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.

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 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.

What Are Grandparent’s Rights in California?

Grandparent's Rights in California Fresno CA Law Office of Rick D. BanksIn many families, grandparents are deeply involved in their grandchildren’s lives. Sometimes, they may even take on the role of parent. However, after a divorce, grandparents may wonder whether they have visitation rights under the law. To learn more about grandparent’s rights in California, speak to a family law attorney at the Law Office of Rick D. Banks today.

When Can Grandparents Request Visitation?

Even without a court order, parents can always allow a grandparent visitation with their children. But what happens if a parent decides to stop allowing these visits? In these cases, the grandparent has a right to petition the court for visitation.

However, if the child’s parents are still married, California law won’t allow grandparents to petition for visitation, unless:

  • Both parents are separated
  • One parent has been missing for a month or longer
  • One parent joins the grandparent’s petition for visitation
  • The child no longer lives with either parent
  • A stepparent adopted the child, or
  • One parent is involuntarily institutionalized or incarcerated.

If a grandparent’s visitation is based on one of the above circumstances, but the circumstances change or cease to exist, the parents can request the court to terminate grandparent visitation. For instance, if the parents decide to move back in together after having been separated, they can ask the court to end the grandparent visitation.

What Does the Court Consider When Granting Grandparent Visitation?

When petitioning for grandparent’s rights in California, grandparents must give a copy of the document to both parents and any other person with physical custody of the child. After submitting the petition, the court will automatically send the case to mediation. During mediation, if the parents and grandparent cannot settle, then the mediator must notify the court. This will result in a hearing before a judge.

It’s important to remember that the court automatically presumes grandparent visitation shouldn’t be granted if both parents agree against it. This means that the burden of proof is always on the grandparent. The grandparent must effectively argue that their visitation will serve in the child’s best interests, or they will not be granted visitation.

The court will consider the following factors when determining if grandparent visitation will serve in the child’s best interests:

  • The child’s well-being, health and safety
  • Any history of abuse by the person seeking visitation or custody
  • Any history of drug or alcohol use
  • The amount of time the person seeking visitation has spent with the child

The court must establish any pre-existing relationship between the grandparent and grandchild. If both share a healthy and significant relationship, then keeping that relationship alive will serve in the child’s best interests. This fact must also be balanced against the parent’s insistence that such a relationship should not exist. For cases with children aged 14 or older, the court may even take the child’s opinion into consideration.

Grandparent’s Rights in California After Adoption

California law states that when a child is adopted by someone outside the family, then all visitation rights for the previous family end. The adoption of a child severs the relationship between child and parent, as well as all the parent’s relatives. However, if the child is adopted by someone else in the family, such as a stepparent or another grandparent, then a grandparent’s right to visitation can still continue.

Can Grandparents Win Custody of Their Grandchild?

California courts can award custody to any person who can provide a good home to a child. However, judges will always try to award custody to a parent first, if that parent is fit for custody. If both parents are not fit enough for custody, then the court will look towards another person in the child’s current residence. That is of course if the current residence is a stable and wholesome environment.

Children with parents who cannot care for them often live with their grandparents. Because of this, many grandparents are awarded legal custody of their grandchildren. Furthermore, if a child does not currently live with their grandparents, and their parents cannot provide a stable environment, then the court will award custody to anyone who can provide a good home. That includes grandparents without current physical custody.

Learn More About Grandparent’s Rights in California

If you have questions about grandparent’s rights in California, speak to an experienced Fresno family law attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

What Are the Consequences of Child Visitation Interference in California?

Visitation Interference Divorce Lawyer Fresno CACalifornia courts take parenting time seriously, as court-ordered parenting schedules are created in the best interests of the child. So, when one parent significantly hinders the parenting time of their spouse, the court may respond with severe consequences.

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks we can help you protect your visitation rights. If you are experiencing child visitation interference by your spouse, then contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

When Visitation Interference Is Direct

Sometimes visitation interference is obvious. For example, the custodial parent actively prevents their spouse from seeing the kids in one of the following ways:

  • Leaving with the child out of state or the country without giving the other parent advanced notice
  • Moving to a new address without giving the other parent the location
  • Refusing normal visitation because the other parent is behind on support payments
  • Cancelling visitation without any sufficient reason (such as an actual emergency)
  • Simply refusing to adhere to the visitation schedule

When visitation interference is open and direct, gaining proper evidence of the interference is much easier.

