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Riverside California Family Law Blog

A California law changes the fate of pets during a divorce

A new law having to do with how pets are handled in a divorce went into effect in California on Jan. 1. Judges are now allowed to consider what's in the best interest of a pet and to approve shared custody plans for them if it's deemed appropriate. Prior to the law going into effect, domestic animals were seen as marital property that needed to be divided up just like a house, car or any assets when a couple divorced.

Before the law was passed, supporters argued that there were many cases in which California judges had told divorcing spouses that they could take a pet, sell it and split the profits down the middle between themselves. The fact that animals weren't given any more special consideration than a car or china, for example, horrified many.

Restraining orders can protect you from future domestic violence

A resident of California who is being harassed, threatened, sexually or physically abused or stalked may find that taking out a protective order is one way to try to keep the person responsible at a safe distance. Protective orders can be taken out against a variety of individuals, including family members and those living in the same home.

Many individuals are somewhat familiar with how retraining orders operate. Such an order can be written to keep the subject away from the victim's workplace, home, vehicle and other frequent locales. It may even be possible for a parent to petition a judge to include a child's daycare or school in the protective order too.

Will your child get to speak in court about custody preferences?

Custody proceedings are typically nervous affairs for the parents involved. After all, they are fighting for the relationship they have with their children. Of course, custody hearings are also stressful for the children involved, as the living circumstances they will have in the future are determined at such hearings. That anxiety can be even more intense when the child has to testify as to their preferences for custody.

Parents may want their children to have a say in the final outcome of the custody proceedings, but California is relatively strict about how they handle such requests. In fact, since 2011, most of the time the children have to be at least 14 years old, which is old enough to seek emancipation, to have a direct say in court regarding the custody proceedings.

What are the requirements to adopt in California?

If you're considering pursuing adoption as a way to build your family, then you've made a wise choice. There are countless kids in California looking for a mom or dad to shower them with unconditional love and provide them with a forever home. The state has many requirements that you must meet to adopt, though.

Is there a minimum age I must be to adopt a child in California?

Employees in some professions are more apt to divorce than others

Personalities can clash and life events can happen that make all of us vulnerable to getting divorced. A look at census data shows that some people are more are likely to split up depending on what field they work in.

Three among 10 of the top professions spouses may hold that may put them at risk of divorce are military ones.

Infidelity may have an indirect impact on your child custody case

Up until a few decades ago, a cheating spouse may have stood a chance of losing it all when their ex filed to end their marriage. Ever since many states, including California, have instituted a no-fault divorce, it's made it where a spouse's adultery has little to no effect on how alimony or custody awards are decided.

When a judge makes an order, their responsibility is to make decisions that are in the child's best interests. A judge ultimately will consider a variety of factors including a child's gender, how emotionally developed they are, their security, their parents' mental and physical health and even the child's wishes when making a decision about whom to place the child with.

A nonprofit aims to curb California's domestic violence rates

Safety Through Connection is a new initiative that has been launched by Prevention Institute (PI) to help curb rates of domestic violence among some of California's most at-risk populations. The Oakland nonprofit plans to provide $50,000 to five different community organizations that have been successful in effectuating change among these populations on issues other than domestic violence.

A survey completed by one of the program's funders, the Blue Shield of California Foundation, captures how at least 58 percent of the state's residents have been domestic violence victims or know someone who has been. A PI spokesperson notes that the populations most vulnerable to domestic violence include those who live in rural or low-income communities, Native Americans, immigrants and refugees.

Prepare your children for the upcoming holidays

Children of recently divorced parents might find the holiday challenging, especially if this is the first holiday season since the divorce. As a parent, you will have to help your children work through a myriad of feelings and concerns that come with this situation. There are several things that kids might worry about.

One of the most obvious issues that the children might be concerned about is how their time will be split up on the major holidays. For families that celebrate Christmas, the children might want to know whether they will get to see both parents that day. It is a good idea to let the children know the schedule for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day ahead of time, so they know what to expect. Younger children might not understand what's going on so be prepared to work with them on a day-by-day basis on what they will do that day.

No one can force you to stay in an unhappy marriage

People decide to end their marriages for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, couples just grow apart as they get older. Other times, one spouse becomes unfaithful and damages the relationship beyond the point of saving it. Couples can also experience issues related to substance abuse, gambling, video game addiction and even spousal or child abuse.

Regardless of what issues make you want to end your marriage, you have every right to walk away from an unhappy and unhealthy relationship. While laws in other countries, including Mexico, may penalize spouses who leave their family, that is not how family law works in California.

What's involved in adopting my spouse's child in California?

If the husband or wife of a child's custodial parent wishes to adopt their son or daughter, then this process is referred to as a stepparent adoption. The California Department of Social Services generally requires for a couple to have been married at least one year before taking this step. The stepparent must fill out forms, undergo an investigation and attend a hearing in front of a judge before the adoption is approved.

Any stepparent looking to adopt their husband or wife's child will first need to get consent from the child's other biological parent to do so. If the other parent is unable to be located or unwilling to give their consent, then it may be necessary for you to first petition a judge to terminate their parental rights.