When Does Child Support End in California?

When Does Child Support End in California Fresno CAParenting is a challenging job — and often an expensive one. If you have been ordered to pay child support, you know that these payments are intended to cover your child’s basic needs. But how long do you have to pay? When does child support end in California?

When Does Child Support Typically End?

Child Reaches 18

In most cases, child support ends once a child reaches the “age of majority” which is typically 18..

Emancipation

Under the Emancipation of Minors Law, an “emancipated minor” will assume most adult responsibilities before they reach 18. The minor will be considered emancipated if they are under age 18 and:

  • Gets married
  • Joins the military
  • Receives a judicial declaration of emancipation

Termination of Parental Rights

When the court terminates a parent’s parental rights, they are no longer obligated to pay child support. However, that also means that the parent no longer has a right to custody or visitation as well.

Can I File an End of Child Support Request?

In order to end child support ,you must file a request with the right California family court. Even if your child is emancipated or you lose parental rights, you will still need to file a request to legally make the payments end. Once you file your request, you will need to attend a court hearing. During the hearing, the presiding judge will decide to either approve or decline your request to end child support.

My Child Is Over 18. Why Do I Still Need to Pay Child Support?

Even if your child is over age 18, the court may order you to pay child support if your adult child is:

  • Disabled
  • Owed duty of support
  • Still in high school

In addition, some parents may agree to continue child support payments until a specific age over 18 years old.

Can You End Child Support If You’re Not the Father?

Unfortunately, there are instances where after years of paying child support, a father finds out that he is not the child’s biological father. In those cases, it is typically too late to challenge paternity. Furthermore, for the sake of the best interest of the child, you most likely won’t get your money back and you may still be ordered to continue child support. And while you can request an end to child support, it is an extremely complex process.

Speak to a Fresno Child Support Lawyer

If you have questions about when does child support end in California, speak to an experienced child support lawyer. We can help you modify a support order and advise you of your options. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

How Does Stepparent Adoption in California Work?

Stepparent Adoption in California Fresno Family Law AttorneyWhile it is not mandatory for a stepparent to adopt the child of their spouse, voluntarily assuming parental responsibility can have a huge, beneficial impact on a child’s life. But the process of stepparent adoption in California is complex. An experienced Fresno family law attorney can help you complete the adoption as efficiently as possible.

Who Qualifies as a Stepparent?

When a stepparent adopts a child, they take on the legal responsibility of the child’s health, safety and well-being, while one biological parent still retains custody and control of the child.

To be eligible for stepparent adoption, you must be married to or registered as a domestic partner to one of the child’s birth parents. If you are not, you do not have any legal standing for stepparent adoption.

If you qualify, you can proceed with the process of stepparent adoption. However, you will also need to obtain consent from both biological parents, if both are still alive.

What Is the Process of Stepparent Adoption in California?

Generally, the process will look something like this:

Filing an Adoption Request to the Court

You will need to file an Adoption Request to the proper California court. In this form, you will list information about yourself, the child and your relation to said child, and any other relevant information about the child’s parents or other guardians. Once your request is filed, the court will send your petition to both living biological parents.

Social Services Investigation

After filing your Adoption Request, the court will arrange a brief investigation from Social Services. Typically, these investigations are straightforward, as Social Services is simply attempting to determine if adoption will serve in the child’s best interests.

Terminating Non-Custodial Parental Rights

Before you can adopt a stepchild, you must terminate the parental rights of the living non-custodial parent. This will effectively “free” the other parent from parental obligations such as child support. That also means that the other parent will no longer have a right to court-ordered visitation.

Most non-custodial parents typically consent to the termination of their parental rights. However, the adoption process becomes much more complicated when the other parent is missing or does not consent.

Hearing Before the Court

The final step involves a hearing before the court. During this hearing, the presiding family court judge will determine if the adoption will serve in the child’s best interests. This could include speaking directly with the child, in some cases. If the judge approves of the adoption, you will legally become the child’s parent.

Consult an Experienced Stepparent Adoption Attorney

Parenthood does not require DNA. If you love your stepchild and wish to adopt them, we can help. To increase your chances of successful adoption, and to speed up the process, consult with the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in California?

How Long Does a Divorce Take in California Fresno CA Divorce LawyerHow long does a divorce take in California? The answer to that depends heavily on the level of cooperation between you and your spouse.

The more amicable you and your spouse are, the quicker and cheaper the entire process will be. That said, you should keep in mind that even the most amicable of divorces cannot be legally finalized until at least six months after the date the petition is served.

What Can Make My Divorce Take Longer?

