Here Are 2019 Changes to Alimony Laws in California

Alimony law is often very confusing and comes with a lot of moving parts. There are a few changes in California alimony law that have come into effect for 2019 and should be taken note of.

One of the biggest 2019 changes has to with spousal support. Previously, spousal support was tax deductible for the spouse that way paying and was taxable income for the spouse that was receiving it. Now, alimony will no longer be tax deductible, and the recipient spouse will not have to pay any taxes on it.

This big change to alimony law came due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which scrapped a 75-year old spousal support payment tax stipulation. The new law came into effect on January 1st . Divorce agreements signed on or before December 31st, 2018, will not be affected by the new rules.

The change of the law relating to taxation and alimony means divorce negotiations will most likely become trickier, especially if the spouses were wealthy, since these types of people often benefited the most from the tax deductions pertaining to alimony.

Some think it will lead to smaller spousal support payments because the tax advantages with a larger sum are now lost. The alimony tax deduction before the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act change was a strong bargaining tool in divorce proceedings, but many see this advantage as a relic of the past due to the new stipulations.

If you signed an agreement of separation or divorce before the end of 2018, and the support order is modified after the start of 2019, the pre-2019 tax rules still remain in effect. The only exception to this rule would be if there is a specific clause in the agreement that says otherwise. You will want to have a lawyer review the separation or divorce agreement if you are not sure which tax law you will be subject to.

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All payments must qualify as spousal support or alimony in order to be tax deductible under the pre-2019 legal standards. Payments that qualify as spousal support only are eligible if the spouses do not file a joint tax return, if the payment is made under a legal divorce agreement, and if the actual funds are in the form of cash, a check, or a money order.

Additionally, spousal support must not be treated as child support and is not able to be part of the settlement of any property.

Some have questioned if they are able to pay more in child support to offset any of the changes under the new alimony law. Child support is never deductible and it is not counted as taxable income by the person who is receiving it.

Divorce proceedings are a tricky affair that can often take a lot of time and energy to move through. A good lawyer will not rush the process but will make sure that everything is taken care of and both sides are satisfied with the arrangement. However, the changes to alimony law can be very confusing and can change a lot of the divorce aspects depending on your situation.

As a result, be sure to speak with an experienced and professional divorce and alimony attorney as soon as possible so you can get up to speed with the new changes, especially if your divorce agreement is dated on or after January 1st, 2019.

Do you have a question about alimony laws in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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This New California Law That Changes Pet Custody Options

Getting a divorce is a difficult situation for everyone involved, especially if two partners have children who are in the middle of the divorce process. Many people also have pets that are considered a member of the family, but their circumstances can be drastically different in the event of a divorce.

Traditionally, pets are viewed as personal property when it comes to divorce law. This means people must discuss where the pets will go once it comes time to divide up property. Unfortunately, this can mean that pets will go to a home that is not the best fit for them.

A new law in California has been put in place to change some of these practices. Pets are still considered property, but a judge will have the final decision about where a pet will live.

This creates a similar arrangement to how a child custody case is decided. The law also treats pets more like a member of the family and less like a piece of property or a household good, which is how it can often come across as under old legislation.

Under the new law, people will still have to decide how to split pet ownership rights since the law still considered pets as community property. If two spouses are not able to agree on a division of ownership, then the courts will step in to facilitate a decision.

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The judge will have the chance to review a variety of factors and then come up with a solution that is the best choice for the pets and people involved. Each spouse will have ownership rights over a pet if it was adopted or obtained after marriage, unless something else is spelled out in a prenuptial agreement.

Judges will ask questions in order to get an idea of where the pets should go after a divorce. Questions could include inquiries into who spends more money on the pet’s food and toys, who actually adopted the pet, who takes care of it on a daily basis, and who spends the most time with the animal.

Judges will also review any allegations of domestic abuse or animal abuse as they come up with a decision about what spouse should have ownership rights.

