The short answer to this complicated question is: yes, you should avoid any unnecessary risks when you are getting a divorce. The following are steps that you can and should take both during and after divorce proceedings.
You can start the process of changing your beneficiaries before your divorce is final on many assets. However, even if you change your will or the beneficiary on your assets, your spouse will likely still be entitled to some of the assets if you die before the divorce decree is finalized, but changing the documents may help limit what he or she receives, and it is also a good way of showing what you really want to be done with your assets. Once divorce proceedings have begun, your ability to change beneficiaries may be limited due to what is known as an ATRO or Automatic Temporary Restraining Order. If you and your spouse can agree, you may be able to get a separation agreement before the divorce in which you would each forfeit claims to each other’s property. Of course, this process could be complicated, especially if the marriage has lasted for a long time and if you own property together. Therefore, it is best to consult with an attorney before signing anything or even talking about an agreement with your spouse.
Once your divorce is final, your spouse will likely automatically be removed from any document where he or she was listed as a beneficiary. A court will also assume that you did not want your estate to go to him or her in the event of your death. Nevertheless, it is still a better idea to make it very clear what your intentions with your property are instead of relying on the government. Outlining your wishes will also make the process easier for your beneficiaries and decrease the chance of unwelcome surprises.
Many assets circumvent wills, such as life insurance policies, payable-on-death account and retirement accounts. You should make sure to update your beneficiary on these as soon as possible and name a primary beneficiary as well as contingent beneficiaries to decrease how often you have to update documents. You should also make sure to get your spouse off of all joint accounts or payable-on-death accounts during or immediately after the divorce proceedings.
Should I Revise My Will After My Divorce
The answer to this question depends on many different factors, but there are very few situations where someone should even consider not revising his or her will after a divorce – or even earlier. Although most states assume that you do not want property going to your ex-spouse, it is always best to lay out your intentions so that your wishes are clearly heard and to avoid extra work for the recipients of your estate.
Do I Have to Disinherit My Ex-Spouse?
In California, your spouse is removed as a recipient in your will automatically, but it is still better to be clear of what your intentions are. You do not have to expressly disinherit your spouse or publicly revoke your will necessarily, but you should make sure to execute a new will allocating all of your assets to other people. If you have a will but do not change it after your divorce, your spouse should no longer be able to inherit from you, but the rest of your will will still remain intact. However, many people only list their spouse in their will, so your will may be left without someone to inherit, in which case your property will be disbursed among your closest living relatives, regardless of what your unexpressed wishes are. Even though your possessions may go to the right person eventually anyway, having a will helps you clearly spell out what your wishes are and should save time and effort in the long run for your executor and the recipients. It is better to name a primary beneficiary and a few alternates in case you outlive the primary one. If you have children, it is also a good idea to name a guardian or two.
You should also make sure to name a new executor to your estate to avoid your ex-spouse handling your estate. Many states automatically assume that it is not your intent to have your former spouse be your executor, but it is still better to be safe than have your estate mismanaged.
What About My Ex-Spouse’s Family Members?
In addition to revoking gifts or bequests from you to your ex-spouse, state law also typically revokes gifts or bequests from you to any members of your ex-spouse’s family (except for children that are both of yours). Therefore, if you do not revise your will after your divorce, the jewelry or property that you set aside for your step-child or your sibling-in-law might not be a valid transfer, even if you still care about them after the divorce and wanted them to get the property after your death.
Social Security Tips for Couples Considering Divorce
Money is not the only factor that should be considered when getting a divorce, but it does not hurt to get divorced at the most financially-optimal time. In addition to tax considerations, there are many other financial benefits or pitfalls to review before finalizing a divorce. While many couples focus on dividing up assets, there are also Social Security benefits that can be taken advantage of with the right planning. Unlike many factors in a divorce, the great thing about Social Security benefits is that even if one ex-spouse benefits from Social Security, this does not negatively affect the other spouse or take away from that spouse’s eligibility to receive Social Security payments. There are very few people who fully understand the fine details of the intricacies of the Social Security system, much less its specific rules for divorcés.
