SANTA ROSA FAMILY LAWYER BLOG

Articles Posted in Divorce

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file for divorce, californiaWhere should I file for divorce? When contemplating a divorce, there are many things to consider, both practical and emotional. Taking on the financial and logistical aspects of a divorce alone can be an enormous burden. Issues such as child custody and division of possessions are hard enough, but one must also consider alimony, paperwork, fees, and everything else that comes with taking apart a marriage. The good news is that seeking help from a qualified attorney can make the process much easier.

All states have their own regulations as to what is required in order to get a divorce in their jurisdiction so one of the the first things to evaluate is where to file the divorce paperwork.

File for Divorce In California

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divorce cases, social mediaDoes Facebook have a role in divorce cases? Many people believe Facebook to be simply a way to have fun, stay in touch with friends play games, and other light-hearted and harmless activities. However, Facebook has been playing an increasing role in divorce cases each year. A new study shows that Facebook is cited in approximately 33 percent of all divorce cases in the United States, which is an increase from results indicating 20 percent of divorce cases in 2009.

Cause for Divorce Cases?

Facebook has no doubt been a facilitator for meeting new romantic partners or for reuniting with past partners. If this happens to a married individual, online messaging may easily lead to in-person meetings, infidelity and, eventually, to divorce. However, researchers state that it is difficult to tell in how many cases Facebook is the true cause of divorce, since many people who may log on to social media more often or and be willing to stray likely have underlying issues in the marriage already.

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divorce depositionWhat is a divorce deposition? Just like each marriage is different, each divorce case is also different. Some divorces are uncontested with few major issues and with couples agreeing on a settlement relatively easily and efficiently. Other divorces may have complex family law issues, such as high asset property division, enforcement of a premarital agreement, child custody battles, alimony battles, and much more. More complicated cases will understandably require more time, energy, and legal tools to settle all of the necessary issues. One such legal tool that is used in some complex cases is the deposition.

What to Expect From a Divorce Deposition

A divorce deposition is a method of gathering answers to various questions in a legal case. A divorce deposition does not take place in a courtroom, but instead generally takes place in an attorney’s office or conference room. Both attorneys will be present, as well as a court reporter who takes down the transcript of all of the questions and answers. The individual being questioned may be a party to the divorce (i.e. one of the spouses) or an outside individual serving as a witness. While depositions may be more costly than other methods of obtaining answers, sometimes this is the best way to receive the thorough answers you need for the best outcome in your case.

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Child Support EnforcementChild Support Enforcement in California. When a judge officially finalizes your divorce—approving any settlement agreements, issuing orders for child support or spousal support, and legally dissolving your marriage—you may feel a sense of relief that your legal battles are over. Unfortunately, too many parents will find themselves back in court to address issues that arise regarding their agreements. One issue in particular that leads people back into the courtroom is child support enforcement.

Child support orders are based on specific formulas that take into consideration the respective incomes and expenses of both parents, as well as the basic needs of any children in question. For this reason, the majority of child support determinations in California are considered to be fair and to reflect the responsibilities of both parents to financially support their children. However, simply because a court issues an order—and even if that order is fair—does not mean that the parent ordered to pay child support is going to comply with the court order.

Because most parents rely on child support payments to cover the major expenses of raising one or more children, it can have a serious effect on your living standards if the other parent falls behind on payments. For this reason, many parents seek to legally enforce child support orders.

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Celebrity DivorcesCan my spouse stop our divorce? After a petition for dissolution of marriage is filed, spouses may argue over many issues before the divorce is finally granted by the California family court. Issues that may cause contention include property division, spousal support, and child custody. One issue that many people may not consider is whether the divorce should be finalized at all. One recent media story highlights what can happen when one spouse refuses to cooperate with the divorce at all.

Can Refusing to Sign the Papers Stop Our Divorce?

The Kardashian family has repeatedly been in the news for high-profile divorces. For example, mom Kris Jenner recently filed for divorce from longtime spouse and former professional tennis player Bruce Jenner. The most recent story arises from reports that professional basketball player Lamar Odom is refusing to sign divorce papers filed by daughter Khloe Kardashian approximately ten months ago.