Sometimes, a judge might decide to share custody of a pet, where one spouse would have a pet for a certain amount of time, and then the pet would go live with the other spouse for a while. The new law is designed to make pet custody cases easier to manage and speed up the process of awarding ownership.

Pets are a difficult kind of property when it comes to legal proceedings since it is hard to “divide” one pet up between spouses. It is also pretty hard to divide community property that is personal or of a high value, as many pets are to their families.

If you are in the divorce process and have at least one pet, you should seek the services of an experienced lawyer who is up-to-date on the new California pet custody law.

A good lawyer will help you navigate the process of securing or giving custody of a pet away and will be able to advise you on how the judge might look at your particular circumstances and what evidence they could review to make a decision about custody.

Do you have a question about pet custody laws in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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Here Are 5 Reasons Why You Should Have a Lawyer Review Your Contracts

Being a business owner comes with a lot of work and you will have to review and look through a lot of paperwork that comes across your desk.

Part of the process for businesses is signing contracts and agreements with other people or companies who you want to work with. Flipping through these documents can be a tedious task, especially if the other party in an agreement comes with their own contracts to sign.

You might be tempted just to sign off on any agreement that comes by, but this can be a big mistake. It is always better to have an experienced lawyer review your contracts, even if you believe they are ironclad. This is especially true if another party brings their own contract or wants to revise parts of yours before they sign.

Here are a few reasons why you should hire a lawyer to review your contracts.

1) Hiring legal counsel will save you a lot of time and money as opposed to trying to solve problems down the road that emerged from a bad contract. A good lawyer will be able to advise you about certain terminology in contracts and be able to help you to articulate your thoughts into words that will give all parties in the contract the proper protection.

They will also be able to review your business structure and ideas and give advice about the potential pitfalls down the road that can be avoided with a good contract. All of this will be significantly cheaper than trying to fix problems after they occur.

2) A lawyer who reviews contracts serves as a valuable outside pair of eyes for your business. Many entities write and see contracts as just a tool to make money, or to market in a particular way. This can cloud the judgment of those actually writing contracts, potentially setting up problems in the future. Lawyers often look at contracts every day for clients who work in a number of industries. They will be able to look at yours with an objective perspective that will not be a distraction to other work and operations.

3) Having a lawyer review your contracts gives you a sense of legal protection if something does go wrong. If you just review your contracts, all the litigation is going to be on you because there will be no recourse. If your lawyer looks at one, then they can potentially be sued if something goes wrong.

4) Having a lawyer review a contract can make you more competitive in the long run. Other parties who want you to sign their contract usually have it written with their best interests in mind. Signing these can really hurt you down the road. Having an independent review of any contract gives you peace of mind to know a contract will not be egregiously advantageous to one party or the other, and might even help your future competitiveness in comparison to other businesses. A good lawyer is going to understand the legal terms in contracts that could have serious consequences and will be able to draw on their expertise to advise about what to watch out for.

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5) Very few business owners have any sort of knowledge when it comes to contracts. It’s always smart to stick with what you know and hire the experts to fill the gaps. Lawyers bring a lot more experience to the table when it comes to employment issues, leases, and business agreements.

Do you have a question about getting a lawyer to review your contracts? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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What You Need to Know About California Collection Laws

Navigating through debt collection law in California can be tricky. There are a lot of moving parts inside of pertinent legislation that can be hard to keep up with. However, no matter your situation, there are a few important factors to keep in mind as you work through the collections process.

The primary collection law in California is the California Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This mandates that debt collectors and creditors are required to treat people due for collections in a fair manner. They are not allowed to be deceptive, unfair, or engage in an abusive manner when it comes to debt collection so the process can be fair for both sides.

As per the Act, all entities, including the agencies collecting debt, are regulated. This means anyone contacting you to pay off bills or dies should be in full compliance with the Act. It also means a number of other entities,such as the attorneys involved in debt collection activities, and the companies who actually make debt collection tools, should be in compliance with the Act. Do not let anyone try to manipulate you into thinking they do not have to be in compliance with the Act. California laws are strict when it comes to debt collection.

