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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

Redwood City, California Family Law Blog

We assist with child support issues in Redwood City

When a child's parents are in the process of getting a divorce, there are many important issues they must address, one of which is child support. Child support is generally paid by the noncustodial parent and is meant to supplement the financial resources needed to raise the child. Thus, it is the child who ultimately benefits from the payment of child support.

While a divorce is pending, a California court may order temporary child support. The amount of temporary child support is determined by using a computer program. The program utilizes each party's income, along with the amount of time each parent has the child in their care each month, to calculate an amount that is fair to both parents. A permanent child support order will then be made part of the divorce decree.

Who is going to pay the credit card bill after your divorce?

Like many other Americans, you may use your credit card for a variety of purchases. You may use your card to buy your groceries for the week, pay for a medical bill you received or even to pay for your vacation if you currently don't have the money in hand. As a result, you may have a significant amount of credit card debt.

You may be able to effectively manage your credit card debt with income from both you and your spouse, but what will happen in the event of a divorce? If you are facing the prospect of ending your marriage, you would be wise to think about what will happen to your marital debt. It is in your interests to ensure you do not emerge from the divorce process with an unfair debt burden that you cannot carry on your own.

The three types of adoption in California

When an adult adopts a child, that adult becomes the child's legal and permanent parent. The adoptive parent is responsible for raising the child and providing the child with the care and love they need to thrive. Adoption also terminates the parental rights of the child's biological parents, meaning that the biological parents can no longer have custody or visitation with their child and are no longer obligated to financially support the child.

In California, there are three types of adoption: agency adoptions, independent adoptions and intercountry adoptions. In an agency adoption, an adoption agency (public or licensed private) or the California Department of Social Services places the child up for adoption and is responsible for the care, custody and control of the child until the child is adopted. The child's biological parents' rights are thus terminated. There will be a study of the potential adoptive parent before the child will be allowed to live with them. Following the study, the child will live with the adoptive parent under the supervision of the agency for at least six months before the parent can officially adopt the child.

What issues take center stage in a 'grey divorce'?

People in Redwood City may have noticed that the overall divorce rate in our nation has been on the downswing the past two decades. However, the divorce rate of those age 50 and older has seen an uptick over the years. In what is referred to as a "grey divorce," these older couples face issues their younger counterparts do not.

For example, people in their 20s, 30s or even 40s who decide to divorce may still have minor children living at home. This means child custody and child support will be two primary divorce legal issues that these couples will have to sort out. However, couples in their 50s and older may have raised their children, who are now adults living on their own. Therefore, those going through a grey divorce generally do not have to grapple with child custody or child support, as these issues are not applicable to their lives.

Property division and the family home in California

Home may be where the heart is, but when two people fall out of love and decide to divorce, they will need to make some very important decisions about what to do with the family abode. When it comes to property division, California is a community property state, meaning that each spouse has an equal ownership interest in all marital assets. Since the family home is often one of the biggest assets a couple holds, it is important to understand what options are available when it comes to divorce.

One option is for one spouse to keep the home. If one spouse keeps the home, they will either buy out the other spouse's interest in the property or exchange the family home for other marital assets. However, if a spouse wants to keep the home, they should keep some financial aspects of homeownership in mind. They generally must refinance the mortgage in their name only, so they must consider whether they'll be able to afford the mortgage on a single income. In addition, homeowner's insurance and property taxes must be paid, and the spouse keeping the home will have to pay for any upkeep or improvements made to the property. Thus, spouses should consider whether they can afford homeownership before deciding to fight for the family home.

What the law says about divorce and pet custody

In most states, pets are nothing more than personal property when it comes to divorce. Who gets to keep the animal is something spouses need to work out on their own. There is no consideration given to what is best for the pet. This is where California is different. Here, there is a pet custody law, which just took effect the beginning of this year, and it is something that many people have mixed feelings about.

In the past 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people asking family courts to award pet custody as part of their divorce settlements. Clearly, it is an issue that is important to a lot of people. In the past, if such an issue went to court, a judge would either tell both parties to work it out on their own or simply award the animal to one of them. Lawmakers felt that the pets deserved better treatment.

When can you seek a spousal support modification in California?

When a couple in California divorces, one party may be ordered to pay spousal support to the other party. Also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance, spousal support is meant to put the receiving party on an even financial standing with the paying party, until the receiving party can become financially self-sufficient.

However, life is rarely static. There may come a day when either party experiences a change in financial circumstances. For example, they may be laid off, incur significant medical expenses or get a higher-paying job. When this happens, a party might wish to change the amount of spousal support owed.

Property division laws in the Golden State

When a couple in California goes through a divorce, they have to decide how to divide their property. Who gets the family home? Vehicles? Electronics? Collectables? In California, these decisions will be governed by community property laws.

When it comes to property division in California, the state follows community property laws. In general, this means that each spouse has an equal interest in all marital assets, and, thus, the couple's marital property should be divided evenly between the spouses. Marital property in the Golden State includes any income either party earned while married. Income includes not just wages, but also stock dividends, retirement accounts and other financial resources. Marital property also includes any tangible assets and real estate that either party purchased while married using income that was earned while they were married. Finally, any debts incurred while the couple was married are also marital in nature.

Can California parents modify a child support order post-divorce?

When parents in California divorce, there are many important decisions that will need to be made regarding their children. One of these decisions is how much child support one parent must pay the other, to cover the everyday expenses incurred by raising a child. Of course, life is not static, and, sometimes, a parent's financial circumstances or time spent with the child will change after the original child support order is issued.

If there has been a significant change to either parent's income or how much time a parent has the child in their care, a parent may move the court to have their child support order modified. The court will make such decisions based on each parent's current situation. This means the amount of child support owed each month could either increase or decrease.

California parents can help their children thrive post-divorce

Sometimes, when a parent's relationship with their spouse has deteriorated, it is best for the parents to divorce. Some parents in California may fear that this will cause the child to suffer irreversible harm, but this may not be the case. According to one psychological study, 80 percent of children studied whose parents were divorced did not experience any long-lasting negative effects due to the split. Establishing a feasible parenting plan that meets the needs of all involved can be key in helping the child adjust to their life post-divorce.

When developing a child custody and parenting plan, there are certain topics that should be addressed to ensure that the plan serves the child's best interests. First, parents should establish the extent to which they will co-parent. What issues will they agree on together, and which issues will they be allowed to address on their own when the child is in their care? Whether they share joint legal custody or whether one parent has sole legal custody will determine how parents will make major life decisions regarding the child.