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Going through a divorce and settling all related issues can be trying. Most people want to put the marriage and legal issues behind them once the divorce is finalized. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Frequently, a former spouse will return to court in the years following a divorce in order to revisit legal matters or raise new complaints. Each time you return to court can be costly, and acrimonious tendencies may arise again. It is always important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side, one who can help you get the outcome you deserve and make the process of returning to court easier amark sanfordnd less costly.

The Ongoing Case of U.S. Representative Mark Sanford

Mark Sanford is a member of the United States House of Representatives and a former governor of South Carolina. In 2009, Sanford disappeared unannounced for several days; his assistant claimed Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail. When he returned, Sanford admitted to having an affair with a woman in Argentina. Sanford’s wife, Jenny, subsequently filed for divorce. The divorce was granted and finalized in 2010.

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senior coupleA gray divorce may not have been on one’s bucket list, but as noted in a recent story by The New York Times, the divorce rate among those fifty years and older has doubled since 1990. These so-called “gray divorces” are expected to rise in the coming decades, with as many as 800,000 predicted to occur annually. In addition to the heartache and headache of ending a marriage, these divorcing couples face another problem: financial strains. Just as retirement was right around the bend, many recently divorced seniors find that their post-divorce retirement accounts are too small to provide for their twilight years.

Grey Divorce in California

According to California law, divorcing spouses are entitled to fifty percent of all community property assets. Community property is presumed to be any property acquired during the course of marriage. Such property may include the family home, the family business, bank accounts, vehicles, and many personal assets. Absent an agreement between divorcing spouses, a California court will divide these community property assets right down the middle.

Retirement Accounts as Community Property in California

What about pensions and other types of retirement accounts? In California, any interest in a pension, retirement, profit sharing, or other employee benefit plan acquired during marriage is considered part of the community property. Note that the value of these assets only include that portion accumulated during the marriage, and does not include contributions made before marriage or after separation.

Such investment accounts may include 401k plans, 403k plans, IRAs, military pensions, veteran’s educational benefits, ERISa funds, Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOPS), or the like. Note that Social Security payments, compensation for military injuries, or workers’ compensation disability awards are not considered community property.

Dividing Retirement Accounts During a Divorce

Divorcing spouses have two options when dividing retirement plans during a divorce: reservation of jurisdiction and a buy-out.

  • Reservation of jurisdiction – One option is for divorcing spouses to wait until the retirement funds are distributed to divide the assets. In short, when the employed spouse retires the other spouse receives a percentage of each pension check. The court will determine the percentage by dividing the number of years when the spouses were married by the total number of years that the employed spouse participated in the pension plan. Under this scheme, the court retains jurisdiction to ensure that retirement funds are properly distributed between divorced spouses. Under the Federal Retirement Equity Act of 1984, a court may prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), which requires an employer to follow the terms of the order when distributing retirement benefits. Preparation of a QDRO is an often expensive part of a divorce proceeding.
  • Buy-out – A second option for divorcing spouses is a buy-out. Under this scheme, a court will determine a present value of the pension fund (often by the use of an actuarial evaluation) for purposes of letting one divorcing spouse buy-out the other divorcing spouse’s interest. With a buy-out, the employed spouse will own the pension plan in its entirety and the other spouse will receive other community property assets of proportional value.

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Unhappy CoupleHow do I deal with a toxic ex-spouse? Some divorces are amicable. Some are not. You may be surprised to find that your divorce has turned your one-time sweetheart into a ball of angry, vengeful, spite. How do you deal with an ex-spouse who seems to go out of his or her way to make you miserable? Following are some tips.

Don’t fuel the fire For some ex-spouses, the practice of inflicting emotional harm on you is a game that they have to “win.” As such, they take each perceived slight, each harmful mistake you make, and throw it back at you with twice the fury. In this situation, it is often best to take the high road. Let your ex-spouse know that you will not play the game. When protecting yourself against a malicious ex, do not give them anything that can incite their rage or that can be used against you.

Protect your digital self – Many couples share information about their online selves with each other. This information often includes passwords, usernames, profile information, and the like. When your relationship goes south it is a good idea to change that information. Be sure your ex cannot have access to email accounts, private bank accounts, social media profiles, or other important online accounts associated with your name. The last thing you want is your toxic ex reading through your emails.

