How Cohabitation Affects Alimony in California

In California, cohabitation can make the topic of alimony quite complex. If you’re pursuing a divorce and wondering how cohabitation will impact your alimony, read on.

What is “Cohabitation” Legally?

Cohabitation means more than just living together. Largely, cohabitation indicates a deeper relationship than simply sharing a home with someone — a deeper relationship than simply being “roommate and roommate.” Essentially, cohabitation implies that you are still living as spouse-and-spouse even though you are getting a divorce or are already divorced. (And, arguably, even a roommate relationship can be a gray area.)

It’s important to define cohabitation in this way because alimony is intended to upkeep a person’s quality of life. The implication under “cohabitation” is that your partner’s quality of life has not changed because you are still cohabitating — you’re still financially and practically enmeshed with their lives to the extent that they may not need the same amount of support.

What Does “Cohabitation” Mean for Alimony?

If your ex-spouse is cohabitating with you, and you’re paying them alimony, you may be able to request a modification of your alimony agreement. This is done on the basis that you’re already effectively helping your ex-spouse financially because they are living with you. But that doesn’t mean the modification will be automatically granted. Your ex-spouse can provide a rebuttal if your ex-spouse believes that their quality of life has still significantly hanged.

There are a lot of factors that go into alimony, such as the length of the marriage. But if two people are cohabitating, alimony is going to be even more complex. The courts will need to determine how much each person has truly been impacted by the divorce in this situation, and calculate the amount of the alimony.

Can Cohabitation Lead to Alimony Getting Taken Away?

It’s possible that alimony can be taken away or reduced due to cohabitation. Whether you’re the one receiving alimony or you’re the one sending it, documentation is important.

If you’re looking for alimony modification, you will need documents to show the expenses that you’re currently paying for your ex-partner. If you’re trying to avoid an alimony modification, you will need documents to show that your ex-partner is not contributing to your lifestyle any longer.

Either way, having a lawyer can help. A lawyer will be able to go over your personal financial situation and advise you on what the courts are likely to recommend.

Cohabitating with a former spouse is difficult, both on a practical level and a legal one. Legally, it’s usually best to stop cohabitating with a partner that you’re leaving — but that’s not always feasible for everyone. Be prepared for alimony to be impacted by cohabitation, regardless of which side of the alimony you’re on.

Need more information about cohabitation and alimony? We’re here to help. Contact Erica Bloom Law today to find out more about our services and what we can do for you.

Business Valuations in Divorce

What happens when you divorce your spouse and need to split up a business? Commonly, one spouse will buy out the other spouse — one person will retain the business while the other will get cash for its value. But it can be hard to value a business, especially a small-to-midsized business. How do you determine business valuations in a divorce?

Asset Approach

The asset approach is by far the simplest. What are the tangible assets of the company? This includes cash accounts, the depreciated value of equipment, furniture, and more. This can also be the case if the business is going to be liquidated. If the business is already suffering, liquidating the business and splitting the assets fairly can be the best and most expedient approach.

Market Approach

What would the company sell for if it was on the market? This can be a little harder to evaluate, but a third-party appraiser can help. Sometimes couples decide to sell the business rather than liquidate it and split the proceeds, especially if they needed to work together to keep the business running. The market approach can be a very fair approach, but may not help either recoup what they’ve put into the business.

Income Approach

The income approach takes a look at how much the business actually makes or is projected to make. This can be better for those who are more or less interested in how much they are potentially losing in the future. A business might only have $20,000 of assets but be making $100,000 a year — a valuation based on asses wouldn’t be fair. At the same time, an income-only approach can be faulty because past performance isn’t a guarantee of future performance.

Sometimes, multiple factors might be considered to determine a company’s true valuation. There are professionals whose job it is to fairly value a business — and while it does cost some money to engage them, it’s often for the best long-term. And, of course, there are other things that could impact how much someone gains from a business. If the business predates the marriage, for instance, this will influence the percentage of the business that is split. Further, if one partner contributed significantly more in assets to the business, this could also be considered.

Importantly, a business valuation — as with any other aspect of a divorce — is made easier through a meeting of minds. If both parties during a divorce agree upon a valuation, then that valuation can be considered valid, irrelevant of assets, market, or income. A critical part of resolving divorce is ensuring that both parties are pleased with the outcomes.

Erica Bloom Law

If you’re in the middle of a divorce in California, you need legal representation from a family lawyer who has extensive experience with these cases. At Erica Bloom Law, we can provide you with the legal guidance you need throughout every step of your divorce and/or custody dispute. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

The Impact of a Child’s Preference in Custody Awards

Are you going through a custody dispute in the state of California? If so, then you may be curious as to what legal weight (if any) your child’s parental preference has on the outcome of your case. By having a better understanding of California law in regard to child preference, you can better advocate for yourself moving forward. And of course, having an experienced legal team on your side can make all the difference, too.

