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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

Redwood City, California Family Law Blog

What are my options for divorce?

Deciding to officially end your marriage is a very difficult decision, even if you and your spouse have been butting heads for a while. If you have decided to get a divorce, then you and your spouse may be wondering how to go about the process. California couples have various options when it comes to divorce, so it is important that you choose the one that is best for you and your family. A family law attorney can assist in that decision and help you move forward with whatever you decide.

You have most likely heard of divorce occurring through traditional litigation. This often requires you and your spouse to handle your divorce by making legal arguments in open court. By utilizing this method, you may have little say in what happens, as all decisions are left to the judge hearing the case. These litigated divorces can be more expensive and take more time, but in more complex cases involving domestic abuse or other complicated issues, it may be the best option.

Finalizing your divorce in 2018 may save you money

If you and your spouse have decided to go your separate ways, you may be wondering when the timing is right to finalize a marriage dissolution. With new tax laws in place, there are many things to consider as you begin the divorce filing process. For many California couples, finalizing their divorce in 2018 may be the best financial decision for their families' futures.

First, starting on January 1, 2019, alimony laws will be changing. As of now, a paying spouse can list alimony as a deductible on their federal income taxes, while ex-spouses receiving alimony payments have to declare the money as taxable income. This "divorce subsidy" often benefited families and helped them save thousands of dollars. In the future, however, alimony is no longer deductible or taxable, which may mean that the receiving spouse will receive less money. Therefore, finalizing your divorce in 2018 may be beneficial, as alimony will still be deductible and taxable even when the new law goes into effect. That is, unless you modify your agreement to say that the new law will be applied.

What are the different types of California adoptions?

If you have decided to expand your family, then you may be considering adopting a child. The adoption process can be challenging, but for many people it is well-worth it for the chance to welcome a new child into their family.

Before you decide whether adoption is right for you, consider the different types of adoptions available for California families. First, there is an agency adoption, where a child is placed for adoption by public or licensed private agencies. The California Department of Social Services may also place the child for adoption through a regional office. Once the birth parent's rights are legally terminated, the adoption agency will legally take custody of the child and work to place the child in an appropriate home. The agency will review your application as a potential adoptive parent and, if there is a match, they will supervise the placement for a minimum of six months before the court makes the adoption official.

Tips for dealing with a high-conflict divorce

The rocky nature of your marriage may have contributed to the decision to divorce. While you believe that taking this route is the best option, you may want to prepare for the possibility that the dissolution process will be just as rocky, if not more so, than the marriage itself. You may have decided from the beginning to do your best to keep your emotions in check, but your soon-to-be ex may not do the same.

Even though you cannot guarantee that your ex will act in an amicable manner during divorce proceedings, you can still work to protect yourself and hope to avoid as much conflict as possible.

Certain assets may be affected by your divorce

Divorce can have a significant impact on your finances, particularly when it comes to your retirement assets. According to a study by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR), households that have not been through a divorce have a 30 percent higher net financial wealth than households that have been through divorce. Divorced people are also five percent more likely to run out of assets than non-divorced people.

However, single women who get divorced are at the same financial level as those who never married. This is often because divorced women, particularly those with children, keep the house, and that house can make a huge difference when it comes to their financial security.

Restrictions you may face throughout the divorce process

Getting a divorce in California is never as simple as just filing the paperwork and going your separate ways. No matter how amicable your situation is, once your divorce proceedings begin, many restrictions and rules are put into place regarding your financial and parenting rights. These restrictions during your divorce can significantly impact your life in ways you would not expect.

For example, if you're going through a divorce and want to plan a trip with your kids to go out of state, you may want to wait until everything is finalized. Without a court order or agreement with your spouse, taking your child out-of-state in violation of an automatic temporary restraining order, even just for the day, may result in a huge mess involving the police. You may also want to wait on taking the kids to Europe to visit their grandma. Courts generally do not want divorcing parents to leave the country with the children during the proceedings, particularly if they have ties to another country. Generally, the goal is to prevent you or your spouse from keeping your child in another country or runaway with the child while custody arrangements are still being determined.

Jesse Williams and ex-wife continue to battle over child support

In an ideal situation, divorcing spouses in California would be able to resolve all their issues peacefully, particularly when it comes to issues involving their children. However, many divorcing couples are unable to come to an understanding about child custody and support, which can cause stress and emotional turmoil for the entire family. Grey's anatomy actor, Jesse Williams, and his ex-wife were granted joint custody of their two kids earlier this year but continue to battle over child support.

Williams' ex, Aryn Drake Lee, recently filed a request to increase the amount of child support Williams pays each month. As of now, Williams currently pays $50,695 in spousal support per month.

Will the court approve child support modification in your case?

You love your children and, like most good parents in California, you want what is best for them. When you divorced, you figured that would include paying child support and you were more than willing to do so for their sakes. In fact, you were even willing to pay for non-support expenses, like helping them out with a little spending money when they took a school field trip. You were determined to do whatever you could to help them adjust to their new lifestyle in a healthy manner.

Everything was going well for a while, until your boss told you they were cutting costs and eliminating a few positions to do so, and yours was the first to go. Thankfully, it didn't take you long to find another job; however, you had to relocate and were hit with moving expenses, not to mention the new position didn't pay near as much as the first. You have really been scrounging the bottom of the money barrel to meet your child support payments.

Saving money for your children's college fund during divorce

Couples going through a divorce are often concerned with their family's finances and their ability to support their children throughout the process. If you find yourself wondering how to pay your child's college expenses while going through a divorce, know that you are not alone. According to a study by TD Ameritrade, 40 percent of married couples get divorced, but over 66 percent of married couples have no financial plan in place to prepare them for divorce or death. Fortunately, experts have some helpful advice for parents dealing with this exact issue.

First, experts say that with the significant increase in college expenses over the past few years, planning is everything. Divorcing parents can make a plan that says that they will send their child to the best school they can afford, if the child wants to go there. However, experts say that parents need to be realistic about how the family's finances will be affected by the split. Child support and spousal support are typically more of a priority than higher education costs.

Creating a successful parenting plan with your ex

Divorcing parents in California generally know that they will have to come up a custody and visitation agreement, or parenting plan, to decide where the child will spend what days and who will make decisions regarding the child's upbringing. However, parents may not know where to begin when creating their plans and what details to include. Parenting plans, much like most other aspects of family law, should focus on the best interest of the child.

Before you get started, it is important to remember that your plan will be filed with the court and signed by both you and your ex, as well as the judge. Once a parenting plan is approved by the court, it becomes a court order, which means that you and your ex will have to follow it to the letter and can only make changes by filing modifications with the court. That is why it is necessary for you and your spouse to focus on what is in your child's best interests when creating the plan. Make sure to consider your child's age and abilities, and adjust the plan to fit your specific child.