Judge Grants Restraining Order against School-Aged Boy

Posted April 8, 2014 in Family Law by Gina Policastri.

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April 8, 2014
Judge Grants Restraining Order against School-Aged Boy
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In a potentially precedent-setting move, a father from San Francisco has asked a judge for a restraining order – against an alleged nine-year-old bully. Generally, restraining orders are routinely issued against adult abusers, stalkers, significant others, and the like. However, as most parents presumably would, Stephen Feudner wanted answers after learning his 9-year-old son told him he’d been bullied, pushed, and punched at Rolling Hills Elementary School. When the public school claimed its hands were tied and refused to help, Feudner turned to the law.

Feudner’s temporary restraining order (TRO) from a Solano County judge stipulates that the alleged bully must remain 2 yards away from his son at all times and have no contact with him whatsoever. Daryl Snedeker of the Solano County Sheriff’s Department says he’s never heard of a restraining order against a grade-school student. However, the boy’s mother points out that there is no law against filing a restraining order against a child – and she’s right.

There are different kinds of restraining orders available through the court system, and each order has different eligibility requirements. For a restraining order against a child similar to the Feudners’ situation, a Civil Harassment Restraining Order would likely be the most appropriate. Civil Harassment Restraining Orders can be filed in Santa Clara County if the filing party and the other party do not have a familial or dating relationship (married, divorced, separated, dating or used to date, live together or used to live together) or are not related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-laws).

As for the Feudners, there’s a small but possibly determinative glitch in their case: the Solano County Sheriff’s Office officials had to serve the TRO within five days for it to go into effect. However, in order to serve the TRO, officials needed the alleged bully’s first and last name and full address. As of now, the school district still remains unwilling to release the information.

Although the Feudners’ restraining order against a school-aged child is unique, temporary restraining orders are very common, particularly in domestic violence situations. If you have any questions about restraining orders or are contemplating filing one, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization) at Lonich & Patton. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer 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.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/father-files-restraining-order-year-allegedly-bullying-son/story?id=23040537

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Mediation: Because Litigation Isn’t Always The Answer

Posted April 2, 2014 in Family Law by Michael Lonich.

Divorce is rarely fun. Nevertheless, divorce and painful litigation don’t always go hand-in-hand. For many couples, divorce mediation could be the best way to dissolve your marriage, protect your children, and maintain a mature relationship with your spouse.

In family law mediation, a neutral mediator works with a divorcing couple to creatively reach an agreement on some or all of the issues in their divorce. Experienced family law mediators are typically attorneys that understand the legal landscape. A well-versed mediator can help you and your spouse reach a settlement on all aspects of your marriage—financial distribution, child custody, and even child and spousal support.

The mediator does not represent either spouse, but is instead an unbiased facilitator who uses unique strategies that will result in an agreement that meets the needs of both parties. Once all of the issues are covered, the mediator will help the parties create a marital settlement agreement to memorialize their arrangement. At this stage, each party should consult their own attorney to ensure that the agreement is fair and in each party’s best interest. Finally, the agreement is sent to the family court where the agreement will be signed off as an enforceable court order.

Here are just a few reasons why you and your spouse should consider mediating your divorce:

  • The non-adversarial aspect of mediation can help your and your ex maintain a better, more mature relationship.
  • Mediation will allow you to keep your “dirty laundry” private, while family law litigation requires parties to discuss their personal issues on the public record.
  • Because mediation doesn’t require several filings, voluminous court costs, or extensive attorney’s fees, you may be able to reduce your expenses.
  • Mediation can be much easier on children than family law litigation.
  • You and your spouse are in charge of the results of your divorce instead of a family law judge.
  • Mediation may enable you and your spouse to reach an agreement much faster than in typical litigation.

Remember, divorce does not have to involve litigation. At Lonich & Patton, we provide divorce mediation services to clients throughout the Silicon Valley. Michael E. Lonich facilitates all family law mediations handled by the firm, and he is widely regarded as one of Silicon Valley’s most effective mediators.  Michael works closely with parties to help them shape the decisions that will be drafted into the marital settlement agreement. In addition to handling divorce mediations, he has extensive experience in handling business law litigation. He draws on his business background when mediating divorce matters for business owners, executives, foreign nationals and their spouses.

Please note that family law mediation is not recommended for couples with domestic violence issues. If you have any questions about divorce mediation, or divorce in general, and would like to speak to an attorney, please contact Lonich & Patton for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached by phone at (408) 553-0801 or through the intake form on our Contact Us page.

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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Does “Shacking Up” Mean We’ll Be “Splitting Up?”

Posted March 17, 2014 in Family Law by Gina Policastri.

As it turns out, cohabitation doesn’t cause divorce after all – but rather, the age at which you cohabitate determines your risk for divorce. For years, social scientists have linked cohabitation with divorce, cautioning couples to resist moving in together by correlating “shacking up” with “splitting up.” However, recent studies reveal that the biggest predictor of divorce is actually the age at which a couple begins living together, whether before the wedding vows or after.

Previous studies compared the divorce rates of couples who cohabitated with those who didn’t by using the age of marriage as the focal variable. Arielle Kuperberg, a sociologist behind the new studies, used a different variable: Kuperberg compared the relationships using the date of first moving in together. That date, she reasoned, is when a couple really takes on marriage roles, regardless of whether they have a legal certificate. Using this novel method, Kuperberg found no link between whether people had cohabited before marriage and their rate of divorce. She also found that the turning point in age for picking a life partner appears to be around 23, an age that likely coincides with college graduation. “That’s when people are able to pick a partner who is more compatible,” she explains. “Maybe they are a little more mature. They’re a little set up in the world.”

