Articles Tagged with divorce

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pet custodyPet custody in a divorce was not unlike the all too familiar division of property, splitting up the furniture and deciding who gets the car. For some couples, things got significantly more challenging when it came to deciding what happens to the family pets. If you are besieged with this issue, a local divorce attorney can help.

Pet Custody Previous to This Law

In the past, pets have been considered property, to be given to one party in exchange for something of equivalent value. That has been markedly dissatisfying to many divorcing couples as well as to attorneys and judges who have witnessed the emotional strings that are attached to many animals who are truly considered part of the family. One attorney noted that clients have spent thousands of dollars trying to secure a beloved pet, with one woman spending more than $30,000 in a legal battle for custody. The fact of the matter is, judges have struggled with making the right decision in these circumstances, as well.

Methods to Determine Pet Custody

Some of the strategies used in court illuminate just how difficult this decision can be. Some of the ways judges have approached the decision include:

  • Putting the pet in between the divorcing spouses to see which person the pet prefers;
  • If there are two pets, splitting them up and giving one to each partner;
  • Assigning custody arrangements by alternating weeks or months;
  • One person is assigned custody, and the other is given visitation privileges;

Pet Custody and Impacts on the Pet

Divorce can be very stressful, and not just for the humans involved. Animal advocates point out that significant changes can take a toll on any pet’s well-being, leading to depression and other signs of anxiety, including:

  • Excessive sleeping;
  • Declining appetite;
  • No interest in the usual daily activities, like taking walks;
  • Unusual whimpers or cries;
  • Having accidents indoors;
  • Unusual grooming, licking, or self-biting.

AB 2274

Assembly Bill 2274, recently signed into law, takes more factors into account than previous law, which viewed the pet based on its financial value. Now, the animal’s well being, as well as issues related to the care of the animal, will be weighed. Is the animal bonded to children? If so, it may go where the kids go. Are there multiple pets in the home? Are they bonded to one another? What would the impact of splitting them up be?  Who was responsible for the feeding, grooming, and general care of the pet? Who took the animal to the vet? Who has the financial and time resources to provide continued care for the pet? All of these factors may be considered as the pet’s ultimate location is determined. Continue reading →

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grounds for divorceWhat are the legal grounds for divorce in California? Not every marriage results in the happily ever after that couples so hoped of achieving. In fact, the current divorce rate in this  country sits at somewhere between 40 and 50%. What we know about divorce—the causes, and the challenges, may not surprise most married people.

Psychological Tasks

Psychologists say that marriages that fail typically have one or both partners who simply have not succeeded with certain essential psychological tasks:

  • Shifting one’s emotional identity from the family they grew up in to their new family;
  • Building an intimate couple identity, while keeping autonomous boundaries alive to protect individual identity, as well;
  • Protecting the sexual relationship from family or workplace intrusions;
  • Sharing in parenting roles, while protecting the private adult relationship;
  • Teaming up together to confront challenges;
  • Laughing together to keep things in perspective;
  • Being available to comfort one another; nurturing one’s partner through good times and bad;
  • Keeping romance alive, despite the harsh realities of life.

Grounds for Divorce in California

Failing to build a psychologically tight knit union can ultimately be disastrous.  So what are the legal grounds for divorce in California?

One less commonly used ground for divorce is incurable insanity. More often, however, because California is a no-fault divorce state, one partner simply claims that there are irreconcilable differences that caused the breakdown of the marriage. That can cover pretty much any reason you can come up with. Most divorce attorneys have heard some pretty interesting stories…

Grounds for Divorce – Believe it or Not…

Clearly, a strong psychological foundation creates the basis for a hardy and healthy relationship. When couples fail to build a life together, marriages tend to eventually crack and fall apart.  Consider these unusual stories:

  • The grounds for divorce for one California woman was that when, after 22 years of marriage she discovered that her husband had voted for the current president of the United States. She felt the vote was a betrayal, which opened areas of dissention they had never before faced.
  • Following 25 years of marriage, another woman in California attempted to make a clean break from what her husband had believed to be a happy relationship. It turns out that, unbeknownst to him, the woman had won over $1 million in the California lotto.  Thinking she’d struck it rich, she hoped to skip out on the marriage and live happily ever after with the cash. Not so fast, said the Los Angeles judge over the case. After discovering that she had failed to disclose all of her assets, the judge gave all of her winnings the man she had hoped to deceive. Her ex-husband wound up without his sneaky wife, but with her secret cache of lottery winnings.