As long as your marriage lasted 10 years, you may be able to collect the Social Security benefits that you would have otherwise been able to collect if you had stayed married. You should be able to collect even if your ex-spouse has remarried. The following are a few restrictions on whether or not you can collect Social Security retirement or disability benefits that your ex-spouse is entitled to:
● You are unmarried (even if you remarried after your divorce, you may still be eligible for collecting benefits under the first spouse’s Social Security if you are single at the time of the collection.);
● You are older than 61; or
● Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits.
You may not be entitled to benefits under your ex-spouse’s plan if your benefits exceed his or hers. However, in this case, you would still be entitled to yours, and your former spouse may be entitled to yours. Even if your former spouse has not applied, you can still receive them if you divorced at least two years ago and ifhe or she qualifies.
How Much Can I Receive?
If you start getting benefits at your full retirement age, your benefit will be equal to 50% of your former spouse’s full retirement amount. If you were born in 1960 or later, your full retirement age is 67. If you were born in 1937 or earlier, your full retirement age is 65. If you were born between 1937 and 1960, your full retirement age will vary between 65 and 67.
Besides these tips, there are many more financial and other considerations to take into account while going through a divorce. If you need skilled legal representation in a divorce, custody proceeding, restraining order, civil union or any other aspect of family law , you can turn to the Law Office of Renkin & Associates for the expertise that you deserve. Our attorneys fight hard to help clients protect their assets during a divorce, which is one of our San Diego divorce lawyers’ specialties. Contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates today for representation in a custody issue or a divorce proceeding. We are prepared to zealously represent your interest to ensure you receive a fair outcome to your case.
Tips to help with Divorce this Holiday Season
With the holiday upon us, oftentimes the children become unwanted victims during or following the divorce process. Renkin law suggests that parents should be completely focused on the children rather than bringing their negative attitudes with them. Even if the divorce was bitter, the children should not be embroiled in the after effects, and they should be entitled to enjoy the holiday season.
Renkin Law points out that one viable option to avoiding confrontation is to have a third party or agreeable family member do the transporting of children between parents. Any opportunity to avoid conflict should be performed to ensure the happiness of the children. If parents take ample time to plan any activities in advance regarding visitation and to plan where the children will be over the holidays will alleviate any undue stress and lessen the occurrences of conflict during the holiday season.
Oftentimes, questions regarding gifts bubble to the surface. Renkin Law says that some parents unfortunately try to outspend the other parent to win points from their children. As is usually the case, this falls back on the innocent children and is usually highly detrimental to their well-being. By compromising ahead of time and having discussionswith other family members involved, it will result in the children not becoming pawns in a lose-lose situation.
Additionally, it is wise for parents to consider keeping their children together as they visit each parent, rather than splitting them up. This will prevent them from feeling isolated and will help eliminate any threat of rejections or favoritism.
Renkin Law stresses that by planning ahead, openly communicating with an ex-spouse, and keeping the children’s best interests in mind at all times,parents may be able to save the holidays from becoming a disaster.
Top Divorce Trends in 2014
Top Divorce Trends in 2014
2014 showed us some pretty surprising trends in divorce that have begun to accompany California’s reported high (near 75%) divorce rate*. Of course, no one goes into marriage with plans to get a divorce, so besides being unfortunate, in many cases, it’s inevitable. So, what’s changing with the world of divorce? These top 4 trends may surprise you.
A divorce is never easy. Whether you’re the one who decides to initiate it or not, the process is just as time-consuming and tedious: there’s the review and signing of divorce documents, the process of mediation or litigation, and figuring out how property and possessions will be divided between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. So, while California’s high divorce rate is nothing new, trends in the way divorce is taking place in the populace are. Have a look at the divorce trends we saw increase in popularity during 2014.
Top 2014 Divorce Trends
Divorce Trend #1: Women Initiating the Divorce Process
Up until a few years ago, the majority of divorces were initiated by the male counterpart. However, with the increasing levels of social and economic independence women are experiencing comes the decision of divorce being made by the woman.
