Remarrying After Divorce in California

remarrying after divorce

When a marriage is over, and a couple has decided to divorce, the relationship is likely already over in their minds, making divorce a formality to some people. Whether you met someone new during the divorce process or someone else was the reason for the divorce, you may wonder if there’s a certain amount of time that you have to wait to remarry after a divorce in California.

Even if remarrying may not be on your radar when you decide to get divorced, you may find someone that makes you want to marry sometime in the future. This article will explain the divorce process in California, the conditions that must be met before you can remarry in California, and the effects of getting remarried on your divorce settlement.

An Overview of the Divorce Process in California

It typically takes about six months to finalize a divorce, although it could take longer, depending on your situation. There are four main steps in the divorce process in California.

  1. Start the Divorce — The first step is for one spouse to file divorce papers and officially notify the other. After the other spouse has been notified, they have 30 days to respond.
  2. Share Financial Information — Next, both spouses must share their financial information. You will use this information to divide assets and debts equally and decide on spousal and child support. This information doesn’t have to be filed with the court. You only have to share it with your spouse, then file a form letting the courts know this step has been completed.
  3. Divide Assets and Debts — You and your spouse can work together to agree on dividing assets and debts. If you can’t agree, the court will make this decision.
  4. The Divorce is Finalized — A final set of forms must be completed and submitted to the court, along with any agreements and court orders. The judge will review everything and sign off on the judgment. The judgment will list the exact date of the end of your marriage.

Conditions That Must Be Met to Remarry after Divorce

The only condition that must be met for you to remarry is that your divorce must be finalized. Until your divorce is finalized, you are still legally married, and bigamy is a crime punishable by up to three years in jail in California.

That means that even if you’re ready to move on right away, you’re still looking at at least six months (the time it takes for your divorce to be finalized) or longer before you can remarry. This six-month time is considered a cool-down period.

How Getting Remarried Affects Your Divorce Settlement

When you or your ex remarry, some of the agreements involved in your divorce will change. This is especially true if one party was ordered to pay child or spousal support. In addition, remarriage changes one’s financial situation, which could justify modifying your divorce settlement.

Effects on Spousal Support

Spousal support payments end when the receiving spouse remarries in California. Spousal support is intended to assist the receiving spouse financially after the marriage, so when that spouse remarries, the responsibility ends. However, if the paying spouse gets remarried, they must continue paying spousal support.

This does not require a modification of the divorce settlement, so neither party is required to take any action to stop payments. However, when the receiving spouse gets remarried, they are legally obligated to inform the paying spouse of the marriage.

Effects on Child Support

Child support payments are intended to support the child, not the receiving parent. Therefore, child support payments will likely not be affected if either parent remarries.

If the remarriage changes the financial status of the paying parent, it could, however, prompt a modification of the support payments. For example, if the paying parent is now responsible for supporting their new spouse’s children, their financial situation may require that child support payments be adjusted.

Effects on Child Custody

Sometimes, when a parent remarries, they may request changes to child custody. For example, they may need to relocate. That would require them to agree to a change in custody, or permission from the other parent. 

Azemika & Azemika, Bakersfield Divorce Attorneys

Ultimately, the decision to remarry should be based on your circumstances and needs. However, if you do decide to remarry, it’s essential to consider the legal implications and take steps to ensure you are protected.

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand that although divorce can be a difficult and emotional time, it can also come with the prospect of starting a new life and finding the love you thought you found in your first marriage. Our partners have over two decades of experience dealing with some of the most challenging, high-asset family law cases in Kern County. Our dedicated team will keep you apprised of the status of your case so that you can make informed decisions during the divorce process that will put you on the path to a better post-divorce future.
For comprehensive representation in your divorce or dissolution, contact us today.

Divorcing Over 50? Avoid These Common Mistakes

divorcing over 50

Divorce can be a challenging and emotional experience at any age, but gray divorce, which refers to divorce among couples over 50, presents unique challenges. Yet, gray divorce is becoming increasingly common, with research showing that divorce rates among this age group hit a record high of 43% in 2021.

While divorce can be difficult for anyone, gray divorce can be particularly complicated due to factors such as retirement savings, pensions, and Social Security benefits. However, there are several mistakes that people going through a gray divorce can avoid making the process easier and less stressful.

Mistake #1: Failing to Consider the Financial Implications of Divorce

One of the biggest mistakes people make when going through a gray divorce is not considering the financial implications of the divorce. Older couples may have limited options than younger couples, who may have more time to rebuild their finances after a divorce. Therefore, it’s critical to carefully consider a divorce’s financial implications and work with a financial advisor or attorney specializing in gray divorce.

Some of the key financial considerations to remember when going through a gray divorce include how retirement assets will be divided, the tax implications of the divorce, and how it may impact Social Security benefits. It’s also essential to carefully review any debts associated with the divorce, such as a mortgage or credit card debt.

Mistake #2: Failing to Address Healthcare Needs

Another common mistake people make when going through a gray divorce is failing to address their healthcare needs. For many people over 50, healthcare costs can be a significant concern. This is especially true for those dealing with chronic health conditions or requiring ongoing medical care.

It’s important to carefully consider how health care costs will be covered after a divorce, including the cost of insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. Couples may need to negotiate how they will split these costs, or they may need to consider other options, such as continuing to share health care coverage.

