Articles Tagged with Santa Rosa divorce lawyer

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MarriageThere are no doubt people in this country who believe the institution of marriage is dead and should now be buried, that there is no longer a need or a use for marriage as it use to be described in our society.  Marriage has traditionally been the bulwark, the foundation upon which the family unit was built. Marriage vows were usually taken in a religious ceremony where the couples vowed their commitment to each other “until death.” That was until society “came of age” so to speak. To some it seems that marriage no longer takes the place of importance it use to have in our society. Whether you believe this to be a good thing or a bad thing, it is a reality.

Divorce is on the Rise

We now live in a society where people change their spouses often. It seems like it was an exception to talk to a person who has been married two, three, or four times. As in many jurisdictions, divorce in California has been made quite simple. California is a “no-fault” divorce state. Prior to the 1970s, in order to get a divorce in California, and many other jurisdictions, one spouse had to plead and prove that they were entitled to a divorce because of the actions or misdeeds of the other spouse. They had to prove that there were “grounds” for the divorce. One of those “grounds” would be infidelity (adultery) or cruelty.

Fast forward to today, when adultery within a marriage seems to some to be more of the norm instead of the exception. It appears to be as inevitable as “death and taxes.” Perhaps it is the result of the advances made by social media and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Perhaps it is as a result of the ease with which couples can get married and the ease with which they can get a divorce. Whatever the reason marriage vows are taken so lightly, it has had an acute effect on how society looks at the “institution” of marriage. Since there are no grounds to be proven in a divorce proceeding, evidence of adultery is no longer relevant.

Society used to view marriage as the first step in starting a family. Today, you can start a family, including having children without a marriage. Couples seem to be in agreement that marriage is archaic in the sense that no one marries anymore and if they do get married, they do not stay married for very long.

Marriage, Commitment, and a Safe Place to Raise a Family

There are some good things about a family unit that are missing from today’s view on marriage and relationships, and that is “commitment” to the family unit. Humans are gregarious by nature. Families that commit to the well-being of each other are important for the advancement of our species. With that said, it is important to choose your life partner carefully. However, when you make a misstep and find yourself in a relationship that is not conducive to the making of a strong family unit, divorce is the best option.

When Divorce is the Best and Only Option

The family unit cannot always withstand the onslaught of infidelity and cruelty from either spouse, especially when children are involved. Sometimes, the protection of the family unit requires that a “cancerous” portion of that unit be incised so that the family can be restored to a productive and committed whole. Divorce then becomes the process by which this is done. Continue reading →

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The new trend of “conscious uncoupling”. When actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced her split from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin this past spring, the term “conscious uncoupling” came onto the radar of many Americans. Instead of getting divorced, Paltroconscious uncoupling - Gwyneth Paltroww claimed that she and Martin would continue living together and co-parenting their two children; however the two were consciously uncoupling and were ending their marriage. Since then, media has covered other couples who opted to take this less traditional separation path by deciding to continue living together and raising their kids, but to no longer be romantic partners. One San Francisco couple even held an uncoupling ceremony in front of family and friends, during which they gave back their wedding rings but then returned to the home they still share together.

Conscious Uncoupling

This new trend of separating has led many people to wonder about the legal effects of uncoupling. First, holding an uncoupling ceremony or announcing that you are uncoupling does not, in any way, legally end your marriage. If you were properly married with a valid marriage license and ceremony, your marriage will continue to exist until a California family court officially grants dissolution of your marriage.

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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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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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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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MediationDivorce mediation is a way for many divorcing couples to avoid the high costs and acrimony of in-court divorce proceedings. For these divorcing spouses, mediation offers an option that may resolve issues relating to your divorce in a manner that saves money and allows an end to the marriage on better terms than a court battle. For those individuals who choose this form of alternative dispute resolution, following are several tips for a successful mediation.

  • Understand the divorce mediation process and the role of the mediator Mediation is different than a court proceeding. Mediation is not about apportioning fault or blame. The goal of mediation is for all parties to reach an agreement with which everyone is satisfied. Understand that mediators follow different styles of mediation, such as facilitative mediation, evaluative mediation, and transformative mediation. Be sure to select a mediator who follows the style of mediation that will best help to resolve issues surrounding your divorce.
  • Give some thought to what is negotiable and what is not – Although it is important to enter a mediation with a flexible outlook, you should take some time beforehand to decide those issues that are negotiable and those that are not. You do not want to walk away from a mediation feeling that you have lost or that you bargained away something vital because you undervalued its importance at the time.
  • Know the mediation is an opportunity to think creatively – A court proceeding has a limited number of outcomes. Mediation is different. Parties in a mediation can introduce any number of solutions that a court would never consider. This is one of the primary benefits of mediation. Parties can discuss and decide a host of important issues related to a divorce that would never be resolved in court. Your mediation may be more successful if you recognize this benefit and approach it with a creative mindset.
  • Gather important documents and bring them to the mediation – Although the role of mediation is not to convince the mediator of the validity of your position (like you would a judge), it will be easier to negotiate with your ex-spouse if you have hard numbers and evidence. Be sure to gather financial information, such as bank accounts, savings accounts, retirement funds, stocks, or the like. Be sure to have documents related to important assets, such as real estate, vehicles, businesses, etc. Identify documents that outline the type and value of any debts held by you and/or your divorcing spouse.
  • Decide whether your attorney will be present – It is important to remember that a divorce has legal ramifications. Any agreement you reach with your divorcing spouse will affect your rights and responsibilities going forward. Decide whether you would like your attorney present during the mediation. If other parties are bringing their attorneys it is wise to do the same. If you do not have an attorney present, it may be wise to wait before signing any agreement to give your attorney time to review and provide feedback.

Getting Legal Help in Northern California

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