It’s said that approximately 66% of divorces today are initiated by women, with White women leading the trend in woman-initiated divorces and U.S.-born Hispanic women trailing that lead.
Divorce Trend #2: Largest Segment of Divorcees is 50+
It’s been said that an that an inverse relationship exists between the age at marriage and the likelihood of divorce, but a new divorce trend shows that people 50+ who have been married for at least 20 years are divorcing at twice the rate they were in the last two decades.
Divorce Trend #3: Rates Fluctuate by Region
Believe it or not, the likelihood of getting a divorce has also been linked to the region in which a married couple resides. Though this data is not predictive of what’s to come for a married couple, it has been found that divorce rates are considerably higher on the West Coast than in the Central and Eastern regions of the United States.
Divorce Trend #4: Child’s Potential Income Influenced by Parents’ Marital Status
Can you believe that there is a direct link between the marital status of a person’s parents and the income they are suited to make as an adult? Of course this relationship is seen to be direct as opposed to inverse, meaning the goodness and badness of both sides are in unison. For example, a person whose parents are married and earn high incomes is more likely to have a high income when they are an adult.
Top Marriage and Divorce Trends in 2015
Year in Review: Top 4 Marriage and Divorce Trends in 2015
As 2015 draws to a close, we’re taking a moment to look back at Divorce trends in 2015! From a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision to the emergence of a new, pro-divorce hashtag, 2015 had plenty to offer for those who have a professional or personal interest in the latest happenings in family law.
U.S. Supreme Court Paves the Way for Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5-4 that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Even in states like California where same-sex marriage was already legal, the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges represents a watershed moment for married and unmarried gay and lesbian couples, who still faced certain limitations on their legal rights.
As a result of Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex couples who tie the knot in California can now have their marriages recognized in all 50 states. They are also now entitled to equal benefits from out-of-state employers. News outlets reported that courthouses across the country began issuing marriage licenses same-sex couples within hours of the Court’s decision (with certain notable exceptions), so it will be interesting to see how same-sex marriage and divorce rates evolve during 2015 and beyond.
Couples Who Marry in their Late 20s and Early 30s Now Have Lowest Risk of Divorce
A new study of divorce rates published in 2015 found that couples who get married between the ages of 25 and 34 now have the lowest risk of divorce. The findings challenge the historical notion that couples who get married later in life are the least likely to get divorced, and indicate that while divorce rates among those who get married between 25 and 24 have been declining, rates among those who get married at age 35 or older are on the rise.
According to the researchers behind the study, the data suggest that the 25-to-34 age range is currently a “Goldilocks” zone for building a stable marriage.
California Law Change May Lead to More Separations Prior to Divorce
A July 2015 decision by the California Supreme Court may cause more spouses to choose to move out prior to getting divorced. Under California’s community property law, any assets that either spouse acquires prior to separation (with some exceptions) will be subject to division during their divorce. The California Supreme Court’s ruling specifies that “separation” requires physically living under separate roofs. Will more spouses choose to leave home in order to protect newly-acquired assets? Only time will tell.
Importantly, there are reasons to consider not moving out prior to getting divorced as well. You should always speak with an attorney before making any decisions that could affect your rights in your divorce.
Another development we saw in 2015 was the rise of couples posting happy pictures of themselves online after finalizing their divorces. Accompanied by the #divorceselfie hashtag, these photos are said not to celebrate divorce, but rather the couples’ successful completion of a non-adversarial separation process.
As stated by one individual who found the process to be much less expensive and emotionally taxing than she had anticipated, “If people are going to see the picture and think, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t have to hate my ex-husband,’ I think that’s just for the better.”
Top Single Parents in Movies
While they are not often the storylines that bring movies into the spotlight, many well-known movies feature strong single parents as central characters. These characters are often depicted facing many of the real-life struggles single parents face on a daily basis, and ultimately overcoming them through perseverance and an unwavering commitment to doing what is best for their children.
