How is Contempt of Court Used in California Divorce Cases?

All courts have an undeniable interest in ensuring that their orders and procedures are respected and followed. This holds true in California’s family courts, as well. Violations of a court’s order to do—or not to do—something, is known as contempt of court. In California divorce cases, contempt of court has special consequences. It may be enforced by the court on its own motion or can be brought to the court’s attention by the parties to an action.

The punishment for contempt of court in a California divorce case is specific. When an individual is found guilty of contempt of court, he or she may be fined up to $1,000, imprisoned for up to 5 days, or both, per charge. If found guilty of contempt, the contemnor may additionally be ordered to pay the reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of the individual who initiated the contempt proceedings.

Some special provisions that apply to contempt of court in divorce proceedings include California Code of Civil Procedure § 1218.5(a), which reads as follows:

If the contempt alleged is for failure to pay child, family, or spousal support, each month for which payment has not been made in full may be alleged as a separate count of contempt and punishment imposed for each count proven.

Thus, pursuant to California law, there can be multiple counts of contempt charged for a repeated failure to pay child or spousal support in the Golden State. The statute of limitations for bringing such proceedings is three years from the date the payment is due. For the enforcement of any other order relating to family law matters, the statute of limitations is two years.

For each count of contempt, the punishment depends upon whether it is for the failure to pay an ordered support or for a violation of a provision of the divorce order. If there is a finding of contempt for failure to comply with a divorce order, the person who is found to be in contempt cannot then enforce the divorce decree against the other party, except as to the child, family, or spousal support.

In the case of contempt for a failure to pay court-ordered support, the punishment depends on whether it is a repeat occurrence. For the first finding of contempt, the court will order the violator to perform 120 hours of community service or spend up to 120 imprisoned. For the second offense, the penalty is community service and imprisonment for 120 hours each. For the third offense, the penalty is 240 hours of community service, 240 hours of imprisonment, and an administrative fee for the administration and supervision of punishment. These penalties, as noted above, can be cumulative, and added for each offence.

Contempt of court in California divorce cases is specific to the type of offense and whether it has occurred previously. If you or someone you know is involved in a divorce proceeding and there is a failure to follow the orders of the court, a contempt order is your next step for addressing this failure. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced in contempt issues in family court cases. Call today to see how we can help you: (415) 293-8314.

How Can Facebook Affect Your Divorce Case?

Facebook is used by billions of people worldwide, with over 1.94 billion active monthly Facebook users. Its use is ubiquitous. People enjoy Facebook with their morning coffee, to get past the mid-week hump, and to pass the time and share the fun on their Friday nights. And many people using Facebook forget that they are not always aware of who their audience might be.

Facebook can be a great source of information regarding a lawyer’s own client, as well as his or her opposing client. Many people post activities on Facebook that they want to show as fun—but that can be a serious pitfall in a divorce proceeding.

In addition, by checking a person’s Facebook page, a lawyer is sometimes able to determine the user’s location, which can be helpful if the person has been evading service of process.

Other potential uses include important information about a person’s leisure activities. If child custody or visitation is an issue—since the standard a court uses to make decisions about children is what is in the “best interest” of the child—pictures and posts that demonstrate a propensity for drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity can paint a picture that allows the court to protect the child, despite contradictory testimony. Likewise, if a person is claiming financial hardship, pictures showing a lavish vacation or shopping activity could be presented to contravene that person’s in-court statements.

Divorce cases can be challenging for everyone involved. This is especially true when one party (or the other) forgets about the often public nature of Facebook and other social media posts. Remember that Facebook absolutely can affect your divorce case, allowing a judge potential insight into issues you may wish to avoid in court.

If you need assistance in a family law proceeding, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

Pros and Cons of Default Judgment in Divorce

When a relationship does not stand the test of time, the people who once were a couple need to become individuals again. In California, this can sometimes be accomplished through the use of a default judgment for divorce. In a default judgment, one partner completes paperwork to have the court enter a divorce judgment and the other individual does not contest the divorce. In this type of default, the parties agree on the settlement provisions. As a result, the court is able to simply enter a default judgment.

A default judgment is sometimes the simplest and easiest method of having a divorce completed. It is usually less costly than litigation. However, there are both pros and cons to this method of ending a marriage.

Sometimes the people who are divorcing decide that having a default judgment is the method they want to use for divorcing, so they agree beforehand on how they want the divorce to be structured and bring that in for the entry of judgment. This allows them to have the ease of a default judgment and still ensure that their collective property is separated in the method they prefer.

However, there are many potential cons in using a default judgment in a divorce case, and using this method is not always appropriate. A default judgment should not be used if the parties are not in agreement about the distribution of the marital estate, if there is a situation of abuse of one partner by the other, or if the parties do not have a full understanding of the legal implications of the divorce. It is important for both parties to also understand that the party who is not initiating the divorce, also known as the respondent, is giving up his or her right to contest the court’s decision if no response is made.

Perhaps most important, however, is that failing to obtain the advice of an experienced California divorce attorney can result in giving up rights that a spouse may not even know he or she has, all in the name of “getting along.”

If you want to learn more about whether a default divorce might compromise your future, or that of your children, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We can help. Call us today to make an appointment: (415) 293-8314.

What Are Valid Reasons for a California Family Court to Deviate from the Child Support Guideline Amount?

According to Section 4057(a) of the California Family Code, child support is initially determined using a complicated formula that looks like this: CS = K (HN – (H%) (TN)). This formula takes into account several factors, include the parents’ income, the amount of the higher net earner’s net monthly disposable income, the parents’ time-share agreement, and the parents’ total combined monthly disposable income. By law, the result of applying this formula is “presumed to be the correct amount of child support to be ordered.”

However, there are certain special circumstances in which such stringent mechanical calculation of child support may neither be reasonable, or fair. These are special circumstances in which may a California family court deviate from the child support guideline amount. In fact, deviation is only allowed when permitted by law:

  • Both parties seem to have agreed to a different amount;
  • Selling the family home has been legally deferred and the home’s rental value is more than the mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes;
  • The parent charged with paying child support “has an extraordinarily high income” and the amount calculated far exceeds the amount that would be actually be required to raise the child;
  • A parent’s contributions to a child’s care are not commensurate with that parent’s custodial time with that child; and
  • Special circumstances exist relating to time-share or special medical needs.

In all these cases, the family law courts must look at admissible evidence that succeeds in making a case as to why the guideline amount is inappropriate or unjust. Even then, the court must record the reasons for its decision in the case record whenever it deviates from the statewide uniform guideline formula amount. This includes describing why deviating from the guidelines is in the best interest of the children.

Arguing that the child support guideline amount should (or should not) be overridden takes skill and deep legal knowledge. If you’re in this position, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable California divorce attorney. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger  will make sure you successfully navigate California child support law. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.