Safety First: The Impact of DUI on Divorce

‘Tis the season for more drunk drivers on the road. Studies have shown two to three more people die in alcohol-related crashes during the holiday season than any other time of the year; and 40 percent of these fatalities involve a driver impaired by alcohol. Those who are going through a divorce or separation are generally more susceptible to drinking and being a part of these statistics because of the emotional impact and stress of the situation. Divorce is a complex process by itself, but adding a DUI into the equation creates an additional layer of issues to sort through, particularly in regards to creating financial burdens and custody issues.

 

Financial Burden of DUI & Divorce

There are many couples that separate and face heavy financial burdens because divorces are generally expensive.  Lawyer fees and court costs alone can creep into the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the issues involved. Additionally, couples must divide their assets in as equal shares as possible, which means that the DUI-spouse could potentially have less financial resources available to defend a DUI charge. Limited financial resources creates an even bigger burden when a DUI-spouse is forced to hire an attorney; and, if convicted, will have to pay fines and penalties to the court.

A DUI can also affect a court’s decision to award spousal support. In a recent California case, a judge found that the DUI-spouse could be awarded support because her DUI conviction limited her opportunity to secure work for herself, even though she was fully capable of working full-time. Because cases such as this could greatly affect the non-DUI spouse, it is important to seek advice from an attorney that is well-versed on this matter in order to sort out the complexities that are involved.

 

Negative Impact on Child Custody

But a DUI can cost a lot more than just money, it can affect the custody agreement the couple may have. The non-DUI spouse can certainly seek sole custody if it is in the best interest of the child once the DUI-spouse has been charged with a DUI. A change in custody could drastically affect the DUI-spouse’s relationship with the child. Losing custody could mean that the DUI-spouse may not have the ability to make decisions pertaining to the well-being of the child, including decisions related to medical treatments and education. Often times, a DUI results in a loss of driving privileges. This could greatly affect the amount of time the DUI-spouse is able to spend with the child, which could have a negative impact on the child and could lead to a change in the dynamic between the DUI-spouse and the child.

A divorce is a highly individualized situation with many factors that can affect the outcome. It is crucial to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, like Jane Wesley Brooks, CFLS, helping you navigate the intricacies of the divorce process. If you are considering a divorce and need help with issues that you may be facing, contact JWB Family Law for a consultation.

Getting divorced in San Diego County? Call us today. 619.234.6123

Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with JWB Family Law

Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Give Legal Advice

Christmas is meant to be a festive and happy time of the year. But for those going through a divorce or separation, it can be emotionally exhausting.

It’s important to have friends available for emotional support, but never for legal advice. Aside from the fact that friends aren’t equipped to give legal advice regarding divorce if they’re not family law attorneys, they can also add additional tension to an already stressful situation. If you’re going through a divorce or have a friend in this situation, here are some things to be mindful of during the holidays:

  • Give your friend space. Going through a divorce involves a lot of sadness, especially because it involves the loss of a partner. It is a huge adjustment to make in life. It is important to give your friend enough space to go through the emotional pain in order to recover. This space is especially important in order to get past the emotional pain in order to have a clear head to make divorce-related decisions.
  • Set boundaries. Divorce is overwhelming and can become very consuming. As a friend, it is important to put up boundaries and set the limits for your friendship. Let your friend know that you are only willing to discuss the divorce during certain times in order to avoid it being the topic of conversation all of the time. Since there can be a lot of negativity surrounding a divorce, it is important to use the time with your friend to focus on the positive aspects of the future after the divorce is over.
  • Adapt holiday traditions to the situation. Many people have longstanding holiday traditions, and many times these can be forgotten about in the midst of a divorce. What many people do not realize is how important it is to keep these traditions going in order to help keep your friend’s spirits high. Do not let your friend become isolated. Depending on the situation, it may be a good idea to encourage your friends to go out to the holiday events they go to every year; and, if they need moral support, offer to accompany them.
  • Start new holiday traditions. When you divorce from a spouse, you divorce their family, too. Many may find that they need to start new traditions because they can no longer spend the holidays the way they had in the past. Help your friend start a new holiday tradition by offering to include them in your festivities or by suggesting a new tradition to start.

