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Alameda County Family Law Blog

Study finds domestic abuse misunderstood among first responders

When people in California call 911 after an incidence of domestic violence, the first responders who arrive may not always have a good understanding of the situation. A study that appeared in the "Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine" found that many EMTs considered victims to be responsible for the violence.

The study surveyed 403 professionals in Florida who had just completed a training session on domestic violence. Almost 75 percent of them had encountered domestic violence on the job. About one-third of them reported a reaction that ranged from neutral to in agreement with the statement that it was normal for domestic violence to happen as a result of daily frustration. Similar numbers said they were dissatisfied with the victim and were neutral or in agreement with the statement that victims are responsible for abuse if they do not leave their abusers. Nearly half ranged from being neutral to agreeing with the statement that they could not help if victims did not admit to abuse, and about one-fifth were neutral or in agreement with the idea that women who were abused secretly wanted to be abused.

4 things to consider before filing for divorce

There's a point in some relationships where at least one person understands that it's no longer working. In some cases, it's possible to save a marriage, but in others, a divorce is the only real option.

Before you decide that divorce is the only option for you, you should consider a few things. These questions may help you decide if a divorce or other possibilities will work best for your situation.

The connection between the holidays and divorce rate spikes

Many families in California spend January focusing on the post-holiday return to work and preparing for colder weather. Some married couples experience another type of coldness in the first month of the year: January is notorious for its high rate of divorce filings. It is believed that the reason for this could be because divorces desired earlier are put off until after the December holidays.

A study by the University of Washington found that March and August are the biggest months for finalizing divorces, but every January, there is a spike in divorce filings. Legal experts believe that the holidays play a part in this. For some couples, especially those who have children, filing for divorce during the holiday season might feel wrong. For others, the decision to divorce might not be made until having gone through an emotional holiday season that brings underlying problems in the marriage to the surface.

What to do when divorce is the next step

California residents who have made the decision to file for divorce at the beginning of the year may have a lot of work ahead of them. In addition to seeking well-meaning advice from family and friends, there are some things that experts recommend spouses that do before beginning the separation process.

Even before the divorce begins, setting up a support system that includes outlets for self-care is important. Self-care can come in the form of therapy, going to the gym or even setting up some alone time to be creative. Soon-to-be exes should also set up specific goals for the future, both during and after the divorce. Focusing on the fact that life goes on after a marriage ends is a good motivator to stay positive. Because of the turmoil the process brings, some spouses may take to the internet to air their frustrations. Since everything posted can be used as evidence during a divorce, it's best to simply avoid social media.

5 tips to reduce stress during divorces

There's no question about it: Divorce is stressful. It's emotionally, physically and socially draining in many ways. Fortunately, there are methods to reduce stress during a divorce, so you can get back to your normal life as soon as possible.

From letting go of negative feelings to working with a mediator, these five tips help you address problems and concerns during a divorce quickly to alleviate issues. Try these for better communication and reduced stress.

Stepfamilies lead to increase in family size

Some California families may grow up to 66 percent after the parents divorce and one or both subsequently remarries. This is the result of blended families that happen when there are stepchildren and stepparents.

These families are larger and more complicated, but they also may not be as close. Some people may be torn between obligations to biological relatives and stepfamilies. Couples may argue about who is responsible for paying for the children's education, or people may wonder whether they are required to give as much assistance to an elderly stepparent as they would a biological parent. One study found that there was a greater likelihood that couples who had adult stepchildren would spend and receive less time with their children.

Signs of parental alienation and what to do

Divorces can often lead to abrupt behavioral changes in a child. For example, the child might suddenly become argumentative or even have explosive rages. They may ask the parent to stop attending extracurricular activities, and the parent could be removed from contact lists for camp and school. California divorcees should be aware that these could all be signs that parental alienation is occurring.

Parental alienation happens when one parent manipulates a child in a way that turns them against the other parent. Parents who have been diagnosed with narcissistic or borderline personality disorder are more likely to engage in parental alienation. In some cases, the child may even use the same language as the parent causing the alienation to denigrate the targeted parent. However, the child might deny that the other parent has played a part in this behavioral change. The child might also deny positive experiences with the targeted parent.

Claiming Social Security spousal benefits

Even though a California couple may divorce, one spouse could still be able to claim Social Security benefits on the other's earnings. However, the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years. Also, the ex must have earned significantly more income than the spouse claiming spousal benefits.

Spousal benefits are calculated by taking the primary insurance amount of a person and subtracting it from half of the ex's primary insurance amount. The PIA averages how much money a person earned on average each month during the best 35 years of earnings. A negative number means the person will not get any benefits.

Dividing property when you own few assets isn't always simple

When you're in a young relationship, you may start to collect assets. Early in your marriage, it's unlikely that you'll have many high-value assets. You might have a starter home, which costs a fair amount but nothing extreme, televisions, cars and few other major assets.

While it would seem that this would make it easy to divide your assets, that's not always the case. It's sometimes harder for individuals with less to get through a divorce easily, because they're more likely to want what few assets they own for themselves.

Advantages of refinancing a home as part of divorce

Dividing a house is one task couples in California might have to do if they are getting a divorce. Refinancing can protect the spouse that is not keeping the home. Often, if a person does not refinance, he or she will stay on the mortgage and be considered equally responsible for paying it.

A cash-out refinance might be one way for the spouse keeping the home to buy out the other person. Other options might be for one individual to keep assets of roughly equal worth. A person who would be owed spousal support might waive it in lieu of keeping the home.

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