Divorce and Your Credit Score

If you are going through a divorce you know that all parts of your life are affected from where you live, to how much time you get to spend with your kids, to your financial status, to your overall well-being. One area a lot of people worry the most about is how their finances will take a hit, and, more specifically, their credit score. The article below describes the possible factors that would affect your credit score. Continue reading to learn what they are.

It’s common knowledge that divorce can affect many aspects of a person’s
life, including relationships, finances, stress, and even appetite and
sleep. But, one thing that too many people fail to consider is how divorce
can affect their FICO score. If you’re getting a divorce in the
near future, here’s what you need to know about divorce and credit.

Does divorce the divorce itself hurt credit? By itself, filing for
divorce will not affect your credit because your credit score is not determined
by your marital status. However, your credit score can be indirectly affected
by the divorce. Here’s how your credit score can be lowered because
of your divorce:

1. You don’t close or separate joint accounts.
If you have joint accounts with your spouse, such as credit cards, auto
loans, or mortgages, and you don’t close or separate these accounts,
they can come back to haunt you. You see, someone has to pay these bills.
If your spouse agrees to pay a certain debt; for example, their auto loan,
and you do not remove your name from the loan, and they don’t pay
it, the creditor will come after you for payment.

Unfortunately, creditors are not concerned with divorce decrees. So, even
if your spouse agrees to pay their auto loan, a particular credit card,
or the mortgage, as long as your name is on the loan, you are liable for
the debt. If your spouse were to later lose their job, become disabled
or ill, or if they simply refuse to pay the debt out of spite, the creditor
will try to collect from you.

If you leave any joint accounts untouched, meaning, your name is still
on it after the divorce, and your ex-spouse doesn’t keep their end
of the bargain, you have no choice but to pay any bills that your ex isn’t
able to cover, regardless if your ex was responsible for the debt per
your divorce settlement agreement. While it may be difficult to do this,
it’s the only way to protect your credit. Later on, you can try
to recover the money by reporting it to the courts. Just make sure you
check your joint debts monthly to ensure your ex is paying on them.

2. You can’t pay all of your bills.
If you are now paying
child support and
spousal support while trying to support yourself, you may be stretched too thin. Or, if
you were a homemaker or stay-at-home parent who was out of the workforce
for some time and now you’re working again, you may not be earning
enough money to pay all of your current expenses.

In either case, if you don’t have sufficient funds to pay all of
your bills and you’re late, it will hurt your credit. Payment history
plays an important role in your creditworthiness and if you have 30, 60,
or 90-day lates on your credit report, your credit score will go down.
If you run into this problem, you want to focus on two things: lowering
your monthly expenses and increasing your income.

3. Living on your credit cards.
If your expenses as a newly single person are too high and you start living
on credit cards, this is going to affect your credit score. Why? Because,
credit usage is another important factor in your credit rating. If you
run up your credit cards, your credit usage will be too high, and it will
directly affect your credit score. If your credit utilization approaches
the 30% territory, it can reduce your credit score. So, if you have $20,000
total in credit, try not to go above the $6,000 mark. Better yet, find
ways to increase your income so you won’t have to rely on your credit
cards to live.

4. Your spouse maxes out your credit cards.
This one sounds cliché because it is. You’ve probably heard
horror stories about vindictive spouses taking the credit cards and maxing
them out on clothing, jewelry, spa days, tickets to concerts and sporting
events, furniture, vacations, and anything else that floats their boat.

Beware: If your spouse has access to your credit cards or if you have joint
cards, he or she may run up thousands of credit card debt in your name.
Even if you have a card lying around the house, nothing’s stopping
your spouse from taking the card and making online purchases and sending
them to a friend’s house for delivery.

This is mostly an issue with authorized users because they’re not
liable for the debt they incur. So, if you have credit cards and your
spouse is an authorized user, he or she can go on a spending spree without
suffering the consequences. If you can’t afford to pay off the debt
your spouse runs up, it can damage your credit.

If your spouse’s name is on any of your individual credit card accounts,
remove his or her name from the account right away. Even if your spouse
is usually very reasonable, they may become vindictive during the split
– you just never know how someone is going to react while they’re
grieving over a divorce.

Conclusion

If you’re going through a divorce, know that it doesn’t have
to negatively impact your credit. If you have joint bills, see if you
can close them or put them in one spouse’s name alone. If your spouse
is an authorized user, remove his or her name from all accounts.

Just remember that if you have any joint bills remaining, you have to make
sure they get paid regardless. Make sure you pay your personal bills and
stay within your post-divorce budget. Most importantly, be nice to your
spouse. The more amicable the divorce, the less likely your ex will try
to get revenge and damage your credit.

If you need a Los Angeles divorce lawyer, don’t hesitate to
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP for a free case evaluation!

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/July/Will-Divorce-Hurt-My-Credit-.aspx

Concurring Child Custody

When a couple gets divorced with children it sometimes plays out that one parent pays the other child support to help with expenses in the child’s life or children’s lives. It might be difficult for some to understand why they need to pay child support, but with the nine tips offered below it might become easier.

In a perfect world, all divorcing parents would get along great and
child custody would be a non-issue. The parents would readily agree on a child custody
and visitation schedule that would benefit all parties involved. In reality,
one of the most painful aspects of divorce for parents is having to divide
their time with their children with their ex.

If you’re reading this, child custody may already be a sensitive
issue. Will your ex fight you on child custody? Will you both try to be
the parent who has the children most of the time? Or, if everything seems
fine now, will your spouse change their mind one day and drag you to court
for full physical custody? In any case, it’s important that you
are careful about child custody. Whether you intend to have joint physical
custody or not, the advice is the same.

Here are our top child custody tips for divorcing parents:

1. Whether it’s a temporary order while your
divorce is pending through the court or a permanent order after your divorce is
finalized, stick to the child custody and visitation schedule in the Parenting
Plan. If it’s your day or your weekend with the children, don’t
call your ex and cancel on your kids. This does not make it look as if
your children are a priority in your life.

Keep a detailed log or diary of all visits with your children. Even if
you’re the one receiving child support because the kids are with
you most of the time, you should still catalog when your ex picks up the
children and drops them off. If your spouse sends a friend or relative
to handle pick-ups and drop-offs, be sure to make a note of it and record
the person’s name.

