Custody Lawyers: Can I Modify My Custody Arrangement Without Going to Court?

custody lawyersAlthough a custody arrangement can theoretically be modified without going through the California court system, it is advisable that you proceed through the courts after contacting experienced Fresno custody lawyers.

It is important to understand that when a California family law judge first enters an order for child custody, the order is legally binding in the State of California – unless, of course, the Court subsequently approves a modification.

It goes without saying that the parties’ circumstances oftentimes change at some point after the court enters its initial child custody order. However, when these changes occur, it is still advisable that you go through the court system and allow a California court to modify its existing child custody order.

Reaching a New Custody Arrangement Without the Court

It is theoretically possible to reach a new custody arrangement with an ex-spouse without going through the California court system. However, there are some potential pitfalls associated with proceeding in this manner. The most serious pitfall is that the Court can only enforce the original child support order and not any order unilaterally agreed to by yourself and your ex-spouse. Therefore, if your ex later decides not to follow through with your modified custody arrangement, you, unfortunately, have no legal basis to enforce it.

The other problem with an informal modified custody arrangement is that your ex-spouse may begin to overstep the line and ask for more and more favors, such as an extra weekend of visitation, for example. When an ex-spouse begins to do this all the time, you will not have a legal leg to stand on, so to speak.

Reaching a New Custody Arrangement With the Court’s Blessing

When attempting to modify a child custody arrangement, it is almost always preferable to proceed through the California court system and utilizing the services of custody lawyers. Proceeding in this manner will allow you to safeguard all of your legal rights.

California courts will allow for modified custody arrangements based upon a material (or significant) change in one or both of the parties’ circumstances. In order to obtain a custody modification through the California court system, you must first file a Petition for Custody Modification with the Court. The petition must allege that a material change in circumstances has occurred.

In the child custody context, material changes in circumstance may consist of one or more of the following:

  • Geographical relocation of one of the parents
  • The non-custodial parent moving closer to the custodial parent
  • The wishes of the child (assuming the child is old enough to voice those wishes)
  • The custodial parent becoming abusive towards, or neglectful of, the parties’ child or children
  • Changes in the non-custodial parent’s work schedule

Contact a Fresno Custody Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case

Custody is one of the most complex areas of a California family law case. An experienced family law attorney can help you to obtain a valid custody modification under California law. Contact Fresno custody lawyers at Rick Banks Law by calling 559-222-4891 for a free initial consultation.

Alimony Attorney: How Is Alimony Calculated in California?

alimony attorneyIf you are currently in the midst of California divorce proceedings, you may be entitled to alimony payments – otherwise known as spousal support payments. Alimony may be short-term (pendente lite) or long-term and generally requires that the higher earning spouse pay the other spouse a specified amount of a money for a predetermined period of time. Alimony may also consist of a single lump-sum payment. An experienced alimony attorney at Rick Banks Law has the legal knowledge and experience to help you obtain alimony and other types of support, both while your divorce case is pending and after your divorce case has been finalized.

Duration of Support

The length of time for which a spouse is legally entitled to alimony payments is usually tied in with the duration of the spouses’ marriage. If the marriage lasted for less than 10 years, a California court will not usually order alimony payments for longer than half the duration of the marriage.

However, if the marriage lasted for 10 years or longer, California courts will not usually set a definite alimony termination date. Courts in California are not likely to award ‘indefinite’ or ‘permanent’ alimony. Spouses who claim that they cannot work for some reason must usually offer evidence to that effect, such as a vocational evaluation and/or evidence of advanced age or disability.

Calculating the Amount of Spousal Support Owed

In cases of temporary alimony, where a spouse receives support while the divorce case is still pending, California courts usually use established formulas for arriving at the total support amount.

In cases of support ordered after a final divorce decree has been entered, California courts are likely to consider the following factors:

  • The supported spouse’s marketable skills
  • The supported spouse’s time or expenses needed for additional education or training
  • The supported spouse’s non-monetary contributions to the marriage
  • The supported spouse’s contributions to the other spouse’s education, training, or professional licensing
  • The supporting spouse’s ability to pay the support
  • Each spouse’s financial needs
  • Each spouse’s needs based upon the standard of living that was established over the course of the spouses’ marriage
  • Each spouse’s income and assets
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and health status
  • Tax consequences of each spouse
  • Any documented instances of domestic violence between the spouses

Modification or Termination of Spousal Support

Any spousal support agreement or court order may be modified based upon a material change in circumstances. Under California law, spousal support automatically terminates upon the death or remarriage of one of the spouses.

Effects of Spousal Support on Income Taxes

A spouse who receives alimony must usually pay taxes on those alimony payments. By the same token, a spouse who pays alimony may deduct those payments on his or her tax returns. There are generally no tax ramifications associated with a lump sum support payment.

Contact a Fresno Alimony Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

A Fresno alimony attorney can help you determine whether or not you are eligible for spousal support under California law. Call the experienced alimony attorneys at Rick Banks Law at 559-222-4891 today.