When Visitation Interference Is Indirect

In most cases, however, visitation interference is often indirect or subtle in nature. That makes proving any interference much more challenging and harder to fight. However, with the right family law attorney, you can obtain the evidence you need to support your case. Here are some examples of when custodial parents engage in visitation interference that is indirect or more subtle:

  • Intentionally failing to notify the other parent of extracurricular events so that it makes the other parent look as if they’re not interested in attending their child’s after school functions
  • Preventing the child from speaking on the phone with the other parent
  • Actively encouraging the child to refuse visitation with the other parent
  • Bad mouthing the other parent to the child so that it makes the child afraid of the that parent

Consequences of Visitation Interference

The consequences of visitation interference depend on a number of different factors. For example, if it’s a first-time offense, and it doesn’t cross over into a criminal matter, then the court may just order make-up parenting time. However, for more serious offenses, the court can order a temporary or permanent change to primary custody. That could mean completely removing the child away from the care of the non-compliant parent.

Furthermore, the court can force the non-compliant parent to pay a fine. This fine can range from covering the other parent’s attorney fees to paying for the child’s counseling services. The court may even order the offending parent to participate in counseling sessions until a judge feels that the parent won’t engage in visitation interference again.

In more extreme cases of visitation interference, the court may charge the non-compliant parent under criminal law, such as with parental abduction. This is especially true if the court finds any intent to hide the child. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, the non-compliant parent could face drastic fines and jail time. They would also lose custody all together.

Protect Your Child With the Help of a Fresno Family Law Attorney

Divorce is a stressful time for all parties involved. However, in many cases, children experience a great more deal of stress. When you add visitation interference on top of the divorce, it only complicates matters further. An experienced family law attorney knows how to communicate with families in a way that helps them understand the situation, as well as help them feel comfortable asking questions. Above all, our sole focus is ensuring your child’s best interests are met.

Learn More About Visitation Interference

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we place a great value on parenting time. If your ex is interfering with your parenting schedule, contact us as soon as possible. We will examine your case, help you obtain evidence of the interference, and effectively represent you in court if necessary.

What Is the Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court?

Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court Fresno CAIn a California family case, a contempt of court order can be a powerful enforcement tool. It’s available to either spouse when the other refuses to comply with a court order.

Below, we discuss the punishment for contempt of court in family court, as well as what court orders can and can’t be enforceable by a contempt of court order.

To learn more, consult an experienced Fresno family law attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks.

Proving Contempt of Court in Family Court

Before you can file an Order to Show Cause (OSC) and Affidavit for Contempt, you must be sure that you can prove your ex spouse’s contempt of court actions. This criminal burden of proof is important because a petition for contempt of court is criminal in nature. It also carries the right to trial by jury.

The petitioning spouse must prove the following to hold the accused spouse in contempt:

  1. There needs to be a valid and clear court order. A vague court order that is neither clear nor specific makes it hard to enforce contempt proceedings.
  2. The accused spouse must possess knowledge of the court order. Most often, the accused spouse more than likely either received a personal copy of the court order or was present in court on the day the order was made. However, there are rare instances where the accused did not receive a copy of the order and was not present in court. Those situations are more complex because the accused can claim ignorance to certain facts in the order.
  3. The accused spouse must have intentionally violated the court order. For instance, if ordered to pay family support or attorneys fees, the paying spouse may claim an inability to comply with the order at the present time. However, in reality that same spouse really does possess the means to pay their ordered support payments. In that situation, the accused spouse willfully violated the court order.

Types of Court Orders Enforceable by Contempt of Court in Family Law Cases

The following court orders are enforceable by contempt of court orders:

  • Child and Spousal Support Orders. If a spouse is ordered to pay child or spousal support but fails to follow through with the payments, then they can be held in contempt of court. That includes temporary and final child and spousal support orders. You may begin contempt proceedings even if a part of the support is paid or late.
  • Orders to Pay Attorney’s Fees. In family law cases, attorneys fees break up into two categories — Family Code 2030 and 2032, and Family Code 271. The first set of codes are need-based orders and are enforceable by contempt of court. However, the latter code is not so clear cut.
  • Order to Seek Work. When the court orders a spouse to seek employment, that is not a suggestion. It is a clear a directive. Intentionally failing to follow through with that order is punishable by contempt.
  • Restraining Orders. Any intentional violation of a restraining order is a punishable contempt offense.
  • Visitation and Child Custody Orders. These orders the most violated orders in many contempt proceedings. All too often one parent either intentionally hinders the other parent’s visitation rights or fails to adhere to the parenting schedule.

