Family Law Blog

3 Financial Tips to Follow Before You Finalize Your Divorce

Friday, May 04, 2018


A divorce can suddenly flip your entire world upside down. You could go from having a dual income or relying on another person for support to having to fend for yourself with no assistance. Divorce can be an emotional time, but it's important that you take steps while you can to give yourself a leg up on the rest of your life. Here are some financial tips you should follow ahead of finalizing your divorce.

Get a Separate Bank Account

Many couples have their finances intertwined in a way that can make starting over after a divorce difficult. If you have always shared a bank account with your spouse, you need to open your own account. That's the easy part, the hard part may be getting your fair share of the money out of the shared account. This is where having a lawyer on your side can come in handy. He or she can make your case to the court as to how much of the total shared assets you should receive. Even if you don't think you're going to get that much, you still need to set up your own bank account and start putting money away as soon as possible.

Create a Budget

If you have always let the other person in your relationship handle your finances, the time to step up and be more responsible is right now. Figure out about how much money you expect to have after the divorce, including any support payments. Your lawyer can help give you an estimate of what might be possible, but always plan for the worst case scenario. Keep in mind that you may have expenses besides just your rent or car payment like utilities and an entertainment fund. These extraneous expenses that may have previously been covered by your spouse will now be yours to handle, so budget conservatively to plan for all contingencies.

Talk to Your Kids and Set Expectations

Divorce can be especially difficult on children. Even more so if their lifestyle is going to drastically change. It's possible that neither parent will be able to afford the same standard of living they had when they were a dual income family. Talk with your kids about the divorce. Be upbeat, but set expectations that money might be a little tight for a while. Don't let your emotions get the best of you here. Spoiling your kids with toys is not going to win them over in the long run. Be prudent about your financial decisions so that your family is secure.

Divorce can leave both spouses in a financial bind when some or all of the support they had counted on goes away. Be ready for the day the divorce is finalized by setting up an independent bank account, making a budget and talking to your kids about what you can and can't afford post-divorce. For more best practices, contact a local attorney today.

How an Attorney Can Help You Receive the Best Spousal Support Payment Possible

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Going through a divorce can be a very challenging situation.  For those that are going through a divorce and have been dependent on the income of their spouse, receiving a fair spousal support settlement is extremely important.  For those that are going through a divorce, hiring an attorney to ensure they receive proper representation is very important.  A divorce attorney can provide a range of services.  

Consultation

When you hire a divorce attorney to represent you, the first thing that they will be able to provide you with is a consultation on your situation.  The attorney will be able to review all aspects of your divorce and personal financial situation.  This will include reviewing sources of income for both parties, current assets, and expenses.  The attorney will then be able to explain what you are entitled to and what the forthcoming legal process will look like.

Negotiations

Since a divorce is a very challenging situation, avoiding going to trial is always a very good option. In most cases, the attorney will be able to handle all of the alimony and other spousal support discussions outside of the courtroom.  Your attorney will not only focus on ensuring you receive a fair spousal support payment for a period of time, but also receive long-term coverage including a share of retirement benefits. 

Litigation

If necessary, the attorney will also be able to provide assistance in the courtroom.  This can include building the case, presenting it in front of the judge and jury, and handling any deliberations.  This will ensure that you are prepared for the case and receive the best judgment possible. 

If you are going through a divorce, you should contact us to learn more about the services that we can provide to you.  Beyond making sure that you receive the right alimony settlement, we can also assist with the division of assets, child custody, and other challenges that come with divorce.  


What Happens If I Remarry Before My Divorce is Final?

Friday, April 27, 2018

In most divorce cases, remarriage isn't exactly a problem. Your divorce lawyer will advise you against even dating until the ink is dry on your final divorce papers. So in these cases, remarriage probably won't be an issue since it is likely you don't have a lot of prospects lined up. However, if you were married and your spouse disappeared, will you be forced to be married to them forever if you can't find them?

Some might feel that a marriage doesn't exist if they have not seen their spouse for years and might decide to marry again. However, if they do turn up, this will be classified as bigamy. In California, this is punishable with up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. Obviously, that is something that you don't wish to suffer through.

Various circumstances can result in you entering a bigamous relationship, so what do you do then? In these cases, the most common defense is the claim that you haven't seen your first spouse for at least five years and believed they were dead. However, if your spouse does turn up, the best defense for bigamy is to quickly have your second marriage annulled so there is no longer an issue. Of course, you then have to go through a divorce with your first spouse and remarriage to your second if you so choose.

Bigamy is typically a very rare circumstance, but it is not completely uncommon. If your spouse runs off on you and you have no way to serve them with divorce papers, it can be frustrating. However, you may still have options. If you are charged with bigamy or need help divorcing a spouse you cannot find, contact us today so the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can talk over your options.

In California, Divorce Can Be Nobody’s Fault

Thursday, April 26, 2018

If you are contemplating a divorce, you may have many reasons for wanting to dissolve your marriage. If you live in California, however, you don't need to sit down and make a laundry list of all the things your spouse did that caused the divorce. There is no need to assign any blame or prove any wrongdoing on the part of your spouse.

