Updating court orders

Life circumstances can change greatly following a divorce or parents separating. Children get older and their interests and plans change, and parents may experience job changes, meet new partners, or change housing arrangements. These natural changes may lead to the need to update and modify a California custody order. Should both parents be in agreement over changes to a custody order, the process can be completed by way of a new written stipulated court order. When the parents don’t see eye to eye, mediation may be required.

When the parties disagree on parenting arrangements in changing a custody order, the parents must establish that a change of circumstances led to the need for alterations. The alterations must also be in the child or children’s best interests before it will be approved by the judge. When discussing the need for changes to your custody order, it would be helpful to employ the services of an experienced family law attorney. An attorney experienced in child custody litigation will be familiar with the process, and will ensure that both your rights and your children’s best interests are protected.

Arlene Kock is an experienced family law attorney with an office in San Ramon, California. A sole practitioner at her own firm, Ms.Kock and her full service law firm focuses on child custody litigation, same-sex marriage dissolution, and all other aspects of family law.

Three Things You Should Know About Family Law Enforcement Orders

Enforcing a family law order in California is a relatively straightforward process if you know what you’re doing. This article will provide three essential steps that can help you acquire a successful enforcement order.

Here are the most important things to consider in successfully achieving the enforcement of any California family law court orders…

1. Get a clear original order issued from your family law judge.

While this step sounds obvious, on more than one occasion I have encountered court orders that were unclear or unfinished. This results in confusion on how the judge is to interpret the court order in an enforcement hearing. A vague order is an unenforceable order. For example, if you’re trying to specify a visitation plan in your original order, detailed information and specific parenting time tables will make a big difference in enforceability of the order. If you create an order that only says something general like “reasonable visitation”, you are doomed when it comes to trying to interpret what the order means at a later time.

2. Document violations of the order.

Before returning to court on a violation, you should have a record of how the court order was not followed by the other side. For example, if there are certain expenses such as medical bills that are supposed to be paid as ordered by the court, you should send an email or letter to the other side describing what the order was, along with the fact that the other party has not complied with the order. Give the other side an opportunity to remedy the problem with a specific deadline and state what the consequences will be if they don’t comply by that deadline. You can use a copy of the written communication as an exhibit to your enforcement motion

If you’re having difficulty following the visitation order yourself, set out in writing what part of the order isn’t being followed. For instance, if you’re accused of showing up late or not at all for a visitation, memorialize those events by sending something in writing to the other side establishing that fact. This written information will be helpful when you go to court since you can attach the information as exhibits to your request for enforcement.

3. Specify in your enforcement motion what remedies you would like to resolve the non compliance problem.

You are now at the stage where you are returning to court and are ready to file a request for order. Of course you’ll be including in your Judicial Council forms the reasons why you’re returning to court but just as importantly, you should include in your enforcement motion proposed solutions on how to remedy the problem that you’ve encountered. For example, if the other side hasn’t paid certain bills or hasn’t paid support, you should not only specify all of the amounts that were due but also lay out in your declaration the best approach on how these overdue amounts can be paid to you.

If you’re having problems with child custody or visitation, not only do you set out what the problems are but your remedies. For example, if there’s been difficulty communicating with the other parent, you might want to propose coparenting counseling and a return hearing date in case the counseling process is unsuccessful.

If you apply these three principles set out in this article, you have a very good chance of getting the relief that you may want to return to court on an enforcement order. The best chance you could ever have on accomplishing the outcome that you seek would be through the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

Five Tested Ways to Solve Parenting Conflict

Parenting children from separate households will always be a challenge, even in the best of circumstances. Work obligations, school schedules, special holidays and family events are circumstances each parent must grapple with, but the problems that prevented a marriage or partnership from continuing do not have to drive the communication surrounding parenting the children.
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Child Support in California

Basing Lower Support Award on a Reduced Work Regimen Is Not a Deviation from Family Code Section 4050-4076 Support Guidelines

In any situation involving children where the parents are no longer together, California Family Code section 4050 et seq. requires that each parent become as gainfully employed as possible for their own personal support as well as for the support of their children. Typically this standard is assumed to mean that a parent is expected to work full time unless health or economic reasons justify otherwise. Continue reading “Child Support in California”

Child Custody: Placement with the most stable parent is the courts primary goal

The California family law courts are required to support the children’s best interests in the determination of a parenting plan. In pursuit of that goal, the custodial outcome will be driven by a determination of a number of factors heavily weighted towards the child’s placement in the most stable and child centered household.
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CONTEMPT MOTIONS: Use them carefully or you risk court sanctions!

A contempt motion is a quasi-criminal proceeding that can be employed in a family law case when there is a clear, unequivocal violation of a court order. The person violating an order can be subject to both fines and jail time for each violation.

For example, if a person obligated to pay support fails to do so yet had the ability to pay thereby meeting the courts requirement of satisfying the burden of proof of violating a court order beyond a reasonable doubt, the court can find the violator in contempt.
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