Articles Posted in Family Law

As Peter Facinelli’s career takes off with the Twilight movies, it causes much stress and tension for his personal life as he just filed for dissolution of marriage from Jennie Garth. The documents were recently filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court and Facinelli cites irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. Facinelli cites a date of separation of January 1, 2012 (which was 3 months prior to the public annoucement).

Regarding child custody and visitation, Facinelli is seeking joint legal and joint physical custody of the parties’ three minor children.

Jennie Garth also filed her Response to the Los Angeles County divorce petition. Garth is also requesting joint legal and joint physical custody of the children and that her maiden name be restored.

This is a strange story. What mother in her right mind would sell her child? Apparently, Kenia Quiala Bosque, age 30, tried to sell one of her 4 children to an aquaintance for $7,000. Bosque stipulated that she put her kids in danger by trying to sell one of them. She did this to avoid a dependency trial. As a result, the children will now remain in the care of their father.

The case is not over for Bosque though. She still faces criminal charges that she tried to sell her youngest son to an acquaintance for $7,000 in December.

Judge Mari Sampedro-Iglesia accepted a plea deal worked out in the juvenile justice building hallways among attorneys for both parents and the Department of Children and Families. In the deal, Bosque agreed that “under severe emotional distress [she] made an empty threat to exchange her child for a sum of money, that placed her children in imminent risk of harm.”

So, its a new year and a new you! You may be going through a Los Angeles County or Orange County divorce or are contemplating getting a divorce. Going through a divorce is an emotional and stressful time not only for the parties involved but for the children, if there are any. Here are some stress release tips on coping during such a painful period.

1) Get a breathe of fresh air. Take a walk through a mall or a park. It will remind you that there is life after an Orange County or Los Angeles County divorce.

2) Get your yoga on! I turned to yoga about 5 years ago when I suffered severe lower back pain from lifting weights. I started practicing yoga heavily in April of 2009 about 5-6 times a week to help with the “mental” stress of being a lawyer. Now, I’m an addict! I love practicing yoga on a daily basis to clear the mind, strengthen the body, challenge the body and most importantly…. to just “be”.

Last week the internet was a buzz over Russell Brand’s divorce filing from Katy Perry. Reports are stating that the couple did not have a prenuptual agreement. Pursuant to California law, since it is a community property state, all assets acquired by the couple duirng marriage will be divided 50/50.

Forbes magazine estimates that Perry’s net worth is $44 million and that Brand’s net worth is $15 million. From an Orange County divorce lawyer’s standpoint, luckily the couple do not have any children. Otherwise, child custody and visitation issues would inevitably be raised.

Unless the parties agree to waive receipt of spousal support, Perry will likely have to pay Brand spousal support for one-half of the length of the marriage. Further, if there were assets that were acquired during the marriage, absent a prenuptual agreement, the parties will have to divide same equally.

Last week, Orange County was a buzz over the killing of 8 people in a hair salon.

Scott Evans Dekraai of Huntington Beach is the suspect in the worst mass killing in Orange County. He is currently being held without bail since his arrest Wednesday after the massacre at the Salon Meritage on Pacific Coast Highway. Dekraai was apparently targeting his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, but as a result 7 other people were killed and 1 person is in critical condition.

Fournier and Dekraai were engaged in a bitter Orange County child custody battle over their 8-year-old son.

The question of who owns the Dodgers will soon be determined next year in the latest saga of the McCourt divorce. The divorce trial is expected to take place in the Spring or Summer of 2012 and last about 30 to 45 days.

To recap, Frank McCourt claims sole ownership of the Dodgers while soon to be ex-wife Jamie claims that she owns half. It is unclear when the Dodgers will emerge from federal bankruptcy protection. After the Dodgers took a $150-million bankruptcy loan from Major League Baseball, Frank McCourt’s attorneys said the team had funding to operate until well into next season.

