McCoy Fatula, APCMcCoy
Fatula
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Roseville Legal Blog

Taking care of finances after getting a divorce in California

Marital splits can cause all sorts of anxiety in many areas of life. One aspect of life that divorce may affect is financial. Suddenly, a two-income household becomes two separate households, usually with one income earner in each place. When a California couple divorces and the financial situation is a complex one, it may take months to reach an agreement. Individuals need to be prepared to deal with the financial picture moving forward as singles.

There are many things to take into consideration such as credit and making sure all joint credit cards are cancelled. Each person should establish a credit rating in his or her own name. Any estate plans should also be updated. Legal documents should also be changed as should the beneficiary of a life insurance policy if a former spouse is named.

Divorce may be thwarted by a prenuptial agreement

Life changes and so sometimes do feelings. No California couple heads to the altar with the thought of divorce on their minds, so it might be that they didn't give consideration to a prenuptial agreement. On the contrary, all couples should. It has actually been shown that marital agreements work to strengthen a union, not the other way around.

The two biggest reasons couples have problems is because of a lack of communication and financial difficulties. Making the decision to have a prenuptial agreement might actually open up the lines of communication about the money situation so issues can be nipped in the bud. Talking about things that may be uncomfortable is much easier on the pocketbook and on the heartstrings than going through a divorce.

New law to give pets added consideration in divorce cases

Pets are people, too. At least they now have the same status in California when it comes to couples who have chosen to divorce and who can't agree on with whom Fido or Fluffy is going to live. A judge can now make that decision in the same way he or she makes a decision on child custody, if parents can't agree. So, pets are no longer simply property like a sofa or table is considered to be.

What that means is, if a judge needs to choose who gets the family pet, he or she will be able to consider such things as who takes the most care of the pet, who walks the dog, who brushes the cat and who cleans out the litter box. This is good news for pet lovers. People usually consider their pets members of the family. 

Do divorce and court go hand in hand?

When preparing to end your marriage, you may have concerns about having to go to court. Believe it or not, all divorce cases do not end up in court. There are other ways to resolve conflicts and reach a fair dissolution settlement.

One option open to couples in California is mediation. What exactly is thisĀ divorce method? Does it work for everyone? Can you still have an attorney if you choose mediation?

Helping special needs children through divorce in California

Children without special needs may have a difficult time coping when their parents breakup. Imagine, then, what it would be like for children in California who do have special needs, like autism? They will likely need extra help to deal with their parents' divorce. Indeed, both the children and the parents may need professional help in this instance.

When a child is autistic, it may be helpful to look for a mental health professional who has a background working with children with autism. Parents may have put their relationship on the back burner to help their child and so both individuals need to practice self care in order to best help their child. Once parents take care of their own needs -- even though they haven't been able to weather the storms as a couple -- they can better parent their special needs child with compassion, patience and understanding.

How can prenups help in the divorce process?

When most couples in California or anywhere around the nation plan a wedding, they are not likely thinking that their marriages will ever end. However, increasing numbers of couples are considering the need for prenuptial agreements in the event of a future divorce. While a prenup may not be in the forefront of the minds of a typical couple, one might think a couple with millions of dollars between them would consider a marital agreement to be necessary before tying the knot. Yet, rumors about a recent celebrity union include the fact that a prenup was not included in their wedding plans.

It has been reported that entertainer Justin Bieber and model Hailey Baldwin were married recently. There are indications that the couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement. This could create potential problems down the road for Bieber, as his estate is worth around $265 million, compared to Baldwin's $2 million in assets. Regardless of the amount of assets a couple has, experts recommend considering a prenup to minimize issues.

Handling property division in a gray divorce

There are a plethora of issues to address when a California couple or those living elsewhere decide to get a divorce. When a couple is younger, the discussions often turn initially to child custody or support. However, as years pass, the focus tends to shift to the issue of property division. In fact, if a couple is over the age of 50, there are several factors to consider related to retirement accounts and divorce.

Those going through a so-called "gray divorce" often have to determine how years of intermingled finances will be split. They also must follow very stringent guidelines established by the IRS when it comes to dividing retirement accounts, particularly 401(k) plans. A QDRO, or qualified domestic relations order, decrees that a spouse getting a divorce may receive assets from the other spouse's qualified plan. In addition to IRS rules, every individual employer has its own criteria about how to divide pension assets.

Divorce lawyers cite increase in couples seeking prenups

Prenuptial agreements are not typically the first thing on the minds of California couples or others around the nation. While not necessarily the most romantic topic to discuss prior to tying the knot, these documents can prove to be valuable should a couple subsequently decide to get a divorce. In fact, a majority of matrimonial lawyers have witnessed an increase in the number of clients who want to get some sort of marital agreement.

One reason couples may shy away from discussing the option of a prenuptial agreement is a misunderstanding of what the document actually does. Basically, a prenup is signed prior to a marriage and specifies how a couple wants to divide the marital assets and debts in the event of a divorce. Many couples determine that it is less stressful to discuss these potentially volatile topics before any conflicts arise between the spouses.

Is stepparent adoption really necessary?

Anyone in California who plays a parental role in the life of a child -- to whom he or she has no biological relationship -- might wonder whether it is really necessary to go through the legalities of adoption. However, stepparent adoption could benefit both the child and the parent in various ways. Also, the legal process is significantly less complicated than other types of adoption.

Adopting a spouse's child will provide the non-biological parent with legal security -- and also legal custody while he or she will be recognized as the child's parent in the eyes of the law. Such an adoption might ensure a feeling of stability and permanence as a family unit, and could be particularly beneficial for the child. As a legal parent, the stepparent will be entitled to arrange doctor appointments and have access to the child's medical records, collect the child from school and have access to school records.

Address income, expenses, assets, debts in property division

When a California couple contemplates getting a divorce, there are typically countless issues to resolve. Certainly, finances are at the forefront of many discussions. When the couple was together, their income and assets -- as well as their expenses and debts -- were co-mingled. The question of property division is paramount in determining what the financial situations of both parties will look like in the future.

Experts stress the importance of thoroughly reviewing all aspects of the couple's finances. A couple may have assets like savings accounts, cash, real estate, stocks or savings bonds. It is critical to understand the tax implications of each type of asset. Also, it is worth noting that a particular asset may have a greater impact on a certain spouse. Retirement accounts have very specific guidelines regarding how they should be divided in a divorce.

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