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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

Redwood City, California Family Law Blog

Understanding what determines alimony amount

The end of a marriage brings a lot of changes. For some divorcing couples in California, it means seeking or paying spousal support. While some spouses expect this to be a part of the process, others are caught off-guard when an ex seeks this financial support. Thus, it is important to understand what determines whether one is eligible for alimony, the amount they will receive and how long these payments will continue.

When alimony is on the table, it is important to understand what sources of income the court will look at when determining this obligation. Typically, when it comes to income, the court will consider this to be any type of earned income or compensation. This means income that results from employment or efforts that cause passive income, such as dividends. The court will likely consider salary, partnership distributions, employment perks, contributions to a retirement account, bonuses, deferred compensation and carried interest to fall under the category of earned income.

Avoiding the steep price tag that often comes with divorce

Divorce comes at a cost for all parties, even when both parties agree amicably, work through issues and reach a fair agreement. The end of a marriage requires financial adjustments, and sometimes, one or both parties can feel the impact of this process for years after it is all final. It's smart to be cautious and careful regarding property division, even before getting married.

One woman's unfortunate situation can serve as an example to you regarding why you could benefit from thinking ahead, either before you walk down the aisle or before you file divorce papers. It's dangerous to assume that California property laws will protect you or that divorce will never happen. Her erroneous assumptions led to a loss of around $1 million from her retirement savings. Thankfully, it's possible to avoid the same mistakes.

Guiding you through the property division process

Getting married is a major step to take for any couple in California. And much like a couple does not enter this union without much thought, couples do not end this union without making some major decisions. However, even when a divorcing couple is prepared to deal with the issues that come with the process, this does not mean it is easy or without emotional turmoil and disputes. One of the most contentious divorce issues is property division, as it is often hard for divorcing spouses to see eye-to-eye on throughout this process.

It is not uncommon for a spouse to be unsure of their property rights during and after a marriage, as one does not always label property as marital and non-marital as they accumulate it. While including a prenuptial agreement in a union can help spell this out for spouses, this step is not always taken. So whether a marital document was included or not, the attorneys at Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law, are dedicated at guiding spouses in the Redwood area through the property division and divorce process.

Does California family law allow for relief of a support order?

A support order is a fundamental part of a California divorce. However, there are often factors in dispute. This can be related to spousal support, child support or both. While the disagreements frequently stem from the amount that is paid and its duration, there are other reasons why couples might engage in a battle over the case. With these family law issues, it is imperative to have legal assistance from the beginning as there is nuance to the law that can be complex and confusing.

People who seek relief from a support order should understand the law for these circumstances. A party can be relieved from a support order - in full or in part - after the six-month limit has passed. One of the following must have occurred for the support order to be set aside beyond that time-frame: actual fraud; perjury; or a lack of notice.

What is quasi-community property in property division?

In California, one of the biggest concerns when a couple ends a marriage is how property will be divided. There is often a dispute over property obtained during a marriage and who is entitled to it. For couples embroiled in this type of disagreement, it is important to understand how the law addresses these considerations.

While community property relates to property that the couple acquired after they were married and separate property is for property that was owned by either side before the marriage, quasi-community property might not be so easily understood. For those whose property falls into this category, it is important to know how this will impact their case and what can be done about it.

Relocating with children post divorce

Your marriage is coming to a close, and you are considering what you want your life to be like after divorce. You do have children to think about and want to do what is best for them. If your or your spouse's plans involve relocating, know that neither one of you can move with your children without proper authorization. 

In the state of California, joint custody is the custody arrangement of choice these days. When both parents want equal time with their children, yet one wants to move the children out of the area, joint custody -- in the traditional sense -- may not be possible. That is if the courts even agree to allow the relocating parent to take the kids with them. 

What should I know about wage assignments for child support?

In California, when there is an order for a noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent, it is a common foundation for dispute. Many issues can arise with child support and with a wage assignment, the payments come directly out of the paycheck of the supporting parent. With a wage assignment - also known as garnishment - there are certain facts that should be understood. These are critical to both parties.

An employer will receive a wage assignment and must begin taking the money out of the parent's paycheck within 10 days. The payments will be sent to the State Disbursement Unit. The SDU will then provide the supported parent with the payment. Some people do not want their wages garnished. The court must have wage assignments to collect child support. This is a requirement under the law. However, it is possible to object to a wage assignment. If the parents decide they do not want a wage assignment, the court can review the case to determine if eliminating the wage assignment is feasible.

How does the duration of the marriage impact alimony?

A key concern for couples that are getting a divorce in California is which spouse will pay spousal support and which will receive it. There are subsets to this, including how long it will need to be paid. For some, it is a financial necessity to receive payments as they try to get on their feet after the divorce. For the paying spouse, it is major consideration as they move on with their lives. Income, children and more will be part of the process in determining how much alimony will be paid. Also important is the duration of the marriage.

When a judge determines how much alimony will be paid and received, the length of the marriage is an important factor. The objective of alimony is not long-term support, but rather to give the receiving former spouse sufficient time to become self-supportive. According to the law, it is deemed a "reasonable" amount of time and that is defined as half the amount of time the couple was married. However, the judge is also granted discretion to come to a different determination. This means the case hinges on the individual circumstances of the parties.

Acting duo plans to divorce after short marriage

In California, it is not unusual for there to be celebrity divorces. Often, these fall into the category of a high asset divorce. When divorce is being considered, initially, it might not be comparable for everyday couples to look at celebrity divorces and seek similarities. However, it is not uncommon for those who are well-known to engage in public disputes over money, property and other aspects of a marriage regardless of its duration. Many couples have failed to get a prenuptial agreement. For those who are facing these concerns, it is wise to examine celebrity divorces and find parallels, especially with people who have large incomes. Of course, legal assistance is crucial.

Two actors - Scott Grimes and Adrianne Palicki - have decided to part ways after two months of marriage. Both are actors on the TV show "The Orville." Ms. Palicki was on the popular show "Friday Night Lights" and has worked on many other programs. The couple had recently been at the San Diego Comic Convention together. They were married in Texas in May. The 48-year-old Mr. Grimes was married twice before; however, his was the first marriage for the 36-year-old Ms. Palicki. The filing was made in Los Angeles.

What if a spouse refuses to pay after a divorce judgment?

When there is a divorce in California, it is common for one spouse to be ordered to pay the other spouse as part of a family law judgment. This could be for anything including property, support and more. Comparable to any debt, there can be an issue with the spouse who owes failing to pay or outright refusing to pay what is owed. The receiving spouse is often unsure of how to handle such a difficult dispute. There are, however, legal steps that can be taken to get what it owed. Understanding what the law says about the collection alternatives is an important factor. Having legal assistance is another.

First, it is critical to gather information as to the assets. Some can be pursued to get what is owed. There is a form to fill out for the debtor to appear in court and respond to questions regarding the financial situation. Should the debtor fail to appear, there can be a bench warrant and arrest.