Lynnette’s
Legal Document Assistance,
Paralegal & Process Server.
Yucca Valley,
29 Palms,
Joshua Tree Ca.,
HI-Desert Ca.,
Morongo Basin Ca..

 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 Legal document services Notary Public, Process server, Legal document preparation, Legal Forms, Legal agreements, Power of attorney forms, Legal documents, Divorce forms, Loan signing Notary, Legal contracts California, Will documents, Personal legal documents Family law forms, Divorce assistance, Divorce petition, Prenuptial agreement, How to file for divorce, Petition for divorce, Marital separation agreement, Military divorce, Military divorce documents, Annulment of marriage, Divorce petition, Process of getting a divorce, Divorce California, Separation in marriage, California divorce.  Lynnette’s Legal Document Assistance, Paralegal & Process server, serving Yucca Valley, 29 Palms, Joshua Tree Ca., HI-Desert Ca..

Lynnette’s Legal
Document Assistance,
Mobile Notary Public
call,
760-366-1941
Fax: 760-366-1991
Hours: 9:00 am. – 4:00 pm.
61325 29 Palms Hwy, Ste. G
Joshua Tree, California,
Mobile Notary Public
Serving
Joshua Tree,
29 Palms,
& Yucca Valley Ca.

Legal Documents
provided by
Lynnette’s Legal
Document Assistance,

Paralegal & Process server,
Divorce, Restraining Orders, Unlawful Detainers, Guardianship’s/
Adoptions, Paternity, Wills/Power of Attorney, Varies Contracts/
Deeds, Notary Public & More! Call 760-366-1941 with any questions.

Serving Yucca Valley, 29 Palms, Joshua Tree Ca., HI-Desert Ca.,
& Morgon Basin.

 



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Lynnette Rose Notary Public, Process Server Joshua Tree Ca.
 
 
As a legal document assistance provider, I assist clients with
family law, guardianship, adoptions, unlawful detainer, paternity,
small claims, wills, power of attorney, deeds, notary and process serving.

Mobile notary service available.
760-366-1941
Fax: 760-366-1991
Hours: 9:00 am. – 4:00 pm.
61325 29 Palms Hwy, Ste. G
Joshua Tree, California

 
 

 
If you need help with
any of the following documents
give me a call Lynnette Rose
at 760-366-1941

 
(Keywords)

Document List.

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Lynnette’s Legal Document Assistance, Paralegal & Process server,
serving Yucca Valley, 29 Palms, Joshua Tree Ca., HI-Desert Ca.,
& Morgon Basin.



 
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Facebook

Facebook Review.

 

Tammy Roseli reviewed Lynnette’s Legal Document Assistance
— 5 star May 28, 2017

Lynnette was very professional and quick, she helped me with
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Estate Planning

What are the different types
of wills in California?

The state of California has three different options for those who create a will. It is important for everyone to create a will to make sure their property is distributed according to their wishes after their death. A will allows you to choose your beneficiaries and decide who gets to inherit what.

The first type of will, which is recommended, is a will that has been prepared by an estate planning attorney. They have an understanding of all of California’s various estate laws that determine what makes your will valid in the eyes of the state. Creating a will with the assistance of an estate planning attorney is beneficial because they can lay out all of your options that you may not have been aware existed. For example, some people aren’t aware that they don’t have to give all of their beneficiaries their inheritances immediately upon their death. If you have a child that you don’t think is mature enough to be given a large fund of money, you can put it in a trust that they can only access once they reach a certain age.
 
Click here for the full article
 
 
 

The 4 Types Of Wills:
Admitting A Will To
Probate In California

 
4 Types of Wills

In today’s world, most people have a general understanding of the purposes of a will, especially 4 types of wills. What many people do not know, however, is that there are actually four different types. These types include attested wills, pour-over wills, holographic wills, and statutory wills. Depending on the type of will that your deceased loved one had executed, the procedure for beginning a California probate administration may vary. The following is an overview of these wills.
Attested Wills

An attested will in California, also known as a witnessed will, is considered “self-proving.” This means that the will contained an attestation clause that was signed by the witness to the will signing. The attestation is made under penalty of perjury. Typically, attested wills are prepared by a California estate attorney, typed, and executed in the presence of two or three disinterested witnesses. To qualify as a disinterested witness, the witness cannot stand to receive any gift under the terms of the will. During the probate proceedings, an attest will can be sent to probate without the witnesses.
An attested will in California, also known as a witness
Pour-over Wills

A pour-over will is a form of attest. It typically includes a clause, or clauses, that give the decedent’s property to his or her revocable trust. If the pour-over will is self-proving, it can be admitted to probate without requiring the testimony of the witnesses to its execution.
Holographic Wills

A will that is handwritten and drafted by the deceased is called a holographic will. This type of will does not require that witnesses be present during execution under California probate law. A holographic will also does not need to be notarize. To admit a holographic will to probate, you must prove that it is the testator’s handwriting by offering the testimony of at least one witness. The witness must know the testator and have personal knowledge of his or her handwriting.
Statutory Wills

A statutory will is another form of attest that is compromised in front of at least two witnesses. These wills are printed, fill-in-the-blank documents. Their content is specifically outlined under California probate law. A statutory will is self-proving and contains the required declaration under penalty of perjury.
Depending on the type of will left by your deceased loved one, the steps to take to begin a probate proceeding may differ. To learn more about probate administration, contact an experienced Riverside probate attorney today. Call the Grossman Law Firm at (888) 443-6590.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About Evictions in California

 

Tenant Rights, Laws and Protections: California

Know your responsibilities as a tenant.
Read your lease agreement carefully!

 
Landlord/Tenant
 
Lots of information in the above link.
 
LOOKING FOR AND INSPECTING RENTAL UNITS
Looking for a rental unit

When you are looking for a rental unit, the most important things to think about are:

The dollar limit that you can afford for monthly rent and utilities.
The dollar limit that you can afford for all deposits that may be required (for example, holding and security deposits).
The location that you want.
In addition, you also should carefully consider the following:

The kind of rental unit that you want (for example, an apartment complex, a duplex, or a single-family house), and the features that you want (such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms).
Whether you want a month-to-month rental agreement or a lease.
Access to schools, stores, public transportation, medical facilities, child-care facilities, and other necessities and conveniences.
The character and quality of the neighborhood (for example, its safety and appearance).
The condition of the rental unit (see “Inspecting before you rent”).
Other special requirements that you or your family members may have (for example, wheelchair access).
You can obtain information on places to rent from many sources. Many Internet Web sites list rental properties. Local newspapers carry classified advertisements on available rental units. In many areas, there are free weekly or monthly publications devoted to rental listings. Local real estate offices and property management companies often have rental listings. Bulletin boards in public buildings, local colleges, and churches often have notices about places for rent. You can also look for “For Rent” signs in the neighborhoods where you would like to live.

Inspecting before you rent

Before you decide to rent, carefully inspect the rental unit with the landlord or the landlord’s agent. Make sure that the unit has been maintained well. Use the inventory checklist as an inspection guide. When you inspect the rental unit, look for the following problems:

Cracks or holes in the floor, walls, or ceiling.
Signs of leaking water or water damage in the floor, walls, or ceiling.
The presence of mold that might affect your or your family’s health and safety.
Signs of rust in water from the taps.
Leaks in bathroom or kitchen fixtures.
Lack of hot water.
Inadequate lighting or insufficient electrical outlets.
Inadequate heating or air conditioning.
Inadequate ventilation or offensive odors.
Defects in electrical wiring and fixtures.
Damaged flooring.
Damaged furnishings (if it’s a furnished unit).
Signs of insects, vermin, or rodents.
Accumulated dirt and debris.
Inadequate trash and garbage receptacles.
Chipping paint in older buildings. (Paint chips sometimes contain lead, which can cause lead poisoning if children eat them. If the building was built before 1978, you should read the booklet, “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home,” which is available by calling (800)-424-LEAD or online at https://www2.epa.gov/lead).
Signs of asbestos-containing materials in older buildings, such as flaking ceiling tiles, or crumbling pipe wrap or insulation. (Asbestos particles can cause serious health problems if they are inhaled.) For more information, go to www2.epa.gov/asbestos.
Any sign of hazardous substances, toxic chemicals, or other hazardous waste products in the rental unit or on the property.
Also, look at the exterior of the building and any common areas, such as hallways and courtyards. Does the building appear to be well-maintained? Are the common areas clean and well-kept?

The quality of rental units can vary greatly. You should understand the unit’s good points and shortcomings, and consider them all when deciding whether to rent, and whether the rent is reasonable.

Ask the landlord who will be responsible for paying for utilities (gas, electric, water, and trash collection). You will probably be responsible for some, and possibly all, of them. Try to find out how much the previous tenant paid for utilities. This will help you be certain that you can afford the total amount of the rent and utilities each month. With increasing energy costs, it’s important to consider whether the rental unit and its appliances are energy efficient.

If the rental unit is a house or duplex with a yard, ask the landlord who will be responsible for taking care of the yard. If you will be, ask whether the landlord will supply necessary equipment, such as a lawn mower and a hose.

During this initial walk-through of the rental unit, you will have the chance to see how your potential landlord reacts to your concerns about it. At the same time, the landlord will learn how you handle potential problems. You may not be able to reach agreement on every point, or on any. Nonetheless, how you get along will help both of you decide whether you will become a tenant.

If you find problems like the ones listed above, discuss them with the landlord. If the problems are ones that the law requires the landlord to repair, find out when the landlord intends to make the repairs. If you agree to rent the unit, it’s a good idea to get these promises in writing, including the date by which the repairs will be completed.