Mistake #3: Not Seeking Emotional Support

Divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster, and seeking emotional support is essential during this time. This is especially true for those going through a gray divorce, as this can be a particularly challenging time.

In addition, many older adults may feel isolated or alone during the divorce process, making navigating even more challenging. Some options for seeking emotional support during a gray divorce include talking to friends and family members, joining a support group, or seeking counseling from a mental health professional.

Mistake #4: Rushing into a New Relationship

It can be tempting to enter a new relationship after a divorce, especially if you feel lonely or isolated. However, taking the time to heal and process the divorce before rushing into a new relationship is essential. This is particularly important for those going through a gray divorce, as this can be a time when people redefine their sense of self and explore new interests.

Taking the time to focus on personal growth and self-discovery can help people prepare for a new relationship in the future. However, rushing into a new relationship too quickly can also lead to problems down the road, such as entering into a relationship that is not a better fit or repeating patterns from previous relationships.

Mistake #5: Failing to Update Estate Planning Documents

Finally, it’s important to update estate planning documents after a divorce. This includes updating a will, trust, or other legal documents outlining how assets should be distributed after death. Failing to update these documents can lead to confusion and conflict in the future, as loved ones may not know how to properly distribute assets.

Let Azemika & Azemika Help You Avoid Mistakes During Your Gray Divorce

In addition to avoiding these mistakes, it’s essential for those going through a gray divorce to prioritize self-care. This may include exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies or interests. Taking care of oneself during the divorce process can help individuals feel more in control and better equipped to handle the challenges that come with the end of a marriage.

Going through a gray divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience, but avoiding these common mistakes can make the process easier to navigate. It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to gray divorce. Therefore, working with a team of professionals, including a divorce attorney, financial advisor, and mental health professional, is essential to navigating the divorce process.

If you’re considering divorce over 50, contact the team at Azemika & Azemika. Over the past two decades, our partners have successfully handled the most complex and high-asset family law cases in Kern County. Our team is dedicated to protecting your interests, financial stability, and the well-being of your loved ones. We can help set you on a path to a better future after your divorce.

Contact us today for a consultation.

What to Know About Amicable Divorce in California

amicable divorce

Divorce is a complicated process that can be emotionally, financially, and mentally draining. However, it doesn’t have to be a battle.

For couples willing to work together and prioritize open communication, compromise, and the well-being of their children, an amicable divorce is a positive and productive way to end a marriage. In this article, we will explore what an amicable divorce is, how it works, and provide some tips for achieving one. So, whether you are considering a divorce or simply curious about the process, keep reading to learn more about amicable divorce in California.

What Is an Amicable Divorce?

An amicable divorce is a divorce in which both parties agree on the terms of the divorce, including the division of property, spousal support, child custody and visitation. This type of divorce is also known as an uncontested divorce. However, it’s important to note that an amicable divorce differs from a friendly divorce.

Emotions can run high in an amicable divorce, and disagreements may arise. However, the parties are willing to work together to come to an agreement and avoid litigation.

How Does an Amicable Divorce Work in California?

In California, an amicable divorce begins with one of the spouses filing a petition for divorce. The other spouse then has 30 days to respond to the petition. After that, if both parties agree on the divorce terms, they can file a joint petition for divorce, saving time and money.

Once the petition has been filed, the parties must exchange financial information, including income, assets, and debts. This information is used to determine the division of property and spousal support. If the parties have children, they will also need to develop a parenting plan that outlines custody and visitation.

The parties will then negotiate the terms of the divorce. If they can come to an agreement, they will submit the agreement to the court for approval. If the court approves the agreement, it will issue a divorce decree.

If the parties cannot agree, they may need to go to court, which can be expensive and time-consuming. However, an amicable divorce can still be possible even if they end up in court. The parties can work with their attorneys to negotiate a settlement, and if they can come to an agreement, they can present it to the court for approval.

Tips For Achieving An Amicable Divorce

Put Your Children First

If you have children, it’s important to prioritize their well-being throughout the divorce process. This means working together to create a parenting plan in their best interests. Avoid putting your children in the middle of any conflicts, and avoid saying negative things about your spouse in front of them.

Communicate Openly and Honestly

Effective communication is key to achieving an amicable divorce. Be honest and open with your spouse about your needs and concerns, and listen to their perspective. If you struggle to communicate, consider working with a mediator or therapist to help facilitate conversations.

Be Willing to Compromise

Compromise is an essential part of an amicable divorce. Both parties must be willing to give a little to reach an agreement. Remember that compromising does not mean giving up what is important to you but instead finding a solution that works for both parties.

Hire an Experienced Divorce Attorney

While an amicable divorce does not involve litigation, having an attorney on your side is still essential. A good divorce attorney can help you navigate the divorce process, ensure your rights are protected, and help you negotiate a fair settlement. Look for an attorney who has experience with amicable divorces and who prioritizes communication and collaboration.

Take Care of Yourself

Divorce can be emotionally and physically draining, so taking care of yourself throughout the process is vital. This may mean seeking support from friends and family, engaging in self-care activities like exercise or meditation, or working with a therapist. Taking care of yourself will not only help you cope with the challenges of the divorce process, but it will also help you be a better co-parent and partner in negotiating an amicable divorce settlement.

