San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog

Divorce Month


The New Year has made its appearance, but while some are focusing on resolutions and ultimately bettering themselves; others are focused on changing their marital status. Spouses begin to have complications in their marriage at all different times of the year; but the holiday season is often a catalyst for change. Family and financial obligations, and the accompanying disagreements, can be the final straw for many couples.

January brings resolutions and decision making. According to Findlaw, (a free consumer-focused legal information site):

“searches for "divorce" and related phrases such as "family law" and "child custody" jumped 50 percent – from just over 10,000 in December 2010 to nearly 16,000 in January 2011, and continued to surge through March. "Divorce" has been the No. 1 searched term on since January 2010.”

Although many people make the decision to divorce in January, it is common for couples to wait until March to file and begin the divorce process. According to the same study cited above, January sees an increase in divorce filings; but that number doesn’t peak until March.

If you have found yourself considering filing for divorce in the new year, you are not alone. Divorce is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. It is imperative to understand all your rights and options before you file any documents with the court. If you have questions about your situation or how your circumstances might affect your divorce, please give us a call.

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Social Media as Evidence in Family Law Cases

A moment of frustration can easily turn into a legal headache when social media is added to the mix. The combination of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook and the ability to instantaneously post personal thoughts or frustrations can later cause a huge uproar with those it may personally affect. When it comes to family law, these incidents can unravel a whole other dimension to a case and can be used against the other party.

Security and privacy settings can provide a false sense of safety. Every post made to the internet is recorded and is never completely out of sight or out of mind. Even services, like SnapChat, that are designed to self destruct messages, have proven that they are not infallible. The only way to guarantee your thoughts or comments won’t live on in social media infamy is to refrain from posting them at all.

Another common misperception is that the only way to access posts is to have an account on the particular platform (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). The reality is search engines (such as Google or Yahoo) can uncover accounts and often posts from a variety of social channels. Even though your account may say private, that is not entirely the case. There is often little protection from your followers taking screenshots of your posts and reposting as public content. Additionally,  situations can arise where some information that one may have deleted forever has come back to haunt them.

Once again, there is no privacy when it comes to the internet. It is a network primarily used to share and store information. Social media posts are easy to publish, easy to save, but hard to erase. It is advised that no action or response to divorce or family law matters be posted on your social media. This will eradicate any evidence that could be used against you. If you are facing a family law situation, the best course of action is to refrain from sharing any information on social media until your case has concluded.



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Divorce Statistics

san diego divorce


Several recent news articles have cited correlations between the costs of a wedding (or the cost of the engagement ring) to divorce rates. The theory is that the more expensive the wedding (or ring) the more likely the couple is to divorce.

Here is the cheat sheet on the statistics listed in a recent article from The Wall Street Journal:

  • Men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 times more likely to divorce than those who spent between $500 and $2,000. In the paper’s language, that pricier ring is “significantly associated with an increase in the hazard of divorce in the sample of men.”
  • Couples who spent $1,000 or less on their wedding were not as likely to get divorced in the samples of both men and women.
  • Among women, marriages that began with weddings that cost $20,000 or more were 1.6 times more likely to end in divorce. (Messrs. Mialon and Francis suggested expensive weddings could lead to stress from possible debt, which has been found as one reason behind divorce.)
  • What characteristics were common to longer marriages? Relatively high wedding attendance, going on a honeymoon, having relatively high household income, regularly attending religious services and having a child together.

These recent articles and their correlations sparked a few conversations around the office and resulted in researching a variety of divorce statistics. We compiled these statistics into the infographic below.
common statistics divorce infographic

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Back to School: Tips for Divorced Dads



School is back in session and kids are quickly getting into the swing of homework and extracurricular activities. The start of school presents a great opportunity for being more involved in your child’s daily activities and for building strong relationships with their teachers, coaches, and other people that will be spending a significant amount of time with your child.

A new school year can be particularly daunting for newly divorced dads. Navigating the uncharted territory of being a single parent and the changes that come with a new classroom, teacher, and in some cases new school, can leave dads feeling disoriented.

Regardless if this is your first school year as a single dad or your fifteenth, there are some tactics that will ensure this year will go as smoothly as possible.

