As a parent in a family that has broken apart, or in some cases may never have gotten together in the first place, you will probably eventually have to deal with issues about child support payments.

Child support debt is a serious problem in the state of California, especially in the present economy. More and more people are finding it difficult to meet their financial obligations, and unlike many other states, California charges interest on delinquent child support payments. The method by which this interest is calculated is not a very good method and makes the interest increase too quickly, until in some cases it balloons out of control.

What this means for Californians, both custodial and non-custodial parents, there are significant problems that can arise, with one of the most obvious being that the debt can become so large and so ridiculously out of control that it seems to the person responsible for paying it that it will be impossible to ever pay it all. You know what happens then? Many debtors simply give up. They just don’t pay what they should. This can happen anyway, but it’s far more likely to happen when there’s a punitive element to making payments.

For custodial parents this creates a huge problem. The child is not receiving the support payments from the non-custodial parent, and that means the custodial parent has to somehow make up the difference or perhaps see their child miss out on things because the custodial parent also may be struggling financially. And while the law makes it clear that there’s a big responsibility and no exceptions to the rules, it can be emotionally difficult for custodial parents to take a stand, especially if they can see the non-custodial parent in a position of hardship. Under those circumstances they may be willing to waive a payment here or there, or to forgive a non-payment.

For non-custodial parents this obviously creates a problem too, because debts sometimes get so overwhelming that the debtor may end up making repayments on the debt long after their child has already grown and left home.

Sometimes these matters come up because the amount of child support payment is incorrect in the first place. Or it can happen that somebody pays as much as they can afford, but it’s still not really enough. However this plays out, and whether you’re a custodial parent not receiving enough support, or a non-custodial parent who feels like they’re required to pay too much, according to Carlsbad child support lawyers Fischer & Van Thiel, you should seek legal advice to find out if there’s anything you can do to correct the situation.

A lawyer can help you if:

  • The paternity of the child is uncertain or incorrectly attributed
  • The amount you have been ordered to pay is impossible for you to sustain
  • Your circumstances change temporarily or permanently
  • You’re not receiving payments that you’re legally entitled to receive
  • You feel that the custodial parent is not using money paid for child support appropriately
  • You feel that your child is neglected or not receiving adequate care from the custodial parent

If any of the above concerns apply to your situation, the right thing to do is contact an attorney and discuss your child support problems before they become worse.

Facing court over matters related to juvenile dependency is really serious and you need to be fully aware of what you’re involved in. For a case to reach this stage of maturity, it means that Child Protective Services (CPS) have already made an assessment that there has been some kind of abuse or neglect, and they have determined that it is not possible for the child to remain in the household. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are correct in their assessment, but that is the situation as it stands when you’re first summoned to appear in a juvenile dependency case.

As you can see for yourself by checking out the CPS web page, their operational guidelines clearly indicate a strong desire to allow the child to remain in the family home if it is a safe possibility, or otherwise to move the child to a foster placement “located close to the parent’s home”. Therefore when matters have advanced to the point of a juvenile dependency hearing, it means the State is already convinced that there is compelling evidence that it is not in the best interests of the child to remain in the family home.

During the series of hearings that will commence, you will have the opportunity to listen to the allegations that have been made, and you will have an opportunity to contest those allegations if you believe they are false allegations. You will also have an opportunity to respond to the recommended course of action that CPS wants to take with regard to the on-going care of the child, before the judge makes any final decisions.

According to Carlsbad juvenile dependency attorneys Fischer & Van Thiel, it is never a good idea for parents to attempt to deal with these matters on their own. Without qualified legal help, you not only risk the possibility of losing the case, but if you don’t know the correct way to respond, you could end up facing serious criminal charges. This kind of thing can happen-indeed has happened many times-when people are too confident of their ability to prove their innocence.

It’s not just that some response you give or statement you make may be self-incriminating (perhaps not because you are guilty, but that you don’t express your sentiments in the right way, and they get misunderstood). There is also the possibility of being found to be in contempt of court, being accused of perjury, or a whole range of other possible charges that can be brought against you if your emotions get out of control or if you can’t get your story straight.

Understandably, people facing court in these sorts of cases are often experiencing extreme stress and that can make them nervous or overly emotional. It can make it difficult for them to exercise self-control and restraint. Having a lawyer to fight the battle on your behalf means that at least some of the pressure is lifted from you, and that can make all the difference to the outcome.

Juvenile dependency is a relatively new area of law that aims to give dysfunctional families the best chance of becoming functional again. It’s also about ensuring that children assessed to be vulnerable are given adequate protection from harmful situations.

