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How Can You Prove Parental Alienation in California?

Parental alienation is a hot topic in custody cases in California, and for that reason it has become a double-edged sword. When one parent can prove that the other parent is using parental alienation tactics to destroy the relationship between parent and child, the court will often penalize the alienating parent, and may take custody away from them. However, when a parent raises allegations of parental alienation and the court believes the accusations are false, that backfires, and the parent who made accusations of parental alienation will be the one facing negative consequences.

So how do you recognize when parental alienation is occurring? And how can you prove parental alienation to the court’s satisfaction? It is very helpful to consult an attorney who is experienced in parental alienation situations. Every situation has unique factors, but here are some general issues to keep in mind when trying to prove parental alienation is or is not occurring.

What is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation involves one parent’s attempts to damage a child’s relationship with the other parent. This can involve a variety of tactics, some much more subtle than others.

When parental alienation tactics continue over time, a child can become afraid of the targeted parent and unwilling to spend time with that parent. They may not want to even have contact with that parent.

Because parental alienation can be so damaging, courts take allegations of parental alienation very seriously. But because accusations are sometimes made falsely to gain an unfair advantage in a custody battle, it is important to have evidence to back up any accusations you make.

Recognizing Parental Alienation

Children can become unwilling to see or talk to a parent for a variety of reasons, so it is important to understand that every instance of alienation is not necessarily the fault of the other parent. A situation is considered parental alienation when one parent intentionally displays negativity toward the other parent to poison the child’s relationship with that parent. If a child is avoiding a parent who has been abusive to them, that is understandable. But if they are avoiding a parent who has only displayed loving behavior, then it is time to start wondering why.

Signs that a child is being affected by parental alienation tactics include:

  • They express intense hatred toward the targeted parent and refuse to acknowledge anything good about them.
  • They repeat negative statements about the targeted parent that they do not know from first hand knowledge but have been told by the alienating parent.
  • They vehemently refuse to talk to or visit the targeted parent and feel no guilt about it.
  • They frequently repeat language from the alienating parent like a parrot.

Very often, it is the intensity of anger and hatred displayed against a parent that reveals that a child is being taught to hate, and that their behavior is not just part of the normal emotional cycle that occurs when a child’s parents split up.

Proving How One Parent is Acting to Alienate a Child from the Other Parent

Constant negative talk about the targeted parent is probably the most common method used to alienate a child. The alienating parent may tell the child that the targeted parent broke up the marriage, that the targeted parent doesn’t love them, and that they are not safe with the targeted parent. They might falsely accuse the targeted parent of using drugs or drinking too much.

An alienating parent might also take steps to keep the targeted parent away from the child by refusing to comply with visitation schedules, not giving the targeted parent information about the child’s activities, refusing to let the child talk to the targeted parent, and making the child feel guilty about spending time with the targeted parent. The alienating parent might even try to erase the targeted parent from the child’s life by destroying presents from that parent and removing pictures of that parent.

To prove that these actions are happening, you need evidence. It is a good idea to keep copies of communications such as texts and emails to see the pattern of communication. You might look for witnesses who have heard the alienating parent saying false or negative statements about you. Document instances where you were denied the opportunity to see or communicate with your child. Check social media and make copies of any negative posts directed at you. You might also get a therapist to testify about changes in your child’s behavior.

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC Can Help if Parental Alienation is an Issue

Whether you are concerned that parental alienation tactics are being used against you or the other parent is accusing you of using parental alienation against them, you need to act to protect your parental rights and your relationship with your child. The dedicated team at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, can put over 300 years of collective experience to work to help you secure your relationship and parental rights. Call 855-426-9111 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation to learn how we can protect you in this delicate situation.

Is California A Common Law Marriage State?

In navigating the complexities of relationships and marriage laws for clients, the team at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC often gets asked whether California recognizes common law marriages.  It's a topic surrounded by myths and misconceptions, especially for couples moving into California.