2. Be active in your children’s lives. This means attending parent-teacher
conferences, attending soccer practices, dance classes, and karate classes,
and showing up to all school-related events. If your schedule allows,
volunteer in your child’s classroom, become a coach on their team,
and do whatever you can to play an active role in their daily lives.

3. If your child begs you to let them go to Disney Land, the beach, to
a friend’s birthday party, or a camping trip with their friends
on your “day” with them, highly consider letting them go.
Not only does this make your child happy, but it shows your flexibility.
If you do let your child get their way, don’t forget to write down
the details in your diary or log and explain why you let him or her go.
It truly helps to be flexible, especially as your children get older.

4. If your ex-husband or wife really needs your help watching the children
because they have to work, or because they have a job interview, or because
their family member is ill, don’t hesitate to take the children
off their hands, even if it’s not your scheduled day. Instead of
thinking of it as an inconvenience, look at it as an added bonus –
you get more time with your children!

5. Suppose you and your spouse agree it’s okay to see other people
while your divorce is pending through the court. If that’s the case,
don’t schedule date nights for the evenings you have your children.
Instead, always schedule dates for when your children are at the other
parent’s house. Also, don’t introduce anyone to your children
until after you’ve been dating for at least six months and the divorce is final.

6. Be very careful of who you choose to date. Before you let anyone into
your life, do a Google search of his or her name and take a close look
at their LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Don’t
date anyone with a felony record, a drug or alcohol problem, or a history
of domestic violence. If you find out that your date is a convicted sex
offender, end the relationship immediately! You don’t want to bring
a child abuser or molester into your home!

7. Don’t use your children as pawns. Don’t ask them for information
about your ex, and don’t force them to be the “messenger”
between you and your ex. No matter how you feel about your ex, don’t
use your children to pass along information. If you absolutely don’t
want to talk to your ex, use text messaging or email to communicate with
him or her.

8. No matter how you feel about your ex, don’t badmouth them to your
child, and refrain from saying negative things about their other parent
within earshot of your kids. Instead, let your kids be kids and allow
them to enjoy their innocence. If your husband ran off with the babysitter,
or if your wife developed an alcohol problem, don’t bring it up
in the presence of your children, especially if they’re too young
to understand what’s happening. Of course, you need to consider
your children’s ages. Even if you have teenagers, there’s
probably plenty of details you can spare them so they can worry less and
enjoy their teen years more.

9. If the children will be living with you most of the time, don’t
move to another county or out-of-state without seeking legal advice first.
Unless you have sole physical custody, you generally need the court’s
permission before you can relocate with your children. If you move without
the court’s blessing, your ex can become very upset and you could
be setting yourself up for an ugly child custody battle.

If you are getting a divorce, it’s important to understand how to
handle child custody matters, especially if you anticipate any problems
with your spouse. For experienced legal advice,
contact our firm to meet with a
Los Angeles child custody attorney.

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/June/9-Child-Custody-Tips-for-Your-Case.aspx

Hidden Assets

When you are in the middle of a divorce, you will find that one of the hardest conversations will be about finances. If you have joint accounts, expect some debate as to who gets how much and why. There are opportunities for your former spouse to hide assets, too, however. They may have income you never even knew existed. Read this article on how to look for hidden assets.

It’s no secret that once
divorce is on the horizon, bitter spouses can get very protective about their
assets. In situations where spouses don’t share all of their financial
activities with each other, it’s very easy for a spouse to start
moving things around once he or she feels threatened by an impending divorce.
If you’re in a high-net-worth marriage, you may suspect that your
spouse is hiding assets from you; it is not unusual for wealthy spouses
to have this suspicion.

In 2011, the
National Endowment for Financial Education, in cooperation with
Forbes.com, released the findings of an online survey. The poll found that “31
percent of people who combined finances with their significant other have
been deceptive with their spouse or partner about money.”

Some of the survey’s findings:

  • 58 percent of respondents admitted to hiding cash from their spouse or partner.
  • 54 percent of respondents said they had hid a minor purchase from their
    spouse or partner.
  • More than 30 percent said they hid a bill or statement from their spouse
    or partner.
  • 34 percent of the respondents admitted to lying to their spouse or partner
    about income, debt, or finances.
  • 65 percent of women and 47 percent of men said their spouse or partner
    lied to them about income, debt, or finances.

If spouses are already lying to each other
during marriage about finances, it’s safe to assume that a percentage of
spouses would be committing
more financial deception before and during a divorce. Whenever a spouse is
refusing to produce financial documentation, or delaying it continuously,
then it can be taken as a red flag. What are they trying to hide and why
are they trying so hard to control the passage of financial information?

Look at the Tax Returns First

If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets from you, the first thing
to do is get your hands on the most recent tax return –
the whole tax return. If your spouse fails to give you the entire tax return, this could be
a sign that he or she is hiding something from you. Perhaps there is something
on the tax return that they don’t want you to see. If you’re
not familiar with tax returns, have your divorce attorney, an accountant,
or a CPA comb through the tax return for the various types of income,
the deductions taken, and any interest or dividends earned. Also, was
there an overpayment of taxes? If so, those funds could be returned to
your spouse after the divorce is finalized.

Look at the Business Transactions

If your spouse owns a business and you have access to the financials, look
for salary paid to employees that don’t exist, or checks written
to friends and family that are meant to be returned to your spouse after
the divorce. Look for strange expenditures that could have been paid to
a romantic partner, such as hotel stays, trips, fancy dinners, rent payments,
and auto loans. If your spouse owns a business, you should have the statements
reconciled with the income and expense statements; look carefully for
any possible discrepancies.

Check Your Computer’s Search History

Does your spouse have a PayPal account? If you don’t think so, it
still may be a possibility. PayPal is a great way for deceptive spouses
to hide money from their partners because their spouse doesn’t see
the transactions. If your spouse doesn’t have a PayPal app on their
phone, you can check the browsing history on your home computer. Also
scroll through the search history to see if any unfamiliar banking websites turn up.