If you are going through a divorce or are recently divorced with children and are looking for something to watch on a Saturday night, here are eight of our all-time-favorite movies featuring single parents:
1. As Good As It Gets (1997)
Carol Connelly, played by Helen Hunt, is a single mother raising a chronically-ill son on a waitress’s income in New York City. Living with her mother (who is also a single parent), Connelly becomes close to obsessive-compulsive romantic fiction writer Melvin Udall (Jack Nicholson), and the two grow close as they help one another navigate their own unique challenges.
2. Finding Nemo (2003)
In this animated neoclassic, after losing his wife to a barracuda, clown fish Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) also loses his son, Nemo (voiced by Alexander Gould), when Nemo is scooped up by a human diver. Marvin subsequently sets out on a mission across the sea, encountering jellyfish and other obstacles, to rescue Nemo from a dentist’s fish tank.
3. I Am Sam (2001)
Played by Sean Penn, Sam Dawson is a single father with a developmental disability who raises his gifted daughter, Lucy (Dakota Fanning), independently until a social worker seeks to place her in a foster home. Dawson hires attorney Rita Williams (Michelle Pfeiffer) to help him regain custody of his daughter.
4. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
In this 1970s family drama, advertising executive Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) learns that his wife is leaving him and his young son, Billy (Justin Henry) on the same day he lands the biggest account of his career. After losing his job, Kramer grows closer to his son with the help of fellow-single parent, Margaret (Jane Alexander), and then faces a difficult custody battle when Billy’s mother returns to the picture.
5. Love Actually (2003)
Love Actually features the interconnected lives of several families living in London, including single father Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his stepson, Sam. Struggling with his own life challenges, Daniel helps Sam pursue his school crush, Joanna, all the way to a last-minute confessional at the airport as Joanna prepares to leave for the United States.
6. Panic Room (2002)
Newly-divorced mother Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her young daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) move into a New York mansion and discover that the home includes a panic room. They are forced to retreat to the panic room when three intruders break in, and must overcome fear and struggle together as the intruders attempt to penetrate the panic room’s secure walls.
7. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
In this beloved early-90s classic, Sam Baldwin (Tom Hanks) moves to Seattle with his son Jonah (Ross Mallinger) following his wife’s untimely death. After Jonah calls into a local radio show asking for help finding a new wife for his father, Baldwin settles into his new life as a single parent while on a romantic collision course with a woman (Annie Reed, played by Meg Ryan) who overheard Jonah’s plea for help.
8. Spanglish (2004)
Flor Moreno (Paz Vega) is a single mother who works as a housekeeper for Deborah (Tea Leoni) and John Clasky (Adam Sandler) in order to support her daughter, Cristina (Shelbie Bruce). Unable to make ends meet, Flor moves into the Claskys’ home with Cristina, where they help one another cope with the cultural differences the two families share.
What is The Difference Between Legal Separation and Divorce?
When you are starting the process of divorce, there are many factors to consider, including whether you should separate first before officially filing for divorce. Even if you make the decision to separate first, you will have to decide whether to try a trial separation or obtain a legal separation. Before making this decision, it is important to know how your options differ and which one will be most beneficial to you.
A trial separation differs from a legal separation in that there is less formality. Unlike a legal separation, separating on a trial basis does not require a court order. You can just live separately for as long as you both want in order to see if a legal separation or a divorce would be a good next step for your relationship. Some couples may even stay in the same house but divide their areas strategically so that they can avoid each other while maintaining a higher standard of living. However, since there is no court order or any formal agreement in a trial separation, this also means that you may have to continue to cooperate with your spouse on various issues such as when which spouse gets the children, who pays for what bills, where the children will attend school or which extracurricular activities they will be involved in. Most couples who attempt a trial separation are trying to see if their marriage is beyond repair or if they should move on to the next step of getting a legal separation or a divorce.
