Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

How Can You Prepare For Divorce

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How can you prepare when divorce seems imminent? Since divorce is not only a dissolution of a marriage but a splitting of finances and assets and potentially a custodial battle for children, it’s helpful to plan your steps well ahead of making a move to end your union. Here are five steps you can take now to assure the smoothest outcome in your divorce proceedings.

How to be mentally prepared for divorce

The best way to prepare mentally for divorce is to accept that it is happening. If all other efforts to make your marriage work have failed, understand that while you may not want this to happen and it may not feel right, this is your predicament. Start to seek out emotional help from friends, a support group, and a therapist. Do not resort to confiding in or talking badly about your spouse to your children or on social media.

How to be financially prepared for divorce

As soon as it becomes clear that things are heading south, start getting copies of your family’s financial documents, including you and your spouse’s paycheck stubs, tax filings, bank statements, receipts for purchases, and records of expenses and debts that will need to be provided to your lawyer.  Prepare to amend wills and beneficiary designations on insurance policies to make sure that your spouse is no longer named in these. Open a separate bank account, remove your spouse’s name from credit cards and start saving money.

It is a good time to start budgeting for your life without your partner and to pay down debt while there are still two incomes. Cutting expenses and increasing income will need to become a priority. The sooner you replace your spouse’s income, the smoother your transition.

How to prepare for divorce when you have children

A big concern for those who are divorcing with children is who will get custody. To support your position on the matter, be sure to document who is involved in the daily care of your children. Obtain school logs to show who is involved in picking up the children, parent-teacher meetings and extracurricular activities. Since many parents are granted custody based on who is physically present in the home with the children, it may be advisable not to move out. In the case of any danger to the children, be sure to get police reports of past incidents or other records to establish any risk to their safety.

How to get the right divorce help

There is ample divorce help available to prepare you for what is to come. Divorcée Helen Thabile states, “I researched the laws in my state, checked out the online resources that the local court offered, then I hired a lawyer.” Start by establishing which state where you will file your divorce, as your state of residency may not have jurisdiction over your marriage. There are also instances where another state has better divorce laws.

Research lawyers, seek out recommendations from friends and family, and consult few of divorce attorneys to get a feel for who will be right for you. Some consider a mediator if things are likely to be amicable. Once you’ve retained a lawyer, be sure to be organized, provide them what they need before deadlines and be proactive.

What happens after the divorce is filed?

After the divorce is filed, make sure you follow the direction of your lawyer and the courts to assure things are done thoroughly and in a timely manner. Make sure the emotional, physical and financial well-being of you and any children are cared for during this time. Most of all, plan for your future so you can anticipate great things moving forward.

Nobody looks forward to going through the divorce process. If you need help as you prepare for the dissolution of your marriage, reach out to us today. Our divorce attorneys at the Thomas Hogan Law Office Modesto can assist you.

My Spouse has Just Filed for Bankruptcy in the Middle of Our Divorce Case. What Do I Do Now?

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Living in California is expensive, and divorce can be even more so when bankruptcy is involved. A divorce can trigger a bankruptcy filing for a multitude of reasons, and it quite often turns into a supreme mess. There is no clear winner ad loser in a divorce case, so all parties should try to achieve a compromise and reach a fair property settlement agreement. In many cases, a bankruptcy can help out both spouses if they joint file.
If an ex-spouse files for bankruptcy, the family court can still hear testimony and decided issues relating to support. However, the court requires stay relief for equitable distribution, which involves the bankruptcy court permitting the divorce case to continue. Basically, the family court won’t split up the family home, divide pensions, or apportion any stocks or mutual funds until it receives permission from the bankruptcy court.

Date of Separation in California Divorces: What date do I put and why does it matter?

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Parties who are filing or responding to a petition for dissolution of marriage will quickly come across a section for them to state their “date of separation” on the court’s pleading forms.  The question for almost all parties then immediately becomes, when did we separate? And why does the court need to know?  Why does this matter?

Why does date of separation matter?

