Family Law Blog

Are You Aware Of These Spousal Support Myths?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spousal support payments are payments that are paid from one spouse to the other after a divorce. There are various elements surrounding spousal support which can lead to people believing the different myths and misconceptions that are out there.

If you are near a separation or a divorce, you should be aware of the actual facts about spousal support. Here are some myths and misconceptions about spousal support:

The Spouse Will Always Receive Support

This is not true. Many people think that spousal support payments will be made for life. There is no set length of time for spousal support payments to be made. The length spousal support payments are to be made will depend on a variety of factors. The judge will consider various factors, including the other spouse's ability to earn money and make a living.

Women Do Not Pay Spousal Support

Women can pay spousal support. Women work and some women are the family's sole income earner. When this is the case, men will be the ones receiving spousal support payments.

The Spousal Support Agreement Cannot Be Changed

The amount of spousal support payments can be changed or stopped completely if certain circumstances come about. If the ex-spouse who is receiving child support payments is eventually able to support himself/herself without the need of support, payments can be stopped early. If the spouse receiving spousal support marries again, spousal support payments can also be stopped.

Spousal support decisions can impact one's life in a number of ways. Decisions about spousal support should be made carefully, with the assistance of a professional. Contact us today if you need a consultation.

Property Division Options for Houses

Friday, September 09, 2016

Property division is a big part of dissolving a marriage, and California couples often have trouble deciding who gets what. A particularly sensitive issue might concern what to do with a house. This is a big asset that both parties may have a right to, so here are just a few possibilities for handling divorce and real estate.

Sell the House

The easiest thing to do might be to sell the house. Any profit gained would be split between both parties. While selling a house involves its own hassles, this is a fairly straightforward approach when it comes to dividing assets.

Divorcing With Kids

One or both parties might wish to stay in the house. If children are involved, it may be a good idea to let the custodial parent stay in the home with the kids to make the process easier on the children. Otherwise, both people might need to negotiate.

One Person Keeps the House

If staying in the house is a big priority for one partner, the other person must get something in return for his or her share of the house. Here are two options:

1. Buy out the other person. This could involve giving them a bigger share of a savings account or more valuable assets.

2. Agree on a fixed price for how much the other party receives when the house is eventually sold. A fixed amount gives the other person peace of mind if the housing market goes down while ensuring the person who keeps the home does not have to share profit that comes from improvements made after the divorce.

To find out more in-depth information about property division and options for real estate, contact us today.

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.

Tips for a Successful Child Custody Case

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fighting for child custody of your children can be daunting and stressful. Courts look to the "best interests of the child" when determining custody. It's your job to show the court why you're the parent the courts should consider. Here, we'll provide you with some ways to be successful in your quest.

Strong Relationship

Not only do you have to build and maintain a strong relationship with your child, you need to show the court how strong the relationship is. Have friends and family members write character letters of support that outline the types of activities you do with your child, or that state your heavy involvement in the child's schooling or extra-curricular activities.

Room in Your Home

Prepare a room in your home that's specifically for the child, even if you live in a small space. The court will want to see that your home is ready for the child and that the child will be comfortable and safe in your home.

Prepare in Advance

Be sure to be ready to answer the many questions posed by the court, including financial preparedness, your plans for the child's schooling, and how you'll arrange daycare for times you're working and the child is not in school. Show the court that you're ready to take on this role in every aspect.

Retain an Attorney

The best thing you can do for yourself, your case and your child is to retain an experienced family law attorney who can help prepare you for winning custody of your child.

For more information, contact us.

Children and Divorce

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Divorces are hard to understand from a child's perspective. From their point of view, Mom and Dad are together forever, and their love is unbreakable. When the holidays roll around, they enjoy sitting at the table, opening up Christmas presents together, and going on family vacations and getaways. For children, their fundamental support systems are the parents. 

When hearing that Mom and Dad are no longer together, that one of them will be leaving, and they can only visit one parent, everything becomes a blur. Their reality becomes shattered and reactions can vary. Some children will crawl into a shell and keep to themselves, others become angry towards one parent or both, and some distance themselves from everybody. 

As a parent, the hardest part is trying to reassure their children that it's not their fault. They believe that, maybe, if they behaved better, listened more, or did their chores, the current situation would change. The best thing to do, is to remind them that the divorce has nothing to do with them, and it's only between Mom and Dad. 

During the course of the divorce, especially when it comes to child custody, it's best to think about what would be best for the kids, and to get their opinions on the situation. Not only will it make them feel that they're included, but it will give you an idea on how they are taking in the changes. 

To learn more about child support and custody, please contact us, and don't hesitate to ask any questions or concerns you may have. 