While the minimum amount of time for a divorce is six months, the process can take longer if certain issues arise. These issues typically stem from non-cooperative partners when dealing with the following:

The issues above are important to your divorce case, and you should fight to get what you deserve. That said, however, the more cooperative you and your spouse are when it comes to settling these issues, the faster your divorce will finalize.

If you and your spouse cannot agree, you will need to litigate your case in court. Litigation is a time-consuming and expensive process that relies on waiting for an opening on the court’s calendar, as well as paying for attorney and court fees.

Make a Reasonable Settlement Offer

If you want a quick and easy divorce, you must be willing to cooperate with your spouse. The best way to demonstrate this is to take the initiative and make a reasonable settlement offer.

Make sure your offer is well thought out and consistent with the goals of the divorce. Doing this should kick start negotiations which could fast-track an earlier settlement.

But what happens if your spouse is not willing to cooperate and turns down your reasonable offer?

What If Your Spouse Is Uncooperative?

What can you do if your spouse is being unreasonable? One option you have is to file an attorney fee motion.

The purpose of an attorney fee motion is to punish any spouse that’s unwilling to cooperative and causing unnecessary attorney fees. The motion hits the uncooperative spouse with a monetary sanction in an attempt to dissuade them from continuing their unreasonable conduct. While this motion is not used nearly enough in divorce cases, it is a great tool you can utilize to help get your divorce back on track and closer to finalization.

Cooperation Is Key to Fast Resolution

If the parties involved in a divorce are Vengeful or vindictive, this will only slow the entire process down. The court does not take too kindly to such spouses. If you show the court that you’re willing to cooperate, your resolution goals will be much easier to achieve.

Consult a Fresno CA Family Law Attorney Today to Learn More

How long does a divorce take in California, and what can you expect during the process? At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we can help you understand your options, as well as ensure that your divorce is as stress-free as possible. Consult with our experienced Fresno family law attorney today.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

What Is Collaborative Divorce Fresno CA Divorce AttorneyDivorce is tough, no matter how you slice it. But a collaborative divorce can make things a lot easier, both on you and your ex. What is collaborative divorce, and how what are the benefits of going this route?

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

In a collaborative divorce, both interested parties voluntarily take part in the process in an effort to reach agreements, without taking things to court. With negotiation and mediation, both parties can walk away from the divorce knowing that they resolved issues on their own accord. This often means that both parties have an equal say on life-changing decisions, rather than leaving that up to the court.

What Are the Benefits of Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce can make the entire divorce process much less stressful for you and your ex-spouse, as well as for your children. In addition, you can also enjoy the following benefits:

  • Saves money. You don’t have to pay fees associated with fighting things out in court.
  • Saves time. You don’t have to worry about waiting for open spaces on the court’s calendar to settle your issues through litigation.
  • Avoids the courtroom. You can settle your issues in an informal setting and on your own time, which means you don’t need to waste vacation days or miss work.
  • Allows you to maintain control. You can work alongside your ex-spouse to negotiate a divorce settlement that benefits your family.

How Can You Make Collaborative Divorce Work?

The most important step to make any collaborative divorce work is to make an agreement with your ex-spouse to settle all your issues without the court. You and your ex must take the threat of litigation off the table. This usually means that you’ll need to involve other experts, such as a family law attorney and a mediator, to help you settle any issues that may arise.

Equally as important is an agreement with your ex to handle all decisions in ways that serve in your children’s best interest. Do not actually involve your children in the process, but handle every issue with the goal of reaching a settlement that puts your children first.

You and Your Ex Want a Collaborative Divorce. Now What?

If both you and your ex both agree that a collaborative divorce will benefit your family, your first step is to contact an experienced family law attorney. Meet with your attorney and lay out your goals and wants of the divorce. If any issues do arise, your attorney can bring in a seasoned mediator that’ll help you settle the disputes without the court.

When a Collaborative Divorce May Not Be the Best Option

Since collaborative divorce involves an agreement between both parties, typically these types of divorces do not work in marriages where one side has more say than the other. Which usually means that marriages that involved emotional or physical abuse or dishonesty cannot benefit from a collaborative divorce. This type of divorce will also not work if one spouse is alienating the children from the other spouse.

Contact an Experienced Fresno CA Collaborative Divorce Attorney

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we can help you through the collaborative divorce process. Contact us today to learn more.

How to End Spousal Support in California

How to End Spousal Support in California Fresno Alimony AttorneySpouses ordered to pay spousal support are often understandably resentful of the court-ordered obligation. After all, a significant portion of their earnings is going to their ex-spouse. But are there ways to end spousal support? Below, we examine when and how to end spousal support in California, and what factors the court will consider.

