Who Gets to Keep the Car in a Divorce in California?

Do you want to know who gets to keep the car when you divorce?  Household budgets are strained, forcing most families to make hard financial decisions. Some families have become households with one car or using public transportation to get around. If the marriage ends up in divorce, the couple must choose who keeps the car. Property division in divorce is one of the most highly contested issues in the divorce. The answer is based on the property laws in California. Speak to one of our family law attorneys for a free attorney consultation and learn what property is yours!

Property Division in a Divorce

Since it is chosen at a state level, property division in divorce could be a tricky thing. If the couple is in agreement about how property will be distributed, they are permitted to make these choices on their own. But retaining a family law attorney is the best way to make sure that property is divided according to the law. A trained and experienced divorce attorney should let you know about the roles of property division in divorce and how to get you what you deserve!

Many states follow common law guidelines regarding property. If one spouse bought and paid for the car completely, this individual is the owner. If both spouses have their names on the car title, each is considered fifty percent owner. In states that follow the community property laws, property received during the marriage is divided evenly during divorce. This does not include property that was an inheritance or obtained before the marriage. Community property laws view husband and wife as equal contributors to the marriage so the court strives to distribute property equitably.

Even though this process sounds simple, it could be very complicated, especially when both spouses want to keep the family vehicle. In a community property state, the spouse who makes the strongest case will be the winner. For instance, the spouse can emphasize that the car is needed for commuting purposes because public transportation is not available and walking is not feasible. A stay-at-home mom could stress that she needs the car to drive kids to school and transport them to activities and medical appointments.

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If one individual made a more substantial down payment on the car or made most of the loan or lease payments, that could sway the court to give the car to that person during divorce. If the vehicle was owned by one spouse prior to the marriage and that individual made all loan payments, it will most likely be awarded to that person. But the other spouse might be entitled to something of equal value.

Fights over the family car can turn ugly, with one spouse taking it away and not returning it. To stop the situation from reaching this point, you should talk to a family law attorney. We know how to handle the fair division of individual and marital property in divorce without the situation ending in an argument. 

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

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Pet Custody Laws in California

You may think of your dog as your fur child, but California law would not agree. In regards to the law, they are really no different than the precious items or the home. But in more and more homes in California, splitting the pets can get pretty contentious. When you put all of your expenses together, it is no wonder that we are beginning to see a higher number of custody battles involving companion animals.

In the mid-90s, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals overturned a decision of the trial court that granted Kathryn Bennett visits with her family dog Roddy. The dog was an asset before marriage and belonged to her ex-husband, Ronald Greg Bennett, who was then awarded custody, while his ex-wife was only given visits with Roddy every other weekend and every other Christmas holiday. Ms. Bennett went back to court contending that her ex-husband was not compliant with the visitation the court had ordered.

But instead of applying her rights as a dog parent, the appeals court denied that they even existed. Pets must be awarded pursuant to the dictates of equitable distribution statute.

This ruling goes on to say that determinations as to custody and visitation will lead to continuing enforcement and supervision problems. The courts were overwhelmed with the supervision of visitation, custody and support matters related to the protection of children. They could not undertake the same responsibility as to animals.

When a judge chooses who should get the cat or dog, these factors as who spends more time with the pet, who cares for it and takes it to the vet and who brought it into the relationship in the first place needs to be considered.

Divorcing couples who quarrel over their pets might not be dealing with an underlying issue. An ex who takes his or her former spouse to court over and over in regards to visiting the dog or paying veterinary bills probably is not as concerned about the dog as he or she is about controlling an ex-husband or ex-wife. In a case of divorce, the dog or cat might become a symbol of power and control and might be seen as the one entity that still loves me unconditionally.

Click here to learn child abuse laws in California!

The legal battles that involve pets can be a large emotional investment with an uncertain outcome that can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The divorce also takes a toll on the animal. A once energetic pet might become depressed, He or she might sleep more, consume food less and lose interest in activities such as walking and playing with his owner. He or she might start having accidents in the house or grooming himself excessively.

You should decide what is best for your pet. Put your own feelings aside to get to that decision. You will need to consider such factors as who fed and cared for them before the divorce and who can afford to pay for their veterinary care and other expenses.

