working With an Attorney for Adult Adoption

When you wish to strengthen the bond of your relationships with an adult adoption, our attorneys at Azemika Law can help. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. 

Serving Kern County for the past 28 years, we provide all of our clients with knowledgeable and affordable representation. We are family law specialists and we understand that each case is as unique as the clients we represent. 

For comprehensive representation in the adoption process, contact us today.

Getting Married? Here’s How To Protect Your Assets Without A Prenup

Getting Married? Here’s How To Protect Your Assets Without A Prenup

While discussing what might happen after your relationship potentially comes to a halt might not be the most romantic topic, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about. Preparing for a wedding can be exciting, and planning ahead for your futures together is an equally important step prior to your big day. Prenuptial agreements are great for those seeking to protect their assets in case of a divorce, but there are still ways to protect those assets without one.

Preparing Your Futures Together

Prior to starting a new life together, it’s important to take a look at what you and your partner are bringing to the marriage financially, including both the individual’s assets and debts. If your partner has debt, when you combine your assets together, your assets are now accessible by your partner’s creditors. Going through all this might feel very personal, but having this conversation will only benefit the both of you later down the road in handling and maintaining your assets, in a successful marriage or not. 

Separating Finances

If you had an account or funds prior to your marriage, and want to keep that account as separate property, it’s vital to keep those funds separate from your partner’s. If you co-mingle these funds, they become marital property which is susceptible to being divided by the courts or by creditors. By opening a new joint account together and depositing shared funds in it, you’re able to use this account for any finances as you continue forward in your marriage, without risking any of the funds in your pre-existing personal account(s).

Consider a Post-Nuptial Agreement

Maybe you and your partner are already married and you’re interested in protecting your assets moving forward. Considering this agreement doesn’t automatically mean someone is looking for divorce, there are plenty of reasons one can wish to define their assets clearly. Parents of children from previous relationships or marriages might want to make sure that their children’s inheritances are protected in case of divorce. Legal troubles, inheritances, lottery winnings, significant increase in salary, and other life occurrences can also lead to protecting certain assets against uncertainty in the future.

Keeping Real Estate Separate

Regardless if you and your partner are both sharing a new home together, if the home is in your name, you should take care of payments using that account that is solely yours. When filing taxes later, your accountant will prepare them separately using your name and the funds from your separate account. While basic maintenance for your place can use funds from the joint account you share with your spouse, any renovations that increase the value of your property should come from your account to show that the increased value is for your individual property, not property shared with your partner.

Create a Revocable Trust 

By putting funds in a revocable trust, you have an added layer of protection, and will be able to manage said funds in the duration of your marriage. This kind of trust involves a trustee, a third party that is responsible for managing these funds. Putting pre-marital funds into a trust also removes the risk of commingling funds later which can eliminate claims protecting your personal assets.

Document Everything

The most effective way to protect your assets without a prenup is documenting everything clearly. Organizing and keeping important records from the very beginning of your marriage can be helpful later when you observe things like retirement funds or other bank accounts collected prior to your commitment. If either you or your spouse are business owners, it is important to get a valuation of your business before your marriage. Keeping record of your business’ value before appreciation can be beneficial in the event of divorce, keeping you protected from having any of the current value of your business be threatened. The more records you have of which property is non-marital property, and the purchases and bills surrounding that property, the better your case later in keeping that asset separate.

Consider Professional Advice

Having these conversations can be a challenge, and having a trusted attorney as a third party to offer insight with your assets and accounts can avoid tension, and keep your future planning professional rather than personal. 

At Azemika Law, our practice is devoted to the field of family law. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving Kern County for the past 28 years, we provide all of our clients with knowledgeable and affordable representation. 

We understand that while marriage is an exciting new chapter in your life, making decisions for the future can be a lot to unpack. 

Contact us today to help protect your individual assets and create a clear plan for you and your marriage.

Who Keeps The Pet In A Divorce Under California Law?

