image of couple discussing divorce

What is Spousal Support in California?

Understanding California Spousal Support

If you find yourself entangled in a California spousal support case, you may not understand the subtleties of this type of legal agreement. Spousal support awards are not meant as punitive damages — they simply aim to compensate one spouse fairly and reasonably if that spouse suffers significant loss of marital income (the income, and subsequent standard of living, enjoyed by both spouses during their time as a couple). This support can prove especially crucial for a spouse who has never worked or has spent years away from the workplace. Spousal support is dealt with as a separate issue from other divorce-related concerns such as division of property, child support, and child custody.

Types of Spousal Support

The three primary categories of spousal support in California include temporary, permanent, and rehabilitative support. Let’s look at the key differences in these categories.

  • Temporary support – In temporary support, the higher-earning spouse makes payments to help the lower-earning spouse get through the financial burdens created by loss of income and other expenses during the course of the divorce case. Once the divorce case reaches its conclusion, this support terminates.
  • Permanent support – Permanent support takes the place of temporary support (if so ordered) as part of the final divorce agreement. This long-term form of support requires the higher-earning spouse to make regular payments to the lower-earning spouse so that spouse can continue to maintain a pre-divorce standard of living.
  • Rehabilitative support – Rehabilitative support commonly applies in cases where one spouse left the workforce or reduced their work hours to take care of the children. It is awarded as a kind of stopgap compensation on the understanding that the recipient spouse will make a good faith effort to return to the work force and eventually become financially independent.

California divorce courts may also award lump-sum or reimbursement support. In lump-sum support, the alimony is paid in a single payment instead of spread out over a long-term schedule. In reimbursement support, the high-earning spouse makes payments to help fund career training and education for the lower-earning spouse’s return to financial independence.

The Spousal Support Process

California spouses must request and obtain formal support through a court case that results in a written court order. (If one spouse gives money to another spouse for support purposes before a written court order has made such payment mandatory, that money may not be officially credited toward the alimony payments.) While divorce commonly serves as the grounds for a spousal support request, a court may also award it on the grounds of domestic violence, legal separation, or the annulment of a marriage. Domestic partners may also receive partner support by pursuing the same basic process.

Determining Spousal Support Awards

Different local courts in California rely on their own specific formulas for calculating the amount of temporary spousal support to be awarded in a divorce case. Your local court can clarify how their particular formula determines temporary spousal support.

The divorce court will consider a number of factors when calculating the amount of permanent support awarded to a spouse. According to California Code Section 4320, these factors may include such basic data as the length of the marriage, the health and age of each spouse, and each spouse’s income. The court also considers the distribution of income, child care, possessions, and debts during the marriage. If it was agreed that one spouse would support the other during the marriage while the other spouse cared for the children, these factors must figure into the award determination as well. The non-working spouse may not be able to re-enter the job market at a level that would compensate for the loss of marital income, especially if it impacts the spouse’s ability to continue watching over the kids.

Under certain circumstances, one spouse or the other can ask the court to change or end the spousal support payment amount or schedule. This usually requires the spouse to show a significant change such as a spouse no longer needing the support, becoming unable to make the ordered payments due to loss of income, or not making a legitimate effort to become self-sustaining.

 

Why Your Date of Separation Matters

As with most states, having their own sets of rules or guidelines when it comes to legal options is customary. In California, this holds true with divorce. The date of separation in a divorce case matters in the state of California, and it can impact your case in a few different ways that may be important to you.

When people enter in a
divorce, one of the first questions they’ll ask their attorney is, “When
will my divorce be final?” While this is only natural to wonder,
the date the divorce becomes official isn’t the only date that matters.
There are reasons why the “date of separation” is just, if
not more important than the date the divorce is finalized. The date of
separation can be a major factor in matters pertaining to
child support,
property division, and spousal support.

The Date of Separation in California

When does the date of separation occur? The date of separation varies from state-to-state.
Often, it comes down to the date that one spouse packs their bags and
moves out of the marital home, but that’s not practical for a lot
of married couples, especially in California where the cost of living
is so high.

Under
Section 70 (a) of the California Family Code, the date of separation “means the
date that a complete and final break in the marital relationship has occurred,
as evidenced by” one spouse expressing to the other spouse that
they want a divorce
and by the conduct of that spouse is consistent with his or her intent to end
the marriage.

