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Los Angeles Family Law Blog

Look out for hidden assets in the property division process

Not every spouse in Los Angeles acts fairly in a divorce. Sometimes, out of greed or spite, one spouse may try to hide assets to keep the other spouse from obtaining them during the property division process. This may be especially true when one spouse is self-employed as a small business owner. So, what signs should a person look out for if they believe their spouse is hiding assets?

Sometimes, a couple would enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle while married, only to have one spouse suddenly claim that they have experienced a significant loss of income. One sign that this is taking place is if their personal expenses are being paid for by their business. By doing so, they won't be receiving a paycheck, allowing them to claim that they have not earned any income. Similarly, this can make it look like the business is not profitable, which could affect its value for property division purposes.

Is co-parenting not going to work for you? Try parallel parenting

For the most part, the days of primary custody going to one parent, with visitation for the other, are gone. Courts here in California and elsewhere now favor a joint custody arrangement since, in most cases, the best interests of the children require significant contact with both parents.

The problem is that the perception of joint custody that many people have involves the whole family taking vacations together and spending time together during the holidays. Are you unable to envision a time when you can co-parent side-by-side like this with your former spouse? Would this much contact not be good for everyone involved?

Dealing with the unexpected after a divorce

No one can predict what the future will bring. After all, most newlyweds in Los Angeles do not anticipate divorcing, but it does happen from time to time that some couples simply find that even after years of marriage, they are no longer compatible and are better off going their separate ways.

Similarly, while a couple's initial divorce decree will have provisions pertaining to child support, spousal support and child custody, sometimes a person's life circumstances change, warranting a modification of these orders. When it comes to modifying a divorce decree, the party who wants the decree modified usually needs to show that they have experienced a significant change in circumstances. If it is a child custody provision that a party wants changed, any changes must be in the best interests of the child.

Marital property division in a California divorce

When a couple in California divorces, they will need to divide their assets and their debts. Oftentimes, the couple can reach a property division agreement through out-of-court negotiations. Keep in mind, though, that a court must approve such an agreement to make it final and legally enforceable.

Couples should aim to divide things relatively equally. This way, each spouse will walk away with approximately the same amount of the assets and debts. However, this doesn't mean that each piece of property must be physically divided in two. Take bank accounts, for example. It may not be necessary to take each account and divide the funds 50/50. If two accounts have roughly the same amount in them, one person can have one account and the other can have the other account. Or, if one account is worth more than the other, the person keeping the other account can also receive additional property of a value that leads to an even split.

Mediation can be a beneficial way to resolve divorce issues

Sometimes, couples in California have a falling out. But, when one fight leads to another and then another, eventually both partners come to the conclusion that their marriage was not meant to last and they are better off divorcing. Naturally, disagreements are often at the heart of many divorces, so it should come as no surprise that couples may not see eye-to-eye when it comes to resolving divorce legal issues, such as the division of assets, child custody and spousal support.

Therefore, couples may think that their only option once they decide to divorce is to face their partner in court and have the judge rule on their divorce legal issues. However, sometimes it is possible to approach the matter in a less adversarial way that might be less costly, less time-consuming and less stressful. One of these options is mediation.

Don't focus on the negative when making child custody decisions

When parents in California divorce, it can be difficult to make decisions regarding child custody. It can be distressing to realize that after the divorce is final, they will not see their child every day. In addition, parents may question the ability of their ex to help raise the child, especially if the divorce was acrimonious. However, despite these negative misgivings, parents can try to work together to create a parenting plan that meets the child's best interests, along with those of the parents. When doing so, there are important points to keep in mind.

First, unless there are instances of abuse or neglect at the hand of one parent, parents need to recognize that they are both capable of raising the child. Sometimes, a parent wants to demonize their ex. However, this may not be in the best interest of the child. Instead, it can help to work with a professional who can objectively assess the parents' situation to help them make fair decisions.

Should you mind your own business after divorce?

You may be one of many California business owners whose end-of-summer schedule this year includes divorce proceedings. Perhaps you never saw it coming, or maybe you recognized signs that your marriage would end a long time ago. Either way, whether a particular event brought about the end or small things turned into big things over time, if your spouse is a co-owner and partner in your business, you may have a few difficult decisions to make.

When you think ahead to your future, do you still imagine yourself owning the same company you built from the ground up during your marriage? If so, do you also still picture your spouse as your partner? Your business is obviously an asset the court will want to know more about when the property division part of your divorce proceedings gets underway.

Don't put off seeking a spousal support modification

When a couple in California divorces, oftentimes one spouse will be ordered to pay spousal support to the other. However, as time marches on, each spouse's life circumstances will change. When it comes to the paying spouse, it is possible that they may lose their job. Or, they may incur a significant expense, such as a hospital bill or car repair. Any of these situations could make it difficult, if not impossible, for the paying spouse to meet their spousal support obligations.

When this happens, the paying spouse may seek to reduce the amount of spousal support they pay. To do so, they will have to ask the court for a spousal support modification. However, in order for such a modification to be successful, there must be a significant change in circumstances.

Those in a 'grey divorce' may face Social Security issues

An increasing number of older couples in Los Angeles and nationwide are deciding, after decades of marriage, that their relationship is no longer viable and they want to divorce. Sometimes, this happens when a couple simply grows apart over time, and the split is amicable. Sometimes, this happens after years of arguing and resentment. And, still, sometimes this happens when couples have known for years that they were only staying together for the children. No matter what the circumstances, however, it is important to note that these "grey divorces" present issues not found in other divorces. One of those issues involves Social Security.

Usually, a couple's marriage must last a minimum of 10 years prior to divorcing in order for one partner to secure Social Security payments on their ex's record. Also, the couple must have been divorced for a minimum of two years before one partner, age 62 or above, can file for Social Security on their ex's record if the ex has not begun receiving Social Security payments. Moreover, to claim on an ex's record, the individual receiving benefits must not have remarried.

Don't handle property division alone in a high-asset divorce

California couples who decide to end their marriages may have a lot of concerns, and one of these concerns may be how to divide their property. This may be especially true for couples who have a significant amount of assets. While some property will be considered separate and will be retained by the spouse who owns it, property obtained during the course of the marriage will generally be subject to equal division, although this doesn't mean that every piece of property will be split 50/50.

When it comes to a high-asset divorce, property division can become more complicated. High-asset couples may own a business, have multiple pieces of real estate, may have luxury items such as automobiles, jewelry and antiques, may have valuable stocks or bank accounts, and they may have a significant amount of money invested in retirement plans. Since the stakes are so high when it comes to property division in a high-asset divorce, it is important that spouses in such situations seek the advice of an attorney to protect their interests.

  • 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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