Who Keeps The Pet In A Divorce Under California Law?

Pets have always played important roles in our family lives, and that makes for a complex situation when a marriage ends. While it may be difficult in your divorce to determine who gets your furry loved ones, there are rules set in place that ensure the best care for your animal family member. 

Family, Not Property

Prior to 2019, California courts applied the state’s property division laws to pets when ruling divorce cases, which treated pets like any typical inanimate object. Now, with California law AB2274, that changes how pet animal ownership is handled. Judges listen to both sides, and decide custody based on the best interest of your pet, similarly how child custody is determined. Having clearer guidelines for how custody is determined ensures that the pet is going to a loving, stable, and safe environment, rather than ending up with a negligent owner.

Pet Custody Factors

If you wish to win sole custody of your pet, you and your lawyer will have the opportunity to state your case in full ownership. This law applies to pets that were acquired during the time of your marriage, and only applies to animals that are kept as household pets. If one person entered the relationship with the pet, it’s no longer treated as community property, and will go to whoever was the original owner. 


A judge considers several factors when determining who will be given custody:

  • Who takes primary care of the pet?
  • Who originally purchased or adopted the pet?
  • Who typically exercises the pet?
  • Who’s name is registered as the owner?
  • Which household can accommodate the pet with appropriate space?
  • Who has taken care of veterinarian visits and expenses?
  • Who is the pet more emotionally attached to?
  • What is best for the pet overall?

Solutions in Co-Ownership

The divorce itself is already a stressful situation, and sometimes co-ownership isn’t an option depending on where your relationship lies. Looking at your motivations of keeping your pet is important to consider. Having custody as means of retaliation, over actually caring for the pet and its’ affection, could make this decision much more difficult for both parties. Bargaining other assets in exchange for the pet can be a way to cut ties more smoothly, but overall the best interest for your pet would hopefully be the deciding factor. 

While it’s typically the last option, 27% of pets are rehomed or given away for family matters like divorce, so many responsible owners make attempts in caring for the pet together, but separately. Operating through co-ownership allows both sides of the family to happily conduct time with their pets, and as long as it’s healthy for those involved, pet sitting and visits could be a potential solution. 

In some cases, it’s best for the pet to stay in one place, having one partner being the primary caregiver, then able to establish visitation rights. Remember that some animals are creatures of habit, so picking a routine that works well and consistently is an important consideration when making a decision to share them. Deciding how pet expenses will be split between the two of you from the beginning will be helpful to adhere to in the future.

There isn’t always an easy solution that you and your ex can come to, and considering hiring a mediator can be helpful to alleviate emotionally charged arguments when coming to a final and fair arrangement. 

Potentially Losing Your Pet

Giving up a pet in divorce is a painful thing to go through. While going through this grieving process, you might want to rush to adopt another pet, but allow yourself time to feel, and maybe consider talking to a life or divorce coach. If you’re able to, there are plenty of rescues and shelter groups that love to give the opportunity to foster animals in need of adoption. Volunteer work for animal shelters, or other nonprofits, can also give you some time to be around animals without having to fully commit to owning another furry friend. Remember that time will help heal the pain in your loss, but surrounding yourself with friends, family, or loved ones can truly make that time a little easier. 

Seeking Legal Help

Experiencing any life-altering change can be a difficult and emotional time, and having a trusted attorney to offer insight with your custody battles or case issues can offer peace of mind. 

At Azemika Law, our practice is devoted to the field of family law. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. 
Serving Kern County for the past 28 years, we provide all of our clients with knowledgeable and affordable representation. We understand that divorce is a crucial time for important decisions.

Contact us today to help protect you and your loved ones when you need it most.

California Divorce and Inheritance: What You Need to Know

California Divorce and Inheritance: What You Need to Know

One of the most often misunderstood aspects of divorce proceedings is the division of property and assets. California law simplifies it somewhat by dividing a couple’s property into two categories: separate property, which an individual owns, and community property, which is owned by both parties equally. But where does your inheritance fit into the picture?

