Family Law Blog

Divorce: Considerations of Changing Your Name in a Divorce

Thursday, February 07, 2019

woman speaking with divorce lawyer

Sometimes, women who are getting divorced consider reverting to their maiden names. This is a relatively simple procedure in California and can be done by your submitting your proposed Judgment (Form FL-180) for divorce. Your attorney will let you know what you need to do. Even if you don't elect to change your name at that point, it can be done after the divorce, by filing a Petition for Change of Name. This is slightly more complicated, but still a relatively simple procedure.

More important than the steps, however, is the decision itself. If you are a woman who took her husband's name, or part of a couple who hyphenated their surnames, dissolving the marriage can raise complicated feelings about what your name will be after it. It's important to note that changing the name will not have any impact on the financial settlement or divorce decree. Nor does it have any impact on legal responsibility once the divorce is finalized. You will never, for example, be responsible for a spouse's bills or other obligations because you share a last name. Even if creditors track you down because of the surname, you are a legally separate entity once the divorce goes through. You have only to tell them you are divorced.

So what are the considerations you should think about when deciding to change your name in a divorce?

1. Your feelings about your ex-spouse

If you and your spouse are amicable, it may make no difference to you whether you keep the name or not. If the divorce is a painful one, however, your feelings about your spouse may color your feelings about your surname. If it would make you feel better, you may want to revert to your maiden name or remove the hyphenated name. If you don't want to do that, you can change your name to a third option of your choice.

2. Your feelings about having the same name as your children

Some people would prefer to have the same name as their children or think the family name should be held in common. If this is your married name, you may want to keep it. But changing the name of both yourself and your children is also an option.

3. Your feelings about a fresh start

Some people see their divorce as a time of new beginnings. If it would support that feeling to change your name, it can definitely be an option as well.

Do you need to discuss divorce with an attorney? Contact us.

What Can a Divorce Lawyer Do For Me?

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Divorce modifications don't have to be mind-boggling, migraine-inducing precursors to an evening of too much wine. Discussion of the divorce process begins with the basic duties of a divorce lawyer. The better your lawyer understands your needs, the less stressful your divorce will be. 

Divorce is one of life's most challenging occurrences. Often, in stressful times, we plunge straight ahead without considering any possible consequences. There could be no worse possible time to do that than during a divorce.  Even under the most congenial circumstances, handling a divorce on your own can be detrimental to you and any children involved.   

A divorce lawyer is an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law. They can help you through the red tape and frustration of a divorce. Divorce lawyers do many things from ensuring the fair treatment of their client, equal distribution of assets and proper documentation and record filing. 

The most important advantage is the knowledge of divorce and family law and legal experience a divorce lawyer uses to your advantage.  Divorce law is intricate and challenging.  The education and practical experience of a qualified divorce are immeasurable. 

Alimony, child support, custody, and visitation are all aspects of a divorce that a divorce lawyer will work out on your behalf. Laws and divorce trends change from state to state and vary as the years pass. A divorce attorney stays abreast of the newest laws and how they apply to their clients in their state of practice.   

Most divorce lawyers have payment plans and work out schedules that are possible for their clients to do.  Before hiring a divorce attorney make sure to gather all the documents you have obtained during the marriage and any other proof of ownership. Call several local divorce lawyers and schedule a consultation to learn more about what they can do for you. 

When you have tough divorce questions, contact our office for professional, courteous advice.

Who is Responsible for the Bills During a Divorce?

Friday, January 18, 2019

If there is one simple truth in the world, it is that things will continue to go on no matter what you are doing. If you are getting a divorce, nothing stops. You go to work, your kids go to school, and, yes, your bills need paying. However, the simple declaration of divorce should be enough for both parties to open their own bank accounts. Though dividing up the marital money should be stalled, paychecks should go to their separate parties. Yet, when this happens, who is paying the bills?

The answer can be simple. Bills should be paid from the marital accounts if possible. If the bill is in your name, and your name alone, you should probably pay it. Ideally, you would want to sit down and split up how the bills will be paid, but that may not be possible. Unfortunately, this impossibility can cause many problems. Obviously, if you have a car payment, and want to keep the car, you should pay the bill. However, while deciding who gets to keep the car, the bill still needs to be paid.

If you have already been the primary bill payer, it is important to continue to pay bills until they are separated formally. Not paying is something that is more likely to hurt you than your spouse. If there is one thing that you can do to help yourself, it makes the divorce process go as smoothly as possible. This will make it so you are free from your financial obligations more quickly.

If you are going through a divorce, there are many new things that you need to figure out, and we can help. Contact us today to see how the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help you walk down the complicated road of divorce.