If the landlord isn’t required by law to make the repairs, you should still write down a description of any problems if you are going to rent the property. It’s a good idea to ask the landlord to sign and date the written description. Also, take photographs or a video of the problems. Use the time and date stamp, if your camera has this feature. Your signed, written description and photographs or video will document that the problems were there when you moved in, and can help avoid disagreement later about your responsibility for the problems.

Finally, it’s a good idea to walk or drive around the neighborhood during the day and again in the evening. Ask neighbors how they like living in the area. If the rental unit is in an apartment complex, ask some of the tenants how they get along with the landlord and the other tenants. If you are concerned about safety, ask neighbors and tenants if there have been any problems, and whether they think that the area is safe.

Prepaid Rental Listing Service
Businesses known as prepaid rental listing services sell lists of available rental units. These businesses are regulated by the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) and must be licensed.16 You may check the status of a license issued to a prepaid rental service on the DRE Web site to ensure that the service is licensed. If you use a prepaid rental listing service, it must enter into a contract with you before it accepts any money from you.17 The contract must describe the services that the prepaid rental listing service will provide you. The contract also must include a description of the kind of rental unit that you want to find. For example, the contract must state the number of bedrooms that you want and the highest rent that you will pay.

Before you enter into a contract with a prepaid rental listing service or pay for information about available rental units, ask if the service is licensed and whether the list of rentals is current. The contract cannot be for more than 90 days. The law requires the service to give you a list of at least three currently available rentals within five days after you sign the contract.

You can receive a refund of the fee that you paid for the list of available rentals if the list does not contain three available rental units of the kind that you described in the contract.18 In order to obtain a refund, you must demand a full refund from the prepaid rental listing service within 15 days of signing the contract. Your demand for a refund must be in writing and must be personally delivered to the prepaid rental listing service or sent to it by certified or registered mail. (However, you can’t get a refund if you found a rental using the services of the prepaid rental listing service.)

If you don’t find a rental unit from the list you bought, or if you rent from another source, the prepaid rental listing service can keep only $50 of the fee that you paid. The service must refund the balance, but you must request the refund within 10 days after the end of the contract. You must provide documentation that you did not move, or that you did not find your new rental using the services of the prepaid rental listing service. If you don’t have documentation, you can fill out and swear to a form that the prepaid rental listing service will give you for this purpose. You can deliver your request for a refund personally or by mail (preferably by certified or registered mail with return receipt requested). Look in the contract for the address. The service must make the refund within 10 days after it receives your request.

THE RENTAL APPLICATION
Before renting to you, most landlords will ask you to fill out a written rental application form. A rental application is different from a rental agreement. The rental application is like a job or credit application. The landlord will use it to decide whether to rent to you.

A rental application usually asks for the following information:

The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your current and past employers.
The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of your current and past landlords.
The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people whom you want to use as references.
Your social security number.
Your driver’s license number.
Your bank account numbers.
Your credit account numbers for credit reference.
The application also may contain an authorization for the landlord to obtain a copy of your credit report, which will show the landlord how you have handled your financial obligations in the past.

The landlord may ask you what kind of job you have, your monthly income, and other information that shows your ability to pay the rent. It is illegal for the landlord to discriminate or harass you because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or any disability19 or whether you have persons under the age of 18 living in your household.20 With the exception of source of income, the landlord may not ask you questions in writing or orally about your race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, any disability, or whether you have persons under the age of 18 living in your household.21 Further, the landlord may not ask about your immigration or citizenship status.22 Although the landlord may not discriminate on the basis of source of income, the landlord is allowed to ask you about your level of income and your source of income23 Also, the landlord should not ask you questions about your age or medical condition24. (See “Unlawful Discrimination.”)

The landlord may ask you about the number of people who will be living in the rental unit. In order to prevent overcrowding of rental units, California has adopted the Uniform Housing Code’s occupancy requirements,25 and the basic legal standard is set out in footnote 25. However, the practical rule is this: A landlord can establish reasonable standards for the number of people per square feet in a rental unit, but the landlord cannot use overcrowding as a pretext for refusing to rent to tenants with children if the landlord would rent to the same number of adults.26

CREDIT CHECKS
The landlord or the landlord’s agent will probably use your rental application to check your credit history and past landlord-tenant relations. The landlord may obtain your credit report from a credit reporting agency to help him or her decide whether to rent to you. Credit reporting agencies (or “credit bureaus”) keep records of people’s credit histories, called “credit reports.” Credit reports state whether a person has been reported as being late in paying bills, has been the subject of an unlawful detainer lawsuit (see Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit section), or has filed bankruptcy.27

Some credit reporting agencies, called tenant screening service, collect and sell information on tenants. This information may include whether tenants paid their rent on time, whether they damaged previous rental units, whether they were the subject of an unlawful detainer lawsuit, and whether landlords considered them good or bad tenants.28

The landlord may use this information to make a final decision on whether to rent to you. Generally, landlords prefer to rent to people who have a history of paying their rent and other bills on time.

A landlord usually doesn’t have to give you a reason for refusing to rent to you. However, if the decision is based partly or entirely on negative information from a credit reporting agency or a tenant screening service, the law requires the landlord to give you a written notice stating all of the following:

The decision was based partly or entirely on information in the credit report; and
The name, address, and telephone number of the credit reporting agency; and
A statement that you have the right to obtain a free copy of the credit report from the credit reporting agency that prepared it and to dispute the accuracy or completeness of information in the credit report.29
If the landlord refuses to rent to you based on your credit report, its a good idea to get a free copy of your credit report and to correct any erroneous items of information in it.30 Erroneous items of information in your credit report may cause other landlords to refuse to rent to you also.

Also, if you know what your credit report says, you may be able to explain any problems when you fill out the rental application. For example, if you know that your credit report says that you never paid a bill, you can provide a copy of the canceled check to show the landlord that you did pay it.

The landlord probably will consider your credit score in deciding whether to rent to you. Your credit score is a numerical score that is based on information from a credit reporting agency. Landlords and other creditors use credit scores to gauge how likely a person is to meet his or her financial obligations, such as paying rent. You can request your credit score when you request your credit report (you may have to pay a fair and reasonable fee for the score), or purchase your score from a vendor.31

APPLICATION SCREENING FEE
When you submit a rental application, the landlord may charge you an application screening fee. In 2009, the landlord may charge up to $42.06, and may use the fee to cover the cost of obtaining information about you, such as checking your personal references and obtaining a credit report on you.32

The application fee cannot legally be more than the landlord’s actual out-of-pocket costs, and, in 2011, can never be more than $42.41, and may use the fee to cover the cost of obtaining information about you, such as checking your personal references and obtaining a credit report on you.

The application fee cannot legally be more than the landlord’s actual out-of-pocket costs, and, in 2012, can never be more than $44.51. The landlord must give you a receipt that itemizes his or her out-of-pocket expenses in obtaining and processing the information about you. The landlord must return any unused portion of the fee (for example, if the landlord does not check your references).

The landlord can’t charge you an application screening fee when the landlord knows or should know that there is no vacancy or that there will be no vacancy within a reasonable time. However, the landlord can charge an application screening fee under these circumstances if you agree to it in writing.33

If the landlord obtains your credit report after you’ve paid the screening fee, the landlord must give you a copy of the report if you request it.34 As explained in the section on “Credit Checks,” it’s a good idea to get a copy of your credit report from the landlord so that you know what’s being reported about you.

Before you pay the application screening fee, ask the landlord the following questions about it:

How long will it take the landlord to get a copy of your credit report? How long will it take the landlord to review the credit report and decide whether to rent to you?
Is the fee refundable if the credit check takes too long and you’re forced to rent another place?
If you already have a current copy of your credit report, will the landlord accept it and either reduce the fee or not charge it at all?
If you don’t like the landlord’s policy on application screening fees, you may want to look for another rental unit. If you decide to pay the application screening fee, any agreement regarding a refund should be in writing.

HOLDING DEPOSIT
Sometimes, the tenant and the landlord will agree that the tenant will rent the unit, but the tenant cannot move in immediately. In this situation, the landlord may ask the tenant for a holding deposit. A holding deposit is a deposit to hold the rental unit for a stated period of time until the tenant pays the first month’s rent and any security deposit. During this period, the landlord agrees not to rent the unit to anyone else. If the tenant changes his or her mind about moving in, the landlord may keep at least some of the holding deposit.

Ask the following questions before you pay a holding deposit:

Will the deposit be applied to the first month’s rent? If so, ask the landlord for a deposit receipt stating this. Applying the deposit to the first month’s rent is a common practice.
Is any part of the holding deposit refundable if you change your mind about renting? As a general rule, if you change your mind, the landlord can keep some – and perhaps all – of your holding deposit. The amount that the landlord can keep depends on the costs that the landlord has incurred because you changed your mind-for example, additional advertising costs and lost rent.
You may also lose your deposit even if the reason you can’t rent is not your fault – for example, if you lose your job and cannot afford the rental unit.

If you and the landlord agree that all or part of the deposit will be refunded to you in the event that you change your mind or can’t move in, make sure that the written receipt clearly states your agreement.

A holding deposit merely guarantees that the landlord will not rent the unit to another person for a stated period of time. The holding deposit doesn’t give the tenant the right to move into the rental unit. The tenant must first pay the first month’s rent and all other required deposits within the holding period. Otherwise, the landlord can rent the unit to another person and keep all or part of the holding deposit.

