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Riverside California Family Law Blog

Is adopting a teen a viable option?

Adopting a teen might seem difficult, but it's one of the kindest things an adoptive parent can choose. Teens are often seen as individuals who can't change or who have been damaged by the foster care system, but that isn't the case. Sadly, as a result of the unfair stereotypes, teens often go without being adopted and age out of the system. Many teens simply want to find a family who will love and care for them, even if it's only for a few years until they're old enough to go to college or live independently.

All types of people can adopt teens, whether they're first-time parents or seasoned parents. It's true that those who want to adopt a teen should be resilient; it can sometimes be hard for teens to adjust to new family structures, rules and expectations, but with time, teens typically adjust as well as any other child. If a parent chooses to adopt a teen, he or she should be committed to the child.

Reporting domestic abuse won't lead to deportation for victims

Domestic violence and neglect have no place in any home. Sadly, some people put up with far more neglect and abuse than they should because they feel that they have no other options. Those individuals may include victims who are in the country illegally.

When a person fears being deported if he or she brings up a domestic violence situation, it's unlikely that the victim will turn to police. That's an issue that has to be addressed, because it does no good for a victim to remain in a potentially harmful or deadly situation.

Guardianships: Giving children someone to rely on

If there is a reason that a child cannot live with his or her parents, then a guardian may be appointed or chosen for the child. A guardian is a person who takes care of the child in a variety of ways, from managing the child's finances to providing medical care, food and education. Guardianship can end if a judge determines it is not longer necessary in those cases.

Since guardianship is a legal relationship, someone who takes care of a child isn't automatically a guardian. He or she needs to have the legal right to make decisions granted by the court, either by being a biological parent, by adopting the child or through other means. Guardianship isn't the same as adoption, because it doesn't break the bond between a child and his or her parents. On the other hand, an adoption permanently relieves a parent from his or her duties to the child.

Seeking a modification order? Here's what you need

After a divorce, you may think there is no way to modify an existing agreement. Fortunately, you might still have the opportunity to seek a modification, especially if your spouse hid assets or if there were other things you didn't know before you agreed to the settlement.

Initially, a judge may make decisions about your child custody plan or your asset division settlement. If you or your spouse disagrees with the judge's ruling, then you can seek an appeal. The appeal takes the case to a higher court. Know that it isn't normal for a higher court to overrule a lower court's decision in divorce cases, but it is possible with the right information.

Woman falsely accused of having gun, fleeing with children

Child custody cases are sometimes contentious, so it's not a surprise that a mother or father might fight with one another. Even if they live together, like the couple in this case, the person who has legal custody still gets to make decisions for the welfare of the children.

This case involves a woman who was initially accused of fleeing with her children; however, not all cases involving child kidnapping are as they appear. In one case in California, for instance, the mother took her children legally but found herself at the center of an Amber Alert when her children were reported as missing and in imminent danger.

What fiduciary duties does a spouse have?

When you're getting a divorce, the last thing you want to find out is that your spouse has violated his or her fiduciary duties. A spouse's fiduciary duty is essentially to make good financial decisions that are not excessively unfair to the other spouse. For example, if two spouses purchase a home together, that is a good agreement and fair to each party. If one person racks up $100,000 in debt without the other's knowledge, it can be argued that the individual violated and broke his or her fiduciary duty.

It's a bad situation when one spouse violates the fiduciary duty owed to the other. It may mean that there is an excessive amount of debt owed that one spouse had no idea about. How can you take steps to make sure this doesn't happen after you file for divorce?

You can receive protection against emotional abuse

Emotional abuse can be just as devastating as physical abuse. It can be harder to identify since it does not have physical signs, but it is just as valid as any other type of abuse. Emotional abuse has the potentially to affect a person's sense of self-worth and to have psychologically lasting effects.

Just like with physical abuse, there are emotional abuse laws that can help protect victims. Emotional abuse is considered to be one of the few types of domestic abuse and has been criminalized in some manners. Emotional abuse may present itself as battered women's syndrome, which is when women (or men) believe that they have no way out of the situation. They may feel depressed, hopeless or become passive. The victim stays with the abuser in the hopes that he or she will change his or her ways, which continues the cycle of abuse.

Understanding alimony laws in California

If you are thinking about divorce, you might be wondering if you will receive alimony as part of your settlement. In California, you and you husband can come to an agreement about alimony payments outside of the court or you can petition the court to make it part of the divorce decree. The main reason why courts grant alimony is so that one spouse does not suffer an undue hardship as a result of divorce. In other words, if you are not earning income, or earning an income substantially lower that your husbands, the court might award you alimony payments.

The amount of alimony you receive typically depends on your and your husband's specific circumstances. You might receive a completely different amount than another divorcee you know, and for a different amount of time. Understanding the basics of California alimony laws will help you know what to expect from your divorce settlement.

What should you do before filing for divorce?

If you've decided that you want to get a divorce, you need to start planning well before you talk to your spouse about it. Once you air your grievances, it may become very difficult to talk to or work with your spouse. It's a good idea to start collecting all the items you'll need now, so you have them and can file a case quickly.

Begin by working out your individual budget and begin to save. You need to have enough money that you can live on your own and support yourself. Open a separate bank account if you don't already have one, so the funds are only accessible by you. Once you do this, you can be certain that you'll always have some money to fall back on, even if your joint accounts are frozen while you work out the details of your divorce.

Why is it hard to adopt in California?

If you want to adopt, one of the ways you can do so is through the foster care system. Some people believe that this is one of the most difficult ways to adopt, and it can be depending on the child and his or her circumstances. One major hurtle in California comes down to funding, though. If the agencies are not funded well, it can be hard to get a hold of the people you need to talk to for the finalization of adoption or to become a foster parent.

In one man's story from 2011, he said it took close to two years to be able to adopt a child. He said the problem didn't come from the private agency but instead the public agency that was lacking funding. Phone calls were not returned, paperwork was processed slowly and that meant a long wait to adopt a child.