Get the Representation You Deserve with Azemika & Azemika

An amicable divorce can be a positive and productive way to end a marriage, and it’s an option available to couples in California. By prioritizing communication, compromise, and the well-being of their children, couples can work together to reach an agreement that works for everyone.

If you are considering an amicable divorce, it is essential to work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected. With the right approach, an amicable divorce can help you move forward with your life positively and productively.

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand that every case is unique and bring an in-depth analysis and experienced eye to every situation. As a result, we offer customized solutions to all clients and can create effective resolutions to your divorce disputes.

Contact us today for a consultation.

Choosing Between Legal Separation and Divorce in California

legal separation and divorce

Although everyone hopes for a happy ever after when they get married, it doesn’t always work out that way. And if you find yourself at that point in your marriage and live in California, there are two legal options: legal separation or divorce. Learning the difference between the two is essential so that you can choose the option that works best for your circumstances.

While both options involve a couple living separately, some significant differences exist. This article will discuss the difference between legal separation and divorce in California and how to decide which is right for you.

Legal Separation in California

Legal separation is a process in which a couple can separate their lives but remain legally married. This process allows the couple to live separate lives, but marriage’s legal obligations and responsibilities still bind them.

In California, legal separation is governed by the California Family Code FAM § 2320, which outlines the procedure for obtaining a legal separation and the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. Legal separation involves negotiations similar to a divorce, such as the division of marital property, child custody and support, visitation rights, and spousal support.

When to Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce

Here are some reasons why you may want to choose legal separation.

  • You want to live separately but aren’t sure you want to end your marriage altogether.
  • You aren’t sure if you want to end your marriage altogether, but you want to lay out a property, financial and co-parenting issues.
  • Your religious beliefs prohibit divorce.
  • Your personal beliefs prohibit divorce.
  • You still want to take advantage of the benefits of marriage, such as remaining on your spouse’s health insurance, tax benefits, and receiving government benefits such as Social Security.
  • You haven’t met the residency requirements for a divorce, but you want to be legally separated.

Requirements for a Legal Separation in California

When filing for legal separation in California, you or your spouse must be a legal state resident. Since California is a “no-fault” state (meaning neither of you has to prove that someone did something wrong), you don’t have to provide a specific reason for the separation. However, you must still explain why you want to separate—for example, irreconcilable differences.

Divorce in California

Divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” is the legal process of permanently ending a marriage. When a divorce is finalized, you are legally single and able to remarry. You have the choice to mediate or litigate your divorce. 

In California, divorce is governed by the California Family Code FAM § 4336, which outlines the procedure for obtaining a divorce and the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. Like legal separation, both spouses must agree on how assets, debts, custody, and support payments will be handled.

When to Choose Divorce Over Legal Separation

Here are some reasons why you may want to choose divorce.

  • You both know that you don’t want to reconcile.
  • You want to remarry in the future. However, to legally remarry, you must be divorced.
  • You want a financial split from your spouse.
  • There are no financial benefits from being legally separated.

Requirements for Divorce in California

You or your spouse must be a legal resident of the state for at least six months to file for a divorce in California. In addition, that person must have also lived in the county where the separation or divorce is being filed for at least three months. If you don’t meet the residency requirements for a divorce, you can file for a legal separation and then file for divorce after you complete the residency requirements.

Exception for Same-Sex Marriages

The exception to the residency requirement is same-sex marriage. So if you were married in California but now live in a state that will not allow you to divorce, you can file in California. However, remember that this can cause issues like marital property, support, money, and your children.

Turn to the Expert Family Law Attorneys at Azemika and Azemika

There are advantages to both legal separation and divorce, so it’s essential to know the differences between them to make the right choice for your situation. If you have any questions or are still unsure of which option is right for you, enlisting the services of an experienced family law attorney can be beneficial.

At Azemika and Azemika, we know there’s no easy way to end your marriage. We will devise a fast, effective solution for your unique circumstances and your family’s needs. We will fight for you and protect you and your family throughout the separation or divorce process.
For comprehensive legal counsel, contact us today for a consultation.

What to Know About Gray Divorce

gray divorce

Ending a marriage can be difficult regardless of how long you’ve been married. But the longer your marriage lasts, the more complicated it can get. If you’re over 50 and are in the midst of or considering a divorce, you’re part of a growing trend called “Gray Divorce.”

The United States Census Bureau reported in 2021 that the divorce rate for adults between the age of 55-60 hit a record high of 43%, making this age group the highest divorce rate among married adults over the age of 20. And this isn’t a trend specific to the United States. The number of gray divorces has increased worldwide.

This article will discuss eight things you should know when going through a gray divorce in California.

#1. Marital Assets Will Be Split 50/50

Two methods are used to divide marital property in the United States; equitable distribution and community property. California is a community property state.

That means each spouse is entitled to half of all marital assets (and responsible for half of all marital debt) regardless of which spouse earned the income or whose name is on the paperwork for the assets/debt.

#2. Spousal Support Will Likely Be Awarded

Spousal support will likely be granted if your marriage lasts over ten years. However, this doesn’t mean you will automatically be awarded spousal support. Before making a decision, the judge will take into consideration the following factors:

  • Your standard of living during the marriage
  • The income and assets of each spouse
  • The need for support
  • The higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay spousal support

#3. You Will Likely Only Receive Half of Your Nest Egg or Retirement Fund

California is a no-fault divorce state. That means that it doesn’t matter who was at fault for the divorce, marital assets will still be divided evenly in your divorce. This includes any nest egg or retirement funds you and your spouse may have accumulated throughout your marriage.