If you notice, the law doesn’t say anything about one spouse moving
out and that’s intentional because it’s not uncommon for spouses
to continue living together after they decide to get a divorce for the
following reasons:

  • The couple can’t yet afford to rent a separate apartment or house.
    Considering a small apartment in Los Angles can easily run upward of $2,000
    a month, this is understandable.
  • The couple wants to remain under one roof for the sake of the kids until
    the divorce is final or the house is sold.
  • It’s more practical for the couple to live together for childcare
    purposes until one or both of their schedules change in the future.

How Does the Date of Separation Impact My Case?

California is a community property state, which means both spouses have
an equal or a 50 percent interest in all assets and income acquired during
the course of the marriage, regardless of who earned the money or whose
name is on the title. The main exception to the rule would be property
protected by a
prenuptial or
postnuptial agreement, which states that certain property is to be treated as “separate
property,” which is not subject to division in a divorce.

Property division and how it’s impacted by the date of separation
is not to be taken lightly. One of the main reasons being that any income
the spouses earn after their date of separation remains their own, separate
property and it’s not subject to division in the divorce. “What
if the income was earned before the separation, but paid afterward?”
is a question we get all the time.

If one spouse earns income before the date of separation and it’s
paid afterward, it’s still community property and can be split in
the divorce. What matters in this scenario is
when the income was earned, not when it was paid out.

For example, if a woman were to win $10 million from the California lottery
before she told her husband she wanted a divorce, but she received the
money a week
after ending her marriage, her husband would likely be entitled to $5 million
of her winnings under California’s divorce laws. The same could
be said for a big bonus a spouse receives after the couple separates.
If it was a year-end bonus, the judge could consider it to be “marital
property.”

The date of separation can also impact the duration of
spousal support. In California, a marriage of long duration is 10 or more years. If a couple
has a long-term marriage that lasted 10 or more years, the judge could
order spousal support without an end date. So, if a couple split after
say, 9.5 years, but their divorce didn’t finalize until the 10-year
mark, the judge may order that spousal support be paid for 5 years (half
the length of the marriage, which is common), instead of having it last
indefinitely as in the case of a marriage that lasted at least 10 years.

What About Property We Buy?

Just as income and debts are owned equally by both spouses regardless of
who earned the money or incurred the debt during the marriage, property
purchased during the marriage is treated the same. So, if a spouse were
to buy a house or a boat with marital funds before the separation, it
would be considered marital property. In contrast, if the house or boat
were purchased
after the relationship was verbally terminated with that spouse’s separate
income or assets, then it could be counted as separate property and would
belong to the spouse who bought it.

Can I Date After We Separate?

All the time, clients ask us, “Can I date after my date of separation?”
Since California is a no-fault divorce state, yes, however, parents need
to proceed with caution. If you start dating after you separate from your
spouse, your dating could impact your child custody case if: 1) your spouse
has a problem with you dating, and 2) your ex can convince the judge that
you’re somehow neglecting your children because of the dating. If
your dating appears to be interfering with your parenting, it could affect
the judge’s custody decision.

So, if you decide to date, get an attorney’s advice and be discreet
in the process. If you don’t have kids with your ex, then dating
after you separate should not impact spousal support or the divorce in
any way, unless it angers your spouse and the divorce becomes contentious
as a result.

Source: https://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2020/July/California-Divorce-Why-Your-Date-of-Separation-M.aspx

Surprising Divorce Advice You Actually Need

Nobody goes into a marriage thinking it will only last a short time. People want marriage to be forever, as that is what it is intended for. However, as time passes, the divorce rates keep increasing, and this is especially true if someone gets married more than once. Here is some advice that may surprise you.

When you got married, you probably thought it was
forever. You probably thought that you and your spouse would be good, that you’d
never become a “statistic,” but now, here you are. You’re
in one of the 5 out of every 10 first marriages that end in divorce. But
don’t feel bad, the
divorce rates increase with each subsequent marriage, so you’re not to blame.

As people hear about your divorce, the advice will probably start rolling
in, whether you ask for it or not. “Hire a good attorney,”
they’ll say. “Don’t change your relationship status
on Facebook until you’re divorced,” they’ll say. “Take
some time off work” and “Now is the time to slow down and
focus on your kids.” Surely, you’ll hear a lot of the same
advice repeated and it will come from people with the best intentions.

