Santa Ana Attorney David Gonzalez explains child support.

If you ever have a case in family court, you most likely will encounter the issue of child support. Parents often times want to know how much will be the amount ordered for child support by the family court judge. Before getting to the how much part, it is important for parents to understand why the State of California puts much emphasis regarding the issue of child support when children are involved in a family court case.

California has a strong public policy in favor of adequate child support. That policy is expressed in the statutes under the California Family Codes, 4050 through 4076, or often called the statewide uniformed child support guidelines. The purpose of such guideline child support is to make certain that the interests of children are met given that such interests are of high priority for the state. As one family law case put it, " A parent's first and principal obligation is to support his or her minor children according to the parents' circumstances and station in life. Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability." In re Marriage of Cheriton.

Family courts, therefore, are obligated to adhere to the child support guidelines and mathematical formulations provided by the child support statutes.

However, the family courts are also directed to consider the following principles when making child support orders:

  1. Both parents are mutually responsible for the support of their children;
  2. The guideline formula takes into account each parent's actual income and level of responsibility for the children;
  3. Each parent should pay for the support of the children according to his or her ability;
  4. Children should share in the standard of living of both parents;
  5. Child support orders in which both parents have high levels of responsibility for the children should reflect the increased costs of raising children in two homes and should minimize significant disparities in the children's living standards in two homes;
  6. The financial needs of the children should be met through private financial resources as much as possible;
  7. It is presumed that a parent having primary physical responsibility for the children contributes a significant portion of available resources for the support of children;
  8. The guideline seeks to encourage fair and efficient settlements of conflicts between parents and to minimize the need for litigation;
  9. The guideline is intended to be presumptively correct in all cases, and only under special circumstances should child support orders fall below the child support mandated by the guideline formual;
  10. Child support orders must ensure that children actually receive fair, timely, and sufficient support reflecting the state's high standard of living and high costs of raising children compared to other states.

So you can see and now understand the reason the family courts in California place a high priority when considering orders for child support. Children and their interests are of high priority for family cours. The principles stated above are weighed by family courts when making orders for child support. Family courts will often make child support orders based upon the child support guideline and the above principles. There are times orders for child support can deviate from the child support guideline. If there is any deviation, the court must explain the reason for the devation.

Whenvever you are faced with the need to have child support orders or the need to change or modify a current order, seek the legal help and experience from the Gonzalez Law Firm. Attorney David Gonzalez can review and analyze your current legal issue and advise you accordingly. His offices are located in Santa Ana and Fullerton. He has represented many individuals with their child support issues in the family courts in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles Counties.

What is important in Child Custody Cases?

California Family Code Section 3020(a) provides the starting base when dealing with the issue of child custody. It states that the California Legislature finds and declares that it is the public policy of California to assure that the health, safety, and welfare of the children shall be the court’s primary concern in determining the best interest of children when making orders regarding the physical or legal custody or visitation of children.

Family courts and judges will then examine and weigh evidence in legal actions or proceedings involving the issue of child custody using a “best interest” standard in which to make their decisions. Since the primary concern and public policy for California is to assure the health, safety and welfare of children, family court judges will assess whether a ruling for legal or physical custody or visitation is one that is in the best interest of children.

California Family Code Section 3020 goes on to say, under subsection (b) of that Code, that it is the public policy of this state to assure that children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage, or ended their relationship, and to encourage parents to share the responsibilities of child rearing in order to effect this policy, except where the contact would not be in the best interest of the child, as provided under Section 3011 of the Family Code.

There is acknowledgment as seen in Section 3020(b) that children should receive and have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. When family court judges attempt to fashion orders involving custody or visitation, they will attempt to fashion such orders (after weighing the best interest of the children) such that both parents are assured of having frequent contact and visitation with their children. Therefore, parents do not necessarily gain any advantage over the other parent if one of them decides to file a petition for divorce, a petition for custody and visitation, or even a petition for paternity first before the other parent does. There seems to exist an unrealistic view that “filing first” will allow one parent to gain advantage over another in a custody or visitation dispute. The California Family Codes emphasizes and recognizes the importance that children should receive frequent and contact with both parents, in the event if that arrangement is in fact in the best interest of the children. In fact, in the case of Enrique M. v. Angelina V., 174 Cal App 4th 1148, 94 Cal Rptr 3rd 883 (2009), it stated that the United States Supreme Court has endorsed the best interest standard for adjudicating custody disputes between parents, and further held that a California trial court is required to resolve such disputes in the best interest of the child.