#4. You May Have to Reenter the Workforce

You may have become accustomed to not working during retirement while your spouse worked a regular job during your marriage. However, you may have to get a job if you’re not granted spousal support or if it’s insufficient to cover your expenses.

#5. Even Adult Children Can Be Affected By Gray Divorce

Although you won’t have to deal with raising children as a single parent, grown children can also be affected by divorce. Even though you shouldn’t overshare the reason behind your divorce, you should give your children a reasonable explanation for what’s happening. This can allow them to process the divorce and try to make sense of what’s going on.

#6. Avoid Dating Before Your Divorce is Final

It can be lonely, especially for older people, when getting a divorce. However, getting into a new relationship can be a mistake before your divorce is final. Not only could it upset your children, but it could anger your spouse and end up increasing the time and cost of your divorce.

#7. Get a Prenuptial Agreement if You Remarry

Your divorce has been finalized, and you’ve fallen in love again. If you choose to remarry, you should get a prenuptial agreement. A prenup can outline the assets you wish to keep separate if your marriage ends in divorce.

#8. You Could Receive Social Security Benefits From Your Spouse’s Record

If you’ve been divorced longer than two years, and your ex is receiving retirement or disability benefits, you might be able to collect social security benefits from your spouse’s record.

You may be able to collect on your spouse’s record if :

  • You were married for ten years or longer
  • You are unmarried
  • You are 62 or older
  • Your social security benefit is less than your ex-spouse’s
  • You are eligible to receive disability benefits or Social Security retirement

You will be paid your benefit amount first if you qualify for social security benefits. Then, if your ex-spouse’s record is higher, you’ll get additional benefits so that your monthly benefit amount equals the higher amount.

Turn to Azemika & Azemika, the Family Law Experts in Bakersfield

Gray divorce can affect multiple generations of a family. And while it can be scary to start over after you’ve been married for decades, it can also provide you the opportunity for growth and self-discovery and can give you a chance to form new relationships. If you or someone you know is considering gray divorce, it’s essential to enlist the help of a qualified, experienced divorce attorney.

At Azemika & Azemika, our practice is exclusively devoted to family law. With over 64 years of handling family law cases, our partners have successfully handled some of the most challenging and high-asset family law cases in Kern County. We provide our clients with aggressive, knowledgeable, and affordable representation.

Contact us today if you’re looking for a family law attorney who is sensitive to your needs and will fight for you.

FC 271 Sanctions

A California divorce court is reversed by an Appellate Court when the judge sanctions Mother and her attorney for actions that the Appellate Court found were not sanctionable. The California Court of Appeal has ruled that a Trial Court was wrong by ordering sanctions under California Family Code Section 271 [divorce court may impose attorney’s fees based on conduct of party or attorney that furthers or frustrates settlement] against Mother and her attorney on the grounds that Mother argued that Father should not have overnight visitation with their child until child turns two years old, Mother filed a motion to disqualify the trial judge, Mother submitted a proposed judgment with errors, and Mother argued that Father’s video calls with child should be recorded.

In the case Featherstone v. Martinez (Decided on December 21, 2022), Mother and Father had one child together in 2019. Two months after child was born, Mother filed a parentage petition requesting primary physical and joint legal custody of child. In her supporting declaration, Mother acknowledged that Father was an involved father, but that he traveled frequently for work and was in town only three to four days each month. Mother requested that Father’s initial visitation with child last only three to four hours at a time and take place at her home and that Father provide two weeks’ advance notice before each visit. Mother also requested that overnight visits with Father begin once child turns two years old.

Father filed a response and, in his proposed visitation schedule, requested each visit last eight hours and that overnight visits begin when child turns six months old.

At a hearing in December 2019, Mother appeared without an attorney and Trial Court commented on Mother’s parentage petition stating that “the way you wrote it, it was along the lines of, I control everything, I’m the boss, and, you know, I’ll do him a favor and let him see his child.” When Trial Court asked Mother if she was breast-feeding, Trial Court said “don’t . . . lie” and “don’t exaggerate” before Mother answered. Trial Court finally commented “I’m going to side completely with [Father] today, and I think in the future you’re going to have a really hard time, because although I’ve tried to explain it, emotionally—and I understand—you do not feel like he’s an equal parent and you feel like you need to drag this out and make it slow.”

After this hearing, Mother retained counsel. In March of 2020, Mother’s attorney filed a motion to disqualify the judge under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 170.1 [challenge of trial judge for cause] based on purported bias that the judge demonstrated during the first hearing. Trial Court stated that the motion was “almost by definition untimely under these circumstances.” Mother’s attorney responded that she received the

transcript from the December 2019, hearing only a few days ago. Trial Court struck the motion as untimely and during argument on visitation issues during the same hearing, Trial Court stated that Mother’s attorney was not directly answering its questions and warned that, without improvement, they would “start talking about sanctions.”

In July of 2020, Mother submitted a proposed judgment, to which Father objected on the grounds that the proposed judgment contained several errors, including misstatements of Trial Court’s ruling. Trial Court rejected the proposed judgment.