A legal separation is not quite a divorce, but it has many of the same benefits. For example, to get a legal separation, you need a court order which governs what each spouse is allowed to do as well as what each spouse must do. The court will review the same issues that would come up in a divorce proceeding, and your legal separation agreement will cover the division of property, payments from one spouse to another and child custody or visitation rights. It will also divide up any debts and outline any other rules that the spouses or the court find necessary.
The major difference between legal separation and actual divorce is that until you are divorced, you are still obviously considered to be married for most purposes. Although this means you do not have the finality of a divorce and the benefits that come with it such as the right to remarry, this also means that you are entitled to certain other privileges such as social security benefits or possibly health care benefits under your spouse’s policy. If you do decide to get divorced after already having a legal separation, the court may use the legal separation agreement as a baseline for the divorce decree, but you should not be limited to the legal separation agreement, especially if circumstances have changed.
How Will Tax Reform Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Affect Your Divorce?
Enacted on December 22, 2017, the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act made sweeping changes to the Internal Revenue Code. But, among the many changes, there is one in particular that is noteworthy for spouses who are currently contemplating a divorce: For the first time in over 75 years, the rules regarding tax treatment of spousal support (or “alimony”) are changing – and they are changing dramatically.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Reverses Tax Treatment for Spousal Support
Under the outgoing version of the Internal Revenue Code, spousal support payments are deductible by the payor, and they are treated as taxable income of the recipient. This has allowed divorcing spouses with significant earning power to mitigate the financial consequences of getting divorced; and, since spousal support is intended as essentially an income substitute for spouses who forewent career opportunities during their marriage, this tax treatment has always fundamentally made sense.
But, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the tax treatment of spousal support is being reversed: The payor deduction is going away, and the recipient will no longer be required to report spousal support as ordinary income. This means that the tax treatment of spousal support will now more closely-resemble that for child support, and it also means that divorcing spouses now have a host of new considerations to keep in mind.
Spousal Support Changes Only Affect Divorces Finalized After December 31, 2018
The spousal support provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act only affect divorces finalized after December 31, 2018. So, if you are currently going through a divorce, it may still be possible to receive the prior tax treatment for divorce settlement. But, since there is a six-month waiting period for getting divorced in California, if you live in the North County area and you have not yet initiated the divorce process, you will need to address the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act during your divorce.
To be clear, this means that all divorces finalized during 2018 or prior will be grandfathered under the pre-Tax Cuts and Jobs Act spousal support rules. Even if you modify the terms of your spousal support arrangement after 2018, you will retain the prior tax treatment unless you specifically opt for the new law to apply.
What Does the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Mean for Your Divorce?
So, what does the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act mean for your divorce? With regard to spousal support, it means nothing if you are able to obtain a court order dissolving your marriage prior to the end of 2018. If you are currently going through the divorce process, you will need to assess whether this is a realistic possibility, and you may want to consider mediation, arbitration, or collaborative law in order to speed up the resolution process. Of course, if the new tax regime is advantageous to you, this is something that you may want to consider as you work through the process as well.
If you file for divorce in California after June 1, 2018, your only option will be to confront the implications of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act head-on. To ensure that you clearly understand the impacts of the new law and make decisions with your long-term best interests in mind, it will be important to work with an experienced divorce attorney.