Ease the Stress of Child Custody With a Parenting Plan

Friday, July 29, 2016

Divorce and child custody are two difficult topics for us attorneys to have to discuss with our clients. Parents are used to having access to their children at all times, and after a divorce, there are going to be times your children are not around. It's important, therefore, for you and your spouse to maintain a good relationship so that your children can benefit from remaining close to you both. This is where coming up with an agreeable parenting plan comes in.

Parents Work Together

When a court determines custody of the children, they will look to place the child in the home that benefits the best interests of that child. If parents can agree on joint custody, it's beneficial to all because both parents have a role in working together to raise the child and make crucial decisions about the child's life.

Parenting Plan

A court will generally dictate the visitation and custody schedules, but if the parents can work out a plan that benefits all involved, courts usually agree to that arrangement. Not only will this benefit all of you in the long run, it takes away the stress factors of fighting for something you're unlikely to get.

You generally always have your child's bests interests in mind, and you want your children to feel safe and secure. This is best achieved when you and your spouse come to the understanding that working together for the common good of your child can be the best for this otherwise difficult time in your life.

For more information on child custody, contact us today.

Child Custody Letters Provide Help in Obtaining Custody of Your Children

Friday, July 22, 2016

Going through a child custody case can leave you feeling overwhelmed and not sure what to do with yourself. You never imagined your marriage would end, and now you’re finding yourself having to fight for your child. Along the way, your attorney is going to throw many things into the ring, including obtaining child custody letters from those who can vouch for you to properly take care of your child. So, what exactly is a child custody letter and how will it help? We’ll explain.

Who Writes the Letter

Because a child custody letter is used to inform the court of your parenting and living abilities, it's best the letter be written by someone who has a close relationship with both you and your child.

Establish Parenting Abilities and Living Conditions

The purpose of a child custody letter is to establish the parent abilities and the living conditions of the home. Your letter writer will want to explain the type of parent you are: Loving, nurturing, etc. Specific examples should be provided to give the court as much information as possible.

The letter will also need to outline the living conditions of the home, and the steps you take to make certain your home is suitable to raise a family.

All Factors The Court Considers

Child custody letters should provide an overview of all factors considered by the court. This includes your general health along with your economic situation. The letter needs to provide the court with reasons why you should be the parent of choice.

For more information on child custody cases, contact us.

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.

Selling the Family Home After a Divorce

Thursday, July 07, 2016

One of the hardest parts about going through a divorce is property division. Not only do you have to decide who is responsible for this process, but you have to go through many emotions when letting go of certain items.

The family home is definitely a source of anguish for divorcing couples. If you are forced to sell the home, here are a few tips to help make the process smoother.

Settle Some Things Up Front

Before you list your home, you will want to settle a few details with your ex-spouse up front. For example, you should discuss which agent you plan to use as well as what the asking price will be. In addition to this, you will need to discuss plans for showing the home and how you will review any offers that are put on the table.

Choose a Realtor with Divorce Experience

When you are choosing a realtor, make sure you choose one that has experience with selling homes due to divorce. Since the process of selling a family home is difficult under these circumstances, your realtor will have a larger role than normal. Choosing one with prior experience in this touchy subject will help make the process flow smoothly.

Prepare your Home

Finally, you will need to spend some time preparing your home for the home viewing process. You and your ex-spouse will need to decide ahead of time, which portion of the belongings you each plan to keep. Remove as much clutter as possible and make any necessary repairs before you list the home.

Property division throughout a divorce is never a simple process. However, when emotions are running high in relation to certain property, the process can be even more difficult. Using these tips will help you smooth over these feelings and get the process over with as soon as possible.

For more assistance with your divorce, contact us today.

Important Documents to Retain Whether You pay or Receive Spousal Support

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Whether you pay spousal support or receive it, it's best to always keep accurate records. Generally, the individual who pays alimony gets to deduct that amount from his taxes, and the person receiving it must claim it as taxable income.

The Alimony Payer

Many times, after a drawn-out divorce, the spouse will challenge the amounts that are paid and accepted. If you don't have the proper documentation, you could be ordered to pay any amounts not documented. Therefore, you should keep the following:

  • A list that shows when each payment was made. This should include the check number and the addressed it was mailed to. You should always keep a copy of the check.
  • Verified receipts if the payment was made in cash. The receipt should show the receiver received the payment and indicate the amount paid.
  • It's best you keep these records for at least three years from the date you filed the return on which you claimed the deduction. It's probably best if you keep them for several years, just to be safe.

The Alimony Receiver

If you're receiving alimony, you should keep the following records:

  • The dates you received payments.
  • The amount of payment, checks or money order number.
  • A copy of the check that shows the account number from which the money is drawn from.
  • A copy of any receipt for a cash payment that you executed.

You should also keep these documents for at least three years, if not longer.

For more information on alimony payments and other divorce issues, contact us.