The state of California is a "no-fault" divorce state. This means that couples who wish to divorce do not need to show evidence of misbehavior or transgression as the grounds -- the legal reason -- for the divorce. Fault is not a factor. In the majority of divorce cases in California, couples state irreconcilable differences as the grounds for the divorce. What this means is that you and your spouse can state that your marriage is beyond repair and, for that reason, you want to terminate the marriage. The other grounds for divorce in California is incurable insanity.

Each state has its own laws regarding divorce. In California, no divorce can be finalized until six months after the filing. If there is reason to believe that you and your spouse may reconcile, the judge in your case may stop the divorce proceedings for a period of up to thirty days.

While fault is not a factor in terms of the grounds for divorce in California, it can be a consideration for other aspects of a divorce settlement. The California courts can consider fault when making determinations regarding property division or awarding alimony.

Divorce can be complicated. If you have questions regarding the grounds for divorce, or any other aspect of the divorce process, contact us today. The experienced divorce lawyers at Jamra & Jamra work with you every step of the way to ensure the best possible outcome in your situation.


Will I Lose Military Benefits After Divorce?

Thursday, April 05, 2018

If your spouse is in the military and you are considering a divorce, the potential loss of military benefits shouldn't sway your decision. However, because couples often depend on these benefits, it is worthwhile to know what you will lose and what you will keep.

Military Benefits For You and Your Children

If you have dependent children from your marriage, they will still receive military benefits from your ex-spouse. Your children will be able to receive TRICARE health coverage until they are 22 or until they marry.

However, while it doesn't matter how long you were married for children to keep their benefits, it does for you. As an ex-military spouse, you need to consider the 20/20/20 rule when it comes to whether or not you will receive benefits after divorce. This includes:

  • You were married 20 years
  • Your ex-spouse served for 20 years
  • You were married for 20 years of that military service
  • You are not remarried
  • You don't have a health plan through an employer

If all of the above are true, then you can still collect military benefits after a divorce. Under the 20/20/20 rule, you will be allowed full coverage until you are 62 years old or otherwise eligible for Medicare. However, even if you do not fully meet the 20/20/20 rule, such as you were only married for part of their service, you will still receive some limited benefits after divorce.

Are you going through a divorce with a spouse that was in a branch of military service, past or present? Contact us today to see what we can do for you. Military service doesn't so much change the divorce process, but it can affect what benefits you receive after the divorce. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help you sort out how you will take care of yourself and your family after the divorce is final.


Vengeful Spouse in a Divorce? How to Protect Yourself

Friday, March 23, 2018

Even if a divorce is a mutual decision, there are very few spouses who take the filing of a divorce very well. A divorce may be like telling them that they failed or lost at something. It may be telling them that they aren't worth staying with. It may simply be telling them that you want half of what they think is theirs. No matter what it is, a soon-to-be ex-spouse can be a vengeful one. It doesn't even matter if some of what they do may technically be illegal, if it hurts you, they still may do it.

So when you have an angry spouse in a divorce, what can you do to protect yourself?

Monitor Your Finances

Until the divorce is final, it is likely you will still share much of your finances as if you were happily married. While removing assets from these accounts is illegal, you might find that your spouse is making a few more withdrawals than normal. Be sure to monitor them and if you are suspicious, bring it up to your lawyer.

Credit Freeze

It is highly beneficial to consider a credit freeze during a divorce if possible. While you may need that credit, a freeze does prevent your spouse from opening accounts in your name and otherwise trying to tank your credit.

Consider Staying in the Family Home

In many cases, one spouse may move out as soon as the divorce is filed. However, by leaving your spouse alone in the home can be a good way to lose all your physical property. Furthermore, if you have children it may be best to maintain a physical presence as well. This assures them that they are not the cause and gives your spouse less opportunity to poison them against you if they saw fit.

Are you going through a divorce and suspect your soon-to-be ex-spouse of being particularly malicious against you? Contact us today to see what we can do as your divorce lawyer to protect you.


Does a Father Have to Pay Child Support If The Children Aren't His?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

When a couple divorces and they have children, in most cases the father will be expected to pay child support to the mother. In these cases, the mother will be the primary custody holder of the children and it is the father's duty to continue to support the children financially, at least in part. However, what happens to divorcing couples where the father is not the biological father of the children in that family?

The law states that if the children of a dissolving marriage are not related to you by blood, then you are under no obligation to pay child support for those children. However, even if one child is not related to the divorcing father and another child is, the father will still have to pay child support for his biological children.

There can be a few small hurdles to overcome for a divorcing father that does not want to pay child support for children that are not biologically his. Often this can include simply taking a paternity test requested by the court. This is most common when the child's birth certificate does not have a father's name on it or even has your name on it. However, if you persist that you are not the father, the paternity test can prove this true or false. If the child's birth certificate does have another man's name on it, the paternity test may not be necessary, though it can easily clear up any arguments.