Each person who offers you divorce advice will be sharing nuggets of wisdom
based on their personal experience. Well, after representing countless
clients, we have narrowed down the best pieces of advice that we share
often, and most of it applies to everybody, regardless of their unique
relationship circumstances. Here are some divorce facts and advice that
you probably won’t hear from the average divorcée, but you’ll
hear it from our experienced divorce attorneys.

1. The Divorce Will Affect You Physically
Even if you’ve been fantasizing about divorce for years, when it
becomes official, it’s very common for people to be affected physically.
By physically, we’re referring to nausea, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness,
loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, or weight gain. If the divorce didn’t
affect you physically to some degree, it would be unusual.

We expect the divorce to affect you physically. If and when it does, our
advice is to slow down and take good care of yourself. Instead of turning
to food, drugs, or alcohol to numb the pain, our advice is to eat healthy
food, get extra rest, and exercise. In fact, a good diet and daily exercise
can be the best things you can do for yourself right now. What’s
more, you can use the divorce as motivation to get in the best shape of
your life!

2. The Divorce Will Affect You Emotionally
Again, you may have been dreaming about divorce for some time, but that
doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be stressful. Even when a divorce
is for the best, it’s still normal to feel a flood of emotions,
which may be unpleasant. You may be thrilled about the divorce, but the
thought of detangling your finances, putting your house on the market,
telling your friends and family, and dealing with child custody can be
overwhelming and extremely stressful.

So, the breakup itself may not be the issue, but dealing with the divorce
process may be the hardest part. At a time when you’re at your worst
emotionally, you have to make big decisions that will affect you for the
rest of your life. It can challenge you to the core.

3. You May Want to Get Rid of All Physical Reminders
Ever wondered how people could get rid of expensive items for “free”
on Craigslist or how they can donate valuable items to thrift stores?
Sometimes, people get rid of things and don’t even sell them during
a divorce because they want to eliminate all reminders of their marriage.

If you find yourself walking around your house and you get the urge to
get rid of something your spouse gave you, or an item you bought while
on vacation with your spouse, or a wedding gift because it reminds you
of your spouse, you’re not alone. If you have the urge to get rid
of all physical reminders of your spouse and your marriage, it’s
not strange. It happens all the time.

However, instead of throwing all reminders away or donating them, we recommend
setting them to the side and asking your spouse if he or she wants them
before removing them from your home permanently. It’s nice to do
this out of respect, even if you despise your spouse. If he or she did
the same for you, you’d probably appreciate the gesture. It just
helps keep things smooth.

4. Your Spouse May Start Dating Before You
We don’t know your situation. As soon as you and your spouse are
living under separate roofs, you may be the first one to sign up for a
dating app like Tinder or Bumble. Or, maybe you can’t imagine going
to bars, let alone signing up for a dating app. If you’re nowhere
near ready to date again, beware, your spouse may be, and it may not draw
the best emotions out of you.

If your spouse starts dating before you, try not to take it personally.
It could upset you,
a lot, but do your best to distract yourself. Often, the best thing someone
could do in this type of situation is to focus on themselves. This means
doing whatever it is that makes you happy as long as it’s not self-destructive.
Perhaps this means working out, reading, binge-watching your favorite
shows on Netflix, diving into an old or new hobby, taking a new class,
camping, or traveling, etc. If you’re happy with yourself, it will
be easier to accept that your spouse has moved on.

5. Your Spouse Will Remain Flawed
If you have children with your spouse, he or she will be in your life
forever, especially if you have grandchildren one day. While you’re
getting a divorce, the things that bother you about your spouse probably
won’t change. So, you’ll have to accept his or her flaws and
just be glad that you don’t have to live with them anymore.

Next:
Divorce Advice That Doesn’t Cost You a Dime

Source: https://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2020/June/Surprising-Divorce-Advice-You-Actually-Need.aspx

Is a Post-Quarantine Divorce Boom Around the Corner?

With so many couples quarantining together the last few months, it’s a safe bet that many have had arguments, realized things about each other, and may no longer feel the same love that they did before. This is leading a lot of people to believe there may be a post-quarantine boom around the corner.

It would be safe to imagine that when the Chinese government lifted its
quarantine restrictions, people would be running out to local parks, taking
strolls around their neighborhoods, hitting their local gyms, visiting
their favorite restaurants, and so on. But instead of the much-anticipated
happening, something peculiar took place. Scores of married couples did
the same thing. They didn’t go on dates together. Instead, they
went straight to
divorce lawyers.

