What is a Termination of Parental Rights?

parental rights

Terminating the rights of a parent is one of the most serious decisions that can be made in family court. When a parent’s rights are terminated under California law, the parent is no longer the child’s legal parent. When those rights are terminated, all of the parent’s rights and obligations end.

Parental rights can only be terminated by court order. This article will discuss how rights can be terminated, what happens after a parent’s rights are terminated, and how parental rights can be reinstated.

How Parental Rights Can Be Terminated

There are a couple of different ways California courts can terminate parental rights.

Voluntary Termination

While it may sound like it would be simple to sign away your rights, the courts in California will weigh the parent’s wish to terminate their rights with the child’s right to have two parents. This means a parent must have a valid reason to terminate their parental rights voluntarily.

In the case of adoption, the courts are willing to grant a voluntary termination of rights. Stepparent adoption is an example where the court may grant the termination request. That would mean that the custody of the child will then be given to the other parent. However, it could also be granted to a stepparent.

Federal law is more lenient than California law regarding the protection of children in these cases. The state has laws that outline reasons why a parent’s rights may be terminated. In any case, California family law courts make the best interest of the child the highest priority.

Involuntary Termination

As stated, the child’s best interest is the main priority in parental rights cases. Some cases require the court to involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights to ensure the child’s safety.

This is, however, only done in severe cases. Here are some of the most common reasons a parent could involuntarily lose their rights.

  • A substance or alcohol addiction that prohibits them from being a fit parent
  • Severe child abuse or neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Sexual abuse against the child
  • Failing to uphold parenting or financial obligations for a prolonged time
  • Mental impairments that prohibit them from being a fit parent
  • Being convicted of felonies
  • Committing a violent crime or domestic violence against a member of their family
  • Receiving a long prison sentence, especially if the child would be left in the foster care system

Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include all the factors that could cause a parent’s rights to be terminated. Typically, the courts won’t terminate the rights if the petitioner can’t prove that it is in the best interest of the child’s health, welfare, and safety.

What Happens After the Termination

After a parent’s rights are terminated, the parent-child relationship is legally ended. That means the parent has no rights to custody or visitation, they are no longer responsible for the child’s actions, and they generally will no longer have to pay child support. The child will also lose the right to that parent’s social security, medical benefits, and inheritance.

If the rights of only one parent are terminated, all rights and responsibilities are passed to the other parent. If one relinquishes their parental rights for the sake of adoption, the adoption can then proceed.

When the courts terminate the rights of both parents, CPS (Child Protective Services) will find a new home for the child. Their priority is to place the child with their biological family, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle.

Restoring Parental Rights

In California, if parental rights have been terminated, parental rights can be reinstated. However, it can be challenging, and the child must petition the court to restore the parent’s rights. The parent cannot. The child must file the petition within three years of the termination, and the child cannot have been adopted during that time.

If the child is over twelve years old, they can attend the hearing to speak to the court about the original termination or the reinstatement. If the issues that caused the termination have been rectified, and the court decides it’s in the child’s best interest, they may approve the reinstatement.

Get Representation You Can Count on With Azemika & Azemika

Whether defending your rights or petitioning for termination, having an experienced legal team by your side is essential. Your legal team can focus on the best interest of your child while preparing a solid case on your behalf.

The partners at Azemika & Azemika have a combined total of over 56 years of experience handling family law cases. Our years of experience allow us to provide knowledgeable and aggressive representation to clients in Kern County in the case of divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal and child support, paternity, adoption, and abandonment.
Contact us today to work with our award-winning team.

How To Prepare For Your Child Custody Hearing

child custody hearing

Getting divorced is a stressful situation to begin with and when you have children it can be that much more scary, upsetting, and worrisome. When you and your former spouse are unable to come to your own agreement, you both will need to attend a child custody hearing to have a judge decide what is in the best interest of your child.

Despite the emotions you may have at the moment, it can be extremely helpful to plan ahead and be prepared for your hearing to present a convincing case and increase your chances of having a custody arrangement that falls within your goals.