Is There a Valid Reason for Spousal Support to Continue?

Alimony serves some legitimate purposes. It’s unreasonable for a high-earning spouse to exist a marriage and leave the other low-earning spouse suddenly financially responsible for the entire family or themselves. During the marriage, spouses agree to a division of responsibility within the home. Typically, one spouse works more to provide for the family financially, while the other spouse may only work part time or not all all in order to tend to day to day needs of the home.

That said, things get murky when the low-earning spouse refuses to work though they possess the ability and opportunity to do so. In such cases, spousal support could seem like a reward for the lazy spouse. Whether the other spouse is lying about their income or willfully unemployed, there are valid reasons for ending spousal support.

How to End Spousal Support in California in Short-Term Marriages

A short-term marriage is usually defined as a marriage that lasts for less than ten years, from date of marriage to date of separation. In most short-term marriages, the duration of spousal support should last exactly one-half the length of the total marriage. For instance, in marriages of eight years, spousal support would not last for more than four years. But keep in mind that the one-half rule is not set in stone, and is more of a general principle than a strict rule.

You may end spousal support earlier if your ex-spouse’s income increases or if their need for support decreases. In addition, you can request spousal support to end if your income or ability to pay decreases.

Other external situations may call for the termination of spousal support:

  • Decrease in the living expenses of your ex-spouse.
  • Your ex-spouse receives an influx of money, like an inheritance.
  • Your ex-spouse cohabits with a non-marital partner.
  • Increase in your living expenses.

How to End Spousal Support in California in Long-Term Marriages

In the past ten years or so, California’s laws for spousal support for long-term marriages (usually ten or more years long) have become more more relaxed. It’s no longer the case where a long-term marriage meant a lifetime of spousal support for the higher-earning spouse. In fact, much of what we discussed above also now applies to long-term marriages as well.

From our experience, shorter long-term marriages still typically follow the one-half duration principle for spousal support. For instance, the court more than likely will follow the one-half principle for a ten year long marriage, which means five years of spousal support. Though longer long-term marriages are more complicated regarding spousal support length, you don’t need to fear paying support for the rest of your life.

Speak to a Fresno Alimony Attorney Today

To learn more about how to end spousal support in California, contact a Fresno alimony attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

Understanding How Temporary Spousal Support in California Works

Temporary Spousal Support in California Fresno Alimony AttorneyTemporary spousal support is an order that comes during divorce proceedings and ends once divorce terms are agreed upon. California law allows the court to order a spouse to “pay any amount that is necessary” based on the supporting spouse’s income and the supported spouse’s needs. The goal is to maintain the standard of living both parties have been accustomed to before the separation occurred. But how does temporary spousal support in California work?

Alimony issues can be complicated, and the court considers many factors before granting or denying said support, as well as the actual amount paid. We’ll examine those factors below.

How Does the Court Calculate Temporary Spousal Support in California?

In California, calculating the amount of temporary spousal support paid relies on three main factors:

  • First, the court will examine the gross monthly income of both you and your spouse. Income adjustments such as child support, taxes, and union dues, are taken into consideration when determining incomes.
  • Second, the court will look at you and your spouse’s tax-filing statuses, such as head of household, single, married and filing jointly or married and filing separately.
  • Lastly, the court will then use the provided numbers to calculate the amount through the “Santa Clara County Guideline.” While you should note that using these factors aren’t necessarily final, they will give you a good idea of what you can expect a judge to decide.

In order to get the most accurate estimate of temporary spousal support, speak to an experienced Fresno alimony attorney.

When Will the Court Deny Temporary Spousal Support?

Under California law, the court may deny temporary spousal support if one of the following factors is determined. The spouse requesting support:

  • Holds adequate separate property
  • Earns their own livelihood
  • Possesses sufficient community property
  • Is not awarded child custody

Your attorney can help you review the factors in your case and explain what to expect.

Can Temporary Spousal Support Become Permanent?

Temporary spousal support will end the day the terms of a divorce are finalized. However, beyond that, the court may order a spouse to pay long-term spousal support as well for an indefinite period of time. The duration of such payments relies heavily upon the length of marriage. Basically, the longer a marriage lasts, the longer spousal support must be paid.

For instance, for marriages of 10 years or less, the duration of spousal support is usually one-half of the length of marriage. So, a marriage of 8 years would translate to 4 years of spousal support. In contrast, for marriages of 10 years or longer the duration of spousal support is much more complicated, involving many more factors the court must consider.

Contact a Fresno Alimony Attorney Today

If you are going through a divorce or separation and have questions about temporary spousal support in California, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks for a free consultation.