2016 Year in Review: Understanding Your California Divorce
As 2016 comes to a close, it is time to take a look back at some of the issues that came to the forefront during the year. Here is a list of our top 10 articles from 2016:
1. Getting Down the Terminology
Navigating the divorce process is complicated, and it doesn’t help that you quickly run into a lot of specialized terminology as you try to understand what to expect during your divorce. For a basic introduction to automatic restraining orders, community property, separate property, and many more divorce-related terms, you can read:
2. Retirement Accounts and Divorce
As you go through the divorce process, one of the most complicated steps involved is dividing your marital assets. Is your retirement account yours to keep? Or, will your spouse be entitled to a share in your divorce? Learn about some of the key factors in:
3. College Savings and Divorce
Many people are surprised to learn that child support does not cover college tuition and expenses. Learn how you can make sure your (former) spouse is obligated to contribute to your children’s college costs in:
4. Protecting Cherished Assets in a Divorce
If there are certain assets that you want to make sure you keep after your divorce, what should you do? Divorce attorney Richard M. Renkin discusses four potential options in:
5. Valuing Your Privately-Held Business in a Divorce
As a general rule, privately-held businesses are subject to division in a divorce just like any other assets that qualify as community property. However, there are special considerations for valuing a privately-held business in a divorce, which we covered in:
6. Parental Control Over Custody Awards
Under California law, all child custody arrangements must reflect the best interests of the children involved. But, this does not mean that parents are without a voice in the process. To learn how parents can help influence their child custody arrangements, you can read:
7. Understanding the Role of Your Prenup or Postnup
If you and your spouse signed a prenup or postnup, the terms of your agreement could have a significant impact on the outcome of your divorce. Or, your entire agreement could be enforceable. Attorney Richard Renkin answers three key questions about the role of prenups and postnups in California divorces in:
8. Risks of “Filing” for Divorce Online
There are a number of reasons to be cautious about trusting an online service provider to handle your divorce. For six reasons not to get your divorce online (and a discussion of when an online divorce might be a viable option), you can read:
9. The Rising Trend of the “Silver” Divorce
According to a recent study, the rate of “silver” divorces (divorces among senior citizens) has been increasing steadily over the past 26 years. Learn why more senior citizens are making the decision to file for divorce in:
10. The Holidays and Divorce
Finally, it seems appropriate to round out our top 10 with a collection of three articles discussing the intersection of divorce and the holiday season. As the year came to a close, we discussed holiday-related divorce trends as well as tips for coping with the holidays both during and after a divorce:
- How Does the Holiday Season Affect Divorce Rates in California?
- Proactive Ways to Handle the Holidays During a Divorce
10 Resources for Spouses Expecting to Pay Financial Support After Getting Divorced
If you are preparing for a divorce and you expect to have to pay alimony and child support to your former spouse once the process is over, you will need to execute a strategy designed to ensure that your financial obligations are no greater than necessary. These resources provide an introduction to what you need to know about calculating alimony and child support in California:
Information about Spousal Support in California
1. Understanding California’s Spousal Support Laws
California’s spousal support laws are unique from those of many other states, as they allow for both temporary and permanent alimony awards. Learn about the factors the California courts use to calculate spousal support in: Understanding California Child Support.
2. How to Determine Spousal Support in California
When calculating spousal support, some factors will weigh more heavily than others, and the spouses’ unique family and financial circumstances will generally dictate the window within which spousal support can be negotiated. Learn more about some of the key considerations involved in determining spousal support in California.
3. California Spousal Support FAQs
In our Spousal Support FAQs, you will find more information about the factors involved in calculating support as well as the potential consequences of failing to make court-ordered spousal support payments.
4. What are the Tax Consequences of Alimony?
Understanding the tax implications of spousal support for both the payor and the recipient can allow divorcing spouses to negotiate terms that are advantageous for both parties. Learn about some basic considerations here: What are the Tax Consequences of Alimony?
5. If I Retire, Can I Terminate Spousal Support in California?
When negotiating spousal support, it is important to consider your current and future income potential. Importantly, a paying spouse’s retirement does not automatically terminate alimony in California, and negotiating spousal support is a task that must be undertaken with a long-term perspective.
Information about Child Support in California
6. California Child Support FAQs
Our Child Support FAQs address topics including the California Child Support Guidelines, what it means if your former spouse remarries, what it means if your former spouse finds a job, and some of the key provisions for negotiating a stipulated child support obligation.
7. Can Your Spouse Seek Custody and Support While Your Divorce is Pending?
In California, the term “temporary child support” refers to financial support payments made during the divorce process. Divorcing spouses can request temporary support at any stage of the proceedings, and the temporary support determination should be made based on the same factors used to establish post-divorce child support obligations. Learn more in: Can You (or Your Spouse) Seek Custody and Support While Your Divorce is Pending?