Below we can take a look at ways to build a persuasive child custody case.

Familiarize Yourself with the Law

Learning how the hearing process works can make you feel more confident before attending court. There are laws that come with custody and parental responsibilities, and unless the court says otherwise, you will share the parental responsibility with the other parent.

Your family law attorney can describe what usually happens in these hearings, and give you an idea of what to expect the day of. There are different types of child custody, and exploring your options of legal custody and visitations can be beneficial for both you and your child.

Providing Documentation

Your lawyer will tell you exactly what type of documentation you might need for your hearing. Common documents that can be helpful for your case are:

  • Call logs and text messages confirming that you and your child are in constant contact and able to get a hold of one another
  • Photographs of you and your children together
  • A visitation log that plans out when you will see your children, how much time you spend with them, how often you will speak to your children during visitations. A log can also help keep track of either parent’s cancellations, or when they have missed time with their children. 
  • Medical records for your children, especially if they have any diagnosed health conditions that proves they need access to regular treatment
  • Proof of regular child support payments
  • School documents like attendance, additional tutoring, and grade reports
  • Any supporting evidence you are comfortable with the other parent’s possession and time with your children

The goal with providing proper documentation is to ensure that you are always putting the best interest of your children first. Judges will look for clear proof that you will support, provide, love, and protect your children. It is also important to demonstrate that you and your former spouse will be supportive of your children having a healthy relationship with the other.

Courtroom Etiquette and Appearance

Even if you are in a heightened emotional state, it is important to have proper courtroom etiquette. Having emotional outbursts, making accusatory statements, or raising your voice can be counted against you and potentially hurt your case. Remember that this is about your child, and you want to stay focused on your goals.

It’s understandable to have things get under your skin, and running through some roleplay scenarios with your lawyer can help you stay cool and collected in the courtroom the day of your hearing.

While it is unfair that judgments can be made on appearances alone, it is important to dress appropriately to make the best first impression to the court. This does not mean having to wear the most expensive attire, but it simply should present you as a responsible adult and not call unwanted attention to yourself.

Manage Your Expectations

Your attorney will be able to educate you on the potential risks and rewards of going to court, and they will be advocating for you and help you make the most out of your time during your hearing. Typically, child custody hearings are less combative than other court cases, and are not heard before a jury. Your case will be presented in front of a judge, and they will be able to make an immediate decision. You do have the right to appeal the order if you disagree with the custody arrangement.

Seeking Help for Your Child Custody Case

It can feel overwhelming to go through this process when you care about your children and just want the best for them in the future. At Azemika Law, we’re here for you during this emotional time with our practice that has been devoted to family law for 28 years.

We handle all types of cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the best opportunity to achieve your goals and build a happy future with your family.
For representation, support, and guidance during your child custody hearing, contact us today to speak with one of our family law attorneys in Bakersfield.

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.

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.

Can Children Choose Which Parent to Live With in California?

There’s no denying that divorce is hard on every family member, but it can be especially difficult for any children involved. Child custody and visitation agreements can feel stressed or awkward, especially when the child doesn’t feel like they have a say in these new arrangements.

In California, family courts consider many factors when deciding which parent may be awarded primary custody. One of the factors that judges consider is the child’s preference, but it’s not the only or even the most important factor.

Whether you’re going through a divorce in California or trying to figure out the best custody arrangements, you need to understand just how much bearing your children’s preferences will have over the matter. Today, we will cover a breakdown of how children’s opinions of which parent they want to live with may shape the outcome of your child custody agreement.

Does a Child’s Parental Choice Affect Custody?

The answer to whether or not a child’s parental choice affects the custody agreement is, it depends. The family court judge will listen to the child’s opinion given that they are of sufficient age to express an intelligent opinion on custody or visitation, but ultimately, the court’s decision will be based on the child’s best interests.

Whenever possible, courts opt for shared custody, which has shown to be the least stressful for children. However, shared custody is often not a viable option, and a choice has to be made.

