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How is child custody determined in California?

Making decisions about child custody is a crucial aspect of divorce proceedings in California, and of course it is also critical for parents who never married. At the heart of it, the law focuses on what is in the best interests of the child. 

If parents can't agree on a custody plan, the California courts will step in. When making these determinations, they consider various factors to ensure the child's well-being. These factors are important to keep in mind whether you are devising your own plan or allowing the judge to make the decisions.


Types of Child Custody in California

In California, child custody arrangements can vary widely based on the circumstances of the parents. The state categorizes child custody into two primary types, physical and legal. These types of custody can be shared or issued solely to one parent.

1.Physical Custody: This type of custody addresses the child's living arrangements. When a parent has physical custody, it means the child resides with them for a specific duration, whether it's for a few days a week, alternate weeks, or even longer intervals.

  • Joint Physical Custody: Under this arrangement, the child lives with both parents, splitting time between their residences. The split doesn't necessarily have to be equal, but both parents have significant periods with the child.
  • Sole Physical Custody: Here, the child primarily lives with one parent. The other parent may or may not have visitation rights. In situations where they do, it's generally outlined in a visitation schedule.


2.Legal Custody: This pertains to the rights and responsibilities of making significant decisions about the child's upbringing, such as their education, medical care, religious instruction, and other welfare-related choices.

  • Joint Legal Custody: Both parents share the responsibility of making major life decisions for the child. Even if the child lives with one parent more than the other, both parents have an equal say in these crucial choices.
  • Sole Legal Custody: In this scenario, only one parent has the authority to make major decisions about the child's life. This could be due to various reasons, such as one parent being deemed unfit or the parents being unable to make joint decisions due to high levels of conflict.

Navigating the nuances of child custody in California requires a sound understanding of the state's laws and a clear sense of what's best for the child. 


Factors Influencing Custody Decisions in California

In child custody cases in California, the overarching principle is the child's best interests. Legally, this is not a vague or arbitrary concept that it might first appear to be. Over time, the standard has been fleshed out to include a consideration of several critical factors including:

  • The Child's Age and Health: Younger kids may need stable routines. Health needs can influence which parent is better equipped to provide care.
  • Emotional Ties: Courts consider which parent has a deeper emotional bond with the child and who has been more involved in daily life.
  • Parental Capabilities: Beyond love, this encompasses financial stability, a safe environment, and the parent's physical and mental health.
  • History of Violence or Abuse: A record of abuse can heavily influence custody decisions, prioritizing the child's safety above all.
  • The Child's Connection to Their Environment: Uprooting a child from familiar settings like school or community can impact custody outcomes.

It’s vitally important to ensure that your attorney has all the information regarding factors that weigh in your favor. For instance, if you’re the parent who puts the child to bed every night, that detail can be very important. 


Considering the Child's Preferences

In California, if a child is mature enough (typically around 12 years or older) and wishes to express a preference in custody, the court might consider their opinion. However, it's only one of many factors, and the child's preference does not guarantee a specific outcome.


Modification of Child Custody in California

Living circumstances evolve, and situations may arise post-divorce that necessitate a change in the custody agreement. In California, you can request a modification if there's a significant change in circumstances, like a relocation or a change in the child's needs. It's crucial to approach these modification requests with the guidance of knowledgeable attorneys to ensure the child's best interests remain paramount.


Ensuring the Well-being of Your Child with Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC

Child custody decisions are among the most emotionally charged in the divorce process. We understand that you want the best for your child, and our team at Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, is here to support you every step of the way. 

If you're navigating this complex area, lean on a knowledgeable team to guide you. Call Holstrom, Block & Parke APLC today at (844) 237-5791 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a supportive child custody attorney in California.

How is Child Support Calculated in California?

When going through a divorce, understanding how child support is determined becomes a critical aspect for both parents. In California, child support aims to ensure that children receive financial assistance that aligns with their parents' incomes, the family’s standard of living, and the child’s specific needs. 

Let's delve into the factors that are typically considered when calculating child support in the Golden State.


Factors Influencing Child Support

Several elements affect the amount of child support ordered. In California, these can include:

  1. Each parent's gross income
  2. The time each parent spends with the child
  3. The number of children covered by the support order
  4. Health insurance expenses
  5. Mandatory payroll deductions
  6. The child's educational and health needs

Understanding these factors can better prepare parents for the possible outcomes in child support decisions. At Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC, our team can provide insights tailored to your specific situation.


California's Child Support Guideline Formula

California's approach to child support is methodical yet designed with the best interests of the child in mind. The state's guideline formula generally plays a large role in the process, but judges can deviate from the results provided by applying formulas in order to account for additional factors. 