However, it is important to note debt collectors in the state are not mandated to have a license, since agencies underwent deregulation in the 1980s. These collectors are not even required to have a local business license to start and continue operations.

Debt collectors are under limits on how much they can communicate with debtors. They are not allowed to use profane language, must disclose their information, and are not allowed to call repeatedly or harass you with calls while you are busy on the phone. Additionally, they are not allowed to lie to you in a manner that causes you to spend more money than you needed to, like if they try to get you to call a long-distance number for an extra charge.

Debt collectors in California must protect the privacy of all debtors, as per the law. Regulations say they are allowed to send debt reports to a credit reporting agency, but they are very limited in the other information they can give out. Envelopes from collectors can not have any details about debt on the outside, and the law says debt collectors are not allowed to publish your information in a public setting if you do not pay.

California collection laws gives debtors a lot of protection and options if a agency breaks they law. If a collector breaks the Act, you can file a complaint with the state attorney general, sue the debt collector in court, or get in touch with federal authorities who are in charge of enforcement of debt collection laws.

Overall, the best way to stay out of the way of debt collectors is to pay your debts on time and in full. While legislation in California does provide protections against predatory debtors and ones who are abusive, you are still required to pay off debts, and these agencies can be very persistent when it comes to getting their money.

Be sure to clear your debts as quickly as possible so you do not have to deal with the debt collectors and subject yourself to worry and stress about their tactics and methods.

Click here to learn why the date of separation is important!

If you do engage with a collector, be sure to study relevant laws so you understand what collection agencies are and are not allowed to do as they engage with you. Don’t be afraid to report a debt collector if they break the law.

Do you have a question about collection laws in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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This is How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody in California

Domestic abuse is a serious crime that can take a variety of different forms through physical, mental, emotional, and even economic control. No matter its form, scars are always unfortunately left on the victims, and courts and juries take these facts into mind when they are deciding on a verdict in a domestic violence case.

Domestic violence organizations are numerous in California and have a lot of resources for those looking for assistance. The state government also has resources available for people who are looking for shelters and counseling services.

In regard to child custody and domestic violence, the legal system in California is going to focus on keeping the child’s health and safety secure. Courts are mandated to keep this idea in mind when making decisions and judges are also required to keep the safety and security of a child when they make a decision.

When it comes to domestic violence and custody, it is important to note the different types of custody. It can be solely awarded to one parent or jointly shared. Legal custody gives parents the ability to makes decisions for a child. Physical custody actually gives parents the ability to live with their child and give them basic care, such as bathing and feeding.

Judges are required to make a custody decision in a domestic violence case that serves the child first. They will consider any history of abuse by a parent to the child, the other parent, a friend, roommate, or any other child that might have some sort of relation.

As a result, juries and judges will consider any evidence of abuse that backs up accusations. This could include law enforcement reports, notes from child protective services, insights from social agents, and details from doctors and other medical providers. They can also speak with other nonprofit agencies to get information.

If an abusive parent has committed domestic violence in the last five years against the other parent, child or the child’s siblings, it is up to the court to decide if the perpetrator should be allowed to take custody of the child.

Click here to learn 6 reasons why a parent may lose custody of a child!

This might occur if the perpetrator has complied with parole requirements, have taken counseling, and has provided proof that taking custody of the child would be in his or her best interest.

Overall, judges are asked to grant reasonable rights to visitation unless it is not in the best interest of a child. If there is a risk, the court can mandate supervised visitation to protect a child against risk of abuse.

This could include the addition of a third party to supervise visits, or even a ban on overnight visits to protect a child’s safety. Visitation with these types of conditions often occurs if some sort of protective order has been issued.

If there is an emergency protective order in place, a temporary custody can be established to help a child victim become safe. Here, judges are asked to not make a permanent custody order that is different than the temporary award of custody.

If there are any concerns about a child’s safety when it comes to custody arrangements, a judge can take whatever actions that are needed in order to keep the child safe until investigations can be carried out and completed. This could include the termination of a parent’s custody rights if needed.

