If You Think a Child Can Have Only Two Parents, Think Again.

Posted January 31, 2014 in Family Law by Michael Lonich.

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January 31, 2014
If You Think a Child Can Have Only Two Parents, Think Again.
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As of the first of this year, some new and exciting changes have occurred in California family law.  Last fall, Governor Brown signed bill SB 274* which allows children to have more than one parent.  The court will grant parentage to multiple parents where it is determined that having only two parents will be detrimental to the child.

The law, now part of the California Family Code, directs the family court to consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the harm of removing a child from a stable home with a parent who has fulfilled the child’s physical needs and the child’s psychological needs for care and affection, and who has assumed that role for a substantial period of time. For example, this would allow a child to remain legally connected to both of his natural parents while creating a new legal connection between him and his aunt who has cared for him for a significant amount of time.

With this law, the court can allocate time and custody of the child among all of the legal parents. As always, what is in the best interests of the child is what controls the court’s decisions. This is the same for child support. In the end, Governor Brown acknowledged that in some situations, a child can benefit from having the care and support of three or even four parents. This is a major departure from previous laws which only allowed each child to have two legal parents. Now, there are more people who will have standing in family law proceedings in regards to certain children.

If you are interested in petitioning for parentage of a child, or are dealing with other family law issues, having a knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable. If you have any questions about your divorce or custody issues, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Lonich & Patton’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and are happy to offer you a free half-hour consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

 

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/oct/04/local/la-me-brown-bills-parents-20131005

*SB 274 is now operative as of 1/1/14.

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What to Prepare Before Meeting Your Estate Planning Attorney

Posted January 30, 2014 in Estate Planning by Michael Lonich.

So you’ve decided to set up an appointment with a trusted estate planning attorney – now what? There are a few things you should consider before visiting your estate planning attorney in order to make best use of your initial consultation. They include:

  1. Know your family members.
    • Though it sounds rather obvious, really know your family: your spouse’s Social Security number, your children from your previous marriages’ birthdays, when your former marriage ended, your ex-spouse’s children, and so on.
    • Do you have a prenuptial or post nuptial agreement? If so, you’ll want to bring a copy with you to your appointment.
  2. Know your assets and debts.
    • Real property, stocks, bonds, and savings accounts.
    • Do you own a business? Know what type of business you own (sole proprietorship, limited partnership, limited liability company, or corporation) and any agreements or licenses associated with the business.
    • Have an idea of the value of your personal property: automobiles, boats, planes, artwork, jewelry, coins, and other valuable items.
    • Assets include retirement benefits and life insurance.
  3. Know who you intend to be your beneficiaries.
    • This is arguably the main purpose for meeting with your estate planning attorney – so the attorney can help you put in writing who you’d like to have your property when you pass. Know who you want to take your real property, your personal property, your cash, your stock options, and so on.
    • Conversely, know who you don’t want to take your property. When your will is probated, you want no room for question as to whether a beneficiary was not included because you forgot about them (and you actually meant for them to inherit certain property) or rather, the beneficiary was rightfully not included because you intended to leave that individual out.
  4. Know who you want your trustee, child guardians, property agent, and healthcare agents to be.
    • This is one of the most important components of estate planning. These individuals will help execute your will or help make end-of-life decisions for you should you become unable to do so. Take good care in who you choose to appoint to these positions, and be sure to advise them of their role so they can best prepare themselves and know what choices to make if and when they need to make them for you.

Estate planning is a highly complex area of law. If you are interested in creating an estate plan or have any questions regarding your current estate plan, please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich & Patton for further information. The attorneys at Lonich & Patton have decades of experience handling complex estate planning matters, including  living wills and trusts, and we are happy to offer you a free consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Olympic Skier Reaches Custody Agreement

Posted January 23, 2014 in Family Law by Gina Policastri.

As the world gears up to watch the Winter Olympics, the 10-month-old little boy caught in the middle of the divorce between Olympic skier Bode Miller and ex-girlfriend Sara McKenna will finally have some peace in his short, young life — for the time being, at least.  Miller and his former flame have agreed to share custody with their infant son for the next few months, calming a custody battle over him as Miller prepares to head for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Last year, Miller and McKenna had a brief relationship in Southern California, where Miller still resides. Miller filed California court papers claiming paternity of the baby in November 2012, when McKenna was still pregnant. The following month, McKenna moved to New York to attend Columbia University to complete her bachelor’s degree. Then, in February 2013, she gave birth to the little boy – and conveniently filed for custody in New York. Miller accused McKenna of moving while seven months pregnant to relocate to a state with laws that favor mothers. McKenna argues that she moved to Manhattan because she did not want to give up her dream of attending the Ivy League university.