Suppose that the landlord rents to somebody else during the period for which you’ve paid a holding deposit, and you are still willing and able to move in. The landlord should, at a minimum, return the entire holding deposit to you. You may also want to talk with an attorney, legal aid organization, tenant-landlord program, or housing clinic about whether the landlord may be responsible for other costs that you may incur because of the loss of the rental unit.

If you give the landlord a holding deposit when you submit the rental application, but the landlord does not accept you as a tenant, the landlord must return your entire holding deposit to you.

16 Business and Professions Code Section 10167.
17 Business and Professions Code Section 10167.9(a).
18 Business and Professions Code Section 10167.10.
19 Civil Code Section 51.
20 Government Code Sections 12955(b), 12955.1-12955.9; 12989-12989.3; 42 United States Code Sections 3601-3631; Moskovitz et al.,. California Landlord Tenant Practice Sections 2.22-2.25 (CEB 2011).
21 Government Code Section 12955(b).
22 Civil Code Section 1940.3(b). See California Practice Guide, Landlord Tenant, Paragraph 2:569.1 (Rutter Group 2011).
23 Government Code Section 12955(p)(2).
24 Government Code Sections 12900-12996; Civil Code Sections 51-53; 42 United States Code Section 3601 and following. However, after you and the landlord have agreed that you will rent the unit, the landlord may ask for proof of your disability if you ask for a “reasonable accommodation” for your disability, such as installing special faucets or door handles. (Brown, Warner and Portman, The California Landlords’ Law Book, Vol. I: Rights & Responsibilities, pages 161-163 (NOLO Press 2011)). (See chapter 9 of this reference for a comprehensive discussion of discrimination).
25 Health and Safety Code Section 17922. See 1997 Uniform Housing Code Section 503(b) (every residential rental unit must have at least one room that is at least 120 square feet; other rooms used for living must be at least 70 square feet; and any room used for sleeping must increase the minimum floor area by 50 square feet for each occupant in excess of two). Different rules apply in the case of “efficiency units.” (See 1997 Uniform Housing Code Section 503(b), Health and Safety Code Section 17958.1.)
26 Brown, Warner and Portman, The California Landlord’s Law Book, Vol. I: Rights & Responsibilities, pages 166-167 (NOLO Press 2011). This reference suggests that a landlord’s policy that is more restrictive than two occupants per bedroom plus one additional occupant is suspect as being discriminatory.
27 Brown, Warner and Portman, The California Landlord’s Law Book, Vol. I: Rights & Responsibilities, pages 16-20 (NOLO Press 2011); California Practice Guide, Landlord-Tenant, Paragraphs 9:419.5, 9:419.11 (Rutter Group 2011).
28 Schoendorf v. Unlawful Detainer Registry, Inc. (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 227 [118 Cal.Rptr.2d 313].
29 Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act, Civil Code Sections 1785.1-1785.36 and Section 1785.20(a); Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act, Civil Code Sections 1786-1786.60 and Section 1786.40; 15 United States Code Sections 1681-1681x and 1681m(a). In order to receive a free copy of your credit report, you must request it within 60 days after receiving the notice of denial. See discussion in California Practice Guide, Landlord-Tenant, Paragraphs’ 2:104.50-2:104.55′ (Rutter Group 2011). Landlords’ responsibilities when using credit reports are outlined in a publication by the Federal Trade Commission titled “Using Consumer Reports: What Landlords Need to Know,” which can be found online at https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/using-consumer-reports-what-landlords-need-know.
30 Civil Code Sections 1785.16, 1786.24; 15 United States Code Section 1681i.
31 Civil Code Sections 1785.15(a)(2), 1785.15.1, 1785.15.2; 15 United States Code Section 1681g(f). Vendors include www.transunion.com, www.Experian.com, www.Equifax.com/home/en_us, and www.myfico.com.
32 Civil Code Section 1950.6. The maximum fee is adjusted each year based on changes in the Consumer Price Index since January 1, 1998. In 2012, the maximum allowable fee is $44.51.
33 Civil Code Section 1950.6(c).
34 Civil Code Section 1950.6(f).
 
 
 
 
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When Couples Divorce, Who Gets to Keep the Dog? (Or Cat.)
By CHRISTOPHER MELEMARCH 23, 2017

When couples get divorced, children are not the only ones who can get caught in custody disputes. Fights over other members of the family — beloved pets — can be equally acrimonious.

Courts have traditionally treated pets as personal property in such cases, but that is starting to shift as some state lawmakers and advocacy groups promote the notion that the legal system should act in the best interests of the animals.

Courts have awarded shared custody, visitation and even alimony payments to pet owners, and starting about 15 years ago, more states began allowing people to leave estates or trusts to care for their pets.

One case in San Diego that gained national headlines featured a pointer-greyhound mix named Gigi, who was the focus of a contentious divorce between Dr. Stanley and Linda Perkins.

At first, they were granted joint custody of Gigi, but neither human was satisfied with the arrangement, according to news accounts. A court fight followed that took two years and cost about $150,000 in legal fees. It involved a court-ordered “bonding study” conducted by an animal behaviorist and a videotape, “A Day in the Life of Gigi,” showing the dog spending time with Ms. Perkins, who was ultimately awarded sole custody in 2000.

A survey in 2014 by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported a 27 percent increase in pet-custody cases over the five previous years, with 20 percent of respondents citing an increase in cases where judges had deemed pets an asset in a divorce.

Animals caught in a tug of war were not limited to dogs and cats, the academy said. Exotic pets — including an iguana, an African grey parrot, a python and a giant 130-pound turtle — were involved in disputes.

Alaska became the first state to enact pet-custody legislation, which allows a court to consider the animal’s well-being. The measure, which defines animals as a “vertebrate living creature not a human being,” was signed into law last year and took effect in January.

If Charlene Lima, a member of the State House of Representatives in Rhode Island, gets her way, her state will follow Alaska’s example. Ms. Lima, who owns a 6-year-old husky named Keiko, introduced legislation similar to Alaska’s last month.

 
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11 Questions to Ask Before Getting a Divorce
By Eric V Copage
May 17, 2017

Common sense suggests that asking the right questions before getting married can make for a better union, but rarely is the other side of the coin examined.

That could be because, by the time the prospect of divorce surfaces, spouses may already be in a stressful frame of mind, and in no mood for a game of 20 — or even 11 — questions.

That is a mistake, said Nancy Colier, a psychotherapist in Manhattan. Even if the ultimate decision is to dissolve the marriage, asking the right questions before contacting a lawyer or mediator, and perhaps with the assistance of a marriage counselor, may prove worthwhile.

The New York Times asked some people well versed in the challenges and difficulties of marriage and divorce to suggest questions that may make a split more amicable, or even save the union. Here are 11 of their ideas:

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1. Have you made clear your concerns about the relationship?

“You may think that you have communicated, but your partner may not have really heard,” said Sherry Amatenstein, a marriage therapist in Manhattan and Queens and the author of books on relationships.

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“Research shows that people hear only between 30 to 35 percent of what is said to them,” she said, “because we’re so full of ‘I’m going to say this to them.’”

If, for example, you believe your spouse is not making you a priority and, say, fails to spend time with you, this behavior can’t be changed unless he or she is aware of your concerns.

“You want to be really clear that you’ve given it everything in terms of speaking truth to your partner,” Ms. Colier said. That could help in healing if the marriage dissolves, she said, because you’ll know that you have done everything possible to make the relationship work.

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2. Do you and your spouse have shared expectations about the roles you play in the relationship?

“Sometimes the problem may be as simple as not understanding how your partner expects you to behave,” said Hope Adair, who, along with her ex-husband, was featured in a 2014 Times column that explored marriages that have failed. “It’s like, ‘This is what husbands or wives do and you’re not doing that.’”

If, for instance, one person expects the other to take the lead in managing finances, and he or she would prefer not to, problems can result.

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3. If there is a way to save the marriage, what would it be?

The Rev. Kevin Wright, the minister of education at the Riverside Church in Manhattan, suggests this exercise: On one side of a sheet of paper or computer screen, make a list of what you think you need to do to save the marriage, and on the other side, what your spouse needs to do. And make sure your spouse does the same. It’s important that both of you perform this exercise. Otherwise, he said, “this question can very easily become a question all about what the other person needs to do.”

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4. Would you really be happier without your partner?

“You have to look fiercely and realistically at whether what you’re getting in the relationship is worth what you’re giving up,” Ms. Colier said. “Perhaps your spouse doesn’t interest you as a sexual partner as much as you would want, but maybe your spouse’s co-parenting skills, willingness to help with everyday chores or companionship can offset the negative and make the trade-off worth it.” Getting a clear idea of what is most important in your life can make the decision of whether to stay in the marriage less overwhelming.

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5. Do you still love him or her?

Even if the answer is yes, divorce may still be the right path. “There are a lot of reasons that people decide they can’t stay married, but our emotions aren’t wired on an on/off switch,” said Wendy Paris, a writer specializing in relationships. “Some of the anger we see in divorce comes from the fact that we do still feel love for this person, and can feel hurt, unloved in return, or unvalued.”

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6. What is your biggest fear in ending the relationship?

“For some people, it might be the fear of being single again — the fear of being alone for the rest of their life,” Ms. Colier said. “For others, it is the fear of losing a sense of physical intimacy.” An understanding of what those fears are may help in deciding whether divorce is the best way forward, she said.

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7. Are you letting the prospect of divorce ruin your self-image?

The realization that divorce may be near often makes people feel like failures, Ms. Paris said. Instead of dwelling on how you may have stumbled, look at the relationship’s end in “a more empowering way,” she suggested, concentrating on what you did right. For example, “I have given intimacy a real try,” or “I am trying different options to figure out what is the best for everybody.”

