California parents may want to avoid going before a judge during proceedings related to child support and other family matters. While a judge must approve any child support agreements or orders, a parental agreement may allow both parties to complete such a matter without facing a judge. However, the rules governing child support agreements are significant, and it is important that both parties understand the implications of an agreement and enter into such an agreement without being coerced.
The state uses a child support formula to compute the recommended amount due based on issues such as income and assets of the parents and the amount of parenting time assigned to each party. In some cases, parents might agree to a lesser amount than that determined by this formula, in which case the parent receiving support must be fully aware of their rights. Similarly, a paying parent might agree to provide more than the minimum required. The court is particularly concerned that the needs of the children involved will be met and that such an agreement is in their best interest.
If a parent is receiving public assistance, a child support agreement must be approved and signed by the local child support agency. Similarly, this type of approval must be obtained if the child support agency has an active case to enforce collection on one of the parties. Parents will need to prepare and sign the appropriate stipulation paperwork so that the matter can be approved by a judge. However, the parents should not need to appear before the judge if all requirements have been satisfied.
A parent who feels that they are being coerced into accepting an agreement might discuss such a matter with a lawyer. If the other party is seeking changes in support levels because of an adverse financial situation, they may be able to seek a modification from the court if necessary.
California residents going through divorce may wonder about support obligations such as alimony. The circumstances surrounding both the years of marriage and the divorce could impact the court’s decisions about ordering alimony payments. Although a divorce is a means of severing ties, alimony can result in an extension of the connection between two parties because of financial obligations. Some may choose to forego alimony payments to ensure that the ties are completely ended.
The duration of a marriage plays a significant role in the amount of time a support-owing spouse may have to pay alimony. If a marriage ends before it has reached the 10-year mark, for example, a spouse’s alimony obligation would typically last only half as long as the marriage lasted. If the marriage lasts for more than 10 years, however, the duration of alimony could be much longer if not indefinite. The amount of support is typically computed based on the differences in income between the two parties. However, additional factors such as the standard of living during the marriage or the ability of the support-owing party to pay alimony could also figure into an alimony order.
An individual who has been out of the work environment during a marriage might use their alimony income to retrain for a new work opportunity, especially if their alimony payments will only last for a few years. In other cases, an individual might choose to forego payments because they are able to transition into a self-supporting status right away.
Although alimony might be ordered in a court setting, some couples choose alternative legal options for arriving at an agreement over spousal support. A lawyer with experience in family law might recommend alternative dispute resolution methods such as collaborative divorce or mediation to reach an agreement over terms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Californians may have heard about the court that ordered three children into juvenile detention earlier this summer for their refusal to even have lunch with their father. The children had been estranged from him ever since his divorce with their mother. After staying in detention for a few days, the judge then ordered them to attend summer camp. They then underwent five days of intensive treatment designed to help children suffering from parental alienation syndrome. They are currently living with their father, and have done so since Aug. 15.
At issue in the case is whether the mother took active steps to alienate the children from their father, a real problem in some divorce and child custody cases. The therapy the children received is controversial. Some people worry that it can result in children being placed in homes with an abusive parent.
The man has asked that his ex-wife not be allowed to contact the children for 90 days, as called for by their parental alienation treatment program. The father has also asked that his monthly $1,700 child support payments be abated while the children remain with him. They are scheduled to return to court again in November, when the judge will decide whether the mother’s physical custody of the children should be ended permanently.
Generally, family law courts take the approach that children’s best interests require that they be able to grow up having relationships with both parents, except in cases in which one parent poses a danger to their health, safety or welfare. Judges also look disfavorably on parents who actively try to alienate their children from the other parent. Except in cases of abuse, doing so may be very detrimental to children.
When the financial circumstances of California non-custodial parents have substantially changed, they may have difficulty making their court-ordered child support payments. In that case, they will often need to file a petition to modify child support in order to seek a reduction in the monthly amount.
In some cases, a parent has relocated to a new state since the child support order was issued. Their child and the other parent may also have done so. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act has been enacted in each of the 50 states to address such situations. Under the law, the state in which the obligor, obligee or the child reside will have exclusive jurisdiction.
In some cases, more than one state could claim jurisdiction, so the UIFSA addresses that potentiality as well. If a child continues to live in a state that ordered child support, that state will continue holding jurisdiction over the case. If the child has moved to a different state, then the last state from which a child support order issued will have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Sometimes it may be difficult to determine the correct venue in which to file a motion to modify child support. Parents may want to seek the help of a family law attorney to both identify the state with jurisdiction and to help with drafting and filing it. In the event an attorney determines that California does not have jurisdiction, they may help by referring the person to an attorney in the state that does. If they identify California as the state holding jurisdiction, they may help their clients by drafting a petition that is thoroughly supported with evidentiary documentation to show the court why such a change is needed.
Parents in California may be relieved to find out that a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family shows that many noncustodial fathers who do not make their court-ordered child support payments still make substantial contributions to the care and support of their children in other ways. The study suggests that dads who do not pay are not always as “deadbeat” as they appear.
Census data shows that in 2011, approximately the same amount of noncustodial mothers and noncustodial fathers paid their full amount of child support payments. Unfortunately, many sociologists say that the existing child support system often leads the custodial mothers to deny the noncustodial fathers access to their children until they make the payments.
The study examined 367 low-income, noncustodial fathers in three cities and found that while just 23 percent paid child support via the system, 28 percent gave the mothers cash directly, and 46 percent contributed an average of $60 a month worth of in-kind support such as food, baby products, clothes and school expenses.
Only 66 of the fathers gave no cash to the mothers of their total 95 children, but they contributed $63 of in-kind support every month per child. In regard to being denied access to their children, the study concluded that fathers who do not see their children contribute only about 50 percent of the in-kind support than fathers who see their children a minimum of 10 hours a month contribute.
Child support is one of the primary matters that is determined when parents go through a divorce, but each parent’s or child’s living situation could change after the order has been issued. Noncustodial parents who are having trouble paying their child support obligations due to an unexpected financial downturn could talk to their family law attorneys about getting their orders modified.
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.