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Alameda County Family Law Blog

Making changes in child support and custody

California parents who decide to divorce may face a difficult time when dealing with child custody and support. Some divorcing parents are quickly able to negotiate an amicable solution on these matters and develop a parenting plan that honors both parents' role in the children's lives. However, divorcing spouses with a more contentious relationship may find themselves embroiled in a battle over child custody. As a result, many mothers and fathers feel as if they are treated unfairly in court.

Some mothers may feel that they are not taken seriously, while fathers may be concerned that they will face gender bias and be excluded from their children's lives. The statistics may give credence to those concerns, as up to 80 percent of custody cases are resolved with primary custody to the mother. However, most of these situations don't involve a father seeking child custody; when fathers actively pursue custody, they experience far more positive outcomes. And while some judges may have traditional biases leading to unjust outcomes, joint or shared custody is becoming the legal best practice across the country whenever possible.

4 tips to help you get alimony

With alimony, your goal may be to obtain an income that helps support you while you go back to school or build up your work experience. Alimony helps smooth the gap between your marital income and your income on your own, but it won't ever create equal circumstances.

Alimony has many benefits, and it can help you balance your work, home life and finances. Here are four things you can do to make sure you have the best chance of obtaining it.

Avoiding common tax and other financial errors in divorce

For some people in California, the challenges of divorce can include making some common financial mistakes, but awareness of those errors may help people avoid them. Many mistakes happen because people do not have a financial plan in place. They can create one of these with the help of a professional.

People should be aware that alimony payments will cease to be tax-payable or tax-deductible for divorces that are finalized after the end of 2018. They should avoid taking actions to avoid alimony such as quitting a job. The costs of this will outweigh the cost of paying alimony. Actions such as going on a spending spree during the divorce or selling assets to pay for bills can also backfire. In the former case, it is simply because those bills must be paid in the long run. In the latter case, it could be because there might be hefty taxes associated with liquidating assets.

Study looks at link between divorce and premarital cohabitation

When couples in California live together before getting married, they might experience something researchers call the "premarital cohabitation effect." This is the name given to the struggles cohabitating couples face after getting married. Many researchers have found that over time, this effect eventually dissipates.

However, a study that appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family in September contradicts these findings. Researchers argued that previous studies didn't take enough of a long-term view. They found that while couples who didn't live together prior to marriage had a harder adjustment in the first year of being wed, after that first year, their chances of getting a divorce was actually lower than that of couples who had cohabited. Researchers said this could be because the couples who didn't live together had a more immediate adjustment to make just after marriage.

Raising children after a divorce

Divorce is never easy on a family in California. However, kids can bounce back from a separation when parents are perceptive to their needs. Since divorcing parents are also struggling with their life-changing circumstances, they might look to some specific tips to help them focus on raising their children.

Maintaining family routines such as bedtimes can give kids a sense of control in situations that might sometimes seem out of control. Consistency is also helpful when it comes to kids' behaviors and discipline. Despite the difficult transition, children should understand that there are distinct consequences for misbehaving. Even if it is difficult to be supportive of an ex-spouse, it is much better for the children when parents follow the same rules and are consistent with boundaries.

Dating and divorce: Just wait until it's finalized

Many people have a question about how long they should wait before dating when they're going through a divorce. Of course, people do go on dates, but the reality is that they're still married.

The separation date will show a court when you left your spouse, but if there is any question of infidelity, it's better not to rock the boat by dating while separated. Even if your spouse says it's okay to do so, it could be hurtful and lead to arguments down the line.

Gray divorce and retirement

No matter how old individuals are when they get a divorce, it can be a process that negatively impacts them financially and emotionally. For California residents who are at least 50 years old, getting a divorce can be extremely difficult, particularly if they have had a long marriage and most or all of their assets are tightly tied to their future plans.

The Pew Research Center reports that the rates for gray divorce, or divorce among adults in the United States who are 50 years old and older, are increasing. While second and third marriages present the most divorce risk, a large number of gray divorces tend to occur among the couples who have been married for at least 30 years.

Back child support and purchasing a home

A California parent who owes back child support is considered to have a derogatory credit event in their credit history. This child support arrearage could actually impair the chances of getting a loan approved to purchase a home. However, there are steps a parent can take to address the issue.

They should first verify what is being reported on their credit report, which can be obtained from any one of the three main credit reporting agencies. A prospective homebuyer should then note their FICO score and determine if it is within the guidelines established by the mortgage lender. It's also wise to use a home affordability calculator to determine if making monthly mortgage payments is feasible when overdue child support is owed as well.

Prepare to divide your assets through solid negotiations

You went to school for years to become a surgeon, and during that time, your spouse did support you. You worked long hours, and your relationship fell to the side as you focused on your career.

Now, when you're finally where you want to be, your spouse has decided to end things. Too much time has caused you to grow apart. It's not an uncommon story, but it's one that you're worried could negatively affect you, financially as well as emotionally.

Some workers are more likely to divorce than others

People in California may not be surprised to consider that their career choices affect their personal lives, from their physical and psychological health to their interpersonal relationships. According to one study, however, the reach of career choice into romantic partnership goes beyond the effects of stress or a long workday. The September 2018 study says that when straight, married people work around more people of the opposite sex, they are also more likely to have a divorce.

Previous studies had indicated that men who live in communities with many more women are more likely to divorce, but researchers pointed out that for many people, the communities where they spend most of their time are found in the workplace. This study reviewed two decades of Danish employment, marriage and divorce records to gain a view of how different professions are linked to the likelihood of divorce. It included those involved in a marriage to an opposite-sex partner at any time between 1981 and 2002 who also worked at some point in that period. Once the researchers factored in known issues like marital age, number of children and level of education, they found that people were indeed more likely to divorce when they worked in careers with more potential partners.

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