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8. How can a divorce be handled to minimize the harm on the children?

“If you’re really miserable together, getting divorced is the best thing to do,” Ms. Amatenstein said. “But you will always be parents together. You are still going to be in each other’s lives. You need to think about how you’re going to do this and refrain from using the kids as cannon fodder.”

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9. Are you prepared for the financial stresses divorce may bring?

“What I recommend to people is that they start thinking about the financial as early in the process as possible,” Ms. Colier said. “That means meeting, if you can, with a financial adviser, talking to lawyers and writing down what this is going to cost. There is so much that is going to change — and so much fear. It’s important to feel grounded with as many financial facts as possible. You’ll feel safer that way.”

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10. Am I ready to handle the day-to-day details of living that my spouse took care of?

“We prepare for most other major transitions, but divorce can seem to erupt like a volcano,” Ms. Paris said, “and our lack of preparation adds to the chaos.”

Understand that you may find yourself paying bills or figuring out taxes for the first time in years. If there are children, who will take the lead in keeping track of their activities calendar?

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11. How do I keep from making the same mistake the next time around?

Understand that the problem may be you, not the particular marriage. If you are bored in a relationship, you may find yourself bored in another one, too, said Erika Doukas, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan and Larchmont, N.Y. If you quarrel with your spouse over whose relatives to visit during the holidays, the same conflict may reappear in a subsequent marriage. Dr. Doukas said spouses who were able to realize that they contribute to marital problems could sometimes change course and possibly save a relationship or, failing that, make a future one more long lasting.
 
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Chechnya Pushes Divorced Couples to Reunite ‘for the Children’
By ANDREW E. KRAMERAUG. 26, 2017z,

MOSCOW — Authorities in Russia’s Chechnya Republic are claiming success in an unconventional, sweeping campaign to compel people who have divorced to reunite, for the sake of the children — and, they say, to help in the fight against terrorism.

Through the summer, local television has been reporting on the lives of divorced couples now living together again under the watchful eye of members of a government commission. It’s reality television, Chechen style.

The commission, known as the Council for Harmonizing Marriage and Family Relations, says it has over the past two months brought back together 948 couples, some after years of separation. Under the program, the council can ask the police to visit divorced people to encourage them to patch up their differences.

The broadcasts show formerly divorced people going about their lives in a now common home, mostly avoiding one another but also spending time with the children. One mother helped with homework; another was shown putting a hat on a child’s head as he played in the sun.

“This happy reunion became possible because of a program of the region’s leader,” a television reporter said, referring to Ramzan A. Kadyrov. “Despite mutual antagonism, hundreds of divorced couples are responding to the call.”

 
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5 Ways to Support Your Children During Divorce
When divorcing parents fail to address their children’s sorrow and emotional issues, children suffer greatly – often in silence. Here are five ways to provide your children with what they need at this critical time.

 

By Dr. John T. Chirban
November 28, 2016
 
Parents can have a powerful and positive impact on their children by being in tune with their interactions during divorce. Here are five basic steps to help your children through this process.

1. Listen, love, and communicate.
Anticipate that divorce will have a significant effect on your children, and engage them to learn what they feel and what they need. Each child processes divorce differently. Take time to attend to and examine your child’s unique response to the divorce, without going into irrelevant detail. Parents have an understandable but un-attuned tendency to share their thoughts about the divorce and use their children as sounding boards. Be attuned to your children’s needs – not just your own – by responding with love.

2. Answer their questions.
The average child will reasonably want to know what divorce means for him or her. Assure your kids that they will be safe, protected, and loved. Be ready to provide details that will assuage anxiety, and respond to your kids’ emotions, questions, and need for clear detail.

3. Self-observe: be aware of your feelings, thoughts, and words.
You will have specific feelings about your divorce and your former spouse that are not appropriate to share with your children. When these feelings are triggered, it’s important to remember that the worst position for your kids is witnessing these fiery interactions and feeling as though they’re in the middle of the two people who created them. To prevent this, discuss facts and refrain from making negative comments about the other parent. Acknowledge your sadness and distress after prioritizing your children’s needs and responding to their feelings and concerns. Ultimately, you need to retain your parenting role.

4. Seek counseling.
Effective mental health providers can be a blessing in helping you and your children sort out troubling thoughts and emotions. Finding the right clinician, however, can be a challenge. You and your children don’t need a warm body that sits but does not help; rather, you need an attentive caretaker to whom both you and your kids can openly relate. Your children need and deserve quality care, and, in this situation, you have an important role in providing the right guidance to your children in the absence of a suitable therapist. However, both you and your children need your own space to vent and process what’s happening. If these needs are met, there will be fewer scars.

5. Be your children’s compass.
Children always need a compass (values and directions that lead them) and supportive, inviting, and loving guidance. Parents need to provide warm and caring support. Divorce is devastating for children when they feel alone, replaced, or supplanted. They need you more than ever; be there for them, and provide them with solid direction.

Above all else, make an effort to recognize your children’s feelings and confusion. Your presence and attention confirm that you are still there for them, regardless of the familial changes. The most frightening anxiety for kids is that they are being cast out into the world, alone. In your words and through your behavior, assure them that this won’t happen. You know your children’s temperaments and demeanors better than anyone. You will need to keep parenting through the divorce and well afterward – it was your promise to your children when you brought them into this world. This means creating time regularly to talk to them about their concerns, fears, dreams, and wishes.

I know through my own experience with my children and through my clinical practice that when you meet your children’s needs during divorce, you will secure the foundation for their well-being during this overwhelming time and beyond.

 
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5 Signs That Divorce Is Better for the Kids
Sometimes parents feel the need to wait until their children get older before getting a divorce. The truth is, a divorce may be better for the kids.

By Kelsey Morgan
February 14, 2017

When I was 10 years old and my dad told me he was divorcing my mom, I don’t think I reacted like I was expected to, with heartbreak and tears; instead, I felt calm. I did cry a bit, but I knew the divorce had been a long time coming.

Looking back now, as an adult, I can say for certain that my dad’s choice to leave my mom was the best one, both for himself and for me. The person I’ve turned into, despite being a “child of divorce,” is one far more successful and happy than what I might’ve become had my mom remained a constant in my life.

There are a lot of reasons I feel this way, of course, and I want other parents to know that divorce isn’t always the end of a child’s happiness, or the promise that your child will turn out angry and traumatized later in life. Sometimes it may even be for the better, whether the child realizes it at the time or not.

1. The Spouse Spends What They Don’t Have
Should one of the parents have a habit of maxing out their credit cards, taking money from the other parent, foregoing the family’s needs because they saw something online they had to have, a big problem is being invited into the family home.

The breaking point for my father was when my mother quit her job to go on a vacation, without any plans for the future, without any job to return home to. Instead of considering what risk it put the family in, she instead decided that she would worry about that later. Nevermind paying the bills, the mortgage, buying food, buying gas… should one of the parents not line up with the financial desires of the other, there’s more being put at risk than simply not being able to go out to dinner or the movies on a weekend.

Should this be a parental example in a child’s life, there are chances the child will either become a “spendaholic” as well, or perhaps turn into a money-miser and refuse to spend the money on the things they actually need. Both are extremes, and both are unhealthy habits to develop. After all, for the first decade or two of their lives, parents are a child’s only access and training in terms of money handling – so if one spouse performs differently than the other, it only invites confusion.

2. The Spouse Is an Addict
While this may seem obvious, many people don’t understand the kind of influence an addicted parent can have on a child. Whether it’s prescription pain medication or alcoholism, children see what the parents do, and by their nature, will imitate.

In terms of alcoholism and having an effect on your child, there is a fine line to walk. A parent doesn’t have to be a raging drunk every night in order to have an effect; they don’t have to be arrested with an unusual DUI charge they don’t have to have the fridge stocked full of booze. When a child watches an adult drinking alcohol, they should be learning how to do so responsibly, as well as when times are considered “inappropriate/appropriate” for drinking, how to be safe while getting tipsy, etc. If your spouse or significant other doesn’t involve their position as a parent into their drinking habits, it may be a red flag.

3. The Spouse Remains Ambitionless
Particularly for children reaching their older years of adolescence, it’s incredibly important that they have a parent who shows ambition, and drive to achieve their goals, whether that be in the home, at work, or life in general. Children who set personal goals are more likely to achieve them if they learned healthy success-related habits from their parents.

Should one of their parents not show these traits, however, it can lead to confusion and questioning. They will see one parent working hard to meet their goals, and the other who might remain in bed watching TV all day, and soon they may begin wondering, “Why should I have to do anything I don’t want to, when Mom/Dad doesn’t?” “Why would I want to get a job when mom/dad doesn’t have to?”

Children learn from what they see and experience, particularly in the household. With this in mind, it’s easy to understand how mixed signals such as these could be so detrimental to their lifelong outlook and ability to reach their goals.

4. Children Misunderstanding What It Means to Be “In Love”
Two parents do not have to be constantly at each others’ throats in order to demonstrate an unhealthy relationship to children. Should you and your spouse keep from showing affection, intimacy, and general happiness while together, there’s a possibility a child’s opinion on “healthy” relationships might be skewed.

For example, a toddler grows up with two parents who are unhappy with one another – whether that is because one spouse refuses to participate while the other initiates, or the two simply no longer click as a couple. With this relationship, the toddler might never see their parents kissing, hugging, giving one another compliments, holding hands, all of the small things that show affection between two people.

