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Entries in child custody and visitation (9)

Thursday
Sep122013

Modifications to Orders – Not All Family Law Decisions Are Set in Stone

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

 

When a divorce becomes final, a court issues rulings regarding spousal or child support, and child custody and visitation. These rulings are based on the circumstances of each spouse at the time of the divorce.  However, those circumstances often change, sometimes drastically.

One parent may make a dramatic career change; lifestyles evolve or regress; and health can improve or deteriorate because of a variety of causes. These are all good reasons to seek modifications, whether  you think you are paying too much, or receive too little child support.

The following changes may justify seeking a modification to previous agreements:

  1. Care Requirements: If a child requires substantially more (or less) care, than at the time of divorce, you may want to have your support order modified. This usually happens when children go to school and no longer need day care; or if ongoing medical treatment or prescriptions are no longer needed, or are suddenly required.

  2. Parent's Relocation: One parent moving out of state could affect the visitation vs. custody balance previously ordered fair by a family law court.

  3. Parent's Lifestyle: If one of the parents loses a job; engages in chronic, risky behavior (i.e. becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol); remarries – which can either add more fiscal obligations or merely increase household income.

  4. Parent's Health: Mental or physical health can change in a moment, affecting the welfare of the child. A traumatic accident or the development of a chronic condition can impose both physical and emotional burdens.

  5. Family Preferences: An older child's preferences are sometimes taken into consideration. Other times, both parents may agree that a child living with one parent rather than the other is better for the child.

Whether you seek an increase in child support, or are hoping to decrease your payments, proceed with caution. Often, more than one factor applied to a child support calculation changes over time.  While you are counting on your or your ex's change in career to work in your favor for example, be warned that the Court may also consider a changed visitation schedule, your child's increased age, etc. to weigh against you.

A family law court will have final say, but a good family law attorney can help you evaluate the risks beforehand.

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Family Law Attorney experienced in modifications to child and spousal support agreements. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com, should you have any questions.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Oct042012

Postnuptial Agreements Relieve Pressure on Marriage

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerPostnuptial Agreement Lawyer

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

This may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes a postnuptial agreement can save a marriage. That's especially true if money is a major source of tension, or if one partner comes into an extra income or windfall that wasn't expected before the couple got married.

This scenario could stem from an unexpected rise in business profits, or receiving a substantial inheritance, or even winning the lottery.  

Some partners ask for postnups because of a spouse's lifestyle, i.e., excessive shopping, drinking, or gambling habits.

Whatever the case, divorce lawyers across the nation have seen a rise in couples putting postnuptial agreements, also known as marriage agreements, in place over the last few years. Interestingly, these attorneys say more and more wives are the ones seeking security in a postnup – especially now, when women have steadily been increasing their earning power over the last few decades and taking control of the finances.


Why Bother Drawing Up a Postnup?

 

Whether you're male or female, newly wed or married for many years, a postnup may very well be a good way to keep the peace in your marriage, or even to keep the peace in your own mind.

It's a way for you to save your personal assets in the event all goes awry in your marriage – and if nothing else, it's a pressure release valve that will hopefully relieve some financial tension. Even happy couples disagree on how money should be spent.

A good postnuptial agreement could help resolve issues regarding:

  • Assets (business and personal)

  • Support

  • Children's College Tuition & Expenses

  • Debt

  • Inheritances (past or future)

  • Property (everything from the art collection to the golf gear to the timeshare in Zanzibar)

  • Protections for Step-Children

  • Retirement Benefits

If one or both of you are worried about the financial future, a postnuptial agreement may be the very tool to relieve some of the pressure and even act as a reset button for your marriage.

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Family Law Attorney experienced in divorce and division of assets, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and support modification agreements. Contact her via email at vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Thursday
Mar082012

Supervised Visitation – Monitored Visits Keep Children Comfortable and Safe

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

Not all supervised visitation orders are made by a family law court because of the potential for violence or abuse.

Sometimes a court will order a monitored visit by a third party simply to keep a child comfortable with a parent – especially if the parent had problems parenting (e.g., discussed inappropriate topics, did not properly supervise the child, etc.), has been absent for a period of time, or to introduce a parent to a child when no previous relationship existed.

Of course, there are the more serious situations for which supervised visits are ordered: There may be a threat of abduction in contentious divorces where child custody is in dispute, a parent has a drug or alcohol problem, there is a history of abuse or neglect, or one of the parties suffers mental illness.

No matter what the reason, keep in mind that supervised visits are ordered with your child's best interests in mind, and that the providers of supervised visits should be neutral parties.

