Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law
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Ventura California Family Law Blog

Standing up for a loved one dealing with elder abuse at home

Too many people mistakenly assume that because their loved one stays with family or a spouse that they won't face elder abuse as they age. While people in nursing homes do have to deal with difficult scenarios, the same is true of some people who live at home with loved ones.

The strain of caring for someone as they age can bring out the worst in some people. They may lose their patience, become angry or begin to resent their role as caregiver. Caregivers who are not fully invested in the safety and well-being of their charges may become physically, emotionally or verbally abusive.

Divorce and the digital footprint

Social media is now part of the fabric of how we engage and interact with others. Regardless of how one feels about its many pluses and minuses, that information is playing an ever increasing role in filing for divorce. Now posts of dinners out with the family, sporting triumphs, vacations, and other important activities are documented on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms.

Information that is shared in a open forum, such as a Tinder profile (dating site) is readily available for insight into the life of a separated spouse and thus have bearing on custody, parental plans and engagement with the family. It can also provide insight into spending habits, mental health issues like addiction or a parent's work or social circle.

Dealing with Depressed Parties Requires Special Measures

Our firm, Hartley, Maxwell, Castellano and Lamas, deals almost exclusively with cases arising in the Family Code, with some cases and causes of action involving the Probate Code, where the two codes intersect.

Most of the cases we see, therefore, are intensely personal and all involve an element of sadness: loss of a marriage, loss of a spouse, child custody disputes, domestic violence disputes, disputes for custody of abused elders, and so on. While we also do a lot of work on complicated cases involving support and distribution of property, those more business-like issues grow out of a divorce proceeding for the most part - and that, too, can be distressing to the parties. Divorce involving a business or house both parties have put their lives into for many years, raises frightening questions for the parties: Who gets the business? The house? Will that person be able to buy out the other party's interest in the business? In the house? And so on.

Prenuptial agreements can make sense for students

It is common knowledge that couples usually wait longer these days before getting married. Some will even be in a long-term committed relationship but have no interest in marriage. However, love is unpredictable and others find themselves making marriage plans while in undergraduate or graduate school. If this is the case, it can make sense to consider a prenuptial agreement even when the couple are still in school and do not have full-time employment.

High net worth couples or those who have been married before typically use prenuptial agreements. In cases such as these, there may be custody arrangements involving children, estate plans or other financial tools in place. Sometimes one spouse will have a substantially higher income that he or she wishes to insulate with a prenup.

There are complications to bankruptcy during or after divorce

Bankruptcy, by its very nature, is difficult for many people to navigate. It requires complex legal and financial paperwork, as well as excellent organizational skills. The requirements often intimidate those who could benefit from the protections of bankruptcy.

Filing bankruptcy after a divorce may be even more difficult or confusing. There are many factors that can change during a divorce that will influence the outcome and the accuracy of your bankruptcy proceedings. Familiarizing yourself with some of these unusual complications can help you avoid issues when you seek the discharge you need to move on in life.

Federal government changes definition of domestic violence

The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women quietly made changes to its definition of domestic violence last April. Under the Trump Administration, it has rolled back far-reaching rules instituted by the Obama Administration that were vetted by domestic violence experts. The new approach defines domestic violence primarily as a criminal concern, either as a felony or as a misdemeanor that involves physical assault or sexual violence. The individual charged can be a spouse, person living under the same roof, intimate partner or someone with whom the victim shares children. The charges can apply to either an adult or a minor.

A black and white definition

Filing for divorce using mediation

Mediation is notable for being an alternative form of dispute resolution. It is a form of collaborative law that usually avoids courtroom litigation, which in turn reduces the stress upon the family, the expense of the divorce process and can even provide a format for parents who must continue to work together while raising children. It is also appealing to some for being more private because records of court litigation are generally available to the public.

The circumstances of each case are different, so there are actually several different forms of mediation. Each has its own strengths that can provide the best option to the two parties trying to resolve their dispute in a non-confrontational but equitable manner.

Know when to file for a modification of child support

The "right" amount of child support can change over the years. A job loss, a promotion, medical expenses and more children are just a few reasons why a previously reasonable sum may no longer be fair to all parties.

Fortunately, California courts recognize that a change in circumstances may justify changing a child support order. Too often, however, parents delay in requesting this change. This hesitancy can lead to significant back payments owed or difficult financial circumstances for the custodial parent.

World's richest man announces divorce

Some in the media practically shouted the headline that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was getting divorced. That in itself was not the issue, it was the fact Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos did not have a prenup despite the fact that Bezos is worth an estimated 137.1 billion dollars. In a gesture that may be seen as noble by some and foolish by others, the couple's divorce is an amicable one and they are splitting the estate in half.

The couple is actually adhering to the community property law in Washington State, which like California stipulates that marital assets be divided equally. Financial experts put MacKenzie's divorce settlement at $66 billion. 

Non-working spouses can seek spousal support in California

Money and financial obligations to your spouse are often major points of contention in a divorce. You and your spouse likely don't agree about what is fair for both of you when you try to find terms for ending your marriage.

Issues like spousal support, previously called alimony, are often hotly contested by both spouses. California does still order spousal support in divorces, but they handle it differently than they used to. Dependent spouses may have a claim for support, but, in most cases, they will not receive spousal support indefinitely.

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Hartley, Maxwell, & Castellano Attorneys at Law