Your Spouse Could Have Hidden Cash at Home

As impractical as it may seem, a lot of people hide cash in their home
where they can easily access it – but don’t go looking under
the mattress because that would be too obvious. Where do you start looking?
In the garage, inside pill containers, in folders deep inside file cabinets,
in the back of dresser drawers, in shoes, in suit jackets, in air vents,
behind wall decorations and artwork, in DVD cases, in drop ceilings, under
rugs, and in storage sheds. In reality, the possibilities are endless.

Finding Assets if You’re in the Dark

If your spouse has handled all of the finances and you have not been involved
in paying the bills, filing the taxes, or otherwise tracking the finances,
then you’re what’s called the “out-spouse.” In
other words, you don’t have the passwords or access to the financial
accounts, but your husband or wife sure does.

If you don’t have direct access to the financial data, we recommend
asking your spouse for access to the accounts and financial records. If
your spouse is willing to give you the information you need, then the
process may not be too difficult. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that
easy. If your spouse is not organized, it may take some time to get the
information, but you can always help him or her.

On the other hand, if your spouse refuses to give you the information,
it could mean they’re hiding either assets or debts, or both. Remember
that with online access to virtually all types of accounts, your spouse
should be able to get the information you need. If your spouse still refuses
to produce the records, take this as a red flag that they could be hiding assets.

If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets, our firm can help.
Contact Claery & Green, LLP today for a free consultation with a Los Angeles divorce attorney.

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/May/How-to-Look-for-Hidden-Assets-in-a-Divorce.aspx

Tips for Positive Co-Parenting

If you get divorced and have children, there are many scenarios that can play out. Unless there are extreme circumstances, co-parenting is a great option for the good of the kids. It might be challenging to want to co-parent with your ex but it can be done if you both agree to put the kids first. Read the tips below for successful co-parenting and try putting them into action.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was “normal” in
divorce cases for the children to end up living with the mother and for the father
to see his children one evening a week and every other weekend. However,
in recent years much has changed, especially in forward thinking California,
the first state to enact “no-fault” divorce.

Today, California, along with many other states has determined that children
are much better off when both parents play an active role in their lives.
By an “active role,” this means more than a father seeing
his children every other weekend and once a week; it means almost, if
not equal responsibility in raising his children.

Under the modern method of child custody in California, co-parenting
fathers may have the children the same number (or almost the same) of overnights
as the mother, and they are playing more of an active role in their children’s
lives, for example, they’re bringing their children to soccer and
dance, and taking them back to school shopping.

Most of Today’s Moms Are Employed

Unless a couple was rather wealthy before a divorce, the majority of divorced
mothers these days have full-time jobs. Since it “takes a village”
to raise children, more (and more) divorced couples are relying on each
other to tend to their children’s daily needs. For example, if “Billy”
needs a ride to basketball practice but Mom is working the nightshift
at the hospital and it’s Dad’s day off, Billy’s father
can take him to basketball practice while his ex-wife is pulling a 12-hour
shift at the hospital. This is the most logical solution.

As in the example above, it’s not uncommon for today’s divorced
parents to have two completely different schedules, and with two parents
working full-time, simple logistics require them to coordinate their schedules
and calendars so the children’s needs are adequately met. Essentially,
divorced couples are co-parenting out of necessity, not always by choice.

Recognize the Silver Lining

If you’re like a lot of spouses, the idea of coordinating with your
soon-to-be-ex on a regular basis may not sound appealing; however, it’s
important to see the silver lining. Even if you cannot stand being in
the same room as your husband or wife, it’s important for you to
see that co-parenting is highly desirable; it makes everybody’s
lives easier.

We found that for co-parenting to work, spouses should actively seek
divorce mediation or a
collaborative divorce, both of which encourage couples to have a positive divorce. If you want
to succeed at co-parenting, divorce litigation should be avoided if possible.
Experience has taught us that when a couple cooperates from the beginning,
it paves the way for a successful co-parenting relationship.

When a couple is angry and bitter and drags each other to court for every
little thing and they try to have equal parenting time, they likely won’t
find themselves working as a “team” and every interaction
may be stressful and strained. Nobody wins in this scenario, and it’s
not fair to the children to watch their parents constantly fighting over them.

If you have minor children from your marriage and your spouse is a loving
parent, we do not recommend an adversarial divorce. Instead, we highly
recommend divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce, especially if
you’re going to be seeking a co-parenting arrangement.

Making Co-Parenting Work

Through experience with our own clients, we have found that the following
factors help make a co-parenting arrangement work well:

Living Close to Each Other
When a couple has children, living close to each other makes everything
easier, especially if the parents can both live in the same school zone.
Even though it’s possible to live apart and make things work, it’s
still a lot harder when you factor in all the extra driving, which taxes
everyone’s patience.

Encouraging Stability
If the children can remain in the same school, attend the same church
(where applicable), and continue seeing their friends and taking part
in the same extra-curricular activities, all of this helps promote stability,
which is what children need during and after a divorce.

Encouraging Communication
Even if parents don’t like each other, it’s important that
they remain in “good communication” with each other. For instance,
they need to inform each other if there’s a change in their schedule,
and keep each other updated on school schedules, extra-curricular activities,
birthday parties and the like. If it relates to the children, they should
keep each other informed.

Being Flexible With Each Other
“But it’s not his day with the kids.” We hear this a
lot. So what if it’s the summer and your ex-husband got the day
off and he wants to take the kids to Disney Land? Even if it’s not
his day, what’s the harm in him taking them to the amusement park?
Occasionally, someone might want the kids when it’s not their day,
or they’ll want to take the kids out to celebrate their new promotion.
It’s not a big deal to be flexible with each other once in a while,
even if it’s not reflected in the Parenting Plan.

Ex-spouses must understand that it’s important to help each other
out and be flexible on occasion, especially if it’s a reasonable
request. For example, if a mother is called in to work because her co-worker
didn’t show up and her ex-husband is available to take the kids,
he shouldn’t say, “Hire a babysitter!” That would just
be unfair to his ex and the kids.

Accepting Each Other’s New Partners
A lot of divorced parents remarry; how a new husband or wife acclimates
to the family has much to do with the ex-spouse’s attitude toward
the new mate. The best way to encourage peace at home is for each spouse
to be respectful toward the new stepparent and ask their children to be
respectful of him or her. If children have issues with a stepparent, it’s
nearly impossible to successfully co-parent, and the children ultimately
suffer. It’s perfectly normal for an ex to feel jealousy towards
their ex’s new husband or wife, but they must manage those feelings
and keep them hidden from the children.