While it can be hard to see when you’re affected by a negative assessment from Child Protective Services, these social workers are not generally trying to cause difficulties for families, and they do usually have the best of intentions. However, like anyone else, they are capable of making mistakes. There are also some twisted individuals who deliberately make false reports to CPS in order to cause disruption and trouble for families that don’t really have a problem.

According to Carlsbad juvenile dependency attorneys Fischer & Van Thiel, many families that find themselves heading to Juvenile Dependency Court could have avoided this fate if they sought legal help the moment they became aware that they were being investigated by CPS. Having a lawyer does not make you seem more guilty or that you have something to hide. In fact it accomplishes three things, all of which are beneficial to you:

  • They may be able to explain your circumstances in a way that CPS workers can more easily understand and accept than if you try to explain things yourself. Keep in mind that you are likely to be emotional and stressed when CPS workers talk with you, so your responses could potentially not be the most appropriate responses that you could give. A lawyer is somebody who can help by taking the emotional component out of the dialog.
  • They can help to ensure that anything you say isn’t likely to be taken out of context or misunderstood by the CPS workers.
  • They can help to ensure that the CPS workers carry out their duties in a lawful and appropriate way, and that CPS does not overstep any legal boundaries.
  • They help to show that you are aware of the gravity of the situation and that you’re taking the matter seriously. Families that are willing to invest in staying together are probably more likely to be sincerely loving families that don’t fit the profile of typical abusive or neglectful families.

There are, however, limits to what a lawyer can do at this stage. For example:

  • They can’t prevent CPS or the police from removing children from the household if an assessment is made that they are at risk.
  • They can’t testify as to the veracity of what you have told them, nor can they force CPS to accept your version of the story. The CPS workers are individuals and will form their own opinions based on what they hear and see from all parties involved, and will take action based on that.

In the majority of cases, lawyers do help to prevent children being unnecessarily removed from the household. When it’s not possible to do that, the matter will go to court, and then a lawyer is even more essential. At Juvenile Dependency hearings, there is no jury. The judge alone decides the outcome based on the evidence presented to him or her. A lawyer will help to present your evidence in the best way to give you a positive outcome, and will ensure that the evidence presented against you is not unfairly disadvantaging you. Families that retain lawyers are far more likely to have cases awarded in their favor than families that do not.

Prominent domestic violence attorneys, Carlsbad based Fischer & Van Thiel, have noticed a steady increase in the numbers of men and women seeking legal help with domestic violence issues in recent years. This may possibly be an indicator of increasing levels of violence, or it may be indicative of the fact that there is less social stigma attached to seeking help for these kinds of things.

Once upon a time in America, families mostly kept their quarrels and disturbances under wraps, more terrified of scandal than of suffering severe injury through chronic beatings. Fortunately times have changed, and people are more sensible about these kinds of things. Yet often people leave it too late to seek help or to get away from the source of abuse, often with tragic consequences.

Social conditioning has produced a situation where most people tend to think of domestic violence as something that happens between men and women involved in intimate relationships such as marriage. It has further conditioned many people towards believing that perpetrators are male and victims are female. These biased beliefs are potentially harmful, because they can cause people who should be seeking the protection of domestic violence laws to be ignorant of the protections available, and because those they turn to for help may not recognize them as victims.

Californian law recognizes anybody who is harmed or seriously threatened with harm by somebody living under the same roof as a domestic violence victim. The law in these cases, while it may not always be written in an absolutely clear way, does not differentiate between genders and does not define a specific relationship between the persons involved.

For example, two females sharing an apartment simply as room mates would be covered under domestic violence laws. If one of them got angry and threw something at the other, this would be considered an act of domestic violence. The same might apply to a son and a father living together or a brother and sister. So forget stereotypes, the law in California doesn’t get its information about domestic violence from the media.

No matter what circumstances you are in, if you are subjected to any kind of on-going abuse, you should get yourself out of that situation. You may feel that you’re in the right and therefore the other person should be made to leave, but actually this is something that can be sorted out later. Your physical safety is what should be your priority.

Even though you should not delay in getting out, you also shouldn’t telegraph your intentions. Saying something like “I’m leaving!” or making a dramatic show of packing will only enrage an abuser more. Nor should you ever use threats, such as suggesting that you are calling the police. Get out first, make your calls after that, unless there’s no other choice.

Once you’re safe and secure, your next step should be to consult a lawyer. They can help you get legal protection from your abuser, help you protect your assets and financial interests, and assist you in many other ways. It’s the most important thing you can do, and you need to make sure you do it as soon as you can.

Domestic violence against you or other family members isn’t something you should allow to continue. Many people stay in chronically abusive relationships because they believe the person harming them can change, or sometimes even that the suffering inflicted on them is deserved. Neither of these beliefs is healthy or even remotely correct.