Here’s a deeper look:

  1. Income Consideration: Not only does this formula take into account the gross incomes of both parents, but it considers any potential tax deductions, bonuses, and overtime. It also covers income from investments and other sources. It's an exhaustive review designed to reflect each parent's actual financial capabilities.
  2. Time-share with the Child: How much time the child spends with each parent can significantly influence the support amount. The rationale is simple: the more time a parent spends with the child, the more direct expenses they likely incur and the more they will need assistance from the other parent.
  3. Special Needs and Expenses: The formula can also adjust for children with special needs or extraordinary medical or educational expenses. 

While the state provides tools to help with this calculation, nothing replaces the insight and understanding that an experienced legal team can provide. We dive into every detail, ensuring the calculation aligns with your family's reality.


Potential Changes and Adjustments

Life is ever-changing, and circumstances can shift. In California, parents can request a review of the child support amount if there are significant changes in income, living situations, or the needs of the child. Staying proactive and knowledgeable about these potential adjustments can help ensure the best outcome for your child.


Avoiding Common Pitfalls

While the child support calculation process is designed to be fair, there are potential pitfalls parents might encounter. These can include inaccurate reporting of income, misunderstanding the time-share calculation, or not considering all allowable deductions. 

In some cases, parents have been known to deliberately reduce their income to lower their child support obligations. When this is brought to the court’s attention, support obligations may be adjusted to provide what that parent should be providing. Our team knows the potential problems to keep alert for so we can help ensure the right outcome.


California Child Support Tools and Resources

California's dedication to ensuring the well-being of children post-divorce is evident in the wealth of tools and resources it provides to assist parents in understanding child support.

  1. Child Support Calculators: These online tools, available through California's Child Support Services website, offer an initial estimate of potential child support payments. By entering specifics like income, time spent with the child, and certain expenses, parents can get an approximate idea of what might be expected.
  2. Informational Workshops: Various counties in California occasionally hold workshops designed to help parents understand the nuances of child support, from how amounts are determined to rights and responsibilities.
  3. Guideline Books and Materials: For those who prefer a deep dive, the state offers comprehensive guideline books. These materials break down the factors considered in child support calculations, offering insights into the methodology used.
  4. Local Child Support Agencies (LCSAs): Spread throughout California, LCSAs provide a range of services. They can assist in establishing paternity, obtaining child support orders, and enforcing support obligations.
  5. Online Account Services: For parents already part of the child support system, online portals enable them to track payments, view case information, and communicate directly with caseworkers.

While these resources are invaluable, the complexities of individual situations often require a personalized touch. An online calculator, for instance, can't account for every nuance of a family's dynamics or financial intricacies. This is where assistance from the seasoned team from Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC can be essential. We don’t just help you navigate the system; we ensure that the system works for you, considering every unique detail of your situation. With our guidance, you'll achieve not only clarity but confidence in the decisions you make for your child's future.


Contact Holstrom, Block & Parke for Help with Child Support

Divorcing in California, especially when children are involved, brings its unique challenges. If you're facing the complexities of child support calculations, you deserve knowledgeable guidance. Reach out to Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC today at (844) 237-5791 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a dedicated lawyer in Southern California.

What Is Marital Property And How Is It Divided In A Divorce In California?

When you get married in California, both spouses join their resources. However, some of their property is still considered separate property while other property is jointly-owned marital property, also known as community property.  

Which is which? There are some general rules, and also some exceptions. As a basic rule, marital property refers to any asset or debt either spouse accumulates during the time they are married. Everything from homes and cars to salary, pensions, and bank accounts can be considered marital property if it's obtained during marriage. Because California is a community property state, marital property is typically divided equally in divorce. 

But there are exceptions to the general rules regarding both the classification of property and the division of property, so it’s important to have your attorney consider all the details about how and when you acquired property and how it was used. 


Distinction Between Marital and Separate Property

Understanding the difference between marital and separate property is crucial when considering a divorce in California. At the core, assets acquired by either spouse before the marriage are typically viewed as separate property. This could be an inheritance, a personal savings account, or even a piece of real estate. Separate property is kept by the spouse who owns it and is not subject to division during the divorce process. 

However, things aren’t always black and white. The classification becomes complex when separate property gets mixed or "commingled" with marital assets. For instance, imagine you had a savings account before marriage. If during the marriage, you added funds earned while married into this account, that action blurs the distinction between separate and marital property. This separate property bank account might now be seen as community property, especially if both spouses accessed or used those funds. This is referred to as “commingling." It's a blending of separate and marital assets, often leading to complex legal considerations during a divorce.


