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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

Redwood City, California Family Law Blog

What should divorcing couples do with the family home?

One of the most difficult parts of a divorce in California is splitting up the assets you have accumulated throughout your marriage. One of the most significant assets involved in the property division process for most couples is the family home. In addition to the financial value of the property itself, there is often emotional value given to the place where the couple built their lives together.

Dealing with real estate issues on top of everything else may be too much for divorcing couples to handle. Some people make the mistake of fighting for the house over other assets. Once the dust settles, they find themselves with an expensive house that they cannot afford to maintain. If you are considering keeping the house long-term, make sure you can afford the maintenance costs and mortgage payments. Stay-at-home parents and other spouses who did not work during the marriage may plan to rely on alimony payments to afford the property, However, when the alimony stops, they may find themselves in financial trouble.

Helping you with child custody issues

When parents split up, their number one concern is generally making sure that the children are well-cared for. Parents may disagree over who should have more time with the children and how to raise them. These conflicts can ultimately tear a family apart and leave children caught in the middle of the war between their parents.

When determining custody issues, the parents or the court will come up with an agreement regarding legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to decision making, such as which parent will make decisions about the child's schooling, health and other important issues. Physical custody refers to where the child will be living after the split. Generally, if one parent has physical custody, the other will owe child support.

Divorcing couples should consider collaborative divorce

Couples in California who are seeking a divorce may have a number of concerns before starting the process. Two of their biggest concerns are usually financial costs and emotional turmoil. It is no secret that the divorce process can be expensive and emotionally draining, particularly for couples who fight over everything. However, there may be a much better option for couples who are willing to put aside their differences and focus on resolving issues positively.

Collaborative divorce requires couples to agree to enter all negotiations with an open mind and to be forthcoming with all financial documentation and other necessary paperwork. The couples and their attorneys will meet outside of the courtroom and work together to resolve all property division, child custody and child support issues. The collaborative process also allows you to use additional resources, including therapists and accountants. These resources can help both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse make the best decisions for your futures.

Are you getting your fair share in your divorce settlement?

Your divorce is a turning point. After spending years joining your life to your spouse's, perhaps even raising children together, you must now spend time dividing your lives and making plans to move in different directions.

Certainly, much of those plans will involve finances, and the decisions you make over the next few months will have a profound impact on your financial security and overall well-being. With this in mind, you may benefit from taking a critical look at your situation before agreeing to any arbitrary division of property.

Mistakes to avoid during your divorce

Now that summer is over and the holidays are right around the corner, the number of divorces in the United States will increase substantially. No matter how sure you and your spouse are about splitting up, your divorce can still be an emotional and tumultuous process. As you proceed with your divorce, you should focus on making sure that your finances are secure as you divide the assets and go your separate ways. You may want the California courts to finalize your divorce as soon as possible, but it is in your best interest to act carefully and understand how each decision you make will affect your financial future.

Many common divorce-related mistakes are connected with the family home. This is understandable, considering that people may be emotionally attached to the place where they built a life with their spouse and children. However, you cannot let your emotions get in the way of making the best financial decision possible. The reality is that you may not be able to live in your family home now that you do not have your spouse's income to put towards upkeep costs and mortgage payments. If this is true for you, do not insist on keeping the home or offer to take the home in lieu of other assets, such as retirement accounts and investments.

Taking care of your finances during and after divorce

Couples who are going through a divorce in California often want the divorce process to be as stress-free as possible, both financially and emotionally. As you begin the divorce process, you need to think about what the future holds for you as a soon-to-be newly single person.

In order to protect yourself financially, it is in your best interest to prepare for post-divorce life as much as possible by hiring a team of experts to help you throughout the process. Many soon-to-be divorcees find the process much easier with an attorney, financial advisor, accountant and counselor in their corner. These experts can handle the various complications that come with the divorce process and provide you with invaluable advice.

Shared parenting may be the best option for divorced couples

When parents in Redwood City get divorced, the children may suffer the most. However, recent studies show that when both parents play an active role in the child's life, the child is better off. Divorcing parents may struggle when dealing with child custody and support issues, but it is important to focus on doing what is best for the children, even if it means dealing with your ex-spouse on a more regular basis.

Experts have often debated about whether shared parenting is really in the best interest of the children. Some say that shared parenting often causes conflict and leaves the children stuck in the middle of their parents' disagreements. However, a new study by a professor at Wake Forest University determined that this conflict should not play nearly as much of a role in child custody decisions, as parents tend to exaggerate conflict during the custody battle. Also, after a few years of divorce, the conflict dies down. So making a long-term custody decision based on temporary conflict may not be the best for the children.

Can grandparents file for visitation rights in California?

For many grandparents, spending time with their grandchildren is one of the most important activities in their lives. When a couple separates, many grandparents fear that they will not get as much time with the child as they used to. As a result, many grandmothers and grandfathers attempt to fight for their grandparents' rights by seeking visitation rights.

What if you both retain ownership of your house after divorce?

The exact reasons why you are getting divorced are not as pertinent as what you will do from this point forward when it comes to helping your children adapt to major life changes. Children are definitely not immune to the roller coaster of emotions that many adults (perhaps including you) face when navigating the divorce process. California courts typically believe that, if possible, kids should continue to have as much time with both parents as they can. The crucial question is this: Where should that take place?

It's no secret that many families experience high levels of stress after divorce when trying to juggle new schedules, especially where child custody and visitation are concerned. If you constantly have to shuttle your children back and forth from house to house, making sure they have all their school supplies, sports equipment, favorite stuffed animals, etc., you may wind up feeling like you shifted from one set of problems to another. A new parenting style may be the solution to your problems, or not.

Actor Jesse Williams caught in custody battle with estranged wife

The divorce process is rarely easy, especially when children are involved. Even if a couple seems to be getting along, things can turn ugly quickly once they make the decision to divorce. "Grey's Anatomy" actor Jesse Williams is currently in a bitter child custody battle with ex-wife Aryn Drake-Lee.

Williams and Drake-Lee were married for almost five years and have a 3-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. Drake-Lee denied Williams' request for joint custody and recently filed for sole custody of the two children. According to court documents, Drake-Lee insisted that Williams has been notably absent from the children's lives due to his unpredictable work obligations. She claims he missed his daughter's pre-school graduation as well as Father's Day events at the school. Drake-Lee has stated that he used to occasionally come to his children's events, but only when he was not working.