Month: August 2018

Paternity Actions You Should Know About If You Live In California

California is a very progressive state in virtually every way possible, including family law. With the times we live in, lawmakers try to keep up with the needs of unconventional families and everything that comes with such family structures.

In this article, we’re focusing on paternity law in California. For any additional pending questions, and clarifications, contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.

Overview of Paternity in California

In California, the word “paternity” interchanges with “parental relationship” and “parentage.” In California law, the identity of the father is assumed in situations such as:

  • When the child has two legal parents, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the child’s father if the child is born during a marriage
  • When a man lives in a family-like manner with a child and his mother, and demonstrates a commitment to the child, even if he is not the actual biological father

Apart from these two circumstances, paternity will need to be established.

How Paternity is Established

There are two ways to establish paternity:

  1. Voluntarily
  2. Through paternity action in court

When paternity is established voluntarily, the child’s parents agree to sign a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.” Upon giving birth to a child in a hospital or other medical setting, the parents of the baby (the mother and the baby’s alleged father) are given a “VDP” form to sign. By signing the voluntary declaration of paternity, the mother and father become the child’s legal parents. The father immediately gets parental rights and responsibilities to the child.

If paternity is established under California law and through a paternity action in court, any of the following persons or agencies have the right to ask the court for an order on paternity:

  • The child’s mother
  • The “alleged father” or “putative father,” i.e., the man who believes he’s the father of the child or who is identified as one
  • An adoption agency or the local child support agency that is providing services to the mother

The court always works to find the legal option that is in the child’s best interest.

Starting the Case

The agency has the authority to require genetic tests of all parties involved (the mother, child, and alleged father) if a mom uses the state child support services. Genetic testing is also required when the mother also requests child support from the alleged father, welfare, or other public benefits. If the suspected father decides not to cooperate, the court is in the right to consider the father’s refusal to cooperate as evidence of paternity.

Also, the court can order:

  • Child support
  • Health insurance for the child
  • Visitation, the non-custodial times when a parent will see the child
  • Physical and legal custody of the child, i.e., the child’s place of residence and whether one or both parents will be able to make decisions for the child
  • Payment of the genetic testing
  • Payment of either party’s reasonable attorney’s fees
  • Payment of court costs, i.e., the fees the court charges to start the case

California Law if very clear when it comes to family law. Still, if you want to be sure of your rights, consult with the right firm to help out. Platinum Paralegals offers consultation, guidance and help with actions like these. Talk to us for the best advice.

Divorce, Annulment and Legal Separation and their Differences

No matter what the public says, going separate ways with your partner is not the end of the world. If anything, it’s one of the healthiest ways for both of you (and your children) to grow and find happiness elsewhere. We grow together, and we grow apart, and being rational and strong enough to understand when the time has come to call it quits is one of the most mature decisions you can make.

If you are in the life stage where staying together is no longer an option, there are three common ways to end the relationship: divorce, marriage annulment and legal separation. Read below to find out the difference between the three:

Divorce

A divorce is an official way to end your marriage or domestic partnership. Once you are divorced, you are free to enter new relationships, become a domestic partner or marry again as you are no longer tied to your (ex) partner in any legal way. After both parties sign divorce papers, each of the partners is considered single.  

During the divorce process, you are allowed to ask the judge for orders like spousal support, child support, custody and visitation, a division of property, domestic violence restraining orders, and other orders.

Divorce is also known as “dissolution of marriage” or “dissolution of domestic partnership.”

Legal Separation

Unlike divorce, a legal separation is not an official end to marriage or domestic partnership. If you are legally separated, you can’t marry anyone else. Legally, you are also not to enter partnerships with someone else other than your legal spouse; however, this rule is often broken as partners separate and start seeing other people.

A legal separation is the best option for couples who don’t want to get divorced but want to live apart. A legal separation gives equal rights to both parties to decide on property, money, and parenting issues. Couples who file for legal separation often still love each other but are going through a phase in their lives where they feel it’s important they figure their issues individually.

If you file for a legal separation, you may later ask the court to either withdraw your request or move onto a divorce.

Just as the case with divorce, a legal separation case allows you to ask the judge for orders like child support, partner support, spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, or any other requests.

Annulment

Annulments aren’t that common when it comes to partner separation. If you do ask for an annulment, you will have to go to hearing with a judge, anyhow. An annulment means that a partnership is NOT legally valid.

What is good cause for a marriage to be annulled? Usually, factors like incestuous or bigamous partnerships, relationships declared “void” because of fraud, force, physical or mental incapacity, one of the spouses was already married or in a registered domestic partnership, one of the spouses age (i.e. if they were too young to marry or enter into a domestic partnership legally,) and similar. Annulment is also called “nullity of marriage” or “nullity of domestic partnership.”

What about the children?

For spouses who have children in common, they both have the right to ask the judge for custody. The best way to establish this relationship is to consult with a lawyer and find the best option.

   Any form of separation is hard, mainly if you’ve spent a good part of your life with your partner. To make things run as smoothly as possible and avoid unpleasant situations, hire a lawyer or an advisor with years of experience in family law to help. Contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.

Quick Guide: Choosing The Correct Divorce Process

Wondering how to file a divorce and where to begin? Choosing the right divorce process is very important if you want to go through the experience as painless as possible. In this article, we will talk about the necessary steps you need to take to finish the divorce process correctly.

Preparing the Forms

If you want to start the divorce process without a lawyer, you will need to find and complete all the necessary forms by yourself. The good news is you can obtain these forms online on the California Courts website, and here you can also find instructions for each form in video and PDF format.

All California courts use the same primary forms, but there may be some additional forms required depending on where you live. You can find out whether there are any required additional forms in your particular courthouse on the website, too.

The Los Angeles Superior Court Website is an excellent place to learn what to expect. It provides links for all the local forms required by Los Angeles County judges.

When completing the forms, make sure you give detailed answers to all the questions asked. If you can, fill out the forms on a computer.

Filing the Forms

Once you feel you are ready, visit your local courthouse and ask to submit the divorce documents. The minimum of materials needed to file for divorce is the summons, petition, and in case you have children, the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Unless you complete a Request to Waive Court Fees, you will need to pay the necessary fee. If the court decides to grant your request and that you are unable to pay the fee, you won’t have to pay to file the documents.

Once you give the documents to the clerk, they will stamp them, and you will receive copies.

Serving the Forms

You should serve your spouse with the documents immediately after you’ve prepared and filed them. It is imperative that everyone knows what’s going on, and the service of process is critical in the legal system. Your spouse has to have their opportunity to “appear” or, in some cases, argue their point of view.

The service of the process makes sure that no one, not even your spouse, is ever ambushed in the courtroom.

If your spouse hasn’t hired a lawyer, then you should serve the forms to them directly. If your spouse has retained a lawyer, you will need to serve the lawyer at the lawyer’s office.

Financial Disclosures

Once the divorce process begins, you will have to provide information about your financial status to the court and your spouse. You will need to complete the Declaration of Disclosure and either the Financial Statement or the Income and Expense Declaration.  You will also need to complete forms regarding assets and debts, and a proof of service.

The documents in question detail each spouse’s financial situation, from employment status to liabilities and assets to monthly expenses.

Obtaining a lawyer or an advisor with years of experience in family law will make the whole divorce process more pleasant for you. Divorce isn’t easy, but with professionals at your side, it will be bearable. Contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.