In February 2021, Father filed a trial brief in which he requested Mother pay $7,000 in attorney’s fees pursuant to Family Code Section 271(a) [divorce court may impose fee order based on conduct of party or attorney that furthers or frustrates settlement] due to Mother’s purported unreasonable litigation, including her motion to disqualify the judge, the proposed judgment that contained misstatements of the Trial Court’s ruling, and her general refusal to settle.

At a hearing on February 24, 2021, Trial Court recounted its concerns regarding Mother’s litigation conduct. Regarding Mother’s motion to disqualify the judge, Trial Court commented “[Mother] has the right to believe I was biased. She always has that right, and I can’t sanction her for that . . .. [But] she does not have the right to file late, improperly noticed, and/or out of context motions.” In response to Mother’s attorney’s argument that Father had not properly noticed a motion for sanctions under Family Code Section 271, Trial Court stated “I think I noticed [Mother] for sanctions on my own motion at one of the earlier hearings when things were not proceeding so well . . .. It’s the court’s own motion.”

At a June 21, 2021, hearing, while the parties were discussing their agreement that Father would have video calls with child, Mother interjected that she agreed to use Zoom only and not any other platforms, since Zoom calls may be recorded. When Trial Court inquired why Mother wanted to record these video calls, Mother said she would like to record the calls because she and Father had disagreed in the past about whether certain statements were made. With regard to Mother’s insistence that Father use Zoom, Trial Court stated Mother had a controlling mindset and that although it was prepared to give “just the tiniest sanctions . . . now sanctions are back, thoroughly back, on the table[.]”

In September 2021, Trial Court held a hearing to impose sanctions. At the beginning of the hearing, Trial Court stated that the motion for sanctions has been “noticed, re-noticed, and repeatedly noticed.”

Trial Court again recounted its issues with Mother’s conduct. First, Trial Court stated that Mother’s declaration was misleading and her attempt to prevent Father from having overnights for two years while also limiting his visits to three to four hours at a time was “in and of itself, sanctionable.” Second, Trial Court stated that Mother’s motion to disqualify the judge was untimely and procedurally deficient and “was written out of context in an intentionally inflammatory and dishonest manner.” Third, Trial Court noted the proposed judgment prepared by Mother that Trial Court rejected “because it was replete with errors and omissions[.]” And finally, Trial Court stated that Mother’s request to use only Zoom for video calls was “alarming, outrageous, unbelievable, tone deaf, counterproductive . . .” and that when Trial Court attempted to note its problem with Mother’s request, Mother’s attorney interrupted “in a rude and abrupt manner.” At the conclusion of the hearing, Trial Court sanctioned Mother in the amount of $10,000 and separately sanctioned Mother’s attorney in the amount of $10,000.

Mother appealed and now, a California Court of Appeals has reversed Trial Court’s decision. The Appellate Court has ruled that there is a question whether Family Code Section 271 authorizes a court to issue sanctions on its own motion. The order for sanctions against Mother’s attorney was improper since Family Code Section 271(c) provides that an award of attorney’s fees and costs as a sanction is payable only from the property or income of the party against whom sanction is imposed. Furthermore, Mother’s declarations, her motion to disqualify the judge, her proposed judgment, and her request that Father’s video calls with child take place on Zoom did not constitute sanctionable conduct. Accordingly, the Appellate Court reversed Trial Court’s award of sanctions against Mother and her attorney.

Substituted Service

Unfortunately, in many legal actions including divorce actions, the Respondent or Defendant inaccurately believes that if they avoid service of the legal papers, they can avoid the legal action altogether. In a recent decision, a California Appellate Court has ruled that substantial evidence supports that substituted service was proper where after several attempts to personally serve the Defendant, process server served the co-resident who stated that Defendant was not at home and where Defendant’s name appeared on the community’s directory.

In the case of First American Title Insurance, Company v. Banerjee (decided on December 29, 2022), Plaintiff One, a real estate broker, filed a lawsuit, in 2017, against Defendant One, a rental property company, and Defendant Two, the president and alleged alter ego of Defendant One, for breach of contract. Plaintiff One also included in its complaint a promissory estoppel cause of action against the escrow agent. In its complaint, Plaintiff One alleged Defendants signed a commission agreement in which Plaintiff One was to arrange for a tenant to lease a property owned by Defendant One that would then pay a three percent (3%) commission fee to Plaintiff One if the tenant decided to buy the property. In 2016, the tenant purchased the property in question from Defendant One for approximately $5 million. Plaintiff One demanded the escrow agent (Plaintiff Two) to hold $145,000, which represented the three percent (3%) commission fee, as well as $6,000 in outstanding lease fees. Although Plaintiff Two initially stated it would hold the funds, it ultimately did not pay Plaintiff One.

Plaintiff One served Defendants the Summons and the Complaint through substituted serviced. In the declaration of due diligence, the process server stated that the service was attempted at an address in Pleasanton on six occasions in March 2017. On the final attempt, a person at the Pleasanton address denied knowing either Defendants. The process server then attempted service at a Dublin address on seven occasions. The Dublin address was listed on the California Secretary of State’s website as the mailing address for Defendant One. This residence was in a gated community and the process server was unable to gain access through the gates during the first seven attempts. No one answered the intercom calls, although Defendant Two’s name was listed on the directory. On an eighth attempt at the Dublin address, the process server served the documents by substituted service on a “co-resident” who stated that Defendant Two was not at home. The process server also mailed the documents to the Dublin address.