Custody Issues in Divorcing While Pregnant

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Many who are pregnant decide to put off a divorce, an otherwise stressful affair, until after they have given birth. However, many decide that the issue can't wait. Yet, one of the biggest concerns of pregnancy during divorce is custody. In cases of childbirth, the mother is always considered the natural parent. When married, the father is presumed to be the spouse. Even if the child is the result of another coupling, the spouse may be still counted as a parent unless evidence is presented otherwise.

However, as divorce is a torrent of emotions, there may be cases in which the child was actually conceived during a divorce. If the divorce is finalized, is that child still yours? By law, any children born after 300 days after a finalized divorce are still recognized as children born of a marriage. This means that even if you conceived a child on the day the papers were finalized, you still have the right to pursue a child custody modification after its birth. The rule was created specifically for this rare, but tricky situation so parents could still have a right to see their children.

Unfortunately, while this rule helps clear up child custody, the issue of child support is still a difficult one. It will need to be resolved as all child support issues are - in court, but only after the issue of custody is resolved. Often the parent that will spend less time with the child will need to pay child support to the primary caretaker. This can be crucial as divorce and a new baby are often very financially draining.

If you are going through a divorce and have also found out that you or your spouse is pregnant, it complicates things. However, we can help you. Contact us today to talk over your options with the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra.

What Are The Consequences of Only One Side Having a Lawyer in a Divorce?

Thursday, January 03, 2019

For whatever reason, you may learn that heading into a divorce, you have a lawyer by your side while your ex-spouse does not. This could be a money-saving decision or perhaps even pure narcissism. However, what does it mean for both sides when the one side is going into a divorce without a lawyer?

The most obvious result of the other side not having a lawyer is that they will at a disadvantage. For all the many ways you see a divorce lawyer, primary among them should be as an advisor. Your divorce lawyer will always let you know what to do next and how it should be done for the best results. Without a lawyer, it is literally a guessing game. Unfortunately, the reality of that situation is it will probably make your divorce take longer. Even an inexperienced new lawyer fresh out of law school is familiar with the process and the paperwork. Your spouse, however, is likely not familiar and it will take time for them to read it over and make their next move.

The biggest downside to a person representing themselves is everything takes more time. They will have mistakes to fix, court appearances to navigate, and your own attorney cannot help them. This is why no matter how contentious divorce is, you should make sure that both sides get a lawyer. It is an expense that is well worth it when it comes to making a divorce timelier. Divorce is already a long process, and no one needs to make it any longer.

If you are that spouse that isn't getting a lawyer for your divorce, you need to think otherwise. Contact us today to see how we can help your case. With a lawyer by your side, things not only go faster, but they are more likely to go your way.

When to Use Witnesses During a Family Law Case

Friday, December 28, 2018

A family law case, be it divorce, child support, or anything else, is different than other areas of the law. It doesn't dole out punitive punishments for a crime, nor does it really award financial gain for the circumstance. However, like other areas of the law, a family law case can benefit from the testimony of a solid witness towards your character.

What can a witness do for your family law case? Much of family law depends on how you present yourself before a judge so they can make their judgment. How good of a parent were you? How good of a spouse? Witness testimony as to your character can help shape the opinion of the courts.

However, you need to choose your witnesses carefully. In most cases, family members are not allowed because they likely have certain biases. However, you want witnesses with firsthand accounts. For example, if your spouse beats you, your best friend may have seen the beating while a trusted colleague may have only seen the result of the beating. It is best to choose the friend that saw the beating because their account is a firsthand account and not just what you told them. Similarly, you would want to choose a nanny who saw both parents interacting with children rather than a friend that only saw how you were with them. These witnesses are the most powerful.

No matter what witness you choose, they are bound by law to be honest with the court and to act neutrally in their answers. If you want things to go your way, you are best finding a skilled lawyer to do so. If you are going through a family law case and need help, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra is dedicated to helping families get the best possible outcome for their cases.

Does My Spouse Have to Pay For a Child's College?

Friday, December 21, 2018

When it comes to child support, a non-primary custody parent only has the obligation to pay child support until the child reaches the age of majority, otherwise known as 18 years old. There is an exception that states they will continue to pay until the child graduates high school if that comes later as well. However, most parents care for their child, and at this age, they want them to go to college. Both parents may even want to help pay for it, even if divorced. However, if your spouse doesn't, do they still need to contribute to a college education?

In most cases, if two parents agree to pay for college during a divorce, specific language will be added to the final papers to make it legally binding. As it can be many years before a child reaches college age, this can be an important step. However, there will be certain exceptions made if the paying spouse suddenly has a change in financial circumstances.

