The California Family Law Pop Culture Blog

The California Family Law Pop Culture Blog is intended as a resource to help non-lawyers understand common California family law issues through the lens of real-life situations found in popular culture.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow– Divorce & Bob Dylan’s Coif

small_6894447350Black Keys’ singer, Dan Auerbach, recently finalized his divorce with Stephanie Gonis in the State of Tennessee. As part of the division of property, the parties divided the typical assets– vehicles, real estate, cash… Ho hum. Gonis was also awarded Bob Dylan’s hair– ho hu… wait, what??!! Did you say Bob Dylan’s hair??!!

Turns out that the parties owned a lock of Bob Dylan’s hair and Auerbach and Gonis’ divorce judgment included a provision which awarded the hair to Gonis. This may seem like a strange item to divide in a divorce; however, in California, parties are supposed to disclose, characterize and divide all property the parties have an interest in– no matter how bizarre.

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So what is “property,” you may ask? According to California Civil Code Section 654, “the ownership of a thing is the right of one or more persons to possess and use it to the exclusion of others… the thing of which there may be ownership is called property.” Property that is unmovable is “real” property; property that is movable is “personal” property (Civil Code Section 657).  Every kind of property that is not “real” is “personal”  (Civil Code Section 663).

With that in mind, strange as it may be, an item like Bob Dylan’s hair, is considered personal property in the State of California.  And since all property owned by the parties in a California divorce case must be be adjudicated (i.e. divided), if Bob Dylan’s hair was part of a California divorce case, it would be necessary for the parties to disclose the ownership of the item and have the asset awarded to a particular party in the divorce judgment.

DISCLAIMER: This Blog is made available by Happ Law Group P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of California law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Happ Law Group P.C. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

If you are in need of assistance from an experienced San Diego County divorce lawyer, please contact Certified Family Law Specialist Christopher C. Happ by calling (619) 906-5800 or by submit your contact information through our website.

Photo Credit: Heinrich Klaffs via photopin cc and Stephen Eckert via photopin cc

Ask Ric Flair– How Important is Paying Support?

According to USA Today, former wrestler Ric Flair is in jeopardy of being sent to jail for failure to make support payments pursuant to a North Carolina support order (http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2013/07/17/pro-wrestling-ric-flair-support-jail/2529961/)

In California, if a child support or spousal support payor is found guilty of failing to comply with the Court’s support order, the payor can be held in contempt of court.  In a contempt proceeding, each missed or late payment can be considered a “count” and, if the payor is found guilty, each count of contempt can be punishable by up to:small_1155313728 (2)

  • On a first finding of contempt, performance of community service of up to 120 hours OR imprisonment of up to 120 hours;
  • On a second finding of contempt, performance of community service of up to 120 hours AND imprisonment of up to 120 hours;
  • On a third or subsequent finding of contempt, imprisonment of up to 240 hours AND performance of community service of up to 240 hours.

With this in mind, it is vital that those individuals who are subject to a California support order make their payments in full and on time.

DISCLAIMER: This Blog is made available by Happ Law Group P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of California law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Happ Law Group P.C. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

If you are in need of assistance from an experienced San Diego County family lawyer, please contact Certified Family Law Specialist Christopher C. Happ by calling (619) 906-5800 or by submit your contact information through our website.

Photo Credit: nwa_fan via photopin cc

Ne-Yo’s Annulment– Is it that Easy?

R&B recording artist Shaffer Chimere Smith, better known as Ne-Yo, recently revealed to TMZ that he used to be married.  He stated that he got married when he was 19 years old and that the marriage only lasted a few months before they had it annulled.  This raises the question, why do some married couples divorce and others have their marriages annulled? And when can a marriage be annulled?

Here is the simple difference between a divorce and an annulment (a.k.a. nullity)– a divorce is the termination of an existing marriage; an annulment is a finding that the parties were never married.

A common misperception about annulment is that it is an alternative to divorce; however, this is not true in most cases. An annulment can only be granted in limited circumstances.  The following are the seven grounds for annulment recognized in the State of California:small_743086404

  • Incest (marriage between parents and children, ancestors and descendants, half brothers and half sisters, uncles and nieces, and aunts and nephews)
  • Bigamy (marriage entered into while either party is married to another person)
  • Minority (under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage and did not obtain the requisite parental and court consents)
  • Unsound Mind (incapable of understanding the nature of the marriage contract and the duties and responsibilities it creates)
  • Fraud (false representations or concealment related to a matter of substance which directly affects the purpose the party decided to enter into the marriage)
  • Force (overcoming the exercise of the other person’s free will to obtain consent to marry)
  • Physical Incapacity (physical incapacity of entering into the marriage state and the physical incapacity appears to be incurable)

Although Ne-Yo did not reveal to TMZ where his annulment was granted, if he obtained his annulment in the State of California, you can be sure that the reason for the nullity was one of the aforementioned grounds.