Are you on the brink of divorce and looking for a Los Angeles divorce lawyer
to represent you? If so,
contact Claery & Green, LLP today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/April/Successful-Co-Parenting-After-Divorce.aspx

All Parts of Divorce Explored

Divorce, unfortunately, is quite common these days. Sometimes divorce happens amicably for honest reasons while, other times, divorce is the result of not-so-great things. You probably know someone who has been divorced or maybe you are going through one yourself. Regardless, it is a big thing to wrap your mind around. This article below dives in to the good, bad and ugly. Check it out.

Regardless of the reasons “why” a marriage ended,
divorce is almost always an uncomfortable, difficult, unhappy event. A spouse
may be thrilled to finally cut ties with their controlling, abusive, or
cheating spouse; however, the divorce still incites feelings of disappointment
over a failed marriage, a broken family, or loss of financial certainty.

Divorce means a LOT of changes in one’s daily routines and habits.
A stay-at-home parent may be thrust back into the workforce. Infants and
toddlers may have to start going to daycare. A higher-earning spouse earning
a comfortable living may suddenly become strapped for cash after
child and
spousal support payments are deducted from their income.

In the aftermath of divorce, it can take a solid year or two for divorce
spouses to reach a new sense of equilibrium, a new normal. All of the
above aside, divorce is a viewed as a critical step for many unhappy spouses.

Divorce serves a vital function emotionally and legally – freeing
people from empty, hollow marriages, allowing them to get on with their
lives and form deeply satisfying relationships with other people. Divorce
may be devastating initially, but in the long-run it becomes emotionally
liberating and definitely worth it.

Divorce Has Become Socially Acceptable

One of the reasons why divorce filings in the United States has spiked
in the last 50 years is the changing role of women in our society, and
the same goes for the skyrocketing divorce rate among Baby Boomers. Today’s
women are more economically independent than ever before, and their expectations
for happiness are higher than in previous generations.

Gender equality, which has steadily risen since World War II, has brought
on the much-talked about changes in the divorce landscape and it’s
spread into the Baby Boomer generation. The modern woman is educated and
financially independent and can rely on her own 401(k) or IRA to support
her through her “Golden Years,” and doesn’t have to
stay in an unhappy marriage because she has no other way to support herself.

The Gender Gap is Closing

The liberation of women has certainly facilitated the liberalization of
divorce laws nationwide; however, both men and women have been affected
by these changes. For example, women can be ordered to pay spousal support
nowadays, when that was almost unheard of in the 1960s and 1970s. What’s
more, in the 21st century, fathers receive “equal consideration”
in child custody cases – some say the gender gap
has closed in California family law cases.

Adultery, Money, and Emotions

Adultery and emotional infidelity (e.g. a Facebook affair) are still some
of the top reasons why people file for divorce, and so are financial reasons.
While many couples buckle under the pressure of a job loss, extended unemployment,
out-of-control spending, or a bankruptcy, still, some of the major causes
of divorce are more emotional than anything else.

Common reasons why spouses want a divorce:

  • The couple simply grew apart
  • They realize they have nothing in common
  • They realize they’ll never change each other
  • Once the honeymoon phase ends, one spouse becomes controlling, critical,
    or overbearing
  • They’re no longer attracted to each other
  • They find each other’s company boring
  • They marry young, grow up and then apart
  • One spouse is constantly dishonest, and when all trust is lost, the innocent
    spouse wants a divorce
  • They argue all of the time
  • They have very different views on raising children
  • A mother-in-law is too involved in the couple’s life
  • One spouse becomes emotionally abusive
  • The spouses have different goals in life
  • The spouses are disappointed by unrealistic expectations

Since many divorce filings stem from emotional reasons, rather than abuse
or abandonment, the states have relaxed their divorce laws. California
is the first state to adopt no-fault divorce laws. As a no-fault divorce
state, a spouse can obtain a divorce as long as they want “out.”

There is no need to point the blame on the other spouse and cite adultery,
cruel and inhumane treatment, or abandonment to get a divorce. All the
courts are concerned about is that the marriage is broken beyond repair.
With the “no-fault” divorce model, spouses can focus on amicable
divorces, they don’t have to have a highly-contentious divorce if
they don’t want to.

While we will always have contested divorces, we strive to help clients
achieve non-adversarial divorces as much as possible through
divorce mediation and negotiation.
Collaborative,
uncontested divorces are beneficial for all parties involved, especially a couple’s minor
children, for whom divorce can be the most distressful and whose needs
can be overlooked by stressed-out parents.

Preserving the Marital Estate

We now know that roughly half of marriages in the United States end in
divorce, and the chances of divorce are higher for second and subsequent
marriages. With about one-half of first marriages facing dissolution,
it’s wiser to approach divorce with a clear head and to treat it
like a business move.

If spouses can put their differences aside and treat each other with dignity
and respect, and with the ultimate goal of preserving the marital estate,
divorce can be easier on all involved.

While about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, research has discovered
that divorce is less common among the most educated. Experts have learned
that educated people tend to marry later, at a time in their lives when
they have more life and relationship experience. So, this is a positive
outlook, at least for the college-educated who marry in their 30s.

Divorce Can Add Curveballs

All transitions in life can be hard and divorce can certainly add its share
of curveballs, more than other life hurdles. Many of us plan in advance
for major life transitions: We earn good grades so we can get a scholarship
to college. We invest in a 401(k) so we can retire comfortably one day.
We compare plane ticket fares before buying. Deciding to take the divorce
plunge, however, can be compared to a cataclysmic event, especially if
we’re not properly prepared.

Even if you’ve been daydreaming about a divorce for months, pulling
the trigger can be difficult because you’re afraid of the unknowns.
Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the divorce process alone.
With the help of an experienced divorce attorney, you can be guided every
step of the way.

If you’re ready to hear the “good, the bad, and the ugly”
about divorce,
contact our firm to meet with a Los Angeles divorce attorney for free!