And so, as the child grows, they may find themselves alienated from the world of dating and relationships, because they simply have no idea how such things are supposed to look and supposed to work. Without the guidance of their parents’ example, they might struggle to build actual successful intimate relationships for themselves. This unfortunate perspective can even extend past dating relationships into friendships, and even their methods in treating animals or pets. They may become a “hands-off” pet owner, because they simply never learned how to be affectionate and caring physically – and anyone with a dog knows how troubling that might be for a pet.

5. Children Can Finally Understand What It Means to Be “In Love”
While this section is less of a warning sign and more of a merit, it’s a continuation of my points in number four.

A lot of parents fear what’ll happen when/if they ever remarry, and how a child might treat their new stepparent. Had the child grown up in an unhappy, unloving, and unaffectionate household, however, the change of pace will be a breath of fresh air, and a lesson in how a marriage is actually supposed to be.

Instead of only knowing marriage to be an emotionless relationship, they’ll see that, in fact, marriages are supposed to be about mutual love and care, as well as support and communication. With this new example in their lives, they will be able to develop new ideals concerning relationships, changing their overall opinions from marriages being “void of feeling” to “a commitment based in love and respect.”

On top of finally experiencing what it’s like to witness a successful relationship, your new spouse will likely also contribute in teaching a child better habits that they may have never formed whilst under the same roof as their previous parent. Goal-setting, financial responsibility, the things that they might’ve garnered the wrong idea about while mimicking your previous spouse.

In Conclusion
While divorce is a sticky subject all around, there is no cut-and-dry end product that children of divorce are destined to end up as. Not all children develop addictions, struggle in their personal relationships, rebel against their single parent, struggle in school or at work…. For a lot of kids with divorced parents, the divorce might’ve been the only thing keeping them from ending up as another statistic, or a part of one of the groups listed above. Once the bad influence is removed from their life, only then are they able to learn what it means to be good, forgiving, affectionate, and successful.

If you’ve been considering divorce for some time, but are hesitant because you believe it may leave a bad mark on your children and their future, instead take a look at your relationship from their point of view, and their point of view as an eventual adult. Does your spouse exhibit symptoms and habits that might lead your children down a path less than ideal? If so, it might be time to take the plunge.

Kelsey’s parents divorced while she was young, and she was raised by her single father, to which she carries the utmost respect and love. While a child of divorce, she wants to show people that it’s not always an end-of-the-world situation, and can actually end up being ideal for both spouses and the family as a whole.

 
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Divorce / Legal Separation / Annulment

General Information
Type of Case
Dissolution of Marriage (Divorce):

A dissolution of marriage, which is more commonly known as divorce, terminates the marriage of the spouses and resolves issues between them, including child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, asset and debt division, former name restoration, and even restraining orders.

Dissolution of Domestic Partnership:

Domestic partners are “two adults who have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.” Persons of opposite sexes may not constitute a domestic partnership unless one or both of the persons are over the age of 62.

Legal Separation:

A legal separation case is similar to a dissolution of marriage or dissolution of a domestic partnership in terms of the range of issues that are resolved in the case, except that the parties remain married or registered to each other.

Nullity:

A nullity case is more commonly known as an annulment of marriage or an annulment of the domestic partnership. This can only be requested based on one of reasons listed below.

Grounds for Termination of Marriage
For dissolution of marriage or legal separation in California, there are only two legal grounds. The first is irreconcilable differences, meaning the marriage or partnership cannot be saved. The other reason is incurable insanity which, unlike irreconcilable differences, must be proven.

If you are seeking a nullity of marriage or nullity of partnership, you will need to prove in a court hearing that your marriage satisfies one of the grounds listed below. These must have applied at the time you and your spouse married or you and your partner registered:

Incest:
incest means the spouses or registered partner are close blood relatives.
Bigamy:
bigamy means a spouse or partner was knowingly married or registered to another person at the time of marriage or at the time of registration of domestic partnership.
Underage:
underage means a spouse or partner was below age 18 years at the time of marriage or registration of domestic partnership and did not obtain parental consent or a court order permitting the marriage.
Prior Existing Marriage or Prior Existing Domestic Partnership:
prior existing marriage or prior existing domestic partnership means a spouse married or a partner registered on the mistaken belief that his or her previous marriage or partnership had ended in the death of the other spouse or partner, who in fact was still living.
Unsound Mind:
unsound mind means a spouse or partner could not and has not formed the intent to marry or registered due to a mental condition.
Fraud:
fraud means deception regarding a significant matter that led to the marriage or the partnership and continued until the breakup.
Force:
force means threats or acts of harm were used to force one spouse or partner into the marriage or domestic partnership.
Incapacity:
incapacity means a spouse or partner was and continues to be physically unable to consummate the marriage or partnership.
Jurisdiction
A dissolution action may be started in Sacramento County if one or both spouses/partners have resided in this county for at least the last 3 months and in the state of California for at least 6 months. Cases involving legal separation or nullity have less strict residency requirements. For legal separation or nullity cases, one or both spouses/partners need only be a resident of this county at the time this case is started. There is no duration of residency requirement for these types of marital actions.

In addition to the residency requirements for starting any type of marital action, there are some additional rules to consider if the other spouse resides outside California. Specifically, a spouse who lives in another state or country can object to jurisdiction by the court in California. In that event, this court may be prevented from making important orders in your case. You should seek legal advice about how to proceed if the other spouse lives outside California and is likely to object to having the case handled here.

Time Frame for Termination of Marriage
Remember that merely filing your petition and having it served does not automatically result in a judgment. There are other steps you must take before this can happen.

The minimum length of time it takes to acquire a final Judgment of Dissolution in order to be free to marry once again is six months and one day from the date the Respondent is served with the Summons and Petition, or, six months and a day from the date the Respondent files a Response or Notice of General Appearance with the court, whichever comes first. If the six-month period passes before you are able to acquire your judgment, then the effective date of your change in status from married to single is the date of entry of the judgment.

The effective date for legal separation or nullity is the day the judgment is entered, that is, the day the judge signs the judgment.

Be aware that a formal judgment signed by a judge must be entered before it is final. Any minute order from a hearing or a trial or a signed agreement without a judge’s signature does not terminate the action.

How to Start a Case
There are four types of marriage actions which include Dissolution of Marriage or Domestic Partnership, Legal Separation, and Nullity. The forms used to start a case are included in the following packets:

Dissolution, Legal Separation, or Nullity Packet (Step 1) Unable to open?
Dissolution, Legal Separation, or Nullity Packet (Step 2) Unable to open?
Dissolution, Legal Separation or Nullity (Step 3) Instructions and Forms for this Packet:
Instructions for Financial Disclosure (Step 3)
Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration (FL-141)
Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140)
Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142)
Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150)
Documents to be Served on Your Spouse Packet(Dissolution, Legal Separation, or Nullity) Unable to open?
If you have been married for less than five years and have no children together, born or adopted, before or during marriage , you may file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution of Marriage if you meet the property limitations. For more information, you may go to the California Courts’ Self-Help Center – external link for additional information and forms.

One Day Divorce: Check out this unique program to learn how you may be able to finish your divorce in just one day.

How to Amend Your Petition
If you would like to amend your Summons and/or Petition in your case, you are allowed to amend one time without permission from the court. For example, if you originally asked for a Legal Separation, but now you would like to change your request to a Dissolution, you will need to amend your forms.

How to Amend Your Petition Packet Unable to open?
How to Serve and File a Response
If you were served with a Dissolution, Legal Separation, or Nullity Petition, you must file a Response within 30 days or risk the other party taking your default. If the other party takes your default, you may not be allowed to file documents or attend hearings in your case.

How to Serve and File a Response Packet
Financial Disclosure
Before you can get a judgment to finish your case, you must disclose to your spouse/partner the nature and extent of all marital/partnership assets and debts. This is done by completing and serving the Declaration of Disclosure, Schedule of Assets and Debts, and Income and Expense Declaration on your spouse/partner.

Declarations of Disclosure Packet. Included in this packet are the following instructions and forms:
Declarations of Disclosure Instructions
Declaration of Disclosure (FL-140)
Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure and Income and Expense Declaration (FL-141)
Schedule of Assets and Debts (FL-142)
Income and Expense Declaration Packet
If you are requesting a hearing to compel the other party to complete their financial disclosures, you must make a written demand before filing your Request for Order. You may use our sample Demand Letter for this purpose.

If, after making your demand and waiting the specified period of time, your spouse still does not complete his or her financial disclosures, refer to the Completing the Request for Order Regarding Noncompliance with Financial Disclosure Requirements instructions for requesting a hearing to allow you to move forward without your spouse’s financial disclosures.

Petition for Joinder (Pension or Other Property)
When a party to a dissolution or legal separation case has a retirement plan through their employer and the opposing party wishes to join the plan into the case, the following forms are used:

Joinder of a Pension Plan Packet Unable to open?
If there is community property in the possession of someone who is not a party to the case, before the Court can make orders concerning the person holding the property, that person must be joined to the case. To join another person to a family law case, the following packet is used:

Completing a Petition for Joinder
Finalizing Your Divorce
Your marriage or domestic partnership does not automatically end six months after filing your petition. You will need to complete your dissolution action and get your judgment either by default (when the other party does not respond), by written agreement, or by trial.