As
Bloomberg News recently reported, China’s post-quarantine divorce spike is a warning
to the rest of the world still in lockdown. When the quarantine was started
in China, officials were hopeful that couples being cooped up together
would result in a baby boom since birthrates in the country have reached
a record low since 1949.

In fact, one banner from a local family planning office was hung on a gate
in Luoyang, a central Henan province. The banner read: “As you stay
home during the outbreak, the second-child policy has been loosened, so
creating a second child is also contribution to your country.” Of
course, China won’t know if its efforts to increase thitsopulation
worked until eight or nine months post-quarantine.

As China temporarily relaxed its second child policy, Chinese media reported
on the uptick in domestic violence reports. For example,
Sixth Tone, an online publication based in Shanghai, reported how police in one county
in central Hubei province, located close to Wuhan, where the pandemic
began, had seen a surge in domestic violence calls. In February, they
received 162 reports of domestic violence, three times the number of reports
(47) in February of 2019.

Feng Yuan is the cofounder of a non-governmental organization in Beijing
called Equality. “Lockdown brings out latent tendencies for violence
that were there before but not coming out,” she wrote in an email
to Bloomberg. “Lockdown also makes help seeking more difficult.”
According to Yuan, police were so busy enforcing quarantines that women
who were being abused couldn’t leave, and the courts that normally
issued protective orders were closed.

Are Chinese Divorces a Sign of Things to Come?

Are the divorces coming out of China a sign that a similar thing will happen
here in the United States? We think so, but we’re not alone. If
people can barely deal with each other when they get to go to work and
see their friends and engage in hobbies alone, how are they going to deal
with each other while in lockdown?

Like many divorce lawyers in the United States, we predict there will be
a spike in divorces after the stay-at-home orders are lifted. For those
marriages that were volatile before the pandemic, they’re probably
going to explode during quthe arantine. But then, there’s going
to be a second category of divorces – couples who had healthy marriages
before the pandemic.

These couples were leading their lives apart 8 to 10 hours a day while
their kids were in childcare or school. When their normal routines are
dramatically interrupted, if they don’t have the tools to communicate
effectively, they’ll have trouble adapting and their marriage can
break down to the point where someone throws in the towel.

Some reasons why happy couples will struggle during quarantine:

  • Financial strain, such one or both spouses losing their jobs
  • Unequal division of domestic responsibilities
  • Fighting children
  • Infidelity (read more below)

Infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce and even though quarantine
makes it harder for cheating spouses to see their paramours, physical
confinement can make it easier to get caught.

How many people are going to be sneaky and creep onto their spouse’s
phones while they’re in the shower or when they accidentally leave
a phone on a counter? Then, there’s the issue of a relationship
having an ugly ending but the people are trapped inside and they can’t
get away from each other. And what about the children who are trapped
inside the unhappy home with their mom and dad?

That’s what’s the scariest. Adults get divorced all the time
and that’s their right. They are adults who can make their own decisions
about their marriages. But what about the children who are forced to watch
their parents’ marriages self-destruct? This is not going to be
a good thing and it’s happening as we speak. It’s dangerous
for hostile couples to be forced to cohabitate with each other and this
is one of the reasons why divorce attorneys have a grim prognosis for
couples coming out of quarantine.

Another Reason to File for Divorce ASAP

One reason why some couples will rush to divorce court after the pandemic
is they’ll realize they’re not happily married. They’re
asking themselves, “Why stay married to this person if it’s
not working?” Aside from that, there’s a financial incentive
to divorcing sooner than later.

On the day a couple files for divorce, it’s as if the value of their
assets, including a business stock portfolios they self-manage are set
in stone. So, it makes financial sense for many couples to file for divorce
before those assets start to bounce back after the economy recovers.

Are you thinking about filing for divorce? Whether it’s because of
domestic violence, a discovered affair, economic strain, or because you and your spouse
can’t stand being with each other 24/7, we can help. To learn more
about what steps need to be taken to get this process started,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to schedule a
free case evaluation.

