The Pros And Cons Of Prolonged Divorce

As California parents consider parting ways to pursue different goals, the impact on their children can be varied. A prolonged divorce might occur as a couple second-guesses their decision or as they make some final attempts at reconciliation. While this could have a positive outcome in salvaging the marital relationship, a failed attempt to reconcile could prolong the inevitable at the expense of their children’s emotions. The needs of their children may help in deciding to wait to file or in choosing to move forward with the process.
Some of the issues that can cause one or both parties to backtrack after beginning divorce proceedings include a belief system that does not approve of divorce, advice from one’s family or friends, or fear of the future. However, an official start to a divorce action usually involves one of the spouses moving out, which can send a strong signal to children. Fluctuation in living arrangements could create confusion and insecurity as a child wonders what the future will be like. The children’s concentration may be significantly re-directed from normal activities as they worry about the state of their home life.

With the finalization of a divorce, a family can move into a new stage of life that includes more predictability. A child may spend weekends and holidays with different parents based on a visitation schedule, or there may be a joint physical custody agreement that enables a child to spend similar amounts of time in each home.

Counseling could be helpful for a parent going through divorce when seeking assistance in learning to handle disputes with the other party. Those parents who can communicate in a civil manner might avoid a great deal of stress through avenues such as mediation, which could help to minimize the probability of taking the matter to court.

Tax Filing Options For Couples

For most Americans, filing a tax return is not an option. However, married couples do have the option of filing their taxes either jointly or separately. It is important to remember, however, that a person’s tax status is determined at the end of the taxable year. Accordingly, California couples who were in the middle of a divorce that had not been finalized by Dec. 31, 2015 are considered married by the IRS for that year .

Many legally married couples choose to file their taxes jointly because of the benefits this option offers. One of the most appealing benefits is lower tax rates. By filing jointly, the combined tax is generally lower than the tax rate for the married but separate filing status. In addition, joint filers can usually avoid paying the alternative minimum tax, whereas those who file separately will end up paying the tax because the AMT exemption will be lower.

Another benefit to joint filing is bigger tax breaks. Only joint filers can take advantage of several tax credits that can substantially reduce or eliminate a couple’s tax liability. Although separate filers can take advantage of the child tax credit, it is considerably reduced. In addition, those who file jointly enjoy a higher standard deduction amount, unless they choose to itemize their deductions. As for many itemized deductions, they are either eliminated or reduced via income phase-outs. Filing separately, however, can benefit those who are in the midst of a separation or divorce. Furthermore, filing separately relieves one spouse of being responsible for any fines, penalties or taxes that the other spouse refuses to pay.

Couples who are going through a divorce often face many financial and emotional challenges. However, family law attorneys can often offer solutions to help their clients come to a mutual agreement on a variety of issues.

Contested Divorces In California

Negotiations between divorcing spouses over how their marital assets and debts will be divided can become particularly contentious in community property states like California. While judges in most states have a certain amount of discretion when making these decisions, courts will divide marital property equally unless the parties can otherwise come to an agreement. Couples may hope to avoid the publicity of an open courtroom, but reaching an amicable resolution can be challenging when emotions run high.

When divorce cases are heard by family law courts in California, the arguments often focus on when assets were acquired and how much they are worth. Attorneys may prepare their clients for court by explaining the procedural rules and going over the type of questions that they will likely be asked. Judges like courtroom proceedings to move along at a brisk pace, and contentious matters are often addressed during the discovery and deposition processes to prevent drawn-out legal battles.

The parties to a legal action share information and documents with one another during the discovery phase of the proceedings, and they answer questions about the information that they have provided during depositions. Depositions are generally held at the office of the attorney who will be asking the questions, and the answers provided are recorded and become part of the official record.

Experienced family law attorneys may work tirelessly to help their clients reach a mutually acceptable agreement and avoid the high costs and publicity of courtroom proceedings. When efforts to reach a consensus prove unsuccessful, attorneys may recommend alternative dispute resolution strategies like arbitration or mediation.

Divorces Rates Then And Now

Some California residents may be interested to learn about the results of research comparing contemporary divorce rates to past decades. The survey requested that respondents provide information about their current marital status and a simple marital history in order to try to ascertain patterns whether any patterns emerge from the results. This research yielded some interesting information that might be worth a look.

