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Family Law Blog

When a Mother or Father Opts Out of Parenthood Following a Divorce

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Divorce has tremendous effects on the partners involved. These adults face a loss that accompanies dissolution of their union. Fortunately, they can choose from a myriad of resources to help them adjust to their new lives without their former partner. Children of divorced families face difficult changes as well. Unfortunately, this can include the greatest of children's issues during a divorce, the loss of the ongoing presence of one of his parents.

Regrettably, there are many situations in which one parent abandons his child. If this parent chooses to forgo his relationship with the child, it is up to the remaining parent to help the child cope. Learn how to help him deal with this heartbreaking loss.

Communication is vital when a parent leaves following a divorce. Be as honest with your child as possible regarding the situation without overwhelming him with details. He will ask whether the other parent will return. Again, be truthful and tell him that you do not know if or when that will happen. Reassure him that YOU will not leave. Encourage the child to talk about his emotions. Listen to him talk and validate his feelings accordingly. Let him know he is not to blame for the divorce and/or the other parent's absence.

Set up a routine following the divorce. Children need structure to feel safe and stable. Enlist the aid of other adults to help establish a "new normal". For instance, teachers, coaches, and mentors are often invaluable at this time. If possible, keep your child in the same school and in the same activities as before. Balance the schedule with "downtime" so your child does not become unduly stressed and has time to reflect.

Look for changes in behavior or mood that commonly occur with kids abandoned by a parent. Often, children will act out in reaction to a parent leaving. They are angry and sometimes do not handle their emotions appropriately. Do not, however, use the other parent's absence as a justification for misbehavior. Discipline the child as necessary but let him know you understand his frustrations. Provide him with outlets such as athletics or arts which can help him direct what he is feeling in a positive manner.

Finally, be willing to find professional help for your child. This includes counseling for him alone and both of you collectively. An experienced therapist can teach you how to handle the difficulties your family faces. Stick with treatment even if you do not see immediate results. Divorce and abandonment produce serious issues which require long-term treatment for your child and yourself.

Contact us when you need to know more.

Divorce: Are You Responsible for Your Spouse's Debts?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

If you are thinking about divorce or in the midst of one, it's good to know whether or not you are responsible for your spouse's debt.

During the Marriage

California is a community property state. This means that property and other assets are owned by the couple jointly. As counterintuitive as it may seem, debts are considered negative assets by divorce courts. They are therefore subject to the same principles as assets. Debts are held in common just as assets are. Therefore, one spouse is responsible for the other's debts, even if only one spouse incurred the debt.

So spouses are both responsible for a jointly incurred debt, such as a mortgage or vehicle loan that both co-signed. Each is also responsible for debts the other incurred solely. In other words, if your spouse opened a credit card or obtained a personal loan during the marriage, you are responsible for the debt.

The key here, though, is that both spouses are responsible only for debt taken on during the marriage. If your spouse incurred debt in their name before the marriage, you are not responsible for it. So if your spouse is still carrying credit card debt on a credit card opened when they were single, you are not responsible for that.

After the Divorce

Community property rules no longer apply after the divorce. Any debt incurred after you are divorced is the responsibility of the party who incurred it.

The only exception is if you continue to maintain joint accounts (on bank or mortgage accounts, for example) or the debt is taken to repair jointly held property, such as a home or boat. In that case, because the accounts or property is held jointly, you would be equally responsible.

If you need to speak to an attorney about divorce, contact us. The first consultation is complementary.

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.

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.

Divorce and Self-Employment

Friday, October 12, 2018

Divorce is full of problems. That is just part of the process when you are ending a long-term committed relationship where two parties have become so involved in each other's lives. However, divorce when one spouse is self-employed it is likely to add more problems to the pile. While self-employment doesn't affect the divorce itself, it does affect the financial aspects of divorce.

Self-Employment and Hiding Assets

When one spouse is self-employed, a major worry is that they can somehow hide assets from the other spouse. This actually should be a worry as income from self-employment can be surprisingly well hidden, but often not hidden enough.

When one spouse is self-employed, if you have an amicable relationship, then hiding assets may not be a worry. However, if there is a lot of tension in your divorce, as there often is, it may be in your best interest to seek out the help of a forensic accountant. Often self-employed individuals are no stranger to shuffling money around to support their business, making the act of hiding assets not immediately apparent to the untrained eye. However, the help of a forensic accountant can help you make sure they are being honest.

Self-Employment and Spousal Support

One of the primary issues of self-employed spouses is not so much hiding assets, but rather gathering a concrete amount of income for spousal support. Often in self-employed professions, their amount of income can fluctuate rapidly. Furthermore, what is to stop them from taking less work during a divorce so it makes their income look smaller?

In this circumstance, often courts will not look at recent income, but rather average income. It functions much in the same way of a spouse who quits their job to take a lesser paying job to slip spousal support. The courts will examine past income and their ability to earn in order to work out spousal support payments. However, if they have always been a secondary earner to your primary earnings, you may very well have to pay spousal support to them.

Divorce is never a simple situation, and self-employed spouses make things even trickier. If you are divorcing and need help, contact us today.


Reasons You Might Want to Date Before Your Divorce is Final

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Going through a divorce can be devastating. You may feel like you are losing everything, including yourself. It can be a lonely and upsetting time. Because of this, many people start to date even if their divorce is not final. It doesn't help that many well-meaning friends and family may recommend getting right back out there, even if you don't feel like it.

So, should you date before your divorce is final? Here are some reasons why you might want to.

There are no legal reasons why you can't date during the divorce process.

 Legally, you are allowed to date and move on while you are still going through the divorce so if you are ready, there is no reason why you shouldn't put yourself back out there.

You are obviously going through a divorce for a reason so it can be really nice to feel special. 

Dating someone new is always special and exciting. They will work hard to impress you. You will probably dress up and try to look your best. This can really help you feel better, knowing someone thinks you are great.

It can also help your self-esteem. 

Getting dressed up and going out can make a person feel a lot better. Too many people get depressed after a divorce where they just spend all of their time at home, alone, and in their pajamas. By getting cleaned up and polished, you will feel so much better.

While some people think that you need to get right back out there during a divorce, others believe that you need to wait. As long as you feel ready (and have put your marriage behind you), there is no legal reason why you shouldn't. It might actually help you feel a lot better because who doesn't feel better when they are dressed up and spending time with an attentive person?

Contact us for all of your legal needs.