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Oakland CA Divorce Law Blog

Grandparent visitation in California

In certain situations, grandparents may be awarded visitation rights. This type of visitation is awarded in order to make certain that children receive the added developmental benefits of having access to those relatives. Grandparents may also be awarded custody of their grandchildren if both of the child's parents are deceased or if the parents are unfit.

In order to be awarded grandparent visitation, a number of different conditions must be met. Grandparents must be able to prove to the court that visitation is in the best interests of their grandchildren. The court may also consider the marital status of the parents and whether or not visits with the grandparents have been denied.

Understanding the Hague Convention

The United States is one of many countries that is a party to the Hague Abduction Convention. California parents should be aware of the treaty and how it applies to international child custody disputes and abductions.

The Convention was created to shield children from the abduction and transportation to another country by a parent. Its policy is that typical matters of child visitation and custody should be addressed by the court system of the country in which the child habitually resides. American parents who have a custody order may need to resort to the Convention if the orders are not honored in other countries. Interference with a sovereign nation's legal matters is not permitted, and each country has legal authority only over its territory and its inhabitants.

Splitting student loan debt after a divorce

Since California is a community property state, debts and assets acquired during a marriage are generally considered shared marital property. This means if that marriage ends in divorce, those debts and assets will in general be equally divided between the two by a judge. This might include student loans.

If the student loans date from before the marriage, most likely, they will be considered the property of the person who took them out. But if they were acquired after marriage, they will probably be considered the responsibility of both spouses. Furthermore, if the couple consolidated their student loans to lower the interest rate, which was possible prior to 2006, then they will each be responsible for this debt. If one spouse fails to pay it, the other spouse will be expected to do so.

Electronic access enhances child support processing

Child support issues can become serious matters for California parents whose payments have not been received. Some government agencies can help to manage child support collection, and funneling payments through a collections office has important benefits for both the payer and the recipient. However, the magnitude of the need for such management can impede efficiency. This need for efficiency is now being addressed on a national scale as an online portal goes through revisions needed to streamline processing.

A page will be available on the Office of Child Support Enforcement site. More than 200 businesses, including Home Depot Inc., already use this resource for managing electronic child support payments. In fact, issues such as reporting lump sums and terminations have been managed through the system for several years. However, the updated portal is expected to make the management of these issues easier for employers, which may translate into broader use of the system. The overseers of the program expect to promote the portal through online sources as well as during in-person presentations.

Why maintaining child support is critical

When divorces turn ugly, all bets are off. Couples who once worked beautifully together are suddenly fighting each other for every little thing, particularly when it comes to the children produced by their marriage. From fighting over the division of time in shared custody to refusals to pay or adjust child support as temporarily ordered by the courts during the divorce proceedings, former couples can often feel very strongly about their custody and child support situations. That depth of emotion and possibly antipathy, however, can sometimes lead to poor decision-making. No matter how your relationship with your soon-to-be former spouse has devolved, you should absolutely prioritize protecting and caring for your children during the divorce proceedings.

Divorced women over 50 are more likely to fall into poverty

A woman over 50 who is considering a divorce in California may want to think about the effect the separation could have on retirement. A study produced by two economists found a relationship between the age that a woman divorces and the chances that she will still be working full time later in life. A survey of nearly 56,000 women showed that those who ended their marriages in their 50s ended up working jobs into their 70s 10 percent more often than those who divorced prior to age 30.

According to the study, poverty is often caused by the common choice of women with children to keep a family home instead of retirement assets. Financial planners generally consider holding on to a home in a divorce to be a mistake even if the woman can afford to maintain the real estate. The loss of retirement savings in a divorce settlement often leaves an older woman with only the option of working past retirement age.

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.