Do you have a question about domestic abuse and custody in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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This is Why the Date of Separation is Important in California

Most people might not think it really matters when they separate from their spouse. However, the date of separation can play a big role in divorce proceedings, particularly when it comes to finances.

Officially, a date of separation is when a spouse decides they do not want to continue with a marriage. Separation comes into play when a couple starts breaking up financially. It does not technically occur when someone decides to move out of a house or apartment, or if a couple gets into a fight or argument. Dates of separation come into play when a couple decides their issues are too big and cannot be fixed or repaired, which means the marriage is significantly damaged.

Courts in California usually look at a couple’s living situation to see of they are actually separated. They will look to see if spouses are still living together, if they tell family and friends if they are together (or not), and if they maintain some sort of joint financial status, like filing joint tax returns. They will also see if a spouse has other relationships or partnerships to see if a couple has a clean break in their relationships with each other across all lines.

Cases get complicated when people list different dates of separation. This usually occurs when a couple splits up, but then reconciles and gets back together, only to split a second time. This becomes difficult because courts have to decide if there are two dates of separation, or if there was really just one.

This is a big deal when it comes to separate and community property because courts have to figure out if items bought, like a car, during a separated period should be seen as community property, or something that is separate.

Dates of separation are used in California to classify marriages as long or short term. The difference could mean a lot of money when it comes to spousal support, since long-term marriages in the state mean support can last until death or remarriage of the other party. In short term marriages, spousal support is usually just mandated for half of the total marriage time. This is a big difference, which is why the specific date of separation can be a big one.

Click here to learn 5 things about spousal support!

Those in California who are in the middle of a divorce settlement or process would be smart to enlist the help of a qualified attorney to help you decide when the actual date of separation should be. This will help classify the marriage as long or short term, which can make it a lot easier to figure out spousal support and what to do about other assets. It will also help you and your attorney figure out what items you own should be seen as separate, and if anything should be characterized as a community asset.

An experienced family law attorney will help you navigate through a divorce settlement and give you advice about what to expect in California courts. If needed, they can help you gather evidence to build a case for your side and represent you in court in a professional and expert manner. It is not smart to try to go through a divorce proceeding on your own since the legal rules and stipulations can be very confusing, making the potential for mistakes very high.

Do you have a question about separation in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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What You Need to Know About Fraud in California

Fraud is something that can get anyone tangled up. Most fraud cases do not come at the hands of random people or strangers, but occur through someone who was trusted and then got swindled. This is a big issue because people who are victims can quickly become embarrassed and unwilling to share what happened to the proper authorities.

Across many jurisdictions, fraud is both a criminal and civil matter, even though fraud has a narrow legal definition. In California, there are activities that seem like they constitute as fraud, but are not seen as such in a court of law.

There are a few different categories of fraud. These include a deliberate misrepresentation of a fact that was knowingly false, especially if an individual believed that fact to be true.

Another is the deliberate hiding of a fact by a fiduciary, or the negligent misrepresentation of one, that a victim relied on and was harmed as a result.

These definitions can be a bit vague, but the important fact about fraud is that it takes place when another party betrays the trust of someone. Fraud can also take place amid complex transactions, making it even harder for people to pick up on.

One of the best ways to catch fraud is to simply keep detailed records, especially with your financial transactions. Holding onto receipts, bank statements, and any other financial records makes it a lot easier for an experienced professional to get a grip on fraudulent activity and take the proper steps to remedy an issue.

Click here to learn why you should have a lawyer review your contracts!

Always make sure to have a clear grasp of any terminology in a contract before signing, especially if it has to do with a large sum of money. Many people get tricked through deceptive or confusing language. Do not hesitate to enlist the advice of our experienced attorneys to look over an agreement or deal before you sign.

Another way to cut down on risks of fraud is to simply make sure you deal with the right people. Check out reviews and recommendations before engaging with a business, and make sure they have proper licensing as it pertains to California law.