Understanding the Laws That Dictate Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court

In order to understand punishment for contempt of court in family court, you must first understand sentencing laws.

California Code of Civil Procedure 1218(c) states that every act of contempt will result in up to $1000 in fines and or up to five days of imprisonment. So, for example, failure to pay multiple months worth of support payments can add up quickly. In addition, the court can also order community service.

The punishment for contempt of court in family court is mandatory. With every convicted offense of contempt, the punishment only grows larger and larger by the code stated above. The court will take the convicted spouse’s employment schedule into account when ordering any punishment.

Learn More About Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Court

If you are considering bringing a petition for contempt of court, or if you need to defend one, speak to a Fresno family law attorney at the Law Office of Rick D. Banks today.

How Does the Adoption Process Work?

adoption processIn order to begin the adoption process, you must first understand the different types of adoption. Below, we explain adoption procedures, and steps you need to take for each type of adoption. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks.

Stepparent Adoption

Stepparent adoption is a legal process in which a custodial parent’s new spouse can adopt that parent’s child. You’ll likely find stepparent adoption in cases where the child’s biological parent is unidentified, out of their life, or consents to the adoption. After the court finalizes the adoption, the new spouse will retain the same responsibilities and rights as a biological parent.

Second Parent Adoption

Similar to stepparent adoption, second parent adoption grants an unrelated parent to adopt a child without taking away parental rights from a custodial parent. However, unlike stepparent adoption, the couple involved in the adoption does not need to be married. It’s important to remember that not all states will allow second parent adoption.

International or Domestic Adoption

This is the most common form of adoption. It allows a couple, or single parent, to adopt a child in need from another country or the United States.

All Types of Adoption Require Consent

No matter the type of adoption process that best fits your needs, they all require consent from the child’s biological parents. The only time consent is not needed is when the court legally revokes parental rights for some reason, such as neglect or abuse.

Since parental consent is often an emotional step in the adoption process, it can also be highly complicated. Many states will even grant biological parents the right to revoke their consent up to three months from signing away their rights. Furthermore, most states also mandate that parents must wait to consent to an adoption until the child is born.

You Must Complete a Home Study

Before adopting a child, you will need to complete a home study. This home study will educate and evaluate your adoptive family in order to ensure that the adoption will meet the child’s best interest. Often, a social worker or state agent will conduct the home study. You will need to provide the following information during the study:

  • Your consent to undergo a federal background check
  • Information that proves financial stability
  • Your family’s medical history
  • Your birth certificate
  • Any personal references

The home study representative must also conduct a visit to your home. During this visit, the representative will make sure that your home is ready to adopt to a child. Keep in mind that the whole home study adoption process can take an entire year to complete.

What Is the Legal Process of Adoption?

During the adoption process you must obtain court approval before it can be finalized. You will need to submit a petition to the court for adoption. You must all pay any filing fees and participate in a hearing process before a judge. At your hearing, the residing judge will determine if you fit all the state requirements. Below is a description of the hearing process:

Step 1: Notice

You need to give notice of the hearing to everybody directly involved in the child’s life. This can include the child’s biological parents, adoption agency, or legal guardian.

Step 2: Petition for Adoption

With your adoption agency, your adoption petition will include:

  • Basic information of all parties involved
  • Legal reason for the termination of the biological parent’s rights
  • A statement indicating the adoption serves the best interests of the child
  • A statement that you understand your rights and duties as a parent

Step 3: the Hearing

During your hearing the judge will ask you under oath if you understand the impact of your adoption. If the judge feels you fit state requirements and that the adoption served the child’s best interest, then the court will grant your adoption.

Speak to a Family Law Attorney Today

To learn more about the adoption process, talk to a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks today.

How to Make a Prenup, and Why You May Need One

how to make a prenupBefore you and your significant other get married, you may want to sign a prenuptial agreement. Also referred to as a “prenup”, this written contract typically states each piece of property both parties own and the rights to that property in the event of divorce or death.

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we can help you draft a prenup that us clear and legally sound. Contact us today to learn more.

Why Do You Need a Prenup?

Prenups are not just for the wealthy and privileged. In fact, more and more couples of modest means are turning to prenups for a number of different reasons, which may include:

Passing property from a prior marriage to your children

If you hold property from a prior marriage that you want to pass on to your children, you may want to sign a prenup before your new marriage. In your prenup, you can specify exactly each asset you own that you wish to pass down to your children.

