Julie Clark, Attorney at Law

236 N. State Street, Suite B
Hemet, 92543
United States
Phone: (951) 658-0025
Fax: (951) 658-1765

Julie Clark's Blog Posts

Will Text Apps Transform Divorce?

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As mobile cellphone use, especially smartphones, continues to increase so does the use of apps.  There are thousands of apps for Apple and Android products, but there is only one type of app that could revolutionize divorce: disappearing text apps.

Just imagine it, the unscrupulous text messages and pictures an unfaithful spouse might send can disappear in an instant and never seen again. These apps allow users to send messages that disappear into cyber space with no record of ever being sent.

If you’re at all familiar with family law or divorce, you’ll understand how detrimental these apps could be for making a case against an unfaithful spouse. Texts, email, social media, and photographs provide essential evidence to prove a case.  If this information disappears, so can your divorce case.

Let’s say you’re attempting to gain custody of your children and must make a case against your spouse for their behavior, which demonstrates an inability to properly care for young children such as excessive drinking or partying.  If your spouse has primarily used these special apps to send pictures and texts on drunken nights, the amount of evidence you have against them dwindles.

What are these “special apps” anyway?  Well, the technical term is “ephemeral technology” which means that the content sent using them does not last long before it’s deleted. This technology is meant to protect a user’s privacy and reduce their digital footprint but, when it comes to divorce, it can lead to more conflict.

An article from the Huffington Post describes a few of these apps in detail, and how they’re changing divorce.  The effect of these apps is so horrifying, in the damage that they could do to a marriage or a custody battle is so horrifying, that I am choosing not to name any of the apps that were discussed.

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Ciao Down at Dattilo’s in Hemet, CA

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Family occasions, dinner with a spouse or significant other, or just a meal with friends all call for a restaurant that serves delicious food and has fantastic service.  If you live in Hemet, are in the mood for Italian food, and are looking for a quality place to eat, everyone at our office would recommend Dattilo’s Ristorante Italiano for family events.  The meals there are served European style, with lots of time to talk while you enjoy each course.  So – please – don’t plan on having a quick lunch.

This lovely restaurant offers a plethora of homemade and authentic Italian dishes — all cooked to order. The Dattilo family members work in the kitchen to make every meal as personal and tasty as possible for all the customers.

The bread, pasta, lasagna, ravioli, manicotti, salad dressings, and tomato sauce are all made from scratch to ensure that the food you eat is fresh tasting.  There is even food for special occasions, such as specially made wedding cakes.

You can view Dattilo’s menu online.  In addition to the great food, this Italian restaurant offers great specials.  There is a menu featuring 2 meals for $20, and if you mention that you discovered the restaurant on the web you’ll get 5% off your entire meal!

As a family law attorney in Hemet, if I need to talk to an out of town client, I like to take them to Dattilo’s always comes to mind.  If you see Joseph or Maria, say “Hi,” and don’t forget to look for Joseph’s amazing classic cars at the Cornerstone Car Show in September!

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Can Children Speak Up in a Custody Battle?

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When a custody battle ensues in a California divorce case, a child can act as a rope in a game of tug-of-war.  Children often silently endure a custody battle over which parent will be his or her primary caregiver. This can add stress to an already difficult situation for a child whose parents are splitting.

But, children don’t have to keep silent about their thoughts on whether to live with mom or dad. Guidelines for a child’s ability to express their wishes in a custody battle were introduced in California in 2012.

Any child who is between the ages of 14 and 17 can address the court about where he or she wants to live.  The Judge on the case must allow the child to do so, or present a valid and specific reason why testifying in their own custody case is against the young man or young woman’s best interest.

Children younger than 14 are also able to testify before the court but, in this case, the Judge must find a specific reason why this would be in the child’s best interest. The younger the child, the more the case depends on which home would be healthiest for the child.

Once it is decided that a child will testify in order to express their wishes, it does not necessarily mean that the child will physically get up on the witness stand, take an oath, and testify in court. There are several steps taken to ensure that the experience is not dramatic or traumatic for the child.

A helpful legal guide from Avvo details the most common settings where children share their thoughts in a custody battle. First, the child can speak with a Family Court Services Mediator or Child Custody Recommending Counselor.

This mediator or counselor will act as a professional liaison between the child and the Judge and / or the child’s parents.

There is also the option of appointing the child a lawyer.  This attorney can represent the child in court after speaking with them to deduce his or her wishes and concerns. The representative will make requests on the child’s behalf.

A third option is allowing the child to speak directly with the judge assigned to the case.  The judge can consult with the child in the judge’s chambers instead of having the child testify in public.

