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Oakland CA Divorce Law Blog

Finance and divorce

Although divorce rates have fallen over time, the California court system continues to deal with a substantial number of divorces each year. The average length of a marriage that is ended by divorce is eight years, and approximately two of every five first marriages end in divorce. Age is a significant predictor of divorce as more than 35 percent of men and women marrying between 20 and 24 years of age will later split up. Money is one as well, claiming the top spot among issues leading to breakups.

Although divorces involving significant assets can be complicated, a couple does not need to have lots of wealth to face financial tensions that result in divorce. Disagreements over finances can range from differing views on saving strategies to lack of restraint with credit cards. Preparations can be made before marriage as a couple discusses important money interests. This helps to ensure that both parties understand each other's financial goals and that there are no surprises related to premarital credit issues.

How co-parenting conflicts can be resolved

California parents may find themselves in conflict after a divorce is finalized, but this does not always mean they need to return to court. In fact, a judge is unlikely to look favorably on a parent who keeps going to court over relatively minor parenting issues. There may be better ways to resolve these types of conflicts.

A number of professionals might be available to help parents navigate topics they disagree on. A co-parenting counselor can offer a therapeutic approach to conflict resolution that parents may be able to continue using later. A co-parenting coordinator acts as a kind of arbitrator who makes decisions about smaller issues such as children's activities although they cannot make decisions about major issues like custody.

What is a parenting prenup?

Raising a child is often a difficult problem for many parents, especially if they break up before the child is born or get divorced. However, a growing movement of "parental prenups" are helping to streamline a child's care needs and to eliminate the guesswork that had previously plagued split parenting.

Keeping the house after a divorce

In California and other states, if a divorcing couple cannot decide who will get the house, then a judge will make that decision for them. When an agreement cannot be reached, a judge may force the two to sell the house and split the money. The split may not be equal because one spouse could have put more money into it than the other. It is costly to fight in court, so if it is possible, the best route is to agree on asset distribution without a court order.

It is becoming more common in amicable divorces for both parents to stay in the house after the divorce in order to share in raising a child. If the couple cannot live together, however, then a judge will decide who gets the house based on the best interests of the child. Usually, the home will go to the spouse who is given primary custody in order to keep the children's lives as undisturbed as possible.

Children caught in domestic violence crossfire

An abusive relationship between California parents can be difficult to correct. Even when the victim files for a divorce, the safety and emotional health of the children could still be at risk.

Although the best interests of the child guide the law, the result could be unfavorable for a child. The organization Violence Against Women reports that a high number of domestic abuse victims do not have custody of their children. Domestic violence can inflict trauma and depression upon a parent to an extent that the person is not able to support the child or provide consistent care. A family court might not give custody to a parent unable to meet physical and emotional needs.

Reality TV star headed to court in child support dispute

Currently residing in California, Amanda Stanton has mediation scheduled with her ex-husband because of his desire to alter their existing child custody and support agreement. Stanton, who television viewers may know from her appearances on "Bachelor in Paradise" and "The Bachelor with Ben Higgins", reportedly earns considerably more income than when the original terms of child custody were established.

According to court papers, her ex-husband claims that the reality television star has been making $20,000 to $30,000 every month. He has to pay her $2,000 a month in child support. A court approved this amount when Stanton only made $100 a month. In his public comments placed on Facebook, he referred to this financial obligation as "adult support."

National alimony reform has not changed California's law yet

In our law practice, we regularly represent spouses who are divorcing and facing questions of spousal support or alimony, both those spouses who are potential recipients and those who are more likely to pay support. While some other states have recently enacted major reforms to conventional alimony laws, California is still in many ways fairly traditional in how it instructs judges to determine spousal support awards.

Alimony by agreement

Spousal support can be decided by the divorcing spouses themselves through negotiation, usually as part of a larger settlement agreement in the divorce. Negotiation is normally done through the spouses' respective lawyers or sometimes through an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation.

Asset division for baby boomers getting divorced

An increasing number of older couples are seeing their marriages come to an end. The trend appears to be ongoing and is not expected to decline anytime soon. California couples who have been married for years may need to think about their ability to retire when they are deciding how to divide their assets during a divorce.

Even if one person owns a retirement account to which he or she has faithfully made contributions throughout the marriage, the account is considered to be part of the marital estate and will be divided. Spouses need to pay attention to the value of the division after tax, dividing the accounts pursuant to that metric. Similarly, they may want to divide the accounts according to their separate tax brackets if those brackets as single people will differ.

Courts now encouraging shared parenting plans

Many California parents who are going through a divorce want to have joint physical custody of their children, and courts are now supporting shared parenting more than they did in the past. Though family court judges used to favor the mother in a majority of child custody decisions, they are now recognizing the benefits of maintaining a child's relationship with both parents.

Shared parenting is being encouraged across the United States, and several states have enacted child custody reform laws that favor equal parenting time for both parents after a divorce. Missouri has passed a shared parenting bill, as have Minnesota, Utah and South Dakota, among others. A child custody law in Arizona that favors equal parenting time has been seen as a format that is likely to be imitated by other states. There are many other states that have child custody reform legislation under consideration.

New California law will impact living together after separation

You hear about it more and more: the idea that a married couple might decide to separate, but remain under the same roof, often so they can easily co-parent and so as not to uproot the children. Sometimes it is to share residential expenses until a divorce is final or because each wants to be the one to stay, thinking they might increase the chance of staying in the residence with the kids after divorce.

They usually establish their own homes after the divorce is final.