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Los Angeles Family Law Blog

Billionaire couple in California finalize their divorce

Not every marriage is meant to last. Whether a couple in California gets by paycheck-to-paycheck, or whether they are wealthy individuals with many valuable assets, their marriage can hit the rocks for a variety of reasons, leading to divorce. One high-profile couple's divorce demonstrates just that.

Billionaire David Rubenstein and his wife Alice Rogoff have decided to end their marriage. The philanthropist couple had been married since 1983, but have now officially and legally divorced. The terms of their dissolution were settled upon in private negotiations and will not be made available to the public.

Courtroom drama? Not with these divorce court tips...

Whether a divorce was your idea or your spouse's, and whether you're merely considering ending your marriage or have already filed paperwork, you may be dreading the thought of court. You may even have begun your divorce proceedings with the best of intentions, hoping to make the process as amicable as possible. Perhaps, you've given some thought to -- or even already attempted -- mediation.

Sometimes, though, there's simply nothing more you can do. You've made your best efforts; however, the same differences that led to the end of your marriage are the ones that make it impossible to reach an agreement through mediation, thus litigation becomes a necessity. Few people envision their marriage ending in a court of law, so it can be difficult to prepare either mentally or physically for this eventuality. There are, however, some basic pieces of advice that can help make the process smoother from beginning to end.

What is the general process for modifying child support?

It goes without saying that it costs money to raise a child. When parents in California are married or are unmarried but in a relationship with each other, both contribute to the care of the child. And, if their relationship with each other doesn't last, both parents are still obligated to meet their child's financial needs, so their child can grow up in a healthy, supportive and nurturing environment. To this end, when parents in California divorce or break-up, the court will issue a child support order, in which the noncustodial parent will pay a certain amount of money each month to the custodial parent.

Of course, as time marches on, people's lives change. The parents might have a new job, move to more (or less) expensive areas of the state and, of course, as children grow older, their needs change. After all, the financial demands that come with raising a toddler are very different than those that come with raising a teenager.

Couples have options when it comes to the family home and divorce

Many married couples in California purchase a home, envisioning living their life there together forever. However, sometimes plans like that don't work out, and a couple ends up seeking a divorce. When this happens, they will have to divide their assets. This includes the family home. In fact, when it comes to property division, the family home may be one of a couple's largest assets. Therefore, couples will want to think carefully about what to do with the family home in a divorce.

Some couples decide that they will continue to own the home jointly. They may do this if they plan to pass the family home on to their children in the future. Of course, doing this involves a certain amount of cooperation and communication between the spouses, even after the divorce is final.

How should one approach changing a holiday child custody plan?

Starting with Thanksgiving until we ring in the New Year, the holidays can be a magical time in California, especially for children. In between the feasting, gift-giving and celebrations that occur between now and the New Year, it is a busy time of year, one that is rooted in tradition. However, that tradition could get disrupted if a child's parents divorce.

Parents, of course, want to protect their child's interests as much as possible when they divorce. When it comes to divorce and the holidays, a holiday parenting schedule may be already laid out in the parents' child custody order. This may have been negotiated and agreed upon by the parents out of court, or it could be developed by a judge in court. In either case, it is important to review that plan to avoid any unwanted surprises.

Commingling can change the status of assets in property division

When a couple in California marries, does the old adage, "What's yours is mine, and what's mine is yours," apply? Well, it is possible for some assets that were obtained prior to marriage to remain the sole property of the person who owned them even if they divorce. However, in order to keep separate assets separate, it is important that commingling has not occurred.

Commingling can turn what was once a separate asset into a marital asset. For example, let's say a party owns a home prior to getting married. However, once married, the mortgage on that home is paid using both parties' income. This may be considered commingling, and that home might be converted into marital property.

What are the basic requirements for filing for divorce?

Sometimes, when the fighting gets to be too much or when spouses grow more and more distant from one another, one or both of them will decide that their marriage simply can no longer be held together, and they are best off divorcing. In California, a divorce (also referred to as a dissolution) puts a legal and permanent end to the marital relationship. This means that once the divorce process is complete, a person is considered to be single and can remarry, if they so choose.

Fault is not a factor in a California divorce. Couples can cite "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for their divorce. No one will be found "guilty" or "not guilty," and a person need not prove to the court that any sort of misconduct took place. This is the essence of living in a "no-fault" divorce state. The court's primary concern is reaching an agreement that is fair to both sides, allowing them to move forward as single individuals.

Parental alienation can affect your children for life

Parenting through a divorce is seldom easy. No matter the ages of your children, you are likely to see signs of confusion, temper and emotions that are uncharacteristic. As difficult as it may be to deal with, you know it is understandable. After all, you may be feeling these sentiments yourself from time to time.

The problem is that you are seeing and hearing things from your children that don't seem like a normal part of adjusting to life after a divorce. Instead of moving toward a healthy acceptance of the situation, your children may be pulling away from you or even acting with open hostility. This may be cause for concern.

What happens when California business owners divorce?

Owning a family business may be part of the "American Dream," but you can't go through life wearing rose-colored glasses. Some people in California who are married and own a business together might have success in both ventures, at least for a while. However, eventually their marriage might deteriorate to the point where they feel they are best off divorcing. What does that mean, though, for the business they have built together from the ground up?

One option is to keep on as business partners. Of course, if the couple's relationship is very toxic, this won't work. But, some couples find that although their marriage didn't work out, they can still cooperate together as business partners. By co-owning the business, neither spouse needs to relinquish their interest in the enterprise, nor will they need to go through the expense of having the business valuated.

Parents can benefit from legal counsel in child custody cases

Parents in Los Angeles, even if they are going through a divorce, want to do what's best for their child. After all, they are in a position to know exactly what their child's unique needs are. Therefore, it is helpful for parents going through a divorce to try to work together to create a child custody plan out of court. This parenting plan should address both legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody entails a parent's ability to make important life choices on behalf of the child. For example, if a parent has legal custody of the child, they may decide where the child will go to school, what religion the child will practice and which doctors the child will see. It is common for parents to share joint legal custody, so long as it is in the child's best interests.

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  • LACBA | The Los Angeles County Bar Association

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