What Weight Does a Child’s Preference Carry?

In the state of California, there are specific laws regarding how much weight a child’s preference carries when determining which parents will receive primary or even full custody of a minor. Specifically, the child must be at least 14 years of age in order for his or her preference to be taken into significant consideration. In children younger than 14, the court considers the child too young and thus not yet mature enough to express a preference one way or the other. In these instances, the child’s preference may still be weighed as a factor, but with far less significance.

Still, in children 14 and older, a stated preference carries a great deal of weight on a judge’s custody decision.

Other Factors Determining the Outcome of a Custody Dispute

While having a child report to a judge that he or she prefers to live with one parent is a big deal in court, this does not constitute an automatic granting of custodial rights to that parent. Instead, other factors must also be taken into consideration by the judge.

Some of the other factors that the judge will weigh include the health and safety of the child, the parent’s criminal history (especially in regard to domestic abuse), and any history of drug or alcohol abuse by the parent.

In general, so long as there are no concerns about the child’s wellbeing, the child’s parental preference will be granted as long as the child is at least 14 years of age. If the child is younger than 14 and expresses a preference, this will still be taken into account, but not as strongly from a legal perspective.

Why You Need Legal Representation

There’s a lot that a judge must consider when ruling on a child custody dispute in the state of California. From the child’s preference to other matters, the most important thing at the end of the day is that everybody is looking out for the best interests of the child.

If you’re in the middle of a custody dispute in California, you need legal representation from a family lawyer who has extensive experience with these cases. At Erica Bloom Law, we can provide you with the legal guidance you need throughout every step of your divorce and custody dispute. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Preliminary Financial Disclosures & How They Affect Divorce

If you’re going through the process of getting divorced (or plan to in the near future), one thing you’ll want to be aware of is the importance of completing a preliminary financial disclosure. This disclosure should be filled out by both you and your soon-to-be ex spouse, as these disclosures play an important role in how marital assets and finances will be divided once the divorce is granted by a judge.

By having a better understanding of what a preliminary financial disclosure entails and how these forms can affect your divorce, you’ll be better prepared moving forward.

What is a Preliminary Financial Disclosure?

Specifically, a preliminary financial disclosure refers to a series of documents that is filled out by each party in the divorce process. These documents outline, in detail, a list of debts and assets from each party in the divorce. This may include outstanding debts on a mortgage or car, assets in the form of property, and just about every other financial detail in between.

In general, when filing for divorce, each spouse will be required to fill out a form known as a Declaration of Disclosure. This form includes details about assets and debts; once completed, it is formally served to the other spouse. In some cases, additional forms may also be required, though this can vary based on the state’s specific divorce laws.

How Does a Preliminary Financial Disclosure Affect Divorce?

Being as transparent, accurate, and honest as possible while filling out a preliminary financial disclosure is a must. This is because in divorce court, all assets and debts will typically be considered as community property. This means that everything will be divided 50/50 by default. With this in mind, it is imperative that each party in the divorce accurately reports his or her debts and/or assets so that a fair decision can be reached.

If one spouse is found to be dishonest or inaccurate in reporting on a preliminary financial disclosure, the other spouse may return to court to request a revision of the asset division. This can lead to more time in court and more headaches for both parties. With this in mind, it’s best to be up-front and accurate when filling out these forms the first time around.

When to Seek Help From a Divorce Lawyer

If you’re going through a divorce, it’s always a good idea to retain the services of an experienced divorce lawyer. He or she will be able to walk you through the process of filling out your disclosure and represent you through every step of the process.

Looking for a knowledgeable and experienced divorce lawyer? Our team at Erica Bloom Law is here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and find out more about what we can do for you during this difficult time!

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How to Pursue a Divorce When Your Spouse Doesn’t Want One

In the old days, both parties needed to agree to a divorce. Today, only one person needs to request a divorce — but there are still some challenges for those who aren’t divorcing amicably. Here’s what you need to know.

Your First Step Should Be to an Attorney

Your spouse can’t refuse a divorce. But what they can do is make the process more difficult. They may hide assets or disagree on assets. They may draw out court proceedings. They may try to complicate custody, if you have children. They may disagree on what to do with large, shared assets, like cars and houses.

Your first step in any divorce should be an attorney. You should never have the same attorney as your spouse. Your attorney needs to be focused on advocating for you.

Your attorney will be able to tell you what you should do to protect yourself.

You Should Document Everything

Divorces can easily become complex when both spouses aren’t on the same page. This can happen even if both parties want a divorce; if they don’t agree on the terms, things can get drawn out. That can cost both time and money.