The most common courses of action for various circumstances are:

If the other party did not respond (defaulted), then see an attorney to prepare a judgment, or check the Sacramento County Law Library – external link for self-help manuals.
In the event you and your spouse or partner have an agreement on all issues (uncontested) in your divorce, you can have an attorney prepare your agreement and judgment.
If either of the following conditions pertain to your case, then it is suggested that you consult with an attorney: 1) your spouse or partner has filed a response, there are contested issues, and you have no written agreement; or 2) your spouse filed the divorce, you responded, and your spouse or your partner refuses to finalize your divorce whether or not there are contested issues.
We highly recommend that you have a consultation with a family law attorney before finalizing your divorce. You may have important legal rights regarding spousal support, pensions or other deferred compensation, or other property rights. It is your responsibility to know your rights before you set your case for trial or you may lose those rights forever.

How to Obtain a Judgment by Default
If your spouse/partner has not served and filed a Response and more than 30 days have passed since he/she was served with the Summons and Petition, you are eligible to proceed by Default. However, a default judgment is not automatic. You must file a Request to Enter Default and proceed to judgment by attending a hearing or by preparing a declaration. To decide which method is right for you, review the following packets:

How To Request a Default and Schedule a Default Hearing (Dissolution/Legal Separation/Nullity Cases)
How to Obtain a Judgment of Dissolution, Legal Separation, or Annulment by Default without a Court Hearing Packet Unable to open?
Obtaining a Judgment When You Do Not Agree
If you do not agree on all issues involved in your case, you may want to have a judge decide those issues. The judge will make a decision on the issues after considering all relevant evidence presented to the court.

Memorandum to Set Packet
Statement of Issues Packet
When You Do Not Agree with the Memorandum to Set
If you disagree with your case being set for trial pursuant to Local Rule 5.26, you may request a hearing by serving and filing in Department 128 a Notice of Hearing on Memorandum to Set Counter Memorandum (FL/E-LP-605).

Restoring Your Former Name
To have your former name restored after you have received a Judgment of Dissolution, you may use the following packet:

 
Information from the Superior Court of California

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Making stepfamilies work

 
The so-called “blended family” is no longer an aberration in American society: It’s a norm.
Planning for remarriage
A marriage that brings with it children from a previous marriage presents many challenges. Such families should consider three key issues as they plan for remarriage:
Financial and living arrangements. Adults should agree on where they will live and how they will share their money. Most often partners embarking on a second marriage report that moving into a new home, rather than one of the partner’s prior residences, is advantageous because the new environment becomes “their home.” Couples also should decide whether they want to keep their money separate or share it. Couples who have used the “one-pot” method generally reported higher family satisfaction than those who kept their money separate.
Resolving feelings and concerns about the previous marriage. Remarriage may resurrect old, unresolved anger and hurts from the previous marriage, for adults and children. For example, hearing that her parent is getting remarried, a child is forced to give up hope that the custodial parents will reconcile. Or a woman may exacerbate a stormy relationship with her ex-husband, after learning of his plans to remarry, because she feels hurt or angry.
Anticipating parenting changes and decisions. Couples should discuss the role the stepparent will play in raising their new spouse’s children, as well as changes in household rules that may have to be made. Even if the couple lived together before marriage, the children are likely to respond to the stepparent differently after remarriage because the stepparent has now assumed an official parental role.
Marriage quality
While newlywed couples without children usually use the first months of marriage to build on their relationship, couples with children are often more consumed with the demands of their kids.
Young children, for example, may feel a sense of abandonment or competition as their parent devotes more time and energy to the new spouse. Adolescents are at a developmental stage where they are more sensitive to expressions of affection and sexuality, and may be disturbed by an active romance in their family.
Couples should make priority time for each other, by either making regular dates or taking trips without the children.
Parenting in stepfamilies
The most difficult aspect of stepfamily life is parenting. Forming a stepfamily with young children may be easier than forming one with adolescent children due to the differing developmental stages.
Adolescents, however, would rather separate from the family as they form their own identities.
Recent research suggests that younger adolescents (age 10-14) may have the most difficult time adjusting to a stepfamily. Older adolescents (age 15 and older) need less parenting and may have less investment in stepfamily life, while younger children (under age 10) are usually more accepting of a new adult in the family, particularly when the adult is a positive influence. Young adolescents, who are forming their own identities tend to be a bit more difficult to deal with.
Stepparents should at first establish a relationship with the children that is more akin to a friend or “camp counselor,” rather than a disciplinarian. Couples can also agree that the custodial parent remains primarily responsible for control and discipline of the children until the stepparent and children develop a solid bond.
Until stepparents can take on more parenting responsibilities, they can simply monitor the children’s behavior and activities and keep their spouses informed.
Families might want to develop a list of household rules. These may include, for example, “We agree to respect each family member” or “Every family member agrees to clean up after him or herself.”
Stepparent-child relations
While new stepparents may want to jump right in and to establish a close relationship with stepchildren, they should consider the child’s emotional status and gender first.
Both boys and girls in stepfamilies have reported that they prefer verbal affection, such as praises or compliments, rather than physical closeness, such as hugs and kisses. Girls especially say they’re uncomfortable with physical shows of affection from their stepfather. Overall, boys appear to accept a stepfather more quickly than girls.
Nonresidential parent issues
After a divorce, children usually adjust better to their new lives when the parent who has moved out visits consistently and has maintained a good relationship with them.
But once parents remarry, they often decrease or maintain low levels of contact with their children. Fathers appear to be the worst perpetrators: On average, dads drop their visits to their children by half within the first year of remarriage.
The less a parent visits, the more a child is likely to feel abandoned. Parents should reconnect by developing special activities that involve only the children and parent.
Parents shouldn’t speak against their ex-spouses in front of the child because it undermines the child’s self-esteem and may even put the child in a position of defending a parent.
Under the best conditions, it may take two to four years for a new stepfamily to adjust to living together. And seeing a psychologist can help the process can go more smoothly.
Thanks to James Bray, Ph.D., a researcher and clinician at the department of family medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for non-commercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.

 
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Nine psychological tasks
for a good marriage

 
Research on what makes a marriage work shows that people in a good marriage have completed these psychological “tasks”:
Separate emotionally from the family you grew up in; not to the point of estrangement, but enough so that your identity is separate from that of your parents and siblings. Build togetherness based on a shared intimacy and identity, while at the same time set boundaries to protect each partner’s autonomy. Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship and protect it from the intrusions of the workplace and family obligations. For couples with children, embrace the daunting roles of parenthood and absorb the impact of a baby’s entrance into the marriage. Learn to continue the work of protecting the privacy of you and your spouse as a couple. Confront and master the inevitable crises of life. Maintain the strength of the marital bond in the face of adversity. The marriage should be a safe haven in which partners are able to express their differences, anger and conflict. Use humor and laughter to keep things in perspective and to avoid boredom and isolation. Nurture and comfort each other, satisfying each partner’s needs for dependency and offering continuing encouragement and support. Keep alive the early romantic, idealized images of falling in love, while facing the sober realities of the changes wrought by time.
Thanks to Judith S. Wallerstein, PhD, co-author of the book “The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts.”
The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.
 
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Happy couples:
How to keep your relationship healthy

 
Romantic relationships are important for our happiness and well-being. Yet with more than 40 percent of new marriages ending in divorce, it’s clear that relationships aren’t always easy.1 Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your romantic partnership in good working order.
Talking openly
Communication is a key piece of healthy relationships. Healthy couples make time to check in with one another on a regular basis. It’s important to talk about more than just parenting and maintaining the household, however. Try to spend a few minutes each day discussing deeper or more personal subjects to stay connected to your partner over the long term.
That doesn’t mean you should avoid bringing up difficult subjects. Keeping concerns or problems to yourself can breed resentment. When discussing tough topics, though, it pays to be kind. Researchers have found that communication style is more important than commitment levels, personality traits or stressful life events in predicting whether happily married couples will go on to divorce. In particular, negative communication patterns such as anger and contempt are linked to an increased likelihood of splitting up.2
Disagreements are part of any partnership, but some fighting styles are particularly damaging. Couples that use destructive behavior during arguments — such as yelling, resorting to personal criticisms or withdrawing from the discussion — are more likely to break up than are couples that fight constructively. Examples of constructive strategies for resolving disagreements include attempting to find out exactly what your partner is feeling, listening to his or her point of view and trying to make him or her laugh.3
Keeping it interesting
Between kids, careers and outside commitments, it can be difficult to stay connected to your partner. Yet there are good reasons to make the effort. In one study, for example, researchers found couples that reported boredom during their seventh year of marriage were significantly less satisfied with their relationships nine years later.4
To keep things interesting, some couples plan regular date nights. Even dates can get old, though, if you’re always renting a movie or going to the same restaurant. Experts recommend breaking out of the routine and trying new things — whether that’s going dancing, taking a class together or packing an afternoon picnic.
Intimacy is also a critical component of romantic relationships. Some busy couples find it helpful to schedule sex by putting it on the calendar. It may not be spontaneous to have it written in red ink, but setting aside time for an intimate encounter helps ensure that your physical and emotional needs are met.
When should couples seek help?
Every relationship has ups and downs, but some factors are more likely than others to create bumps in a relationship. Finances and parenting decisions often create recurring conflicts, for example. One sign of a problem is having repeated versions of the same fight over and over. In such cases, psychologists can help couples improve communication and find healthy ways to move beyond the conflict.
You don’t have to wait until a relationship shows signs of trouble before working to strengthen your union. Marital education programs that teach skills such as good communication, effective listening and dealing with conflict have been shown to reduce the risk of divorce.
If you’d like professional help improving or strengthening your relationship, use the APA’s Psychologist Locator to find a psychologist in your area.
Additional resources
Nine psychological tasks for a good marriage Can this marriage be saved? Making stepfamilies work Answers to your questions about same-sex marriage
References
1 Kreider, R. M. (2005). Number, timing, and duration of marriages and divorces: 2001. Current Population Reports. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
2 Lavner, J.A. & Bradbury, T.N. (2012). “Why do even satisfied newlyweds eventually go on to divorce?” Journal of Family Psychology, 26 (1): 1-10.
3 Birditt, K.S., Brown, E., Orbuch, T.L., and McIlvane, J.M. (2010). “Marital conflict behaviors and implications for divorce over 16 years.” Journal of Marriage and Family, 72 (5): 1188-1204.
4 Tsapelas, I., Aron, A., and Orbuch, T. (2009). “Marital boredom now predicts less satisfaction 9 years later.” Psychological Science, 20 (5): 543-545.
Thanks to psychologists Robin S. Haight, PsyD, and Dan Abrahamson, Ph.D., who assisted with this article.
The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for non-commercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.
 