If you and your spouse can both agree that you both want to contribute to a child's college education, it should be written down in the divorce agreement. Furthermore, the language should also be flexible to make sure one parent can still contribute even if they make less later. It is important to talk over how to do this with your divorce lawyer so that it is in the child's best interests. College can be particularly expensive, so help from your ex-spouse should be welcomed. However, it is best to also make sure it is legally binding.

If you are going through a divorce and want to make sure a spouse will actually pay when it comes time to send your children to college, contact us today. We can help craft divorce papers to make sure it is included.

Is Spousal Support Necessary If You Both Have Careers

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The funny thing about most areas of the law is that many people don't know the specifics of them until they need to. Divorce law is no exception. When you get married, you might not want to think about it, and it can end up costing you later if the relationship falls apart. One of the many specifics that people don't know much about is the issue of spousal support.

Some may think that no matter their situation, they are owed spousal support from the other party for one of many reasons. Maybe their spouse cheated on them, and they feel they are owed something for it. Unfortunately, that just isn't how spousal support works.

In the simplest terms, spousal support is meant to be support for a spouse. For example, if a woman dropped out of college to become a stay-at-home mother, if she were to get divorced 10 years down the line, she may not have the work skills of a woman her age to sufficiently support herself after the divorce. Spousal support is meant to help spouses of fewer means get self-sufficient again.

For those that signed prenuptial agreements, spousal support payments can last a lifetime, but typically they are temporary. It could be a few years, but spousal support is designed to support a spouse until they can find employment. This means that if you are a divorcing couple and both have well-paying jobs, there may not actually be a need for spousal support.

In fact, a couple that both have careers may simply need to split the marital assets and be done with it. Child support and custody will need to be addressed if they had children, but otherwise, spousal support is likely to be a non-issue.

If you are divorcing and wish to learn more about your options, contact us today.

Claiming Social Security Benefits From An Ex-Spouse

Friday, December 07, 2018

social security cards

When people finalize a divorce, they think that contact from their spouse is over. They may pay spousal support or alimony for a time, but afterward, you will have no ties to them anymore. However, that's not exactly true. In fact, when you reach retirement age, you may be able to collect up to 50 percent of their Social Security benefits even if you have been divorced from them for decades.

In order to collect Social Security from your ex-spouse when you reach retirement age, there are certain criteria that must be met. First, you need to be at least 62 years of age to receive full retirement benefits. Furthermore, you cannot collect their benefits if you are currently married at that age. If you remarried previously, but your subsequent spouse passed away or divorced, you can actually choose which benefits to collect from either spouse. Typically, you will want to choose the higher amount for obvious reasons.

However, the key thing to remember in order to qualify for these benefits is that you must have been married to your spouse for at least 10 years prior to the divorce. The good news is that if you meet all the above criteria and also had your own employment, you can collect your own Social Security benefits as well as an ex-spouse's. Furthermore, if you reach retirement age first, you retain the right to collect those benefits even if they are not collecting them. This prevents ex-spouses from shutting their old spouses out from what is their marital right when it comes to retirement benefits.

If you are divorcing and need help, or have long since been divorced, and want to learn more about collecting these Social Security benefits, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can make sure you get what is yours.

How Does Child Support Effect Spousal Support

Friday, November 23, 2018

If you are divorcing, there are two types of payments you can receive. One is child support that is meant to support the raising of children as a primary caregiver and the second in spousal support that is meant to support the less financially-stable spouse as they seek employment to live independently. However, the question is, does receiving one affect your ability to receive the other?

In most cases, no, it does not. In fact, if you are the primary caregiver of children, receiving child support can actually mean a better spousal support payment. Say, for example, you gave up your career to raise your children. If you later decided to become divorced, the courts may not want to interrupt the child care that the child is used to and order your ex-spouse to support you with spousal support until the child comes of age. During this time, the courts suggest you also attend school so you can gain employment later. However, the trade off here is that the spousal support will have a notable expiration date that could be later or sooner than your standard spousal support grant.

However, in an alternate situation, if you receive spousal support, it will never mean that you are barred from child support either. Child support, while it can be used to pay things that benefit both parent and child like rent or groceries, is used to support the child and not the parent. Spousal support is awarded to support the spouse while they seek employment to become independent. Typically this means some sort of vocational training. As these two payments are supposed to be used for different things, there is no way that they can affect each other. If you end up with high payments from both, your ex-spouse may insist on a modification, but it is rare they will be done away with just because you are receiving the other payment.

If you are going through a divorce and need help, contact us today.