New California non-profit wants to help family courts work better for families

divorceBudget cuts, outdated procedures, and unrealized reforms have left families using the California family courts system suffering unnecessarily both financially and emotionally. For a decade, strong recommendations for fundamental change in the family law system have gone unrealized. Family Justice Advocates in Action is providing needed support to help make those reforms a reality. “As hard as our family courts work they don’t have the resources a state like California should have to properly serve the families going through what can be an emotionally and financially draining process. Our families are our most precious resource.  To help protect that resource, we are working to support the courts and families so their emotional and financial exposure is limited and they can move on with their lives,” says Family Justice Advocates In Action Founder and Board Member Jennifer Moores. Family Justice Advocates in Action is working to ensure equal access to justice within the family court system for all families, increase the focus on child safety and to make navigating the legal system easier and more effective.  Among the issues impeding equal access to justice and child safety is the reality that many families cannot afford to pay for court reporters in their proceedings.  Without a court reporter there is no transcript of the proceeding, and this can cause errors, delays and the prolonging of proceedings.  This both increases the costs to families going through the family court process, and can significantly delay or defer court orders for child custody, visitation or support. A verbatim record is especially critical when an individual is appealing their case. Under current law, the appeal, in many cases, will be dismissed or denied without the reporter’s transcript. An independent 2013 survey by the Judiciary Committee showed that court reporter services were no longer provided for 30 out of 58 trial courts in California that deal with civil, family and probate proceedings. In those courts, the people involved in the case must now pay the substantial cost of hiring a private court reporter so they can have an official record of the court proceedings. The inability of a family to pay for a court reporter should not be a reason they lack access to due process, justice and ultimately to safety. Family Justice Advocates In Action is supporting the California Assembly and Senate budget proposals that include funding for court reporters. Providing equal access to justice and focusing on child safety and well-being must be a top priority. To learn more about Family Justice Advocates in Action’s mission, go to www.fjaia.org or their Facebook page www.facebook.com/FamilyJusticeAdvocatesInAction/.

How tax reform could affect the alimony deduction

CongressA House-sponsored tax reform measure making its way through Congress proposes to end the tax deduction for alimony. That would eliminate a tax break for the ex-spouse who pays alimony, and the tax hit for the ex who receives it, according to CNBC. Divorce lawyers may want to rush through any pending cases before the end of the year because of the uncertainty surrounding the proposal, according to one divorce attorney who said his phone started ringing as soon as news about ending the deduction made the news. Read more about how family attorneys are reacting to the possibility in this story at CNBC.