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Los Angeles Family Law Blog

What steps need to be taken in the property division process?

One of the big issues divorcing couples in California have to tackle is the division of their assets and debts. To start, keep in mind that California is a community property state for property division. This means that each spouse has a right to any property or debts acquired during the course of the marriage. When it comes to property division, the couple's community (marital) property and debts will be split approximately 50/50.

To begin the property division process, each spouse will need to complete and exchange a Schedule of Assets and Debts (Form FL-142). In this document, each spouse states what all of their assets are -- both separate and marital. It is important to be entirely truthful when listing one's assets, as well as ensuring the list is complete. Some spouses may try to hide assets in order to get the upper-hand during property division. However, most attempts at hiding assets fail, and the penalties one would face if they are caught hiding assets can be very serious.

How can I be sure my parenting plan is fair and sustainable?

The terms of your custody order will affect your relationship with your child for a long time after your divorce is final. In order to minimize negative effects for children and to have more control over the terms of the final custody order, many California parents choose to work together to draft a parenting plan.

The goal of your parenting plan is to ultimately protect the best interests of your children above all else, but you will still find it beneficial to work to also protect your parental rights. Parenting plans should be fair, reasonable and sustainable long-term. It is beneficial to ensure your plan will work well for you and your kids for years to come. 

Child custody mediation may be preferable to litigation

If a child's parents are divorcing, one of the most important and emotional decisions they will have to make is who will have custody of their child. This is not always an easy decision, especially if both parents wish to have primary custody of the child. Parents in California may assume that their only option when it comes to child custody is to litigate the matter. However, litigation is a lengthy process, which could increase the stress parents and the child feel during this time of uncertainty. Therefore, one option parents may want to consider is child custody mediation.

Through mediation, parents will work with a neutral mediator to settle their child custody and visitation issues. A mediator is not a decision-maker. But, a mediator can facilitate discussions between the parents that allow the parents to talk about their child custody wishes and concerns in a productive manner.

Why might a California parent seek a child support modification?

As parents in Los Angeles move on from their divorce, in general, one parent will pay child support to the other parent. However, life has a way of throwing twists and turns in one's direction. Sometimes a parent's circumstances change so drastically that they feel the current child support order is no longer appropriate. In this situation, parents may pursue a modification of the child support order.

The paying parent may seek to have the amount they pay in child support lowered. On the other hand, the receiving parent may seek to have the amount they receive in child support increased. But, to modify a child support order there generally needs to be a significant change in circumstances. Keep in mind that, until a judge approves a child support modification, the current order stands and the paying parent must keep paying -- the modification is not retroactive.

A late-in-life divorce presents complex legal issues

Some people in Los Angeles might be under the impression that those who divorce late in life have an easier time than younger couples who divorce. But, while older couples still must resolve issues regarding spousal support and property division, but there are two topics that become more complicated as a couple ages.

First, if a couple decides to divorce after decades of marriage, they may have accumulated a significant amount of assets. They may own a home and a vacation home. They may also have well-funded retirement accounts, the division of which must be fair. Neither party is impoverished post-divorce. The more assets a couple has when they divorce, the more complicated property division.

Is it worth it to fight for the family home in a divorce?

In any divorce there is the possibility that the property division process will be very contentious. While some couples may split amicably, many couples are still reeling from the emotions and incidents that led to the decision to divorce. Therefore, they do not want to feel short-changed when their assets are divided.

Property division issues can be especially difficult when it comes to the family home. Oftentimes one's home is among their most valuable of assets. Moreover, it may have a lot of sentimental value. While each spouse may think they should be the one to win the family home, it is important for them to decide whether doing so is really worth it and, if not, what other choices they have.

Post-divorce tips for a low-stress summer

When you signed your co-parenting agreement, you hadn't really had time to think about summer. Now that it's almost here, how things will work out regarding vacations, unplanned visits and other issues might concern you. As it has been since you first decided to divorce, your main priority is keeping your children's best interests in mind.  

You do have a new, independent lifestyle, however, and you feel very strongly about making sure your former spouse respects that. You can take comfort in knowing that other California parents have trod the path before you. No two situations are the same, but if you talk to other divorced parents, you're sure to find some who can relate to how you're feeling. It's also a good idea to keep legal resource information on hand, in case a problem arises.  

Will an incarcerated parent be responsible for child support?

It is unfortunate that sometimes a noncustodial parent in California will do something illegal. While some crimes are penalized by perhaps no more than a slap on the wrist, other times a person will face years in prison for a crime they committed. This has implications on the child support the incarcerated noncustodial parent is responsible for.

If a noncustodial parent is incarcerated for a period of time lasting longer than 90 days, then their duty to pay child support will be temporarily suspended. Once the noncustodial parent is freed, their child support obligation will start up again, and they will be responsible for paying the same amount they would have owed prior to incarceration.

Making the most of the summer with your child post-divorce

Summer is upon us and children across Los Angeles are anxiously awaiting the end of school. For kids, summertime should be a time of relaxation, where they can sleep in, eat ice cream, go to the beach or pool, ride their bikes and in general enjoy the extended free time at their hands. However, for children whose parents are divorced, summer can be stressful, particularly if the child's parents have not come to an agreement as to child custody and visitation during these months.

Most parents in California do not want to cause undue stress and anxiety to their children. Therefore, parents should make sure that they are on the same page with regards to child custody and visitation during the summertime. There are several steps parents can take to keep the summer months ones of pleasant memories for their child.

How can one legally stop paying spousal support in California?

A person might spend years paying spousal support to his or her ex after a divorce. It can be a connection to a failed marriage that they may not be happy with, but one must follow the court order in the divorce decree. While sometimes a person in California wishes to modify a spousal support order, and may be able to do so, there may come a time in which the person wants to end the spousal support order permanently.

Some spousal support orders have an end date already in them. If this is the case the paying party need not do anything to stop paying spousal support once they reach that end date. The only thing they must do, if they are paying through wage garnishment, is fill out a certain form that indicates the paying party is now paying $0 in spousal support. This form will then be provided to the paying party's employer.

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