Though lauded by women’s rights activists who believe McKenna had been penalized by the New York judge’s decision, McKenna was criticized by a New York City family court referee for leaving California before co-parenting details could be worked out. The Court Attorney Referee called McKenna’s move “irresponsible” and “reprehensible,” and sent the case back to California, where a judge gave Miller and his new wife custody of the baby boy. McKenna’s attorneys appealed the decision, claiming McKenna’s rights had been violated and that jurisdiction belongs in New York because the baby, having been born in New York, was a resident of the state. As such, the case was kicked back to the same New York courtroom, where Miller and McKenna were able to agree to temporary shared custody.

Though the arrangement reached between Miller and McKenna is only temporary, attorneys for both sides are hopeful the dispute will be resolved. The arrangement will also allow Miller to take his son to the February Olympics in Sochi. For his part, Miller is “psyched about the cooperative plan” and for hers, McKenna “think[s] we’re on the right road.”*

If you’re considering a cross-country move during a custody dispute, be sure to first consult an experienced family law attorney. Having a knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable. If you have any questions about your divorce or custody issues, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Lonich & Patton’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and are happy to offer you a free half-hour consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

*http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bode-miller-ex-girlfriend-reach-custody-agreement-on-son/

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Independent Evaluations: Could Denying Your Child Junk Food Affect Child Custody?

Posted January 21, 2014 in Family Law by Gina Policastri.

Shockingly, it could. A recent Associated Press article* highlighted the scary truth about third-party evaluations and their effect on child custody disputes. In the case of the Schorr family, Mr. Schorr had a disagreement with his 5-year-old son over where they would eat dinner. The 5-year-old wanted McDonald’s, but Mr. Schorr felt that his son was eating too much junk food. Naturally, a tantrum ensued and Mr. Schorr issued an ultimatum—no McDonald’s or no dinner—period. The stubborn child decided he would rather not eat than choose a healthier alternative, so Mr. Schorr took the child home to his mother who had physical custody of the child.

In response to this incident, the child’s mother alerted the court of the disagreement. In turn, the court hired a psychologist to evaluate the situation, and that psychologist determined that Mr. Schorr was incapable of caring for his 5-year-old son. As a result, the psychologist urged the court to curtail Mr. Schorr’s visitation with his son, the court concurred. As a father, Mr. Schorr had no idea that denying his son junk food could eliminate his visitation time with his son.

In family law, it is important to know that persons other than the judge can have a significant impact on your case. In the event of a dispute, the court can appoint psychologists and other professionals to determine what is in the child’s best interests. The court will give deference to these court-appointed experts.

It is therefore very important to make a good impression with the evaluator. If you do not obtain a favorable recommendation, you can hire your own expert to rebut the recommendations. In the case of Mr. Schorr, he ultimately filed a defamation lawsuit against the court-appointed expert and likely brought in his own psychologist to dispute the damaging determination.

The family lawyers at Lonich & Patton, LLP have a wealth of experience in child custody cases and know a number of qualified evaluators that could make a difference in your case. If you have any questions about child custody, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex Family Law proceedings and are happy to offer you a free consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

*Jennifer Peltz, “Suit: NY dad criticized for denying son McDonald’s”, Associated Press, Nov. 8, 2013.

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Could Your Email Settings Land You In Jail?

Posted January 15, 2014 in Family Law by Lonich and Patton.

In Thomas Gagnon’s case, it sure can – and did. Unbeknownst to him, Mr. Gagnon’s ex-girlfriend received an email from him inviting her to join Google+. Unfortunately, Mr. Gagnon’s ex-girlfriend had a restraining order against him at the time. When she received the email, she complained to the authorities that Mr. Gagnon had violated his restraining order. Authorities agreed and arrested Mr. Gagnon, who was jailed before being released on bail.

However, Mr. Gagnon insists he never sent the email – he never authorized the email invitation, never consented to the invitation, and quite frankly, “has no idea how the invitation got sent.”*

According to Internet expert Bradley Shear of Bethesda, Md., Mr. Gagnon could very well be telling the truth. Google+ allows users to aggregate their contacts into various groups, and moving between groups can trigger Gmail to send automatic invitations to contacts to join Google+. Although Google could face serious liability for sending invitations without a user’s permission, the consequences can be very real (and immediate, like in Mr. Gagnon’s case) for the uneducated user.

Moral of the story: Consistently check your Internet settings and learn how certain invitations can be triggered. In this day and age, you can never be too careful with your privacy settings – especially when you’re in the middle of a domestic dispute or divorce.

If you are involved in a domestic dispute or divorce, having a knowledgeable, experienced divorce attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable. If you have any questions about your divorce or related issues, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Lonich & Patton’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex Family Law proceedings and are happy to offer you a free half-hour consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

*http://gma.yahoo.com/man-jailed-gmail-invite-ex-girlfriend-111716107–abc-news-topstories.html

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