Domestic abuse perpetrators very rarely change their ways, and you never deserve to be a victim of violence in your own home. As soon as you notice a pattern of abuse beginning to emerge, whether it involves physical violence or not, you need to be prepared to get away from that situation before it becomes worse. There is a long list of murder victims who delayed that decision because they still had hope that things would get better without taking action. It’s a tragic mistake that you must avoid at all costs.

1. When there is an immediate threat to you, direct escape should be your first thought
If the threat to you is imminent and could happen at any moment, you should get out of the house without delay. You can figure out what to do after that. If you wait until you’re injured or if you give your abuser an opportunity to cut off any escape route, the physical danger to you increases drastically.

In this situation, you should not concern yourself with thoughts about protecting your assets or material possessions. Safe-guarding your life is more important. Do not make any verbal threats such as “I’m leaving” or “I’m calling the police”, because these may escalate the situation. Simply leave.

After fleeing the house, you will have to make some quick decisions. If you have a cell phone with you, call the police, report the domestic violence situation, and request help. Do not return to the house or inform the occupant that you have called the police. If you don’t have a phone, get to one. A neighbor or trusted friend will usually be willing to help you, but obviously use some common sense and don’t endanger yourself further by being too trusting of a stranger.

2. If you have physical injuries, seek medical help quickly
Injuries may be more serious than they seem, and if left untreated, they could get worse. Also, if you delay getting medical help, the physical signs of these injuries may fade, which could harm future legal action you may want to take concerning this incident.

3. Get in touch with a domestic violence support agency
There are many different resources available in this category. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 is one option. Local agencies may be able to respond more quickly, but may not necessarily be available at all hours. Unfortunately it has sometimes happened that men seeking help have experienced discrimination from police or others working with domestic violence issues. This is unlawful, and if it happens to you, you should take note of as much detail as you can, and report it to your lawyer.

4. Get legal assistance
Once you’re safe from any immediate threat to your person, you need to re-establish your rights and take care of any assets you may have. You will almost certainly have a claim to support payments or compensation from the person you are fleeing from, and a restraining order issued by the court is essential.

Leading domestic violence attorneys, Carlsbad based Fischer & Van Thiel, suggest that the sooner you speak with a lawyer, the more chance you have of obtaining a successful outcome. Delays or hesitation in seeking assistance can potentially diminish your legal position and the evidence you can bring to bear against your attacker. Act quickly and decisively, because it’s the only safe option.

Juvenile dependency cases are always serious business. According to Carlsbad juvenile dependency lawyers Fischer & Van Thiel, retaining legal counsel is absolutely essential in these matters. The consequences of trying to handle these matters entirely on your own without help can be far more devastating than you might imagine.

These cases differ very greatly from normal child custody cases. They normally arise because a social worker or police officer has removed the child from the family home, or in less usual cases it may be that the child has self-excluded himself or herself from the family home. Every one of these scenarios will involve allegations of abuse, neglect, or some kind of wrong-doing. The potential that you could subsequently face criminal charges is very real, and something you’ll want to avoid.

Now, it is important to understand that the system isn’t perfect. Mistakes do get made, false allegations are known to occur, and sometimes innocent people are thrust into the spotlight over misunderstandings. A lawyer can help prevent this situation from going too far, or spinning out of control.

Parents who choose to represent themselves in court are putting themselves at great risk. This is such a serious problem that many judges won’t even allow it, and will insist upon a court appointed attorney to represent you. There’s nothing especially wrong with that, and court appointed attorneys are indeed qualified lawyers who will normally do their best to represent your interests, just as any other lawyer would.

The problem is that the court appointed attorney may not necessarily be highly trained or experienced in this particular area of law, and they’ll probably be handling a lot of other cases simultaneously that could involve a whole slew of unrelated legal issues. This potentially means that despite their best efforts, they may not be able to represent you adequately because this area of law is not their specialty, and most court appointed attorneys normally deal with criminal law cases only.

Juvenile dependency law specialists are always going to be the best choice. They have the experience in these types of cases to know how things are supposed to proceed, and also what potential problems can arise. They can help avoid or mitigate those problems.

Most often problems arise from three different factors:

  • Parents being unable to control their emotional response when accused of doing something wrong
  • Parents or children not being able to express themselves well enough to avoid confusion or doubt
  • Authorities making incorrect assumptions and/or allegations which are left unchallenged
  • Lying by any of the parties involved

When false allegations or assumptions are made but are not understood by the parents, they could fail to respond appropriately and will then find the case turns against them. In the worst scenario, criminal charges could arise over unintended admissions of guilt or even simply agreeing to something when you did not understand what was being said. The importance of having a lawyer on your side to help you through this process can not be overstated.