It is important to understand the state’s stance on common law marriage because it affects a wide array of legal issues, from support and divorce to inheritance and probate. Let's delve into what the law says and how it affects couples in the Golden State.

California and Common Law Marriage

First off, it's important to clarify that California does not allow couples to form a common law marriage in the state. Unlike some states where couples can be considered legally married without a formal ceremony or marriage license after living together for a certain period, California law does not provide for this. This distinction is crucial for couples who have lived together for many years, assuming they have the same rights as married couples. Here are some key points to understand about the legal landscape in California regarding common law marriage and cohabitation:

  • No Legal Status for Common Law Marriage: In California, no matter how long a couple has lived together, their relationship does not gain the legal status of marriage without a marriage license and ceremony. This means that common law spouses do not have the rights and protections that are automatically granted to legally married couples under California law.
  • Exception for Valid Out-of-State Common Law Marriages: While California itself does not allow couples to establish a common law marriage, it does recognize common law marriages that were established in other states where such unions are recognized. If you and your partner were considered legally married by common law in another state, California law will acknowledge your marital status.
  • Implications for Property and Estate Planning: Since there is no recognition of common law marriage, unmarried couples must be proactive in managing their property rights and estate planning. This includes drafting cohabitation agreements, creating joint or co-owned property agreements, and ensuring proper estate planning documents like wills and trusts are in place to protect each party's interests. Otherwise, their property interests are legally separate, regardless of how long a couple has lived together.
  • Consideration of Palimony: While not related to common law marriage, it's worth noting that California courts have recognized the concept of "palimony" under Marvin claims (based on the case of Marvin v. Marvin, 1976). This refers to financial support one partner may be required to pay the other after a non-marital relationship ends, but it's not automatic and depends on the existence of an agreement or promise between the partners.
  • Cohabitation Rights and Responsibilities: Couples living together in California should be aware that their cohabitation does not automatically grant them rights to each other's property or assets acquired during the relationship, unlike in a legal marriage. It's advisable for cohabitating partners to consider legal agreements that clarify the ownership and division of property and financial assets.

Property Rights and Cohabitation in California

So, what does this mean for property rights and financial support? In California, the division of property for couples who are not formally married is governed by principles of contract law rather than family law. This means if you're in a long-term relationship but not legally married, how property is divided upon separation depends on the agreements (written or verbal) made during the relationship.

Protecting Your Rights Without Marriage

  • Cohabitation Agreements: Similar to prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements can outline the ownership and division of property should the relationship end. It's a wise step for protecting assets and clarifying financial responsibilities.
  • Joint Purchases: For property bought together, ensure both names are on the title. This clarifies ownership and simplifies division if necessary.
  • Estate Planning: Without the automatic rights granted to spouses, estate planning becomes even more critical. Wills, trusts, and healthcare directives can ensure your partner is protected.

Couples can also register as domestic partners which gives them many of the same rights as married couples.

The Impact on Spousal Support

Since there's no common law marriage in California, there are no automatic rights to spousal support for unmarried couples. However, Palimony (a form of financial support to former partners in non-marital relationships) might be an option under certain circumstances, based on the promises made during the relationship.

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

Parental rights do not depend on marital status in California. Whether married or not, both parents have rights and responsibilities towards their children. Custody, visitation, and child support are determined based on the child's best interests, regardless of the parents' marital status.

Contact Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC

Understanding your legal rights and obligations is crucial whether you're married or in a non-marital, long-term relationship. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we're committed to providing clear, compassionate guidance to all our clients, ensuring they're fully informed about their legal standings in California. If you're facing legal questions about your relationship and property rights or need advice on protecting your interests, we're here to help. Call us today at 855-426-9111 or online to schedule a consultation. Let's navigate your legal matters together, ensuring you're prepared for whatever the future holds.