No matter which option the child or parents decide is most beneficial, the court will take the child’s wishes into consideration when making a custody decision.  The key word here is “consider.”  If the child is a minor, they don’t have the ability to make the final decision on which parent to live with.

The best decision in any custody battle depends on the unique circumstances of the case and the specific needs of the child.  If you have questions or concerns regarding a custody battle within your family, and the best interest of your child, a divorce attorney will likely have the resources necessary to assist you.

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Husbands Divorce Their Sick Wives, But Why?

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As the years go by, health tends to decline.  Old age brings new struggles for married couples, and one of those difficulties is illness.  But, illness doesn’t only apply to the elderly; a diagnosis can change both a person’s life, and married life, suddenly.

Some couples are capable of staying together and caring for each other “through sickness and health,” but for other couples that promise is impossible to keep.  The added stress, both emotional and financial, of an illness can be the breaking point in a marriage that just wasn’t meant to work out.

But, some interesting statistics reveal that the proportion of traditional couples that get a divorce after the onset of an illness may depend on who fell ill — the man or the woman. According to an article from the Huffington Post, when it’s the wife that gets sick, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan and Indiana University kept track of more than 2,000 marriages between 1992 and 2010.  The focus was on marriages where both partners started out in good health in the attempt to record how the onset of a life threatening sickness affected marriage quality.

According to the evidence revealed during the study, “women are doubly vulnerable to marriage dissolution in the face of illness.”  Fifteen percent of marriages where the wife got the diagnosis resulted in a divorce. But, why are men more likely to leave when their wife gets sick?

Unfortunately, the research did not answer that question.  Researchers theorize that gender roles and norms about caregiving, and who is responsible for it, play a part. Essentially, the idea is that providing care to spouses is more difficult for men than for women.

But, speculation only goes so far and there is no satisfactory explanation for these interesting preliminary findings.   Regardless of the reasons why a couple chooses to get a divorce, or who chooses to request the divorce, the process can strenuous for everyone involved.

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, contact an experienced divorce lawyer to assist and guide you.

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How to Split the 401k in a Divorce

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When a couple makes the decision to go through with a divorce, both will face a plethora of decisions regarding how to split their lives apart in a way that is efficient and fair.  After sharing finances, debts, and savings accounts for years, splitting assets up can be confusing and frustrating for both parties.

Some spouses have obtained a substantial amount of 401k funds over their time together, and one problem that often arises in a divorce is how these funds will be split or shared after the couple separates.  The matter of 401k funds can be touchy because protecting funds that give a person the ability to retire hits close to home.

If you’re considering a divorce, and share a 401k fund with your spouse, there are some options to be aware of that may help you organize your thoughts around how to split that 401k equitably. An article from the 401k help center offers some helpful advice.

First, take time to become educated on your 401k-plan administrator’s rules and restrictions in regards to splitting the funds. Also, discuss your thoughts and concerns with an experienced divorce lawyer who will help advise you on decisions throughout the divorce process.

Next, you’ll need to review all your options to determine which is best for your unique situation. Below are two of the most common options for splitting a 401k.

Option 1: You’ll keep the 401k and your spouse takes other marital assets of proportional value.  This might seem the least complicated, but it does require attentive research and financial calculations.  If this option seems favorable to you, you’ll need to examine two economic factors to guarantee that you and your spouse stay in impartial financial status.

  1. The long-term tax consequences
  2. The current and long-term value of the assets being split

For the bearer of the 401k plan: you’ll need to subtract the imputed tax from the value of the funds at the time of retirement, meaning the tax that you’ll have to pay on the amount of money in the account.  Conversely, the person receiving other assets will want to compare their value with the value of the 401k, to make sure the assets are equally as valuable in the long run.

Option 2: You and your ex-spouse split the 401k assets, fifty-fifty. In order to do this, you and your partner will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.  A QDRO is a court order that gives the right for an alternate person to receive part of the 401k-plan account.  This order is often connected to the terms of child support, alimony payments, or marital property rights.

The simplest way to go about this option is receiving a QDRO that specifies that the 401k plan will be split into two separate accounts.  This enables the original owner of the accounts to manage and contribute to the account as before, while the other person will be able to make investment choices for his or her portion of the account. When the time comes for retirement, both will be eligible for monetary distributions.

Whether you decide to divide assets or draft a QDRO with your spouse to split the 401k, the process can get complicated.  Making a decision and drafting documents with the consultation of a divorce attorney will make the undertaking less overwhelming.

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Do’s and Don’ts for Divorced Parents at Big Events

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If you’re a divorced a co-parenting couple, there are likely many things about parenting that are stressful or frustrating.  Not agreeing with or being on the same time schedule as your spouse may be some of them, and when it comes to big events these stressors can be amplified.

