Viola Law Firm P.C.
Call Today 650-532-9389

San Mateo California Family Law Blog

Don't forget about investments during a high asset divorce

Complex assets such as investments can be difficult to manage during divorce. When a person is in the middle of a high asset divorce, focusing on other matters might be more of an afterthought than a priority. However, since there are already financial implications associated with the divorce process itself, properly managing investments is important.

While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, California investors who are in or even past middle age might have more investments as well as more wealth tied to those investments than younger investors. Between 1990 and 2019, the divorce rate for those over 50 doubled while it tripled for couples over the age of 65. Investments often play a crucial role in financial support during this period of life, so it is important to maintain access to investment accounts. This is an especially good idea for partners who left financial matters up to their spouses. Without access to relevant information, an individual cannot be sure if his or her ex is taking improper actions, such as withdrawing funds.

Understanding property division and family law in California

Family law in California is unique to the state, meaning that precedents or rules that apply elsewhere are not necessarily relevant during divorce. Some rules or procedures might be similar to those in other states, but one area in particular stands out. Unlike most states, California follows the community property concept for property division.

Community property is a fairly simple concept to understand. Any income or property that is acquired by either spouse during their marriage is considered joint property. Joint property -- also known as community property -- is divided equally during divorce. There are a few exceptions, such as inheritances and gifts, but in certain situations these may be considered joint property as well.

High asset divorce can diminish startup founders' wealth

It is an exciting time for tech startups. New technology is being created and developed constantly, and there are many qualified and experienced workers in California who are eager to work in this industry. Tech startup founders who have already achieved a certain level of success in their field likely already know how important it is to have a prenuptial agreement. Founders who are still in the early days or still getting ready to launch may not realize the implications of getting married without a prenup, and then dealing with a high asset divorce later on.

California is a community property state, and as such any property or wealth acquired during marriage is considered marital. This means that all property will be split equally during divorce, even if only one spouse was primarily responsible for creating wealth. This can be a scary prospect for entrepreneurs and even investors who are working in tech, because even a single good idea can launch a startup toward success.

How to protect current and future assets from property division

There are many steps that go into planning a wedding, but thinking about divorce usually is not one of them. This could actually be a mistake. California couples may want to look ahead at more than just future jobs or children and, in particular, consider what property division should look like during divorce. This outlook might strike some as distinctly unromantic or pessimistic, but it can actually prove beneficial in the long run.

Financial problems and stress are the second most common cause of divorce. Many people go into marriage either blind about their significant others' finances or only understanding very little. While talking about money will not necessarily prevent fighting over it, having this conversation can minimize tension around finances. Creating a prenuptial agreement is an excellent way to start this conversation, and it also gives both people an opportunity to protect personal assets.

Is mediation appropriate for child custody disputes?

Fighting with an ex over every small detail of a divorce might seem like the normal thing to do, but in fact many divorcing couples do quite the opposite. By using mediation it is possible to have a non-adversarial divorce in which a couple can resolve problems outside of court. Mediation is for more than just property division and alimony, too. Many parents in California have successfully addressed child custody matters during mediation.

Although it is true that some parents struggle to agree on a child custody agreement, many others find that they agree on what the general terms should be. Working with a mediator can be an appropriate choice for the latter. Mediation is generally faster and much less expensive than handling things in court. For example, the process for formally establishing a custody agreement can last months or even years. Mediation is generally over in two weeks or less.

Watch out for retirement during a high asset divorce

Adults spend decades saving money for retirement. It is not uncommon for young adults in California to start their retirement savings very early on in their careers, which can help secure a more financially stable future. Unfortunately, a large retirement account is quite often vulnerable during a high asset divorce.

Take for example an out-of-state woman whose divorce led to a significant drop in retirement savings. She married back in 1997, and the couple moved into the property that she had purchased with her own money before tying the knot. Several years later, the couple refinanced the mortgage so that they could provide financial support to the wife's father, who was seriously ill. The husband's name was added to the deed so that his income would be considered during the refinancing.

The role of alimony after divorce

Although an individual might not feel comfortable with providing ongoing financial support to an ex, spousal support is an integral part of California family law. Paying alimony should not be viewed as a punishment, just as receiving support is not considered winning in divorce. Unfortunately, many people do view it as such. Understanding what topics factor into alimony can help address some of these misconceptions.

Divorce is certainly an emotional process, but it is a legal and financial process as well. A person who earned less than his or her spouse during the marriage is usually at a greater risk of taking on unfair economic burdens during divorce. Alimony is intended to lift some of those burdens.

How does my move affect child custody?

Parents have a lot on their minds when going through divorce, but throughout the process they usually keep their main focus on their children. As a parent yourself, this means that getting the right child custody order is one of your top priorities. However, certain factors -- such as one parent moving out of state -- can affect the outcome of the agreement.

Take for example a situation in which your spouse moves out of state, leaving the children behind in your care. He or she may choose to file a motion for visitation or custody in the new state of residence. So which state's laws will determine how custody is handled -- California's, or the state where your ex lives? Your children's home state will have the authority to issue orders, and their home state is the one in which they have been living for six or more consecutive months before the custody proceedings begin.

Child custody and other family law myths

The basics of divorce may seem obvious to most people. However, much of what people believe to be fact regarding California family law is more myth than anything else. From child custody to property division, there is no shortage of misinformation.

Fathers play active and important roles in the lives of their children, both before and after divorce. However, even as fathers are increasingly taking on caregiver roles, the myth that mothers are automatically awarded primary custody still persists to this day. Ultimately, child custody comes down to the best interests of a child, which usually means regular involvement from both parents.

California initiative proposes limits on alimony

Spousal support is a sensitive subject that many people feel very strongly about. Many people agree that alimony is important for spouses who earned less or left the workforce altogether. Others feel that alimony payments are too high or last for too long. In California, a new initiative could significantly change how judges handle this type of post-divorce support.

The new initiative proposes a cap for how long a person may be ordered to pay child support. If this initiative gets onto the ballot and voters approve it, judges would be prevented from ordering spousal support for more than five years after a divorce or a legal separation. The estimated financial impact on both local and state governments is not known.

Viola Law Firm P.C. | 441 1st. Ave. | San Mateo, CA 94401 | Phone: 650-532-9389 | Map & Directions