Parents are reminded by the Family Code that the best interest of the children comes first over any other interest, including the parents, in family law cases.

Parenting tips for having a safe and fun Halloween with your children.

Halloween is upon us again. Children are looking forward to wearing their best ghoul and goblin and princess costumes.

Halloween tends to be a festive celebration. One where there can also be party goers who drink alcohol and choose to drive to and from their Halloween parties.

So parents when you take your children out for trick or treating, keep in mind some of the following helpful tips:

Start your trick or treating early:

During daylight and prior to dusk is a good time in which to start your child's trick or treating. Your children can be seen by drivers. As dusk passes, bring a flashlight that can illuminate for over 30 feet if possible. Cell phones can also download certain flashlight apps making the cell phone a flashlight. For example, Torch Flashlight App can be obtained trough the App Store from iTunes. Although such apps provide illumination, a typical hardware flashlight may be your best bet.

Have an adult be the leader of the pack and also have an adult protect the rear:

Children do like to run off on their own to various homes to be the first to get the candy. It is wise, however, to have an adult maintain a reasonable distance ahead of the pack to make certain a child does not run across a street. An adult should also cover the rear to make certain no child is left behind or is not accounted for in the event the pack gets a bit to far ahead. Always keep a count of the children and always use your flashlights to direct crossing a street if necessary.

Designate a location to meet ahead of time in the event your pack separates:

It does happen. Parents cannot hold the pack together. That is fine should it occur; just a normal part of the fun. But parents can designate a certain landmark as a meeting place for the pack to get together again in the event there is a break in the group. Such landmarks can include the corner of the street, the house at the end of the street, the stop sign area, just to name a few examples.

Keep an eye out for careless drivers:

Keep a watch out for drivers who do not have their car headlights on, the driver who is using the cell phone while driving, the driver who may be driving a bit too fast for driving conditions. They are out there. Parents should be watchful and attentive to their surroundings while their kids are trick or treating. Use your cell phone to call 911 to report such careless drivers especially any driver that may be driving a bit erractically in a neighborhood. Such a driver may be driving under the influence of alchohol so it is wise to involve your local police agency should you suspect such a driver.

Just a word of advice to any one who may drive to and from their Halloween parties: if you are going to drink, do so wisely and responsibly. Designate a driver who has not consumed any alcohol to drive you to your destination. Use a fun shuttle or limousine service. Do the right thing: DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL AND THEN GET BEHIND AN AUTOMOBILE TO DRIVE. If you do so, you risk putting the lives of children and others in danger. There are stiff penalities in California for drinking and driving. A first time conviction for driving under the influence criminal charge charge can include jail time, years on probation, loss or suspension of a driver license, court fees and fines, and participation and completion of a state mandated alcohol program. A person can spend about $5,000.00 in fees, penalties, and fines. Furthermore, the drunk driving conviction can remain on a driver's licensing record for 10 years. Convictions for second or third DUI offenses can be even more severe. If a driver has consumed alcohol and gets involved in a car accident, that person faces a felony charge and possible felony conviction. A jail sentence for a period of months may be ordered by the judge.

Halloween should be a time of fun for all. Children get the most fun wearing that cool ninja constume or that beautiful princess costume. Parents love to see their children radiate wearing such costumes and getting their favorite candy in their Halloween bag. Let all of us do our best to maintain a safe and sane Halloween.

The Gonzalez Law Firm has over 18 years of experience helping families with their legal issues. Attorney David Gonzalez has offices in Fullerton and Santa Ana and can assist you with your child custody issue, parenting rights, or dissolution of marriage matter. His firm also assists persons who may be accused of criminal charges including misdemeanor or felony DUI charges. Contact his firm for a consultation concerning your legal issue.

Fullerton Attorney discusses domestic violence and its impact on child custody.

The California Family Code defines domestic violence under Family Code 3044 (c): a person has perpetrated domestic violence when he or she is found by the court to have intentionally or recklessly caused or attempted to cause bodily injury, sexual assault, or to have placed a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another, or to have engaged in any behavior involving but not limted to, threatening, striking, harassing, destroying personal property or disturbing the peace of another, for which a court may issue an ex-parte order pursuant to Section 6320 to protect the other party seeking custody of the child or to protect the child and the child's siblings.

