On January 16th, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear four cases about gay marriage. The Court is expected to answer two distinct questions. First, are states required to issue licences for same-sex marriage? Second, are states required to recognize same-sex marriage licences from other states?
For gay couples in California, the Court's decision as to the first question is likely to be significant in principle only. Because California already recognizes same-sex marriage, the Court's ruling will have little impact locally. Even if the Court holds that states are not required under the United States Constitution to recognize same-sex marriage, in 2008 the California Supreme Court held in the In re: Marriage cases that the California Constitution requires the state to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples. While a pro-same-sex ruling from the US Supreme Court would block any local attack on same-sex marriage (by, for instance, altering the California Constitution), as a practical matter it seems like same-sex marriage in California is here to stay.
However, the US Supreme Court's holding on the second question could have a more significant impact on California gay couples. While California recognizes (and will continue to recognize) same-sex marriages from other states, if the US Supreme Court holds that the United States Constitution does not require states to recognize same-sex marriage licences from other states it is possible that same-sex couples married in California might find their marriages invalid if they move to a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages. This would, of course, inhibit the mobility of California same-sex couples that want to keep their marriage intact.
Constitutional Law professor Steve Sanders recently analyzed how the court might decide to rule on these two questions. According to him, it is more likely that the Court will find that states must recognize same-sex marriage licences issued in other states that it is that the Court will hold that states must issue same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriage advocates, of course, hope that the Court will hold that gay couples have the right to get married and that other states are required to recognize those marriages. If the Court decides to split their response, however, it is more beneficial for gay couples in California for the Court to hold as Sanders thinks they might - that other states must recognize same-sex marriages.
The attorneys at Beach & Niman will continue to watch these important national developments and offer our thoughts here.
In California Family Court, judges have broad discretion in child custody decisions. This discretion has led to custody orders that have been described as a "crapshoot." Additionally, because of the case backlog, all child custody disputes are sent to mediation first. Having an excellent family law attorney, like those at Beach & Niman, along with choosing a good mediator increase your odds of getting custody of your children.
Read more here.
Child support in California is calculated using a standard formula. This formula takes into account several factors, including the number of children, the percentage of time the children spend with the parent who earns a higher income, the total income of both parents, and the amount of income to be dedicated to child support. Each of these factors, in turn, are subject to various calculations. This formula begins to look a lot like the math problems we all dreaded as a child.
Here's the formula, in all its glory: CS = K[HN - (H%)(TN)]
CS = The total amount of child support.
K = The amount of both parents' income to be allocated for child support.
HN = The high earner's net monthly disposable income.
H% = The higher earner's approximate time of physical responsibility for the children
TN = The parties' total monthly net income.
Fortunately, the State of California has created a basic child support estimation tool online. You can find that calculator here.
Please note several caveats. First, the court is authorized under some circumstances to deviate from this calculation. Second, the calculator is only as accurate as the input, so even where a court adheres to the calculation, if your estimation of the numbers is incorrect (or a different amount is litigated and decided by a judge) the result may be different. Third, there are varois increases and deductions that might impact the final amount of child support. Fourth, and most importantly, parent's have the right to negotiate their own child support payments. If you and your former spouse can agree upon a monthly support amount, and can show that this alternative support amount is in the best interests of the child(ren), then the judge will likely find the alternative amount satisfactory.
All of this can be confusing. If you're negotiating child support payments and would like help, please call us at 760-472-3193, email John or Dina or contact us through our form on the Contact Us page of our website.
Your Family Law Firm is ready to help you.
- John Niman
Beach & Niman, LLP
Even an uncontested divorce can be a difficult process, but San Diego county offers resources to those willing to try to go it alone and wait six months. If you'd rather not deal with the hassle, however, we are willing to help.
Recently, a therapist, financial player, attorney, and a mediator sat down to talk about the benefits of creating a prenuptial agreement. We think you will find this discussion informative. Click Here to go to the Huffington Post article.