 
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Healthy divorce:
How to make your split as smooth as possible

 
No one enters into a marriage expecting it to fail. Still, more than 20 percent of first marriages end in divorce within five years, and 48 percent of marriages dissolve by the 20-year mark, according to 2006-2010 data from the government’s National Survey of Family Growth.1 Separation and divorce are emotionally difficult events, but it is possible to have a healthy breakup.
Cooperation, communication, and mediation
The end of a marriage typically unleashes a flood of emotions including anger, grief, anxiety, and fear. Sometimes these feelings can rise up when you least expect them, catching you off guard. Such a response is normal, and over time the intensity of these feelings will subside. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Researchers have found that people who are kind and compassionate to themselves have an easier time managing the day-to-day difficulties of divorce.2
Try not to think of the breakup as a battle. Divorce mediation is often a good alternative to courtroom proceedings. Trying to work things out yourself can be frustrating and self-defeating as the problems that contributed to your divorce are likely to re-emerge during divorce negotiations. Research shows that mediation can be beneficial for emotional satisfaction, spousal relationships and children’s needs.3
Sitting down and speaking with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may be the last thing you want to do, but cooperation and communication make divorce healthier for everyone involved. Talking things through with a psychologist may help you reach coordinated decisions with a minimum of conflict.
It can be difficult to remember important details when emotions are running high. Pick a time when you’re feeling calm to write down all the points you want to discuss. When you do sit down with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, use the list as your guide. Having a “script” to work from can take some of the emotion out of face-to-face communication. If in-person discussions are still too difficult, consider handling some of the details over email.
 

When kids are involved
 
Divorce can be a traumatic experience for children, but research suggests that most children adjust well within two years following the divorce; on the other hand, children often experience more problems when parents remain in high-conflict marriages instead of splitting up.4 During a divorce, parents can do a lot to ease the child’s transition. Do your best to keep any conflict away from the kids. Ongoing parental conflict increases kids’ risk of psychological and social problems.5
It’s often helpful for divorcing parents to come up with a plan and present it to their children together. And, keep the lines of communication open. Kids benefit from having honest conversations about the changes their family is experiencing.
In many cases, sudden change can be hard on children. If appropriate, give them a few weeks’ notice before moving them to a new home, or before one spouse moves out. It can be helpful to minimize changes as much as possible in the months and years following a divorce.
Kids do better when they maintain close contact with both parents. Research suggests that kids who have a poor relationship with one or both parents may have a harder time dealing with family upheaval. Parent education programs that focus on improving the relationship between parents and their kids have been shown to help children cope better in the months and years following the divorce.6

 
Click here for the full article
 
 
 
 
&nbsp

Answers to Your Questions About Same-Sex Marriage

Are same-sex marriages different from heterosexual marriages?
Like heterosexuals, many lesbian, gay and bisexual people want to form stable, long-lasting relationships and many of them do. In fact, researchers have found that the majority of lesbian, and gay, adults are in committed relationships and many couples have been together 10 or more years.

Scientists have found that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners largely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Same-sex and heterosexual couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, loyalty and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Empirical research also shows that lesbian and gay couples have levels of relationship satisfaction similar to or higher than those of heterosexual couples.
How do laws that limit marriage to heterosexuals affect gay and lesbian people?
Being denied the right to marry reinforces the stigma associated with a minority sexual identity. Researchers have found that living in a state where same-sex marriage is outlawed can lead to chronic social stress and mental health problems. Psychologists are particularly concerned that such stigma may undermine the healthy development of adolescents and young adults.

The families and friends of lesbian and gay couples who are denied marriage rights may also experience negative physical and mental health consequences similar to those experienced by their loved ones.
Do same-sex couples make fit parents?
The vast majority of scientific studies that have directly compared lesbian and gay parents with heterosexual parents have consistently shown that the same-sex couples are as fit and capable parents as heterosexual couples, and that their children are just as psychologically healthy and well adjusted. For instance, one recent study (PDF, 169KB) found that children of same-sex couples do just as well in school as children of heterosexual couples, and these children are equally popular among their peers.
Why is marriage so important?
Marriage bestows economic and social support to couples in committed relationships, which can result in substantial health benefits. Researchers have found that married men and women generally experience better physical and mental health than comparable cohabiting couples. Additionally, same-sex couples in legal unions are more likely to remain in a committed relationship than those denied marriage rights.
Taken together, the research shows that there’s no scientific basis for denying marriage rights to same-sex couples, and doing so can adversely affect them as well as their family and friends.
This fact sheet is based on APA’s amicus brief in the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry and APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office fact sheet on Marriage Equality and LGBT Health (PDF, 111KB).
 
Click here for the full research article
 
 
 
 
 

Child Born Out of Wedlock
and a Father’s Rights

JULY 24, 2017 BY B. ROBERT FARZAD
 
This article only applies to California family law matters.
 
 
This article will discuss a child born out of wedlock and a father’s
rights in such a situation. A child born out of wedlock can be a joyous
occasion as well as a stressful one. Depending on nature and extent
of the relationship between the mother and father, a child born out of
wedlock followed by the relationship breakup can lead to conflict. Fathers
naturally, concern themselves regarding their rights on both child custody and
child support when their child is born out of wedlock. In our experience, the
relationship’s nature between the father and mother can impact the conflict
level after the child is born.
 
Click here for the full article
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Justia Ask a Lawyer

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers
to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia
Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential
basis only.
 
Click here for Justia Ask a Lawyer
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

3 FACTS ABOUT CALIFORNIA DIVORCE
POSTED BY CLAERY & HAMMOND, LLP || 26-JUL-2017

California is a no-fault divorce state.

Historically, spouses needed to cite a ground for divorce when they filed their petition. For example, a spouse would cite adultery, cruelty, or abandonment. However, California was the first state to implement no-fault divorce, which means a spouse cites “irreconcilable differences” when he or she files for divorce. In California’s courts, judges are not interested in hearing “why” a marriage fell apart. All the judge cares about is the fact that one spouse wants to end the marriage.

Fact 2. Adultery doesn’t affect spousal support.

If your spouse has been cheating on you and you’ve been saving their racy texts, or if you’ve been collecting their secret emails, please be aware that the judge probably won’t be interested in reviewing the evidence. Why? Because as we mentioned above, California is now a no-fault divorce state; therefore, an affair shouldn’t have any impact on spousal support or property division.

However, if your spouse spent marital assets on things such as hotel rooms, lavish gifts, trips, or even an apartment for their paramour, those expenditures can affect your settlement. If an affair affected the cheating spouse’s ability to parent, it can have an impact on child custody depending on the facts of the case.

Fact 3. California is a community property state.

California is one of a handful of states that is a community property state. This means that a married couple’s assets are owned equally by both of them. Separate property, however, remains separate. A divorcing couple can deviate from a 50/50 split if they so choose, so long as the property division is reasonable and fair.

 
Click here for the full report from Claery & Hammond of Los Angeles & San Diego
 
 
 
 

 
 

Supreme Court to launch eFiling July 10, 2017 | California …

SAN FRANCISCO—Jorge Navarrete, Court Administrator and Clerk of the Supreme Court of California today announced that the Supreme Court will launch voluntary eFiling under California Rule of Court 8.70 beginning July 10, 2017.

“The eFiling system will benefit the public, attorneys, and the court by providing a more technologically advanced and efficient process for filing and managing cases at the high court,” said Mr. Navarrete. “The court appreciates the cooperation and assistance of appellate attorneys in preparing for this major enhancement in service to litigants and legal professionals statewide.”

The court will adopt detailed eFiling Rules in June and remain open to opportunities to enhance the program in the coming year. The court will employ a phased approach to the launch of its eFiling program. Beginning on July 10 participation will be voluntary, and the program will become mandatory effective September 1, 2017.

Documents Supported by eFiling
The following documents have been approved for eFiling with the court:

Petitions for review;
Answers to petitions for review;
Replies to answers to petitions for review;
Motions, applications, and documents related to petitions for review; and
Automatic appeals from a judgment of death and related habeas corpus matters

 
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CHILD WELFARE IN THE NEWS

July 2017 ARTICLES.

CHILD WELFARE IN THE NEWS, July 2017, click here


Guardianship, adoptions, in California.

From Foster Care To Adoption: How New Laws Are Helping Kids Find …

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio
Of the 64,000 children in the foster care system in California, less than three percent are in the adoption phase. This year, the system is undergoing changes that may help more kids find a stable home life.

Benaiah Stoops, 7, and his little brother Salem, 5, live in El Dorado County. They hang out with the chickens, watch Super Why, and await the arrival of their parents’ first foster child.

