Media outlets reported that actor Kelsey Grammer, who is embroiled in a contentious divorce with his third wife Camille Grammer, put together a proposal in which the parties would live in separate parts of the country (he in Chicago, Camille in California) and they would each have primary custody of one of their two children; splitting up the siblings.
While not entirely unprecedented, it would be difficult for Mr. Grammer to convince a judge or custody evaluator that it would serve the children’s best interests to split up their two children and have each live thousands of miles apart.
In fact, based on the appellate court decision in Marriage of Williams (2001) 88 Cal. App. 4th 808, Mr. Grammer is unlikely to prevail. In Williams, the court held that California policy affords strong protection to sibling relationships and that—absent compelling circumstances, such as extraordinary emotional, medical or educational needs—an order separating siblings between custodial households ordinarily will be reversed as detrimental to the children’s best interest.
While Mr. Grammer’s arguments in favor of splitting up the siblings are not known, he would face a difficult challenge in this instance.
The Certified Family Law Specialists at Lonich & Patton have decades of experience handling complex and heavily disputed custody issues. If you are in the midst of a custody dispute involving multiple children or if one might arise soon and you are concerned about the possibility of your children being separated from his or her siblings, please contact the Certified Family Law Specialists at Lonich & Patton, who can provide you with an in depth analysis of your issues.
The California Appellate Court recently upheld a spousal support waiver in a pre-nuptial agreement despite the fact that, under current California Law, the provision should be struck down as invalid.
In the May 24th, 2011 appellate court decision of In re Marriage of Howell, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District enforced a future spousal support waiver of a pre-nuptial agreement signed in 1999; despite the fact that under California Family Code section 1612, the provision should have been invalidated. Family Code section 1612, which is part of the Uniform Pre-Marital Agreement Act, provides in subsection (c) that:
Any provision in a premarital agreement regarding spousal support, including, but not limited to, a waiver of it, is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement of the spousal support provision is sought was not represented by independent counsel at the time the agreement containing the provision was signed, or if the provision regarding spousal support is unconscionable at the time of enforcement.
Mrs. Howell signed the pre-nuptial agreement, containing a waiver of future alimony, at her husband’s request. At the time, she could not afford to hire an attorney to review the agreement and her husband (then, fiancé) did not offer to pay the cost for her to consult with an attorney.
At the trial court level, the court invalidated the spousal support waiver finding that Family Code section 1612, enacted in 2002, did in fact apply retroactively to the agreement, fully executed in 2002. On appeal, the appellate court did a full analysis of whether the statute should be applied retroactively to a 1999 agreement. Finding that it constituted a “material change in the law” and that it was not intended to apply retroactively, the appellate court ruled that the trial court erred in retroactively applying the statute and upheld the validity of the spousal support waiver.
If you have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in place, if you are contemplating having one put together, or if you have been asked to sign a pre-nuptial agreement and you are concerned about how the Howell decision and Family Code Section 1612 may affect your rights, the Certified Family Law Specialists at Lonich and Patton have substantial experience in handling pre-nuptial agreements. Please call our office to schedule a free half hour consultation.