Continue reading →

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parental alienationWhen a divorce gets particularly bitter, parents sometimes resort to parental alienation, using the children as pawns throughout the process. Kids wind up fiercely loyal to one parent, while rejecting the other, all with the encouragement and support of the favored parent. While the nasty feelings between adults may be justified, when children are pulled into the drama in order to boost a parent’s ego or to hurt a former spouse, it can be horrendous. What are the implications of this type of manipulation over time?

Parental Alienation

Psychiatrists report that parental alienation (PA) leads to serious pain for children of divorce. After all, when children are forced to pick sides in a divorce, they necessarily must choose which of two beloved parents to adore and which to cast off. This can lead to problems for children, including:

  • Depression and lowered self-image;
  • Inability to form trusting relationships;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Self-loathing.

Detecting Parental Alienation

When PA becomes part of a child’s life, judgments become black and white. One parent is all-wonderful, the other is a complete ogre. There are no nuances, no benefit of the doubt for the targeted parent. Every word and action is immediately judged in the most negative of contexts, giving that parent no credit for any attempts at establishing a positive relationship. Researchers point to eight symptoms of PA:

  • Targeted denigration of one parent;
  • A child’s clear preference for one parent over the other;
  • Flippant justifications of a child’s disparagements of the targeted parent;
  • A child’s sense of responsibility to protect and/or defend the favored parent;
  • A child’s apparent guilt-free judgment or ill-treatment of the targeted parent;
  • Animosity toward the targeted parent that is adopted by the child’s family and/or friends;

Many of the children in these situations truly believe that their attitudes were formed objectively without the influence of the favored parent. This is referred to as the independent thinker phenomenon, and is symptomatic of the systematic brainwashing efforts of the preferred parent.

Strategies Parents Use to Create Parental Alienation

Researchers note a number of things parents do to create this vicious animosity, including:

  • Undermining the authority of the other parent;
  • Asking the child to “spy” and report on the other parent;
  • Applying unkind or cruel labels to the other parent;
  • Making comparisons between oneself and the other parent that puts the target parent in a negative light.

Long Term Effects

Parents who work to turn children against another parent often achieve their goal of creating heartbreak for the alienated parent. In addition to that, they cause horrific suffering for their children. These problems can last for many years after the divorce. Continue reading →

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hidden assetsNeed help finding hidden assets? If you are considering, or midway through a divorce, there is the possibility that your spouse would like to hang on to more than his or her fair share of the marital assets. In some cases, there may have been a secret cache throughout the entire marriage, while in other situations, a hasty burial of resources may be underway.  In any case, the only way to get a fair shake is to uncover whatever it is that your spouse would like to hide. An experienced local divorce attorney could be key to success in that department.

Finding Hidden Assets – What Should You Look for?

All kinds of assets could be hidden. Among the most common are:

  • Stocks;
  • Cash;
  • Mutual funds;
  • Insurance policy cash value;
  • Bonds;
  • Gun collections;
  • Artwork and antiques;
  • Other undervalued property.

How and Where to Look

How does one go about finding hidden assets? Those experienced in the matter have several ideas. It is essential to request documentation relating to all financial accounts and records when your divorce is in the discovery phase.

  • Start with tax returns. Since most people do what they can to avoid the ire of the IRS, you might find indications of resources you had no idea about previously. Going back through documents for a minimum of five years should reveal inconsistencies that could be important.
  • Checking accounts could reveal surprises like investment properties or other income-generating enterprises.  
  • Records from savings accounts may point you toward closeted assets that your spouse would like to keep mum about. Look for unusual deposits and/or withdrawals.
  • Look into courthouse documents, where loan applications can be found. It is important to take a peek at such applications because assets and value estimations will be there.
  • The county tax assessor will have records related to land or home purchases.
  • New purchases for artwork, antiques, vehicles, and so forth might be a prime place to hide assets, as your spouse undervalues such items.
  • Custodial accounts are a prime place to place money under a child’s social security number.
  • Investments with unreportable interest, such as certain bonds, are easy to hide because many spouses are unaware of their existence.
  • Find out if your spouse’s employer is delaying a bonus, stock option, or other benefit in order to protect it from you.
  • Assets might also be hidden with other friends or family, so looking into those relationships might be worthwhile.

