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Orange County Family Law Blog

Does lump sum spousal support benefit you?

Spousal support is certainly less commonly used in divorce than it used to be, but it is still a concern for many divorcing spouses, especially those with significant assets. While spousal support may take many forms, it is rarely desirable for the paying spouse to remain tethered to a person he or she divorced, regardless of the circumstances.

Fortunately, it is often possible for a paying spouse to take care of all of his or her spousal support at once in a lump sum payment. While this is not ideal in every instance, for many paying spouses, it simplifies the matter and allows them to negotiate more favorable terms. If you face a high-asset divorce and expect that spousal support may come into play, or if you are not sure about the matter, is it always wise to speak with a professional divorce attorney.

Get answers about divorce from an attorney rather than Google

Ending a marriage is as major a step in anyone's life as getting married. In fact, navigating a first-time divorce in California can be significantly more complicated than arranging a wedding. While the internet is the go-to source for most how-to questions people have these days, it is not a suitable source for the navigation of a divorce.

The overload of information and masses of opinions, data, articles and editorial speculation typically have no bearing on the unique dynamics of the marriage and divorce of the person looking for advice. A practical step might be to build two support teams -- one comprising professionals like a divorce attorney and financial adviser, and the other made up of family and friends who can provide moral support. A mistake to avoid is taking legal advice from moral supporters. Just because something worked for a friend's cousin does not mean it will work for others.

Child custody: Drafting a plan for effective co-parenting

Some of the most challenging aspects of a divorce in California undoubtedly involve child-related issues. Most parents want what is best for their children, and maintaining loving parent-child relationships is the primary concern for many. For that reason, joint child custody is the preferred choice for most couples. However, careful planning and consideration are required for efficient co-parenting.

While many aspects of parenting will remain unchanged, establishing a plan that will fit the new family dynamics may not be easy. The reasons for the divorce will not disappear, and contention or antagonism can be detrimental in a co-parenting setup because of the parents' inability to work together. Keeping communication between parents and children positive and looking ahead rather than focusing on the past may benefit all.

Pursuing primary custody in California

When two parents choose to separate or divorce, determining who gets primary custody of a child is often a large conflict. Parents do not generally get to dictate child custody terms to a court, but a court may willingly implement an agreed-upon custody plan if both parents present it together and the terms are fair.

Courts are more likely to assess each parent's circumstances and temperament and make a ruling on the child custody dispute based on a number of factors the parents can anticipate and plan around.

Important steps in preparation for a divorce in California

Any person in California who considers putting an end to a marriage will likely know that it is a complicated and emotional process. There will be many big decisions to make, and a divorce will probably bring about significant changes in the lifestyles of both parties. One of the first changes to make is to separate finances by establishing individual bank and credit card accounts for each spouse. The legal process of divorce can also be costly depending on the type of procedure chosen.

The least expensive process is an uncontested divorce, which is suitable for couples who can handle their own settlement negotiations -- or utilize the services of a divorce mediator -- to work out financial and child-related matters. Avoiding litigation can be a significant savings. The next issue to address in advance is health insurance which might fall away for a person who is covered by a spouse's insurance, and if there are any children, their health insurance must also be arranged.

Divorce, alimony and the new tax law

Couples in California who are thinking of ending their marriage may have questions about the new tax law. Although there has been frequent mention of the implications it will have on alimony after a divorce, it remains confusing. This is because the new law may benefit the spouse receiving alimony, but jeopardize the one paying it.

The way alimony is handled on a person's tax return will change in Jan. 2019. Some people suggest that couples who are planning to divorce may benefit from doing it before the end of 2018. The law, as it stands currently, allows a paying spouse to report alimony payments as a deductible expense while the receiving spouse has to record them as taxable income on tax returns. However, come 2019, the paying spouse will lose the tax benefit, and the receiving spouse will gain because he or she will not have to pay tax on any alimony received.

Child custody negotiations require proper planning

When a parent in California plans to file for divorce, there are many issues that will need careful prior consideration. One of those is child custody, and entering negotiations unprepared may not be wise. Some couples may need the guidance of a mediator and their respective legal representatives to facilitate negotiations, and the help of therapists or counselors may even be necessary. It may also be a good idea to make a list of demands in advance and to anticipate what the other parent will demand.

Child custody negotiations may be best done at a time and place that will suit both parties. Doing it where the other party feels uncomfortable or at a time that will cause him or her to be rushed or frustrated due to other obligations may hamper these discussions. In some cases, it is necessary to schedule more than one meeting -- especially if one parent insists on time to consider different options.

How does child custody affect my tax returns?

When you and your child's other parent decide to separate or divorce, you face numerous decisions about how you will share the responsibilities and privileges of parenthood. For many parents, negotiating these arrangements is complicated and frustrating. Unfortunately, the emotional weight of dividing up parenting responsibilities often causes some parents to overlook important aspects of these agreements, leaving them unprepared for unpleasant surprises later on.

One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of child custody and parenting plans is the affect that child custody arrangements have on parents' tax returns. Of course, tax laws change regularly, so it is always wise to consult with a tax preparation professional to make sure that you understand the most up-to-date changes.

A separation agreement can form the basis of a divorce decree

When marital problems develop, some California couples carefully consider their options before taking steps that they may later regret. Couples may -- for different reasons -- choose a legal separation before filing for a divorce. One of those reasons is the possibility of reconciliation. They could file for a legal separation, which will enable them to live separately without putting an end to their marriage.

A separation agreement can be established, and the court will order the responsibilities and rights of each spouse during the time of separation. A separation agreement can cover the same matters as are typically included in a final divorce decree. These may include property division, child custody, spousal support and an interim child support agreement.

The division of debt in a California divorce can be challenging

When a couple in California decides to end their marriage, one of the primary considerations will likely be property division of which debts may form a significant part. There might be questions about how debt is divided in a divorce, and getting answers is crucial because it could affect post-divorce financial stability. California is a community property state, which means that debts incurred during the marriage belong to both spouses even if only one spouse is named on a particular account. 

When debt is divided, secured and unsecured debt will be separated. Secured debt includes anything on which the lender or lienholder has a right to repossess if the buyers default on payments. Vehicle loans, boat loans and real estate mortgages typically represent a couple's secured debts, and lenders are not interested in the state of the marriage. For that reason, both parties will be held responsible for payments, and even if it each spouse is allocated certain debts to pay, any default can still mean repossession.

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