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Oakland CA Divorce Law Blog

Social Security benefits should not be overlooked during divorce

Couples in California who are considering divorce may want to think about their Social Security benefits. If a marriage lasts for at least 10 years, then an ex-spouse could, with a few exceptions, claim ex-spouse Social Security benefits upon reaching retirement age.

To qualify for the benefit, a person will need to present documentation to the Social Security Administration. Crucial documents include the marriage license and divorce decree. The dates on these official documents will determine the exact length of a marriage. If a person has not quite reached 10 years of marriage, financial experts recommend waiting to finalize the divorce until the decade mark has been passed. After meeting the requirements to receive a benefit, a person must wait for two years before claiming the benefits.

Falling behind on child support can damage credit ratings

A job loss or other drop in income for a person in California could result in that person missing child support payments. In addition to the problems that this could cause for the children, the parent will need to consider the possible impact on his or her credit rating.

State or local agencies that oversee child support payments can report any missed payments to credit bureaus. Late payments could also lower a person's credit rating. If the agency sends the person a delinquency letter, the person should read it carefully. A window of opportunity may be open for the person to catch up on payments and prevent the agency from reporting the problem. Usually, only a short amount of time is available for making late payments , and a person should respond quickly.

Bankruptcy court finds that divorce agreement wasn't alimony

When California couples file for divorce and one party is ordered to or agrees to pay alimony, that obligation is not dischargeable if the payer later files for bankruptcy. It is important to note that not every provision in a divorce settlement will be considered to be alimony, however.

In June, a bankruptcy court found that an indemnity provision contained in a divorce property settlement agreement did not constitute alimony and was dischargeable in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. In that case, a couple who married in 2000 later divorced in 2009. The couple reached a property settlement agreement in which the husband received the marital home. He agreed to take on the full responsibility of paying the mortgage and keeping the home in good repair. He also agreed to indemnify his former wife and was to refinance the mortgage in his own name.

A mortgage can complicate a divorce

When a California married couple purchases a house together, both of their names are usually included on the mortgage. If the couple goes through a divorce before the mortgage is paid off, they could be linked by their mortgage document for many years to come, because altering a mortgage can be difficult.

Though divorced spouses may give their property rights away with a quitclaim deed, they won't be removed from their mortgage obligation until it is refinanced. To get the mortgage refinanced with just one person's name on it, the ex-spouse that gets to keep the marital home will have to qualify for a new loan with just a single income.

Divorce rate for older adults on the rise

Young California couples who marry may be less likely to divorce than their older counterparts, but experts say it is still too soon to tell. Baby boomers have kept the divorce rate high. In fact, people over 65 are now getting divorced at three times the rate they did in 1990. Among people 55 to 64, the rate has more than doubled. The overall divorce rate is down, but due to the high rate of baby boomer divorces, just over 50 percent of marriages still end in divorce.

Millennials are marrying later or not marrying at all, and this might contribute to fewer potential divorces in this age group. People are also less likely to remarry, and this may also drive the divorce rate down since second marriages are more likely to end in divorce. However, the median length of first marriages is 12 years, and many of those millennial marriages may not have reached this point yet.

4 Tips for avoiding publicity during a divorce

The very public divorces of celebrities are popular material for gossip websites and magazines. But they are still very real and emotionally complicated events for those involved. Known in the legal world as "high asset divorces," these situations can easily spin out of control, leaving the divorced couple scrambling for help.

Custody battle ahead for reality show stars

California fans of the TV show "Southern Charm" may have followed the relationship of co-stars Thomas Ravenel and Kathryn Dennis. They have a 2-year-old and a 7-month-old, and Ravenel has filed a suit against Dennis for custody and visitation rights.

Dennis claims that Ravenel has not contacted her or seen the children in months and has offered her no support. However, Ravenel has countered those claims. He has accused Dennis of blocking his access to the children. He also says that he pays her rent of $3,100 per month and that her six-figure salary means that she is not having financial problems.

Are the kids going to be ok?

When undergoing the divorce process, parents often feel anxious about potential long-term effects on their children. They may think of adults they know who come from so-called "broken" homes, who are now all grown up and resentful about their own parents' divorces. It's natural to be anxious about the long-term effects of divorce on children. But if you fear that your anxiety has spun out of control, know that recent research tells us the kids will be alright.

Child support and private school education

Divorced parents who believe that a private school education will help their children achieve their highest potential may be interested in knowing how the ourts might consider allocation of child support payments for this purpose. Child support that is targeted specifically as payment for private school tuition is usually ordered as a supplement to basic support. In California, basic child support is calculated in accordance with guidelines that have been established by the state.

When parents divorce, the non-custodial parent is almost always ordered to pay basic child support. A court might order the non-custodial parent to pay or contribute to tuition payments in the event that the parents had agreed while they were married to send the children to private school, the children have been attending private school for a period of time, and then the non-custodial parent raised objections to the decision only when asked to provide support for the continuation of the children's education.

Defining virtual visitation and how it works

Virtual visitation could be changing how California children communicate with their parents following a divorce. This type of visitation involves the parties using email, instant messaging, photo-sharing sites, social media sites, video conferencing or mail, and other technology to interact with each other. The forms of technology that they use are usually part of the child custody or visitation order.

The noncustodial parent is generally the one who requests virtual visitation when the custodial parent plans to relocate the child, which would interfere with the noncustodial parent's visitation rights. However, unmarried parents might also request a virtual visitation order when they want to make changes to a child custody agreement or want to be more involved in their children's lives.