Common Misconceptions of Family Court Rules

Litigants often rely on their own sense of right and wrong when making decisions in their cases, but often what seems fair is not permissible under the California Family Code.

So before taking any course of action, it is important to discuss any questions with an experienced divorce attorney. Even innocent violations of the family code can significantly impact your divorce case.

The following is a list of common misconceptions and questions:

If My Spouse Refuses to Let Me See My Children am I Still Required to Pay Child Support?

A common misunderstanding is that child support is linked to child custody and visitation. Under California Family Code 3556, a violation of a visitation order does not justify withholding child support. It’s important to remember that child support is a duty owed to the child and not the other parent. If one of the spousesstops paying court-ordered child support, he or she can accrue arrears and may be subject to contempt of court, regardless of whether his or her visitation rights are being upheld.

Can I Cancel My Spouse’s Insurance under Family Court Rules?

Parties often begin to live apart once divorce papers have been filed.Household expenses are split up and spouses begin to create their own accounts. It seems only natural to cancel joint insurance policies. But once a party files for divorce and the other is served with the corresponding paperwork, Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (“ATROs”) become effective, thus prohibiting either party from unilaterally cancelling existing health insurance, life insurance, car insurance or other similar plans. While that is the case, the parties still have the ability to reach an agreement on acting outside of default code provisions.

Am I Able to Take Our Children Out of the State for Vacation?

Divorcing parties make every possible effort to maintain stability for the children during the divorce process. This often includes continuing traditions such as travelling out of state to visit family members. But once a divorce proceeding has commenced, both parents are prohibited from removing the children from the State of California without prior written consent of the other parent or court order. In volatile divorces, a violation of this can result in parental kidnapping allegations.