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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

Redwood City, California Family Law Blog

How much child support will I owe?

If you are going through a divorce, and you have a child, it is possible that you will have to pay child support to your ex to ensure that your child's needs are being met. Generally, if your ex is granted physical custody of your child, you will have to contribute financially as the non-custodial parent. The child support payments you make every month will go towards the child's food, clothing, school supplies, extra-curricular activities, transportation, and other necessities.

Many divorcing parents wonder exactly how much they will be expected to pay in child support each month. In most cases, the court will first consider the income of each parent, including wages from a job, commissions and bonuses, self-employment earnings, worker's compensation benefits, disability benefits, Social Security, pensions, and even lottery prize winnings. The court will then likely subtract taxes, mandatory retirement contributions, and health premiums from the total income of each parent to determine each parent's net disposable income.

Getting a divorce? Stay away from social media

Divorce is never an easy process, particularly if you and your soon-to-be ex are not on the best of terms. During divorce, you may feel angry at your spouse and want to lash out against them on social media. However, experts warn that anything you post online could come back to haunt you later on as you divide up your assets or fight over custody of your children.

Experts say that soon-to-be divorcees, particularly those with a high net-worth, should avoid posting on social media in general. Pictures in a "party" environment with drugs and/or alcohol, posts about your daily whereabouts, or posts about the divorce itself could all be used against you later on. Even a seemingly innocent vacation picture can backfire when it comes time to dive into the divorce proceedings and other divorce-related matters. For example, a man claimed that he could no longer afford alimony payments, but his vacation photos on social media proved otherwise, and were thus used against him in the divorce.

Preparing the kids for school post-divorce

Summer break has flown by, and soon the kids will be back-to-school, if they haven't started already. If you and your spouse recently got a divorce, you may be concerned about how the divorce will affect your children, particularly when it comes to their schooling. With the right preparation, you and your ex can ensure that your kids have a successful school year and continue to maintain positive relationships with both parents post-divorce.

Experts suggest that newly divorced parents and their children should discuss and agree on goals for the upcoming school year. While each parent will have some freedom to run things how they want to when the child is in their care, it is important that parents try to agree on schoolwork expectations and homework. However, the discussion should not solely relate to coursework and grades. Parents should also be concerned with their children's participation in extra-curricular activities, their ability to make and maintain healthy friendships, and for older kids, their work experience. While it may be difficult for you to get along with your spouse, it is important that both parents are on the same page to simplify things for the children.

Jolie and Pitt continue child support and custody dispute

Divorce is complicated for most couples, but it can be especially challenging for celebrities. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are two of the most famous people in the world, making their divorce a hot topic for news media outlets around the world. Pitt and Jolie, parents to six minor children, reportedly agreed to handle their divorce out of the public eye in 2017, but they were unable to resolve child custody and support issues on their own, apparently due to different parenting styles.

Jolie currently has primary physical custody of the children, but in June 2018, the judge apparently issued an interim custody agreement which set up a visitation plan to allow Pitt to spend more time with his children and to contact them directly whenever he wants. If Jolie failed to abide by this agreement, she would be at risk of losing custody. There was a hearing scheduled recently, but it was canceled when Pitt and Jolie agreed to continue with the interim agreement.

Do wealthier couples have more amicable divorces?

For many couples walking through divorce, finances and property division are some of the most hotly contested issues to navigate. This can be particularly true for couples with a significant amount of wealth or valuable assets. When there is more at stake, there are often stronger feelings regarding what happens to marital property in California divorces. 

Interestingly, there is reason to believe that couples with more than $5 million are actually more likely to have amicable divorces. Regardless of the amount of money a couple has or the value of the assets at stake, what happens in a divorce will have an impact on the futures of both parties. Whether you are facing a high-asset divorce or not, it can be helpful to understand why amicable negotiation can be beneficial for everyone.

Divorcing couples must decide who will pay kids' college tuition

As you progress through your divorce, you'll quickly realize that there are a lot of minor and major issues for you and your spouse to deal with. For couples without children, divorce can be as simple as dividing up the marital property and going their separate ways. However, things may not be so simple for couples with children. Divorcing parents in California often must agree on where the child will live, how often the other parent will see the child, who will be responsible for making decisions relating to the child's upbringing, and determining who will pay for child-related expenses.

If college is in the future for your child, even if they are very young, it is important to keep in mind that you and your soon-to-be ex will have to decide who will pay for college in the future. Depending on where you live, you may be required by the court to address how the child's college will be paid for in your divorce agreement, addressing all college-related expenses such as tuition, book costs, and room and board. While the child's parents are not required to pay for college, they will need to agree on how much, if any, they will each put towards the child's education and where the money will come from (e.g. 529 plan). If you cannot agree, you can have the court decide for you. Parents should also consider what would happen to the money if your child does not attend college or decides to postpone college for a year or two.

Alimony considerations: standard of living and length of marriage

Alimony issues can become one of the most contentious issues in the divorce process, no matter how well you and your soon-to-be ex get along. Generally, alimony or 'spousal support' refers to the money a higher-earning spouse will pay to the lower-earning spouse as part of a couple's divorce agreement.

The purpose of spousal support is to make sure that the lesser-earning spouse in a marriage is not left high-and-dry once the divorce is finalized. However, that doesn't mean that the higher-earning spouse should have to pay an unfair amount just because he or she earned more than their ex. The court will weigh multiple factors when deciding how much the payee spouse should receive each month. Today, we take a closer look at two of the most significant factors the judge will likely consider when determining alimony.

What types of visitation orders exist in California?

If you have children, the most important part of the divorce process is figuring out how to share the responsibilities of raising your child with your soon-to-be ex once you are separated. As you start determining child custody and support arrangements, it is important to understand the types of visitation available to a non-custodial parent.

In many divorce cases, one parent becomes the custodial parent and is primarily responsible for the child's day-to-day care. The custodial parent will have physical custody of the child, meaning that the child will live in their home most of the time. The parent who has the child less than 50 percent of the time is generally referred to as the non-custodial parent and will be awarded visitation.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements offer protection

Whether you are in the early stages of wedding planning or years into your marriage, you should consider signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. According to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, close to two-thirds of lawyers surveyed saw an increase in clients seeking prenuptial agreements over the last three years. Prenuptial agreements are basically seen as contracts and will generally be upheld in court, so it is important to make sure these agreements is drafted correctly.

As a community property state, California considers assets acquired and debts incurred during the course of marriage as jointly held. In your agreement, you may choose to indicate that each of your assets and liabilities are separate throughout the marriage. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can also help determine how your property is distributed upon your or your spouse's death. If you already have an estate plan in place from a previous marriage, this will also need to be addressed in your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Study: many people face financial surprises when divorcing

According to a study by online marketplace Worthy, many people experience financial surprises when they go through a divorce. Here are some of the most common financial surprises divorced people experience and how to avoid them.

First, many divorced people in California are unaware of how much marital debt they accumulated during their marriage. When you add up credit card debt, student loans, 401(k) loans, a mortgage, and other debts, you may be surprised to find out how much you actually owe.