Continue reading →

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Financial Impact of DivorceThe emotional and logistical implications of divorce are unquestionably hefty issues of concern whenever a couple parts ways. Equally stressful can be the financial impact of divorce. Knowing the financial facts and understanding financial obligations is central to a fair negotiation in divorce court. Sharing the facts with an experienced Santa Rosa divorce attorney can ensure a minimum of disruption to your fiscal situation.

Property and Debt – Financial Impact of Divorce

California is a community property state. That means that anything, including property, assets, and debts, that has been acquired over the course of the marriage is jointly owned, and must be equally divided in the course of a divorce. Excepted from the equal split are those things obtained prior to the marriage, after a permanent separation, or through inheritance or gift.  Determining the characterization of property or debt during a divorce depends on three factors:

  • Where did it originate?
  • Was the character of the item changed in any way by either of the divorcing parties?
  • Are any applicable statutory presumptions applicable?

When it comes to debt, it is critical that you are aware of all debt that has been incurred over the course of the marriage. Ordering a credit report is a good way to see exactly what is owed and to whom. Financial advisors recommend trying to pay off any existing debt, if possible, and to refrain from growing the debt. Canceling credit cards is not a bad idea.

When deliberating as to the property and debt sharing, one partner may agree to take on a bill in exchange for a greater share of the assets.

Financial Impact of Divorce – Tax Deliberations

Taxes can add or reduce your net worth by thousands of dollars, so it is important to weigh the options carefully. Issues to consider include:

  • Dependent exemptions for minor children;
  • Head of Household claims;
  • Deductions for attorney’s fees;
  • Rules for deducting maintenance payments;
  • Rules regarding child-support.

Retirement Savings – Financial Impact of Divorce

Generally speaking, retirement plans are to be shared by both spouses. It is important to familiarize yourself with penalties for early withdrawal. Beyond that, your financial comfort in later years may be at risk if continuing contributions are not made. Putting together a plan for your silver years is as important as the asset division at the time of the divorce. Continue reading →

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california divorceMost people cannot imagine that the joy and expectation they experience on their wedding day will one day turn into a dismal California divorce proceedings. Nevertheless, 50% of marriages nationwide, and 60% of marriages in California wind up in divorce court. If you find yourself looking at divorce, a local attorney can help you through the process. Meanwhile, you probably have all kinds of questions swirling around in your head:

What are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

Legal separation is an option sometimes chosen for couples who have certain key concerns about divorce, such as

  • Religious objections to divorce;
  • Concerns about obtaining health insurance coverage in the event of a divorce.

A legal separation allows couples to address issues relating to the division of assets and debt, child custody, support, and visitation, and so forth, but does not officially terminate the marriage.

What Grounds for California Divorce are Allowed?

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that grounds for divorce are generally irreconcilable differences.

California Divorce Residency Requirements

In order to get a California divorce, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for six months and a resident of the county in which your are filing for three months prior to filing.

How can I Protect Myself From Financial Ruin at the Hands of an Angry Spouse?

The court expects parties in a divorce to manage financial matters and property considerations properly. When divorce proceedings are initiated, the court will issue ATROs, which are legal prohibitions on certain activities related to financial and parenting matters. Included in the list of banned activities are the following:

  • Removing minor children from the state without written permission from the other parent or obtaining a court order;
  • Altering insurance provisions, including cancelling policies, cashing in policies, borrowing against policies, or changing beneficiaries;
  • Selling or transferring assets or using shared assets to secure a loan;
  • Concealing assets from the court.

What About My Inheritance?  Is My Spouse Entitled to a Share?

Generally speaking, gifts and inheritance are considered separate property, just like property obtained prior to the marriage. The exception, of course, would be when the inheritance was directed to both parties, or when prior understandings have been drafted that put the inheritance into question.

How Long Will a California Divorce Take?

As soon as the California divorce petition is served, the time clock begins. You can count on an uncontested divorce taking six months and one day from that point. Even though the divorce may not be finalized before this timeframe, the legal proceedings may be concluded much sooner. However, in the case of a contested divorce, the battle may proceed for months or even years beyond the mandatory six months. Continue reading →

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grey divorceThe grey divorce rate for Americans has been on the rise in recent decades. As couples get older, there may be unique concerns if they decide to part ways. In addition to the usual financial and property division issues, health problems, promises to adult children and/or stepchildren, and retirement income are all of special significance.

