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San Mateo California Family Law Blog

How can I protect myself from paying too much in alimony?

You may feel unhappy with the idea of making monthly payments to your ex, but spousal support is an important part of California family law. Spousal support -- also called alimony -- ensures the stability of a spouse who earned less during the marriage until such a time as they are able to create their own financial security. While it is essential that individuals who receive alimony get the right support, it is also necessary to protect the payer's financial well-being. 

California has two separate stages of spousal support. The first is called temporary spousal support and occurs after you separate but before your divorce is finalized. For this stage, courts consider both you and your ex's income, your future earning capacities and more. 

What to do with the home during property division?

A home is one of the biggest joint purchases that California married couples make. Despite this, many still end up mismanaging their real estate during divorce. Not only can making mistakes with the marital home hurt emotionally, it can also cost each person a significant amount of money. In order to better handle the home during property division, individuals should be aware of a few important matters.

Some couples decide that it is best for one person to maintain ownership of the house. While this might be a good idea for a number of reasons, it is essential to first determine whether that person can continue to afford the house. This means more than just paying the mortgage. What about taxes, general upkeep and homeowners insurance? If the individual cannot afford these costs or if it will create a financial burden, then keeping the home might not be in his or her best financial interests and could ultimately cause more distress down the road.

Shared child custody reaping benefits for children in one state

When divorce became more common place, family court judges tended to favor the mother when deciding what was the best situation for raising children. Over time, studies have shown that children who are permitted more time with both parents tend to fare better. While joint custody is favored in California, some other states start with a legal presumption of joint custody. A family law attorney can help a parent in this state to determine what arrangements will best meet his or her children's needs.

Recently, an advocate for parents' rights urged his state to consider implementing new laws that would require family courts to make shared custody the default unless doing so would place children in danger of abuse. Studies and surveys are showing that children are benefiting from this approach. Professionals say that it reduces the level of conflict. Many opponents to shared parenting assert that the best interest of the child needs to come first, though it is widely accepted that time with both parents is better for most children.

The basics of alimony after a divorce

The idea of providing ongoing financial support to an ex-spouse can be uncomfortable, but it is often a necessary aspect of divorce. Alimony -- commonly referred to as spousal support -- is intended to limit any potentially unfair economic aftermath of a divorce. A California family law judge might order that one person pay support, or a couple may come to an agreement on the matter by themselves.

The factors that go into determining whether alimony is appropriate are varied. Courts will usually consider the length of a couple's marriage and each respective person's income, but there is more to it than that. A person's age, emotional state and physical condition might also be considered, and judges often look at whether an individual might need job training before re-entering the workforce.

Complex property division needs an experienced eye

No one wants to come out of a divorce feeling as if they lost everything that was important to them. With the right approach and careful attention to detail, this does not have to be your situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind when approaching property division.

California is what is known as a community property state. Under these laws, anything that you acquire during the course of your marriage is considered community property. Unlike separate property, which is yours and yours alone, community property has to be equally divided during your divorce. This does not just apply to the big things either, like cars and homes. Here are few examples of community property you might have:

  • Home furnishings, artwork and electronics
  • Business assets and interests
  • Retirement accounts, including 401(k)s and IRAs
  • Stocks, mutual funds and other investments
  • Children's college savings accounts
  • Insurance policies

Don't rush retirement decisions during property division

Approaching divorce and retirement at the same time? For those in California who are dealing with this situation, the future may feel uncertain. Most people know that there are usually penalties and taxes associated with early withdrawals from retirement accounts, but this can be avoided during property division through careful attention to detail.

Before pulling funds from any accounts, couples must first deal with property division. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, this involves determining which assets are separate and which are community property, and then dividing the community property according to California family laws. This means that if a retirement account is community property -- and many are -- then it will probably be split 50/50 between both parties.

Can property division wreck my retirement savings?

The retirement years are meant to be enjoyed and savored, but a divorce could disrupt those plans for tranquility. Divorcing California couples -- particularly those who are near retirement -- may feel the side effects on their retirement the most. Paying careful attention during property division and other important divorce processes can help these individuals protect their retirement savings as well as their financial security.

There is a noticeable difference between the average net wealth in divorced households compared to nondivorced households -- about 30 percent less. Less overall wealth can contribute to financial instability and insecurity, leaving many people unprepared for retirement. According to the Center for Retirement Research, divorced households struggle with retirement readiness far more than their peers who are still married.

Should I wrap up my high asset divorce before the New Year?

Divorce can be a financially stressful process with which many people in California struggle. When the stakes are high -- such as in a high asset divorce -- individuals may feel understandably worried about their future financial health. Here are a few things to keep in mind for those who are concerned about these issues and want to avoid potentially costly tax implications as the year rapidly draws to a close.

As most people are already aware, changes to the tax law will affect alimony. In the past, payers could deduct the costs, and recipients listed their support as taxable income, netting an overall greater savings for the couple. When the calendar flips over to 2019, those savings will disappear. Divorcing couples who still want to take advantage of these cost-savings tax benefits, and are considering finalizing the process before 2018 ends, should first decide what is most important to them, which will save time that might otherwise be spent arguing over inconsequential matters.

Judge signs off on Anna Faris and Chris Pratt's child custody

Even for California couples who understand that ending their unhappy marriage is for the best, divorce can be an understandably emotional process. As with almost any emotional task, figuring out some of the more difficult details -- such as child custody, support and asset division -- can be even more complicated. One celebrity couple, however, has seemed to find agreeable solutions to these issues without much problem.

Chris Pratt initially filed for divorce back in Dec. 2017, and the couple recently finalized everything in early Nov. 2018. The couple will share joint custody of their 6-year-old son. Both parents seem exceptionally committed to their new co-parenting situation, and even spent the recent Halloween holiday together so that they could both take their son out trick-or-treating.

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt reach agreement on child custody, more

Although Chris Pratt and Anna Faris might be most well-known to people in California for their roles in popular movies, they have been in the headlines more recently for their ongoing divorce. However, unlike many celebrity splits, the couple reached a settlement in a relatively quick and collaborative manner. Their settlement addresses important topics, such as alimony, child support and child custody.

Pratt and Faris filed for divorce back in Dec. 2017, at which time they cited irreconcilable differences. Less than a year later, their divorce is officially over. This may be due in part to their prenuptial agreement, which outlined how they would handle certain issues if they decided to end things.

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