The date of separation is important in California divorces for two main reasons:

  1. Property Division:  California law provides that generally property which is acquired by either spouse after the date of separation is the separate property of that spouse, which is 100% theirs.  This can include salaries, real property, personal property, accumulation of retirement benefits, as well as other property items.  While there are major complications which can arise in determining whether an item was received fully from a party’s separate property, in general the date of separation can have a significant impact on how the parties’ property is divided.
  2. Spousal Support: One of the biggest factors that the court considers in setting the duration and amount of spousal support is the length of the parties’ marriage.  Generally, the longer the parties are married the longer the spousal support will last (and potentially the higher it will be).  So, a choice between two different dates of separation can have a major impact on the support rights and obligations of the parties.

How does the court determine our date of separation?

Determining the exact dates that parties did in fact separate is a question that has perplexed the courts throughout the years and has led to inconsistent decisions.  For some parties there is no dispute and the separation is clear.  For example, if a husband and wife decide to live in separate residences on January 1st and the husband moves out that same day to his own apartment with the wife staying the marital home, January 1st is their separation date.  For other couples with multiple move-ins and move-outs, ongoing financial ties, and other ongoing joint activities the question of a date of separation can be even more complicated.  A third common category of couples may live under the same roof but separate their finances, schedules, and activities and live together as “roommates”.   What is the court looking for in deciding when the parties separated?  Is it about parties emotional connection? Physical intimacy?  Their living situation?

In 2015 the California Supreme Court weighed in on the issue of the parties’ date of separation for the first time.  In the case In Re Marriage of Davis the Supreme Court established that for parties to be separated they must be living in separate residences.  In essence, parties are not separated until they no longer live under the same roof.  However, the court also recognized the reality that parties may live in the same household and still be separated in certain exceptional circumstances, but did not elaborate on what those circumstances could be.   This caveat, buried in a footnote in the court’s opinion, leaves the door open for this rule to change in the future.  As it stands now though, parties must first and foremost be living in separate residences to establish their separation.

Other older cases make clear that parties can still be married (unseparated) even though they do not live in the same residence.  In essence it is not enough for the parties to live in different residences; the parties’ conduct and the circumstances of their marriage may refute a finding that they are separated.  The best example of this comes from the case Marriage of Baragry, where the husband lived with his girlfriend/employee in his own apartment, but often went home to his wife and children to enjoy her home cooked meals, have her do his laundry, and otherwise maintained ongoing ties with his wife while living with his girlfriend.  The court refused to allow the husband to claim that they separated when he first moved out in light of the benefits husband continued to receive due to his ongoing relationship with his wife, even though he didn’t actually “live” there.  Essentially, the court will not allow parties to have it both ways.

The cases on date of separation are complicated and at times contradictory.  As discussed above, this issue can be critical and can have a substantial impact on the rights of the parties.  If you have questions about the date of separation in your case and the best approach to take, it is important that you contact one of our attorneys to guide you through this process.

Can the court include income of my new spouse in calculating child support?

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The fundamental purpose of child support in California is to ensure that the needs of children are provided for.  Under California law each parent has an obligation to financially support their children (Family Code §4053(b)).  Practically, the state has adopted a uniform guideline formula to calculate the amount of support that should be paid keeping in mind each parent’s obligation to support their child.  Simply speaking, the guideline formula calculates support based upon each parent’s income and the amount of time each parent has with her child.

To ensure that a child is supported, in the appropriate case the court may count a new spouse’s income in calculating support.  However, under the law a new spouses’ income should not be considered except in an extraordinary case (Family Code §4057.5(a)(1)).  The family code lists examples of these extraordinary cases, including when a parent “voluntarily or intentionally quits work or reduces income” or when a parent “intentionally remains unemployed or underemployed and relies on a subsequent spouse’s income” (Family Code §4057.5(b)).  The law recognizes that in this case it is appropriate to use a new spouse’s income to calculate support so that the entire burden for supporting a child does not fall on the parent who is still working.  (Marriage of Paulin (1996) 46 Cal.App.4th 1378, 1384, fn. 5).

It is important that if you are facing these issues that you contact an experienced family law attorney to ensure that child support is set in an amount that is fair and proper.