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

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Here Are Child Abuse Laws in California

If you’re a parent, you have most likely wondered at some point or another the things that exactly constitutes child abuse. Knowing the kinds of physical contact are acceptable could be very difficult to determine. It used to be that the parent who felt that their child needed a beating with a belt was not thought of any differently than a parent who felt beating their child was wrong. Physical punishment was actually widely accepted as an effective method of parenting.

In the present day, things are extremely different. Depending upon detailed circumstances, the smallest of physical contact could result in a criminal charge for committing child abuse. Different areas of the US have different laws governing physical contact between a parent and a child with penalties and definitions of abuse varying wildly.

The laws in California pertaining to physical child abuse are somewhat average when compared to laws throughout the United States. People facing criminal charges for committing child abuse are encouraged to contact our domestic violence defense law firm for a  free consultation. There are some instances in which parents are falsely accused.

Different Types of Child Abuse

What is considered child abuse could range from emotional, physical, sexual and neglect. There are different ways in a which a person could abuse a child. While some experts may say that emotional child abuse is as damaging if not more than physical abuse, there is no question that all different types of abuse could negatively affect a child throughout their lifetime.

The following are the types of child abuse are:

Emotional Abuse: When a parent consistently shames or humiliates a child in any way it can be considered emotional child abuse.

Child Neglect: If a parent constantly fails to fulfill their child’s basic needs, this will be considered child neglect.

Sexual Abuse: If a parent or another adult engages in physical contact with a kid’s genitals or coerces a child into creating contact with their own genitals, they are then committing sexual abuse upon a child.

Physical Child Abuse: A parent who physically hurts or injures a child on purpose they are considered physically abusive. The gray area is whether or not the parent was intentionally trying to discipline their child. If the purpose of the harm was to discipline, there are still instances in which discipline could go too far. In these cases, perpetrators could be charged and convicted for committing physical child abuse.

Click here to learn how alimony is determined in California!

 

Specific actions that can result in child abuse charges are making purposeful physical contact with a child that leaves a mark, getting involved in a physical fight with your child resulting in marks and bruises, and using a belt or another object to beat the child.

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

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This is How Alimony is Determined in California in 2019

When it comes to finances and divorce, there is one topic that is more stressful and more emotional for parties to resolve than any other. Whether you call it spousal support or alimony during a divorce, California couples needing to come to an agreement that will require one ex-wife or husband to pay money to the other ex-spouse to support their lifestyle is challenging.

What is the real purpose of alimony in California and how does it work?

Alimony is intended to help the lower earning spouse in making the transition from married to single. To give them some time to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient after the split. How long that will take is a matter of much debate as it depends on how long you and your spouse were married – the answer might be never!

Alimony guidelines only apply to the temporary support payments.

In regards to child support, there is a mathematical formula that outputs a specific minimum amount each party should pay to support their children. And reasonably clear guidance on when it will finish. So at least divorcing couples have a good foundation from which to start their negotiations about that issue. But in the state of California, despite there being a guideline for the temporary spousal support, the amount of alimony you give or receive, and for how long it will last when your divorce is final, is left open for negotiation.

Do not forget about cost of living.

As if figuring out alimony in California was not difficult enough, there is yet another factor you need to bring into the mix. And that is the cost of living. Given the sheer size of California, the cost of living can vary widely from county to county or even town to town.

Finding an amount of alimony is just one piece of a larger picture.

Despite what you have heard about alimony in California after ten years, there is no set formula for finding out how many years you need to be married to get alimony in California or for how long it will last.

Click here to learn about divorce laws in California!

What if you have kids?

You might have heard that California alimony amounts are based in part on the net income of the paying party. This means if you have minor children and there is child support involved, that will lower the amount of net income available to pay alimony. Now in a few states, alimony needs to be determined first before a child support amount. But in the state California, it is the opposite. Alimony could only be determined once a child support award has been agreed upon in California.

Many people think of the check in the mail approach.

But there are more creative ways to resolve this because some people just do not like paying the alimony. For instance, you and your spouse can agree that in exchange for not getting that monthly check in the mail, one of you will take a larger share of the community property to offset the amount of support that would have been paid out over time.

