November 2012 Archives

You May be Responsible for Your Ex's Credit Card Debt - Santa Rosa Divorce

November 27, 2012, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

couple in debt.jpgIf you remember nothing else from this post, remember this one rule, lenders don't give a damn about what your judgment for dissolution says.

A marital dissolution judgment addresses, among other things, division of both the assets and debts accrued during the marriage. This includes credit card debt. However credit card companies, and other third parties not a party to the action are not bound by the judgment.

Unless you are careful right from the moment you decide to separate, you can end up being liable for credit card debt incurred by your ex. It is best if divorcing couples exit the marriage without any joint debt.

When divorce is anticipated, make every effort to close any joint accounts, paying off the existing debt or allocating it to new credit card accounts - one for each of the responsible spouses.

If you rely instead on a divorce degree that allocates a portion of the debt to your ex, but both names stay on the account, creditors can still come after you for any unpaid debts if you ex fails to make payments or declares bankruptcy. These debts become yours. In addition, your ex's late or missed payments will damage your credit record.

Some credit cards are in one spouse's name, with the other listed as an authorized user. Authorized users cannot be held liable for charges on this type of account. If you are the owner of the account, immediately request that your spouse be removed as an authorized user. If you are the user, ask to have you name removed from the account.

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Psychological Testing During A Santa Rosa Child Custody Dispute

November 20, 2012, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Purestock_1574R-04293.jpgI recently read a post by New Mexico family law attorneys, Collins & Collins, P.C., which discussed what happens when a custody evaluation is ordered in a child custody dispute. Custody evaluations are generally not ordered unless the custody dispute is highly contested and there are serious allegations of parental unfitness, such as addiction to drugs or alcohol, mental unfitness or instability, or interpersonal violence such as child maltreatment or intimate partner violence. The last two cases I litigated where custody evaluations were ordered dealt with child maltreatment and mental instability. These type of cases take a very long time and are very expensive (legal fees and expert fees).

Generally, a full custody evaluation includes some or all of the following: a parental history survey; personal interviews with the parents and sometimes the children; psychological testing of both parents and sometimes the children; observed parent/child interactions; collateral contact with significant figures in the children's lives, like stepparents and therapists; and, follow-up interviews. The custody evaluation, including psychological testing, is geared toward achieving the best interests of the child.

During the psychological testing phase, the evaluator may administer some or all of the following psychological or personality tests:

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Cohabitation Agreements Protect Relationships: Santa Rosa Family Law

November 13, 2012, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

Cohab.jpgAccording to, more and more couples are living together without being married. There was a 13 percent increase in such arrangements between 2009 and 2010 alone. At the same time, only 51 percent of all adults are getting married. This is a record low.

Couples choose to cohabitate instead of marry for many reasons. A reported 60 percent of married couples live together before marriage. Many couples live together because same-sex marriage is not recognized in their home state. Older widowed or divorced people live together without marrying in order to preserve their estates. Some couples choose cohabitation because of moral or philosophical beliefs, while other couples do so to save money.

A cohabitation agreement is a private contract between long-term cohabitants. It establishes the rights and obligations that married people obtain by law, custom and agreement. Cohabitation agreements are also called non-marital agreements or living-together contracts. They are similar in many ways to prenuptial agreements.

Without a cohabitation agreement, couples who lived together for decades would be considered strangers when it comes to property rights. A stay-at-home partner could be left penniless by separation or death.

Cohabitation agreements address the ways in which money, property and debt will be dealt with during a relationship, and at its end. Cohabitation agreements can cover child custody and support, and partner support. They can include wills and durable powers of attorney, and they often proactively address the issue of dispute resolution.

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Facebook Evidence in A Santa Rosa Divorce: Five Tips for Protecting Yourself

November 6, 2012, by Law Offices of James V. Sansone

social media.jpgA 2010 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) concluded that 81 percent of divorce attorneys had seen an increase in the use of social media as evidence -- with Facebook topping the charts at 66 percent. In the more than two years since the disquieting AAML survey, Facebook has grown to 955 million monthly active users. Chances are your spouse and the friends and family of your spouse use Facebook.

I have made it no secret, Facebook is the first place I go when I get a family law case. I have been able to get very favorable results in court based on the opposing party's Facebook posts. However, I have also had clients hurt by their posts. identifies the following five tips for Facebook use during your divorce.

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