Generally speaking, anything you acquire while married becomes community property. So does that mean that being named in or receiving inheritance during a marriage requires it to be split should you divorce? It can seem like a confusing issue at first, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this blog post, we discuss the issue of how California divorce laws treat inheritance. We’ve also detailed some unique circumstances that could lead to unexpected decisions. 

How Does California Treat Property During Marriage?

How the law treats a couple’s property varies from state to state, but California keeps things rather simple. The short version is: generally, anything you owned before the marriage remains yours, but anything acquired during the marriage is considered joint property. When it comes time for divorce, joint property (or its value) gets split as evenly as possible. 

What surprises some people is that the definition of property is pretty broad in this context. Besides physical objects, any wages, bank accounts, and investments also fall under this umbrella. Unless an agreement is reached beforehand or during divorce proceedings, both people legally own these things. 

There is also the issue of commingling. Commingling occurs when one spouse helps the other with a separate property financially (such as making car payments). When this happens, the separate property becomes community property. Again, there’s no room for doubt who owns what if you keep documentation. 

What Does Inheritance Fall Under?

Looking at the summary above, you could make a reasonable argument that inheritance received during the marriage becomes community property. However, it’s one of two property types exempt from community rules (the other being gifts). Therefore, unless it names your spouse (either specifically or as a family), they have no legal entitlement to it.

However, there are two unique situations where this isn’t always the case. Though California law is otherwise precise in handling divorce, these scenarios create murky entanglements with no simple resolution. If you can apply either of these cases to your inheritance, the issue may come down to a judge’s decision.

Commingling Inheritance

What you choose to do with your inheritance could change it to community property. Such a problem occurs when your inheritance is a sum of money. If you keep it in a separate bank account owned only by you, it will remain yours, and there will be no issue.

However, it becomes commingling if you put that money in a joint account. If there’s no other money in the account, its shared nature still gives your spouse legal access, making it co-owned. If there was pre-existing money in the account, telling where one sum ends and another begins is almost impossible.

Your inheritance can also become commingling if you choose to use it (in part or whole) to buy community property, such as a vehicle or real estate. You can argue that a set amount is yours with a shared account, though this tactic isn’t usually very successful. However, once you’ve spent the money on community property, those funds are no longer separate. 

Transmutation

You can decide to convert your inheritance into community property at any point in your marriage. Your spouse will then have co-ownership, and if they still have it by the time of the divorce, a judge will divide it. The co-ownership overrides the original terms of inheritance in all circumstances.

Transmutation isn’t something that will spring up and surprise you, so you don’t need to protect yourself against it. However, some people have the mistaken notion that the start of divorce proceedings will nullify such co-ownership agreements. Therefore, if you’re thinking about divorce, it’s in your best interest to change these agreements beforehand, if possible.

Let Azemika & Azemika Guide You Through the Divorce Process

You know now how to protect your inheritance, but what about other aspects of your divorce? It can be an incredibly stressful experience for anyone. How do you navigate the situation without making costly mistakes?

With the help of Azemika & Azemika. 

Our law firm is solely devoted to the practice of family law and is uniquely suited to help you with your divorce, custody disputes, issues with alimony and child support, and more. With a combined 56 years of experience, our partners dedicate themselves to serving people like you in the greater Bakersfield area. Contact us today to put the power of expertise on your side.

Can a Woman Pay a Man Alimony?

Can a Woman Pay a Man Alimony?

Alimony can be a topic of contention for many people, especially for the spouse who has to make the payments. Most alimony recipients are women, but what about men? Can a woman pay a man alimony?

Spousal support payments generally go to women, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, men can request and receive alimony payments from their ex-wives. What does this mean for couples divorcing in California? 

Whether you’re a man seeking spousal support from your ex-wife, or a wife wondering if your ex-husband could ask for alimony, we can help. 

