Monthly Archives: January 2016

Post-judgment Modifications

Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton

Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

After your Judgment is final, you may still have the right to modify certain portions of your final divorce decree. Los Angeles Post Judgement Modification attorneysOne of the most common post-judgment modification may be a Request for Orders to change the amount of child support you pay, or receive based on a changed circumstances. The other most common post-judgment modification is a Request to Modify Custody and/or Visitation.

MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT

Since child support is primarily based on the relative income of the parties and the amount of time each parent spends with the child or children, whenever there is a change in circumstances regarding any of these factors, the amount of guideline child support will necessarily change.

If you have experienced a decrease in income since your child support order was made, you must file a Request for Order to change the amount of child support you pay.  If you do not, you are legally obligated to continue paying the same amount of child support.  If you do not pay the court-ordered amount of child support, you will incur interest on any unpaid amounts.  Further, child support arrears will continue to accrue and is not dischargeable in Bankruptcy.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I SHOULD MODIFY MY CHILD SUPPORT ORDER?

  • Change in income of either party: Has your income changed since the last court order was made? Has the other parent’s income changed since the last court order was made?
  • Change in timeshare: Are you spending more time with your children since the last court order was made? Is the other parent spending less time with the children since the last court order was made?
  • Child Care Costs: Does your Order provide for the other parent to pay for one-half of the child care expenses?
  • Extracurricular Activities/Summer Camp: Does your Order provide for the other parent to pay for one-half of the extracurricular activities and summer camp?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably need to modify your child support order.

A Court Order for child support will remain the same unless one parent files a Request for Order to change it.  An order for child support can only be modified by filing the proper paperwork with the Court and serving it on the other party.  A court hearing will be set, and both parties will be able to present evidence of the changed circumstances warranting a modification of the child support order.

MODIFICATION OF CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS

As your child grows, it may be appropriate to modify the custody and visitation orders contained in your Final Judgment. You have a legal right to ask the Court to increase your timeshare. You may have already worked out a parenting plan with the other parent which provides you with more time. If that is the case, then you need to formalize your agreement with the Court. It is not enough that you and the other parent have an informal understanding about custody and visitation–you must modify the Court Orders. This can be done in one of two ways:  you can hire a family law attorney to draft a Stipulation and Proposed Order setting forth the agreement you already informally have with the other parent.  In such cases, no additional court appearance is necessary.  However, if either party will not agree to put the “new” custodial plan in writing, then you must file a Request for Order to Modify Child Custody and set forth the facts necessary to ask the Court to change the prior custody and visitation orders.

For more information or to speak with a Los Angeles attorney today, call the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton at (310) 300-4021.

Domestic Violence

Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton

Los Angeles Domestic Violence Restraining Order Lawyers

Domestic Violence Restraining Orders are unfortunately common-place in family law cases.Los Angeles Dosmetic Violence Attorneys divorce Lawyers Sometimes they are legitimate, and other times, TROs are filed simple to gain an advantage in the underlying custody case. Regardless, both the alleged victim as well as the alleged perpetrator are entitled to due process of law–that means that each is entitled to tell his or her story to the judge at the time of the restraining order trial.

I have written extensively about the topic of TROs and restraining orders, and encourage you to take a look at the my web site for information about obtaining a restraining order if you are a victim of domestic violence as well as defending yourself if accused of domestic violence.

For help with your restraining order, don’t leave your situation to chance – contact an attorney right away. For an immediate appointment, call the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton at (310) 300-4021.

Spousal Support (Alimony)

Los Angeles Spousal Support and Alimony Lawyers – Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton

Spousal Support (also known as Alimony) is paid by one spouse to the other to maintain the marital standard of living. There is no definitive Spousal Support (Alimony) by Los Angeles Divorce Lawyers and family Law Attorneys formula for setting what is called “temporary” or “pendente lite” spousal support, even though the court often uses a computer program to fix the amount in the early stages of a divorce action.

“Permanent” spousal support is far more complex to set: A family law judge is not allowed to use a computer program to fix permanent support, and California law specifically states that the judge is to consider what is known as the 4320 factors at the time of trial.

When a spouse is negotiating the appropriate amount of permanent support, there are many things to consider–and many ways to screw it up. It is often appropriate to discount the amount of temporary spousal support when calculating permanent spousal support. It is also important to negotiate the duration, or amount of time, spousal support will be paid.

If one is the payor of spousal support, then ideally one wants to secure a waiver of spousal support. However, if this is not done right, then the supported spouse could come back to court and ask for alimony at some point in the future.