The legal system in California gives people a few options if they have been defrauded, as most of the recovery from such a case will come in the form of damages.

The most common measure is the “out of pocket” rule in California. This makes sure people get compensated in a fraud case for the money they actually lost.

Another one is called the “benefit of the bargain” rule, which gives people the difference in what they thought they would get minus what was actually received. It is important to note that debt is not able to be discharged during bankruptcy for instances of fraud. People who have committed fraud are mandated to pay back their debts, even if they go into bankruptcy.

If you feel like a victim of fraud, be sure to talk to our legal experts for your case. Our attorneys will be able to review and give you advice in the pleading stage of your case.

Do you have a question about fraud in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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6 Reasons a Parent May Lose Custody of a Child

There are a number of reasons a parent might lose custody of a child. Some might be pretty obvious, while others may be a bit more surprising. In general, a parent will lose custody of a child in cases of abuse, neglect, or other findings related to domestic violence.

Here are six different reasons a parent might lose custody of a child.

Abuse: One of the most common reasons a parent loses custody is due to abuse. There are a variety of types of abuse. One is physical, which can lead to burns, wounds, and scars. Often, abusers will use their hands or other objects to cause injury to a child.

No matter the jurisdiction, the law is very clear. Abuse that is reported to the proper authorities is a legitimate reason for a parent to lose custody. Oftentimes, parents who have been convicted of child abuse can lose both physical and legal custody of children and might have their parenting time severely limited, or even cut off entirely.

Click here to learn facts about child custody agreements!

Abduction: Those who choose to abduct a child can also lose custody depending on the case and where the crime took place. Some parents who choose to abduct their children can lose legal or physical custody of them depending on the circumstances.

False Allegations: Even though abuse is a well-known way to lose custody of a child, false allegations of abuse can also lead to a loss of custody. A parent that knowingly lies about allegations of physical or sexual abuse can lose custody, depending on how serious the allegations are.

This is a serious issue because the law is very clear on punishing people who try to interfere with the other parent’s lawful contact with their children by making allegations of abuse. Courts have no problem taking custody away from a parent that makes false allegations to protect the health and safety of the children involved.

Neglect: Neglect is another reason a parent might lose custody. This type of abuse centralizes around a failure to act where a child might not be getting the food and care he or she needs. Parents can lose custody by neglecting their children if a court finds the child was endangered in any way, especially if the neglect is ongoing. However, neglect can be hard to prove since it can be difficult to pick up on unless someone regularly sees the children.

Domestic Violence: Domestic violence can lead to a parent losing custody of a child if the court finds it appropriate. This topic is pertinent because it usually comes up in a family law case where questions about abuse and neglect of a child are already present.

Violation Of Custody Orders: Violating orders related to the custody of children can also be a way to lose further custody, depending on the actual mechanics of the case. Violations of these types of orders can be very mundane, like being late for an exchange, to something more willful, like making a decision without talking to the other partner.

Do you have a question about child custody in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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Facts About the Right to Repair Act

You probably hear a lot about ‘damages’ when it comes to attorneys and litigation. But what do damages really mean? There are two types of damages, actual and economic. Actual damages encompass physical injuries and property damage, while economic damages centralize around the cost of a repair that did not encompass a physical injury or lead to property damage.

A good example to think about both has to do with construction. Actual damages would consist of things like a bad roof that leads to water damage, or even a collapse that injures someone inside of the building. Economic damages would have to do with the actual cost of repairing or replacing the bad roof, aside form any other property damage or injury claims.

Background

In 1998, the California Supreme Court said economic damages from construction defects are not able to be recovered in instances of negligence or strict liability. They made this ruling in Aas vs. Superior Court.

In response, the Right to Repair Act came into effect. The Act says homeowners in newly constructed housing can sue for economic damages if the residence did not meet certain construction standards.

The Act came into existence thanks to the work of legislators in California through SB 800. The intention of SB 800 was to mitigate the effects of the Aas decision.

Here’s a few facts about the Right to Repair Act to keep in mind.

