Tomorrow is Valentine's day, and I'm sure many people are scrambling for last-second gift ideas. It might be unconventional, but maybe a prenup or a post-nup is the way to go this Valentine's day! You may think a prenup is not romantic, but below are all of the reasons why it would truly be the best Valentine's day gift idea this year.
1. A prenuptial agreement outlines what belongs to who entering into the marriage, thus making it clear to both parties during the marriage which things belong to who.
2. Getting a prenuptial agreement can be a great educational experience. It teaches you all about what you are getting into as you approach your upcoming marriage. Or, for a post-nup, it teaches you the status of all of your property. Many people don't realize that in California all income after marriage belongs to both parties equally. If you get a prenup, you will have more knowledge!
3. It's a practical gift that is still in the spirit of love! Some people struggle finding that right gift that is in the spirit of Valentines day that is still practical. A prenup is all about love and marriage, yet it's also practical, as it outlines the roles of both parties in the marriage. What could be better?
4. In all seriousness, a prenup can help lessen any potential future heartbreak, by making the divorce process simpler and easier. So, you could be (but hopefully not!) saving yourself from sad future Valentine's days.
When you and your ex are no longer together, typically an arrangement for child custody and visitation is put into place, whether by agreement or court order. Often, these agreements leave children with one parent primarily, with visitation with the other parent on alternating weekends, in the summer, or on particular days of the week. When things are going smoothly, this is no problem, but more often than not, life is rocky, and visitation arrangements might not make your child happy. The question is, when does the court care?
Well, it depends on what the problem is. The rule of thumb is that the court is open to hearing a child's opinion on their living situation when they are 14 years or older. However, even with these children, the court does not just grant their desires. The court understands that teenagers are emotionally vulnerable and attempts to understand the motivation behind their desires. If they don't want to live with one parent simply because they are too strict, the court might not care as much as compared to if the child expresses that the parent doesn't take care of them adequately.
Even for children younger than 14, the court might care about what they want, but the courts typically want to make parents aware that visitation is not an option. Some parents come to court and say their young child did not want to go to the other parent's house, so they didn't force them to. Well, unfortunately, you have to lay down some parental discipline and force your children to go. Obviously, don't drag them kicking and screaming, but simply caving to your children's desires is not fulfilling the visitation arrangement and teaches your children that time with the other parent is not important.
So, in general, the court does care what your child thinks about visitation arrangements, but only if they are old enough, and only if they have a legitimate reason. In addition, you should make sure your children understand that visitation arrangements are mandatory, not negotiable.
If you have children and are headed towards a breakup or divorce, you're probably wondering how the courts decide custody arrangements. While the default arrangement is joint legal and joint physical custody, joint physical custody does not mean "50-50" custody. The courts don't like dictating your children's schedules, and hope that you can come to an agreement. In fact, they want you to agree so much that they force you to meet with a Child Custody Recommending Counselor, also known as a Mediator.You might think that mediation sounds like a good idea, and that there's no harm in trying, but there are a few extra layers to unpack about mediation.
First, if you have a lawyer, they cannot come with you. For some reason, courts think that attorneys will get in the way and prevent people from agreeing to anything. In my experience in family law, that's typically the opposite, as ex-spouses and ex-partners are more likely to bicker about irrelevant issues when their attorney's are not present. This also means that you might be pressured to sign an agreement that you don't understand, so be careful when entering mediation, as you might not like what you agree to.
Second, even if you don't agree on anything, the Mediator will write their recommendation to the judge. Since judges don't like to make decisions about the particulars of custody schedules, they often adopt the Mediator's recommendations. So, while you might not enjoy talking with your ex, it's important to put on a good show for the Mediator, in order to get a more desirable recommendation from them. In this sense, the Mediators serve less like a Mediator and more like a quasi-judge, so it is important to take Mediation very seriously.
There are many flaws with California's system of forced Mediation for custody disputes, but it doesn't seem like the system is changing anytime soon. Thus, it is important to consult with an attorney before you go into mediation, so that you are fully prepared for what is actually going to happen.
Maria E. Crabtree, CFLS