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Most people agree that going through a divorce isn’t easy. Even despite best efforts to work together and remain amicable with a soon-to-be ex-spouse during and following a divorce, doing so sometimes proves trickier than people anticipate. Luckily, there are now have several useful apps that can make interacting with your ex-spouse a little easier as outlined in the USA Today article below:

7 Divorce Apps Help Navigate Life With Your Ex

OurFamilyWizard is an app that many parties with children use. OurFamilyWizard, sometimes referred to as OFW, has several features which parents find useful, the first of which is a secure message board for parents to communicate through. This is helpful if parents find communicating through other methods, such as texting, difficult. Some of the app’s other features include an interactive calendar which parents can use to schedule who has the kids on which days and what upcoming extra-curricular activities the children may be participating in. It also has an expense logto help track the children’s expenses so that one parent can easily reimburse the other. Parents can also upload receipts and invoices for these expenses, and for an added fee, even make payments within OurFamilyWizard.  The app also has the ability to store medical history, insurance information, emergency contact information, and school schedules. OurFamilyWizard costs $99 annually.

As part of their “Blended Family Friday “series, the Huffington Post ran the following article about two divorced parents and how they “co-parent” their child.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/05/advice-for-blended-families-_n_7515012.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

The article highlights just how important it is for parents to work together to raise their children, even after they are separated. Divorced or separated parents are often so angry at the other parent, that they cannot see past their issues with each other to really work together to figure out what is best for their children. When parents cannot agree on issues such as schooling, visitation schedule changes and even day-to-day parenting issues, they are left with little choice but to turn to their attorneys, requesting discussions with opposing counsel and/or the court’s intervention. This results in both parties incurring significant and often unnecessary, attorney fees and costs, and causes stress not only for the parents, but for the children as well. Ultimately, it results in a judge making a decision about children he or she has never met. Clearly, a child’s parents are better suited to be making such decisions.

Some San Jose divorce, custody and/or support matters are assigned to a department where a judge is presiding, while other matters are heard in front of a commissioner. So, what is the difference between the two, and is one better than another?

A judge is elevated to the bench either by election or by appointment by the Governor. A judge must also be a licensed attorney to be eligible to serve on the bench. A commissioner, on the other hand, is an individual who is hired by the court to help out with a judge’s case load. Commissioners must also be licensed attorneys to be eligible to serve as a commissioner. Often, Commissioners work very closely with judges, and judges consider them essential for managing the work of the court.

Commissioners can perform judicial duties involving the determination of contested issues only upon the stipulation of the parties, but with that stipulation they have the same powers as judges. That means that the commissioner has the same power as a judge to hear a court case and make legally binding judgments. Per California Code of Civil Procedure Section 259, “[s]ubject to the supervision of the court, every court commissioner shall have power to do all of the following:

Most people recognize that divorce isn’t easy on children, no matter what the circumstances surrounding the divorce are. However,  for may reasons, it is helpful to try to keep the divorce process as low-conflict and as amicable as possible.

Some couples are implementing “nesting”, also known as “birdnesting”, as a way to ease the impact of divorce on their children. So what is nesting? Generally, nesting occurs where parents keep the main house and then share a separate house or apartment where they will stay when they are not at the main home with the children.

The idea behind nesting is that it is less disruptive for the children to remain in the family home, and have the parents rotate to the separate location, as opposed to shuffling children back and forth between two different households. This type of nesting is beneficial to children because not only do they get to stay in a home that is familiar to them (and thus relieving the need to take belongings to different homes), but it often allows them to remain at the same school and keep in touch with friends.

Often parties wonder what will happen to their pets during a divorce. Will the parties share the pets? Can you negotiate custody of a pet as you would a child? Thus far, pets have always been treated as property in the eyes of the family court. This upset avid pet lovers, but the reality of the situation is that pets typically went where the children went.