Grey Divorce Rates for Americans

Grey divorce rates. While 10% of couples over age 50 divorced in 1990, 25% were divorcing in 2010. For couples in second and third marriages, the rates are even higher. Experts say there are two key reasons for this increase in gray divorce:

  • Changing attitudes about gender roles, dating, and divorce;
  • Empty nesting and other life changes that jolt couples into looking at their satisfaction in the relationship.

When divorce does become the road of choice for greying couples, what are the specific issues that must be considered?

Grey Divorce – When Competency is an Issue

If one party is found to be incompetent, several things might be necessary:

  • The medical findings must be verified by a doctor by examining medical records;
  • A guardian ad litem (GAL) may be appointed to represent the interests of the individual;
  • Third parties including adult children and financial experts may be consulted;
  • Issues regarding long-term care may need to be addressed;
  • Estate planning and promises made to family members (such as responsibilities for weddings and/or college) must be tackled;
  • The possibility of one spouse dying before the divorce is completed may need to be considered.

Long-Term Care Requirements in a Grey Divorce

In some cases, one or both partners may require long-term care to assist with physical and/or mental deficiencies. This can be costly:

  • On average out-of-home care runs nearly $9,000 annually;
  • When it comes to nursing home care, a semi-private room averages nearly $75,000 per year, while a private room averages well over $80,000 annually;
  • Home health care averages over $20 per hour;
  • Living in an assisted living facility can cost roughly $40,000 annually.

Estate Planning

Couples should also take a look at estate planning documents that may have been drafted in previous years. If one spouse dies during the course of the divorce, the other will inherit the entire estate. Another concern centers around power of attorney. Most divorcing couples would not want their former spouse making end-of-life decisions on their behalf. Beneficiary designations may also be worth taking another look, especially with regard to children and/or stepchildren.

Retirement Income

Because California is a community property state, retirement income may have to be equally divided. Decisions as to when and how to disperse these funds will have to be made. This includes looking at social security income.

Insurance Concerns

One party may no longer be eligible for the other’s health insurance following a divorce. How will this be addressed in the divorce settlement? Continue reading →

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divorce ratesThere are many studies examining the factors impacting divorce rates. Researchers can tell you, for example, that you age at the time of marriage, location, and even your parents’ marriage can all impact your chances of divorce. They can tell you that couples with lower incomes have higher divorce rates than those with more money. So, how do those facts relate to education levels and specific professions? Not surprisingly, jobs that require no education beyond a high school diploma correlate to more than double the divorce rate as jobs that require at least a four-year degree. So which jobs are connected to the highest and lowest divorce rates?

High Divorce Rates

The profession linked to the highest divorce rate is gaming managers, with a rate of nearly 53%, closely followed by bartenders and flight attendants. Other occupations in the top 10 include employees in the gaming field, machine workers, switchboard operators, telemarketers, and textile workers. The median salary for most of these occupations is right around $35,000. Let’s contrast that with the median income of professions least likely to experience divorce.

Low Divorce Rates

The profession with the lowest divorce rate is actuaries. They divorce at a rate of just 17%.  Divorcing at a rate of nearly 19 % are scientists, followed by clergy at nearly 20%. Included on the list of professions with the lowest divorce rates are software developers, physical therapists, optometrists, chemical engineers, and doctors, who wrap up the top-10 most marriage-friendly professions with a divorce rate of 21.8%. The median income for these professions is $75,000.

What Does it Mean?

What conclusions can be drawn from this information? Should singles who hope to marry avoid bartenders and aim instead for insurance actuaries? Surely your chosen profession cannot be a direct cause for divorce, can it? Researchers are quick to point out that while a correlation between particular occupations and divorce rates is unquestionable, there is absolutely no research proving that a given profession causes divorce. Interestingly, the nature of the occupation seems to be less of a factor than the actual income associated with it.