What Is the Penalty for Hiding Assets in Divorce?

Penalty for Hiding Assets in Divorce  Divorce Lawyer  Fresno CAChances are that if you’ve thought about getting a divorce, you’ve probably also thought about how it will affect you financially. If money is already tight, the expenses associated with divorce can be more than a little worrisome. You may find it tempting to hide away money from your spouse in order to have a little nest egg once the divorce is finalized. But it’s important to remember that this is not only unethical, but also illegal. So what is the penalty for hiding assets in divorce?

Understanding the Legal Consequences of Hiding Assets

Spouses hiding assets from one another is surprisingly common. In fact, the National Endowment for Financial Education reports that nearly one-third of all couples with combined assets engage in deceptive behavior with money. And men are much more likely to hide money than women are. But while hiding money from a spouse during a marriage is dishonest, doing it during a divorce will cost you greatly.

During the divorce process, you will be ordered to sign a financial affidavit. In this document, both of your joint assets are outlined so that the court can divide them fairly. Signing that affidavit means that you’re agreeing to all the information in it to the best of your knowledge. Thus, hiding assets is a direct violation of civil law, which means you are committing perjury.

What Happens When Either Party Lies Under Oath?

Lying while under oath is considered an act of contempt to the court. Consequences of doing so typically vary from state to state, and sometimes even district to district. California judges can freely decide on the final penalty.

Let’s take a look at this famous example:

Right before filing for divorce, a woman in California won the state lottery of $1.3 million. Wanting to keep all that money to herself, she failed to disclose her winnings in the financial affidavit. When the presiding judge figured out what the woman had done, he ordered that all her winnings go to the husband.

In that example above, following California’s community property state policy, which means couples must divide their assets evenly, the woman could have walked away with about $750,000. Instead, she walked away with nothing.

What If I Think My Spouse Is Hiding Money From Me?

Here are a few signs to look out for if you suspect your spouse is hiding money from you:

  • More frequent withdrawals from the ATM
  • Big write-offs from business accounts
  • Irregularities on taxes
  • More frequent travels for business

Unfortunately, you cannot simply relay your suspicions to the court. You must have evidence of your spouse’s deception. Consider hiring a private investigator to help you obtain proof. In addition, you will need an effective legal advocate on your side.

To learn more about the penalty for hiding assets in divorce and how you can protect yourself, contact an experienced Fresno divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

What to Include in a Parenting Plan

What to Include in a Parenting Plan Fresno CA Divorce LawyerCreating a parenting plan is often a fundamental part of the divorce process. The plan typically works out issues such as where the children will reside and just how much parenting time each parent should receive. By crafting a comprehensive parenting plan early on, you can help prevent future fights over unanswered issues. Below, we discuss what to include in a parenting plan and how to make sure you protect both your children and yourself.

What Should Your Parenting Plan Include?

When determining what to include in a parenting plan, you and your partner should be as thorough as possible. The more thorough you are, the less you’ll have to fight about later. Beyond deciding who should have primary physical custody and visitation, your plan can also address other decisions that potentially affect the welfare and health of your children.

For instance, you can use the plan to address how much each parent should contribute financially to your children, including child support. Also, your plan can discuss which holidays your children will spend with each parent, as well as how you’ll transport and exchange your children for visitation.

The plan can determine which school your children will attend, at which hospital your children will be treated for injuries and surgeries, and which health insurance policy will cover them. Your plan can also make an agreement on your children’s school functions, visits overnight with friends, and contact with other relatives. If you or your spouse are thinking of relocating at some point, make sure your plan covers the terms and conditions for relocation with or without children.

In short, your parenting plan should be tailored to fit the unique circumstances of your family. Almost any important issue that will arise in your children’s lives may be addressed and approved by the court. In fact, your plan can even cover how future disputes over the plan will be addressed, such as through mediation.

What Should Your Parenting Plan Avoid?

Because you cannot possibly plan for every single event in your children’s lives, try to make your plan as flexible and open to change as possible. Plans that are too rigid or specific may not hold up over time. Small disputes over rigid parenting plans are costly and time consuming in court. Therefore, it is in your and your children’s best interests to draft a nuanced parenting plan that allows both parents to communicate with each other. Doing so will make it easier to settle minor disputes in the future.

Making a plan that is too vague or general is not very helpful either. When the plan uses words such as “often” or “frequent”, it’s left open to each parent’s different interpretations. So the key is to strike a balance — flexible enough to change when necessary, and clear enough to avoid confusion.

We Can Help With Your Parenting Plan

At Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we can help you determine what to include in a parenting plan. Learn more about drafting an effective plan by talking to an experienced Fresno divorce attorney today.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work in California?