Overcoming Divorce Challenges for Stay-at-Home Moms in California

While going through a divorce is challenging for everyone, it can be particularly daunting for stay-at-home moms who have dedicated years to managing the household and caring for the children. The road to financial independence is not always clear, and the process of becoming self-supporting can seem overwhelming.

At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we understand your unique concerns and questions during this difficult time. With over 300 years of collective experience, we know the most successful strategies to secure the futures of spouses who have focused on the home during their marriage. We are ready to help you successfully navigate the transition to a new future during and after a divorce.

Understanding Your Financial Rights

First and foremost, it’s important to get a clear picture of your financial situation. In California, marital assets and debts are divided equally in divorce since ours is a community property state. For stay-at-home moms, this means you have a right to a fair share of all assets accumulated during the marriage, including property, investments, and savings, regardless of who earned the income that paid for the asset or whose name is on the title. It’s crucial to inventory these assets early in the divorce process to ensure that you receive what you should.

Factors That Affect Spousal Support

Spousal support, or alimony, is a pivotal consideration for stay-at-home moms going through the divorce process. When determining spousal support, several critical factors come into play, each contributing to the final decision:

  • Length of the Marriage: Typically, the duration of the marriage significantly influences the length and amount of spousal support awarded. Longer marriages may result in longer support periods.
  • Age and Health: Your age and health condition are crucial considerations. These factors can affect your ability to gain employment and support yourself, influencing the support terms.
  • Earning Potential: The court will examine both your earning potential and that of your spouse. If there's a significant disparity, spousal support can help bridge the gap, especially if you've been out of the workforce for a considerable time.
  • Contribution to the Spouse’s Career: If you've supported your spouse's education or career advancement during the marriage, this should be factored into the support calculations.
  • Custodial Responsibilities: Having primary custody of the children can affect your capacity to work full-time, which might increase the amount or duration of spousal support.
  • Marital Standard of Living: The lifestyle you and your spouse maintained during the marriage sets a benchmark for post-divorce expectations, guiding the determination of support needed to approximate that standard.

Legal Advice and Advocacy to Protect Your Interests

To ensure that property is classified and allocated correctly and that you receive an award of spousal support that is appropriate in light of your situation, it is vital to work with an attorney with the knowledge and skill to advocate the fine points of these issues. Your attorney should be prepared to:

  • Provide a comprehensive evaluation of your case, considering all factors that influence spousal support and investigating to locate and classify marital property
  • Negotiate effectively with the opposing party to reach an equitable property division and support agreement
  • Represent your interests in court, if negotiations do not result in a satisfactory agreement
  • Advise you regarding post-judgment modifications to spousal support, should your circumstances change significantly in the future

For stay-at-home moms, securing spousal support is not just about immediate financial stability, it's about ensuring a foundation for rebuilding and thriving in the next chapter of life. With the right legal support, you can achieve a spousal support order that reflects your contributions to the marriage and safeguards your future.

Child Custody and Support Considerations

For many stay-at-home moms, the lives of their children are the top priority. In California, child custody decisions are made based on the best interests of the child, with an emphasis on promoting health, safety, and welfare. As a primary caregiver, this positions you strongly in custody discussions.

Child support obligations are calculated based on income and the amount of time each parent spends with the children, ensuring that a parent with fewer resources receives consistent financial support.

Re-entering the Workforce

Re-entering the workforce after a divorce can seem overwhelming, especially after years out of the job market. It's essential to start planning for this transition early. Consider updating your skills through online courses or community college programs. Networking and seeking career counseling can also open up new opportunities. Remember, in most cases, the goal of spousal support is to assist the recipient in becoming self-sufficient, so taking proactive steps towards employment is key.

Protecting Your Emotional Well-being

Divorce can take a toll on your emotional health, especially for stay-at-home moms who may feel particularly vulnerable during this time. It’s wise to seek support from a professional therapist. Joining a support group for divorced individuals can also provide comfort and advice from those who have been through similar experiences.

