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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

Redwood City, California Family Law Blog

It's time to start reviewing your child custody holiday schedule

As November goes by, parents in Redwood City are starting to think about the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter holidays. They will want to make sure these holidays are magical for their child and will provide their child with happy memories that will last a lifetime. However, these goals become more complex to achieve if a child's parents are divorced.

When a child's parents are divorced, they will have a child custody agreement that they either negotiated together or is ordered by the court. While child custody orders address who will have the child in their care on a day-to-day basis, these orders typically also address who will have the child in their care on certain holidays. Parents might alternate the years they spend the holidays with their child. For example, one parent may have the child on Thanksgiving on even-numbered years while the other parent has the child on Thanksgiving on odd-numbered years. Or, parents may make arrangements where they both celebrate the holidays with their child, but at different times. For example, the child might spend Christmas morning with one parent and Christmas afternoon with the other parent.

What steps do I need to take to file for divorce in California?

Every state has different rules when it comes to filing for divorce, so it can be helpful to speak to an attorney as soon as possible after realizing that your marriage may be heading for dissolution. In California, anyone seeking divorce will be required to file various forms with the court and serve them on their spouse.

If you are the one petitioning for divorce, then your first step will be to file two forms: Form FL-100 and Form FL-110. Form FL-100 is a petition in which you will give the court information about your marriage. The form requires you to answer questions about your legal relationship, residency, length of the marriage, and children (if you have any). You will also have to answer questions regarding your separation, and specify what you want in terms of child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. This form can have a major effect on the outcome of your case, so it is important that the information you provide accurately reflects what you are seeking in the divorce.

Divorcing couples should avoid making these financial mistakes

If you have made the difficult decision to divorce your spouse, it is important that you protect yourself by making smart financial decisions. As you go through the divorce process, it may be beneficial for you to consult an attorney who can advise you based on your specific circumstances.

Experts say there are certain financial mistakes divorcing spouses make that render the divorce process a lot more difficult. A couple of the most common mistakes relate to alimony, or spousal support, for the lesser-earning spouse. Many divorcing spouses are unaware of upcoming changes to the tax laws with regard to spousal support. In the past, a spouse paying alimony would get a tax deduction while the spouse receiving alimony would have to pay taxes on the amount received. For divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, though, the payer spouse will no longer receive a deduction, therefore putting them in a higher tax bracket. As a result, some people may decide to quit their jobs to avoid paying their spouse alimony altogether. However, this decision may end up being costlier than just paying alimony, especially considering the expenses associated with divorce and the everyday costs of living.

How do my fiancé and I go about signing a prenup?

Pre-nuptial agreements are often a hot topic of contention among soon-to-be married couples in California. Some people say that prenups serve as a back-up plan in case the marriage doesn't work out. Others feel that signing a prenup implies that you are thinking about divorce even before you get married, and worry that the process of negotiating the agreement may cause too much stress for the couple to overcome.

However, some experts say that prenuptial agreements may in fact have a positive effect on your relationship, if done the right way. They suggest that couples address the issue as soon as possible after their engagement. While this topic may be hard to bring up, it may benefit your relationship, as it will force you and your soon-to-be spouse to talk about your finances, children, job goals, and other important issues.

Do you need a divorce attorney?

A divorce is a personal matter, and you may want to do whatever it takes to keep your situation private. This may include handling the process on your own and involving as few people as possible.

If you have opted to skip hiring an attorney for your divorce, you likely have your own reasons. Perhaps you worry that a lawyer will stir up unnecessary contention between you and your spouse, or you are simply concerned about the cost. However, before you make your decision, it is important to consider all the benefits of having a legal advocate during this difficult time.

Managing parental relocation post-divorce

You and your spouse have finalized your divorce and the custody agreement has been signed on the dotted line. Now, one of you has decided to move. What happens next? For many former couples, parental relocation can be one of the most difficult parts of life after divorce, particularly if your ex wants to take your kids with them. A Redwood City divorce lawyer can review your situation and advise you on how to make the relocation process easier.

Whether you are legally allowed to move away with the children post-divorce depends on your child custody arrangement. For example, if you have a permanent order giving you primary physical custody of the children, you are generally allowed to move with the children unless your ex can prove that moving would harm the kids. However, if you have joint physical custody of the children, and your ex does not want you to move, you will have to prove to the court that moving is in the best interest of the children.

Alimony: how much will you have to pay?

Many California residents understand the purpose of child support after a divorce, as it is needed to make sure a child continues to have a stable life post-divorce. However, alimony is a much harder pill to swallow, as it is often used to help support adults who can seemingly take care of themselves. In reality, many divorced men and women truly need alimony to stay afloat financially in the months and years following their divorce.

When a judge considers whether alimony is needed and how much should be paid, he or she will consider a number of factors. First, the judge will look at how long you have been married. Generally, short-term marriages (marriages lasting under 10 years) will result in limited alimony that may only last a few years. If both spouses have been married only a few years earn close to the same amount of money, alimony may not be granted at all. The judge will also consider if you and your soon-to-be ex have variable incomes. If the amount of money you each make changes from year to year, the courts may have to average the amount you make over a five-year period to determine how much alimony will be paid.

Law gives judges more discretion to deal with pet custody issues

Every divorcing couple is different, which means the most contentious issue during marriage dissolution can vary by case. Sometimes the most fought over issue of a divorce isn't dividing up the furniture or deciding who gets the family home, but rather, deciding who gets the pet. Many people consider their pets to be part of the family, but family courts have often treated pets like any other piece of property during divorce proceedings. However, a new law in California will give judges much more discretion when deciding who your pet should live with post-divorce.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill in late September which allows judges to consider various factors before determining which spouse will get custody of a pet when a couple splits up. While pets will still be considered community property under this new law, starting January 1st judges can look at which spouse is responsible for the everyday care of the pet before making their decision. This will make determinations regarding pets similar to those made during child custody disputes.

U.S. divorce rate down, Gen X and millennials may be the reason

Statistics show that from 2008 to 2016, the divorce rate has dropped a whopping 18 percent. According to a study by the University of Maryland, this decrease in divorce could be attributable to Americans under the age of 45.

Fewer people are getting married nowadays, and researchers found that younger people, particularly millennials, are waiting until they're older to get married. This is because many young people would rather wait to tie the knot until they feel stable in terms of their finances and their careers. Also, studies show that people with lower income and education levels choose to live together and have kids together without getting married.

Consideration of important personal assets during divorce

One of the most complex factors of any California divorce is property division. The process of dividing up hard-earned assets and savings is a difficult and often messy process. Understandably, you may have serious concerns about what your financial future will look like and how your divorce will impact your financial stability.

How property division will work depends largely on the types of assets you have and your goals for your post-divorce future. The decisions you make during divorce will have a significant impact on your future, and it is important to think carefully about the choices you make. It is smart to be intentional about the division of your assets and your long-term interests from the very beginning of the process.