The best way to deal with these issues is through documentation. Not only should you have everything about your financial situation documented, but you should also document all your interactions with your spouse. Through writing rather than a phone is best; if you can communicate through email and text, you should.

If things become extremely aggressive, it’s best to communicate through lawyers.

You Probably Will Go to Court

If your spouse doesn’t want a divorce, they may not agree to your terms nor agree to mediation. That means you’re headed to court.

When you go to court, the judge’s interest is in dividing everything fairly. Because of this, they will need the documentation that you provide. A judge cannot know who is telling the truth in a “he said, she said” situation; they absolutely need to be given firm information to go on. This is where a lawyer can help, as they will know exactly what information to present to the judge.

A divorce can always be one-sided. Your spouse does not need to agree to a divorce for you to be granted one. But be prepared for everything to be more complicated. It’s likely that you’re going to be headed to court if your spouse isn’t going to come to an agreement. Your lawyer can give you more information based on your unique situation.

 

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Understanding the Emotional Stages of Divorce

From a young age, children around the world dream of the day that they get married. From the Fairy Tale reverence that Hollywood grants marriage to the core values that religious institutions place within it, it is easy to see why the process is so important.

In 2017, nearly half of all American’s aged over 18 had been married. This number seems large until we realize that nearly 50% of all marriages in the United States end in a divorce. With nearly half of these monumental decisions ending in such a trying way, it stands to reason that we should learn to better understand the emotional toll it can take.

5 Emotional Stages of Divorce

Whether a divorce was propositioned or planned, the process is never easy to undergo. Divorce can be hard on everyone within reach of the situation, including children, family members, and the formerly married couple. Like other aspects of loss, going through a divorce can send individuals through five emotional stages.

While divorce will always be difficult, understanding the conflict and emotional stages intrinsic to divorce proceedings can help to soften the blow, prepare us for life after, and push us forward when we feel down.

Stage 1 — Denial: As in all walks of life, when we are hit with something impossible to believe, we simply deny it. Denial is a traditional emotional process for both parties, but particularly the individual being divorced. A whirlwind of emotional turbulence can prevent the individual from accepting what is going on before them.

Stage 2 — Anger: Anger isn’t always a healthy emotion, but it is always a notable one. After fighting with reality, we might find ourselves both shocked and angered by what just happened. Rage and blame may manifest as both parties begin to engage in emotional warfare, rendered toward themselves and others. This is a time for patience, grace, and forgiveness.

Stage 3 — Bartering: Once the anger subsides, some folks find themselves looking to bargain with their former partner. One spouse may still be hopeful that the relationship can work, and they will often go out of their way to try and change. This is an important time to understand the journey that has been taken and to stand by the convictions that led us there.

Stage 4 — Depression, Sadness: Anger can only burn so long before the flames turn to ash. As our anger fully subsides and bartering shows signs of failing, depression can sink in. The longest and hardest to weather, depression can last for a long time.

Stage 5 — Acceptance: Where anger, sadness, and denial once existed comes the feeling of acceptance. While things aren’t wholly better, they are getting there. This is the stage that often leads to a new chapter in life.

Prepare For Life After Marriage With Erica Bloom Law

While divorce may be devastatingly common, it is a process that holds a special place in society. Whether you are undergoing a divorce or contemplating leaving a significant other, individuals can turn to Erica Bloom Law when they need a compassionate ear and a skilled hand at law by their side.

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How Divorce Physically Affects Children

Going through a divorce is difficult enough when there are no shared children involved. Unfortunately, when a couple with children decides to legally separate, things can quickly become exponentially more challenging. Children of all ages are very prone to the emotional and even physical toll that a parents’ divorce can cause.

By being aware of the ways in which divorce can physically affect children—as well as the ways in which a divorce can actually be better for children in the long run—you can have a better idea of what to expect in your own situation.

Physical Effects of Divorce and Separation on Children

The physical effects of divorce on children have been well studied over the years, and it has largely been found that children who grow up in divorced households (versus two-parent households) are more likely to suffer from a number of physical ailments throughout their lives. This includes not just illnesses, but injuries related to accidents and even drug and/or alcohol abuse.

Often times, children who have gone through a divorce will be more prone to illness. This may be attributed to any number of factors, ranging from a loss of sleep due to stress (which can weaken the immune system) to depression and anxiety.

When Can a Divorce Actually Help a Child’s Physical Health?

On the other hand, it is also important to acknowledge that a divorce can benefit a child both mentally and physically in the long-run. For example, if a child is being exposed to physically or emotionally abusive situations by one parent in the household, then a legal separation with custody awarded to the other parent can result in a positive outcome for the child by removing him or her from the abuse.

Even when no outright abuse is present, a divorce can protect children from the mental and physical stress of growing up in a household with parents who are frequently arguing or otherwise unhappy.