8. Tips for Ensuring an Accurate Child Support Calculation
When establishing child support, it is essential to have a complete and accurate picture of both spouses’ income (or income potential).
9. Establishing Child Support for a Child with Special Needs
While the California Child Support Guidelines are broadly applicable to all divorcing parents in North County, there are various unique factors that can require special attention. One of these factors is providing for a child with special needs. Lean about six important considerations in: What is Different When Establishing Child Support for a Child with Special Needs?
10. How are College Expenses Handled in a California Divorce?
In the vast majority of cases, child support does not cover the costs of higher education. As a result, divorcing parents must address their children’s college savings through other methods. Most often, this means negotiating a separate agreement or establishing an escrow account or trust.
2015 Change in California Divorce Law
2015 has brought change to California divorce law. When you are trying to get a divorce, it’s hard without a divorce attorney on your side. When children are involved, or when alimony payments are an issue, a family law attorney will help you work out a custody arrangement, alimony and child support. It is possible to find a San Diego divorce lawyer that will work closely with you to ease the stress of this difficult process. The biggest change in 2015 regarding California divorce is regarding the date of separation.
The Date of Separation
Couples are no longer considered separated until they physically no longer live under the same roof the California Supreme Court ruled in July 2015. This means that the spouse making less money is entitled to a share of the other spouse’s income until both parties are physically separated from each other. This can lead to significant money if the couple lives together for years while trying to get through a divorce. Couples that were living together prior to this ruling have discovered that the spouse making more money has to pay the other a portion of their earnings because they have not officially separated.
How Property and Debt are Divided in a Divorce
California is a community property state, and divorce lawyers will tell you that all property earned or owned during the marriage will be divided up equally. This does not include gifts or inheritances, which are separate property until shared with the other spouse. Assets and debts are both part of the marital property, and both are divided up equally between the divorcing spouses. Assets include homes, cars, bank accounts and retirement accounts, all of which need to be split between the two parties. All assets and debts accrued during the marriage are marital property.
Inheritances are considered separate property unless some or all of the inheritance was placed into a joint bank account shared by both parties. Once funds are commingled, they become property that is jointly owned. Inherited money kept separate from the other spouse is considered separate property when it comes time to divide up assets. This allows for people to keep an inheritance intended for them only.
Determining Child Custody in California
Child custody in California can go several ways. The parents can share joint legal and physical custody. One parent can have full physical and legal custody, or they can share a combination of the two. It depends on the relationship each child has with the parent, each parent’s ability to physically care for the children, and the wishes of the children if they are teenagers. Talk with a divorce lawyer in San Diego if custody is contested, as you want to be sure you get the custody you are seeking.
There are many reasons for you to file for divorce, and grounds can be almost anything that has destroyed the sanctity of your marriage.
Business Valuations and Divorce: 7 Factors that Determine the Value of Your Business
If you own a business and you do not have a prenuptial agreement that shields it from the divorce process, when you get divorced, your business will be treated similarly to any other asset in your marital estate even if you owned the business before marriage. This means that at least a portion of your business (if not your entire business, depending upon whether you founded or acquired it prior to or during your marriage) will be subject to division under California’s community property law.
In order to divide your community property interest, you need to know what it is worth. With respect to a privately-held business, this means obtaining a valuation. While there are different methods for valuing a business in a divorce, generally speaking, some of the key factors include the following:
1. Cash Flow
Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business, and it is a key factor in determining the value of a business as a going concern. Sizable cash flow can lead to a sizeable valuation (which you may not necessarily want for purposes of your divorce), and business owners will need to be able to produce clear accounting and tax records in order to avoid challenging (and potentially costly) disputes during the divorce process.
2. Physical Assets
Physical assets (including inventory, equipment, machinery, furnishings, and vehicles) are factors in determining the value of a privately-held business as well. In order to arrive at an appropriate valuation, all physical assets must be properly depreciated, and business owners must be careful to identify any assets (such as phones, laptops, and cars) that may be personal, rather than business, assets.
