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When Life’s Challenges Require A Legal Response

Planning the future following a major life change can be physically and emotionally difficult. Much can be required of a person at a time when they might not be ready or able to make clear decisions.

At CC LawGroup, A Professional Corporation, we provide sensitive and sensible legal assistance to clients in the East Bay and Tri Valley areas during times of need. We offer services in family law, probate and trust administration, and estate planning areas and can assist you with a wide variety of legal concerns.

Flexible Counsel For You And Your Family’s Unique Needs

At CC LawGroup, we can assist you with difficult matters concerning:

Family Law

Our firm assists couples seeking or going through a divorce and unmarried parents in resolving issues pertaining to child custody and support, property division, spousal support and payment of related attorney fees. We also draft prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Probate and trust administration

Our firm has vast experience in handling the probate of a decedent’s will as well as administration of a trust including but not limited to changing of trustees, or distribution of trust assets upon the demise of the Settlor (Trustor). As a full-service practice, we can take on all aspects of your case, or just parts of it if you wish. We will sit down with you and determine the best path forward to offer you experienced service that’s within your budget.

Estate planning and administration

Our firm helps clients plan for the future through the drafting of wills and trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. We also represent families involved in the estate administration process.

Latest News

Can Grandparents Pursue Child Custody During a Divorce?

So, your child is getting divorced, and you’re worried about your grandchild’s well-being. Can you file for custody of them during the divorce process? In California, the answer is “sometimes.”

Grandparents often play major roles in the lives of their grandchildren. However, that doesn’t immediately translate to having legal rights toward them. In California, grandparents have some rights toward their grandchildren, but these are significantly less than those automatically granted to parents. Below, we break down who has the right to child custody in California, grandparents’ rights in particular, and how to file for custody if you’re genuinely concerned for your grandkids’ safety. 

Who Has the Right to Child Custody in California?

In California, only the legal parents of a child automatically have any right to custody. The law assumes that the parents will share legal and physical custody over the children until and unless it is no longer in the kids’ best interest. 

However, there are situations where non-parents can petition for rights to care for a child. If it is determined that a child is unsafe with their parents, other family members or caretakers request temporary or permanent custody. For example, if both parents are incarcerated, a non-parent can file for custody in loco parentis or in place of the parents.

If you have already spent significant time raising the child and the parents are no longer capable, willing, or safe to raise kids, you have a strong case for receiving custody. However, if either parent still is able and willing to safely care for the child, your case becomes more difficult.

In some cases, it may not be necessary to petition for guardianship. Suppose your grandchild has been removed from their home for their own safety. In that case, California county social service agencies are obliged to assess their nearest relatives and place them with someone if possible. The agency must place the child with their nearest safe and consenting adult relative. Regarding priority, grandparents are tied with the child’s adult siblings for placement. As such, you are most likely the first choice for temporary guardianship of your grandchild if they are removed from their home. 

Grandparents’ Rights Under California Custody Laws

In California, grandparents do not receive the right to make legal or medical decisions for their grandkids or have them live in the same home unless they are named as their guardian or legal parent. However, grandparents have one unique right compared to other family members: the potential for visitation. 

If a child’s legal parents are married, petitions for visitation are not usually granted. However, there are exceptions, such as:

  • The parents are legally or unofficially separated.
  • One parent has been missing for at least a month.
  • One parent is incarcerated or institutionalized involuntarily.
  • One parent petitions for grandparent visitation on your behalf.
  • Neither parent has custody.
  • A stepparent has adopted the child.

If the parents are unmarried or divorced, there are fewer restrictions on filing a visitation petition as a grandparent. In this case, you can petition to spend time with your grandkid even if the custodial parents do not want you to. 

Visitation does not grant you the right to live with or make decisions for your grandkids. The purpose of grandparent visitation is to allow you to maintain a relationship with your children’s children. The court will consider the child’s best interests when deciding whether to award you visitation, just as in standard custody cases. However, if there are no safety or health concerns, courts often grant grandparent visitation because it provides the child with a greater familial support system and encourages more consistency in the child’s relationships.

Filing for Custody of Grandchildren During Your Child’s Divorce

Pursuing rights over children as a non-parent is often complex. California law prioritizes parents’ rights to maintain relationships with their children and vice versa, so even other family members can only get custody if it is truly no longer in the kids’ best interest to be with their parents. 

To receive custody, non-parents, including grandparents like you, must demonstrate the following:

  • You have a long-standing relationship with the children. If you regularly spend time with your grandchildren or have been their primary caretaker, proving this is simple.
  • It is in the children’s best interest to be in your care. You can provide better care and circumstances for the kids than they are currently experiencing. Being in your care would be a big enough improvement to counteract no longer being in their parent’s care.
  • It would be detrimental to the children if they were not in your care. Something about the circumstances the kids would experience outside of your care would harm their development. For example, they may be forced to live with an abusive parent or in a dangerous environment.
  • You are capable of caring for and parenting the children. You have the time, energy, ability, and financial resources to give the children a better upbringing than they would otherwise receive.
  • The children’s parents are unmarried, separated, or deceased. 

