Family Law Blog

Marriage Versus Domestic Partnership - The Legal Advantages of Both

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It wasn't so long ago that people only knew about domestic partnerships as a way to give same-sex couples basic legal and economic protection. However, now that marriage is legal for everyone, that doesn't mean the domestic partnership has gone away. In some states, the title is open to any couples that cohabitate together while other states stimulate that the couple must be above the age of 62.

So if marriage is legal, why just remain in a domestic partnership? Well, not everyone believes in marriage and often it is a lot more work, from both a legal and emotional standpoint. There are many employers that still extend benefits to domestic partners and this partnership gives them other legal rights, like the ability to make medical decisions. Another benefit of domestic partnerships is that they are much easier to dissolve than a marriage.

Unfortunately, marriage has its perks as well. In domestic partnerships, you still have to file taxes separately and you aren't entitled to your partner's Social Security benefits. The most unfortunate part is the transfer of assets and inheritance between partners is that they are still taxable.

Marriage is a longer commitment, but a domestic partnership is still a great way for couples to create bonds, like sharing health insurance. While it lacks many of the benefits of marriage, it is easier to go into and get out of, sort of like a marriage-lite.

If you are considering a domestic partnership or are considering whether marriage is right for you, contact us today. We can help you go through all the benefits and disadvantages of a domestic partnership to make sure it is right for you and your family.

Three Tips to Help Your Children Through Divorce

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Divorce can be devastating on anyone. Bring young children into the mix and it becomes even harder. Parents often stay together for their children but it is not always the best thing. Even though your children are going to be hurt, divorce may be the right decision and life will get better.

Here are some tips to help your children through divorce.

The best thing that you can do for your children is learn to get along. 

Even though the marriage is ending, your family is not. You are going to have to spend countless holidays, special events, and even smaller events such as sports games together. The sooner that you are able to put your feelings aside and be friendly, the better off everyone will be.

Throughout the whole process, talk to your children about their feelings. 

Acknowledge their feelings and let your children know that what they are feeling is normal. Listen to them (over and over again) as they talk through their feelings.

Make sure that both of you are there for your children in the early stage (and throughout the rest of their lives). 

Your children need to know that they can count on you and their other parent, no matter what they need. There are going to be times when you can help and other times when they will need your ex. Don’t disappear from your children’s lives even for a short period during the divorce. Your children need you every step of the way!

Divorce can be awful for children but, the sooner you can get along for the children, the better off your new family will be. You also need to make sure that you are there for your children every step of the way. Though some parents feel like they should step away while their children adjust, there are going to be times when your children needs one of you more than the other. You can’t take that away from them!

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

Three Tips To Tell Your Children About Your Divorce

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Telling your children that you are getting divorced may be the hardest part of the whole process. No parent wants to turn their children’s lives upside down. However, the sooner that you tell them, the better off they will be.

Here are some tips on how to tell your children that you are getting a divorce.

  • Pick the right time to talk to them. Life is very busy and it can be hard to find time to talk to your children about divorce. However, you shouldn’t bring it up when they are rushing to school or you are trying to put them to bed. Find a time when you have an hour or two to really talk about it before bringing it up.
  • Have a plan. It is important that you have a plan in place before you tell the children. It helps to know who is moving out and where they are going. It is even better if you can have some sort of custody arrangement figured out prior to telling them. This helps you to answer any questions that they may have.
  • Present a united front. Telling the children shouldn’t be one parent’s job. Instead, you should both sit down with the children and discuss the divorce. Try not to use this time to place blame. Instead, discuss the situation and what they can expect. Answer their questions the best that you can.   

It can be really hard to tell your children that their lives are going to change. However, if you already have a plan, it is much easier to tell your children what they can expect going forward. It will be easier to answer their questions and settle their minds if you know what is going to happen.

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

What Happens if Your Spouse Doesn't Show Up For A Divorce Hearing?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

You have filed for a divorce and the day of the hearing has come. You are sitting in court, in front of a judge, and you wait. Your spouse hasn't shown up, and they don't show up. What then? Fear, guilt, apathy, depression, or spite may be keeping them away, but skipping court is never a good idea.

The justice system never likes to have their time wasted, and if your spouse doesn't show up for your divorce hearing, bad things will happen. If they failed to notify the court, the can be charged with contempt, and the judge can even issue a bench warrant for their arrest as well as a fine.

However, there are cases where the spouse agrees to the divorce but doesn't want to make a court appearance. This qualifies as uncontested divorce. In these cases, both parties must agree to the division of property, debts, child custody and spousal support. In doing so, the non-filing spouse won't be required to show up to the court hearing.

However, if both parties cannot agree, they are both required to appear in court. By not doing so, not only can the aforementioned bench warrant and fine be issued, but the courts are more likely to show favor to the party that did show up for their court appearance.

If you are filing for divorce and want to know if you need to show up to the hearing or feel your spouse might not show up, contact us today. As divorce lawyers, Jamra & Jamra are dedicated to providing the best legal representation and getting the outcome you desire.

Retirement Plan Property Division

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Employee retirements plans accumulated during a marriage are typically community property. Since these assets are not accessible under IRS or plan rules until a specific age, family law has developed a method to ensure equitable distribution at a future date. This method is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and applies to most employer-sponsored retirement accounts.

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are a relationship between an employer and employee. The spouse might be a beneficiary but is not a payee. The purpose of a QDRO is to recognize the spouse of an employee as an alternate payee. This legal recognition must be established for the employer to pay benefits to someone other than the employee.

QDROs are applicable to accounts covered under ERISA, which is the main federal law governing employer-sponsored retirement account.  This includes pensions and 401K’s. It does not include IRA’s and does not include military and many government employee pension plans. IRAs are readily divided in the same manner as other community property. Government employer plans can also be divided through processes that works largely like a QDRO, but which are technically not QDROs.

Formulas that guide division of the plans are well-recognized. Situation-dependent factor may mean that the divisions are not necessarily 50/50. For example, if a spouse with a pension had years of work service before the marriage, that portion of the pension would probably not be community property.

While the formulas provide guidance, the goal of the court will be to achieve just and equitable division in the complete context of the divorcing couple. Some negation will be possible, if it is in the overall interest of the parties. For more information on division of retirement benefits, please contact us.