Family Law Blog

Circumstances That Can Cost You Spousal Support

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Divorce is expensive. When a couple legally dissolves their union, each faces a new financial reality. Often, the person with the higher income pays spousal support as determined by a court of law. It is not uncommon for these payments to continue for a long time. If you receive this support, however, you should know the circumstances that can cause you to lose some or all of your alimony.

  • In many jurisdictions, spousal support terminates when the supported party marries a new partner. It is important to note that courts might or might not end support when the payee begins cohabitation with another person without getting married.
  • Courts can modify or terminate alimony when the receiving party begins earning a larger income. It is up to the local court to decide whether an adjustment is warranted. For example, if the former spouse works a temporary job which has a fixed expiration date, the court might decide against modifying the support agreement.
  • An adjustment or end to alimony can occur when the paying party suffers a lost in income. For example, if she loses her job or becomes ill or disabled and cannot work, a judge will most likely reduce or end support payments. Most cases required a substantial loss of income for the court to alter or terminate spousal maintenance.
  • If the divorce degree contains an escalator clause, support is modified upwards any time the payor receives a pay increase. For example, the payee receives a share of a former spouse's cost of living raise.
  • Sometimes a change with spousal support occurs when the payor gains a new support obligation. For example, if the person paying support gives birth to or fathers a child, the court might decide to modify the alimony order citing a hardship. Note, though that the choice of a person to support stepchildren does NOT generally warrant a change in alimony payments.
  • When either party faces a financial emergency, the court can demand an increase or decrease in spousal support. For instance, if the supporting person must pay significant medical bills, the court might lower alimony payments.

Remember that either party in a divorce can request an increase or decrease in spousal maintenance by petitioning the court. Contact us to learn more about  support following a divorce in California.

Things to Consider As You Start the Divorce Process

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Getting divorced can cause a lot of anxiety, due to a number of reasons. How will your property be divided? What happens when you are paying, or want someone to pay, child support out-of-state? Should seemingly insignificant things like the court date be thought about ahead of time? These are all important questions, each deserving your full attention and the sustained support of your legal counsel.

Property Disbursement

Property disbursement law in divorce cases is a complex issue. However, common sense rules still apply. For instance, property acquired before the marriage is typically sacrosanct from legal division. While this seems simple in principle, you might find you suffer from a lack of receipts or other proof that small-time items are, indeed, yours.

Child Support

Federal law requires each state to have an implemented child support system, but being the non-custodial parent out-of-state doesn't exempt that person from paying child support. Interstate legal proceedings involving child support are especially complicated. Each state has their own legal structure that determines who pays what to whose child and that state-specific legal structure has to interact with federal law which governs the whole thing.

Does timing matter?

The Huffington Post suggests that you think wisely about when you'll file for divorce. Your choice of date can determine how much of your 401k goes to your spouse. Also, filing for divorce before you have separated for a year could cause you to have to endure legal proceedings for a second time.

If you need help with any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Divorce: Mediation as an alternative to litigation

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Some people who plan to divorce might avoid a long and expensive litigation process by choosing an alternative dispute resolution process called divorce mediation. While some divorce cases are inappropriate for mediation, mancan be successfully resolved with it. Mediating a divorce provides several benefits for those who have good cases for this method.

Determining whether a case is appropriate for mediation

Divorce and child custody mediation have been available as alternatives to court litigation for some time. Not all cases are appropriate for these processes, however. People who have issues with domestic violence in their relationships and those who have spouses with addiction issues may be better off litigating their matters in court. If one spouse is suspected of hiding assets, income or debts, litigation may be a more appropriate choice as well. Most other cases may be successfully resolved with mediation.

Pros and cons of mediating divorces and child custody cases

One reason that people may opt to mediate their divorce cases or to go through child custody mediation is to preserve working relationships with their former spouses. Court litigation is often bitter, leaving people with hard feelings and making it difficult for them to work together after their divorce or child custody case. People who share children will have interconnected lives for years, making it more important for them to be able to co-parent effectively in order to raise their children.