 

Finding a Supervised Visit Provider

 

You have three options when choosing someone to supervise visits with your child. You will need to decide if the monitors will be professionals, non-professionals, or therapeutic.

Also, they will need to be at least 21 years old, with no DUI convictions in the last five years, not on probation in the last 10 years, and have no convictions for crimes against another person. They will also need proof of auto insurance so they can transport the child to and from supervised visitations, if necessary. There are agencies that will provide monitors as well as a location for visits.

1. Professional Providers – Your Child Custody Lawyer will generally have a list of referrals for you. Here in California, these providers will comply with standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration. They and their staff will have background clearances.  

Many will also be registered with TrustLine (1-800-822-8490) – if you can get the provider's CA driver's license number and name, TrustLine will be able to tell you if there are any criminal convictions or reports of abuse by that provider in California. 

2. Non-Professional Providers – Some parents feel more comfortable asking a family member or friend to act as a supervised visitation provider. However, there are certain conditions. The non-professional supervised visit provider must be: 

a.)   A neutral party, impartial to either parent (e.g., a mutual friend), and able to avoid conflicts of interest 

b.)  Able to speak the same language as the visiting parent and the child 

c.)   Able to follow court orders, including compliance with standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration 

d.)  Able to make reasonable efforts to assure safety and welfare of the children and adults during the visitation 

The non-professional monitors may need to testify in court, if a custody dispute arises.

3. Therapeutic Providers – These supervised visitation monitors are mental health professionals. Monitored visits will occur in a clinical setting.

If you have more than one child, the number of monitors required depends on a variety of factors, such as their ages and levels of risk to the welfare of the children.

If you need more information about implementing supervised visits while processing and finalizing your divorce proceedings, you can reach me at 818.990.2120.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer in our Family Law Practice Group.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Aug102011

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony Breakup | A California Divorce Attorney’s Perspective

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

When Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony announced their decision to divorce in mid-July, they made a joint statement in People Magazine, which later got distributed to media outlets around the world:

“This was a very difficult decision. We have come to an amicable conclusion on all matters.”

Even though the breakup will pose emotional hardships for the divorcing spouses, their children, other family members and friends, it’s still a good sign that the celebrity couple presented a united front to the world.

And on the surface, it seems they will not have a typically contentious, celebrity divorce.

This “amicable conclusion” as they call it, sets a good example for other couples dissolving marriages. Why? It’s the smartest move you can make emotionally and financially, especially in tough economic times.

Many of my firm’s clients choose an option similar to the Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez divorce route. They take our advice and help us “Bring Calm to Crisis,” as we say in our family law department. They choose to keep emotions under wraps, compromise, fully disclose their finances, and to mediate rather than litigate.

How can you follow their lead? Here are some tips, if you’re thinking about getting a divorce in California:

 

Child Custody Disputes

 

The ultimate goal in resolving child custody issues should be a parenting plan that is in the child’s best interest. Sometimes that goal gets lost in the heat of battle…and if that’s the case, I usually recommend the parents see a co-parenting counselor.

The hourly rates for a counselor will seem high, but they’re not as expensive as litigation. Since most parents will need to co-parent until the child is 18 years of age, learning to resolve conflicts is money well spent.

 

Spousal Disputes

 

It’s rare when couples can divorce with little or no emotion. Feelings are hurt, emotions rack clients with overwhelming anger, loss or guilt, and then there’s the stress of dividing property, debt and custody of children.

I recommend therapy in this situation too…if you can deal with your emotions positively, you’ll save thousands of dollars by not fighting over house plants and other minutiae.

A therapist can help you pick and choose which issues are truly important to you. (Remember, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony said they settled amicably on “all matters.”)

Attorney Relations

 

The rule of thumb here is: don’t waste your divorce attorney’s,  the court’s, or even your time. Here’s how you can avoid that:

▪ Save money on legal fees by staying organized. Provide all records and documents at once. Your divorce attorney won’t have to sift through information, wait for more data, and then rehash all of the information all over again. Being organized prevents mistakes, which will increase legal costs.

▪ Provide information as soon as possible: You can save money on fees if you don’t have to pay for expedited court filings.

▪ Work with the legal assistant or paralegal. Your divorce attorney’s staff is usually knowledgeable and efficient. Follow up with the legal assistant to see if the attorney needs additional information, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If the staff can’t provide an answer they’ll get the attorney to respond.

I seriously doubt that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony can’t afford a high-priced divorce attorney and expensive, drawn out litigation process, if that is the path they choose to travel. But for now, and hopefully throughout their entire dissolution process, they’ll take the higher and economically smarter road.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney and Shareholder in the Family Law Department. You can e-mail her at vnellis@lewitthackman.com.


Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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