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/January/Divorce-the-Good-the-Bad-and-the-Ugly.aspx

The Don’ts of Divorce

Throughout a divorce things can get tough emotionally, financially and personally. You might catch yourself saying or doing things on impulse that you would not normally say or do. Your goal should be to have divorce proceedings go as smooth and calm as possible. Use the tips in the blog post below as guidance of what NOT to do to make that goal possible.

Once the holidays are over,
divorce attorneys across the nation enter into the busiest divorce season of the
year. January symbolizes a fresh start and with the holidays having come
to an end, there is a huge spike in divorce filings across the nation.

Why is January such a popular month for divorce? A lot of it comes down
to not wanting to call it quits during November and December, the busiest
holiday season of the year. More often than not, couples prefer to keep
their families “intact” during Christmas and Hanukkah, for
emotional and financial reasons.

If you feel like a failure because you can’t seem to keep your marriage
together – don’t! Roughly 40 to 50 percent of all first marriages
in the United States end in divorce and the risk of divorce are even higher
with second and third marriages, reports the
American Psychological Association.

If you are headed towards divorce, here are some things that you should
NOT do while your divorce is pending through the courts:

Don’t do this alone.
Divorce is stressful and emotionally difficult, even if you are the one
who wants the divorce. Most people simply can’t imagine the emotions
they’re going to be flooded with until the divorce is real. While
it’s important to lean on friends and family for support, you need
professional advice from an experienced divorce attorney.

Don’t refuse to see a therapist.
If your divorce causes you to feel significantly depressed or down, don’t
stay in bed for weeks on end and shut everybody out of your life. Instead,
seek emotional support from a therapist or counselor. Your friends can
give you a shoulder to lean on; however, a therapist can be a nonbiased
sounding board. If you’re a private person, you can take comfort
in the “confidential relationship” you’ll have with
your therapist, and you won’t have to worry about them telling others
about your conversations.

Don’t tell everyone else before telling your children.
Don’t announce your divorce on Facebook before telling your children.
Ideally, you and your spouse will sit your children down and
tell them together before telling anyone else. Be sure to show your children a “united
front” and reassure them the divorce is NOT their fault.

Don’t talk about your divorce on social media.
It’s never a good idea to air your dirty laundry on social media.
Even if your husband ran off with his secretary, or your wife ran back
to her ex-boyfriend after reconnecting on Facebook, you should not share
it with the world. Divorce lawyers are in the practice of using social
media accounts to dig up information on spouses, so you don’t want
to say or do anything that can be used against you in court.

If you have children, don’t put yourself first.
If you’re a parent, you should not take off on vacation leaving
your children with a babysitter, or start a new romance while your divorce
is pending in the courts. Instead, you should be putting your children
first. When you file for divorce, focus on your children’s emotions
and creating quality family time with them.

Don’t stay in the dark about your finances.
If your spouse has always handled the bills, don’t stay in the dark.
It’s critical that you familiarize yourself with the finances. We
recommend making copies of all the financial records, going back three
years. Copy the tax returns, W2s and 1099s, bank statements, credit card
statements, and mortgage loan documents etc.

Don’t ignore your credit.
If you don’t have any credit, you don’t want to keep it that
way. Whether you’re a husband or wife, you must understand that
credit is so important to starting a new life. If you don’t have
any credit because everything has been in your spouse’s name, you
need to start building credit in your name today.

Don’t wait for your spouse’s apology.
Did your spouse cheat on you? Did your spouse treat you poorly for years?
If you feel that your spouse has wronged you, don’t wait for an
apology that may never come. Instead of feeling angry or bitter, practice
forgiveness.

Don’t have romantic encounters with your future ex.
You’re divorcing this person for a good reason. If you’ve
decided to go through with the divorce, having romantic encounters with
your soon-to-be ex will only complicate matters, especially if you have
children together. Instead of dating or having confusing flings with your
spouse, handle your divorce like it’s a business matter. You don’t
want anything clouding your vision, especially during settlement negotiations.

Don’t stay bitter about the divorce.
It’s a fact for most – divorce is difficult! No matter why
your marriage ended, try not to stay bitter about it. Even if your spouse
dives into a new relationship right after the separation, don’t
let that drag you down. If you can, stay upbeat and positive and
look forward to your future and what it will bring.

Don’t badmouth your spouse.
There’s never a better time to take the highroad than during a divorce.
Whatever you do, don’t badmouth your ex in front of your kids or
on social media. It’s OK to share intimate details with your therapist
and your best friend; however, you should not discuss the dirty details
at work, at church, or with neighbors. Trust us, when the divorce is over,
you’ll be glad you didn’t badmouth your spouse during the
divorce process.

If you’re looking for a divorce attorney in Los Angeles, call Claery
& Green, LLP for a free consultation. We are here to protect your
best interests throughout the
divorce process.

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2017/January/What-Not-to-Do-During-a-Divorce.aspx

Starting 2017 Fresh

If you got divorced in 2016 and still cannot seem to find your new ‘normal’ or have a divorce that will be finalized in the new year, consider making your new year’s resolution to find peace with your former spouse and your own happiness. Use the pointers highlighted in the article below as a starting point. You will see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you’re like many unhappy spouses, you probably have a list of
New Year’s resolutions. If filing for
divorce is one of them, your list of resolutions is probably very different than
it was in previous years.

Instead of planning to “read more” or spend more time at museums,
you’re probably planning on getting fit, spending more time with
family and friends, creating a balanced budget as a single person, taking
new classes, and improving your value career wise. After all, when you
file for divorce, there is no better time than to start focusing on yourself.

For recently separated or divorced people, it’s easy to get emotionally
caught up in the divorce. Often, feelings of anger, sadness, and loss
are overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. Instead of viewing
a divorce as a failure, you want to think of it as a liberation, a second
chance at happiness – and the sooner you get started the better.

Surely, you can expect to go through the initial emotions, which can be
intense, but you don’t want to let these feelings limit your happiness
for too long. If you have children, now is a great time to
focus on them, without your cellphone distracting you.

If you don’t have children, you may want to focus your energy on
your family and friends, or consider taking a trip to change the environment
and get your mind off of things. If what you really need is “alone
time,” then by all means use that vacation time you have saved up
and get away.