Can a Woman Pay a Man Alimony in California?

Alimony payments are determined based on each spouse’s financial situation. This means that in many divorce cases, the man could be financially worse off than his ex-wife, and therefore he would be eligible to request spousal or partner support payments. 

Alimony is designed to make both parties’ financial situations more equitable after a divorce. If one spouse earns a great deal more than the other, the lesser earning spouse may request alimony payments to help them financially after the divorce.

At one time, men were primarily considered the breadwinners in most families. However, today many women earn more than their husbands, and in the case of a divorce, they may find that their ex-husbands are eligible to request alimony. 

Why Don’t More Men Ask For Alimony?

If alimony is an option for men in California and other states, why don’t we hear about more men receiving alimony payments? Men often don’t receive alimony payments because they don’t ask for them.

Gender stereotypes may make men feel somehow inadequate for asking for alimony payments. Seeking spousal or partner support one’s your ex-wife may feel somehow emasculating for some men. Men don’t want to be seen as weak or lesser than their ex, but this isn’t a fair assessment of the situation.

Family courts may also have a bias towards women regarding alimony. Men may have to prove that they deserve the financial support, and the courts may closely scrutinize their work efforts and financial situation before alimony is awarded. 

Whether it’s pride or gender bias that prevents men from seeking alimony, the bottom line remains the same. Men can certainly ask for alimony payments in California, but they should be prepared to have their finances scrutinized during the process.

Are You Likely To Qualify for Alimony?

Alimony is designed to help balance out the financial aspects of a divorce. Even if one spouse earns far more than the other during a marriage, it is assumed that both spouses have equal access to the money.

If one spouse earns far more than the other during a divorce, the other spouse may seek alimony payments. If one spouse gave up their job to take care of children or the home, the stay-at-home spouse might seek alimony in the case of a divorce. 

Not too long ago, women were the ones who primarily gave up their jobs to stay home and look after children. Today, more and more men are choosing to postpone their careers so that their spouses can pursue higher aspirations. This means more men are staying home with children and putting themselves on an uneven financial footing with their wives in the event of a divorce.

If you gave up your job or the chance to grow in your career so that your spouse could earn more money, you might qualify for alimony payments. If your career suffered during your marriage, you might be eligible to receive alimony payments. The best thing you can do in either of these cases is to seek the assistance of a skilled family law attorney to handle your divorce.

Let Azemika Law Help You Navigate Your Divorce

Divorce is challenging in many ways. Emotions run high, and it can be difficult to see why spousal support payments need to be made. But too often, one spouse leaves a marriage with more financial security than the other, and in order to make things fairer for both parties, alimony is the best solution.

It can be easy to let pride get in the way when it comes to divorce, but if you qualify for alimony, it could help you get back on better financial footing after your marriage has ended. Whether you’re a man or a woman in the position to receive alimony payments, the best way to ensure that you are treated fairly is to hire a skilled attorney to help you navigate your divorce.

Azemika & Azemika understand that divorces and alimony are stressful and often confusing. We are devoted to helping our clients with every aspect of family law, from divorce and spousal support to child support and custody issues. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your family law needs.

What to Know About Military Divorce in California

What to Know About Military Divorce in California

Marriage and divorce are both common experiences in the United States — and around 50% of married couples will end up divorcing. And while that number may seem quite high, did you know that when it comes to divorce in the military, combat veterans are more likely to get divorced than to actually see combat? An estimated 62% of combat veterans’ first marriages end in divorce. Moreover, female enlisted soldiers have more than double the divorce rate compared to female officers. 

Divorce is hard enough to navigate for any couple seeking dissolution, but when a military couple decides to get a divorce, there are extra challenges that can add more complexity and even more stress to the process. State and federal laws as well as military regulations can govern aspects of your case you may not know about. Let’s take a closer look at military divorce as it pertains to the state of California and how one can navigate divorce while in the service. 