Source: https://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2020/May/Is-a-Post-Quarantine-Divorce-Boom-Around-the-Cor.aspx

10 Money Mistakes People Make In A Divorce

In any legal matter, mistakes want to be avoided at all costs, that is just common sense. In a divorce though, mistakes can be even more glaring, especially when money is involved. Make sure these ten money mistakes are avoided if you or a loved one are going through a divorce, and it can make the process a bit more smooth

Source: https://divorcefield.blogspot.com/feeds/3185545497782046638/comments/default

Divorce Decrees and Remarriage

Although divorce may unfortunately be common in today’s world, so is getting remarried, which is a great thing. When people get divorced, then want to re-marry, a lot of questions arise about the process, and how the divorce impacts them. One of those is the divorce decree, and how it factors into getting remarried.

The
divorce process is complicated because it involves financial entanglement and also because
the couple has to follow specific legal and court procedures before their
divorce can be signed off by a judge. Because of this, it’s important to
avoid a DIY divorce and seek the assistance of a professional attorney
who can navigate the process for you.

When you file for divorce, you will have to resolve several divorce-related
issues, such as
child custody,
child support,
spousal support,property, and debt division, what to do with the marital residence, etc. Once you have sorted through
all of these issues, you will eventually receive the “divorce decree,”
which is the required proof you’ll need to show that you are divorced.

The divorce decree is official evidence that your divorce is final. Generally,
both spouses sign the divorce decree but it’s not final until it’s
signed off by the judge – that’s when the divorce decree is
effective.

Are Divorce Decrees Permanent?

Once a judge has signed off on a divorce decree, the divorce itself is
official. The parties are free to remarry from that day forward. The terms
outlined in the divorce are also considered “final,” but that
does not mean they aren’t subject to change. It is very common for
things to change in people’s lives after a divorce.

People move away, they become unemployed, the go back to school, they remarry,
they get big promotions, or they become disabled or terminally ill –
all of these life changes may warrant a
modification to a divorce decree. If one of the former spouses desires to change child
custody or spousal support, they have to petition the court for a modification
for the change to be legally enforceable. If a modification is not made
by the court, and one of the party’s deviates from the terms in
the original divorce decree, it is considered a violation of the divorce
decree and the non-breaching party can take their ex to court to enforce
the court order. In serious cases, a party may even be held in contempt
of court, fined, and jailed for violating the divorce decree.

Showing Proof of a Legal Divorce

It is very common for people to remarry, even after they’ve had a
heavily-litigated divorce. Often, such people had been living in hollow,
loveless marriages and they embrace the opportunity to love again, to
have a second chance to get it right. As such, they’ll need to apply
for a marriage license. But what if they were married before? Do they
have to show proof of the divorce?

As we mentioned earlier, the divorce decree is proof that someone has obtained
a divorce. If someone was married before, they cannot remarry unless their
marriage was officially terminated by a court. To prove that the divorce
has in fact gone through, to prove that divorce is legitimate, the divorced
party will usually need to supply evidence of the divorce by producing
their divorce decree.

“Why would I need to show proof that my divorce was finalized?”
For starters, it’s illegal to get married while you’re still
married to someone else. If you were to have this big, beautiful wedding
while you’re technically still married to your first husband or
wife, your second marriage would be legally invalid.

One Story of Bigamy

In 2017,
patch.com ran a real-life story about a woman who was living in California. The
wife didn’t know it, but the husband married her while he was still
legally married to his first wife. His second wife only learned about
the first marriage when the man’s new girlfriend started spreading
rumors about it. So, the woman wanted to know what her rights were about
taking legal actions against bigamy. She also wanted to know if her marriage
was legal.

The woman was informed that her marriage was invalid because her husband
was married to another woman while he was married to her. Under California
law, the second wife was an unwitting victim of bigamy, which means her
marriage was never legal or valid in the eyes of the law. While bigamy
is illegal in California, it’s rare for it to be prosecuted.

The woman was informed by the author of the article that her marriage is
void and that she needed to file an annulment right away. Since she attempted
to get married in good faith, she was a “putative wife,” who
could, therefore, seek one-half of all property the couple acquired during
the course of the invalid marriage. What’s more, she was still entitled
to seek spousal support if she needed it.

Even though we highly doubt that you or anyone you know is guilty of bigamy,
we thought we’d share this interesting story!

Applying for a Marriage License

In California, people don’t have to be a resident of the state to
get married here. However, to get married in California, neither party
can be married to someone else.