Put Your Needs at the Top of Your List

If you have children, you need to find balance with their needs, but you
certainly want to put your needs at the top of the list. When a family
is struck by divorce, children need their parents to be loving and emotionally
strong. If you’re constantly angry or sad, it won’t be good
for your children and it won’t help them cope with the divorce.
So, you need to look for activities that can be therapeutic, that can
improve you mood.

Think, what will help me right now? If re-enrolling in college, or getting
a new job, or visiting close friends or family, or taking a trip with
your children will put you in a better place, then by all means do what
needs to be done to ease this major transition.

Money Matters Post-Divorce

A large percentage of Americans feel like their finances could be better.
When you get divorced, you want to put adequate attention on your personal
finances. Since the majority of divorcées find themselves more
cash-strapped after a divorce, it’s critical that they take a good
hard look at their finances and start implementing smart financial strategies.

For example, let’s say a stay-at-home mom has been out of the workforce
for the last five years. While she may be anticipating spousal support,
it’s not automatic. If a woman’s husband cannot afford to
pay spousal support, she may not receive it. In that case, she needs to
start thinking about re-entering the workforce and how she’s going to do it.

If her children are school-age and her husband does not earn a lot, she
may have no other choice but to find a job. She needs to evaluate her
situation and ask herself:

  • What will I do if the judge does not award
    spousal support?
  • With my work experience, can I get a good-paying job?
  • Should I go back to school so I can get a better job?
  • How much money will I need each month to support myself and my children
    after the divorce?

For husbands and wives that have been out of the workforce so they can
raise children, often, their education and job skills are out-of-date.
In these situations, it may be necessary for them to return to college,
take online classes, or attend a vocational school so they can get a decent-paying
job, one that allows them to afford Southern California’s high cost
of housing.

Aside from improving one’s employment situation and opportunities,
it’s important to put focus on money itself. Unless you’re
wealthy, you probably don’t want to look for happiness in a new
flat screen TV, or with a lavish home you can’t afford. Instead,
you’re better off creating a balanced budget, putting money in savings,
paying off debt, and finding ways to
increase your income.

As a matter of fact, if you feel somewhat or completely out of control
during your divorce, the one thing you can control is your money: how
you spend it, how you save it, and how much you make.

During a time when you feel helpless, you can take your energy and focus
it on improving your financial health. If you can afford one, now is a
great time to see a financial advisor and get advice on saving and investing.

Letting Go of the Past

If you’re feeling down and out, or holding on to the bitter aspects
of your divorce, it’s time to let go of the past. Here are a few
ways to help you let go and move on with your life:

  • Spend loads of time with family and friends
  • If you have children, spend
    quality time with them
  • Don’t regret yesterday, instead focus on tomorrow
  • Tell your loved ones how fortunate you are to have them in your life
  • Engage in your favorite hobbies and leisure activities
  • Eat right and get into the best shape of your life
  • Do something you’ve always wanted to do
  • Consider trying something new and exciting
  • Forgive your ex and yourself for the divorce and
    move on
  • Create happiness in your own life before looking for someone to share it with
  • Close the book on your marriage and focus on the next chapter of your life
  • Be polite and respectful to your ex, regardless of how you feel about him or her

If you are contemplating divorce, one of the best ways to feel good about
the process is to have an experienced divorce attorney representing you
and looking out for your best interests from day one. For the dedicated
legal representation you need,
contact Claery & Green, LLP for a
free consultation!

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2016/December/New-Year-New-You-After-Divorce.aspx

Suing A Spouse…

Most people would think lawsuits between spouses don’t happen, but unfortunately sometimes they do. This may happen if something truly catastrophic or damaging happens and someone needs to protect themselves and/or their assets. Now this wasn’t always possible, but as laws have changed so has this circumstance. Read more about the legalities of this in the article below.

Historically a marital partner could not sue a spouse because of “interspousal tort immunity.” The historic common law viewed spouses becoming one legal person with the husband having control over the person and property of the wife. Thus, for example, there was no criminal law of marital rape, and a wife was required to have the consent of her husband to contract and obtain credit. Additionally, it was feared, allowing lawsuits between spouses would overthrow the institution of marriage, create serious social disorder, flood the courts with frivolous claims, and encourage fraudulent activity that targeted insurance companies.

This legal viewpoint significantly changed in the U.S. legal system in the 1970s with the expansion of legal rights for women. The following are several of many examples. In 1970 California was the first state to legislatively create no-fault divorce [signed by Governor Reagan]. Marital rape became a crime with Nebraska legislation in 1976. The federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974) granted married women the right to obtain individual credit, and the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978) protected against firing and discrimination due to pregnancy. Supreme Court decisions echoed this trend, such as Roe v. Wade (1973), and a unanimous decision in 1986 recognized sexual harassment as a form of unlawful discrimination [Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson].

Of course, precursors to these developments might be traced to many events including state Married Women’s Property Acts in the 1800s that allowed married women to manage their own property and sue and be sued. As early as 1882 a New York intermediate appellate court decision, reversed, would have allowed a wife to sue her husband [Schultz v. Schultz]. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1910 interpreted the District of Columbia marital property statute as not allowing a wife to sue her husband [Thompson v. Thompson].

Hence, today it is possible for one spouse to sue another for both intentional (deliberate) and negligent (unreasonably careless) torts (injuries). This comment briefly provides an incomplete educational overview of spousal lawsuits. Always consult an experienced attorney in all family law and litigation matters.

The rationale for allowing interspousal lawsuits was that the injury (tort) had already disrupted any domestic harmony and that a wrongdoer should not be able to escape the consequences of his or her conduct. One might initially think of physical and emotional injuries but the contemporary approach also includes property fraud.

Statutes of limitations (time period after the injury to sue) vary from state-to-state, so do not delay legal action. In some situations, the running of a statute of limitation may be stopped (“tolled”). Many spousal torts are continuing and each new wrongful action may restart the statute of limitation. A physical or emotional injury from a tort may be latent (hidden) and possibly the statute of limitations may not begin to run until the impact is apparent. Statutes of limitation issues are complex and require consultation with an experienced attorney.