Other benefits of divorce mediation include that it is a cooperative process where the spouses work together in order to reach a full settlement agreement. They will thus have more control over the outcome than they would if they instead leave it up to a judge to decide for them. It is also often much more cost-effective than court litigation, can be a significantly faster process and can provide added privacy.

The cons of choosing the mediation process include that it can't address emergency situations in which temporary orders are needed immediately such as for temporary spousal and child support and child custody. Mediators are also not allowed to give either party legal advice but must instead act as neutral third parties.

What to expect

Couples go to the mediator's office or other agreed-upon location. The mediator will then explain the goals and rules of the process. Each spouse is then able to explain the issues that are in dispute from his or her perspective and without interruption from the other spouse. The mediator may either meet with both spouses together or may have them in separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth between them to work out agreements about the various issues. After having the discussions, the mediator will then attempt to negotiate an agreement. If it is successful, the mediator will then write out the agreement and ask each spouse to sign it with the advice to review it with a lawyer. The attorney may then file the agreement with the court, and it will become the court's order in the divorce. If it is not successful, the parties may then decide to return to court and litigate the issues instead.

Choosing a mediator

Divorce mediators are typically lawyers who have specialized training in mediating family law cases. It is a good idea to choose a mediator or who is local and whose practice is primarily focused on divorce and family law cases. If you would like to learn more about whether mediation is appropriate for you, contact us today.

An Experienced Divorce Attorney Advises Against Using DIY Divorce Kits

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Your marriage is ending and you're getting ready for a divorce. You think everything will be cut and dry. After all, you and your spouse agree to everything: the division of assets, the amount of child support and visitation, and who will keep the marital home. As such, you've decided to proceed with a do-it-yourself divorce kit.

Before you move forward, however, you may want to consider retaining a divorce attorney. Even if the divorce is amicable, it's best to ensure that everything you do is in compliance with the law.

Uncontested Divorces Are Not Always Easy

Even though you're going the uncontested route, you must still consider alimony. All marital property needs to be properly divided, and there's more than just child support and custody surrounding the kids. You'll have to consider insurance, tax exemptions, and tax deductions. Agreements need to be drafted, executed and filed with the court. Unless you or your spouse are very familiar with court procedure, the DIY kits won't explain this to you.

No One To Advise You

DIY kits may provide FAQ's on their website, there's no one to talk to in the event you run into a problem. You will have questions, which will leave you to using Google as your "attorney". Keep in mind that laws change all the time, so even if you find an authoritative source online, you won't know for sure if the information is accurate and up-to-date.

Hire an experienced family law attorney to handle your divorce. If the divorce is uncontested, the attorneys fees won't run as high as they would if you were to take the case to trial. For more information, contact us today.

Staying Strong: 5 Tips for Divorcing Parents

Friday, April 15, 2016

A divorce is a difficult change for everyone in the family. Learning what to expect during a divorce will not only help your children, it will help you and your spouse work through the complex emotions that arise. Here are some things to keep in mind for the sake of yourself and your children.

You're Not a Failure

You need to be aware of your own feelings just as much as your children's. It's common for divorcing parents to feel like they've failed, but that's simply not true. Your marriage has nothing to do with your ability to be a good parent. Know that you can still be there for your child in your own way and that it's okay to feel confused. You're not alone.

Vent About Your Ex - But Not to Your Children

Avoid negative talk about your ex. Anger and guilt are the most common emotions during a divorce, and it may be tempting to vent your frustrations. Don't do so around your children. It's okay to talk to your kids about what's going on and your emotions, but try to talk about it in a productive way. If you need to let off some steam about your ex, consider talking to a therapist or writing in a journal.

Don't Discuss the Details Around Your Kids

You and your spouse will have a lot of complex topics to discuss, like the division of assets and child custody. These are topics that are best discussed when your kids aren't around. Of course, it's important to talk with your children about the separation, but leave the more "adult" topics for a later date.