Determining financial rights and duties

Whether you’re wealthy or not, creating a prenup is a great way to determine the financial rights and duties of each partner. This way there are no financial surprises during the marriage.

Avoiding arguments if there is ever a divorce

If you ever get divorced, drafting a prenup can help avoid any arguments that may arise during the divorce proceedings. Typically, most arguments during a divorce arise from dividing property or determining who will receive alimony. Fortunately, in your prenup you can pre-divide your property and pre-determine who will receive alimony, so that if you ever get divorced, you will already have those factors figured out.

Protecting yourself from debt

If your future spouse has any outstanding debts, you can use a prenup to protect yourself from their debt.

What If You Don’t Make a Prenup?

If you choose not to make a prenuptial agreement, in the event of divorce or death, your state’s laws will determine how the property you acquire during your marriage will be divided. Furthermore, in some cases, state law can even divide assets you owned before that marriage.

Because the law sees marriage as a contract between two people, that contract includes automatic property rights between each spouse. When a prenuptial agreement is not made, each spouse usually holds the following rights:

  • Sharing ownership of any property acquired during the marriage, which in the event of divorce or death, will be divided up.
  • Incurring the debts of your spouse.
  • Managing and controlling marital property, including the right to give it away or sell it.

If you do not agree to the rights above, you should consider making a prenup. A prenup is the only way to ensure that your property will be divided fairly upon divorce or death.

Speak to a Family Law Attorney to Learn More About How to Make a Prenup

In the past, the court has viewed prenups with somewhat skeptical eyes. Prenups typically involved signing a legal waiver by a less wealthy spouse. They were also thought to encourage breakups.

However, today the law is more open and friendly to prenuptial agreements. In fact, every state now permits them and legislatures are more willing to uphold them in court. Still, it is important to remember that prenups that don’t meet state requirements will be set aside.

We advise drafting your own prenup with your partner before you consult any lawyers. Talk with your spouse and write down assets and property you wish to divide between yourselves. However, keep in mind that your prenup should be written in a way that is understandable, clear and sounds legal. Once your prenup is written, you will need to have separate lawyers review it. Having multiple attorneys review it strengthens the validity of it to the court.

Contact the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks Today

At the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks, we can help you draft and review a prenuptial agreement that protects you and your interests. Contact us today.

How to Improve Communication in Relationships

Good communication in relationshipscommunication is the key to a successfully getting along with your loved ones. Being able to convey how you feel and what you think is essential in good communication. However, that requires knowing how to effectively communicate with others. By understanding different communication styles, you can better interact with others and have more successful relationships.

How We Develop Communication in Relationships

We learn how to communicate from our surroundings – families, friends, communities, and the media. As we grow, we learn how to communicate from our parents, siblings, and extended family members. This information is supplemented by our friends and members of our communities. This includes teachers, role models, and others who directly impact our lives. Additionally, communication in relationships is influenced by what we see on television, in movies, and on the radio. We gather information from all of these sources and form our own style of communication.

The things we learn from others determines how we interact with others. Some of those skills are negative and others are positive. In the end, our goal should be to develop positive habits when it comes to communication in relationships. However, the things we learn from others are not always positive. It’s important to understand communication styles and how to utilize them positively.

Types of Communication

Everyone has a communication style. Essentially, we can separate communication styles into four categories – passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. Every moment that we interact with others, we are utilizing one of these four types of relationship communication styles. The way we use them is learned and can be positive or negative. By understanding your communication style and that of others, you can have more successful relationships with others.

Passive Communication

Through passive communication, an individual focuses on “maintaining the peace.” This often requires avoidance of one’s own needs, wants, boundaries, and personal rights. Passive communication prioritizes the needs of others and puts an emphasis on avoiding conflict.

Passive communicators often show signs of distress, such as poor eye contact, slumped shoulders or body posture, and ignoring one’s own feelings. People who are communicating passively make jokes at their own expense and fail to positively express feelings. They often dismiss their own opinions in order to be overly considerate of others.

Although passive communication in relationships can be negative in that it does not convey one’s position, it also has some benefits. It makes the speaker less of a target and focuses on the other person, who may need to speak their mind. Passive communication can have a place in positive communication, but you should use it sparingly.

Aggressive Communication

Aggressive communication in relationships is the opposite of passive communication. It is identified by strongly expressing one’s needs, wants, and opinions. Sometimes aggressive communication crosses the boundaries of others. This can involve interrupting others as well as seeming threatening. Physical tells of aggressive communication include crossed arms, sneering, and loud speaking.