However, Jerry Brown has just signed a bill in California granting judges the authority to settle pet custody disputes similarly to how child custody disputes are handled. The law is set to go into effect on January 1, 2019. While many believe this is a positive step forward, and it certainly is as parties will now have rights over their pets, the concern is that it will bring new havoc and discord to family law cases. Nevertheless, the court’s previous stance on pets seemed quite harsh, particularly to those parties who love their pets like humans or like their own children. Pet owners were often indefinitely separated from the pets they loved with absolutely no recourse.

Now, parties can either agree to a visitation plan with their pets or have a Judge decide. This brings up several additional questions, however. Can one party request pet support? Or perhaps the parties will have to share in the cost of pet health insurance? The outcome of this new law remains to be seen and will be far reaching but will prove to make pet owners happy with the family court.

Emergency Screenings can be a difficult concept for parents to face, whether they are the parent who has requested a screening or the parent who has been served with a request for a screening.

The court will typically order an emergency screening in a child custody case when a Judge has found that an immediate emergency may exist involving the children and that possible emergency warrants further investigation. Examples of instances in which this can occur include allegations of drug and alcohol abuse by one or both of the parents, allegations of violence against the child/children, allegations of neglect by one or both of the parents, involvement in a Child Protective Services Investigation, etc. There can be a number of reasons that the court can order an emergency screening take place, particularly if there is a risk to the health, safety or welfare of your child.

According to Santa Clara County Court Rule 2, “in any case in which an emergency exists, the Court may order a staff member of FCS (other than the mediator) to conduct and emergency screening (a preliminary and limited investigation), to make recommendations regarding the temporary custody, visitation and related conditions for the minor children.”

Trump’s administration has recently made several changes to current tax laws and among many other areas, the tax implications of divorce have been greatly affected. If there has ever been a time to “hurry up and get a divorce” it may be now.

A change in the new tax laws will eliminate a major break that many often took into consideration when contemplating divorce. That is the ability to deduct alimony or spousal support payments on your taxes. Any divorces finalized after December 31, 2018 will no longer receive the benefit of this tax deduction, which is why countless lawyers and financial advisors are warning clients who are contemplating divorce to act fast.

Agreements signed before the end of the year will still qualify for this deduction, but this can have huge financial implications when one party earns significantly more than the other. For decades, individuals paying alimony or spousal support to a former spouse were able to deduct the payments from their taxes, which often prompted the paying spouse to pay slightly more than they normally would agree to. This could have a huge impact on the paying spouse especially when there is a large gap in income between the two parties. According to the IRS, a staggering 600,000 Americans claim this deduction.

https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-private-judge-in-my-divorce.html

The above article posted on lawyers.com discusses some of the pros and cons of using a private judge in your divorce case. If you are considering hiring a private judge or are wondering whether it might be right for you, contact Argyris Mah, LLP at (408) 564-5674. We can discuss your case with you, answer your questions, and provide you with expert advice as to whether a private judge might be right for your case.

There are many costs to divorce, including the obvious costs of attorney fees, court filing fees, support payments, etc. However, many people often overlook the significant costs associated with maintaining two households, versus one. A recent article on SF Gate addressed the significant costs associated with physically separating including obtaining at least one or two new residences, furnishing those residences, moving, and maintaining the costs for said residence, without the benefit of two incomes. In some cases, given the extremely high cost of living in California, and particularly the Bay Area, this can be almost impossible. As such, it appears that many people are choosing, or being forced, to remain living together, despite a separation or actual divorce.

https://m.sfgate.com/mommyfiles/article/live-in-divorce-San-Francisco-separation-cost-12770531.php

The costs associated with living separately can have a significant effect on a couple’s divorce case and can be a factor when determining spousal support, child support and property division.

People.com recently reported that in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce case, a family law judge has made an order that Brad Pitt may contact the parties’ children directly, at any time.

https://people.com/movies/brad-pitt-unrestricted-phone-access-kids-report/

Communication between a non-custodial parent and the children is often a “hot button” issue in contentious custody and divorce cases. Contact us at (408) 564-5674 for a free 20-minute telephone consultation and we can answer questions related to this issue, and any other questions you have relating to your San Jose divorce or custody case.

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