For many divorced couples, being in the same room with their ex creates nervousness or stirs up old feelings of hostility, or can be just plain awkward.  This is all normal and very common, but these situations have the potential to ruin special events for children who are growing up.

When the time comes for a child to graduate high school, and all the celebrations and family get-togethers that follow, that child will likely want both of their parents to be involved as much as possible despite the divorce.

So, when the time comes to spend hours in the same room as your ex, here are some Do’s and Don’ts from the Huffington Post on how to keep your child’s special day special for them, and not stressful and dramatic for you:

DO:

  • Plan ahead.  If possible, plan ahead and communicate with your ex before the time of the event.  If it’s a graduation, make a plan on how you will split the tickets so everyone who wants to see your child receive a diploma can do so.  If it’s a party, make contact and know whether your ex will be attending and if they’re bringing any guests. Knowing what to expect is the first step to relaxing.
  • Share photographs.  If you’re up in the front row at graduation, and your ex is back where all the kids look like ants, send a copy of the nice photos to the other parent.  Despite how you feel about your ex, you may want to consider how they feel about your child.
  • Set an example of how to be poised and gracious in the presence of your ex in front of your young graduate and growing adult.  Though your child may be growing up, he or she is still impressionable and will remember your actions at the events that are most important to them.

 

DON’T

  • Don’t try to compete in planning celebratory events.  If your former spouse has already taken the lead in planning a graduation party with friends and family, don’t try to plan an equally big party for your child.  If you and the other parent are not on terms that allow you both to attend the same party, just remember: Your child’s party should be focused on solely him or her and not on which party was bigger or better.  Communicate with your ex about the party and whether they have started planning one, and keep your child in the spotlight.       
  • Don’t take jabs at your ex in front of your child. Even if it is in good fun, don’t make snide remarks about your former spouse in front of your child.  This does little good in any situation, and on your child’s big day it takes the attention off of them and puts it on your feeling towards your ex.      

 

The best piece of advice from this article on how to handle important events for your child as a divorced parent is to “cherish the moment with you and your children.  Be courteous and respectful to the ex, and most of all, remember kindness because it goes a long way.”

 

 

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Are Divorce Courts Unfair to Dads?

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The actor Jason Patric recently went to court to fight for the right to see his four-year-old son, to whom a judge had denied Patric any paternal rights.  Patric is part of a movement of angry fathers who are trying to bring attention to the disproportionate amount of mothers who receive full custody of children versus fathers.

These men want to change the assumption that mothers have more rights to a child than they do.  From these fathers’ eyes, the courts assume that the mother is the only real parent who can make decisions for a child’s best interest.  But, are they accurate in their claims of unfairness from the courts?

A recent study showed that both men and women are in favor of joint custody after a divorce, but believe that divorce courts are slanted significantly toward mothers.  Despite this real perception that even women share, a great revolution in family court over the past 40 years has been a movement away from the presumption that mothers should be the main or sole caretakers for their children.

Cases such as Patric, who was denied rights, may raise some legal issues but, in general, courts are fair to men and particularly men who can’t afford a lawyer for their divorce case.  Divorce courts have a long history of trying to keep up with changing gender dynamics over the years.

Court rulings became more gender neutral as society moved away from the model of bread-winning father and dependent wife: courts began to assume interdependence, meaning that the husband and wife shared assets and domestic duties. The maternal presumption that mothers should automatically get custody of children during younger years has faded, and so has the expectation of alimony from ex-husband to ex-wife.

A vast majority of states have moved toward an assumption of joint custody unless there is a specific reason that one parent should receive less custody, such as the inability to properly care for or support a child.  For example, in 2000 Wisconsin directed divorce courts to maximize the time children spent with both parents.

Even with these changes to the law, mother preference in courts has lingered.  Sometimes it takes longer for judges to adjust to the idea that, generally, a father us no less worthy of custody than a mother.  Fortunately, judges have been catching up to the law more recently.

The percentage of equal shared custody cases in one decade has doubled from 15.8 percent to 30.5 percent, and a recent survey shows an increase in mothers paying child support.

According to an article from Slate, inequality in family courts is now based on income and relationship status.

Elite, wealthy men sometimes end up paying very little for child support while other, poorer, fathers are being thrown in jail for not meeting child support requirements.  A father who never married the mother of his child has a much shakier legal status in regards to custody of that child.

If you have questions about divorce court, or regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced divorce attorney.  A divorce attorney can help you navigate the legal field during a divorce and ensure your rights are protected.

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Disabled Children and Divorce

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When a couple decides to divorce, the whole family suffers.  Young children take the divorce of their parents hard and may not understand what is going on at all, only grasping that mom and dad won’t be living in the same house anymore.