In June 2017, Trial Court entered default judgments against both Defendants after they failed to file a response to the Complaint.

In July 2017, Plaintiff Two filed a cross-complaint against Defendants for indemnity and contribution. A proof of service indicted that Defendant Two was personally served the Summons and Cross-complaint by a process server in September 2017.

Plaintiff One subsequently settled its claims with Plaintiff Two and assigned its claims against Defendants to Plaintiff Two. In June 2019, Trial Court entered an order substituting Plaintiff Two as the sole plaintiff in the action. Plaintiff Two then filed a request for default judgment against Defendants in December 2019, and Trial Court entered the default judgment against Defendants in May 2020.

In June 2020, Defendants filed a motion to set aside the default and default judgment, arguing (1) the judgment against them was void for failure to state a cause of action against them; (2) the judgment was void because service of the original Summons and Complaint was improper; and (3) the default judgment should be set aside for mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 473(b). In support of this argument, Defendant Two submitted a declaration that he did not reside at the Dublin address when the original Summons and Complaint were served by substituted service. Trial Court denied the motion to set aside the default judgment. Defendants appealed, but California Court of Appeals has not affirmed Trial Court’s decision.

The California Court of Appeals has ruled that substantial evidence supports Trial Court’s decision that substituted service was proper. A defendant challenging a default judgment may seek relief through either a direct appeal from the judgment, a motion to set aside the judgment, or a collateral attack on the judgment but “each avenue has . . . limitations on the type of errors that can be addressed”. Pursuant to California Supreme Court decision in Christerson v. French (1919) 180 Cal. 523, a default judgment is not void if the court has jurisdiction of the parties and the subject matter, whether or not the complaint states a cause of action, so long as it apprises defendant of the nature of plaintiff’s demand. In this case, since Defendants chose to attack the default judgment by a motion to set aside the judgment under Code of Civil Procedure Section 473(d), Defendants must demonstrate that the Complaint did not apprise Defendant Two of the nature of Plaintiff One’s demand. To the contrary, Plaintiff One’s Complaint apprised Defendant Two of the nature of its demand to enforce the commission agreement that Defendant Two signed on behalf of Defendant One and that Defendant Two was being sued as an alter ego of Defendant One. Under Appellate Court’s decision in Vasey v. California Dance Co. (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 742, in a direct appeal, appellate court reversed a default judgment against individual defendants because the Complaint did not state a cause of action against them where the Complaint did not plead evidence relating to alter ego liability. In this case, had Defendants directly appealed from the default judgment, rather than filed a motion to set aside the judgment based on Code of Civil Procedure Section 473(d), they could have relied on the reasoning of Vasey to attack the Complaint for failure to state a cause of action. The Appellate Court further stated that it is not bound by and disagrees with the decision in Grappo v. McMills (2017) 11 Cal.App.5th 996, [affirming an order setting aside a default judgment and suggesting judgment was void for failure to state a claim] and, thus, Grappo does not apply. Accordingly, this Court affirmed the order denying the motion to set aside the default and default judgment.

What To Know About A Trial Separation

trial separation

Let’s face it, marriage is not always easy, and the idea of divorce can feel scary and overwhelming. If you are going through a rough marriage patch, you may consider a trial separation before filing for a California divorce. 

A trial separation may be a great solution if you and your spouse agree on a timeline, make your intentions and expectations clear, and understand the rules you will both follow during your time apart.

A trial separation is a personal choice; you must decide if it is a good fit for your marriage. This article will discuss trial separations and the benefits for you and your marriage.

Defining A Trial Separation

When a couple chooses to take space from each other instead of going straight to filing for divorce, it is a trial separation. Often when a couple decides to have a trial separation, one party will leave home altogether.

For those who can’t afford this, the best option is for one spouse to move into a spare bedroom.

It is best that a trial separation isn’t a divorce or even a legal separation and doesn’t have a legal impact on your marriage or property rights. This means that all money earned during your trial separation or acquired property will still be divided according to the state’s property laws if you later divorce.

Benefits Of A Trial Separation

Every marriage is unique, and the benefits of a trial separation may vary from couple to couple. Some expected benefits people experience during a trial separation include the following:

  • You Get Time To Clear Your Head. Sometimes you just need space to clear your mind, and a trial separation allows you to work towards creating reconciliation and work through your marital issues with personal space. You may recognize that you are worried about something else, such as money, instead of what your partner doesn’t do or says. It is essential to take time to identify the real issues in your marriage so that you can work on them.
  • Make An Informed Decision. Getting a divorce is a big decision, and it is critical to avoid filing for a divorce prematurely. When you enter a trial separation, you and your partner can decide if your marital issues are repairable or if you need to file for divorce.
  • Get A Fresh Look. Taking space allows both parties to work through personal issues that could indirectly interfere with your marriage. You may find that friends, family, or a therapist can help give you a fresh look at your marital issues.
  • Get A Taste Of Reality. It allows both parties to feel what it would be like to live apart, from taking care of chores and paying bills or experiencing your social life without your spouse.
  • Opportunity To Grow. A trial separation allows you to gather your feelings and thoughts and improve your communication skills before filing for divorce. It also allows you to identify skills you can improve on, such as household chores, communicating, and caring for children if you have any, and you may come to appreciate your partner more. If you are in an abusive or unhealthy marriage, you may find life easier on your own.
  • You Are Improving Your Perspective. When you and your spouse are always together, it can become a habit only to notice the faults or things that bother you. Spending time apart helps you rediscover the parts of your marriage and your spouse that you appreciate. On the other hand, you could also realize that behaviors or issues that you think are normal are cruel, unsafe, or unhealthy and that you are better off apart.