Be Prepared for Behavioral Changes

Children react in different ways to a divorce. Some kids will act up at school or at home. Other children may bottle up their emotions, which can manifest as physical illnesses. Keep an eye on your child's eating and sleeping habits, and don't be afraid to ask teachers for progress reports. Sometimes, asking your child how he or she is feeling is enough to start the conversation and come up with a solution together.

Make Your Own Joy

Take a little time every day to find happiness, independently and with your kids. Take a day off from work and go out for ice cream. Make a new tradition with your kids, like a game night after dinner. Intentionally spending time like this will help you to rediscover your ability to live in the moment and be grateful for the little joyous moments that happen every day.

You don't have to go through this on your own. Jamra & Jamra can help you with the divorce process and all the emotions that come along with it. Contact us today.

Who Gets the House? Property Division in California Divorces

Friday, March 11, 2016

California is a community property state, meaning that all property and debts acquired during the marriage must be divided equally among the spouses. However, property division is not always as easy as splitting assets 50/50. A common concern of divorcing couples is the disposition of the family home. After all, the home is often one of the couple's most valuable assets.

There are many arrangements for disposing of the home depending on the family's circumstances. One of the easiest is simply selling the home and splitting the proceeds equally.

However, sale of the home may not be possible due to a slow real estate market or negative equity in the home. Additionally, the issue can be complicated due to the emotional significance of the family home. One spouse may not wish to sell the home and all of the memories it represents. Other spouses may wish to avoid further emotional distress to children by allowing them to remain in the home.

When one spouse is adamant about keeping the home for sentimental reasons and can afford to maintain the home with no financial assistance from the other spouse, one alternative is to allow that spouse to buy out the other's interest in the property. Where both spouses are concerned about the impact of the home's sale on their children, both may agree to maintain joint ownership and to allow the custodial parent exclusive use of it. In slow real estate markets, the couple may agree to maintain the home as a joint investment in hopes that the home's value may increase over time.

However, these arrangements require a level of cooperation between the divorcing spouses that is not always possible.Contact us today if you are divorcing and are concerned about the ultimate disposition of your home and other assets. Whether you need an attorney who can craft a workable compromise with your ex or need one who can litigate your position aggressively in court, we can help.

3 Tips to Help You Get Through Your Divorce Case

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Going through a divorce can be painful. Your emotions are all over the place in an attempt to try to figure it all out. While divorce cases aren't exactly the most exciting cases to be involved with, that doesn't mean you can't come out ahead in them. You deserve to be treated fairly in your case. With an attorney working on your side, you can do just that. Here are a few tips to help you win your divorce case and walk away with the whole mess behind you.

Don't give in to the negativity.

Refrain from letting all of the negative voices in your head get to you. You have to realize that they are simply trying to make your future bleak and ruin everything you worked so hard for. You have the power to control your destiny and rise above the madness. Choose to put the negativity aside and start thinking positively.

Figure out what it is that you want.

Oftentimes, people go into a divorce case simply trying to get it done and over with. They can't think about anything else but how to move on. Unfortunately, that could end up costing you in the long run. You need to stop and take the time to think about what it is that you want to accomplish in the process. There is a lot to gain in the process, but there is also a lot to lose. You have to have an idea of what it is that you want to achieve during the process if you are going to come out ahead. Otherwise, you will end up losing out on a lot during the whole proceeding.

Hold true to your values.

Divorce proceedings can leave you lost and hopeless. These feelings can be quite common. One minute you might feel fine and the next you might feel lost and alone. The one thing you need to remember is that you don't want to sway from who you are and what you believe in. The last thing you want is to feel guilty about the way things ended. Don't play dirty or get ugly. It's far better to come out of the case with your pride and dignity intact than it is for you to attack the other party.

Contact us to find out how you can walk away from the mess without all the stress and hassle.

Does it Matter Who Files for Divorce First in California?