The survey, which was based in part on 2013 data, found that around 12 percent of the respondents who were 30 years old in 2013 had already been through a divorce. By comparison, the proportion rose to as high as 42 percent of respondents by age 59.

While the common consensus is that divorce rates have risen in recent decades, the information collected actually seems to cast a mixed light on the issue. Compared to census data from 1960 and 1980, a smaller proportion of people were getting divorced by the age of 30 in 2013 than they were in either 1960 or 1980. However, the results for respondents up to age 59 are the other way around; the data indicated that people over 40 in 2013 may be more likely to have been divorced by that age than their counterparts in 1960 or 1980.

Although a divorce can be a stressful experience, it’s often a necessary means of extracting oneself from an unhealthy situation. A person who is facing the end of a marriage might want to explore the available options regarding spousal support, child custody and other such matters with an attorney who has family law experience.

Child Support Payments Are Critical For Many Custodial Parents

Many custodial parents in California rely on child support payments to cover the considerable expenses of raising their children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has placed the cost of providing for a child until adulthood at nearly $250,000. Despite the costs, the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support report found that only about half of custodial parents have a financial agreement or court order that directs the noncustodial parent to provide money.

Among the 5.7 million custodial parent families in 2013 that were owed child support agreements, only 45.6 percent of them collected the payments they were supposed to receive. The average amount of support supplied by a noncustodial parent totaled about $330 a month. If all the money legally due to custodial parents had been provided, then the monthly average would have equaled $480.

Women comprise the majority of custodial parents relying on support payments. Out of 13.4 million custodial parents in 2014, 82.5 percent of them were mothers. In 2014, 22.1 million children below age 21 lived in households that only had one of their parents residing in it. Child support represents a large portion of income for custodial parents living below the poverty line. In 2014 when they receive all payments due to them, the support accounted for 70.3 percent of their average income.

A person experiencing financial pressure because of missed child support payments could contact an attorney for help in tracking down a noncustodial parent, even one that is out of state. Communications between family court systems in different states could be handled by an attorney who could petition the appropriate court for a wage garnishment where applicable.

Information About Prenuptial Agreements

Many California couples who are contemplating marriage likely still have the belief that prenuptial agreements are only for celebrities and the extremely wealthy. While prenups have a historical reputation as protecting couples with significant assets, far more people are now considering one. In fact, a 2013 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey found that more than 60 percent of the divorce lawyers who responded indicated that they had seen an increase in prenups. The increase follows the recession and includes younger people who are marrying for the first time without significant assets.

At their most basic, prenuptial agreements give couples control over which assets are eligible for division should their prospective marriage end in a divorce. They can be as simple as a document stating that each party is entitled to keep the property they had before entering into the marriage. Laws regarding prenuptial agreements vary among states, but it is necessary to allow sufficient time before the wedding in order to avoid one of the parties saying that they were forced to sign it under duress.

Many people avoid discussing the possibility of a prenuptial agreement due to a fear of awkwardness, but many family law experts believe that prenups can actually help a relationship. They also warn that not talking about financial issues is a significant mistake to make and can harm the resulting marriage.

The division of property is often a very contentious part of a divorce. Having a valid prenuptial agreement in place can often reduce some of the conflict. It is important that, when couples are considering one, each party have separate legal representation in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

Spouses Can Collect On Others’ Social Security Benefits

When California couples get married, most assume it will be for life. But things may happen to change these plans. The couple may divorce or one spouse die. Divorce, especially, can throw a monkey wrench into Social Security benefits.

When divorce or death occurs, one spouse may be eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on the other spouse’s earnings records. If one spouse earned significantly more money over their working career, it could translate into higher benefits for the ex-spouse who may have had a lower paying job or stayed home with the family. It all depends on how long the couple was married. In order for a divorced spouse to collect on the ex’s earnings, the couple must have been married at least 10 consecutive years. If the amount would be more than what the ex-spouse would qualify for on their own earnings record, they are entitled to an amount that represents 50 percent of what the other spouse receives when both reach retirement age.

Widows and widowers also may be eligible to receive 100 percent of the Social Security benefits the deceased spouse was receiving at the time of death. The couple must have been married at least nine months and still married at the time of one spouse’s death.