“Both parties must appear in person and bring valid picture identification
to the County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license in
California. Valid picture identification is one that contains a photograph,
date of birth, and an issue and expiration date, such as a state-issued
identification card, drivers license, passport, military identification,
etc. Some counties may also require a copy of your birth certificate,”
according to the
California Department of Public Health.

If you are divorced, you will have to provide the specific date your divorce
was finalized. Some counties also require the marriage license applicant
to provide a copy of their final judgment, which is the divorce decree
we mentioned above.

Source: https://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2020/April/Will-I-Need-a-Divorce-Decree-to-Get-Remarried-.aspx

Discussing Divorce Goals With Attorney

When you hire an attorney of any kind, they should certainly be aware of your case, and the ins and outs of the laws of what is being accomplished. That much is a given. When it comes to a divorce both parties have goals for the outcome of the case, and whether the attorney knows what these goals are is important.

Source: https://divorcefield.blogspot.com/feeds/1566484772573282700/comments/default

When Does Child Support End?

When going through a divorce with children involved, there are many financial aspects to consider, and to plan for, from both sides of the divorce. One of these is child support, and who will be paying, how much, and for how long. Although it may seem as though child support never ends, there is an end in sight.

Source: https://divorcefield.blogspot.com/feeds/4326151535388703395/comments/default

Advice Before Your Divorce

Obviously divorce is a difficult time, and there are many ways to approach it, depending on the situation between you and the other party. Many people will give advice, whether they have been through a divorce or not. There are a few things though, that you should definitely be aware of and prepared for.

Divorcing is usually a very emotionally stressful experience. At a time
when you’re whole life is turned upside-down, it’s important
to be thinking with a clear head. And the less you know about the
divorce process, the more stressful it can be. To have a more positive
divorce experience, we encourage you to read this article, which provides excellent
information on surviving divorce.

When it comes to every aspect of divorce, it’s important that you
know your rights and responsibilities under California law, especially
as they pertain to
asset and debt division,
spousal support,
child support, and
child custody – you do not have to feel powerless when getting a divorce. Read
on as we help prepare you for your divorce journey.

Be Prepared for Battle

At
Claery & Hammond, LLP, we fully support the idea of a collaborative, amicable divorce, but at
the same time, it’s important for clients to be prepared for battle.
It doesn’t mean you need to be angry and bitter and treat your spouse
with utter animosity – it simply means you need to be “prepared”
for battle. In other words, don’t let your guard down. Don’t
let yourself be taken advantage of. Don’t say “yes”
to everything your spouse wants just because you feel guilty about the
divorce. Be rational, but don’t keep those defenses up.

Consult with an Attorney Before Filing

You may have just gotten in a huge blowout with your spouse and now you’re
in a rush to get in court and file for divorce; please don’t. Before
you file for divorce, do yourself a favor and consult with a divorce lawyer
from our firm. At your initial consultation, we can discuss our fees,
answer your questions, and provide the good advice you need early on.

We offer free consultations, so it doesn’t cost you a dime to get
the pressing advice you need. Also, we recommend meeting with your accountant
so they can explain the tax consequences of your divorce and any other
issues regarding your retirement accounts, stocks, and other investments.

Consider the Timing of Your Divorce

When getting a divorce, it’s good to consider the
timing. If you’re due for a bonus or a raise, you may want to file for divorce
sooner than later because after you file for divorce, the money you earn
is considered separate property. On the other hand, if your spouse is
expecting a big bonus or a raise, you may want to hold off on the divorce filing.

Have you been in a long-term marriage, one that is almost 10-years-old?
If you’re close to the 10-year mark, this is something to consider.
You see, in California, a marriage of long duration lasts 10 years or longer.

If you’ve been married close to 10 years, it may be wise to stick
it out until your next anniversary. Waiting until your 10th anniversary
can help you access more Social Security on your spouse’s earning
record after the divorce. Also, if you’re the lower-earning spouse,
it could mean you’re entitled to spousal support for a longer period
of time. But once you decide to divorce, be the one to file first. There
are advantages to filing for divorce before your spouse does.

Make Yourself Indispensable

Before you file for divorce, make yourself indispensable. How? By making
sure your name is on all utilities, bank accounts, investments, deeds
of trust, etc. and make sure that all accounts need joint signatures.
This way, you’re not in a vulnerable position and your spouse can’t
move money or drain accounts without your signature.