It applies to all claims relating to construction defects

Homeowners also have the ability to file a claims related to personal injury, breach of contract, strict liability, and fraud, without having to adhere to the pre litigation stipulations spelled out in the Act.

It now covers more than just economic loss

A California Supreme Court Case in 2018 said the Act can now cover cases relating to property damage that arise out of defects related to construction.

Click here to learn about financial fraud laws in California!

It is now the exclusive way to recover property damages that are related to construction defects

However, personal injury damages are still outside the scope of the Act and are not listed as a recoverable category.

Homeowners must still comply with the pre litigation procedures spelled out in the Act even if their construction defect is not specifically listed in the Act

The California Supreme Court, when taking on this question, said homeowners are not able to bypass the pre litigation procedures because the Act has a ‘catchall standard’ in addition to the specific construction standards that were listed.

The decision by the California Supreme Court was seen as a big win for builders, contractors, manufactures, and design professionals

This was because of a couple of reasons. First, the vast majority of claims still had to go through the pre litigation procedures as spelled out in the Act. It also substantiated that the Act still applied to construction defects that were not specifically laid out in the jargon and wording of the Act itself.

The Right to Repair Act might seem like a complicated piece of legislation. There’s an extensive amount of background that corresponds with how it’s interpreted and seen today. Overall, homeowners do reserve the right to bring claims, but usually still have to go through a pre litigation process, except in certain instances.

Do you have a question about the Right to Repair Act? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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5 Things to Know About Spousal Support in California

Alimony is always a contentious subject to navigate, especially when it is in the context of a divorce. Most people understand the basics behind alimony, where a higher-earning spouse makes regular payments to the other partner, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about alimony and its presence in divorce proceedings.

Our experienced attorneys will be able to review the circumstances surrounding each divorce case and give advice and counsel about spousal support laws, and how they might be impacting a case.

One of the biggest points of confusion stems from the fact that each state has their own laws and requirements related to alimony. Alimony is commonly known as spousal support. Here are five things to know about spousal support in California.

1. Spousal Support Is Not Necessarily Set Forever

Circumstances surrounding spousal support can change, and one side can petition to make changes to the support that was originally ordered in settlement agreements. For example, a paying spouse who is in an accident and finds income being diverted to medical bills can work to possibly modify the terms of support. However, both sides will have to agree to any changes, or you might have to go to court to settle any disputes if an amicable change is not able to be reached.

2. Spousal Support Stops After Death

Spousal payment requirements terminate once either spouse passes away. This means a payor spouse’s estate will not be held responsible to keep up with payments. If the spouse being supported passes away, their estate is not allowed to petition the payor spouse for funds.

3. Spousal Support is Only Allowed for Financial Purposes

In California, spousal support is only awarded for purposes related to finances. It is not doled out due to misdeeds like adultery, and it can not be used as a tool to punish bad behavior. However, a judge is able to withhold support if a supported spouse carries out an act of violence against the would-be payor.

4. Spousal Support Is A Calculation of Multiple Factors

There is no set algorithm or calculation used to decide the amounts of spousal support. All instances are calculated based on the specific circumstances of a couple. Judges in a case will weigh multiple factors before deciding on amounts, like marriage duration, ages, health, income, employment ability, and ability to pay.

Generally, spousal support is set to be somewhat equal to the standard of living a supported spouse was able to have during the marriage. In California, spousal support is also able to be tax deductible for the payor, as long as they are not filing joint taxes with the supported spouse.

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5. California Has Multiple Types of Support

California divorce cases have the option of allowing temporary or permanent spousal support. Temporary support is one that might be mandated before a divorce is officially finalized, and will not carry over once the divorce is rendered official. It is used as a tool to make sure the lower-earning spouse has enough money to be provided for during proceedings.

On the other hand, permanent support comes in the form of regular payments from the payor spouse to the supported one. This is mandated for a specific period of time after a divorce is finalized, and is intended to help the supported spouse maintain a financial level they had during the marriage itself.

Do you have a question about spousal support in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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