The end of a marriage, no matter how it ended, can present legal challenges. Collecting Social Security benefits on the other spouse’s earnings is possible, but may be more complicated than it appears. If no disputes are involved, an older couple may want to consider timing a divorce to maximize the other’s retirement benefits. A family law attorney may be needed to help explain the requirements and then assist a spouse in obtaining those benefits when they reach full retirement age.

Rapper Rick Ross Balks At $20,000-A-Month Child Support Demand

Many custodial arents in California would appreciate the $2,800 a month the mother of Rick Ross’ son already receives for child support. The mother of the 10-year-old boy has now filed court papers requesting that the rap artist increase his monthly support payments to $20,000.

The woman claims that Ross has substantial assets and should pay more. She alleged that the rapper had recently purchased a $6 million mansion. According to court documents filed in response to her lawsuit, Ross called her claims “frivolous and baseless.” He also accused her of undermining his relationship with his son. His response asserted that she prevented the father from seeing the boy. He added that the mother had not taken a job to help support her son.

After citing the woman’s alleged attempts to alienate the boy from his father, Ross’ filing requested that the court dismiss her request for additional child support. He also asked that the court hold her responsible for his court fees.

Going to court for a child support modification typically requires that a claimant document a change in circumstances to justify the request. This action could be done by either the payor or payee. A parent who needs to alter a child support arrangement because of a change in finances could ask an attorney who has experience in these types of family law matters to prepare the required motion and then submit it to the court. An attorney could also advise the parent about the laws and financial formulas that often guide the decisions of family court judges.

Understanding California Child Support

California law defines child support as the expenditures necessary to cover the living and medical expenses of a child. Under this definition, parents must support a child until age 18, or until age 19 if the child is still in high school. California courts may require ongoing child support payments from one or both parents.

In terms of living expenses, child support covers basic expenses such as shelter, clothing, food, child care and educational expenses. Shelter expenses may include utilities and mortgage or rent payments, even if other household members share the residence with the child. Other expenses such as music lessons, extracurricular activities and entertainment may also fall under the category of expenses that can be paid for with child support funds.

Child support also covers medical expenses. A court may require one parent to include a child in a health insurance plan. However, other expenses beyond insurance-covered items may also be financed through child support. For example, corrective lenses or braces may not be covered by an insurance policy, but they could be paid for with child support funds. In addition, catastrophic injuries, surgeries and chronic health conditions may incur costs that exceed the caps of health insurance policies; these expenses are likewise payable through child support, but courts may order special joint payment provisions for these so-called extraordinary medical expenses.

Family law attorneys can advise parents on the appropriateness of paying for specific items with child support funds. For instance, a family law attorney can suggest the best strategies for structuring financial support for certain one-time expenses or significant child care costs; in some cases, it may be preferable for a parent to seek a court order rather than relying on child support payments to finance large-ticket expenses.

NBA Star Asked To Increase Child Support Payments

After having received $6,000 in monthly child support payments, Feby Torres has taken legal action to pursue higher support payments from the father of her two children. Torres filed a new request for payments of $12,000 each month from Lance Stephenson, a California resident and Los Angeles Clippers player who is the children’s father. Stephenson and his attorney have criticized the request as egregious in light of Torres’ spending habits. The star athlete’s lawyer claimed that Torres’ financial records illustrate that she has been able to put some of the court-ordered child support payments in a savings account for herself.

The mother of the children claims that she needs the extra funds to move out of a Brooklyn neighborhood that she deems unsafe for her children. She cites an incident in which there were gunshots near her daughter’s bedroom. She also claims that her young children would require additional support payments for child care so she can return to school.

After dropping out of school more than one year before her new request, Torres claims she has been unable to find a job in order to provide for her children. Stephenson has expressed a willingness to pay for his children’s needs, but noted that Torres has been able to pay for child care in order to work in music videos under the current child support arrangement. He is expected to appear in court to testify in 2016.

Child support arrangements can lead to significant disputes between parents. If one parent is a celebrity or earns significantly more than the other, child support payments can become even more complicated than usual. A family law attorney can often provide assistance to a noncustodial parent in negotiating an appropriate amount that is in the child’s best interests.