DISCLAIMER: This Blog is made available by Happ Law Group P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of California law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Happ Law Group P.C. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

If you need the assistance of a family law lawyer to help determine whether an annulment is an option for you, do not wait because some grounds for annulment have statutory time limits.  Please contact Certified Family Law Specialist Christopher C. Happ by calling (619) 906-5800 or by submit your contact information through our website.

Photo Credit: Matrix2073 Media Group via photopin cc

Does Ashton’s Adultery Entitle Demi to Spousal Support?

On 03/07/13, Demi Moore filed her Response to Ashton Kutcher’s Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.  Of note in Demi’s Response was that she is seeking spousal support from Ashton.  It is widely assumed that Demi’s desire for spousal support is primarily because she wants revenge for Ashton’s infidelity.  This raises the question, does a spouse’s bad behavior during a marriage (e.g. cheating, inattention, etc.) mean that he or she will have to pay spousal support?

The answer, which can be surprising to some, is no.  small_5815696343 (2)

When it comes to long-term spousal support, a California court is obligated to consider factors such as duration of the marriage, ability to pay, need, each party’s separate assets and debts, among others.  The Court is not obligated to consider facts regarding what prompted the parties to end their relationship (unless, of course, those facts are related to domestic violence).

With that in mind, since it is believed that Demi’s net worth is much greater than Ashton, it is highly unlikely that she would ever receive spousal support from him and, if she did, it would not be because he cheated on her.

DISCLAIMER: This Blog is made available by Happ Law Group P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of California law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Happ Law Group P.C. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

If you need the assistance of a divorce attorney for your spousal support issue, please contact Certified Family Law Specialist Christopher C. Happ by calling (619) 906-5800 or by submit your contact information through our website.

Photo Credit: Digitas Photos via photopin cc

Ashley Judd & Dario Franchitti – Examining Duration of Marriage in Context of Spousal Support

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There are reports that Ashley Judd and her race car driver husband, Dario Franchitti, have decided to part ways after 11 years of marriage. It is unknown whether the couple has initiated divorce proceedings, but let’s assume for our purposes that Ashley will file for divorce in the State of California so that we can examine the impact duration of a marriage has on long-term spousal support orders.

First, it is important to distinguish between “temporary” and “long-term” spousal support. Temporary spousal support is spousal support which can be ordered while the divorce proceedings are pending. In contrast, long-term spousal support is spousal support which can be ordered to be paid after the divorce has been finalized. For the purposes of this blog posting, we will focus only on long-term spousal support.

In the context of long-term spousal support, California divides marriages into two categories– short-term and long-term marriages. A short-term marriage is any marriage whose duration is less than 10 years (measured from the date of marriage to the date of separation) and a long-term marriage is one which is 10 years or more.

Now, with these concepts in mind, let’s examine the impact of duration of marriage on long-term spousal support:

Dario suiting up for the Baltimore Grand Prix

It is the public policy of the State of California that the supported spouse (the spouse who is receiving the spousal support) become self-supporting within a “reasonable period of time.” So what is a “reasonable” period of time? The answer can significantly depend on the duration of the parties’ marriage.

In a short-term marriage, it is generally presumed that the supported spouse should become self-supporting within one-half the duration of the marriage. On the other hand, in a long-term marriage, it cannot be presumed that a spouse should become self-supporting within one-half the duration of the marriage. Instead, a long-term spousal support award must be left open-ended.

So what is the practical effect of this? If spousal support is awarded in a short-term marriage, the court can assign a termination date that will be effective without the parties having to go back to court. However, in a long-term marriage, the Court cannot order a termination date of spousal support (unless the parties agree to one). As a result, if the spouse paying long-term spousal support from a long-term marriage wanted to decrease or terminate spousal support sometime in the future, he or she would have to file a motion and return to court to request a downward modification of spousal support.

So, with all of this in mind, Ashley and Dario were part of a marriage of long-term duration (11 years). Therefore, if either party were awarded long-term spousal support in a California court, absent an agreement, the spousal support order would have to be open-ended and the court could not set a termination date for the spousal support award.

DISCLAIMER: This Blog is made available by Happ Law Group P.C. for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of California law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and Happ Law Group P.C. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.

If you need the assistance of a divorce lawyer for your spousal support issue, please contact Certified Family Law Specialist Christopher C. Happ by calling (619) 906-5800 or by submit your contact information through our website.

Photo Credits: Genevieve719 via photopin cc and emetsger via photopin cc