If one is involved in what is known as a long-term marriage, then it would be wise to hire competent counsel to advise you of your legal rights and obligations with regard to spousal support payments on a “permanent” basis”.

If you have been married for a short period of time, then the general rule of thumb is that spousal support will be paid for half the length of the marriage. But, here too, there are many ways to make a mistake, and you would be well-served to hire an experienced family law attorney. To make an appointment, please contact the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton at (310) 300-4021.

Child Support

Los Angeles Child Support Lawyers – Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton

In California, child support is based on a mathematical formula known as
“guideline. ” The amount of child support Los Angeles Child Support Attorneys family law Lawyers is based on primarily two factors: the relative income of both parents and how much time each parent spends with the child or children.

It is important to note that unless you have a Court Order for child support, the custodial parent has no legal right to collect child support from the other parent.

Likewise, a parent does not have a legal obligation to pay for child support unless there is a Court Order in place.

A parent seeking child support must file what is called a Request for Orders with the Court. Doing so will trigger a hearing date, and a family law judge will determine the amount of child support based on each party’s Income and Expense Declaration as well as other evidence presented at the time of hearing.

A family law attorney will be able to tell you how much child support will be and draft the Request for Order with the Court.  At the hearing, we will present evidence and oral argument to the Court, and draft an Order After Hearing setting forth any rulings the judge made at the hearing.  An Order After Hearing is a legal document, a Court Order, that gives you the legal right to collect a specified amount of child support from the other parent. If that amount is not paid, we will prepare, file, and serve a wage garnishment so that the child support is withdrawn directly from the other parent’s pay check.

If you are served with a Request for Order for child support, or a request to modify a prior child support order, then you, too, will need to file papers with the Court and provide a current Income and Expense Declaration. If you choose to hire The Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton to represent you in court, we will argue your position to the judge and advocate on your behalf. If you do not file a Responsive Declaration to the RFO for Child Support, then the judge will make a child support order that you may not think is fair.  Thus, the best way to protect yourself is to seek the advice of competent counsel and have representation at the hearing.

I PAY CHILD SUPPORT. CAN I CHANGE THE COURT ORDER?

If you pay the other parent child support and have been laid off, for example, it is in your best interest to request a court hearing immediately.  Did you know that if you do not, the prior child support order will continue until the court modifies it? EXAMPLE #1: You have been ordered to pay $500/month in child support. You lose your job. You will continue to owe $500/month, plus 10% interest on any unpaid support, unless you file a motion to modify your child support.
EXAMPLE #2:  You are paying child support based upon having physical custody of your children 30% of the time. After several months it turns out that you actually have physical custody of the children 50% of the time. You should file a motion to lower your child support order.

I RECEIVE CHILD SUPPORT. CAN I CHANGE THE COURT ORDER?

If you wish to modify a child support order because, for example, you discovered that the other parent earns more income now than before, it is in your best interest to request a court hearing immediately.  Did you know that if you wait to file the proper paperwork, you may waive your right to any increased amount in past months?  If you do nothing, the law cannot help you!
EXAMPLE: You are currently receiving $500 per month in child support from the other parent, whose income has just increased substantially. You will continue to receive $500 per month unless you file a motion to modify your child support to a higher amount and the court orders an increase.

Contact a Knowledgeable Los Angeles Family Law Attorney Today!

If you are interested in family law representation or need advice for a matter affecting your family, please contact the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton today at (310) 300-4021!

Divorce

Los Angeles Divorce Lawyers – The Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton

Family Law Attorneys Los Angeles Divorce and Family Law Attorneys Cathleen E. Norton handle issues relating to divorce, custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support, among other things.

The emotional aspects of a divorce are difficult–the legal aspects should not be. A competent family law attorney should be able to guide your decision-making by providing you with information and legal options based on your budget. Not all divorces are complex, and the goal of a competent family law attorney is to provide you with the legal analysis necessary to avoid costly mistakes in your divorce.

UNCONTESTED DIVORCE

The Uncontested Divorce Process is fairly simple:

  • One of the parties files what is called a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, along with some other forms.
  • The other party is served with the papers, and files what is called a Response to Dissolution of Marriage.
  • The parties exchange financial information, including an Income and Expense Declaration and Schedule of Assets and Debts. Once completed, a form is filed with the Court letting it know that the parties have completed this requirement.
  • If the parties agree on all of the issues relating to custody and visitation, support, and division of assets and debts, then your family law attorney will draft what is called a Stipulated Judgment, along with other required forms. Once signed by both parties, it is filed with the Court.

