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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Did You try and Do Your Spousal Support Hearing... by Yourself?

If you DID try to do this alone, and you had no idea how it would work, it would not be uncommon to find that people would not know what to do.  Many people believe they can outsmart the ex and devise all kinds of theories on how to get it done.  In attorney's experience, it usually does not work and will come back to haunt the person who did it.

Modification of spousal support is often a difficult issue because it can involve many factors. When the client has not adequately prepared for these, (and most clients haven't because they likely don't know what they are nor do they know what judges are likely to do), we have seen some clients get burned and not be able to recover.  For example, we have seen a case where the parties only were really married for four years but one party's attorney--the paying party's attorney--told the client she had to stick with 9 years, even though they didn't live together for 9 years. Actually, not living together is only part of the equation, as clients can be married and be separated physically. However if the relationship is broken down and one party simply pays the other party to survive, it could be argued that this was spousal support even if it wasn't ordered. If that could be true, then that paying party has been paying for years on that--there should be some credit for that, if the relationship was over and the parties dated others?

That's just one example. Surely there must be many more on this type of issue. Don't make a big mistake to save a few thousand and then get caught later for MANY thousands due to a mistake. A big one at that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I Thought I was the Father...? Do Not Guess- Take Paternity Test!!

A Parentage action in California can be very complicated, especially if YOU wait too long to decide you might not actually be THE actual father -- of the alleged child?

As seen in news reports, drastic judgments of parentage with child support owed by the "father" in the $100,000's  or higher,  can take place where an alleged father either:

 (1) believes he is NOT the parent, but does nothing about it fast enough ..or
 (2) knows he is definitely the parent, never signs or admits to being the parent, and the mother asserts that some other guy is the actual parent, but within the statutory guideline time, he comes forward even though the other asserted guy did not come forward 
 (3) admits he's the parent, may sign or not sign that he is the parent, a hearing is set up and he is personally notified, but defaults and never bothers to show up 
 (4) believes he is not the parent, but never bothers to do the DNA testing, fails to find out what steps to take to challenge the paternity, and waits for years and years while some other guy thinks that "he" is the actual father--and then suddenly he gets a notice from child support that he owes 200k in back support? Because he isn't the actual father BUT because he didn't challenge the accusation of paternity, or took way too long to  challenge it,  ---  he became the father by default by failing to contest it?

If all of this sounds crazy, you're right. The system in the USA pretty much puts fathers on the hook and then expects them to challenge it if they believe they are not the actual father. However, if the claimed father is not properly notified of the hearing, his due process rights have not been preserved.  Proving this may take some work but if proven, actual notice must be given before any default can take place. Unfortunately if one was not notified, one doesn't realize that there is a problem until one is notified?  Some fathers who fail to act are held to have to pay, as indicated prior.

So, in any instance where there is ANY possible way that the child might, could, would or seemingly might be someone else's kid---demand the paternity test ASAP.  In fact attorney recommends in all cases that the father demand paternity testing just in case!

We have seen several example of this scenario.  

Example A:  Alleged Father truly believes 100% that he's the real father, but the mother tells him he is not the actual father.  Father obtains paternity test-- in fact, he is NOT the father, despite wanting to be the father!

Example B:  Father is certain he is the actual father and doesn't want to really take a paternity test.  
Mother does not say he is or isn't the actual father, and was not married to this guy.  Mother then marries another man suddenly and wants to take the kids away and move.  If the guy who thinks he is the actual father is NOT the actual father, but fails to either demand paternity testing or otherwise attempts to challenge that he is not the father, presumed father, or otherwise, or fails to try and adjudicate who is the actual father, guess what?  The non actual father might end up having to pay for the rest of his life as the 'father' when in fact, he might not be the father in reality.

Example C:  Father is absolutely certain he is not the father of child X and he has never even met the Mother of the unknown child.  In that case, the father was told to find the date he received the notice from DCSS where they claimed he was the father of child X. The man who was claimed to be the father of child X did not even know the female "mother"...after almost 5 months, the "mother' in the case told DCSS that the alleged father was NOT the father and even without testing, he was off the hook. We don't know if the mother found the actual father or not, but this just proves that one can be accused of BEING an actual, presumed, or other status father in California.

Example D:  The claimed "father" stated he was never notified of the hearing re whether or not he was the "father" to child X. 15 years later, DCSS sends him a notice that he owes $125k in arrears for child support. He was definitely attempting to challenge it.

It goes without saying--any man who may be or may not be the actual father should consult and listen to an attorney ASAP.  It is very foolish to pretend you are 100% sure you are the actual father when in fact, you might not be?  And as stated above, the father who believed 100% he WAS the actual father, was NOT the actual father.
So at least he saved himself a lifetime of back child support that was not his debt to begin with.

 Some women do not care who signs a child's birth certificate. Or in some instances, the mother doesn't know who the father is regardless?

https://www.verywellfamily.com/help-for-victims-of-paternity-fraud-2997823  (this link is by an attorney in New York, and of course the laws there are not the same as CA. However, it's a start just to realize that there are many pitfalls when you bury your head in the sand and then expect everything to just work out. In most cases it does not work out and you will regret it for the rest of your life.)
Throughout the 1990's California's child support program found itself under attack by parents, advocates and the media for its lackluster performance and automation failures (see below). In 1998, the Los Angeles Times ran an in-depth series documenting the failures of the child support program in Los Angeles County and across the state.     On January 26, 1999, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees and the Assembly Human Services and Senate Heath and Human Services Committees held a joint hearing on the program entitled Reforming California's Child Support System: A Consensus for Action. [Note--attorney herein worked at one of largest data centers in the United States and had talked to one of the programmers involved with trying to fix the software. The first attempts failed, at a large cost, but the subsequent attempts apparently were more successful.]

The Dramatic 1999 Legislative Reforms: Following the landmark two house hearings reviewing the continuing inadequacies of the state's child support enforcement program, an unusual consensus for action arose, and in 1999 the Legislature spearheaded major structural reforms in the program by
 (1) transferring state responsibility from DSS to the newly created Department of Child Support Services (DCSS); (2) transferring local responsibility for the program from the district attorneys to local child support agencies (LCSAs) which, except for hiring decisions, were put under the control of DCSS; and (3) creating a complaint resolution and fair hearing process for resolving child support complaints.

Pursuant to the legislation, DCSS was required to develop uniform forms, policies and programs, and performance standards. If LCSAs failed to meet required performance standards, DCSS was to assist in program operations and management. In contrast to its previous funding structure, the reformed program was now funded entirely through federal and state funds.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

When Parents Fail to Follow Court Orders

It is very common for parents to not follow court orders, especially when it comes to
visitation issues, and money issues.   When orders are not followed, it ends up costing
parents time, money, and turmoil.

Issues involving drugs, violence, fake reports to police, making up lies, and issues we see
on Jerry Springer are pretty common. However, this results in the client having to do a number
of things for example....

Having to draft and file a noticed motion for hearing with attachments
Having to possibly pay a filing fee, and fees to attorney
Having to take time off of work to sit in court and wait for your turn
Having to possibly interact with the ex partner
Becoming involved in mediation, which often doesn't work so well
Having to attend court again because the mediation didn't work out well
Having to attend a long cause hearing or trial because the mediation was
      way off base, you didn't get what you wanted, or someone lied and
      the mediator didn't believe you?

Part of family law issues is learning that even if you do follow the rules for parenting,
you still may encounter issues because of the other parent. This is a legendary process
in family law that will likely never change. It's usually not pleasant, and it isn't free, so
no one really likes it 100%.

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