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Los Angeles Family Law Blog

Are these issues complicating your parent/child relationship?

When you divorced, you may have done what many other California parents do; that is, you may have gathered your children to inform them of your decision and invite discussion regarding their feelings about the topic. Divorce is seldom easy and you yourself may understand the absolute roller coaster of emotions that often accompanies the process; so, it may have come as no surprise to you that your children were somewhat struggling.

Hopefully, you had a strong support network ready and willing to lend a hand as you and your kids took your first steps toward a new lifestyle together. You likely had good days and bad, along with ups and downs. Most times, you and your children are probably able to overcome problems that arise, whether having to do with their emotions or a more particular incident such as visitation logistics.

What steps need to be taken to end spousal support?

In California, not every award of spousal support is permanent. Moreover, certain life events can happen that result in the cessation of spousal support. It is important to know what these events are and what steps to take to end spousal support.

First, sometimes the spousal support order itself has an end date. If this is the case, then the paying spouse does not need to do anything to end it. That being said, if the paying spouse's wages are being garnished, they may need to provide their employer with a form showing an amount of $0 due for spousal support.

What's 'permanent spousal support' in California?

The last decade or so has seen the rise of many arguments with regard to a certain family law topic: alimony, or as it is called in California, spousal support. The focus of many of these discussions has been the award of a type of post-relationship payments known as permanent spousal support. While the name may be somewhat misleading, it is important for those going through a divorce in California, especially those with high incomes or a large number of assets, to understand how this type of alimony works.

First off, in most modern cases, permanent spousal support isn't necessarily 'permanent' in the sense of 'forever.' What generally differentiates permanent alimony from temporary alimony is that temporary support is meant to get the payee through the divorce proceeding, while permanent spousal support describes a payment order set to continue after the termination of the legal relationship between the couple is finalized. This being said, it is still possible that a permanent spousal support will be indefinite, in that there may not be a scheduled end date.

Be careful when dividing retirement plans in a divorce

Does divorce always happen after a flash-in-the-pan marriage? Sometimes. Yet, other couples can spend years or even decades married before deciding to divorce. In fact, in what is coined a "gray divorce," in the United States, the divorce rate for those 50 years old or older has increased twofold since the 1990s. For example, in 2015, 10 married people out of every 1,000 age 50 or older divorced. Moreover, the divorce rate for those 65 years old and up has approximately tripled since 1990.

This also means that many couples in Los Angeles are divorcing either right before, or right after, retirement. A gray divorce can be costly in this sense, as both parties were counting on having a certain amount of income during their retirement. However, after the divorce, their income has gone down by as much as 50 percent. This is why it's important to fairly divide complex assets like retirement accounts, 401(k)s and pensions.

Modifying child support requires a 'change in circumstances'

Most parents in California want to give their child the best life possible. They want their child to get a good education, enjoy extracurricular activities, take vacations, and they want to provide their child with a safe home, nutritious food and appropriate clothing. In the end, it is up to parents to provide for the child's financial needs, so the child can experience a well-rounded childhood.

When parents divorce or break up, this does not end their obligation to financially support their child. Instead, in general, one parent will have custody of the child and the other parent will pay child support. These arrangements will be laid out in a legally enforceable child support order, which may work well for a while. However, circumstances may arise that necessitate a modification to a child support order.

What types of child custody are there in California?

Parents in California who divorce may have a lot of concerns when it comes to raising their child post-divorce. Not only may they be concerned about the child's well-being, but they also may be concerned about how much time they will spend with the child and what their rights to the child will be moving forward.

In California, there are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody entails the ability to make significant life choices on behalf of the child. Some examples of these decisions are which doctors the child will see, what religion the child will practice and where the child will go to school, among others. Physical custody refers to where the child will live on a daily basis.

Watch out for signs your ex is hiding assets in divorce

When a couple in Los Angeles shares a joint bank account, there may be disagreements on how that money should be spent. It may be tempting for one spouse to hide a purchase from the other spouse. In fact, according to one study, three out of every 10 adults have admitted to doing so. Similarly, sometimes a person opens a financial account, such as a credit card, behind their spouse's back. This also is not unusual -- the aforementioned study reports that around 7.2 million people in the United States have a credit card or bank account their spouse does not know about.

Fights about money often lead up to divorce, and can continue throughout the divorce process. Therefore, it pays to keep a close eye on your finances when it comes to divorce to ensure your ex isn't hiding assets from you when it comes to property division.

Will mediation accomplish your property division goals?

California is one of only a handful of states that assumes you and your spouse own all property jointly in the event of a divorce. If you and your spouse rely on the courts to divide your property, this is the point from which the division begins. In addition, if you have children, the court can only do so much, which means that any child custody order may not conform to the unique needs of your family.

This may not result in a settlement that you and your spouse find satisfactory, especially if you have significant assets. If the two of you agree, you could attempt to use mediation instead, which may provide you with the ability to think outside the box and create a settlement that both of you believe is fair.

When mediation is not the right answer

Mediation is one of the more popular alternative dispute resolutions used by divorcing couples, it’s cheaper, quicker and a more collaborative process than litigation. With mediation, you get to decide the terms of your divorce and what works best for everyone involved. While mediation can be a great alternative, it doesn’t work for everyone. Even couples who are willing to talk it out may find that mediation can be counter-productive.

Can a custodial parent in California move away with the child?

Whether it is weeks, months or years after a parent's divorce is finalized, a parent may find that they want to relocate with the child. Perhaps the parent got a new job or wants to be closer to family. However, as we will discuss, there are rules in place with regard to whether a custodial parent will be allowed to relocate with the child. Keep in mind that this is only a general overview of child relocation in California and cannot replace the advice of an attorney.

In general, in California the parent that has primary physical custody of the child has the right to relocate with the child to another city or state. However, there are limits to this right. If the child's other parent can prove that the relocation would be harmful to the child, then the parent with primary physical custody cannot relocate with the child.

  • Super Lawyers
  • State Bar Of California | CBLS | California Board Of Legal Specialization
  • Beverly Hills Bar Association
  • LACBA | The Los Angeles County Bar Association

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