Children may have firm opinions about living with one parent or another, but if there’s any doubt that the preferred parent will be the best choice, the child’s opinion may hold little weight in the final decision. Every situation is unique, and ultimately the courts will strive to place the child with the most suitable parent to meet the child’s needs.

When Does a Child’s Preference Matter?

Just because a child prefers to live with one parent over another, it doesn’t mean that the judge will award custody to that parent. For a child’s preference to matter, the child must be of sufficient age and ability to express an intelligent opinion about which parent they would prefer to live with.

In California, the law allows children age 14 and up to express their parental preference to aid in determining custody. However, no matter the child’s age, a judge will consider their preference in evaluating the overall suitability of the custody arrangement.

Keeping the Child’s Best Interest in Mind

Just because a 14-year-old may have a preference for one parent over another, it doesn’t mean the judge will automatically grant that parent custody. Children and teens can be emotional and rebellious, so family courts consider many factors when assigning custody.

If a child states a preference to live with a parent who is ‘less strict,’ it won’t automatically mean the child’s preferred parent will be given custody. If there appears to be parental pressure, or if the child’s preference is intended to alienate one parent, a judge may not consider the child’s preference in the ultimate custody decision.

Sometimes, a child may prefer a parent who cannot take care of the child or who might be abusive and threatening. Children may feel a sense of duty to one parent over another, despite their preferred parent being incapable of caring for the child.

All of these situations are difficult, which is why multiple factors are considered before custody arrangements are made.

Do Children Have To Testify Their Preference?

While the courts may allow a child to testify their preference before their parents, it’s not necessary. If the child is very young, or if a great deal of emotional pressure is put on the child, they may express their opinion to their family lawyer or even speak with the judge’s chambers, away from the parents.

Every situation is unique, and the judge will try to find the best way to ascertain the child’s preference without putting undue stress on the child. This may even happen during family mediation or in another setting outside the courts, such as a child interview center.

What if You Disagree With Your Child’s Preference?

Most parents want what’s best for their children, but it can be devastating for a parent to hear that their child prefers to live with the other parent. Ultimately, custody is granted based on what is best for the child, but this doesn’t make it easy for the parent who won’t be living with their child.

Stability is essential for these custody arrangements, but as children age, circumstances may mean that these arrangements need to be altered. Custody agreements are not set in stone, and they may be changed if the courts decide that situational changes warrant adjusting the custody arrangement.

Let Azemika Law Help You With Your Custody Determination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Long Have Postnuptial Agreements Been Around?

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

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

Why Would Someone Need/Want a Postnuptial Agreement?

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

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

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

What Provisions Are Included in a Postnuptial Agreement?

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

Typical items included in a postnuptial agreement are:

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

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

What Are the Different Types of Postnuptial Agreements?

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

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

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

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

Let the Professionals Help You With Your Postnuptial Agreement!

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

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

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

How to Talk About a Prenup With Your Partner

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

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

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

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

Start the Prenup Conversation Early.

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss and Decide the Terms Together.

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

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

Be Upfront With What You Want.

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

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

Listen to Your Partner.

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

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

Make Sure You Leave Room for Change Through the Years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

California Child Adoption Requirements

California Child Adoption Requirements

Adoption is a legal agreement under which the foster parents become personally liable concerning the child they adopt and gain all legal parental rights.

If you hope to achieve your parenting aspirations, it can be a great way to create or extend your family by bringing a child into your household and your heart. Indeed, each year in California, hundreds of thousands of successful adoption processes take place. In this way, many children who otherwise would not have their own families have become part of loving households. 

Their adoptive parents provide them with the treatment, security, and opportunity they need for safe personal development and growth.

Nevertheless, the process of child adoption in California can be life-changing, but also challenging and even confusing at times. It is also necessary for prospective adoptive parents to meet early on with a professional adoption attorney to know their options and better understand California child adoption laws.

Each state has its adoption process and laws, but the procedure will vary significantly for families in various states. As a native of California, you may want to consult with an adoption agency or adoption specialist who is very experienced with California child adoption requirements, its laws and policies. 