The Intricacies of Business and Marital Property

Bringing a business into a marital equation can make property distinctions even trickier. If you began a venture before getting married, you might think it remains your separate property, particularly if your spouse did not work much or at all in the business. However, the nature of businesses makes them more susceptible to commingling. At least some of the value of the business may be treated as marital property unless you executed a prenuptial agreement specifying that the business would be kept as your separate property. 

To understand why, it’s helpful to consider a common example. Say you had a small startup before marriage. After marriage, you injected funds from a joint marital account to expand your operations. Your spouse, seeing the potential, also invests time, effort, and maybe even funds into it. Over time, this business grows and flourishes. 

Now, does this remain your separate property? Or has it transformed into a marital asset due to the combined efforts and investments? Even if your spouse didn’t directly help with the business at all, the support provided to the home and to your partnership can be considered as contributing to the value of the business because it allowed you to put time and effort into the enterprise. 

The lines get blurred further if  you use profits from the business (initially your separate property) to buy a family home or pay for joint vacations. The intricate combination of contributions, mixed finances, and shared efforts make businesses a particularly complex asset to allocate in divorces. Determining who gets what share or how to value each spouse’s contribution often requires nuanced legal insight.


California's Approach to Property Division

California’s sunny shores are also home to community property laws. This means that in a divorce, marital assets are usually divided right down the middle. It’s an equal distribution approach. And when a business is involved, this can require some finesse. Whether you're thinking of buying out your spouse's share or finding a mutually beneficial plan to continue operations together, you need an attorney who understands how to address all the challenges.

Although community property is typically divided 50/50, there are instances where one spouse may receive a greater share of marital property. Courts may award more to one spouse if the other has wasted marital assets, such as by spending money on an extramarital affair. Other instances of wrongdoing, such as domestic violence, can also prompt a court to award extra funds to one spouse. Spouses may also develop their own agreement providing a greater share of marital property to one or the other.

How Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC Can Help

Divorce can be challenging, especially when assets like businesses are in the mix. But you don’t have to go it alone. We're here to help you make sense of it all, ensuring that you’re informed and prepared every step of the way. 

We understand how to protect your assets and ensure you receive the full share of property you’re entitled to under California law. Reach out to Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC today at (844) 237-5791 or contact us online for a consultation with a dedicated divorce lawyer in Southern California.

Inheritance and Divorce in CA

California is a community property state that considers any property acquired during a marriage to be marital property. Does this mean that if a family member leaves you an inheritance during your marriage that it becomes marital property? What happens to your inheritance if you and your spouse divorce? At Holstrom Divorce Authority, we can help you understand inheritance and divorce in California and how the law applies to your situation.

Is an Inheritance Separate Property or Marital Property?

California makes property division during a divorce fairly simple. Any property acquired before the marriage is separate property and belongs to the sole spouse. Property acquired during the marriage is community property belonging equally to both spouses.

There are two exceptions to this rule: inherited assets and transmuted assets. If a family member gives you a gift or inheritance, those assets are yours as separate property, whether your inheritance includes cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, or other assets.

An issue of ownership arises if you commingle or transmute your inheritance assets. Commingling could include putting inheritance assets into a joint account, using marital assets to purchase a family home, or investing in stocks, real estate, or a business that you share ownership of with your spouse.

Transmutation is a legal agreement to convert some or all of your inheritance into marital funds. Once you transmute any portion of your separate property, you can’t revoke the agreement and withdraw that property from the marital assets.

Protecting Your Inheritance with a Prenuptial Agreement

If a family member leaves you an inheritance before you are married, you and your spouse can determine in a prenuptial agreement whether any investments procured with your inheritance money will become marital property. You and your soon-to-be spouse can also determine if you agree to share profits from an investment if your spouse helps you manage the investment, and what portion of the investment belongs to your spouse.

If you and your spouse are already married when you inherit money, you can outline similar decisions in a postnuptial agreement. A postnuptial agreement is the same as a prenup, but you and your spouse agree to a postnup’s terms during the marriage. Managing inheritance and divorce in California often requires multiple steps to keep your inheritance separate from marital assets.

Other Ways to Protect an Inheritance in a California Divorce

You have several options to protect your inheritance from a divorce at different stages of your marriage. Before your marriage begins, you have the option to create a prenuptial agreement. You can also avoid commingling assets by creating a separate account or a trust to store your inheritance.

During the marriage, you cannot commingle or transmute funds from your inheritance. Don’t use your separate assets to pay communal debts or to invest in community property. You can set up a separate account or trust and draw up a postnuptial agreement.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Southern California

Inheritance and divorce in California are simple concepts if managed correctly. If you’re considering a divorce and inherited property, contact an experienced divorce attorney in Southern California. Call Holstrom Divorce Authority at (844) 237-5791 today.


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.