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Divorce is almost never an enjoyable proposition. Once a relationship gets to the point where one or more spouses want to end their marriage, odds are that they have already experienced years of problems. To make matters worse, the divorce itself can be expensive, combative, and emotionally draining. It is imperative that anyone contemplating a divorce find a highly competent divorce attorney to represent their interests and guide them through a difficult process.

ThinkerWhat to Look for in a Good Divorce Attorney

Here are some qualities you may want to look for when you search for a good divorce attorney:

1. Find an attorney with experience handling divorce cases: It is important to hire not only a family law attorney, but one who specifically handles divorces. Ask your potential attorney how many divorce cases he has handled, or what percentage of his (or his firm’s) hours are devoted to divorces. Even if you already retain an attorney for other personal matters (such as your finances), it is a good idea to find a different attorney to handle your divorce. This is especially true since your personal attorney may also represent your wife, and therefore would have a conflict of interest in relation to your divorce case.

2. If you have children with your spouse, find an attorney with experience in child custody disputesChild custody and visitation disputes tend to pop up during and after divorce proceedings. You will want to anticipate these conflicts and be prepared to present your side of the case forcefully. You probably want to see as much of your kids as you can, and a good attorney can help make that happen.

3. Ask your potential attorney how long the divorce proceedings will last: This will give you an idea of how long the process will take, so that you can plan accordingly. It will also help you discern how honest and competent your potential attorney is. It is important that you are aware of any deadlines and waiting periods that you can expect before you initiate the divorce.

4. Ask your potential attorney how much the divorce will cost you: This is another way to figure out if your attorney is a good choice or not. He should be able to give you a rough estimate of the total costs of the divorce, including court fees, attorney’s fees, and potential costs of mediation. This will also help you to plan financially for what lies ahead.

5. Talk with your potential attorney about what outcomes you can expect from the divorce: Your attorney should be able to give you a range of possible resolutions you can expect from your case. The more experience he has, and the more honest he is, the better he will be able to predict the outcome, allowing you to formulate a plan.

What to Do if You Are Planning to Get Divorced

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classroomIn 1994 Utah became the first state to require that divorcing couples complete a seminar before a court would finalize their divorce. Utah is known as one of the more conservative states in the country when it comes to traditional family values and back in 1994, requiring divorcing couples to attend a seminar was certainly in keeping with that image. According to an article in The New York Times, 48 states now offer some form of classes for divorcing couples. 27 of them require by statute that divorcing parents take the class, while others leave the decisions up to cities, counties, or individual judges.

Now, a Utah lawmaker is proposing a bill that would require couples to take at least part of the seminar earlier in the divorce process. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the rate of divorce among couples with children. The theory is that, if couples are counseled at an earlier date about divorce’s potential impact on their children, they will be more likely to reconsider and perhaps stay together. The bill, which is likely to pass, puts Utah back in the spotlight for an initiative that made it unique 20 years ago but which is commonplace today.

Divorcing Couples Classes Vary in Approach

The classes touch on a variety of subjects, and vary considerably from state to state. The Utah seminar lasts two hours and costs $55. Some states only mandate that parents attend a video session. Other classes feature roleplaying and information about how the divorce could affect the parents’ children. In general, the courses place a great amount of emphasis on protecting children and keeping them out of arguments. There is also some helpful advice about legal fees and finding divorce attorneys.

High Divorce Rates Are Concerning to Some Lawmakers

The Utah bill is not the only attempt by a state to address our country’s high divorce rate. Since California became the first state to allow no-fault divorces in 1969, divorce rates have generally been higher than many policymakers and commentators would like. There have been various attempts to decrease the divorce rate. A pending bill in Oklahoma would prolong the divorce waiting period to six months. In North Carolina, a similar bill would extend the waiting period to two years.

Utah’s divorce rate is slightly higher than the national average. It has decreased in recent years, as the marriage rate has also gone down. Opponents of the divorce seminar bill are skeptical that it would have any impact on the divorce rate. Even if the class were required at an earlier point in the process, once a couple starts taking positive steps toward divorce, it is very difficult to change their minds. More importantly, it is not clear that the state has any role or responsibility in discouraging divorce, and perhaps the resources used for these classes could be spent more effectively on other programs.

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