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

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What to Know About Divorce Laws in California

Navigating through a divorce can be a challenging and stressful procedure. There are a number of laws in the state of California that deal with divorce, and many of them can have a lot of information for you to digest.

People often wonder how they can make divorce proceedings as stress-free as possible while retaining control over their finances. Here’s a few key elements to keep in mind when it comes to the different divorce laws in California.

State law lays out a few rules for eligibility. At least one of the spouses in a divorce must have lived in California for at least six months. Additionally, one of the spouses had to have lived in the country that the divorce is being filed in for three months before actually filing. All divorce proceedings in the state must be filed through the specific county, not with the state at-large.

When it comes to divorce in California, the law regards each of them as no- fault. This means a person does not have to give a reason or otherwise prove how they were wronged by the other party while filing a divorce proceeding.

Judges in the state do not look at fault when it comes to splitting property and otherwise figuring out child support. This means actions like adultery by one spouse will not come into consideration by a judge during a legal ruling.

Click here to learn these 7 steps to avoid business fraud!

There are a few steps for getting divorced in California. This process can be long because there is a six-month period between the initial filing and finalization that is mandatory.

One of the spouses can start the process by filing in the proper county superior court. Whoever files must give the other spouse copies of the divorce petition and any additional information.

After this, there are a few different avenues. Spouses who work together easily can often come up with plans for property division and child support without the help of lawyers. Otherwise, spouses can go into mediation to get some outside help for when it comes to splitting property.

Mediators can be a big asset when it comes to working through tough situations. Otherwise, the most expensive option is a divorce trial. This means both sides hire lawyers and then a judge will have the final say when it comes to the terms of the divorce. This process can be very messy and time-consuming.

California is a community property state, so two people in a marriage are considered as a single entity when it comes to owning property. This means both assets and debts are community property.

Spouses in a divorce can either decide on their own how to split community property, work with a mediator, or go to a judge and have them decide in court. An appraisal might be necessary to assign value to property so it can be divided between two people.

If spouses do not want to figure out what pieces of property go to each person, they can also arrange where one party ‘buys’ the other out on different pieces. Alternatively, some choose to just sell all property and then divide up the assets accordingly. Sometimes, couples with children decide to retain joint property over something like a family home so their children can have access to it.

Overall, the divorce process in California can be a time-consuming affair. A good lawyer is a useful advocate to have during a case since they can help navigate people through the different divorce laws and offer input as to the best course of action.

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

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Facts About Maternity Leave in California

Many people find maternity leave to be complicated and challenging. Even if the laws and regulations seem daunting, it’s easy to become well-educated on the topic and gain a strong understanding about your rights and privileges as part of maternity leave. Maternity leave in the state of California is much better than most other states and you will find a lot more protection than in other areas.

Here are a few important facts about maternity leave in California.

Most pregnant women are eligible for maternity leave, no matter the type of employment they have. You have the right to take maternity leave, but employers are not required to pay you during your time off.

However, pregnant women who do take maternity leave are often eligible to go onto California’s state insurance for disabilities while they are out of the office, since illnesses related to pregnancies are considered as a disability under state law.

There are a variety of resources out there for women who want to learn more about disability insurance payments and the corresponding laws as they pertain to disability insurance.

In general, maternity leave in California is governed under the California Family Rights Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. A few requirements have to be met in order to fall under the different laws.

Employees must work for a boss who has at least 50 workers within a 75- mile radius. Employees must also have been working for at least one year with the employer and must have at least 1,250 logged work hours in the past year.

If all of these stipulations are met, the employee may take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave in a year-long period. The idea behind this length of time is to provide an opportunity for a mom to bond with their child. In addition to maternity leave, employees also have a right to take time off for disabilities that are related to the pregnancy. Employers must give time off to pregnant employees if they are disabled by a pregnancy or childbirth, or have any medical condition related to pregnancy and childbirth.

This could include a loss of a child, postpartum depression, prenatal care, postnatal care, or gestational diabetes, along with a wide swath of other illnesses and conditions.

