Many individuals and couples in California are concerned about protecting their assets in during and after a divorce. For some of these people, a prenuptial agreement may be a good option. In other cases, there may be other ways for domestic partners to protect their financial health.
There are several things that a person can do to ensure that their pre-marital assets remain with them after a divorce. The first is quite straightforward: Collect and keep financial records from before the marriage, including bank and retirement account statements. Financial records make it easier for attorneys and the courts to determine what an individual brought into a marriage. In case of a dispute, the spouse can more easily show that some assets should be considered marital property.
Another way that people can protect their assets is to keep at least some of them separate during the marriage. For example, while it’s not unusual for couple to have a joint bank account, maintaining additional, separate accounts may be a good preventative measure. Individuals may also want to consider not putting their spouse on the title of a home that they owned prior to the marriage.
Individuals who are planning to get married may benefit from speaking to an experienced family law attorney prior to their wedding day. A lawyer may be able to review a client’s financial situation and make recommendations that can help protect the client’s assets in case the marriage eventually dissolves. The attorney may also be able to review a divorce settlement and recommend a post-divorce modification if there are concerns about the original agreement.
In certain situations, California courts order the payment of spousal support, known as partner support in domestic partnerships. Sometimes referred to as alimony, spousal support payments can be ordered only in certain legal situations with the amount of support determined by the judge.
A request for spousal or partner support can be made as part of a divorce or legal separation or as part of a request for a restraining order against a current or former partner or spouse. A judge may order payment of temporary spousal or partner support during the legal proceedings and may order permanent spousal or partner support as part of a final divorce or separation decree.
The amount of temporary spousal support is generally determined by a formula. The courts in each county have established their own formulas. For permanent spousal or partner support, the judge is required to consider a set of factors listed in state law. These factors include the length of the marriage or domestic partnership, the needs of each individual, the earning capacity of each individual, debts and assets, whether one partner helped support the other partner while working on a degree or professional license and whether the marriage or domestic partnership was affected by domestic violence.
Spousal and partner support is such a complex issue that the California courts recommend that an individual seeking support payments consult a lawyer or a family law facilitator for the particular court. A private attorney or family law facilitator may be able to explain how spousal or partner support is calculated and how long the payments may last. He or she may also be able to help the individual seeking support to complete the forms that are required in order to request spousal or partner support.
A family dealing with the need to establish a legal relationship between a parent and child when there isn’t a biological bond must go through the adoption process. The new relationship is deemed to be permanent and equivalent to that between birth parent and child. An adoption may occur in connection with a marriage in which a child’s biological parent has a new partner. Whether by marriage or by registration of the domestic partnership, the parents must demonstrate a legal union. This is one of the simplest and most common adoption scenarios as at least one birth parent is still the child’s parent.
Adoptions can also occur independently or through an agency. An international adoption is also possible when a child born outside of the United States is involved. In each of these cases, a court must end the parental rights of a child’s biological parents before adoption can be completed. This is also the case in a stepparent or domestic adoption as the absent parent’s consent is typically required for termination of the relationship. Although these decisions may be made without a biological parent’s consent, the courts tend to proceed with caution. In cases involving a deceased birth parent, proof of that status may be needed.
Tracking down an absent biological parent may be challenging, but there are resources to consider as this issue is addressed. Options may include searching online or through government agencies such as county recorder offices or the Department of Motor Vehicles. Efforts may be made to track down a child’s parent through family members or by use of last known addresses as well.
Legal representation may be important if a biological parent needs to be located for the adoption process to continue. A lawyer with experience in family law matters may be able to assist in the search for that individual while also managing other details related to the case.