Time to Consult With a Family Lawyer

At the end of the day, every parent wants what’s best for their child. Unfortunately, going through a divorce or legal separation can have far-reaching mental and physical effects on children of all ages. This is why it’s so important to go about the process cautiously and with the right legal team on your side. Schedule your consultation with the experienced professionals at Erica Bloom Law to get the guidance you need!

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Important Questions to Ask Your Divorce Attorney in California

If you’ve decided to end your marriage and seek a divorce, you probably have many questions. Unfortunately, too many people head for divorce court without having adequate knowledge about divorce. For this reason, Erica Bloom Law has put together five questions you should be asking your divorce attorney in California.

When is My Divorce Finalized?

The time frame for finalizing divorce after the paperwork has been served is six months in California. However, depending on the circumstances of your case, this can stretch out. When you speak to a divorce attorney about the specifics of your case, they will be able to give you an estimate of when your divorce should be finalized.

Will My Past Behavior Impact the Divorce?

No. Your past behavior has no bearing on your current divorce proceedings. While some acts could affect the outcome of divorce (such as domestic violence), your behavior, along with your spouse’s, will not be taken into consideration. If you’re still worried about past behavior and whether or not it might affect your divorce, speak to your divorce attorney to put your mind at ease and help you move forward with the divorce.

Where Does My Divorce Occur?

California has many divorce courts throughout the state. Your divorce will take place in a courtroom in the county where you filed. You must be a resident of California for at least six months prior to filing for divorce in this state. Furthermore, you must have been a resident of the county where you file for at least three months. Your divorce attorney in California will be able to tell you exactly where your divorce will take place.

What about Child Custody in California?

Child custody is a complicated matter that can prolong any divorce case. It is an emotional issue, often the most emotional part of a divorce. However, when you understand how child custody works in California you can emotionally and mentally prepare. If you’re divorcing and have children, your attorney will guide you through the process, explaining everything you need to know about child custody laws in California, both legal and physical custody. She will also go over in detail different custody scenarios you may want to consider as part of your divorce.

Is it a Good Idea to Talk to My Spouse Before Filing?

Under the right circumstances, it can be beneficial to talk to your spouse before filing for divorce. This, of course, depends on many factors, such as your spouse’s temperament, whether you think they will contest the divorce and the issue of child custody. If, however, you think your divorce will be amicable, there is no reason not to discuss divorce before filing. A divorce attorney is not a therapist, but they do have experience helping people through this difficult time. Talk to your attorney about the pros and cons of bringing up divorce to your spouse before you file.

Need Help With a Divorce?

Erica Bloom Law is here to help you file for divorce and see it through to a satisfactory conclusion. We take the time to guide and educate you along the way so you’ll always know what to expect. Erica Bloom Law is an award-winning family law firm that helps its clients transition through this difficult time. We are a team of compassionate attorneys who understand that divorce is never easy. If you want divorce representation from attorneys who care, contact us today.

 

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Why a Premarital Agreement May be Invalidated

A premarital agreement is a critical method of protecting assets you bring into a marriage. While it’s important to trust the person you’re marrying, some people have ulterior motives and may file for divorce later solely to get half of those assets. Fortunately, you can work with a qualified attorney to draw up a prenuptial agreement, protecting you and your property from these situations. However, there are reasons for a premarital agreement to be invalidated if you should get a divorce. It’s essential to be aware of these factors so you can prevent a problem in the future.

Technical Reasons

In the legal field, one of the biggest reasons for invalidating a premarital agreement or any other legal agreement comes down to technicalities. For instance, if you solely make a verbal agreement, rather than putting everything into writing, the agreement may be thrown out if your soon-to-be ex-spouse takes the matter to court. It’s also essential to make sure both parties sign the agreement and each have a copy of their own, along with one on file with your attorney to prevent anyone from making unilateral changes to the agreement. A lack of detail or missing information can also lead to invalidation. Always hire a lawyer when you work on a premarital agreement to ensure everything contained in it is legally sound. Finally, talk to your attorney about impermissible items. For instance, prenuptial agreements can’t include terms regarding child custody or illegal acts.

Execution Problems

The other common reason for invalidating a premarital agreement is in the development or execution of the document. This is why it’s essential to work with an experienced family lawyer to ensure everything is done properly so it will hold up in court. For instance, both parties must be fully aware of what they’re signing. Working with an attorney ensures both parties have read through the agreement and understand everything before they sign it. When someone is found to sign the document under pressure or duress, it can reflect badly if the relationship leads to a divorce and can cause the judge to invalidate the document.

Always work with an experienced family attorney when drafting a premarital agreement. If you are the one on the other end of the spectrum, it’s also important to have your own attorney look it over to ensure everything is valid and fair.

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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.