Sociologists also discovered that while moving in may be irrelevant to divorce rates, rushing into cohabitation may have its disadvantages. Sharon Sassler, a sociologist at Cornell University, found that most cohabitors with college degrees move in together only after a long stretch of dating. On the other hand, more than half of the cohabiters without college degrees move in together after less than six months of dating. Sassler explained this phenomenon through financial motivators: financial need seems to push the less well-off into romantic roommate situations before they are ready, increasing the chances that the relationship will dissolve. Therefore, Sassler argues that it is the type of premarital cohabitation that predicts divorce, and not necessarily cohabitation in itself.

If you are interested in cohabitating with your partner and are concerned with your rights in the event the relationship dissolves, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Having a knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable for resolving your concerns. Lonich & Patton’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer 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.

Sources: http://news.yahoo.com/best-predictor-divorce-age-couples-cohabit-study-says-131122832.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory; http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/03/10/cohabitation-doesnt-cause-divorce-after-all/

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Can Your Child Sue You For Child Support?

Posted March 12, 2014 in Family Law, In the Community by Rachel Leff-Kich.

No, your child cannot sue you for child support – not yet, anyway. Recently, 18-year-old Rachel Canning caused a national stir when she sued her parents in a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit: the New Jersey teenager filed a lawsuit against her parents requesting $654 in child support per week, thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and immediate reimbursement of her high school tuition.

Ms. Canning claimed her parents threw her out of their Lincoln Park home two days before her 18th birthday, whereas her parents insisted the teenager moved out voluntarily. Her father, Sean Canning, explained that his daughter left the family home because she didn’t want to do reasonable household chores, be respectful, or abide by their curfew. Mr. Canning stated that “the whole thing is just destroying our family. We love our daughter. She’s our pride and joy.” A retired Police Chief, Mr. Canning explained that he’s “a liberal, liberal parent… I was tougher on my cops at work than I’ve ever been at my home, that’s for sure.”

Last week, Morris County Court Judge Peter Bogaard ruled in favor of the Canning’s, reasoning that any other decision would set a bad precedent by setting limits on parenting. The court expressed concern that Ms. Canning’s rare case, if successful, could inspire similar suits in the future. Brian Schwartz, chairman of the New Jersey Bar Association’s Family Law Section states that “in my 20 years of practicing family law in New Jersey, I’ve never seen anything like this.” Adds Jeralyn Lawrence, the incoming Family Law Section chair: “This could open the floodgates of recalcitrant kids fighting with their parents, moving out, and then suing them to keep paying.”

To the relief (presumably) of all parties involved, Ms. Canning returned home to her parents and siblings this morning. During this afternoon’s press conference, Ms. Canning’s lawyer said the suit brought against her parents had been settled “amicably,” and that her return home was not contingent upon any financial or other considerations.

Notably, Ms. Canning was not seeking to be emancipated from her parents – her lawsuit was primarily financially driven. With emancipation, minors essentially function as adults in society. Generally, they can attend the schools of their choice, enter into legally binding contracts, purchase a home, keep any income earned from a job, and so on. In court filings, Ms. Canning insisted she was “old enough to do what she wanted” – but perhaps she realized that without anyone bankrolling her endeavors, her options to do whatever she wants at this stage in her life are fairly limited.

If you have any questions about your family law issues, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Having a knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable for your situation. Lonich & Patton’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer 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.

Sources: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/03/05/new-jersey-teen-sues-parents-for-support-claiming-was-kicked-out-home/; http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-rachel-canning-goes-back-to-family-20140312,0,1541517.story#axzz2vmlZmHUm

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Beware: Sign Your MSA With Care

Posted March 12, 2014 in Family Law by Gretchen Boger.

A Marital Settlement Agreement (or “MSA”) is essentially a contract between a divorced couple that memorializes the division of property and debt. The document also allows the parties to include almost anything they desire in the agreement, such as who will provide support for adult children. The MSA is usually incorporated into the final judgment and signed by the judge, giving the contract the same effect of a court order.

Due to the finality and force of an MSA that has gone before the judge, promises made in the agreement should be made very carefully and taken very seriously. If you agree to something in your MSA, you must be prepared to follow through. One New Jersey father* learned that the hard way and will be required to provide fifty percent of the support his daughter needs at Cornell law school, per the MSA he signed with his ex-wife.

The father argued that although he agreed to help his daughter with her higher-education costs, he wanted to have a say in where she studied and where she lived. Not surprisingly, he wished her to choose a less-expensive alternative, but she chose Cornell. As of today, Cornell law school’s cost of attendance is around $80,000.

In the end, this father must pay about $120,000 for half of his daughter’s legal education because the agreement did not include typical language that would have given father a say in his daughter’s educational decisions. MSA’s are serious business; this situation is one example why it pays to have a great attorney looking out for your interests.

If you need guidance creating your MSA or are interested in creating a prenuptial agreement, 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 MSA’s and complex family law proceedings, and happily offer a free consultation to new clients.

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.

*“Dad must pay half of his daughter’s law school expenses at Cornell, appeals court says,” via ABA Journal: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/dad_must_pay_half_of_his_daughters_law_school_expenses_at_cornell_appeals_c

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