How Does Supervised Visitation Work Fresno CASupervised visitation simply means that a non-custodial parent can only visit with their child in the presence of another adult. Primarily, the arrangement is used to keep the child safe while supporting the child/parent relationship.

When deemed necessary, the court will work supervised visitation into the parenting plan. In addition, both parents may also be required to formulate a visitation schedule to make the supervised visits actually happen.

The court takes any contact between parent to child very seriously. But how does supervised visitation work? And in what circumstances will the court order it? To learn more, talk to a Fresno child visitation lawyer at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

When Is Supervised Visitation Necessary?

Under the following conditions, the court may order supervised visitation if a parent:

  • Has a history of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse against a child
  • Has a history of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse against the other parent
  • Suffers from a substance abuse issue
  • Suffers from an uncontrollable mental illness that could potentially harm the child
  • Has ever neglected their child
  • Has been mostly absent from their child’s life but now wants to begin a relationship
  • Continuously puts the family into potentially dangerous situations

Typically, if a non-custodial parent adheres to specific requirements, supervised visitation can potentially lead to unsupervised visitation. This means that orders of supervised visitation are often only temporary arrangements. For instance, if a non-custodial parent suffering from substance abuse issues continuously passes drug tests for at least six months and undergoes counseling services, they may eventually be able to obtain unsupervised visitation.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work?

Once the court determines that supervised visitation is necessary, it will specify exactly how the visits will play out.

For example, the court might order that supervised visits must happen in designated facilities. In addition, a monitor may be present at all times in the same room during the entire length of the visit.

Another possible scenario may be that the court orders a social worker, or similar person, to attend the visitation at the non-custodial parent’s home. The designated monitor will pick up the child from the custodial parent, attend the entirety of the visitation, and then drop the child back off at the custodial parent’s home.

Alternatively, in certain situations, the court may allow a relative, friend or acquaintance to attend the visitations as designated monitor. However, that person must be willing, and both parents must agree on the chosen person. If you feel this is your best option, it’s important to consider a person who you both agree is trustworthy and reliable.

Get Help With Supervised Visitation in California

Supervised visitation can play out in a number of different ways. To learn more about what to expect and how it works, speak to an experienced child custody attorney in Fresno. Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

How to Fight False Allegations in Family Court

How to Fight False Allegations in Family Court  Fresno CAUnfortunately, false allegations of child abuse have become common in family cases — after all, it’s not very hard to make an allegation. All it takes is a declaration under oath with a depiction of the abuse. But at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, our experienced family law attorneys know how to fight false allegations in family court.

All too often, child abuse allegations amount to nothing more than she said, he said. This is especially true if the child is younger and unable to comment on the abuse.

California law demands that all children must receive frequent interaction with both parents. However, one exception to the rule is if a preponderance of evidence proves the allegation of child abuse from one parent to the other to be true. This is commonly known as a “51% standard” or “tipping the scales.”

Yet, what if the burden of proof is not satisfied? What are the rights of the parent who is falsely accused? What happens to the parent who made the false allegations? Below we’ll examine these questions and more.

False Allegations Can Lead to Limited Custody or Visitation

Under California law, the court may limit a parent’s visitation or custody if that parent is found to have intentionally made false allegations. The court looks down on parents who purposefully hinder the other parent’s parenting time. If enough evidence is found, then the accusing parent can receive limited custody or supervised visitation.

Burden of Proof Must Be Met for False Allegations

Proving a child abuse allegation is false requires substantial burden of proof.

Without such proof, the court cannot limit the accusing parent’s visitation or custody if the accusation was made upon a reasonable set of beliefs. This is even more true if the accusation can be corroborated by other witnesses. What this means is that even if the court doesn’t find a particular accusation to be true, that doesn’t mean the accusation was made to intentionally strip the other parent of contact with the child.

Large Monetary Sanctions for Falsely Claiming Child Abuse

In addition to the court’s ability to limit the accusing parent’s custody or visitation for false allegations of child abuse, the court may also impose large monetary sanctions upon that parent. However, the total cost of the sanction can’t surpass the cost incurred by the parent that is falsely accused, and typically includes the attorney’s fees for defending against the allegation.

How do you begin the process of seeking these sanctions? You must file a request for order and lay out the facts that demonstrate the extent of the false accusations.

Learn More About How to Fight False Allegations in Family Court

Remember that you’re not guilty until proven innocent. Although family courts typically err on the side of caution when allegations are made, a Fresno family law attorney can help you defend yourself. To learn more about how to fight false allegations in family court, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.