Other Divorce Rates Factors of Note

Another fact that stood out in the research links job instability to divorce. When workers face lay-offs, or shrinking opportunity, it can lead to increased credit card debt, higher health care costs, and all of the associated stresses of financial insecurity. The compounding emotional costs can be onerous. Continue reading →

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infidelityThe infidelity statistics in this country are astounding. If you are married to someone who does not know the meaning of fidelity, you are not alone. If you are married to a serial cheater, you have probably considered divorce. Should you get to the point that the relationship is just not worth it anymore, an experienced divorce attorney can help.

Infidelity by the Numbers

More people surveyed reported infidelity than many of us would imagine. Consider the 2017 statistics:

  • One or both partners report to infidelity in over 30% of marriages;
  • Nearly ¼ of men admit to infidelity;
  • Women confess to cheating at a rate of 14%;
  • More than one-third of cheaters say the affair was with someone at work;
  • Almost one-fifth of cheaters say it happened with an in-law;
  • Over one-third of cheating occurs on business trips;
  • One in 10 affairs start with an online experience;
  • Women report revenge as a motive for affairs 14% of the time.
  • After cheating once, cheaters are 350% more likely to indulge again than those who have never cheated;
  • Affairs most often occur two years into a marriage.

How to Get Out of the Marriage

Experts have several suggestions as to how to proceed once you have made up your mind to leave your cheating spouse. Consider the following:

  • Make a confidential appointment with a divorce attorney, and keep it to yourself. If your spouse suspects that you are considering divorce, it may prompt some scurrying to hide evidence of the affair or of assets. Keep your plans close to the vest.
  • Do not fool yourself into believing your spouse will be fair and rational in this process. Protect yourself, your assets, your children, and everything else. Assume the worst. It will will be much better to be pleasantly surprised than to be devastatingly betrayed.
  • Move your half of any liquid assets into your own private account. California is a community property state, meaning that you are entitled to your half. Cheaters generally have secret money hidden somewhere, so do some sleuthing or hire someone to do it for you.
  • Do not allow yourself to be manipulated. If you have decided to split, you have some good reasons, right? There is no point in complaining about how hurt you are and giving your spouse the chance to make promises that will not be kept. Your spouse does not care about you, clearly.  Do not present any opportunities for your soon-to-be ex to exploit any feelings you may have.
  • Believe in yourself and stay focused on getting the life you deserve. You did not come to this decision easily, did you? Things will be tough, but never forget that you deserve a satisfying life. Fight for it.

Continue reading →

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legal separationIf your marriage just is not working, perhaps it has crossed your mind for your and your spouse to take a break from one another. Many couples feel unease about the finality of a complete split and opt for a legal separation in lieu of a divorce. Knowledge about the process and legalities of legal separation can help couples to make informed, well-reasoned decisions.

What is a Legal Separation?

The truth is, a legal separation gives couples the chance to divide their assets and debts and live separate lives if they choose, without completely terminating the marriage. The process is similar to that of divorce, with one person filing for the separation, and the other responding. Assets must be declared, custody arrangements must be made if minor children are involved, and support payments must be agreed upon. Ultimately, the couple becomes two separate entities, while retaining their legal marital status.

Some Legal Terminology to Know

Those entering such an agreement may be unfamiliar with some key terminology that will be applicable to their circumstances:

  • Date of Separation: This is the date that reflects the intent of the couple to separate, and is the date around which community property determinations are made. Any assets and debts accrued before this date will be split evenly between the parties, whereas anything attained after this day will belong to the individual who acquired it.
  • Judgment of Legal Separation: This is a document addressing the agreements upon the attainment of legal separation. It includes financial matters, custody issues, and support arrangements.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Legal Separation?

There is no waiting period for a legal separation to go into effect, assuming both parties agree to the stipulations in the Judgment of Legal Separation, nor are there residency requirements associated with legal separation in California. Once that document is signed, the final Judgment may be entered and the separation is legit. So, as soon as the paperwork is complete, couples can become legally separated.

Benefits

Couples have many reasons to consider legal separation rather than severing the marriage altogether. Some common factors include:

  • Indecision as to the desired outcomes;
  • Health insurance issues;
  • Immigration concerns;
  • Religious beliefs forbidding divorce.

Tax Implications

Your marital status is important to consider as you file with the IRS. You are allowed to file as Single, and may claim Head of Household if you keep a household for a minor child. Likewise, you could choose to file as Married, or as Married filing separately. Continue reading →

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