Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Orange County Family Law Blog

Grey cohabitation is an emerging family law issue

Residents of California may have heard about how "grey" divorce, that is, a divorce between a couple who is either at or relatively close to retirement, is becoming more common. Interestingly, the number of couples over the age of 50 who choose to live together without getting married has also been on the rise within the last decade. While the number of cohabitating couples in the country has risen overall, by about 30 percent, the number of adults over the age of 50 who are cohabitating has spiked by about 75 percent, from 2.3 million in 2007 to 4 million in 2016.

About 55 percent of those who are cohabitating over the age of 50 were in a previous marriage that ended in divorce, while another 6 percent of people who were cohabitating in this age group described themselves as separated from a spouse. Another 27 percent said that they had never been married.

Unreimbursed health care expenses

A previous post here discussed the process courts and parents in California should use with respect to unreimbursed medical expenses. Oftentimes, insurance does not pay for all of a child's medical needs, and one or both parents will be left paying some bills out of pocket.

In addition to visits to the doctor, these bills can also include visits to dentists, eye doctors and mental health professionals or other therapists. These bills can really put a strain on an Orange County parent's budget. As such, and as our pervious post mentioned, it is only fair that both parents should contribute to these important and oftentimes very necessary expenses. The first step in doing so is to make sure that the child support order clearly and accurately specifies how uninsured medical and related expenses are going to be allocated.

In custody cases, we work with a family's unique needs

A previous post on this blog talked about the unique issues that parents of children with special needs must face when they are trying to resolve custody and parenting time matters between themselves.

This post in particular mentioned how the parents have to ask questions like who will be best able to look after the child in light of his or her needs, particularly if the child will also need care after he or she reaches adulthood.

Custody considerations for special needs children

As an Orange County parent who has been through it knows, any custody dispute or dispute over parenting time is stressful, even when the parents are able to get along reasonably well. There are just a lot of details that have to be worked out, and there are often inherently a lot of emotions involved.

For parents with children of special needs, the issues of custody and visitation can be even more difficult to work through. Like any other parents in the same situation, they, or a judge, will have to decide where the child will live, how often the other parent will see the child, who will make decisions and the like. However, there will also be some additional considerations unique to the child's special needs.

Fringe benefits can be figured in to the child support

This blog has on previous occasions discussed how California applies a specific formula to determine how much each parent owes toward child support. Application of this formula depends heavily on each parent's income, and for good reason. How much each parent makes will translate in to how much he or she can afford in child support. The parents' income is also a good measure of how much support a child will need in order to maintain his or her standard of living.

In many cases, figuring out one's income for child support is fairly simple and largely a matter of reviewing a few paystubs. However, it is important to remember that many employees in Orange County, particularly those who are in leadership or professional positions, may also receive a number of fringe benefits. Examples of typical fringe benefits include a retirement plan with matching compensation or health insurance.

What is palimony and how does it work?

This blog has previously discussed how unmarried couples who separate have to deal with some unique issues when it comes to their legally splitting. For instance, while child custody and support work in ways that are similar to what one might find in a divorce, unmarried couples face difficult family law issues when it comes to dividing up their property and figuring out their financial affairs.

It can be a particularly challenging process when a couple has been together for a long time and has maintained a household in common. One issue that may come up is that of what is called palimony, that is, court-ordered payments by one partner to another. California is one of a few states that are willing to award palimony.

What can, and cannot, be included in a prenuptial agreement

As this Orange County, California, blog has discussed on previous occasions, many couples in this state, including those who have no plans of divorcing, choose to enter in to prenuptial agreements. While there are certain minimum legal requirements every prenuptial agreement must satisfy, one of the reasons they are so popular is that they are flexible documents.

They allow couples entering them to get somewhat creative with addressing both potential divorce issues, as well as other legal and financial matters. In other words, it may be easier for people to know what cannot be included in prenuptial agreements, since most topics related to marriage are pretty much fair game.

Review of how to enforce a custody order

An Orange County parent who lives separately from his or her child's other parent will likely have some sort of custody arrangement in place with the other parent. Whether agreed to between the parents or made up entirely by the court, this arrangement ordinarily is enshrined in a written court order.

This order is only as good as it is enforceable. In other words, if one parent chooses to ignore it and do what he or she wants, the other parent has to know how to get action taken to enforce what is otherwise just a piece of paper.

More on deviations from the Child Support Guidelines

A previous post talked about how not every California child support case is a matter of applying a formula set out under this state's Child Support Guidelines. Particularly with high-earners and other parents in special circumstances, simply plugging in the appropriate numbers to yield child support might not be appropriate and even downright unfair.

California recognizes that the state's Guidelines do not work fairly in all situations. We have previously mentioned, for instance, that someone who earns a lot of money may need an adjustment in order to be sure that their child support payment is on the one hand fair to the child but on the other hand is not substantially more than necessary to meet the child's legitimate needs.

Review of grandparents' rights in California

As this blog has discussed previously, while their rights are not the same as those of parents, grandparents have certain rights to see and, at times, even have custody over their grandchildren. With respect to visitation rights, state law allows grandparents to ask a court for an order requiring that they be allowed to have contact with their grandchildren in certain circumstances, such as when one of the child's parents is deceased or the parents are divorced. Although getting such an order is more difficult when a child's parents are married, it is not impossible.

A grandparent will have to demonstrate certain things to the court in order to get court-ordered visits, as the presumption is that a child's parent is in the best position to decide whether and to what extent grandparents can be involved in their grandchildren's lives.

Kevin Qualls Family Law
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Orange, CA 92868
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