Family Law Blog

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.

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.


What to Do After Receiving Divorce Papers

Friday, September 07, 2018

In some cases, divorce is anticipated. You had been living separated for years, and you just knew it was coming. However, for some couples, they just wake up one day and find divorce papers sitting in front of them. However, what now? If you have received divorce papers, take these steps.

divorce papers with wooden gavel

Read Them

We live in a world where often we are pushed to just sign papers without reading them because the language is so complicated you can't understand it anyway. However, your divorce papers contain a treasure trove of information, as well as a deadline by which you must sign them. If the papers are a complete surprise to you, they may even contain the reasons for a divorce.

Contact a Lawyer

If divorce papers have been filed, this is not something that is going to be easily rectified. Contacting a divorce lawyer can help you understand the papers, and more importantly, respond to them appropriately by the usually very short deadline. While many believe a lawyer is just someone who can help you negotiate the most out of your divorce, they are first and foremost an advocate for your rights to make sure your spouse doesn't try to run you into the ground.

Protect Your Assets

This doesn't mean that you should go withdraw all your money from a joint checking account after receiving divorce papers, but rather you should take steps to protect your assets. You should leave all your assets where they are until they can be divided by the court, but you should also set up new separate bank accounts where your next paycheck will be deposited.

Are you going through a divorce? Whether it was long coming or a complete surprise, we can help you. As divorce lawyers, we can help you prepare for what is likely going to be a long process. Contact us today so we can start helping you today.


Moving Out During Divorce Doesn't Extinguish Homeownership Rights

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Man and woman arguing at home

Often one of the first steps of couples heading towards divorce is one party moving out of the shared home. Even if it is just separation, many find it easier to have a little space to think. So one party of a marriage may move in with relatives or find new housing altogether. However, it is important to remember that moving out of your home does not relinquish your homeownership rights.

Homeownership Rights

One of the most important considerations is that moving out of the home does not negate any lending agreements. If you agree beforehand that your spouse will take over payments, then that is one thing. However, if no agreement is made and you just stop paying because you think you are off the hook, then this can be a detriment to you if your name is on the mortgage. In fact, you will need to continue paying until the home is either sold or refinanced. Often this can help speed up a person's decision to divorce since it feels bad paying for a home you are not actually living in.

Furthermore, even if you move out of the home, if your name is still on the title of the home, you maintain the right to move back in if necessary. Often spouses heading for divorce are in a high emotion situation, so it is better to have space. However, if you cannot find a place to stay, your house is still very much your house until the divorce is finalized.

If you are getting a divorce, it is important to know your rights and responsibilities in the matter. You are still required to pay your mortgage, but you still have the right to live in your home. If you are heading for divorce and need help sorting out other rights and responsibilities as well as representation in the process, contact us today.

6 Tips for Your First Meeting With a Divorce Attorney

Friday, August 10, 2018

Meeting with a divorce attorney for the first time? You are taking a major step, and it is important to be properly prepared. Here are five tips for meeting with your divorce lawyer for the first time.

divorce attorney

Know What to Bring 

Ask the lawyer which documents you need to bring along. You might need to bring various tax documents and other legal documents. Make sure you bring all of them so that the lawyer can be properly prepared going forward.

Prepare a List of Questions

Write down any questions that you may have so that you are prepared for the meeting. If a question pops into your head, write it down. This way, you won't leave anything out by mistake.

Be Honest

The lawyer is going to ask you various questions about your marriage, your history together, and so on. Be honest. There is nothing to be ashamed of; divorce lawyers are prepared for every scenario. Not leaving anything out means that your lawyer will be able to handle your case properly.

Coordinate With Your Spouse

If you are going to the meeting together with your spouse, make sure that you are working together. You may not be on the best of terms, but coordinating and working together will ensure that the entire divorce process goes as smoothly as possible without any hiccups. Of course, don't bring your kids to the meeting; it's totally unnecessary. 

Take Notes

Take notes during your meeting. You are going to be covering a lot of topics, and some of them may be new to you. 

Give Yourself Enough Time

Get to the meeting early so that you have enough time. You want to make sure that you can cover all aspects of the divorce process and not leave anything out.

Contact us today for more information.