Aggressive communicators clearly get their point across and make sure their needs are conveyed. However, they often fail to recognize the needs and rights of others. They often do not listen well and can hurt or alienate others. When seeking to clearly express oneself, aggressive communication can be beneficial; however, it can also fail to consider the other person’s points.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

Passive-aggressive communication is indicated by someone who seems to be listening and acting appropriately or passively, but is actually aggressive under the surface. Often the person communicates hostility in subtle ways and seeks to control the situation in a subtle manner. Passive aggressive communicators may shame, blame, and criticize others. They fail to connect with others and also fail to convey their needs effectively.

The only upside of passive-aggressive communication is limiting one’s emotions for a short period of time. Although they may manipulate a situation in the short term, they rarely have positive outcomes over time.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication involves clearly stating needs, wants, and rights in an honest way. Most assertive communicators respect the needs of others and present their own needs clearly. They often use “I” statements to convey information instead of blaming others with “you” statements.

Assertive communication can benefit both speakers and listeners. It respects the needs of everyone and encourages open communication. People often accuse assertive communicators of being aggressive because they are blunt and clear, but the difference is they are not self-seeking.

Using Effective Communication in Relationships

By understanding your own style of communication in relationships, as well as that of others, you can be more successful interacting with the people in your life. Continuous negative communication styles can result in the need to separate from a relationship. If that relationship is a marriage, you may consider legal separation or divorce. If you’re considering divorce, we can help. Call a Fresno divorce lawyer at Rick Banks Law today at (559) 222-4891.

Same-Sex Divorce Attorney Explains What to Expect

same-sex divorce attorneyWith the rise in same-sex marriages, there are subsequently an increases in cases where the marriage does not work. With the guidance of same-sex divorce attorney Rick D. Banks, you can dissolve your marriage or domestic partnership. Under California law, same-sex couples have the same divorce rights as any other couple. Thankfully, same-sex divorce cases do not face the same gender bias issues that may afflict heterosexual divorce cases.

What Is Divorce?

A divorce is when you dissolve your marriage and/or domestic partnership. Once your divorce is finalized, you are, under the eyes of the law, single and able to remarry or have a new domestic partnership.

Do I Need a Reason to Divorce?

As a no-fault state, California permits divorce for “irreconcilable differences” — no one is to blame. The court’s interest is helping a divorcing couple reach a fair agreement regarding the restructuring of their life post-divorce so they can rebuild their lives. Some issues to be considered include:

  • Child visitation and custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal or partner support
  • Division of property and assets
  • Responsibility of debt repayment

What If I Am in a Same-Sex Marriage and a Domestic Partnership?

California views domestic partnerships similar to marriages. Unlike heterosexual divorces, if you are bound by both marriage and a domestic partnership, you may be required to dissolve both to be considered single. A same-sex divorce attorney can help you dissolve both covenants.

Divorce Requirements

If you are in a marriage or a domestic partnership that was not registered in California, you or your spouse/partner must live in California for six months prior to the time of the divorce request and one of you must live in the county where you plan to file for divorce for three months. However, if your domestic partnership is registered in California, you do not need to meet the residency requirements.

If you do not meet the residential requirements, you may still obtain a legal separation. You can then file an “amended petition” and request for a divorce once you meet the residency requirements.

Summary Dissolution

You may consider obtaining a summary dissolution if you have been in a marriage or in a partnership for less than five years and do not:

  • Have children,
  • Own or rent land, or
  • Have certain debt obligations.

A same-sex divorce attorney can assist in this easier method of dissolution.

Child Custody

One challenge same-sex couples face is custody rights. If the couple does not reach an amicable agreement regarding child custody and visitation, the court must take certain information into consideration, such as:

  • Biological information
  • Perceived caregiver roles

Until courts can create standardized judgment rules through legal precedents, custody battles may complicate same-sex divorce.

Asset Division

Another challenge same-sex couples face is that although they may have been together for over ten or twenty years, they may have only been in a marriage for a short time. Thus, courts may forgo traditional asset division precedents in favor of dividing assets equitably.

A Same-Sex Divorce Attorney Can Help

If your same-sex marriage is not working, a knowledgeable and experienced same-sex divorce attorney at the Law Offices of Rick D. Banks can help you decide your best options for dissolution of your marriage and/or domestic partnership. Call (559) 222-4891 for assistance today.