California Child Adoption Requirements and Laws

Adoption law comes under family law, which is regulated largely by individual states and differs greatly across the world.

The following are some significant factors in the adoption process and stepparent adoption in California:

1. Financial Status Requirements

Although you do not have to buy your own house to become an adoptive parent or reach a predetermined income standard, we have all heard the anecdotes of how much it takes to raise a child. 

Therefore, financial status, especially in single-parent adoptions, is often a concern. The court may require evidence that you can help and provide for the child as your benefits will come from employment, a pension, or disability compensation. 

A history of stable work can be seen by most courts not only as a symbol of financial security, but also as evidence of transparency and maturity. Outside the home, all members of a married pair or domestic partnership can work.

2.  Requirements for an International Adoption in California

As long as the adoption is finalized in a country of the Hague Convention, California will accept international adoption edicts issued under the laws of the United States and the country which authorized the adoption. In California, readoption is voluntary but may be necessary by the U.S. Homeland Security Agency. Readoption is the method of updating and legitimizing international recognition by a state court.

The procedure entails at least one in-home visit and filing the adoption appeal, the report of the interregional adoption court, financial records, the report of the home study, and the final order of adoption. 

A California birth certificate can be received by each California citizen who adopts internationally. Upon issuance of an adoption statement from the court or a readoption order, the state registration may create a new birth certificate.

3. Criminal Background Check

As part of adoption hearings, most states require a criminal background check. Minor violations, such as outstanding fines for parking, are generally of no significance. More serious allegations, however, may be a cause for worry and may affect adoption hearings. Of course, previous allegations of child abuse or neglect preclude an individual from being an adoptive parent.

4. Adopter’s age requirements

In the adoption process, always keep in mind that you should be at least ten years older than the child you are adopting. This age gap is part of adopting a child in California according to their child adoption laws.

5. Complete Home Study Examination

If you are planning to adopt a child in California, you must conduct a home study examination. This criterion for the adoption process and child adoption laws exists to show that you can provide the child with a secure, caring family and a peaceful environment. 

Also, the social worker appointed to your case will help you consider what sorts of choices could be better for your family, address your needs, and assist you in planning for the adoption process.

During the home study investigation, you will need to:

  • Submit your fingerprints
  • Subject to a physical test (A doctor’s note stating that you do not have any life-threatening or life-shortening diseases)
  • Attend lessons of an adoption school
  • Complete at least one separate social worker interview
  • A minimum of two trips to your home to see you and the child
  • Verification of working status and income.

Get Legal Assistance to Help You Meet California Child Adoption Requirements

Over the past 28 years, our partners at Azemika & Azemika have all successfully handled the most difficult and high asset family law cases in Kern County and we can help you, too. 
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.

TRIAL JUDGE WAS WRONG IN NOT GRANTING A CONTINUANCE OF HEARING IN A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE

hourglass, gavel, weighing scale and lady justice for statue of lady justice for California Proposition 8 and family law lawyers bakersfield ca

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that a Trial Court was wrong, in a Domestic Violence Protection Act (“DVPA”) case, by refusing to grant a continuance to a Plaintiff who needed one to permit him to serve the opposing party and to give him time to recover from an unforeseen back surgery. In the case of J.M. v. W.T., Plaintiff, on January 8, 2019, filed a request for a DVPA protective order against Defendant. In a supporting declaration, Plaintiff asserted that between December 23, 2017, and March 17, 2018, Defendant committed several acts of domestic violence against Plaintiff (throwing a book at him, calling him offensive names over the phone, punching him with closed fist, biting him during sex, threatening to hurt his dog after the dog preferred Plaintiff to Defendant, and demanding entry to Plaintiff’s condo and then becoming physically out of control). Trial Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order pending the hearing and scheduled a hearing for January 29, 2019.

On January 24, 2019, Plaintiff submitted a written request for a continuance on California Judicial Council Form DV-115, explaining that he had been unable to serve Defendant with the necessary papers and that he was scheduled for spinal surgery on January 28, 2019, after which he would be unable to care for himself, stand or sit for a long period, or think clearly because of the medications. Neither party appeared at the January 29, 2019 hearing, and Trial Court denied the request for a continuance and dismissed the case, commenting that the incidents complained of happened almost a year ago.

