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.

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.

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.

Financial Betrayal Is A Top Indicator For Divorce

According to a recently-conducted survey, the main indicator for divorce is financial betrayal, and many spouses are oblivious to it. Financial infidelity occurs when one spouse hides financial information from the other. Some California spouses could be financial cheaters and not even know it.

Researchers interviewed 843 people over the phone about the financial situation in their relationship and discovered that hiding bank accounts occurs more frequently than believed. The survey revealed that 6 percent of individuals hide bank accounts from their partners or spouses. Additionally, about 20 percent of people who are in relationships have spent at least $500 without telling their partners.

The Wall Street Journal reports that people tend to spend money in ways that prevent their partners or spouses from finding out. One way is paying in cash that they have put back over long periods of time after withdrawing money from different ATMs. Another way is concealing gift cards just so that they get to spend the money on themselves. Many financial cheaters deny spending money in secret when their partners or spouses ask them about it. According to another survey, 64 percent of men hide purchases or tear up receipts to avoid their spouses finding out and to avoid an argument about finances.

This is not the first time that financial issues have been highlighted as indicators of divorce. A study published in 2013 from a researcher at Kansas State University discovered that people who fight about money during the early stages of their relationship are more likely to get a divorce.

Other reasons that marriages come to an end include extramarital affairs and arguments about children or in-laws. No matter the cause, many divorcing spouses choose to seek the advice and counsel of family law attorneys with respect to the various divorce legal issues that will arise.

Businesses And Property Division In California

California business owners may need to understand that their companies may be considered community property in the event of a divorce. This means that both spouses may be entitled to a share of the company’s valuation if sold or entitled to a share of future profits. However, judges rarely make business owners sell their company or assets within the company at the time of a divorce.

Doing so could deprive an individual of an employment opportunity or a means of providing spousal support. To increase the odds of a timely and fair divorce settlement, business owners are urged not to make any attempt to hide or transfer assets. They are also encouraged not to terminate or otherwise retaliate against a spouse who may be working for the company at the time of the divorce.

When determining how to split the proceeds from a business, a judge will look at many different factors. Most importantly, the judge will look at how much the company was worth before the marriage compared to its value after the marriage. If most of the growth took place before the marriage, the other spouse would be entitled to a smaller share as the business would have been considered a separate asset previously.

Property division can often be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce, and when there are assets involved that are not necessarily subject to an easy appraisal, such as a closely-held business, it can become even more challenging. Many family law attorneys recommend to their business owner clients who are planning on getting married that a prenuptial agreement that addresses the issue of the company’s classification in the event of a subsequent divorce may be worth considering.

Actor Gary Oldman’s Divorce From 4th Wife Finalized

California movie fans may have heard that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge finalized Gary Oldman’s divorce from his wife, singer Alexandra Edenborough, in September. The actor was married to his wife in 2008 and separated from her in mid-2014. Ms. Edenborough had filed for divorce in January 2015.

As part of the settlement, Oldman agreed to pay his fourth wife $3.3 million along with some other assets. Oldman was reportedly allowed to keep two homes and several vehicles that were purchased during their marriage. Additionally, both Oldman and his ex-wife retained rights to their separate ventures as per the settlement.

The divorce process can be very complicated in community property states like California, especially when there are a large number of assets that were obtained during the marriage to divide up. In some cases, the assets may be wanted by both parties or one party simply does not want the other party to end up with those particular assets. Depending on whether or not the two parties can work together, mediation may be very helpful for coming to a settlement that both parties may be happy with.

If the two parties cannot come together to agree on a settlement and are not in favor of trying the mediation process, a family law attorney may help a client with the negotiations so the divorce can be finalized more quickly. Legal counsel can also potentially assist the client with ensuring that the other spouse is not trying to hide marital assets in an attempt to prevent the client from obtaining a fair amount of the assets that were obtained while both parties were still married.

Financial Concerns For Divorcing California Couples

California couples whose marriages are coming to an end will need to look at the financial as well as the emotional side of things. Complications might arise due to issues around child support, alimony and division of community property. One of the first things people should do during a divorce is to take stock of their own financial situation, the financial situation of their spouse and their marital assets. This may include income, debts, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

People should also understand how their expenses will change. It might be necessary for one spouse to move into a new home while continuing to pay a portion of the mortgage. There may also be expenses couples anticipate continuing to share for some time such as saving for a child’s college education.

Some people might find it necessary to speak to a tax or financial adviser. Selling a home or dividing a jointly-owned business or retirement accounts can have complex financial and tax ramifications. Individuals must also keep in mind that it is necessary to change beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement and similar accounts so that the ex-spouse is no longer listed.

A person who is contemplating a divorce may want to obtain the advice and counsel of a family law attorney even if it appears that the process will be amicable. Even friendly divorces may be stressful, and this can result in a person forgetting some financial aspects or making poor decisions. An attorney may be able to help keep the focus on practical matters despite the emotions that often accompany the process. In a community property state like California, it is important to determine what should be classified as marital property and what assets should be deemed separately owned.