Meet the Teachers

Taking the time to meet your child’s teachers at the beginning of the year can help keep communication open and ensure the teacher is aware of your prominent role in your child’s life.  Putting a face with a name well in advance of parent-teacher conferences will help your child’s teacher provide feedback and progress updates throughout the year. It is also important to make arrangements with both the school and the teachers to send separate notifications to you and your ex-wife.

Update Contact Info

Updating important information with the school is a necessity. You will want to make sure the school has your current address, phone number, and any additional information that might be necessary. It is also important to let the school know that you are divorced and to fill them in on any custody restrictions that might be outlined in your parenting plan. This is particularly important if you have sole physical custody and your ex-wife’s parenting time is limited, supervised, or otherwise restricted.


Working with your ex to ensure things run smoothly for your child might not be easy, but it is necessary. Transitions, like back to school, can be difficult for all children, and they can be particularly stressful for kids that are splitting time between two homes.

Coordinating with your ex to provide consistency in schedules, expectations, and rules can help ease the transition into a new school year. Even if your ex is less than cooperative, it is important to make your best effort to provide stability for your kids.

Every divorce and custody situation is different, but these general tips can go a long way in helping your kids navigate the changes in their lives. If you have questions regarding your unique circumstances and the legal issues surrounding a divorce or custody situation, please call our office 619) 243-0888.




Brian Ruiz, Esq. Joins the Goldberg Jones Team

San Diego Attorney Brian RuizWe are excited to have Brian Ruiz join the Goldberg Jones team. Dedicated and meticulous, Brian is a steadfast advocate for San Diego’s husbands and fathers. He is focused on producing meaningful results for his clients using sharp legal strategy and efficient communication.

Managing attorney Zephyr Hill commented on the addition of Brian saying, “His skill set is a valuable addition to the Goldberg Jones.  He is a problem solver and a fierce litigator with a deep understanding of the intensely personal nature of family law. “

Brian is acutely aware that family law issues can present some of the most challenging times in a mans life. He works diligently to provide his clients the guidance and perspective necessary to navigate this difficult time, achieve their legal goals, while protecting their assets and their dignity.

Welcome to the team, Brian!


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Common Child Support Mistakes


credit: hobvias sudoneighm

Child support serves an important role in providing your child the necessary financial resources to sustain their well being—but calculating the accurate amount of support that is necessary isn’t infallible. Changing circumstances, income fluctuations, and the child’s needs all factor into how support should be computed. Being aware of common child support mistakes is an important step toward ensuring your payments are accurate and fair.

Not Acknowledging Changes in Income

Especially during tough economic times it is important to know that changes in your income can affect your support obligation. It is a common mistake for men who have lost their job or fallen prey to a pay cut, to not ask for a reduction in their child support payment. For a reduction to be implemented, a motion with the court must be filed that requests a decrease based on the substantial change of circumstances. Even if you have already made a deal with the other parent, it is crucial that there is a court order explicitly modifying your support obligation. If you don’t have a court order changing the amount you owe every month, you are still obligated to pay the full amount. Not paying the full amount means you are in contempt and racking up debt (plus interest) for the amount not paid. These situations can snowball out of control very quickly.

Not Keeping Proof of Payment

Another common child support mistake is not keeping proof of payment. Regardless of how amicable your relationship with your child’s mother is you should have proof of every dollar that you have paid to support your child. Your court order should outline how payments are to be made. Payments not made through the approved channels could be construed as a gift and not applied toward your support obligation.

Overlooking Written Orders

Navigating a California child custody case can be challenging and in many circumstances the devil is in the detail. Written orders explicitly define the specifics of all aspects of your custody agreement. Responsibilities regarding support payments, tax breaks, medical insurance, and more will all be assigned to both parents. It is critical that you and your attorney proactively advocate for fair and equitable terms.

Assuming it is a Formula

The abundance of child support calculators available online can lead to the common (and grievous) misconception that calculating child support is a simple formula. There are a lot of factors that can influence your payment obligation and there are a lot of opportunities for errors in making calculations. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process and potentially save you from overpaying thousands of dollars a year.

photo: hobvias sudoneighm/CC


Co-parenting After Divorce


Signing the divorce decree can feel like you have reached the finish line. The negotiating and bargaining is complete, assets and debts have been divided, and the logistics of the separation have been worked out. Finalizing the divorce provides closure, but for divorcing parents it is also the official matriculation into new territory of co-parenting.