This process is known as an “uncontested divorce.”

CONTESTED DIVORCE

In a contested divorce, the parties are unable to agree on certain issues like custody and visitation. In these situations, it is necessary to file a Motion or “Request for Orders” in Family Court to ask the judge to decide issues that the parties cannot.

A Request for Order is essentially a Motion filed with the Court that puts a particular matter on calendar. That is to say, you are asking the court for a hearing on whatever issue you and your spouse cannot agree upon. You can ask for child support, spousal support, custody, visitation, restraining orders, and a whole range of other things. The court will schedule a hearing during which your family law attorney will argue your case. Prior to the court hearing, you are required to file certain papers with court. This allows the judge to read both the Request for Orders and the Responsive Declaration prior to your court date. Do not just show up expecting that the judge will receive your evidence in court. That is not how the process works. And while it is always best to have a competent family law attorney represent you, there is help for those cannot afford counsel.

HIRE THE RIGHT FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY

When hiring a family law attorney, especially in a locale such as Los Angeles County, you want to be sure to make the right choice. Check his or her credentials and client reviews, and make sure you feel comfortable with your attorney’s ability to develop a case strategy tailored to your particular goals.

Contact a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney Today!

If you are interested in family law representation or need advice for a matter affecting your family, please contact the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton today at (310) 300-4021!

What is a dissolution of marriage, anyway? Los Angeles Divorce Attorney, Cathleen E. Norton, explains…

DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE = DIVORCE
A “dissolution of marriage” action is just a fancy name for a divorce case.
In California, dissolution of marriage by Law Offices Of Cathleen E. Norton a married person can request a divorce by filing a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” along with a form called a Summons. The Summons is issued by the Court, and then both the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and the Summons is personally served on the other party. In Divorce cases, the person filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is called the Petitioner. The other party to the divorce is called the Respondent.The divorce is a little more complicated if the married persons have children. In divorce cases with children, the Petitioner must also file a form called a Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. Since almost no one can remember the name of this form, family law attorneys and judges call it “UCCJEA” for short.

Once the Summons, Petition, and UCCJEA forms are served on the other party, the Respondent has 30 days in order to file a form called a Response. If the Respondent does not file a Response within 30 days, then the Petitioner can file a form called Request to Enter Default. This will allow the Petitioner to get what is called a “default judgment” against the other party. If you have been served with divorce papers and don’t know what to do, it’s probably a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney especially if child custody and visitation, child support, and alimony are issues in your case.

Let’s assume that Respondent does file a Response to a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. What’s the next step in a divorce?

The next step in a divorce action is for both parties to complete certain financial disclosure documents, often called PDD’s for short.

The third step in a simple divorce case is to negotiate settlement. If the parties can agree on child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support (alimony), and division of community property assets and debts, then an experienced family law attorney will draft what is called a Stipulated Judgment. Once both parties sign the Stipulated Judgment and related forms, your divorce attorney will submit all the paperwork to the Court. In such cases, the parties will never have to appear before a Judge, and your attorney will provide you with a Notice of Entry of Judgment when the divorce is final. Hurray! You survived the divorce and the whole process was relatively painless and inexpensive!

If, however, the parties do not agree to the terms of the divorce, then one of parties will file paperwork in Court asking for child custody and visitationchild custody and visitation orders, child supportchild support orders, spousal support (alimony), etc. In such complex divorce cases, both parties would be well advised to seek assistance from an experienced family law attorney. Child custody can be complicated. Child support is based, in part, on how much Child custody each parent has with the child so it is directly related to child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support (alimony) can also be a very tricky issue.

If you are wondering how much you will pay in child support or alimony, contact the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton for a free consultation. If you are wondering how much child support and alimony you are legally entitled to, then call us so we can explain how it all works.

If, after getting temporary child custody and child support orders, the parties are still unable to negotiate a settlement, then the Court will set the case for a trial. There are only 2 ways to end a divorce case—either by settlement or by trial. The choice is yours—but you should not make such a decision without consulting with an experienced family law attorney.
If you would like help in your divorce case, please contact the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton at (310) 300-4021. You may also want to look at some commonly asked questions and answers about divorce, which can be found at www.nortonfamilylaw.com.

The Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton is a top family law firm dedicated to protecting your legal rights. Our goal is to empower you. Our job is to protect you. Cathleen E. Norton, Esq. is an experienced family law attorney who obtained both her B.A. and J.D. credentials from UCLA. You won’t find a better qualified attorney to represent you! We have offices in Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, and Westlake Village and service family law cases in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Call us today for a free consultation at (310) 300-4021. For more information about the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton, please visit our website at www.nortonfamilylaw.com.

