A continuation from our previous post on family law.
Annulment in California
Annulment, or a “judgment of nullity,” is a court finding that the marriage never legally existed. It should be noted that alegal annulment is NOT the same as a religious one. A church can find that the marriage never existed, while a court does not, and visa versa. In legal terms an annulment can occur if any of the following conditions occur:
- One party is a minor and didn’t have proper consent to be married in the first place
- One party is of unsound mind
- One party is physically incapable of consummating the marriage
- The marriage was obtained by fraud or force
Automatic annulments are granted in the cases of bigamy, polygamy or incest.
Legal Separation in California
A legal separation involves many of the same procedures as a divorce, and court rulings regarding child support and other items are equally obligatory. However, the couple remains legally married and remarriage is forbidden.
Paternity means the determination that someone is the father of a child. Under the California Uniform Parentage Act, a man is considered to be the child’s father if:
- He and the child’s mother were married to each other at the time the child was born or the child is born within 300 days after the marriage is terminated
- He and the child’s mother marry or attempt to marry after the child is born
- He openly holds out the child as his natural child and receives the child into his home
- He and the child’s mother execute a voluntary declaration of paternity
Results of blood tests (DNA-based paternity tests) can be used to overturn a finding of paternity.
- Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse, or domestic violence, is defined by the California Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 1994, which covers spouses, cohabitants, fiancées, anyone with a dating or former dating relationship with the accused abuser, as well as the abuse of a minor sons or daughters. Types of violence addressed by the act include:
- Sexual assault
- Placing a person in reasonable apprehension of being seriously injured, or reasonable apprehension that another person will be seriously injured
- Intentionally or recklessly causing physical injury
- Intentionally or recklessly attempting physical injury
There are several options available to a victim of domestic abuse. A victim may file criminal charges, file a civil suit seeking damages, or seek a protective order against the abuser.
Usually, the first step is to seek a protective order from a superior court. The protective order prevents the accuser from contacting the victim, including visits to the victim’s school or workplace while he/she is present. Other types of harassment or threats are also prohibited (such as threatening phone calls). Such protective orders can last up to three years.
A general protective order involves a hearing, which can take time. In the case of an immediate threat to the victim, the court can obtain an emergency – orex parte – protective order. Ex parte protective orders are valid for five to seven days and are designed to protect the victim until the hearing can be held.
- Child Abuse
Child abuse is covered under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act. General neglect is the failure of a person responsible for a child to supply necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care when that person is able to do so, or failure to protect the child from imminent and serious danger to his or her physical or mental health. Severe neglect is neglect that results in severe malnutrition or failure to thrive syndrome. Neglect does not include cases in which a caregiver relies on spiritual prayer to help a sick child.
Physical abuse is any physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. Other types of child abuse include emotional maltreatment, such as verbal assault, sexual battery, sexual exploitation, or sexual assault, including involving a child in prostitution or pornography.
By law, certain members of society are required to report child abuse. These include virtually anyone who works directly with children, such as health care professionals, child protective agency employees, law enforcement officers, teachers, camp administrators, firefighters, animal control or humane society officers, and commercial film and photo processors. Persons who report abuse and neglect in good faith are immune from civil or criminal liability. If a child is in immediate danger, any person can report suspected child abuse via 911.
Elder abuse is similar to child abuse, but it also includes financial abuse (such as embezzlement or extortion), and abandonment (failure to protect the older person from hazards to his or her health or safety).
Similar to child abuse, there are certain people mandated to report elder abuse in California, including certain adult protective services and law enforcement workers, elder care workers, and health practitioners. As with child abuse, mandated reporters are immune from civil and criminal liability if they report abuse or suspected abuse. However, failure to report is a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail, a $1000 fine, or both.
Finding a San Diego Family Law Attorney
If you find yourself faced with divorce in California and need professional, compassionate advice on how to handle this difficult time, please call The Edmunds Law Firm at (800) 431-2526, or fill out the contact form on our website. We have over 33 years of experience handling a variety of complicated family law cases in California.