Monthly Archives: December 2012

Surviving the Holidays During or After a Divorce

The holiday season can be a difficult time for newly divorced individuals or ones that are in the process of getting a divorce. While most people enjoy and anticipate the holidays, divorced people can approach it with sadness, anxiety, and loneliness. The following are some tips to help you cope through the holidays.

  1. Take a vacation – If the holidays are just too painful and stressful to handle, get away from it all by going on vacation. Ask a family member or friend to accompany you. Create a fun, relaxing environment for yourself to get through the holidays.
  2. Make a schedule – Get organized and make a list of all the things you need to get done. Set target dates to accomplish your goals on time.
  3. Lean on friends and family – Your friends and family know you are going through a tough time. Ask them for support to help you through the holidays.
  4. Take care of yourself – In addition to eating healthy and getting a proper amount of sleep, take measures to pamper yourself. Do something that will make you feel good, like a spa day or going golfing.
  5. Be realistic – Don’t put too much weight on the holidays. It’s not going to be a picture perfect time but you will manage through it. Keep reminding yourself that it will get better over time.

If you still feel overwhelmed and depressed, consider seeing a therapist. A good therapist can help you process your emotions and cope during this stressful time.

Paternity Matters

In the case of a separation of a married couple or the dissolution of a domestic partnership, a situation could arise where the father figure of the children born within the marriage or domestic partnership may question the paternity of one or more children. In the state of California, the law makes the assumption that the husband and wife, or the domestic partners in a relationship, are, in fact, the parents of the children born within the marriage or domestic partnership. However, this could be denied by the husband or one of the domestic partners. For parents who were not married nor in a legal domestic partnership, paternity is not established legally from the start, unless the name of the father appears on the child’s birth certificate and it was signed by him. Questioning paternity in either situation is serious, and it is imperative that this be handled with the aid of an attorney, for both parties involved.

In California, there are two main options to choose from when establishing paternity. The first is to have the father sign a voluntary declaration of paternity. This is exactly what it implies; both parties have voluntarily signed the declaration, and so have declared that they both are the parents of said children. For further information, you can follow this link:

http://www.courts.ca.gov/1201.htm#acc11294

The other main option is DNA testing. If requested by either party, the father must submit to a DNA test. This is done through a court of law. It is important to note, that even if the results are positive that the said person is the father, it can still be denied by the father. In this case, you must go back to court. The judge will take all evidence and the DNA test into consideration prior to making a ruling on paternity.

Establishing paternity is important when dealing with issues of child support, child custody and visitation, and concerns of the children’s healthcare plan.

Family Law Terms and Definitions

After perusing the site, you might have questions regarding some of the terms within these articles and how California actually defines these terms. Below is a list of the terms that have been used repeatedly and are good to know as you continue to read up on these topics.

Annulment – the legal invalidation of a marriage or domestic partnership by a court of law; reasons to petition for an annulment include, but are not limited to: the illegal age of consent by one or both parties, temporary insanity of one or both parties, or the possibility that the union was forced.

Child custody – used to describe the relationship of the child/children under the age of 18 after the dissolution of a marriage or domestic partnership. It includes who the child/children will live after the end of a marriage.

Child support – money that is given by a parent to the other parent to help financially support the child/children.

Domestic partnership – two people who are not married, yet have entered into a permanent, long – term, sexual relationship. They live together and share domestic duties. This type of relationship is common in same – sex relationships. In California, this union is legal once a Declaration of Domestic Partnership is filed by both parties with the Secretary of State.

Domestic violence – any type of emotional, physical, and/or sexual act of violence directed towards a spouse or domestic partner. This includes, but is not limited to: coercion, threats, intimidation, and assault.

Legal Separation – an arrangement made within a court of law, by which both parties of a marriage or domestic partnership agree to remain legally together, yet live apart. Usually couples choose this due to issues within the marriage or domestic partnership, and it gives them the time and space needed to decide whether or not to stay together.

Mediation – the process of negotiation during the dissolution of a marriage whereby an unbiased third party is involved.

Nullity – see annulment.

Parentage – the decision by a court of law as to who the parents of the child/children are that were born within a marriage or domestic partnership.

Paternity – the determination by a court of law as to who the father is of the child/children that were born during a relationship, marriage, domestic partnership, or otherwise.

Spousal and domestic partner support  – also known as alimony, it is the duty set out by a court of law for one of the parties within a marriage or domestic partnership to financially support the other spouse or domestic partner for a given amount of time.

Visitation – a limited form of child custody, whereby one parent is allowed to visit the child/children at a given time, which was predetermined in a court of law. This parent is usually the one who does not have sole custody of the child/children.

Civil Unions vs Marriage: Pros and Cons

A civil union provides a couple the option of enjoying the same basic benefits of marriage.  However, there exists much confusion over what exactly a civil union is.
So, what are the pros and cons of civil unions?

Pros of a Civil Union over marriage
· The same right to federal benefits
· No religious affiliation (which may be a pro for non-religious couples)
· In some cases, civil unions are the only option (same-sex partners for example)
· Civil unions provide an alternative commitment for couples where one or both partners find the concept of marriage daunting

Cons of a Civil Union as opposed to marriage
· Socially, civil unions still don’t convey the same
· Certain unions may only be recognized in that state (same-sex unions for example)
· The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents same-sex couples from receiving federal-level benefits
· No religious affiliation (which may be a pro for religious couples)

On average, the benefits of a civil union are generally less generous than those of an actual marriage (taxes, health insurance, social security survivor benefits for example).