Los Angeles Area Law Blog

Gaining pet custody during a divorce

This year, some states have enacted laws governing custody of a beloved family member: the couple's pet. Determining pet custody after divorce in California is still somewhat complicated.

Traditionally, pets were treated as property. Their well-being and interests were not considered by law enforcement and courts. Spouses, accordingly, must resolve this issue in civil courts and not part as their family court case. Having the pet is a property ownership issue and not a custody legal matter.

How to know if you're being victimized by domestic violence

Domestic violence continues to run rampant throughout society. Chances are, you know someone who is currently suffering from some kind of domestic abuse, but they are so skilled at hiding it that you're none the wiser. It's even possible that you, yourself, are a victim of domestic violence, but you're in denial.

As community members, we all need to do our part to identify cases of domestic abuse and put a stop to it. Ultimately, however, domestic violence will only stop when abused individuals recognize they are being abused and seek help to make it stop.

Marijuana use in the workplace

California's 40 million residents can legally engage in the recreational use of marijuana after January 1. While one legal obstacle to its use was removed, there may be civil litigation stemming from the workplace use of marijuana.

Every state permits employers to terminate a worker who uses marijuana at work. The California state Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that an employer does not have to accommodate an employee's use of marijuana for medical purposes. The Court noted back then what is still true today. The federal government still classifies marijuana as a Class I drug, which is illegal for any reason.

Alimony tax benefit continued for one year

Many aspects of divorce and finances come down to timing. However, couples who are ending their marriage have almost one additional year to claim the federal tax deduction for paying alimony.

The congressional tax bill contained a controversial provision that would end the federal tax deduction for paying spousal support. Under earlier tax law, spouses who paid spousal alimony could deduct the payments from their taxes for the full amount, while recipients reported it as ordinary income. Child support was not deductible.

Dealing with late mortgage payments

California homeowners can face serious consequences in civil litigation over late mortgage payments. Foreclosure can cause serious financial consequences. Mortgage payments are usually due on the first day of each month, but extensions can be granted until the fifteenth of the month before a late fee is charged. Late fees may be charged for each month a payment is missed or if a homeowner goes into default or is 30 days late.

When a payment is missed, the loan becomes past due and may be reported on a credit report. One missed or late payment on a credit report can reduce a homeowner's credit score. A homeowner may remedy a late payment caused by a temporary financial hardship under a reinstatement plan. The homeowner just repays the amount owed and no formalized plan is needed.

Tax bill has divorce costs

The latest version of the tax bill under consideration in Congress eliminates the deduction for alimony payments and may also have other consequences for couples undergoing divorce. Many lawyers believe that these proposed changes will add time and expense to this process and can harm the validity of prenuptial and postnuptial contracts.

A spouse pays alimony to their former spouse who usually earns less money. These payments are separate from child support, which helps pay for the expenses of raising children. The payer spouse can deduct alimony payments under current law. These are taxable as ordinary income for the recipient spouse. Because the recipient spouse is taxed at a lower bracket, more money is kept within the family and excluded from taxes.

Breaking the news: How to talk to your kids about divorce

Divorce is a very difficult thing to face. Not only do you have to deal with ending your marriage, but you have to make certain decisions, such as whether to keep or sell your home in Arcadia. Another hard part of the process is telling your children that you and their father have decided to split up.

Having the divorce conversation with your children is, more than likely, something you do not want to do. Furthermore, you might not even be sure how to do it. For some tips on how to break the news to your school-age children, read further.

Mozilla versus Yahoo in multi-million-dollar legal fight

Parties in civil litigation in California may face enormous, even multi-million-dollar consequences. Earlier this month, Mozilla filed a lawsuit against Yahoo alleging breach of contract over a 2014 deal. Mozilla filed this countersuit after being sued by Yahoo and is seeking hundreds of million dollars in this action.

The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County, stems from a deal in which Yahoo agreed to pay Mozilla to provide searches within its Firefox Web browser. After Verizon acquired Yahoo's websites this summer, Mozilla terminated this agreement and made Google its default search engine. In November, Mozilla launched a new version of its web browser and said that Google was its default search provider in North America.

Nondisclosure agreements questioned in harassment cases

Women alleging sexual misconduct by powerful and well-known celebrities, such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and Matt Lauer, face many risks. Strictly speaking, they may also face the risk of a civil lawsuit by breaking nondisclosure agreements. However, the risk of a breach of contract lawsuit in these cases have decreased.

Nondisclosure agreements purchase silence as part of the financial settlement of harassment or sexual misconduct allegations, or may be contained in employment contracts. These agreements are often executed before a lawsuit is filed or before a case goes to trial. Confidentiality agreements sometimes require accusers to destroy evidence concerning the allegations, such as emails.

Navigating child custody issues in California

When couples separate and move apart before divorce, couples must overcome many questions and confusion over interim child custody. Although they may choose equal custody rights, spouses can do unwise things that can have negative circumstances and backfire on them later when a judge rules on a child custody dispute.

Engaging in self-help by taking unilateral actions and disregarding the other parent's wishes can lead to these problems. Taking the children during unannounced visits is untenable and harmful to the children. In fact, the best interests of the child have priority over either parents' needs. Children may have attachments to their current homes and friends, which should be considered in custody and visitation matters.