Planning for the Future

Looking ahead, it’s vital to plan for your long-term future. This includes understanding your budget post-divorce, saving for retirement, and ensuring you have health insurance coverage. Creating a new financial plan with these elements in mind will help secure your financial independence and well-being.

Contact Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC

Divorce can seem like a tough mountain to climb for stay-at-home moms facing uncertain futures. Remember, you’re not alone. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, we’re committed to supporting you through every step of this process. If you’re contemplating divorce in California, call us today at 855-426-9111 or online to schedule a confidential consultation. Together, we’ll work to protect your rights and lay the foundation for a brighter future.

How Long Will Alimony Last In California?

Alimony, which is referred to in California statutes as spousal support, is money the court orders one spouse to pay to another during or after a divorce. Payments can also be ordered among domestic partners, in which case it’s known as domestic partner support. A court can also spousal support in a legal separation or if there is a domestic violence restraining order in place.

So when the court orders alimony, when do the payments stop? There are a variety of factors that affect the answer, so let’s take a look.

Is the Case Still Going On?

When a legal case such as a divorce is not yet final, then support that is ordered is temporary. A spouse or partner can ask for support as soon as the case is filed. The purpose of this type of support is to assist in enabling the spouse or partner to continue to maintain the same lifestyle as they enjoyed before the separation or domestic violence incident.

This type of support ends when the case is finalized.

Long-Term Support

Support ordered for a spouse or domestic partner after the conclusion of a case is referred to as long-term support or sometimes permanent support. Long-term alimony is designed to give a spouse who is at a financial disadvantage compared to the other spouse the opportunity to become self-supporting “within a reasonable period of time.”

Section 4320 of the California Family Code defines a “reasonable period” as half the length of the marriage, if the marriage lasted less than ten years. For longer marriages, the law does not create an assumption about the duration of payments. In either situation, the statute specifies that the court has discretion to order alimony obligations to be set for a longer or shorter the guidelines, depending on the facts of the case. These include:

  • The marketable skills of the party receiving support
  • The extent to which the receiving party’s earning capacity was impaired by periods when they were not working in order to support the home
  • Whether the receiving party’s ability to work is affected by the need to care for dependent children
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • Any documented history of domestic violence
  • The extent to which the receiving party contributed to the career advancement of the paying partner
  • Age and health of both partners

In addition to these and other factors listed in the statute, the court can also consider additional issues brought to their attention. If you are seeking or being asked to pay support, it is critical to ensure that you provide your attorney with all information that could potentially affect your need for or ability to pay support.

So, when a partner has shown that they need support, the starting assumption may be that support can last for up to half as long as the couple was married or in a domestic partnership. However, if you can present evidence to demonstrate why it should be longer or shorter, the duration can be changed substantially. Presentation of evidence is vital.

When Alimony Automatically Ends

Parties can agree about how long support obligations should continue, or the court can establish the end date. However, alimony payments can terminate earlier in certain situations.

For instance, support obligations terminate if the receiving party remarries or if either party dies. The law allows for the establishment of an annuity or other provision to continue support payments if the payor should die while the receiving party still needs support.)

Requesting a Modification or Termination Due to Change in Circumstances

If a party receiving alimony is cohabiting with a new partner, that establishes a rebuttable presumption that the receiving party has a decreased need for support. The party paying support can ask the court to modify or terminate alimony obligations.

Other circumstances that substantially affect the paying partner’s ability to pay or the receiving partner’s need for support could also justify a modification or end of support. However, it is important to receive approval from the court before making any changes, because prior obligations remain in force until changed by a new court order.

Work with an Attorney Prepared to Fight for Your Goals for Alimony

The court is supposed to establish alimony terms that are fair and reasonable for both parties, but sometimes they only see one side of the picture. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our experienced family law attorneys know how to ensure that the court sees and considers the factors that support your goals for alimony. For help establishing, modifying, or terminating obligations, contact our team today.

How Does Cohabitation or Remarriage Affect Alimony?