But, what if the child has a developmental or mental disability? Will the divorce be even harder on them?  There is no clear answer to that question: it all depends on the parents, the disability, and the way the divorce case is handled.  But, a divorce with a disabled child can be more complex.

When a couple with a child, or children, decide that divorce is the best option much of the case focuses on the “best interests of the child.”  Making decisions about child support, child custody, visitation, and more is difficult in any situation but especially with regards to a disabled child.

Every state defines a child’s “best interest” by listing a number of factors for divorce court to consider.  Common factors include:

  • The capacity of the parents to understand and meet the needs of the child,
  • Religious and cultural considerations,
  • The child’s wishes,
  • The need for a continuation of a stable home environment,
  • The relationship between the child and parents and other important family members,
  • The child’s ability to adjust to school and community,
  • And the age and sex of the child

A disabled child could require the special attention of both parents, or may not adjust well to change.  All special needs children are unique and their ability to handle a divorce can depend on their age, emotional maturity, and ability to cope with changes in family and home structure.

For children with disabilities, it is most important to focus on educational decision-making, visitation agreements and transitions between homes, health and medical care (including special therapies), and social and recreational opportunities.

For many children with disabilities a disruption to their daily routine can affect behavior and school performance, and result in unnecessary stress for both the child and parents.  It is better to minimize frequent adjustments, such as having the child switch homes every weekend, and communicate the best ways to create households that complement each other to avoid negative impact on the child.

It can be hard to come to an agreement about what is best for a child with a disability.  One of the reasons the divorce may have come about is the inability to agree on the best approach for meeting the needs of the child.

The best action that divorcing parent can take when confronting these tough decisions is speaking with an experienced divorce lawyer.  An attorney not only knows the ins and outs of divorce and child custody laws, he or she will be able to consult with you about what may be best for your child.

If you’re considering a divorce in Hemet, California and need help, don’t hesitate to contact Julie Clark, Attorney at Law.

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Riverside County Concert for Heroes

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Fourth of July is often thought of as a time to get together family and friends, grill out or have a cook-off, break out the sparklers, and set off fireworks.  But, July 4th is also an important patriotic time to remember the men and women who have fought for the freedom of our country.

If you live in Riverside County and will be in town on July 3rd, then you’re in luck.  Both patriotic spirit and fun-loving Fourth of July traditions can be enjoyed at the annual Concert for Heroes at the Riverside National Cemetery.

This concert is in tribute to our country’s freedom fighters and protectors, and concertgoers will enjoy an evening of traditional patriotic music.  The Inland Empire/Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the entire program.  To top off the evening, a free fireworks show will take place.

This event began in 2001, and has been popular since the beginning.  Last year, nearly 7,000 people attended and enjoyed the concert and fireworks.  Most families bring blankets and stretch out under the stars to enjoy the music and surroundings.

This event is the perfect start to your Fourth of July celebrations in Riverside County and Hemet, California.  Everyone here at Julie Clark, Attorney at Law hopes you enjoy this holiday with family and friends.

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Children of Divorce at Greater Risk for Suicide

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Divorce is traumatizing for everyone involved, and can be especially hard on kids.  If children don’t receive the proper attention and communication while their parents go through a divorce, they could be emotionally damaged for the rest of their lives.

A study conducted by specialists in social work at Columbia University determined whether or not having parents who divorced would lead to an increased likelihood of a suicide attempt as an adult.

Researchers determined that parental divorce increased the likelihood of a suicide attempt later in life by 14 percent.

But, why is there an increase for this risk when parents get divorced?  The study determined several potential reasons.

It has been suggested that negative childhood experiences that include perceptions of rejection or neglect — like a parent leaving the household as a result of divorce — may lead to disrupted adult attachment, poor interpersonal relations, and feeling unwanted as an adult.

If you are a parent and are considering a divorce, this information should be valuable.  Children don’t have to feel neglected or alone during their parents’ divorce if the parents take the right steps to make their children feel loved.

Making sure that children know that they are not at fault for the divorce is an important first step because children often feel as though they were a cause of their parents’ separation.  Also ensuring that just because mom or dad won’t be living in the same house doesn’t mean they will see less of them — and actually working with your spouse to make that happen — could also prevent emotional damage for children.

The study had nearly 50,000 participants who were interviewed by the U.S. Bureau of Census.  The participants were asked questions regarding the marital status and alcohol patterns of their parents and were also analyzed for depression.

With more than 30,000 suicides in the U.S. over the last two decades, these findings could go a long way to preventing suicide attempts in the future.  No person should want to take their own life and knowing what experiences could cause such thoughts could make it simpler to prevent.

 

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