What to Do When Divorced Parents Disagree About Healthcare

What to Do When Divorced Parents Disagree About Healthcare

Divorced parents Carlos and Sarah were able to handle disagreements about raising their two children – usually amicably. But they finally reached a potential impasse when trying to make healthcare decisions. Often, decisions about medical treatment are time-sensitive. Therefore, Carlos and Sarah needed to deal with their disagreement about healthcare as quickly as possible. Continue reading

3 Types of Separate Property in a California Marriage

3 Types of Separate Property in a California Marriage

When people get married, it’s often said that they are becoming one. Their lives, friends, and family are combined to form their new life. But what about their property? Does one person’s stuff automatically belong to the new spouse? Not necessarily, especially in a community property state like California. Possessions can be considered community (owned by both), separate (owned by one person), or mixed (a little of both). To make things a little more complicated, three types of separate property can exist in a California marriage. Continue reading

In re Marriage of McHugh When Spousal Unemployment in a Divorce Is Not Accidental

In re Marriage of McHugh: When Spousal Unemployment in a Divorce Is Not Accidental

Under California family law, both parents are expected to be financially responsible for their children. One parent often pays child support to the parent with a more significant custodial role. Courts base child support awards partially on the paying parent’s income. But what happens when that parent no longer has a job or other source of income? Even worse, what if spousal unemployment was not an accident? Continue reading

What’s the Easiest Way to Dissolve my Domestic Partnership

What’s the Easiest Way to Dissolve my Domestic Partnership

On the eve of their third anniversary, Dwight and Angelo decided their domestic partnership just wasn’t working anymore. They both worried that terminating their relationship could be expensive and stressful. But they also felt it was the right thing to do and hoped to move quickly. They began to explore their options. It looked like the easiest way to dissolve their domestic partnership might be through something called summary dissolution. Continue reading

What Acclaimed TV Show Frasier Got Right About Child Custody

What Acclaimed TV Show Frasier Got Right About Child Custody

Frasier delighted its fans during its 1993 to 2004 run. This Seattle-based show followed the antics of a radio psychiatrist and his friends and family. In addition to his father and brother, Frasier had to forge and maintain relationships with his ex-wife, Lilith, and his young son, Frederick. But Lilith and Frederick lived across the country in Boston. Their living arrangements presented some problems with child custody and visitation. While the show presented these issues in a humane yet humorous way, there are some significant lessons to take away. Continue reading

QDRO Dividing Retirement Plans During a Divorce

QDRO: Dividing Retirement Plans During a Divorce

Property division is one of the most critical and contentious parts of a divorce. The parties and their attorneys must first identify all assets and debts, then categorize them as marital property or separate property. Some assets might even be a little bit marital and a little bit separate. Investment and retirement accounts can be particularly difficult for people to split up. However, a QDRO takes care of the actual process of dividing retirement plans. Continue reading

Does California Family Law Favor Women

Does California Family Law Favor Women?

Sometimes our fears are unfounded, based solely on gossip or a story told by a friend-of-a-friend. For example, men often fear divorce because they feel that California family law and courts favor women on important issues like child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. Feeling nervous about an impending divorce is normal and justified. It is a huge, life-altering step. However, it’s critical to understand that California family laws are not biased in favor of either gender. Continue reading

Do Movies About Divorce Get It Rightt

Do Movies About Divorce Get It Right?

Be aware that there are spoilers ahead if you have never seen the movies about divorce discussed in this article.

Mrs. Doubtfire – Stability Trumps Whimsy When It Comes to Child Custody and Visitation

This 1993 film starring the late Robin Williams focused on divorce, child custody, and visitation in a poignant yet comical way. As Daniel and Miranda Hillard’s marriage ended, Daniel’s whimsical behavior made him look like an unfit parent. He and his children had a great relationship, but the court granted custody to Miranda. After all, she had a good job and a stable home environment. The court also insisted Daniel clean up his act and limited his access to the kids.

Daniel’s response was to transform himself into an older female character – Mrs. Doubtfire – and get hired to be his own children’s nanny. He and the children became closer until his scheme fell apart, making him look even more unstable. Unlike many movies about divorce, this film ends on a high note. But did the movie makers get it right?

Child custody and visitation are significant points. It seemed the court tried to make decisions that were in the children’s best interests at all times. A stable home life is essential, and Daniel, at first, did not offer this. It made sense to give Miranda full custody and to limit Daniel’s visits. So, it appears that the court did get it right

However, the court may not have considered the children’s feelings on this matter. Although children are not always the best judge of character, Daniel’s kids were close to him and needed to see him. Daniel and Miranda worked out a compromise on visitation that the judge probably would have been approved if included in a California parenting plan.

Kramer vs. Kramer – When Home Away from Home Isn’t Home

This 1979 legal drama is about Ted and Joanna Kramer and their son, Billy. Joanna deserts Billy, leaving him Ted. Unfortunately, she had been Billy’s primary caregiver because of Ted’s high-stress, time-consumer job.

After being gone for more than a year, Joanna returns to divorce Ted and claim custody of Billy., despite Joanna’s abandonment, she won custody of her son.

Joanna prepares an apartment for Billy and then tearfully confesses to Ted that Billy’s true home is with Ted. We don’t see any courtroom scenes as the movie ends soon after, so it’s unsure whether Joanna officially yielded custody or not.

Courts in the 1970s still tended to favor mothers over fathers when it came to custody battles. Movies about divorce did, too. The court here seemed to ignore Joanna’s abandonment and Ted’s stepping up to be a good father to Billy. This may be partly due to something called the “tender years doctrine” that presumed moms should have custody of very young children.

In a California divorce, the courts make custody decisions based on many factors, including what is in the child’s best interests. Abandonment is a serious concern, especially when the child’s other parent is not unfit. A California judge faced with this situation today might have granted sole physical and legal custody to Ted. However, both parents may negotiate a parenting plan and present it to the court for approval.

The War of the Roses – Property Division Can Be a Thorny Issue

This dark comedy shares the story of Oliver and Barbara Rose. During their marriage, they had two children and became very wealthy due to Oliver’s legal career. Finally, though, Barbara confesses she no longer loves Oliver, and they decide to divorce.

The real problems begin when they start splitting up their property. The mansion that Barbara had found and filled with expensive possession became the main point of contention. Barbara kicks Oliver out of the house. Despite his attorney’s advice to compromise, Oliver returns to the home. As their conflict spirals out of control, the couple begins destroying their home, its contents, and eventually each other.

As movies about divorce go, this one captures how personal property division can become to divorcing couples. Sometimes it’s not about the actual property. Instead, personal feelings can get in the way, preventing much-needed compromise.

The best way Oliver and Barbara could have prevented the loss of property and life here would have been to heed the advice of their divorce attorney. Since California is a community property estate, shared assets and debts are split 50-50 with a few exceptions. Attorneys with property division experience could have used California law to help the Roses categorize their property and then amicably divide it.

Movies About Divorce Don’t Always Get It Right. Talk to a California Divorce Attorney About Your Divorce.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce, legal separation, and annulment. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.