Co-parenting doesn’t begin once the divorce is final; it is a process that commences long before the decision to divorce is made. How parents manage the parenting process through the divorce will often lay the foundation for the parenting plan, which in turn is the framework for co-parenting after the divorce is final.

When the divorce becomes final, it isn’t uncommon for new challenges to arise and for parents to experience a rollercoaster of emotions. One of the most common issues parents struggle with is the challenge of unequal parenting time. The parent with less time can be left feeling isolated from the children. The parent with primary physical custody can be overwhelmed with trying to do it all.

Soho_-_map_1In scenarios like this, it is important to remind the kids that even if both parents don’t have equal time, they are equally important. Reassure the child that both parents love them, and that even though they might not see them as much, they will be a stable presence in their lives. Additionally, it is paramount that both parents focus on being consistent and predictable for the kids. Keeping a regular schedule, and reminding the children about changes early, can go a long way in reassuring the permanence of both parents in their lives.

One of the other big challenges of co-parenting after divorce is the inconsistency of rules between households. Mom may have a completely different set of rules than dad, and reconciling how to handle differences can be problematic. It is important to be judicious in choosing your battles on this topic. When disagreements do arise it is important to deal directly with your ex and not ask your children to convey messages to the other parent.

Additionally it is important to do your best to maintain a positive attitude about your children spending time with the other parent. Regardless of how frustrated you might be with your ex, it is important you respect that your child loves them and wants to spend time with them.

Navigating the terrain of co-parenting after divorce is no easy task. If you are struggling with finding a balance in co-parenting or are feeling overwhelmed, it is advisable to work with a family counselor. A counselor can help you develop coping skills and tactics for managing your relationship with your ex productively— and make sure your kids’ best interests are served.

It is important to note that the above suggestions do not pertain to situations where domestic violence or child welfare is an issue. A Child’s safety should always come first. If your ex poses a threat to you or your children’s safety, contact the appropriate authorities immediately and speak with a family law attorney to ensure you protect your children and your rights.



Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody

What is the difference between physical custody and legal custody?

physical custody vs legal custody

It isn’t uncommon to hear people use physical custody and legal custody interchangeably. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. These two terms are not transposable; rather they describe two different aspects of child custody.

The term “child custody” is the overarching term that covers everything related to the welfare and upbringing of a child, including parental rights and obligations. Child custody issues arise most commonly in situations where parents are getting divorced or the parents are unmarried.

Legal Custody

The Superior Court of California defines legal custody as:

Legal Custody determines which parent will make decisions about the child’s or children’s health, safety, education, and welfare.

  • Sole legal custody means that one parent has the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding the children’s school, doctors and general welfare.

  • Joint legal custody means that both parents share the decision-making rights and responsibilities. They cooperate on decision-making.

Legal custody is the right and responsibility to decide how a child will be raised. Parents with legal custody are empowered to make a wide breadth of decisions including: what schools the children will attend, how they will spend their free time, what extra curricular activities they will participate in, and what religion they will practice.

Joint legal custody can quickly become contentious when parents aren’t able to agree on decision-making.  In situations where both parents continually struggle to reach agreement on key decisions, it is possible for a judge to designate one parent to make the final decision.

Sole legal custody designates only one person with the legal authority to make major decision on behalf of the child. This eliminates conflict that can arise during disagreements over decision-making and can reduce tension. Sole legal custody is necessary in situations where one parent is absent and unavailable to contribute to making decisions regarding a child’s upbringing.

Physical Custody

Where and when the children live falls under the umbrella of physical custody.  The implications of how physical custody is awarded should not be minimized. Where the child lives and what the daily routine is, will set the standard for any future decisions made by the court. Like legal custody, physical custody can be sole or jointly shared. In situations where joint physical custody is awarded, it doesn’t guarantee that both parties will get exactly the same amount of time. In many cases one parent will have more time than another, but the children will spend time living with both parents. In situations where one parent has the children more than fifty percent of the time, they may be called the “primary custodial parent”.

