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Marital home decisions critical for California divorcing couples

For many married couples in California, like elsewhere, finding and then buying a home together is the dream of a lifetime. It can easily become the asset with the most financial value that a couple can own, especially if they add to that value with improvements or upgrades. If a couple ends up with a divorce, however, the marital home can lose its appeal to one or both spouses, although usually not its market value. Here are a few things divorcing couples should bear in mind about the marital home during property division.

Whether or not to sell is the first question to answer. If the house was bought during the marriage, it is marital property co-owned by both spouses. If it was bought by one party before the marriage, it is separate property completely owned by its buyer. However, if the other spouse contributed to its upkeep, taxes or mortgage, then he or she may be entitled to a share of the property. Sometimes a custodial parent will want to keep a family home to avoid relocating the couple's children. The custodial parent, however, will have to consider taxes, mortgage payments and maintenance costs. This could mean one spouse buying out the other.

How older divorcing couples can protect their finances

When two spouses are older than 50 and ending their marriage after more than 10 years together, the stakes are much higher for both of them, especially when it comes to retirement planning. The finances of both spouses can be badly affected by property division - enough to compromise their plans for life without work. To avoid such consequences, older couples in California should consider the following tips.

First, rein in negative emotions. Although this may seem hard, the fact is that older couples who cooperate during the division of assets come out better financially by making the process run more quickly and more smoothly. Dwelling on anger and resentment just causes more problems and eventually costs couples dearly.

Helping Californians make sense of child support modification

Many Californians are not aware that court-ordered financial support from parents to children can be modified under certain circumstances. The reasons must make sense to a court, however, because child support is almost always ordered to meet a child's financial needs. The court realizes, however, that it should not create undue hardship for the parent who is ordered to pay the support. If a parent finds him- or herself in such circumstances, our legal guidance may be able to help get the support order modified so that the parent does not become delinquent.

We understand that raising and supporting children is not easy. Sometimes, the parent who pays child support encounters a stumbling block such as losing a job or becoming seriously ill. In such cases, we can help parents negotiate more feasible child support payments that still meet their children's financial needs. On the other hand, we also can help custodial parents go after supporting parents who truly fail to meet their legal obligations.

Domestic violence and its effects on child custody

Domestic abuse can adversely affect children even if they are not the ones being abused. Children can be indirect victims, meaning they witness or hear the abuse and violence. Although not physically experiencing abuse may seem like a small consolation, it makes little difference since the stress it causes results in psychological and emotional problems that can manifest physically. California parents should protect themselves as well as their children from domestic violence through the use of a restraining order. In some cases, seeking child custody may also be necessary.

When taking this route, a judge will first identify if there was indeed a case of domestic violence between the parents. This can be determined if a parent was convicted of domestic abuse within the last five years or if a previous court concluded that a parent abused the children or the other parent. Once domestic violence is confirmed, the abusive parent cannot have joint or sole custody of the children. However, that parent can still be given visitation rights.

How do you prevent finances from falling apart after divorce?

No one wants to jump from the frying pan into the fire. That is often what happens, of course, when couples divorce and spouses end up in financial trouble as newly single people. Couples in California who want to avoid this divorce challenge can preserve their financial independence by asking themselves a few important questions.

What do I really need, and what do I merely want? Transitioning from sharing household incomes and expenditures to one income can be hard for someone who has just divorced. Although you may want to get what you think is your fair share of community property, you could be in for a shock when you realize your single income, with or without spousal support, will have to pay for insurance, taxes and other expenses that come with these assets. More than one divorced spouse has ended up in financial trouble because they took too much property from a divorce without having the means to maintain it.

Guiding Californians through property division

When is equal not equal? Well, apparently, during the property division that occurs during a divorce. California, being a community property state, presumes that assets and property obtained by a couple during their marriage should be divided equally. However, "equal" does not necessarily mean a fifty-fifty split. Divorcing couples also may have a different perspective on what is rightfully theirs. This is where things get confusing. Fortunately, this is also when our Alameda County-based law firm steps in to help a divorcing spouse.

Even in the most amicable of circumstances, property division can be challenging. However, despite these difficulties, the situation should not be taken lightly, since it may affect a spouse's future. We are not only aware of this situation; we also are skilled at making sense of it and in effectively guiding our clients through the process. Besides marital property, we have a lot of experience handling business assets. We work closely with expert business valuators to determine the precise worth of a business.

Actress wants to pay less child support to former boyfriend

New Yorkers, along with the rest of the world, have watched actress Halle Berry throughout her career. She began as a fashion model before transitioning to an actress. Her defining moment came when she became the first African-American actress to win a Best Actress Oscar for the movie "Monster's Ball." Since then, she has starred in many successful movies. While her career has been interesting, her recent personal life has been more dramatic. It was reported that Berry has requested a reduction in child support payments that she currently pays for her daughter.

The 48-year-old actress has a seven-year-old daughter with former beau, Gabriel Aubry. The pair separated four years ago and currently enjoy joint custody of their daughter. Berry has been paying the court-ordered $16,000 per month in child support for the last four months. She has reportedly asked the family court judge to reduce the payments by $13,000 per month. The request stemmed from allegations that the 39-year-old Aubry, a model, has been using the payments for his living expenses. The child support was intended to be for their daughter's educational and extracurricular expenses until she graduates from high school or turns 19 years old.

What can a restraining order do for CA domestic voilence victims?

Domestic abuse is a sensitive issue for Californians. Abuse victims who wish to finally have peace of mind, may consider a trusted means to settle the problem, a legal approach, particularly a restraining order.

What is a domestic violence restraining order? A restraining order is a legal order issued by a California court to protect a domestic violence victim from further threats or abuse from another person. How can you get a restraining order? A restraining order, sometimes referred to as a protective order, needs to be filed in court. The court usually grants restraining orders for people who have been abused or who were threatened with abuse by a husband or wife, a present or former lover, a roommate or a person one lives with or relatives.

When CA child custody becomes an emotional rollercoaster ride

Divorce and child custody can be an emotional roller coaster ride for California parents. Unfortunately, children can be unnecessarily included in the ride. That is not only terrifying for the moment but can result in emotional scars that a child will carry forever. For this reason, it is best for parents to leave children in the uneventful yet safer confines of a proverbial "guilt-free carousel" during child custody.

The carousel refers to a constant reassurance of acceptance, safety and a blame-free life. A child's self-esteem is often shaky during the formative years. The child wants and needs a sense of belonging with the family. The divorce and child custody, if handled poorly, can shatter that sense of belonging. Parents need to reassure a child that despite the divorce and other issues, they are still important and will always be a priority.

Community property and what it means in a divorce

In a divorce, California couples may find that property division is one of the most complex and tedious parts of the process. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can simplify property division, but when it is too late for that, knowing the legal nuances, particularly with respect to community property, can help couples make the process much smoother.

California, like Arizona, Alaska, Louisiana and several other states, is a community property state. This means that in a divorce, marital property, or the property that either party obtains during the marriage, is divided evenly between the parties. Spouses can keep their separate property, which is property that they acquired before marriage. Community property uses a distribution method that is opposed to equitable distribution, which allows a judge to "fairly" divide the assets and property of the divorcing couple, which may not always result in an equal division of the marital property. California divorcing couples should note that dividing property does not always occur in the literal sense. Assets and property will be appraised and will be divided among the spouses by percentages of their worth.

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