There are any number of intentional torts such as parental kidnapping of children, invasions of privacy via wiretapping, video or audio surveillance, assault (threats of harmful or offensive contact) and battery (actual harmful or offensive contact), and transmitting sexual diseases. One could easily list several pages of potential torts. Depending upon state law, the damages are both compensatory (actual dollar loss including items such as property damage, medical expense, and lost wages), punitive (damages to punish a wrongdoer), and potentially attorney fees and court costs. Of course, monetary judgments do not automatically collect themselves. So a preliminary consideration in any tort lawsuit is if there are assets or insurance coverage that might be seized or applied to collect a judgment. Most homeowner’s insurance policies exclude coverage for intentional acts, among other things. Many torts are also crimes that might be prosecuted.

Some states do not allow a recovery for emotional distress without some physical manifestation of the injury. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); however, produces widely recognized physical symptoms.

A different set of legal standards may govern lawsuits separate from divorce from those that arise as part of a divorce action. A major issue is what standards a given state utilizes in dividing marital property upon divorce. Additionally, attempts to reopen property divisions in a post-divorce lawsuit may be difficult.

A claim for property fraud or for a breach of duty in managing property may exist separately from a division of property incident to divorce. However, some jurisdictions only allow property fraud claims in the context of a divorce. Some jurisdictions distinguish a physical injury claim as being uniquely personal to the injured person, and hence, always allowable either within or outside of divorce. Some states have specifically addressed these issues with legislation. Transfers of marital property to third parties, such as a paramour, that are “capricious, excessive, or arbitrary” may be subject to a lawsuit for reimbursement. The overall theory is that there has been a breach of the fiduciary duty (imposing utmost honesty and fairness) that one spouse owes the other.

Actual fraud involves proof of the following: 1. An intentionally or recklessly false, 2. Statement (words or actions that communicate), 3. Of a material (significant) fact, 4. That was justifiably relied upon, 5. Producing loss or injury. Intentional action (“scienter”) is key. Deliberately false statements concerning assets might be an example.

Constructive fraud, more commonly asserted than actual fraud, does not require proof of an intent to deceive. It is a fairness approach focusing on violations of confidence and public policy considerations. Giving away marital property, changing life insurance beneficiaries, or creating mortgages without the other spouse’s knowledge or consent are common examples. This is especially true when transfers are made to paramours.

However, note that bad investment decisions alone do not constitute constructive fraud. “Waste” of marital property involves affirmative actions of dissipation, transfers, and gifts made in bad faith to the detriment of the spouse. However, if the spouses are in business together or one spouse holds a power of attorney for the other spouse, an additional obligation of fairness from corporate, partnership, and agency law applies.

The old doctrine of “unclean hands” penalizes one who comes to court with violations themselves of good faith and fairness. It only applies to conduct related to the specific transaction(s) in question and does not relate to issues of character or conduct generally. It might be utilized as a defense to claims of actual or constructive fraud.

This brief and incomplete educational overview of complex topic is not intended to provide legal advice. Always consult an experienced attorney in all family law and litigation situations.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brad-reid/a-legal-introduction-to-s_b_13280974.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

Letting Go

Divorce brings on changes, emotional roller coasters, a new sense of self and much more. There are things you gain and things you lose, too. Some might be by choice, but some are simply reciprocal effects from the separation. You have the choice to let go of certain feelings and items after everything is said and done, and we think the 7 things discussed in this article are a good start.

Divorce can be a complicated legal and emotional battle, but what people don’t really talk about is that divorce is an ongoing evolution, especially when you have children with your ex. I have been divorced almost three years, yet I still don’t think I’m fully through all the transitional stages. Even on a practical level I still haven’t let go of everything physically or emotionally. It is common to repeat certain things that you promised yourself you never would. Whether you are being attracted to people that you shouldn’t be with or whether it’s not finally calling Good Will and having them remove the entire contents of your garage. Here is a list of things to help in the” letting go” process.

1. Anger

A big thing for a lot of people, we aren’t great at letting go of anger, or forgiving, we can often have not such positive thoughts, related to our exes, but you have two choices focus on the past or let it go and focus on a happy future, try to constantly, remind yourself that your future is bright and in part it is a result of your divorce story. This reshifting of focus allows you to let that anger go.

2. Love

In every divorce there is usually at least one broken heart, the one that loved and lost, the one that still secretly hopes for a change of heart or reconnection with an ex spouse. This “love” you think you have for your ex is most likely not going to reignite, so you really need to learn to let this go, my motto in all relationships is why would you wish to be with someone, who doesn’t wish you to be with you? You shouldn’t because out there, somewhere there are seven billion more people you can meet who want you for you and will reciprocate this unrequited love. So let this love go focus on new people and new things.

3. Rings and things

Until my own divorce I had not really realized how important this is to moving on, when you get divorced you probably have an array of wedding items, attire and gifts from your ex, keeping these items I think takes up both physical and mental space — you open a drawer you see a ring, jewelry; you go to a closet notice your dress hanging in the back; maybe your china cabinet is still filled with wedding china and gifts? Mentally these items are constant, subconscious reminders of your ex of your failed marriage, of your past when things didn’t work out. When you purge these items you make some money but more importantly you free space in your home, mind, heart and soul for new to come into your life. I personally find it very liberating to free your soul from your past, so you can focus on the future.There is also that whole practical thing too that I have never met a man since my divorce who would approve of wearing jewelry gifts from an ex spouse, so it is also just a waste to leave these pricey trinkets in your home.

4. Right and wrong

Another thing we can struggle with, we all on some level feel hard done by, unfairly treated by the court systems, the exes, the laws, the way things played out, maybe we feel 100% that we are right and our ex is wrong, maybe they cheated, maybe they lied, maybe they didn’t declare financial statements and now you see them driving around in new car. A million actions by our exes make us want to scream this is wrong, I am right, but ultimately you have to let this go. Shift your thoughts into “it is what it is” and let it go. Focus on changing what you actually can have the power to change within your own life, focus on making today, tomorrow and the here and now all it can be, because sometimes the very best thing you can do is let it be.