Create A Trial Separation Agreement

Both parties must be on the same page regarding the timeline, rules, and overall goals for resolving marital issues during your trial separation. Depending on your situation, you need to decide whether you need a written agreement. A written agreement will identify your separation date if your marriage ends in divorce. Generally, it is better to have an agreement in writing.

Is A Trial Separation Right For You and Your Spouse?

There’s no crystal ball to know; however, some common indicators help determine if a trial separation may benefit you and your spouse.

  • The challenges in your marriage are situational tarter than deeply rooted issues
  • Your love for each other remains intact, but you are feeling overwhelmed by your marital issues
  • You trust each other when it comes to financial issues and your children, and there has been no significant breach of trust

If you are experiencing domestic violence, emotional abuse, serial infidelity, or ongoing substance abuse issues, then a trial separation may not be the best solution for you.

Family law is complicated, and it is vital to consider all the issues included, such as child custody and visitation, child support, alimony, spousal support, division of property, and more. Choosing the right divorce lawyer is your first step if you file for divorce in California to help ensure you avoid making big mistakes.

Hire An Expert Divorce Attorney

At Azemika & Azemika, we devote our practice exclusively to family law. Our attorneys are highly skilled and have extensive experience navigating California divorce laws, child support and visitations, adoption, paternity, and more. Whether you are considering a trial separation or a divorce hiring an attorney to help support you during this challenging time will make it significantly less stressful and ensure that your family, your rights, and your assets are protected. Contact us today for a consultation!

Understanding California 730 Evaluation

California 730 evaluation

Going through a California divorce is emotionally challenging for parents and children. Focusing on what is best for your children can help ensure the decisions made around their healthy being are in their best interest.

When two people divorce, other issues may convolute or influence decision-making, and you and your ex-spouse may disagree on how your child’s arrangement should be during or after your divorce.

If you are going through a California divorce and are considering requesting a 730 evaluation or if the judge is ordering one to be completed for your case, it is essential to understand what it entails. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney to help you through the process is vital. We will discuss California 730 evaluations, what they are, their purpose, and what to expect.

What Is A California 730 Evaluation?

California Evidence Code Section 730 authorizes these types of evaluations, and a 730 evaluation is an assessment of your family. You, your spouse, or the judge may request one to look into your or your ex’s parenting practices or mental health. The focus of this evaluation is directly related to what would best support your child and what is in their best interest.

When Is A 730 Evaluation Needed?

When the judge, you, or your ex-spouse believes that your child’s best interest is not being served, the court can order a 730 evaluation. Some of the issues that may trigger this type of investigation include the following:

  • Alleged mental health problems
  • Suspected child abuse
  • Concerns about substance abuse
  • If one parent wants to move out of state and the other parent objects
  • Parental disagreement on child custody
  • Possible parenting practices that could have a negative effect on the child

Who Can Conduct a 730 Evaluation?

The court will appoint a qualified mental health professional to conduct the 730 evaluation. You or your spouse may not choose your evaluator specifically; however, in some cases, the judge will ask each party to submit a list of possible evaluators. The evaluator appointed by the court will be:

  • Social worker
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Marriage or family therapist; however, if any formal psychological testing is necessary, only a trained psychiatrist or psychologist can perform it.

The evaluator chosen must remain objective and protect confidentiality throughout the entire process. They can only make recommendations about either party once that party is evaluated. The evaluators must always keep the child’s best interests in mind and can’t pressure children to say if they prefer to live with one parent or the other.

Who Pays For A California 730 Evaluation?

It is up to the court to determine who will pay for the 730 evaluation. It can be divided and doesn’t have to be 50/50, or the court can require one party to pay for everything.

What Is The Process Of California 730 Evaluation?

Once the court assigns the evaluator to the case, they will assess the family. They will learn about the children’s relationship with parents and other family members and the children’s living arrangements. The evaluator’s goal is to determine what is in the child’s best interest. The evaluator may take some time to complete the process.

  • Observe interactions between each parent and the children or child, both together and separately. In cases of domestic violence, however, the parents will not be interviewed together
  • Review any documents that relate to child custody
  • Review documents such as police or hospital records
  • Interview family members as well as step-parents, siblings, and step or half-siblings
  • Consult with other experts, including psychologists and psychiatrists for psychological testing

The evaluator will compile all the information into a file to develop a recommendation for the court.

In general, the evaluator can’t communicate with the divorce attorney for any one party without involving both parties. One exception will be if the evaluator needs to schedule an appointment or find out if there is any conflict of interest. However, the court can authorize communication between a court-appointed attorney for the child and the evaluator.

If at any time the evaluator believes a restraining order is necessary to protect one party or the child, they can communicate that also. Social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists are mandatory reporters; if they know or suspect child abuse or endangerment, they must report it to the authorities.