Friday, November 20, 2015

There are very few situations where rushing to file for divorce is advantageous. Unless there is an urgent need to file immediately, such as physical abuse or the need to protect children and assets, the decision to divorce should be a well thought out and calculated plan. Generally, there is little to gain from rushing to file, however it may be beneficial at times.

First, filing first will determine the jurisdiction and venue that the divorce case is heard in. This is especially important if you and your spouse live in different counties, states, or even countries. The jurisdiction of the court allows your case to move forward. If you live in Orange County, but your estranged spouse files for divorce in Sonoma County first, the divorce proceedings will take place in Sonoma. This creates the need to find a local attorney in Sonoma County and to travel across the state for all court appearances. 

If you believe your children are in danger physically or your spouse may abduct them, you should always file for divorce immediately. Family courts have the power to issue immediate orders concerning the children. Choose a lawyer that will aggressively address your concerns. Not doing so can result in you being forced to file in another jurisdiction in an attempt to recover the children. It can also hurt your case later if the court questions why you did not take action if you truly believed the children were in danger.  

For more information on divorce proceedings, contact us today. Our experienced attorneys are ready to assist and will fight to protect you and your children. 

Los Angeles Businessman Seeks Overhaul of California Alimony Laws

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Los Angeles man has launched a campaign to push for a complete overhaul of alimony laws in California.

According to Steve Clark, an independent software consultant in Los Angeles, the existing alimony laws in California are outdated, and no longer account for the fact that women now comprise a significant proportion of the workforce in the state. His initiative stems from his own experiences during his divorce which lasted for more than three years, and was a painful experience. He was married for more than 25 years, and according to him, the divorce, cost him more than $100,000 in legal costs alone.

The current laws require that when a marriage has lasted for more than 10 years, the spouse who is the lower earning partner in the marriage, be entitled to lifelong alimony. According to Clark, this is extremely unfair because women now account for approximately 45% of the workforce in the United States. In a situation like this, overhaul of alimony laws should not be considered a gender issue, because there are many women now who earn much more than their husbands. He also believes that the existing alimony laws, which call for lifelong alimony, are very unfair to children emotionally and financially because much of the money that would have been given for child support is spent on legal fees.

Clark has launched a website in which he is petitioning for signatures from registered voters across the state. He must receive more than 355,000 signatures before the deadline on November 2.

Negotiating with the help of a lawyer to make sure that your rights to alimony payments are protected can help reduce legal costs. In fact, attorneys often recommend that you work together with your spouse’s attorney to come to a settlement, that is mutually agreeable to the two of you.

Oil Billionaire Harold Hamm Appeals Billion Dollar Divorce Ruling

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A collapse in oil prices has meant a significant decrease in his net worth, and his $10.6 billion fortune has been reduced by as much as one- third, according to some estimates. That has forced Oklahoma oil billionaire Harold Hamm to appeal a divorce ruling earlier this year in which was ordered to pay his ex-wife $1 billion as settlement.

This marks yet another stage in the oil tycoon’s already messy divorce proceedings, which have dragged out for three years now. Hamm’s appeal comes just as his ex-wife is also appealing her $1 billion alimony award for entirely different reasons. She claims that her alimony settlement is much too low. She argues that she had a huge role to play in the accumulation of her husband's wealth and the building of his business empire, especially his flagship company Continental Resources. According to her, over their 26- year marriage, it was her business acumen and hard work that resulted in stock prices for Continental Resources skyrocketing, expanding her husband’s wealth.

The court ruling however, awarded as much as 90% of his wealth back to him, while she received $1 billion in alimony payments. She also received several pieces of property, as well as millions of dollars in other assets.

At the time of the ruling, Hamm was pleased with the settlement. However, now he has had second thoughts, especially because of the reduction in his overall wealth. Oil prices are dropping, and the trend doesn't seem like it's going to end anytime soon. Stock prices for Continental Resources have dropped by 30% since the divorce was finalized in November. Oil prices are currently at a five-year low. It is probably these factors that have pushed Hamm into filing an appeal against the divorce ruling.