Family Law Blog

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.

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.

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.

Does Who Takes The Kids During Divorce Affect Custody?

Saturday, November 10, 2018

When a couple decides that their marriage is over, they may still live together due to a financial need. However, more common is that one party will move out of the family home. If, for example, a spouse decides to move out and take the children with them, does this affect later child custody?

In some respects, it can. If the other spouse has been doing well on their own raising the children, this can reflect well on them. However, the person that holds custody during a divorce doesn't always mean they will be granted sole custody. First and foremost, courts are most amicable to joint custody agreements unless there are threats to a child's safety. It is widely believed that a relationship with both parents is in the best interests of the child.

However, if you are seeking sole custody and your spouse has taken the children with them when they moved out, you can still have a case for it. When considering sole custody or primary custody of the children, the courts will want to place children in a home that has the most stable environment for them to thrive. However, this does not just mean financially, but emotionally as well. Will you be there when they get home from school? Do you have time to spend with them? Will they be happy and well-cared for? These are all questions a judge will consider when awarding custody.

If your spouse will need to work long hours to support the children while you have a stable job that allows you to be with the children more, your case for primary custody may be a strong one. If you are getting a divorce and seek primary custody of your children, contact us today. We can help look over your impending divorce and child custody case to advise you on the best possible route.

What Does Transmutation Mean In Property Division

Thursday, October 25, 2018

people signing documents at a desk

Property division is perhaps one of the most time-consuming aspects of the divorce. You never know how much stuff you have until an event like divorce has you needing to split it up. As a community property state, those divorcing in California need to split all property evenly, and one of the primary ways of doing so is through transmutation.

The term transmutation is brought up when a couple is negotiating the fair and equal division of their shared assets. It refers to situations in which one party gets an item of significant net value in which they need to agree to give up several smaller items to match the value and keep the division equal. An example is if one spouse gets the house, they may have to give a car, some antiques, and several pieces of furniture in return to make up the value. Transmutation also refers to instances in which they take separate property and include it into the marital property. Why would anyone do this? It is the same as the instance above, the spouse would rather trade their separate property in return to retain a certain high-value item from the marital pool.

Essentially, transmutation is just a large trading game to get what you want. However, all divorce property division needs to have a certain amount of equality. This means you can't negotiate for a spouse to trade everything they have so they can keep one thing if all the items they traded exceeded the value of that one thing they really want.

If you are going through a divorce, then you want a good lawyer by your side. For help getting your fair share out of a divorce, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can help make sure your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

Using Temporary Orders For Child Custody

Friday, October 19, 2018

happy children laying on bed playing on tablet

It isn't always the case, but divorce can take quite a long time to come to a conclusion. Even amicable divorces aren't exactly very speedy. Furthermore, the more assets and situations you need to sort out, the longer it will take. If you can't come to an agreement in mediation, waiting for court dates will take even longer.

All that being said, you still have a life to live. During a divorce, it is important to start transitioning to single life and shared custody of your children. You need to work out items such as visitation, custody arrangements, and even child support to keep your child well taken care of. However, a judge won't make a final order on these issues until the conclusion of the divorce – meaning until all the other stuff is settled too.

Thankfully, you can get temporary orders for child support and spousal support issues. These temporary orders are legally-binding agreements. Essentially, you can work out visitation, child custody, and even child support payments to be made on a temporary basis until the final order is put forth. A decent benefit of doing this is that it allows for a certain amount of trial and error before the final order is put in place. This means if a child custody situation isn't working out, it can still be changed before the final order is put in place, meaning you don't need to return to court and spend the money to do so.

If you are looking at what will be a long and ongoing divorce, it is best to take advantage of temporary orders. If you are starting a divorce, contact us. With children, you want to make them a first priority so you can get their lives on track while you figure out all the finer details.

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.


Can Spousal Support Be Extended?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

After a marriage is dissolved via divorce, often the separating parties agree on a payment between them at the end of the marriage. In spousal support, one spouse agrees to pay the other spouse a certain sum in order to support them during the transition to single life. In most cases, these payments are designed to support the spouse until they become independent, but what happens if spousal support runs out and you still cannot support yourself, can you get it extended?

Spousal support is divided into three categories - Rehabilitative, Permanent, and Lump-Sum. A lump-sum payment is paid all at once and thus no recurring payments are necessary. Rehabilitative payments are made so the ex-spouse can seek employment or finish college in order to become self-supporting. Finally, permanent spousal support payments are common after long marriages where the ex-spouse did not have the ability to develop skills in order to seek employment.

In both lump-sum and permanent spousal support, an extension won't be needed. However, when a spousal support agreement is agreed upon by the divorcing couple or put in place by the courts, they often come with modification clauses. These clauses can mean no modification - thus no extension - is possible or can only be modified if certain criteria are met. In most cases, modification clauses are used so that one party doesn't get taken advantage of. For example, if an ex-spouse is gainfully employed, the spousal support may be modified so that it can be stopped because they no longer need it. However, this modification can work the other way if one spouse has not found employment and needs an extension.

If you are divorcing and want to make sure spousal support will be in place to take care of you, contact us today. Let us help you get the best possible outcome from your divorce.