Grounds for a Military Divorce in California

The military divorce laws in California can be quite complicated and may be difficult to parse and understand on your own, so it is highly advised to hire a divorce lawyer who has experience dealing with military divorces. 

No matter the status of either spouse, be it active duty, retired or in the guard or reserve, you can be impacted by a military divorce. California is also a no-fault state, meaning you cannot use adultery or desertion as grounds for divorce, though sometimes these reasons can be brought up for consideration during child custody hearings and when dividing up assets and property.

The grounds for filing for a divorce in California are similar, no matter if you are filing for a military or civilian divorce. These grounds include:  

  • Irreconcilable differences. Citing irreconcilable differences means that the end of the marriage was not the fault of one party in particular and there is no specific reason. 
  • Permanent legal incapacity of one spouse. This is when one spouse is proven to be clinically insane. To file this way, you must provide the court with a support order showing proof.

Before Filing for Military Divorce

Make sure to take these issues into consideration before starting your divorce as they may serve to complicate the proceedings. Speak with an expert California divorce attorney if you need help with any of the below issues.

Residency Requirements

A military spouse must file the proper divorce papers where the service member is stationed or the state where they are currently a resident. If you want to file for divorce in California, then one of you must either reside or have a station in the state.

Military Spouse Deployment

If you file for divorce while your spouse is deployed or on active duty for an extended period, then the rules for divorce are different. Having a spouse that is actively deployed can complicate the process of serving and processing a divorce.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects active-duty military members from civil judicial proceedings, which includes divorce papers and summons. In a normal civilian divorce, if a spouse ignores the summons, they default and get no say in asset division or child custody, but active service members in the military who can’t respond due to being on active duty are not subject to that default because of the SCRA. 

Property Division

Military divorces follow the same rules that civilian divorces do as far as property division is concerned. Since California is a community property state, generally, all property and debt acquired over the course of the marriage is considered joint property and will be divided equally. 

Spousal Support

Much like a civilian divorce, whichever military spouse earns more than their partner can be ordered to pay alimony. Just like in civilian divorces, a military spouse who earns more than their partner can be ordered to pay spousal support during the divorce proceedings. The amount is determined by a judge using factors such as:

  • Length of the marriage 
  • Financial needs of both spouses
  • The dependent spouse’s level of education 
  • The health and age of each spouse

The general rule of spousal support is that it can’t be more than 60% of the military spouse’s pay. If the couple has been married for less than 10 years, generally the alimony will only be paid for the time that is equal to half the length of the marriage. There are exceptions to this rule, however.

Child Custody and Support

California does not discriminate when it comes to military parents who are on active duty when it decides on child custody. If one of the military parents is deployed, it will not change the custody order or visitation schedule. It is best for military families with small children to try and settle their differences with an uncontested divorce to make custody issues easier since deployment and active duty are factors they must deal with. 

Filing Procedure for Military Members

The filling process  for a military divorce is as follows:

  1. Gather all of the documents pertaining to the divorce petition and fill them out. It is advised to have an attorney look over these documents before they are filed to ensure they are accurate. 
  2. Once filled out and signed, you pay the appropriate filing fee at your local superior court. 
  3. Serve your spouse with copies of the divorce petition and summons for the dissolution of the marriage. A friend, relative, sheriff or process server must deliver the papers on your behalf. 
  4. Have your spouse sign the papers and send them back within 30 days. 
  5. If a spouse opposes terms in the divorce documents, it is best to speak with your divorce attorney on the appropriate next steps.

Protect Yourself By Hiring An Attorney

No matter how amicable you think your divorce is or will be, there are still situations that could arise and cause conflict. Negotiation, separation of property, child support, and alimony all play significant parts in any divorce. Avoid costly mistakes that could have severe impacts on the rest of your life.

At Azemika & Azemika, our law firm is exclusively devoted to the field of family law. We handle military 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.