Plaintiff appealed Trial Court’s decisions, and now a California Court of Appeals has reversed Trial Court’s decisions and remanded the case back to Trial Court with instructions. The Appellate Court has ruled that (1) under California Family Code Section 245(b), Trial Court must grant a continuance if a party shows good cause for one in writing or orally on the record; (2) the failure to serve the opposing party is grounds for a continuance; (3) here Plaintiff demonstrated good cause for a continuance on these facts; and (4) Trial Court abused its discretion by failing to grant a continuance. Therefore, the Appellate Court reversed Trial Court’s order denying a request for DVPA protective order and remanded the case back to Trial Court with directions to grant a continuance within 30 days of the case coming back to Trial Court.

HUSBAND LIVING IN FAMILY RESIDENCE AFTER SEPARATION OWES WIFE REASONABLE RENT BUT NOT INCREASE IN VALUE OF HOME

statue of lady justice for California Proposition 8 and family law attorney bakersfield ca

A California Court of Appeals has ruled that Watts charges [a party having sole use of both parties’ community property asset, i.e., home, after separation can be charged for that party’s sole use, i.e., reasonable rental value of the home] may be ordered against Husband where Husband lived in his separate property house after the parties’ date of separation and Moore/Marsden formula gave the community a beneficial interest in the house because payments during the marriage were made with community property funds. In the case of In re Marriage of Mohler, Husband bought a house for $168,000, taking title in his sole name in February of 1995, prior to the parties’ marriage. Husband and Wife were married in September of 1998. They lived in the House until they separated on July 2, 2011. The payments on the House were made with community property funds [the parties’ earnings during the marriage] until that date. The principle reduction on the mortgage loan on the House was reduced during the parties’ marriage to the tune of $56,557. After they separated, Husband lived in the House and paid the house payments with his separate property funds [his earnings after the parties’ date of separation].

At trial in 2017, Trial Court valued the House at $530,000. The parties agreed that the Moore/Marsden formula [when community pays for one party’s separate property House during the marriage, the community gets reimbursed based on principle reduction of the loan on the House and appreciation in value of the house during the marriage] should be used to calculate the community property interest in the House acquired by making the mortgage payments. Using that formula, Trial Court calculated that the community property interest amounted to 33.66%, or $172,684 (appreciation value plus mortgage principle reduction). However, Wife argued that the community property interest must be increased to 64.9% to include the six (6) years that Husband lived in the House after the parties’ separation. In essence, Wife was arguing that she had to wait for six (6) years to receive her community property share in the House while Husband was solely enjoying the House and thus, her community property interest should be increased.

Trial Court agreed and re-calculated the community property interest under the Moore/Marsden formula at $332,944, which included Husband’s separate property payments of $52,482 [payments he made on the mortgage after the date of separation]. Husband appealed and now the California Court of Appeals has vacated Trial Court’s order and has remanded the case back to Trail Court with directions as to how to resolve the case.

The Appellate Court has ruled that (1) by making payments on Husband’s separate property House with community property funds [parties’ earnings during the marriage], the community acquired a beneficial interest in House the amount of which is calculated by the application of the Moore/Marsden formula;(2) the community ceases to acquire a beneficial interest in a spouse’s separate property when community property payments stop or date of separation occurs; (3) Trial Court erred by applying the Moore/Marsden formula beyond the date of separation after which Husband made house payments with his separate property [his earnings after the date of separation]; and (4) if any compensation is due to the community by reason of Husband’s living in the House after the parties’ separation, it must be calculated as Watts charges. According to the Appellate Court, “where, as here, the community does not own the property outright but instead maintains a beneficial partial interest in the property due to a Moore/Marsden calculation,” Watts charges may be applied. Therefore, the Appellate Court has remanded the case back to Trial Court for further proceedings in line with this opinion.