If you can demonstrate these facts, the court may grant you physical and legal custody of your grandchildren.

Consult an Expert California Child Custody Attorney

You want the best for your grandkids. Sometimes that may mean seeking custody or visitation orders to better care for them. If you wish to seek custody as a grandparent, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney like the professionals at CC LawGroup.Our lawyers have decades of experience helping families resolve conflict and achieve the best outcome for the kids. We can help you determine the best course of action to protect your grandkids and, if necessary, pursue legal custody. Learn more by scheduling your consultation today.

If you’re going through a divorce, summer vacation may be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have kids, you need to think about it. The summer months often throw a wrench into parenting plans if you don’t prepare for them in advance. 

Luckily, there are many ways to address summer break in your parenting plan. With guidance from your divorce attorney, you can draft a plan that accounts for your needs while respecting your custody rights in California. Here’s why a good summer parenting plan matters so much and some strategies for creating one that works for your family.

The Importance of a Strong Parenting Plan

A parenting plan can take many forms, depending on your family’s needs. It can be a simple statement that parents will work together to ensure they receive appropriate parenting time. It can also be more in-depth and include schedules explaining when the children will be with each adult. 

Unless you and your ex-spouse get along perfectly, creating a more in-depth plan is usually best. The purpose of these plans is to reduce conflict. Having a document that clearly lays out when kids will spend time with both parents and how transfers and travel will happen ensures everyone knows what’s going on. There’s no room for confusion or disagreements because you’ve already answered the important questions. 

This is better for everyone. It reduces your stress because you don’t need to constantly negotiate things with your ex. More importantly, it gives your children a stronger sense of stability and routine. A strong parenting plan makes all the difference in how well your custody split works. 

Why Summer May Change Your Parenting Schedule

It should be no surprise that summer could impact your parenting plan. If your kids are old enough to go to school, you have eight or more hours every weekday when they are being cared for by someone else. However, during summer break, you no longer have that luxury. 

This can cause problems. At a minimum, if your custody plan involves one parent picking up the kids at the end of the school day, you will need to find another location for pickups. You will likely need to arrange additional care during the day if you both work. This may include choosing a daycare program with your co-parent or working with family in the area to ensure your kids are always supervised. 

Furthermore, summer often means vacations. If you want to go for a trip with your kids that would extend into your co-parent’s visitation or custody time, you must discuss how to adjust the plan. The reverse is also true – you may need to prepare to have your schedule interrupted by your co-parent’s vacation. If you cannot agree on handling these issues, you may need to petition the court for a modification. 

Strategies for Summer Vacation When Sharing Child Custody

It’s best to account for these issues in advance to minimize potential conflict. As you are drafting your plan, you may want to consider some of the following strategies to make summer less stressful for everyone:

  • Communicate with your co-parent regularly. Successful co-parenting relies on regular communication. As summer approaches, talk to your co-parent about their plans for the season and any considerations that you should keep in mind when making your own plans. This allows you to avoid accidentally double-booking your kids or scheduling conflicting vacations.
  • Talk to your children about their preferences. Talking to your kids about what they want to do is also important. If your kids are old enough to have preferences, you can take them into account. For example, your kids may prefer to keep the schedule pretty much the same or ask to change things to make summer less stressful.
  • Sign up for activities and plan vacations early. Once you know your co-parent’s plans, get activities on the books early. It’s much easier to plan your summer custody schedule when you know what activities your kids will be in and when you want to be out of town. 
  • Be flexible. Plans change, especially when kids are involved. Be flexible about the specifics when your co-parent plans a vacation, and they will hopefully grant you the same flexibility.

So, what is the best custody schedule for school-age children? That depends on your family’s needs. Some examples of strategies that may work during the season include:

  • Flexible Weekly Schedules: If you split custody equally, swapping custody once a week is one of the most common schedules. However, you may need to build some flexibility during the summer. Consider changing the pickup day to make it easier to fit vacations into your schedule or shifting the exchange date weekly according to your kids’ schedules.
  • Strict Bi-Weekly Schedules: Many families find bi-weekly swaps more appropriate during the summer. Swapping custody every other week allows for much more freedom to schedule vacations, summer camps, and extracurricular activities. 
  • Irregular Schedules: If your summer is packed, there may not be a perfect way to divide the weekly or bi-weekly. If you have an uneven custody division, this is even more likely. In that case, you may consider using the summer break to give your co-parent more time with your kids if they normally only have them on the weeks.