Child Support Attorney: How to Obtain a Child Support Order

child support attorneyIf you are currently in the process of obtaining an order for support in the State of California, an experienced Fresno child support attorney may be able to help.

Under California law, a parent may be entitled to collect child support if he or she has been granted sole physical custody of the child or children. In most cases, the custodial parent may be entitled to receive child support until such time as the child reaches the age of 18. If the child suffers from a disability, that time period may be extended out even further.

It is important to note that if the parents cannot reach an agreement on child support, a California court will decide the issue of child support pursuant to the California Child Support Guidelines. The experienced child support attorneys at Rick Banks Law can assist you with drafting a workable child support agreement and can help with streamlining the overall process.

Requesting Child Support in California

Requesting child support in California typically requires that you file a petition for support with the California court where your family law case is pending. Each parent will be required to furnish information about their income levels and tax liabilities in order for the court to issue a support order that is fair to both parties.

When a court decides child support based upon the Guidelines, it will usually consider the number of children involved, each parent’s net income, the amount of time each parent spends with the children, each parent’s tax liability, and any special health considerations regarding the minor children.

Child Support Modifications

Once a California court enters a child support order, that order may be modified based upon a showing of a material change in circumstances. Material changes in circumstance may consist of one or more of the following:

  • Loss of a job
  • Pay cut or other income reduction
  • Ex-spouse’s increase in income or salary
  • Remarriage of an ex-spouse
  • Child’s adverse medical condition

Child support orders are subject to modification as many times as necessary while the custodial parent is receiving the support – usually until the child reaches the age of 18 or becomes independent. When a child joins the military or requires special care or disability care, that time period may be extended beyond a child’s eighteenth birthday.

Child Support Enforcement

When a non-custodial parent fails to pay or stops paying child support, the custodial parent can seek legal redress through the California court system. A child support order may be enforced by garnishing the other parent’s wages, seizing the other parent’s personal property or bank accounts, placing a lien on the other parent’s real estate, and/or obtaining the other parent’s tax income refunds.

A non-custodial parent who fails to pay child support may also be subject to civil penalties, loss of professional license, loss of driver’s license, and even jail time. Our experienced Fresno child support lawyers can help you petition the Court to enforce a child support order.

Contact a Fresno Child Support Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

As the custodial parent, you have a right to receive child support from your ex-spouse for the care and upkeep of your minor children. An attorney may be able to assist you with obtaining an enforceable California child support order. Call the experienced child support attorneys at Rick Banks Law at 559-222-4891.


What Are Father’s Rights in a Divorce Case?

father's rightsA California divorce can be an extremely difficult process for everyone involved – most especially for a couple’s minor children – and a good father’s rights attorney may be able to help ease that burden. Both California state and federal laws state that when it comes to a couple’s minor children, both parents have equal rights, unless and until a judge comes to a different decision. Prior to that time, neither parent should be granted preferential treatment with regard to the minor children.

If you are a father who is in the midst of a California divorce and feel that you have been given the ‘short end of the stick’ when it comes to parenting or custody rights, the experienced father’s rights attorneys at Rick Banks law are here to help you. Our experienced attorneys will be able to answer your questions and make sure that you understand all of your legal rights.

Your Rights as a Father

Unless and until a California court declares otherwise, both parents have equal rights to remain a part of their children’s lives while their divorce case is pending, and also once their divorce has been finalized. As a father, you may have visitation rights, child support rights, child custody rights (both physical and legal), and paternity rights.

It is also worth mentioning that military service does not necessarily disqualify a father from obtaining these rights. An experienced California father’s rights attorney will be able to help you formulate a persuasive argument based upon your individual circumstances.

Custody Rights

Custody consists of two components: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the physical location where the minor children will reside, while legal custody refers to decision-making power regarding the children’s upbringing. As a father, you have a right to request both physical and legal custody of your children. If you have joint legal custody, you are entitled to make mutual decisions with regard to your children’s education, religion, health, and well being.

In order to successfully obtain custody rights over your minor children, you, as their father, will need to demonstrate to the court that you can provide a loving, stable, and secure home for them.

Visitation Rights

If you are not the primary custodian of the minor children, you have a right to reasonable and liberal visitation with them, as set forth in a visitation schedule. If the children’s mother is relocating or changing addresses, you may be able to dispute that relocation – or to request a modified custody or visitation schedule, as the circumstances allow.

Child Support

If your children’s mother is unemployed or refuses to get a job, you may be able to petition a California court to order her to make efforts at finding gainful employment. An experienced California father’s rights attorney will be able to help you formulate a persuasive argument as to why you may need financial support for raising your minor children.


If you and the children’s mother are not married, you may be able to verify paternity through paternity testing.

Contact a Fresno Father’s Rights Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case

California divorce can be a difficult process which tends to automatically favor the minor children’s mother. An experienced attorney may be able to assist you with the divorce process and can help to safeguard all of your legal rights with regard to the minor children. Contact the experienced father’s rights lawyers at Rick Banks Law by calling 559-222-4891, for a free initial consultation.