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Woodland Hills Divorce Law Blog

How long does mediation take?

You have likely heard stories of high-profile divorce cases in Los Angeles and elsewhere lasting for years. Oftentimes, this may be due to the significant assets involved, but it is also often a result of the acrimony they participants for each other and the continuous motions filed in response to their partners' actions. You, on the other hand, may simply be looking for a fast and uncomplicated end to your marriage, which is why so many may be recommending that you and your soon to be ex-spouse pursue mediation. This, of course, then begs the question of how long mediation actually takes? 

It may be difficult to provide a completely accurate answer to that question given that your divorce case is unique from any other. A better response may be to share the time involved in working through mediation. Given that your meetings are held in an informal setting (outside of a courtroom), coupled with the particularly sensitive nature of the topics being discussed, mediators understand the length of time needed to achieve results. Most mediation sessions last 1-2 hours, which helps keep discussions focused on issues and free of unproductive discourse. Following this process, most cases can be resolved with 3-4 sessions spread across 1-2 months. However, more complex cases may require more time. 

The scary subtleties of emotional violence

Anyone on the outside of an abusive situation is, inevitably, at more of a distance to the issue than the victim themselves. This detachment is often what allows hidden problems to go unnoticed, as many Californians have painfully experienced. What many family and friends are unaware of -- despite their good intentions -- is that it can take years to heal from the extent of damage from domestic violence. This damage is commonly found within emotional domestic abuse. 

WEAVE, the main provider of crisis intervention services for domestic violence survivors in the Sacramento area, lists a resource containing the most common types of domestic violence and ways to identify less obvious forms of abuse. Of the various forms of this behavior, emotional abuse is especially dangerous in that it can go unnoticed for long periods of time. WEAVE emphasizes that emotional abuse can be verbal or nonverbal, and can consist of controlling behavior, bullying and jealousy. Of course, each situation can be different from the next; blaming others for problems, isolation and unrealistic expectations are other warning signs, according to the organization. 

Divorce and your trip overseas

From custody disagreements to property division and child support orders, there are all sorts of incredibly stressful family law issues that arise. However, these difficulties can become even more challenging in certain instances, such as the need to travel for overseas for business or leisure. Or, perhaps your wife is planning a trip abroad or is currently staying in another country, which can also make these issues more difficult. Our law firm knows the stress associated with both international travel and family law cases and we believe it is essential for people struggling with the combined stressors to go over their case with care.

Before traveling abroad, many people alert their credit card company, carefully plan different aspects of the trip, and take other steps to prevent problems. Likewise, if a family law dispute or legal battle is anticipated or already active, it is smart to think about the potential ways that your travel could affect your case. Sometimes, people decide to postpone travel plans due to these legal matters, but this is not always necessary. It is, however, vital to make sure that your interests will be protected and that your travel will not prevent you from obtaining a better outcome.

How can you best share custody on holidays?

While most in Los Angeles welcome the holiday season year after year, there are certain elements of it that some (namely, divorced parents) do not look forward to dealing with. At the top of that list is not being able to spend the entire season with their kids. If you are facing that reality following your own divorce, then it may be easy to succumb to the temptation to try and punish your ex-spouse by limiting his or her access to the kids this time of year. Ultimately, however, most would agree that such action only lessens your kids' enjoyment of the season (thus impacting yours, as well). 

While California does not have guidelines regulating holiday custody, you are encouraged to include a set schedule in your parenting plan. If you and your ex-spouse cannot come to an agreement, you risk having the court decide on those terms for you (which could leave you both unhappy the result). Therefore, your best course of action may be to work together to come up with guidelines now that the court can reference as being binding should a dispute arise in the future. 

Overcoming domestic financial abuse

Those in Los Angeles who have not experienced domestic violence often find it difficult to understand why breaking away from such abuse is so hard. Many of the abuse victims that we here at the Thomas Law Offices have worked with report hearing the same question over and over: "Why don't you just leave?" If you are currently suffering through domestic abuse, you know that leaving is not that easy. 

For many domestic abusers, their actions are primarily motivated by control. This is why domestic violence often goes beyond physical abuse. Statistics shared by the Allstate Foundation show that financial abuse is also prevalent in 99 percent of domestic violence cases. If your spouse handles all of your financial matters (including your access to cash and credit cards), then you may rightly feel as though you have no choice but to stay. 

Can I fight a prenuptial agreement?

While it might be considered unromantic, a prenuptial agreement can be a good decision for a California spouse-to-be who is concerned about protecting assets, whether they are personal or business ones. But what happens if, somewhere down the road, you decide the marriage is not working and you think the agreement is unfair? Can you fight it? Maybe.

According to FindLaw, any agreement or contract that is exceptionally unfair, leaving one party destitute while the other thrives, is one that courts typically will not enforce. These types of agreements are known as “unconscionable” contracts.

What are the three types of California property?

If you are a California resident who is married or in a registered domestic partnership, but you are contemplating divorce, you probably are concerned about how to divide your property between you and your spouse or partner. As you likely already know, California is a community property state. Therefore, as explained by the California Court System, the law requires that all property and debts acquired by you and your spouse or partner during your relationship be equitably divided between both of you when you divorce.

Even if you and your spouse or partner agree on which property and debts should go to whom, it may not be that easy. Why? Because in California, there are the following three types of property:

  1. Community property
  2. Separate property
  3. Quasi-community property

Same-sex adoption laws in california

In a society that has only recently begun to welcome same-sex marriage, regulations on marriage and divorce may seem ambiguous. Despite the passing of same-sex marriage in California in 2008, breaks in that law nevertheless occurred, making the ruling complicated in general. After gay marriage became a constitutional right in 2015, many thought this ambiguity would end; however, there still exist challenges in the system for many same-sex couples.

One of those challenges lies in the question of same-sex parenting in America. An article in The New York Times considers these challenges, stating that some same-sex parents experience alienation when they travel from state to state -- gay rights for parents can differ depending on location. The Times also acknowledges that adoption laws can also become contradictory depending on the state, some of which contain religious restrictions for same-sex partners who want to adopt. Some experts in the field express frustration in this gap, as countless children are in need of adopting while agencies nevertheless place constraints on who, exactly, should be allowed to become a parent. Another concern is that, even in states with more inclusive LGBT laws, navigating through life in a same-sex marriage can come with its own set of problems stemming from external judgment. 

Can I live with my significant other and still get alimony?

There are many positives to leaving a California divorce with a mindset to move onward and upward in a healthy fashion. The alternative you may have faced was wallowing in the pain and disappointment that the ended marital relationship that you were leaving behind.

However, if you are ready emotionally to move in with a partner, and you are receiving spousal support paid by your ex-spouse, you may have reason for concern. You may also want to look ahead to this possibility as you mediate the divorce settlement prior to your decree

What should you consider before hiring a valuation expert?

There are certain assets you know you want the judge to award you in your California divorce, but you will probably have to make some trade-offs with your spouse to make sure he or she agrees. Trading based on emotional value could leave you with less than an equal share, though. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, providing the court with a professional opinion may ensure that you receive the items you want without losing others you should have in the bargain.

Hiring a credible appraiser is going to be an expense, so you want to make sure that the items are worth the cost. Identify the assets you want to have appraised and do some research on their potential financial value before making the decision. Often, people choose to have coin, stamp and baseball card collections, antiques, artwork and jewelry appraised. As you compile your list, make sure to note any unique features of the items that may affect value, including

  • Title or subject matter
  • The name of the artist, manufacturer or maker
  • Measurements
  • Dates

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