Child custody cases can involve allegations that one parent has perpetrated or has threatened the other parent of domestic violence or abuse. A family court must consider any history of abuse perpetrated by one parent in order to determine whether it is in the best interest of a child that a parent who has perpetrated domestic violence be given custody of that child. If a court rules that a parent has committed domestic violence within the previous 5 years, that ruling creates a presumption in the law. The presumption is called a rebuttal presumption. Simply put, a family court would likely not award sole or joint legal or physical custody of a minor to that offending parent because such an order would be detrimental to the best interest of that child.

That presumption is a rebuttal presumption, meaning that a parent found to have committed domestic violence by the court can overcome that presumption by demonstrating evidence such that the court can understand that ordering custody rights to that parent would not endanger the health, welfare and safety of the minor child. Such evidence can include a completion of certain parenting programs, anger management programs, counseling, participation in volunteer programs assisting the community or helping with centers for the prevention of domestic violence, just to name a few examples.

A parent's right to have child custody or to have visitation with his or her child will be impacted when there exits independent corroboration that such parent has prepetrated domestic violence or has threatened domestic violence.

If you are a parent and you are facing allegations that you have perpetrated domestic violence, it is best to seek representation from a child custody family law attorney. Call the Gonzalez Law Firm at 1-877-345-2997 for a consultation. The Gonzalez Law Firm has offices in Santa Ana and Fullerton. Your parental legal right to have frequent and continuing with your children needs to be protected.

What do you need to show to a family court judge in order to change a Child Custody Order?

In child custody cases, California Family Court judges still need to see persuasive facts to help them determine whether a change of circumstance has occurred that is substantial enough for judges to modify a prior child custody order. That rule has been in place for quite some time now in the area of family law. Attorneys practicing in the field of family law are quite familiar with the rule.

Recently, in a case titled, Christina L. vs. Chauncey B. (September 2014), the Court of Appeal for California for the First Appellate District, ruled on a case coming out of Solano County family court. In that case, the appellate court once again affirmed the importance for the use and application of the change of circumstance rule.

In Christina L., the mother of two children argued successfully to the appellate court that the family court needed to determine whether the father had demonstrated a change of circumstance requiring the family court to modify a prior child custody order which gave legal and physical custody of the children to the mother. The mother and father had had previous family law litigation over the issue of child custody including mother's request for domestic violence orders which were granted to her by the family court in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2011. In 2011, the family court awarded sole legal and sole physical custody of the two children to mother. Further, the restraining orders issued in 2011 were in effect for two years and were still effective by the time father brought his case to modify the child custody orders of 2011, as explained below.

In 2013, father then requested modification of the child custody orders of 2011 claiming that the mother had violated the previous restraining orders and further claiming mother made false accusations about him in order to obtain the previous custody orders. Father also claimed that he wanted his two children to have a relationship with another child he had from another relationship. The family court agreed with father's position despite the history of domestic violence perpretated by father and despite current restaining orders in effect. The family court stated that mother did not bring forward enough evidence for the court to show that the safety, welfare, and health of the children would not be met.

HUH?- strange but true; the court made an order giving the parents shared legal and physical custody.

The appellate court disagreed with the family court. The appellate court reversed the order made by the family court. Although the appellate court reversed that decision by examining and ruling about the effects of prior domestic violence orders currently in place, the appellate court also explained that any parent who seeks to modify a previous child custody order must demonstrate changes in circumstances affecting a child that would persuade a family court to change such an order. The parent who seeks to change a child custody order has the burden to prove there exist changes in circumstances.

Family court judges generally are reluctant to change prior child custody orders but will do so only when the changes of circumstances are substantial and there are material facts showing such changes that it would be in the best interest of the child to change a custody order.

Whenever you face legal challenges involving the custody of children, contact the Gonzalez Law Firm for an evaluation and consultation of your legal issue. Attorney David Gonzalez can help you get on the right track of your legal issue. He can effectively represent you and help you get the child custody or visitation order you are seeking. The Gonzalez Law Firm has offices in Santa Ana and Fullerton. He represents clients whose cases are before the family courts in the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange, California, the Pomona family court, the Riverside family court, and the Norwalk family court in Los Angeles County. Contact his firm at 1-877-345-2997.