Questions The Evaluator Can Ask During The Interview

The evaluator can ask questions they find relevant to the investigation during the interview. The questions they ask will help them to assess the case and each parent. What the evaluator is looking for is:

  • Each parent’s ability to respond to their child’s needs
  • Each parent’s ability to set age-appropriate limits for the child
  • How or if the parent works towards resolutions
  • How much each parent is or has been involved in the child’s life, or has taken care of the child in the past
  • Whether or not there has been a history of domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or psychiatric illness by either parent
  • Both parent’s social and psychological functioning

What Happens After A California 730 Evaluation?

The evaluator will the report to the court and must: 

  • Summarize their findings and how long they spent on the evaluation
  • Present all relevant information, even if it doesn’t support the conclusion
  • Describe any limitation in the evaluation that comes from them being unable to get information, whether it is a parent’s failure to cooperate or the circumstances of the interview
  • Make visitation or custody recommendations
  • Provide clear and detailed recommendations that reflect the child’s best interest

What If You Disagree With The Evaluator’s Findings?

A judge will decide on the custody arrangement you and your spouse will have. If you disagree, your attorney can ask the court to appoint another mental health professional to review the evaluation and give testimony about their findings.

Working with your ex-spouse to reach an agreement that serves your child’s best interest will usually avoid having a judge order a California 730 evaluation.

What Is A Mini California 730 Evaluation?

In certain circumstances, 730 evaluations can be minimized and only focus on one issue to speed up the process.

Hire An Experienced Divorce Attorney To Help You

If you are going through a divorce involving children and have questions about California 730 evaluation, hiring an experienced family law attorney is vital. Your attorney can answer any questions and help protect you and your family.

At Azemika & Azemika, we are here to help you navigate the complex legal system of family law and support you in ensuring the best interest of your child and family is our top priority. Our partners have a combined total of over 56 years of experience in family law. We can help you with divorce, child custody and visitation, child support or alimony, adoption, or other family law cases. Contact us today for a consultation!

What Are The Advantages Of Uncontested Divorce

uncontested divorce

Uncontested divorce in California has several advantages. While divorce is never an easy choice when both parties can agree on how to divide marital assets, deal with child custody and support issues and handle other family matters, it is a significantly more straightforward process.

California is a no-fault divorce state, and It is essential to understand the laws of a California divorce. There are generally two types of divorce in California: contested and uncontested.

We will examine an uncontested divorce and its advantages and disadvantages to help you understand if it is a good choice for your situation.

What Is An Uncontested Divorce In California?

When two people agree to the terms of their divorce in California, there is no need for a judge to hold a trial.

You can either do your uncontested divorce alone (DIY Divorce) or with the help of a lawyer. If you hire a lawyer, both parties need to hire separate attorneys, as one lawyer can’t represent both of you.

The process for filing an uncontested divorce may vary from state to state. You will need to initiate the divorce by filing a divorce petition, documents proving both parties are aware of, in agreement, and participating in the case, financial affidavits disclosing everything each party has, a settlement agreement, and a proposed judgment. You may be required to attend couples therapy or classes on co-parenting before being granted a divorce, and other paperwork may be required.

Depending on the jurisdiction, your case may be dealt with based upon your paperwork, and you will obtain your judgment in the mail, or you may be required to attend a hearing with your spouse to swear that the divorce paperwork is accurate and true and that you signed it on your own free will.

The Advantages of An Uncontested Divorce

There are several reasons why an uncontested divorce may appeal to you and your partner. However, ensuring that an uncontested divorce is in your best interest is essential.

  • An uncontested divorce is less expensive and faster than a traditional or contested divorce.
  • There is no need for multiple court appearances or a trial which is one of the most significant benefits of an uncontested divorce.
  • The level of conflict between the two parties remains lower, and the relationship can remain more amicable.
  • It is more private, which can be best for you, your partner, and your children if you have any.
  • You are more likely to retain your assets.
  • It is more cost-effective as you avoid more fees for lawyers, account servers, process servers, and the many other financial costs associated with a contested divorce.

When Is An Uncontested Divorce a Bad Idea?

In some situations, an uncontested divorce can create more problems or result in an unfair balance of power, financial gain, or even worse, losing precious time with your children.

  • Domestic Violence Issues. If your partner is abusive, argumentative, or hostile in any way, an uncontested divorce is a terrible idea. Anytime there is a history of domestic violence, emotional abuse, or other disparity in power in your relationship, it usually leads to one person having an advantage over the other party. In this situation, it is ideal to have an experienced divorce attorney to advocate for you to protect your rights.
  • Poor Communication. Be realistic about how well you and your spouse can communicate. When two people can’t talk without a fight, then trying to file for an uncontested divorce is the wrong approach. Difficult communication indicates you must hire an experienced divorce attorney and file for a contested divorce. You want to ensure your rights, family, and assets are protected.
  • Lack of Understanding of California Divorce Law. Even though an uncontested divorce is relatively straightforward, you will still need to read and understand several forms that will include in-depth financial disclosures by each person. Suppose you and your spouse need clarification on California Divorce laws or support filling out the paperwork. In that case, the best idea may be to contact a divorce attorney to ensure everything is done correctly.

Hire An Expert Divorce Attorney

At Azemika & Azemika, we devote practice exclusively to family law. Our attorneys have extensive experience navigating California divorce laws, child support and visitations, adoption, paternity, and more. Whether you are considering an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce, hiring an attorney to help support you during this challenging time will make it significantly less stressful and ensure that your family, your assets, and your rights are protected. Contact us today for a consultation!