Unfortunately, if you argue against paternity and child support, this will mean that you do not have any legal authority or right to visitation of the child. If you fight against child support, there will be no chance of visitation enforced by the law. Your ex-spouse may be able to allow it, but that is unlikely.

Are you going through a divorce and don't want to pay child support for children that are not your own? Contact us today to see what we can do for your case.


Had Children Before Marriage? You're Perfect for a Pre-Nup

Friday, March 16, 2018

To many couples looking towards marrying, a pre-nup is pretty close to a taboo word to bring up. Some feel like it is basically saying that there is a chance that your love might die and you want to plan for when it does. However, this may be true for couples that are planning to get married and officially start their lives, but not all commitments work that way. In many couples these days, often couples end up having children before they even think of marriage, and this makes them a perfect candidate for a pre-nup if they decide to tie the knot.

When you have children before marriage, it lends a certain amount of practicality and logistics to your relationship. You might want to provide better for your kids so you choose a smaller, cheaper wedding. You might understand that your marriage might not last, so you choose a pre-nup.

For many parents that choose to get married after they have children, they will always choose the route that is best for their children, and this includes if that marriage doesn't work out. By crafting a pre-nup when you are still very much in love, both sides of the couple can make decisions with a clear, unclouded head. In this pre-nup they can put certain provisions, such as terms for child custody inside that can make it so both parents get a fair split of not just the assets, but the children as well.

While many may tout "doing things out of order," it has been found that having children before getting married actually has a better chance of those marriages lasting since both sides tend to not look at their relationship through rose-colored glasses. If you are a couple that already has children and are looking to officially get married, but still want a pre-nup set in place, contact us today.

Forwarding Thinking in Your Divorce - Child Support Considerations

Friday, March 09, 2018

It has come down to this - all options have been explored and you have finally come to terms with the fact that you are getting a divorce. Amid the emotional stress and legal decisions, sometimes it is difficult to look at the long-term needs of your children, especially when you are overwhelmed with parenting plans, visitation schedules, financial support, and even more immediate details such as where you intend to live or how you plan to pay your bills. It is easy to get caught up in the here and now without considering what your children might require in the future. This is especially true for parents of young children who have not yet begun writing the endless stream of checks required for the activities for children in middle school or high school. 

What do you consider to be necessary for raising a healthy, educated, balanced child? Often times in a divorce, parents do not consider these questions with regard to when their children are older. Do you believe participation in athletics, music lessons, travel, mission work, or academic competitions are activities that your children need to prepare themselves for adulthood? What about the expenses associated with taking Advanced Placement Exams or even Dual Credit courses offered in high school? Do you want trade school or college to be an option for your children after they graduate from high school? If so, who is going to foot the bill for these expensive but enriching experiences? Perhaps you do not consider all of these activities to be central to the development of your children, and that is certainly reasonable, but if even some of them seem relevant to your expectations on what opportunities your children should have, it is important to consider them now. 

Addressing these issues on the front end, when parties may be more agreeable to reasonable solutions, can save you a great deal of arguing, disappointment, or future court proceedings. While you are establishing a parenting plan and the terms of child support, it is important to be forward thinking and to include terms that address these needs. Preparedness on the front end can save you time and expense on the back end, and consolation with an attorney is certainly advised. The attorneys at Jamra & Jamra are available to advise you on these and other considerations in your divorce. Please contact us today if you are ready to protect your children's future opportunities.  


Property Division, Who Gets Custody of - Fido?

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Divorce and child custody battles often go hand in hand, with property disputes a close second among causes of high emotional and financial impact. Houses, cars, 401K distribution and what to do with the family RV provoke understandably strong emotions. Throw in disputes over who gets the family dog and the emotional stakes are even higher.

In most states, pets are viewed as property. The ultimate ownership of pets is dependent upon many factors, including which partner bought the animal and whether kids are involved.

Many pet owners find this approach heartless given that the animal's welfare isn't necessarily taken into account. The big screen TV and the car may hold high dollar values, but they also aren't granted quite the same status in the minds of owners, or, in fact, the law. Destroying your own television set rarely comes with legal repercussions, but animal abuse is another matter.

According to a new Illinois state law following in Alaska's footsteps, animals will be treated much like children in divorce proceedings. Effective January 1st, 2018, in cases where a divorcing couple is equally attached to a pet, judges in Illinois are now permitted to take the animal's best interests into account, much as they would a child.

The new law applies only in Illinois, but the results bear close watching. Most likely, who will make the better owner will be the main criteria for animal custody decisions, but, as with children, one wonders if that decision could usher in a host of other issues, including visitation. 

While California law still views pets as property, the California Family Code Section 6320 allows pets to be included in protective orders. Some California judges also consider visitation a valid option in pet disputes, as happened in the case of Gigi, whose ultimate disposition included a "bonding study" and cost her owners 100,000 dollars in legal fees.

Custody and ownership as separate issues is the standard in most states and under most conditions, but as pets have become normalized as part of divorce settlements, laws have had to keep up with human emotional bonds. Contact us to learn more about how pets factor into divorce proceedings.