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Oakland CA Divorce Law Blog

High-stakes divorces and forensic accounting

Wealthy California couples who are going through a divorce often rely heavily on the services provided by forensic accountants. Typically, these financial specialists are brought into the picture to manage commercial interests. When the actions or motives of business partners are unclear, forensic accountants may be of use. However, there are reasons why they are becoming increasingly used when marriages are coming to an end.

The more complex a couple's financial picture is, the more difficult it might be to divide the marital assets appropriately. High-net worth marriages typically involve a number of assets that may include businesses, partnerships, collectibles and investment portfolios. When the valuation of these assets extends beyond the scope of a divorce lawyer, a forensic accountant may be able to help. Evaluating marital assets becomes more difficult when one or both spouses have deferred compensation arrangements, life insurance policies or retirement plans.

Thurman reaches agreement over daughter's custody

As California movie fans may have heard, Arpad Busson and Uma Thurman have settled their differences when it comes to raising their children. The ex-couple appeared in Manhattan Superior Court after coming to an agreement on a parenting plan. The judge enthusiastically welcomed the result.

According to reports, the couple began dating in 2004. They were engaged in 2008 after separating in 2007. In 2012, the couple had a daughter but broke their engagement in 2014. That year, Busson filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to have more time with his daughter. They were able to put aside their differences. Reportedly, the agreement is set for three years. Thurman was previously married to Ethan Hawke and they had two children. They divorced in 2005.

Disclosure of assets in divorce property division

Most divorces in California and around the country are settled amicably and quickly, with the estranged couple reaching an agreement on property division and other issues and submitting it to the court for its approval. A long-running divorce case in New York, though, has proven to be an exception.

The wife in this case filed for divorce in 2008. One year later, while the proceedings were still pending, the husband sold a piece of real estate and netted nearly $800,000 on the transaction. His wife's attorney maintained that the Brooklyn parcel was part of the marital estate, and in 2009, the court ordered the husband to deposit the proceeds into an escrow account. He refused to comply, stating that he no longer had the money.

Gauging the viability of a child custody agreement

After a divorce, many California parents deal with co-parenting plans that adjust as children return to school in the fall. However, the academic and extracurricular activities of a child could conflict with a well-defined parenting arrangement. Although flexibility might be built into such an agreement, it may be necessary to make adjustments if conflicts arise.

Some of the most important issues in approaching a new school year, especially with a new parenting plan, are the developmental needs of one's child and the realities of their schedule. As a child's interests and needs change, parents may need to be willing to adjust, allowing parenting time to be altered to ensure that a youngster can attend practices, games, tutoring sessions, or other events that are important to them. Similarly, a parent will need to be willing to make adjustments if significant changes occur in their own life. Extended hours at work, for example, could interfere with parenting time, and trying to continue with a parenting schedule that doesn't fit one's hours could lead to frustration on all sides.

Back-to-school season for divorced parents

As California children head back to school in the fall, their schedules quickly fill up with classes, after school activities and sporting events. For divorced parents with shared custody, maintaining a child's hectic schedule during the school year can be challenging. This is why agreeing on a detailed parenting plan is so important for divorced parents.

When two parents go through a divorce, they can work out a parenting plan together or ask the court to reach a decision on how time with the child should be divided. Although it's usually easier and cheaper for both parties to agree on a parenting plan outside of court, this is not always possible. If the court must make the decision, both parents will be asked to submit a parenting plan for the judge's consideration.

Courts unsure how to treat frozen embryos after a divorce

Some couples in California choose to freeze embryos so that they can still have biological children of their own even after one spouse becomes infertile. When the couple divorces before the frozen embryos are used, there are a lot of questions about what the parties can do with them. Courts have long struggled with these issues, and it is still unclear whether frozen embryos should be subject to property division or child custody laws in a divorce.

One court case involving a divorced couple in San Francisco with frozen embryos has yet to be resolved. The couple created five embryos after they were married because the woman was about to undergo breast cancer treatment. The couple has now divorced, and the woman wants to use the embryos even though her ex-husband objects.

Child support and jurisdiction issues

California noncustodial parents who have been ordered to pay child support will often later have a change in their finances that makes it difficult for them to afford the amount they were ordered to pay each month. When the change is a substantial one, courts may modify the amount that was ordered to a lower one.

Questions regarding jurisdiction sometimes arise. A court with jurisdiction is the one which should preside over the case. Determining jurisdiction involves applying the mandates of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act in cases in which the parent and child live in different states. The law has been adopted by all 50 states.

The importance of divorce disability insurance coverage

A California divorce decree may have to be revised if an individual obligated to pay child support or alimony becomes disabled and unable to continue to make the required payments. Both parties to the divorce agreement can be affected negatively by a disabling disease or injury because of the impact on the injured party's income. Without a modification to the terms of the divorce, the injured party could fall behind and face legal consequences, while the other party would suffer financially due to the lack of funds. Planning for this possibility with special insurance policies could save both parties from such difficulties.

In many cases, courts will require an individual to carry life insurance that will pay the remaining child support and alimony obligations in the event of their death. A disability policy might not be ordered, but this could be a wise investment to be sure that the needs of one's children are met if a disabling condition occurs. It is possible to include this provision in a divorce decree, and obtaining such a policy after the completion of a divorce warrants a modification to ensure that the details are recorded.

Claiming Social Security benefits from spouse's earnings

Individuals in California whose spouses have paid into Social Security may be entitled to collect benefits based on those earnings, even if they are divorced. However, in order to collect these benefits, the individual must meet several important requirements, including how long the couple was married and how much he or she currently earns. The younger the individual and the higher his or her earnings, the less likely it is that a Social Security benefit will pay in the short term.

In a divorce involving significant assets, it is not unusual for both spouses to have good incomes. If one spouse is significantly younger than the other, this may create an interesting issue when they divorce and the younger spouse attempts to claim Social Security benefits.

Court rules it has no jurisdiction in actress's custody dispute

On July 23, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that California does not have jurisdiction over actress Kelly Rutherford's custody case. The judge stated that the children no longer had the requisite connection to the state as they had only visited for one week within the last two years.

Initially, Rutherford and her ex-husband had joint custody of their two children. In 2012, however, her ex-husband lost his U.S. visa. A judge subsequently ruled that the children should live with their father in Monaco, which would allow them to live in one place as their father could not visit them in the U.S. Since then, Rutherford had been fighting to bring her children back to the U.S. while traveling abroad to visit with them.