Although Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon could decide ownership of the team before the bankruptcy proceedings end, he emphasized Wednesday that “the ultimate question of the disposition of the Dodgers” would need to wait for a resolution in Bankruptcy Court. Until the issue gets out of bankruptcy court, the team cannot be sold through the family law court.

From another Orange County (the one in Florida) comes a child custody case that is nothing short of shocking. Citing local sheriff’s deputies, television station WFTV reports that an Orange County father was stripped of his custody rights after “his 18-month-old son… was found drinking from beer bottles alone in the front yard.”

The television station reports that the child has been placed in foster care. It says the father – who was reportedly found passed-out drunk inside the family residence at the time of his arrest – told police and child welfare officials that the toddler’s mother is hospitalized for mental illness and that “he has no other nearby relatives to care for the child.”

Obviously this is an extreme case. It does, however, highlight one of the many crucial roles an Orange County family law attorney can play for clients here in California. Children in situations like this tend to be moved into foster care as an emergency measure. Relatives wishing to get them out, claim Los Angeles or Orange County child custody and provide a safe and loving home will generally need careful, detail-oriented legal assistance to find their way through the sometimes intimidating world of the California family courts.

A recent California appellate court ruling may have significant consequences for a small number of people facing unusual family and civil law cases here in Orange County and elsewhere throughout the state. According to Metropolitan News Service, the ruling by the state’s Sixth District Court of Appeal establishes new criteria for what is known as the “putative spouse test,” allowing courts to use subjective criteria in determining the outcome of a case.

A “putative spouse” is someone who, in good faith, believes themselves to be married even though the union is, in fact, void (for example, because a California divorce has not been obtained to dissolve an earlier marriage). In this particular case the court was addressing the question of whether “a woman who claims she did not know that the man she married was already married to someone else” could file a wrongful death suit related to the demise of her ‘husband.’

According to Metropolitan, Nancy Ceja married her husband Robert in 2003 three months before his divorce from his first wife became official. Robert died in an on-the-job accident in 2007. Nancy claimed that she only discovered the couple’s marriage had never been valid when she moved to file a wrongful death suit related to Robert’s passing.

A celebrity child custody and visitation case suddenly got a lot nastier last week when mixed martial arts star Chuck Liddell was publicly accused by his ex-wife of kidnapping the couple’s son and taking him to California, according to the celebrity-tracking website TMZ. Liddell, in turn, appeared before a California family law court to accuse his ex of neglecting the child.

The case seems to have begun in late March when Liddell traveled to Colorado, where his ex-wife Lori Geyer lives with her current husband, for a visit with the couple’s 12-year-old son. Four days later, TMZ reports, Geyer received a call from Liddell’s attorney informing her that the boy was in California and would remain there until a custody hearing could take place.

A week later Liddell was in a California court seeking full custody of the boy, claiming his mother had neglected him by leaving a “severe toothache” untreated for “2 or 3 months,” and also that “the boy was allegedly abused by being forced to perform physical labor – including snow removal.”

A bill currently being considered by the California legislature would make significant changes to the way California child dependency hearings are conducted in the state. This crucial aspect of California family law is not widely understood, and merits closer examination.

According to Capitol Weekly, a publication focused on politics and government in Sacramento, hearings in California’s dependency courts “are considered “presumptively closed” – that is, members of the public and the press are barred unless a judge feels there is a compelling reason to open a hearing up.” Dependency Courts are a special sub-set of the broader California court system that hear cases dealing with the foster care system and with California child custody issues stemming from alleged abuse and/or neglect.

As Capitol Weekly notes, “the rational for having closed courts is to protect vulnerable children.” But backers of AB 73, a bill seeking to make dependency court hearings presumptively open, take the view that public scrutiny is essential for preventing miscarriages of justice. The Weekly notes that there is no uniform national standard for openness in dependency courts – only in Oregon and Pennsylvania are dependency hearings always open – but that “the pendulum appears to be shifting towards more open courts” nationally, especially here in the western states. A recent opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle put forward the view that greater scrutiny of the dependency courts will provide an extra layer of insurance against ill-considered rulings.