5. House

This one is tricky because often finances dictate where or how you live, I think though that new beginnings are better in new surroundings. We often ask to keep our marital house in our divorce but almost as soon as you actually get to stay in it you can regret that choice, much like the wedding items, homes are filled with memories, good bad and otherwise, I remember the internal awkwardness of having my first boyfriend spend the night in my home, there is something liberating of letting your home go, starting fresh in a new home, new place, new beginning a place that only you alone have ever lived in. So if you can financially make a move do it, let your home go too.

6. Expectations

Wow, expectations can be so different of what divorce and dating would be like compared to what it actually is, I always tell people divorce is basically switching one set of issues, with a new set being single. Over the years you come to realize life is much more about enjoying the journey than achieving your goals. I have learnt that you can be happy alone, that you can gain joy from dating people you like and enjoy their company you don’t always have to only date the one. I wish someone had told me, that there is no kind of instant happy after divorce, no super cure or band aid for the pain endured, but that like everything in life it takes both time and work to get anywhere. So expect to work, focus on yourself and daily happiness in yourself, love yourself, let go of what you thought it would be like and let it be what it is. This is you new life, that you are in control of your happiness in.

7. Sadness

Sadness after divorce and through your divorce journey can come and go like waves, prickly feelings of failure, grief, uncertainty, this is all normal, cry when you want to, get a massage, go for a run, do something that makes you happy. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care, read a book, go on a trip, but let the sadness leave you. Don’t hold it in, just let it go, daily make a choice to be happy and to let sadness go, it can be done. Daily small steps, as a friend of mine once said “actions can change thoughts” really good thing to remember when letting all these things go. Small daily actions can change and alter your thoughts and cause much happiness.

Everything can always get better, everyone can be happy and happier after their divorce, but if you carry all the baggage with you after divorce, you won’t get there very fast.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tiffany-beverlin/7-things-to-let-go-of-after-divorce_b_12317492.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

Who Gets What?

If you are going through a divorce and you own property/assets as a couple it might be challenging to decide how to split things up. This blog post, written by fellow California attorneys, does a great job of thoroughly explaining how the State handles property division in a divorce. Read the full piece below and be sure to explore the rest of their blog!

If you are a resident of Los Angeles County and are headed for a
divorce, you will surely have questions about your rights to marital property
and your obligations to pay off certain debts acquired before, during,
and after your marriage took place.

For starters, you should know that California is a community property state,
which means that each spouse is entitled to half of the marital assets
and property acquired during the marriage. Spouses are also equally responsible
for the marital debts.

Not all property owned by two spouses is considered “marital or community
property.” Separate property is
not subject to division during a divorce, meaning the spouses get to keep their separate property,
which includes:

  • Property acquired before the marriage
  • Gifts and inheritances acquired before, during, or after the marriage
  • Personal injury settlements or jury awards

Generally, everything else is considered community property and is subject
to a 50/50 split. But, just because spouses are entitled to half of the
marital (community) property, it does not mean that couples have to divide
everything down the middle. Spouses have every right to reach an agreement
of their own; they are NOT required to split their assets equally.

Facts About Property Division in a California Divorce

Now you know that in a California divorce, under the law spouses are entitled
to half of the marital assets, but they are not required to stick to that formula.

Since spouses generally prefer to craft their own marital settlement agreement,
the courts rarely have to step in and decide for them, but when a couple
cannot agree, a judge will divide the couple’s assets and debts
according to California’s
community property laws.

With these basics in mind, there are still other factors that come into
play when a couple divorces and divides their property. You may be wondering
if you need a divorce attorney to help you divide your property, and the
answer is not straightforward, it depends on your individual situation.

Do you have significant assets, such as a home, several real estate properties,
or a business? Or, are you and your spouse in a significant amount of
debt? If you are a high-net-worth couple or if you have a lot of debt,
it is wise to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer.

Even if you do not anticipate a contentious or a litigated divorce, an
attorney can be very helpful when it comes to saving time and drafting
a fair marital settlement agreement, one that ensures your rights are
protected during the divorce.

Do you believe you already divided your property?

Let’s say you and your spouse physically separated. Each one of you
took the furniture you wanted, and each one of you kept your own vehicles.
You already divided your property, right? Not exactly.

Under California law, a friendly agreement among spouses about furniture
and vehicles is not enough. It does not matter if you took the living
room set and your spouse took the bedroom set, or that you took the truck,
while your spouse kept the four-door sedan.

According to the divorce laws, it doesn’t matter who took what. Until
a judge officially awards the items to one of the parties, they still
belong to the community. On the other hand, the separate property that
belongs to one spouse remains his or hers, even if they allow their spouse
to use it.

Determining Fair Market Value

In a divorce, one of the most complicated aspects can be dividing the marital
property, especially when a couple as accumulated a significant amount
of assets over the years. Often, spouses will have to determine the fair
market value of an item during the division process.

Determining the fair market value has nothing to do with retail, or what
you paid for it. It has to do with how much you could get if you sold
the item “as is” today, in its current condition. For example,
if you bought a couch and loveseat for $2,000 10 years ago, how much could
you get for the set at a yard sale or on Craigslist today? That $2,000
couch and loveseat may only be worth $200.00 today, if that.

If you are trying to figure out how much your car is worth, you can find
out its fair market value by checking the
Kelley Blue Book. On the other hand, if you need to figure out how much your home is worth,
we recommend contacting a local real estate agent.

The agent can give you several comparable values in your neighborhood,
or you may want to have an appraisal done.

What if I bought something with my own money?

Let’s say that during your marriage, you worked and put your paycheck
into your own, separate bank account, and you used that money to purchase
your own vehicle after you became separated.

Not only did you pay for the car with your own income, but the vehicle
is titled in your name alone. So, this means that the car belongs to only
you, right?

No, that is not the case. Even if you paid for the car in full with the
money that you earned, and from your personal bank account, your spouse
still owns half of the vehicle. This is because all of the money that
is earned by two spouses or domestic partners during a marriage (or domestic
partnership) is considered “community property.”

This means that all community property belongs to both spouses equally,
regardless of who paid for it, or whose name is on the title.

Do you have further questions about how community property and debts are
divided in a California divorce? If so,
contact our Los Angeles divorce firm for a free case evaluation.

Source: http://www.claerygreen.com/Family-Law-Blog/2016/August/Dividing-Property-in-a-California-Divorce.aspx