If you are paying or receiving alimony in California, you need to understand how payment obligations can be affected by a new relationship. The impact is not always easy to determine, depending on the circumstances. When either partner remarries, California law is pretty straightforward, but cohabitation situations often leave considerable room for interpretation.

An experienced family law attorney can assess how the laws apply in your particular situation. However, we can share some general guidelines to keep in mind.

When a Former Spouse Remarries

If what California law refers to as the “supported party”--the former spouse receiving alimony—gets remarried, then the law is clear. The obligation to pay alimony is terminated, unless the parties have a written agreement that says otherwise.

The “supporting party”—the former spouse that has been paying alimony–does not even need to petition the court for authorization to discontinue support payments. The termination is automatic.

The law is similarly clear when it comes to what happens if the spouse paying alimony remarries. Even if the new marriage increases the paying spouse’s household income, the court cannot consider that added income when assessing alimony amounts or determining whether alimony should be modified. The court also cannot consider the income of a cohabiting partner of the paying spouse. If the payor has a new relationship, that does not affect the support obligations.

Cohabitation of a Supported Spouse Opens the Door to Modification

In some states, spousal support obligations end if a receiving spouse moves in with a new partner. California law is a little more vague on the subject. The lack of a rigid rule can allow an attorney to present persuasive arguments to support your position on the issue.

The California statute addressing the subject says that when a supported party is “cohabiting with a nonmarital partner,” that creates a rebuttable presumption of a decreased need for spousal support. In other words, if a spouse receiving alimony starts living with a new partner, the spouse who is paying support can ask the court to modify or terminate support obligations, and the spouse who has been receiving support has the burden of proving that they still need it. When evidence of cohabitation is presented, the court will presume that the supported spouse doesn’t have as much of a need for support, so it is up to that spouse to prove otherwise.

If the parties have a written agreement requiring support to continue regardless of cohabitation, then that agreement overrides the presumption in the law, and support obligations will continue. But otherwise, there can be a tremendous disagreement about whether the supported spouse is truly cohabiting with a partner and whether the change in living situation has truly decreased the need for support.

What Does Cohabitation Mean?

There is no specific definition of what it means to cohabit with a nonmarital partner. The statute, Section 4323 of the California Family Code, specifies that a partner does not have to profess to be a spouse to be a cohabiting partner. The partners don’t need to pretend or act like they are married. However, courts have generally held that cohabitation requires a shared address and a certain degree of financial interdependence. Regularly spending the night together would probably not be sufficient.

But if you can show that an alimony recipient has been receiving financial support from a new partner and that the partners have been making purchases together, that can be evidence indicating cohabitation and a reduction in the need for alimony. Generally it is the reduction in expenses caused by shared housing, rather than income provided by the new partner, that would constitute a change in circumstances justifying the modification or termination of spousal support.

How to Handle a Request for Modification

Unlike the situation when a supported spouse remarries, termination or reduction of support is not automatic if the receiving spouse is cohabitating with a new partner. The party paying support must file a petition in court to modify support obligations. It will be necessary to present evidence to show a change in circumstances that justified modification. Showing that a supported spouse is cohabitating is part of that change, but it is also important to show why the need for support has decreased.

If you are receiving alimony and your former spouse petitions the court for a reduction or termination of your support payments, you need to prepare evidence to demonstrate why your circumstances still justify alimony. In either situation, it is very helpful to work with an attorney who understands the arguments courts find persuasive.

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC Protects Your Interests in Alimony Determinations

Decisions regarding alimony are based on the unique facts and arguments presented in each case. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our Certified Family Law Specialists and associates have over 300 years of combined experience helping clients achieve beneficial results in alimony determinations and other family law matters. We invite you to schedule a confidential consultation to learn how we can help you reach your objectives for spousal support.