Laws in California give a right for up to four months of maternity leave based off of a disability due to childbirth or a pregnancy. This is a separate figure than taking time off for maternity leave for the purposes of bonding.

Click here to learn about alimony laws in California!

As a result, women in California could have up to seven months of total maternity leave (depending on the circumstances of the disability associated with the pregnancy and childbirth). Maternity leave for bonding time can be taken after the leave related to pregnancy and childbirth disability.

California law allows for intermittent leave, where maternity leave can be broken up into different time periods and not taken all at once. Employers

are required to give reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant if a doctor has mandated it, but a doctor’s note will be required by bosses before they will make a decision.

Employers in the state are not allowed to wrongfully terminate employees due to pregnancy, and there are laws on the books against harassment that is based on pregnancy.

Do you have a question about maternity leave? 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.

Click here to learn what you need to know about collection laws in California!

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!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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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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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.

Click here to learn California property division laws!

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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Pro and Cons of Signing A Prenuptial Agreement

Nearly one million divorces happen every year in the US. According to a survey carried out by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2010, three out of 4 lawyers said there was an increase in the demand for prenuptial agreements over a period of five years.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that a couple needs to sign before they get married. It stipulates how marital debts and assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. It also indicates what each party brings into the marriage and the assets acquired during marriage. Prenuptial agreements help minimize confusion, stress, and high legal fees in the event of a divorce or death. It is highly recommended for:

  • Couples with children from another marriage
  • Those entering another marriage
  • Couples with big age, debts, businesses, and income differences

Benefits of Signing a Prenuptial Agreement

  1. Minimize conflicts – In the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement will make it easier to distribute assets. It makes the divorce process faster, less traumatic, and more respectful. It can also help to speed up the court process, because it gives the court a clear picture of what the couple initially intended. Additionally, couples can state in the agreement how every asset will be divided among their children, helping protect their future inheritance.
  2. Debts – A prenuptial agreement enables the couple to have a clear distinction of their debts. It separates the marital debt from individual debt and it protects the debt-free spouse from assuming the debt responsibility of the other.
  3. Protection of property – A prenuptial contract is important since it helps to distinguish between spouses’ separate property and marital property. During a divorce, marital property is divided equally but separate property is not subject to division.
  4. Transparency – This form of agreement also helps promote transparency among spouses regarding each other’s financial situation. It gives a full disclosure of the assets and debts of each party, making each party aware of their partners’ spending and budgets. It also enables the couple to plan for their financial future.
  5. Spouse protection – In the instance of there being an agreement for one partner to leave their career to take care of kids, this agreement ensures compensation in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement also limits the amount of spousal support paid by another spouse during divorce.

Disadvantages of Signing a Prenuptial Agreement

  1. Change of circumstances – Most couples sign a prenuptial agreement without anticipating the future. Due to life uncertainties, the agreement may get impacted, thus a need for updating it. These situations can arise due to sickness, career change, or children. Sometimes, the agreement can even be rendered useless.
  2. The validity of the agreement – The court will scrutinize every detail of the prenuptial agreement in order to establish the validity and enforceability of the contract. It can be rejected if it is established that during the making of the agreement, there was non-disclosure of some assets, absence of representation, fraud, or duress.
  3. Planning for a divorce before marriage – Prenuptial agreements are enforced when either a party dies or the marriage is dissolved. Many people view signing a prenup as accepting failure in the marriage before attempting it. Trust issues may arise as a result of a prenuptial agreement, leaving the spouses vulnerable to a divorce.
  4. Child support – The court is the final decision maker when it comes to matters regarding the children’s support and welfare. A prenuptial agreement should not involve child custody and support matters. The court will disregard an agreement that includes child support.
  5. Not necessary – Sometimes, couples may bring up this uncomfortable conversation, only to realize their state laws do not permit prenuptial agreements for certain issues. It is imperative that couples first look into the enforceability of prenuptial agreements within their jurisdiction.

A prenuptial agreement, if done well, is useful in the event of a divorce. Signing a prenuptial agreement is a personal decision that should be based on the individual’s specifics and circumstances. If you and your future spouse are weighing the pros and cons of signing a prenup, give us a call to set up a consultation with one of the members of our team.