Whatever you do, the most important piece to remember is that you can help your friend the most when you stick to just being a friend. Don’t worry about going above and beyond and giving advice about the way your friend should handle the divorce. Instead, just be there for your friend by listening when they need someone to talk to. And when your friend does come to you looking for legal advice, the best advice is to have them contact Jane Wesley Brooks, CFLS, for professional legal advice about their divorce. Contact JWB Family Law to schedule your consultation.

 

Getting divorced in San Diego County? Call us today. 619.234.6123

Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with JWB Family Law

Co-Parenting During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is all about coming together as a family. This is supposed to be the happiest, most stress-free time of the year, right? This is quite the opposite for divorced or separated families. Divorced or separated parents must deal with the stressor, every year, of “who gets the children for the holidays?”

It is vital for children to experience the holidays with both parents and to develop holiday traditions with each parent.  Despite any conflict that may exist between the parents, the children likely want to experience the holidays with both parents. This, of course, requires the help of both parents.

Each parent, regardless of any conflict, should participate in holiday activities, such as choosing gifts, etc.

 

Basics of the ‘Parenting Plan’

Essentially, parents who separate, or are divorced, should have a plan for deciding how their children will be cared for and where they will live or spend time during the holidays. Initially, these parents should review their child custody agreement – known in California as a parenting plan.

A parenting plan, also called a “custody and visitation agreement,” is the parents’ written agreement in regards to: (i) amount of time each parent has with the child; and (ii) decision making. With this written plan, each parent and child will know what to expect and will have fewer conflicts with sharing parenting time.

This plan may specifically address holiday visitation schedules and in all likelihood can create a routine. Most children benefit from having a routine they can count on.

Ultimately, when it comes down to deciding visitation during the holidays, if your parenting plan includes an agreement about child custody and visitation during the holidays, this is a great starting point for the conversation. This is true even if you and your ex decide that you want to make changes to the schedule.

As long as both parents agree, California law typically allows parents to negotiate changes to their holiday parenting schedules without going through a formal process provided the parties write the specific terms of agreement into a document and date and sign the same.

Of course, it is always best to have a family law attorney review the document modifying the visitation.

 

Getting the Court Involved

Although California law normally allows parents to negotiate changes to their holiday parenting schedules without going through the formal process, in some cases the judge must get involved before parents make changes to their parenting plan. Basically, this occurs when the judge makes the custody and visitation order and one or both parents desire to change the order.

If the parents cannot agree on certain changes, at least one of the parents must file papers with the Court requesting a change (or “Modification”) of their child custody and visitation order. Typically, the parents will then meet with a Court-appointed mediator to discuss why they want the order to change. Then they will attend a formal court hearing.

In asking for a change of the custody and visitation, the parent must illustrate there has been a change in circumstances since the final custody order was made. Fundamentally, this means there has been a significant change that requires a new custody and visitation arrangement for the best interest of the children.

A significant change is required because children should have stable and consistent custody arrangements with their parents.  Again, a final custody order may be modified if it is in the best interest of the child.

 

Selecting the Right Attorney is Key

If you are involved in a dispute over visitation during the holidays, you should get an experienced family law attorney involved to help settle the disagreement. JWB Family Law can provide this help.

JWB Family Law represents clients involved in custody disputes in which parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule that is in the best interests of the child. They can assist you to fight for visitation changes. The goal is an arrangement that meets your needs and those of your children.

 

Getting divorced in San Diego County? Call us today. 619.234.6123

Schedule a free 30 minute consultation with JWB Family Law

 

Getting divorced in San Diego County? Call Jane Wesley Brooks Family Law today. 619.234.6123

 

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Jane Wesley Brooks, CFLS
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San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619. 234. 6123

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