When Benaiah is asked if he wants a little brother or sister, he responds with, “sister.”

“Because I already have a brother,” he says.

Benaiah and Salem’s parents, Janae and Ben, thought they would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to adopt overseas before they discovered a foster-to-adoption program in their county costs only $145.

“All of a sudden, adoption became… a possibility,” says Ben.

For the full report click the link below.

From Foster Care To Adoption: How New Laws Are Helping Kids Find Stable Homes, Bob Moffitt … click here for the full report
 

 

 

California Parents Trying to
Control Kids Can Lose Custody

By SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The state can take wayward children away from their parents even when they are doing their best to control their kids and the kids aren’t delinquents, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

A unanimous court said it doesn’t matter whether parents are neglectful or in some way to blame for failing to protect their children. If children face a substantial risk of harm, the state can assume custody of them, the high court said.

The ruling concerns a state law that allows a court to assume control of children if they have suffered or are at substantial risk of suffering serious physical harm or illness as a result of the failure or inability of their parents to adequately supervise or protect them.

The law is often invoked in cases where a parent is abusing or neglecting a child. It can also apply to cases in which a parent becomes homeless or is mentally incapacitated, said Michael Wald, an expert in child welfare law at Stanford Law School.

The case the court ruled on Thursday involved none of those conditions. The mother — a Los Angeles County woman identified only as Lisa E. — tried to supervise and protect her teenage daughter, looking for her each time she left home, sending her to live with her grandparents, and calling police and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services for help, according to court documents.
 
Click here for the full report


 
 
 
 

 

Fostering Failure: How shelters criminalize hundreds of children

The offenses begin innocently enough.

Kids watching a movie smear cake frosting on each other. A Monopoly game is overturned. A distraught child hurls whatever is within reach — a tissue box, a shoe, a blanket, dominoes, a cell phone.

In California’s shelters for abused and neglected children, these youthful outbursts can become crimes. The instigators of the cake fight are arrested and accused of inciting a mob. A girl who grabbed her stuffed bear and blanket before flinging books is taken into custody for assault. Another girl is booked at juvenile hall for battery after hitting someone with a pack of hot dog buns during a tussle.

Foster youth and child welfare experts take us on an emotional journey as they describe the effects of going from a shelter and group home for abused and neglected children to a jail cell.
The county shelters in the nation’s largest foster care system are supposed to serve as a refuge for vulnerable children removed from unsafe homes. Instead, they have funneled hundreds of children, some as young as 8 years old, into the criminal justice system for relatively minor incidents, a Chronicle investigation has found.

Data compiled by The Chronicle show more than 14,000 calls for service to police and sheriff’s departments in 2015 and 2016 from California’s 10 shelter campuses. The majority of those calls, some repeated for the same incident, sought help tracking down foster children who left without permission.

5,400 children passed through California’s 10 shelters last year.
Hover over each shelter to view its 2016 count.

Click here for the full report

 
 
 
 

 

States Explore Trauma Screening in
the Child Welfare System
by Jeremy Loudenback July 28, 2017,

As trauma-informed initiatives have multiplied in recent years, more child welfare agencies are now grappling with how to properly screen for trauma.

Along with access to trauma-focused, evidence-based treatments and staff training, screening is a key part of building a trauma-informed system. But that approach has until recently had relatively little traction in the child welfare field.

According to a new paper that looks at the implementation of a recent wave of trauma screening initiatives in five states, child welfare agencies can help steer thousands of children to treatment related to their exposure to traumatic events.

But implementation concerns — such as how to integrate screening into agency practices and ensuring that sufficient trauma-informed services are available to children — are still an issue for most child-welfare agencies.

According to Jason Lang, director of dissemination and implementation for the Child Health and Development Institute and the lead author of a case study on trauma screening, most child welfare systems do not routinely screen children for trauma.

Little research exists yet about how trauma screening improves outcomes among children in the child welfare system. Child welfare systems that do want to screen for trauma often lack a scientifically valid tool and implementation practices have yet to be developed.

“There is definitely a shift towards the recognition that it’s a good thing to do and many systems want to do it, but I think there’s still some concrete challenges to actually putting it into place universally that some states are really struggling with,” Lang said.

In a paper published last month, Lang and his colleagues looked at five statewide and tribal initiatives that started the process of creating pilot projects screening for trauma in the child welfare system.

Funded by the Administration for Children and Families, the research effort looks at lessons learned from state child welfare systems that rolled out demonstration grants awarded in 2011. This group includes Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana and North Carolina, though other states that have begun screening children involved with the child welfare system for trauma.

Children in the child welfare system are far more likely than other children to experience trauma in the form of abuse and neglect as well as traumatic events in the system, such as a child welfare investigation and separation from caregivers. Although there was some variation in how states measured trauma, the trauma screening initiatives unsurprisingly found high rates of trauma exposure.

For example, 40 percent of all children who participated in the screening in Connecticut registered enough traumatic events to qualify as having a high likelihood of a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That may be as much as five times the rate for the general population.

How states implement trauma screening vary widely. Some have applied it universally to all children who come into contact with the system, while others screen a smaller group. Systemic issues common to the child welfare system, such as competing demands for staff attention and training requirements, complicate the practice. Issues at the local level are also important, such as lawsuits and the availability of evidence-based treatments.

According to Lang, implementation practices around trauma screening for state agencies are still evolving.

“I think that one thing we really don’t know is what are the best practices, so what are the best tools and implementation strategies, like what is necessary to support trauma screenings – everything from data systems and supervision to initial training and quality assurance,” Lang said

The paper suggests several recommendations for child welfare systems considering implementing trauma screenings, including assembling an implementation team, identifying specific measures to collect in the trauma screen, prioritizing implementation and forging better collaboration with mental health departments.
 
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Child Welfare Ideas from the Experts #6:
Doubling Chafee Education Vouchers
by John Kelly July 27, 2017,

The Chronicle of Social Change is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program (FYI), a group of 12 former foster youths who have completed congressional internships.

The program is overseen each summer by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Each of the FYI participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C. Today we highlight the recommendation of Demontea Thompson, a graduate student at the University of Southern California.

The Proposal

Thompson calls for Congress to double the maximum award amount for the Educational Training Voucher (ETV), a component of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act. He would also permit states to use an “opt-in” process to get those funds to youth as they prepared for college, not wait until they arrived on campus.

The main Chafee funding stream, a $140 million independent living program block grant, was established in 1999. Three years later, Congress added ETV as a college assistance piece for youth who aged out of foster care.

The Argument

College tuition, along with all of the costs associated with attending college, has risen significantly since 2002. Meanwhile, the ETV maximum award has remained the same: $5,000.

Demontea Thompson, a graduate student at the University of Southern California

This might be a workable amount in some states where costs have not risen as much, and there are a few states that even return ETV funds each year (in fiscal 2013, Thompson notes, about $1.6 million in ETV funds came back to the federal government).

But in California and many other states, aging out foster youth need more financial help when it comes to getting into, attending and living at college.

Notes Thompson: The National Center for Education Statistics reported that annual tuition at public four-year institutions has increased from $9,196 in 2002 to $18,632 in 2015.”

In His Own Words

“The cost of college and other unforeseen challenges made it difficult for me to navigate and do well academically. In addition to attending classes and studying for exams, throughout my college years I worked a total of 30-40 hours a week to pay for basic expenses such as professional clothes and wisdom teeth surgery.

Paying for food was another constant struggle In contrast to the ‘Freshman 15’ my peers acquired, I lost 20 pounds during my first year in college.”

The Chronicle‘s Take

As Thompson makes exceedingly clear, the relative value of the maximum ETV has been greatly diminished by tuition rate hikes and the cost of living. In the time since ETV was introduced, many states have stepped up for foster youth with tuition waivers and additional assistance programs.

But part of ETV’s value is its flexibility. The funds can be used for tuition, room and board, or relevant supplies. And at least in some parts of this country, the level of flexible money needed by former foster youth has gone way up.

Some researchers have argued that federal attempts to increase supports for college students have actually been a perverse driver of tuition costs. But this is connected to grand-scale increases to federal loans and aid; Congress could move to hold former foster youth harmless with more ETV support, and that would not move the college tuition market one penny.

Our concern with Thompson’s proposal is that it does not peg this increased maximum for ETV to a higher authorization overall for the program. This is also a potential concern with the current legislation proposing an expansion of ETV to 26, which proposes to do this without any increase in ETV funds.
Here’s the problem. When you raise the award or expand the universe, some states might be able to accommodate it without additional money. But in states like California, where there have not been enough ETV funds to reach every eligible student, higher maximums would thin the receiver pool even more.
This could lead to a Hobson’s choice of sorts. Do you want close to 100 percent of eligible youth getting a $5,000 grant? Or 50 percent of the eligible youth getting $10,000?

Really, the answer should be that neither is acceptable. Some growth in the ETV appropriation is warranted, even if Congress needs to get creative.

In order to provide the average annual ETV recipient total with Thompson’s proposed increase, the ETV appropriation would have to jump to about $168 million. That’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.

But the amount needed to reach each recipient with the current $5,000 max would be $84 million, which seems a bit more doable in appropriations. What if a reauthorization at $84 million was done in tandem with a pegging of the max award to some state-by-state calculation of tuition change?

Another possibility might be allowing states that have expanded foster care to 21 to use their larger Chafee fund allocation to supplement ETV. Perhaps some of these states no longer need independent living funds as much as they need college assistance.

Thompson’s call for more support in the face rising tuition is on point. It just needs to be done without the unintended consequence of leaving some students with no support.
 

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