Custody…You Can’t Retain What You Don’t Have

Law Offices Of Cathleen E. Norton

Los Angeles Child Custody and Family Law Attorneys

It may seem quite obvious, but a non-custodial parent can’t retain custody of a child they don’t reside with. Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyers Family Law Attorneys That proposition is exactly what was attempted by the mother of a child in In re Miguel C., a case recently decided by the Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District.

In that case, the child was removed from the mother’s custody per the petition of the Alameda County Social Services Agency pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 300. The mother argued that removal was not necessary and that a less drastic alternative was available—the Court could allow the father, as the non-offending parent to “retain” custody pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 361(c)(1). That section states that a court shall “also consider, as a reasonable means to protect the minor, nallowing a non-offending parent or guardian to retain physical custody as long as that parent or guardian presents a plan acceptable to the court demonstrating that he or she will be able to protect the child from future harm.

The Appellate Court made clear that this was not applicable where the child did not live with the non-offending parent, as was the case here. It could not order that the father retain what he did not have. The Court went on to state that it could not place the child with the father without first removing the child from the mother.

Many family law cases unfortunately arise or are complicated by the neglect of a child by the mother or father. It’s important to know what the law says can be done to effectuate a change in custody. Whether you are trying to retain custody of your child or gain custody from the custodial parent, utilizing the law properly will ensure your case is seen in the best possible light.

Send your questions to cathleen@cnortonlaw.com

Change of Circumstance: Material or Substantial?

It is established law that California requires a change of circumstances before a modification of child support will be granted.Los Angeles Child Custody Lawyers Family Law Attorneys But what exactly constitutes a change in circumstances? Previous cases have simply said there must be a change of circumstances and left it at that. More often however courts have used the term material change of circumstances. Other cases however have called for a substantial change before granting a modification.

The Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District recently concluded in the case of In re Margulis that a “material” change in circumstances is the same as a “substantial” change in circumstances for the purpose of modifying child support.

The court went on to articulate the significance of either a material or substantial change of circumstance as evidenced by past case law, Webster’s Dictionary and Black’s law dictionary. Because a trial court has wide latitude in determining that a change of circumstance has been successfully demonstrated, the court’s decision will be overturned only for an abuse of discretion.

So what does this all mean? Make sure that when you sign a final support order, you fully understand what is contained in the order. Furthermore, understand that what will be required to make a change in the order down the line is, in a word, substantial.
Send your questions to cathleen@cnortonlaw.com or call us (310) 300-4021
.

Post-Separation Distribution, a heavy burden?

New case-law in California has changed the way that courts will address a “non-managing” spouse attempting to charge the other spouse of misappropriating community property assets. In Marriage of Margulis, Post-Separation Distribution by Law offices of Cathleen E. Norton the Fourth District Appellate Court held that when a showing is made about the existence and value of community assets in the control of the other spouse after the spouses have separated, the burden of proof shifts to the controlling spouse to show the proper disposition or the lesser value of the assets.

Why is this important? In many cases, one spouse may yield all the power in a relationship and continue to exercise that control after the spouses are living “separate and apart” but before the divorce is finalized. Previously, when the controlling spouse misappropriated community assets in their control and the other spouse attempted to charge the controlling spouse with the assets, no case-law required that the burden shift to the controlling spouse to prove the assets were disposed of properly. It will now be more difficult for a controlling spouse to squander community assets and walk away without answering for their actions.

Send your questions to cathleen@cnortonlaw.com

Greetings

Welcome to the Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer blog. Perhaps you are here seeking knowledge to make informed decisions about your life.  Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer blog by the Law Offices Of Cathleen E. Norton Perhaps you or someone you know is contemplating divorce. Regardless of your situation, understand that divorce can be scary but that learning more about the process will empower you.

The more you learn and the more steps you take to be informed, the more prepared you will be to deal with all the challenges that arise in a divorce. These challenges may include making legal decisions, coping with the emotional toil brought on by divorce or simply learning how to discuss these issues with your family.

This blog will attempt to shed some light on some of the issues involved in divorce, child custody and family law in general. When appropriate, noteworthy news items or developments in the legal area of family law will be discussed. As no blog is a substitute for competent legal advice, please feel free to send email with any questions or visit the Law Offices of Cathleen E. Norton website for guidance on your particular issue.