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC and Dennis M. Sandoval, APLC Announce Merger

Two established and highly trusted firms combine to offer clients a full range of Family Law and Estate Planning services

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, a prominent Southern California Family Law firm with 18 attorneys and seven locations across the Inland Empire, San Diego and Orange County, and Dennis M. Sandoval, APLC, a preeminent Estate Planning, Elder Law, Tax Law, and Probate firm in the region for 30 years, have announced plans to merge effective January 2, 2020.

Moving forward, Sandoval’s firm will operate under the name Sandoval Legacy Group, a division of Holstrom, Block & Parke.

Clients now enjoy a wide range of legal services and representation under one roof. The merger provides both firms with significantly enhanced resources, and furthers the shared goal of securing the best possible outcomes for clients of both firms.

“Sandoval’s core values and culture are well-aligned with our commitment to offering clients the highest level of service and representation, as well as a shared dedication to community service,” said Dayn A. Holstrom, Managing Partner of Holstrom, Block & Parke. “There are numerous points at which Family Law intersects with the areas of law where Sandoval has expertise, and we are now well-positioned to offer tremendous value in those areas.”

About Dennis M. Sandoval

Dennis M. Sandoval is the only attorney in California who has certifications in the three areas of Estate Planning, Elder Law and Taxation. He received his Certified Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law Specialist designation from the California Bar Board of Legal Specialization in 1998 and his Certified Taxation Law Specialist designation in 2000 from the same organization. He is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), a designation he proudly received in 2004 after meeting all the requirements established by the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) and the American Bar Association. He is an Accredited Estate Planner (AEP) from the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. Joining Holstrom, Block and Parke with Sandoval are attorneys David Hamilton and Dev Patel.

About Holstrom, Block & Parke

With 300+ years of combined experience, Holstrom, Block & Parke is comprised of 18 attorneys, including three Certified Family Law Specialists (CFLS) and one Certified Appellate Law Specialist (CALS). The firm offers unmatched resources across all levels of Family Law, Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration cases. Recognized and trusted in the legal community with providing a superior level of service, Holstrom, Block & Parke attorneys have been honored as Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, Top 40 under 40, Top Women Attorneys, AVVO rating of 10/10-Superb, and many other accolades. At the direction of Mr. Holstrom, the firm continues to grow, serving the Southern California areas of Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties with an unparalleled measure of excellence.

Call (855) 939-9111 Now for a Free Phone Consultation.

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Love Your Lawyer Day: Help Us Spread the Love!

Practicing Family Law is tough. All of us came into this profession to help people.

We work hard so that our clients can restore a sense of normalcy, and that they may progress to better and brighter place.

The first Friday of November is designated by the American Lawyers Public Image Association (ALPIA) as Love Your Lawyer Day.

It’s a day for clients to express gratitude for positive impact that legal professionals have made on their lives.

Everyone can use a little love. Attorneys are no different.

The ALPIA created #LoveYourLawyerDay as the official hashtag to post pics, videos, and comments across social mediate platforms.

If you know someone working in legal services, tell them how important they are to the community they serve.

Help Us Spread the Love!

As John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” The love that attorneys make is best encapsulated in pro bono work that they perform.

Do you know a veteran in need of legal counsel regarding a family law issue? Share this information with them!

Pro Bono Counsel for Veterans

Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC partners with Veterans Legal Institute to provide free legal advice for Veterans regarding Family Law issues.

Veterans are invited free access to legal counsel and assistance with completing necessary forms for matters related to:

  • Child Custody and Visitation
  • Summary Divorce
  • Spousal Support and Child Support

Sessions are available between 1-3 p.m. Friday, November 22nd at the Veterans Legal Institute, 2100 N. Broadway, Suite 209, Santa Ana, CA. You must schedule in advance. Contact Katie Binkley (714) 852-3492 to RSVP.

Next Steps

Send your tweets and make your Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat posts to all the lawyers you love.

If you’re really feeling the love, leave a Yelp review describing the positive impact that your attorney’s representation had on your life.

Call (855) 939-9111 Now for a Free Phone Consultation.

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