3. Intellectual Property (IP) Assets
Intellectual property (IP) assets include registered and unregistered trademarks and copyrights, as well as patents, trade secrets, and proprietary information. Depending on the nature of a business, these assets can potentially have substantial values themselves, and they may need to be appraised before the business can be valued as a whole.
4. Cash Reserves and Investments
Cash reserves and investments will have a direct impact on the value of a business. This includes funds and securities held in cash and non-cash accounts, and it includes working capital and assets subject to capital gains tax.
Contracts with clients, customers, employees, vendors, banks, and other entities can potentially have value as well. While not all contracts will have a value, significant contracts can be intangible assets that add to a company’s overall valuation.
6. Real Estate
Real estate that is titled to a business will be considered in the business’s valuation and not as a separate asset in the division of community property. Similar to IP assets, real property will need to be valued separately before being factored into the overall value of the business. Improvements may need to be depreciated; and, for leased real estate, the lease agreement may have value as an intangible asset.
7. Human Capital
Human capital can be a hugely significant factor in the valuation of a business, especially in the case of a professional practice or other small, owner-operated company. Valuing these types of businesses involves special considerations, since the business may not be sustainable without its owner’s involvement.
In any case, in order to make informed decisions about protecting your business (and other prized assets) in your divorce, you first need to know exactly what is on the table. For more information, we encourage you to download our free e-book, Protecting Your Business in a California Divorce; and, if you have specific questions, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial case evaluation.
When is the Best Time to File for Divorce?According to the behavior of many couples considering divorce, January seems to be the most popular month to begin the process of starting the next phase in their lives. There is also a similar but slightly lower peak around September. In addition to considering the reasons behind these trends, there are many other factors to take into consideration such as the how the length of your marriage will affect the division of your assets. Here are a few things to keep in mind when starting the process and picking a time to file:
Filing in JanuaryWith the possible exception of 2008 when the recession had just hit, each January there has been a sharp increase in the number of phone calls and inquiries made to family law firms. The number of divorce filings begins to rise in January and peaks about two months later. Many couples begin or continue to discuss and research their options during the beginning of the year, with online searches for “child custody” and similar divorce-related terms also increasing significantly between December and March. This uptick could be due to a few reasons. Although it is doubtful that your spouse will file for a divorce just because you got him or her the wrong gift, the holidays may be the tipping point. Stressful no matter how long you have been married or how many kids you have, the holidays can put life and your marriage into perspective. Typically around the holidays, people have more time off from work and spend that time with their families, in-laws and friends, which may cause them to compare their lives with others’ or with their own lives in previous years. Spouses may have also already resolved to get a divorce but just want to get through the holidays before taking the next step. Filing for divorce or at least discussing options with a divorce attorney may even be a new year’s resolution. Even more pragmatically, many people may also put off filing for divorce for monetary reasons. By waiting to get divorced, they can still get the benefit of filing jointly on their tax returns for the year.
Filing in SeptemberThere is also a spike in family law inquiries and divorce filings in September, stemming from a few possible reasons. Couples may want to wait until the end of summer to file for divorce so that they can spend time with their kids before they go back to school or so that they can go on vacations that have already been planned months ago. Additionally, with summer being such a popular time for weddings, couples may want to get through their wedding anniversary before making a decision or make it to all of their friends’ weddings before announcing their plans to divorce.
Other Options to ConsiderSince each marriage and each divorce is unique, there are also many other factors that should be considered. The best time to file will vary based on your assets, the length of your marriage and your tax bracket. No matter how complicated your divorce or when you choose to file, we can help. For help with your case or in any other aspect of family law , you can turn to the Law Office of Renkin & Associates for the help that you deserve. We are prepared to answer your questions and fight for your assets.
For help with your case or in any other aspect of family law, you can turn to the Law Office of Renkin & Associates for the help that you deserve. Our attorneys are prepared to serve you in any way possible.