In addition to the above, make sure you have your hands on all of your
financial information. Make copies of all of your financial documents
before they “suddenly disappear” after you file for divorce.
We’re referring to tax returns, bank statements, mortgage documents,
credit card bills, auto loans, life insurance policies, W-2 forms, loan
agreements, etc.

If you have assets, track them all down. It’s important that you
know exactly where every penny is. Such assets include bank accounts,
real estate, investments, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds, jewelry, etc.

When you file for divorce, you and your spouse will have to disclose all
of your assets and debts, however, it’s not uncommon for a spouse
to be dishonest or less than forthcoming. California is a community property
state so you are entitled to half of all the income and assets acquired
during the marriage. Know what you’re entitled to.

Protect Your Credit

When you get a divorce, it’s vital that you protect your credit.
Do not co-sign anything for your spouse. If you have any joint credit
cards, remove your spouse from the accounts, pay them off or close them.
You want to sever all financial ties if possible. Also, if any joint accounts
survive the divorce for any reason and your spouse agrees to pay off a
debt, be aware that by law, you’re still liable for the debt regardless
of what the divorce decree says.

If your spouse fails to pay a joint debt after the divorce, it could ruin
your credit. Keep tabs on any joint accounts after the divorce and make
sure they are paid. Of course, the best solution is to eliminate all joint
accounts before the divorce is final.

What should you do about your money? Don’t drain the bank accounts.
Instead, separate the money. You can take half the money in your accounts
so you have some funds to live off of – you don’t want your
spouse to beat you to the money and take it all with them.

Next:
Does Your Spouse Have an Unfair Advantage?

To file for divorce, we invite you to
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP.

Source: https://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2019/December/Follow-This-Advice-Before-You-Divorce.aspx

Helping Your Kids Process Divorce

Divorce is never easy for anyone, and if there are children in the picture it can be especially hard on them. They may question if it was their fault, if they will be able to maintain a relationship with both parents, and other things. If you are going through a divorce and want some reassurance for your kids, have them read this article from the Huffington Post below.

Divorce is hard, for all of the individuals involved. When your parents decide to get divorced, you may experience many different, overwhelming, and even conflicting emotions. You may feel torn between the two people you love the most, and you may even feel to blame for what has happened.

It is important to know that you are not the reason for your parents’ divorce, and you are not alone. No matter how old you are when your parents decide to go their separate ways – whether you are 10 or 20 – learning to live with divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster.

If you are the child of newly divorced parents, or you know of a child who is struggling with his or her parents’ divorce, here are some ways to help cope.

1. Talk to someone. Talking about your problems is a good thing, and honesty is the most important. Never repress your feelings. Whether you talk with your parents, a friend, a school counselor, or a therapist, it is helpful to get your thoughts and fears out into the open. Check in with your parents regularly – tell them how you feel, what is going on with you, and what you need from them in order to do better.

2. Don’t take sides. Don’t choose one parent’s side over the other.

3. Don’t become either parent’s protector. They are grown-ups and do not need your help.

4. Don’t become a collaborator, agent, or a messenger. Let your parents relate to each other independently.

5. Don’t feel guilty, and don’t blame yourself. Children have no control over their parents’ marriage.

6. Spend time with each parent alone. It is okay to spend one-on-one time with each parent, separately. You are a part of both, and can love them both equally.

7. Allow yourself to grieve the end of your original family. This will help you open to the possibilities of your own resource and transition into a new and healthier family structure.

8. Give up the secret mission of reuniting your family. Realize that you cannot “fix” your parents’ relationship.

9. Have empathy. Empathy is so important during this time. Remember to have empathy for yourself, and for your parents.

10. Stick to your routine. Maintaining your normal, every day routine can help you feel more in control when everything seems out of control.

11. Don’t try to take on the role as head of the house or homemaker. You are a child, and entitled to your childhood.

At the end of the day, it is important to have open conversations about your feelings. If you can’t put them into words, then draw, play, dance, and write in a journal.

You are entitled to your feelings, whatever they may be – they are legitimate. Divorce is a loss of innocence, and as a child you have been put into a space that is new and frightening. Remember: your parents still love you, and even though they may no longer be married, they are still there for you, to comfort and guide you.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tips-to-help-children-cope-with-divorce_us_58d1eb34e4b062043ad4ae0f?ir=Divorce&utm_hp_ref=divorce