Monthly Archives: December 2013

Old Country Song: Don’t Be (Illegally) Tracking My Heart

December 18th, 2013

Ashley Judd thinks her sister Wynonna  has been tracking Ashley (and her Mini) with a GPS.  Click here for the story.

In California, that is illegal. See Penal Code Section 637.7.

Some spouses may want to catch their soon-to-be significant other doing something they shouldn’t be doing.  In the process of tracking their spouse with a GPS, they may end up breaking the law themselves.

If you have questions about questionable actions take by your spouse, be sure to speak with a qualified family law attorney (to avoid having to speak to a criminal defense attorney).

Supreme Court Hears Another Family Law Issue

December 11th, 2013

Family law is back at the Supreme Court.

This morning, the Court heard Lozano v. Alvarez, a case concerning the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the “Hague Convention”) and an international custody dispute.

In brief, two Colombian parents had been living in England. They separated and Mother took the child to France and then New York in 2008. Father looked for his daughter and ultimately found her in 2010. He then filed a Petition under the Hague Convention in federal court asking the child to be returned to the United Kingdom.

Under Article 12 of the Hague convention, if a parent removes a child to another country and the non-custodial parent files a Hague action in the new country within one year of the child’s removal, that country must order the child’s return to the original country for a custody determination.  (Note:  the current country is not issuing custody orders.)

The issue being addressed by the Supreme Court today is whether or not Father met the one year time-frame of the Hague Convention to have the child automatically returned to the UK (the home country in this case) for a custody decision or if the one year deadline passed and the custody case can be heard in the United States.  Father wants the Article 12 deadline tolled because he alleges Mother was hiding the child, and he could not file within the year through no fault of his own.  You can read a more detailed synopsis of the facts and legal argument at scotusblog (they also have a link to the documents in the case here).

The link to the oral argument is here, and a decision is expected in several months.

International abduction cases are unfortunately not uncommon.  A case involving a New Jersey father and Brazilian maternal grandparents (the mother had taken the child to Brazil and then passed away) took several years to resolve.  The child was eventually returned to the United States.  NBC spoke to the boy a few years after his return.

Citizens of the United Stated can learn more about the Hague Convention at the Department of State website. The International Association of Matrimonial Lawyers also provides resources.

If you need assistance with an international custody case, be sure to talk to an experienced family law attorney.

Name changes

December 9th, 2013

Jennifer Lopez recently responded to the petition for divorce filed by her soon-to-be former spouse, Mark Anthony.

In California, the response is due 30 days after being served with the petition.  However, parties can and often do agree to an alternate date.  (Be sure to have an agreement, or the petitioner can take your default!)

Ms. Lopez has asked that she retake her maiden name, Jennifer Lopez, and leave “Muniz” with Mr. Anthony (real surname Muniz).

Name changes are one only one of the items to address on your dissolution petition (item 7(i) or response (item 9(i)).  Either party can change their name after the divorce, but it requires an additional step.  Name changes in conjunction with the dissolution may save time and money.

This blog will later address other items found in the Petition and Response.

Before filing your Petition or Response, be sure to speak a qualified family law attorney.

Engagement Rings – Mine, yours, the devil’s?

December 5th, 2013

Engagement rings are in the news this week.  The Huffington Post reports on one gentleman’s attempt to sell a used ring.  That angry seller got his ring back – but is that always the case?

It depends.  Are the parties disagreeing about the ring before the marriage takes place or after the parties have married and are now getting divorced.

Before Marriage

If one person gives a ring to his intended betrothed (and women can give rings to men; and with same sex marriages men can give to men and women to women), and the wedding is called off, there is a law for that.  California Civil Code Section 1950 says that if the recipient calls off the wedding, the ring giver can get it back.

After Marriage

In dissolution (divorce) proceedings, the parties divide their community property, and each party keeps his own separate property.  A ring, received as a gift before marriage (and thus before there is a community), is likely to be considered the recipient’s separate property, because it was received prior to the date of marriage.  See Fam. Code Section 770(a)(1).  That is not to say the parties cannot negotiate for a different outcome.

If you have questions about rings or pre- or post- nuptial agreements or the division of community property, be sure to speak to a qualified family law attorney.