Consult Expert Child Custody Lawyers About Your Parenting Plan

Developing a parenting plan can be confusing but it doesn’t need to be. At CC LawGroup, we have decades of experience helping families develop parenting plans for every season. If you feel unprepared for summer vacation’s custody changes, we can help. Reach out to our California child custody law firm to discuss your needs and learn how we can help you draft or modify your parenting plan for this summer.

Many people associate estate planning with death and nothing else. However, proper estate planning includes far more than just writing a will. A well-written estate plan should account for all situations in which you cannot make decisions about your assets, including incapacitation due to age or health. 

While it may not be your preferred outcome, it is becoming increasingly common for retired adults to spend at least some time in residential care as the average lifespan increases. In 2019, there were more than 8.3 million adults in residential or long-term care facilities in the U.S., including more than 1.3 million in nursing homes and 800,000 in assisted living facilities. These numbers are expected to rise sharply going forward, too. 

That’s why it’s critical to consider the possibility of entering a nursing home or other facility when drafting your estate plan. Years or decades in the future, you may need full-time support that only a residential facility can provide. It’s better to account for this possibility in your estate plan to keep yourself in control of as much of the process as possible. Here’s what you need to know about estate planning, retirement, and how to integrate the possibility of residential care into your plans for the future. 

The Connection Between Estate Planning and Retirement 

A comprehensive estate plan consists of much more than a last will and testament. It should also have documents such as:

  • Powers of Attorney: These are documents identifying one or more people who have the power to make legal or medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated, such as if you are in a coma or otherwise no longer legally competent.
  • An Advance Health Care Directive: Also known as a living will, this document explains what type of care you want if you are incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. This can include information such as what type of palliative care or pain management you want, whether you wish to be put on a ventilator, when you would like to be sent to hospice, and more. It can also include a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order if you so choose.
  • Trusts: You can use trusts to protect your assets and ensure they are passed on appropriately, particularly if you have not passed on but are no longer living in your home or using other assets. 
  • A letter of intention: This is a document that you leave to your beneficiaries, power of attorney, or executor of your will that explains your goals for your estate overall. While it is not a legal document, it can provide clarity if anything else in your plan is unclear.

How Residential Care Could Alter Your Estate Plans

If you do not plan for residential care, it could completely alter your plans for your estate. For example, if you need to use Medicaid to pay for your nursing home costs, your home and other assets could be at risk of liens. 

The state can place a lien on your homes and other high-value assets if you use Medicaid to pay for your care. After you pass away, the state can pursue the lien to recover some of the money it spent on your care. This may include selling your home, seizing liquid assets, or otherwise taking a significant chunk of your estate. 

You can avoid this problem in several ways. The most effective way is to set aside funds for possible residential healthcare, so Medicaid isn’t necessary. However, you can also shelter your assets if you believe Medicaid will be the most effective way to cover potential residential care. The best path forward depends on your specific needs.  

Integrating Potential Residential Care Into Your Estate Plan 

During the estate planning process, you can incorporate the potential for residential care into your documents. Possible courses of action include:

  • Protecting Your Home: Homes may only be subject to Medicaid liens if they meet specific criteria. In California, that means you can protect your house by selling it to your beneficiaries, placing it in a trust, or making it your spouse’s primary residence. 
  • Setting Up Trusts: Trusts are an excellent way to protect assets in various circumstances. You can set up a revocable trust to cover your expenses should you need residential care. You can also place assets in an irrevocable trust to ensure they are passed down to your beneficiaries, even if you must rely on Medicaid to cover your residential healthcare costs.
  • Writing Living Wills: A living will or Advance Medical Directive can help you choose the type of care you want to receive if you are no longer competent to make your own medical decisions. In your living will, you can explain where you would like to be cared for, what kinds of care you do and do not want to receive, and if or when you would prefer palliative or hospice care.

Prepare for the Future With Expert Legal Counsel

Your estate plan is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your beneficiaries. By planning ahead and including documents that address what to do if you need residential support, you can take the pressure of making these decisions off of your loved ones. However, these documents must be correctly structured to provide the protection and guidance you intend. That is why you should consult with the expert estate planning attorneys at CC LawGroup. Our knowledgeable lawyers understand the complexities of residential care and estate planning. We can help you protect your assets from a nursing home or Medicaid so they go to your intended beneficiaries. Learn more about how we can help with preparing for residential care by scheduling your consultation today.

Sensible Solutions, At A Value That’s Hard To Beat

Whether you are going through a divorce, dealing with the aftermath of a broken marriage or planning for a future after your death or incapacity, we have the legal experience and tools to assist you in meeting your personal and financial needs.

We also understand the importance of avoiding costly litigation when it’s unnecessary for your case. We always try to resolve your legal challenges as effectively as possible outside of the courtroom, yet are still prepared to take your case to trial when it’s best for you or your family.