Family law, and child custody in particular, can be complex and confusing. If you have questions about legal custody, physical custody, or any other family law issue, please give us a call. We are always happy to answer your questions over the phone at no charge. (619) 243-0888


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Stepparenting and Blended Families

blended families

credit: Kristin Charles-Scaringi

Navigating stepfamilies can be challenging for everyone involved. Whether they are your children from a previous relationship, or they are your significant other’s, blending into a cohesive unit is no easy task. While the road to successful step parenting can be difficult, the reward of forging strong and lasting relationships is well worth the work.

Stepparent/stepchild relationships should share the same common elements as all successful and positive relationships. Trust, communication, and respect should be cornerstones—and understanding the limits of all parties involved can go a long way in cultivating a healthy and positive bond.

In understanding the limits of everyone involved, it is important to manage expectations. Unrealistic expectations will quickly undermine the stepparent-stepchild relationship. It is common for stepparents to want to create a “perfect family” —a sort of utopian Brady Bunch scenario where conflict is minor and resolution never takes more than thirty minutes.  In reality, things rarely go as planned and conflict can take a lot of time and effort to resolve. One strategy for keeping expectations from getting out of control is to stay focused on building and maintaining respect.

It is inevitable that everyone involved will make mistakes as you try and navigate new territory.  It is important to remain supportive even when missteps occur. Encouraging non-judgmental dialog and openness will solidify your commitment to building strong and lasting relationship between family members.

Strong healthy relationships take time. Be patient and persistent with yourself and your family members. It won’t happen overnight, or even over a matter of months. Everyone involved has their own baggage and establishing meaningful relationships can often take years.

Stepfamilies, and the interpersonal dynamics involved, can be complicated and seeking the guidance of a licensed therapist or family counselor can be beneficial.  A skilled counselor will provide the framework and tools for the entire family. Additionally they can give you specific advice in situations where you are uncertain how to proceed.

Blended families and the relationships that come with them are multifaceted and sometimes challenging. While it isn’t easy, the work is certainly worthwhile.

photo: Kristin Charles-Scaringi/CC

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California Uncontested Divorce


What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce is the dissolution of a marriage where both parties agree to all the terms of the divorce.  An uncontested divorce is a bit of an all-or-nothing situation. You will only be able to proceed if both people agree to how property, assets, retirement, debt, etc. are to be divided. If there is even one tiny detail that is disputed, you will be facing a contested divorce and will need to have the court resolve the issue.

A contested divorce is the result of spouses disputing some aspect of their divorce. Common topics of dispute are: parenting plans, division of assets or debts, and spousal support. Because contested divorces are much more complex, require greater involvement by the court and necessitate more steps to finalize the divorce, they can become expensive.

Contested divorces may have a greater upfront cost, but the long-term consequences of inaction can have long lasting repercussions. For example, not negotiating for equal parenting time can significantly impair your ability to be an involved parent. Additionally, forgoing negotiations over the division of assets and debts can leave you with a less than equitable portion.

What is the benefit of an uncontested divorce?

The most apparent benefit of uncontested divorce is the cost savings.  When both parties agree to all the terms of the divorce, the amount of paperwork and attorney’s fees are appreciably reduced. Additionally, when both parties have approved all the terms of the divorce, the process takes significantly less time.

Should I hire an attorney if my California divorce is uncontested?

Even if you and your soon to be ex agree on all the terms of your divorce, it is wise to have an attorney review the paperwork before it is filed with the court. Each party should have independent counsel look over the paperwork to ensure all the details are covered and the agreement is equitable.

If you think an uncontested divorce is right for you, consulting with a lawyer before beginning the process can be invaluable. An experienced family law attorney will be able to assess you situation, outline what to expect, and provide insight to some of the details and nuances that might otherwise be over looked.

If you have questions about uncontested divorce in California, or any other family law issue, we are here to help. Our managing attorney, Zephyr Hill, is happy to answer your questions over the phone at no charge. (619) 243-0888

"Central Californian Coastline, Big Sur - May 2013" by Diliff - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

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