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Redwood City Family Law Blog

The difficulties of high-asset divorce

In community property states like California, all assets acquired during marriage belong equally to both spouses, including property and debt. Thus, when a couple in California files for divorce, all community property must be split evenly between the parties. In other states, such as New York, property acquired during marriage is distributed "equitably," or fairly. In community property states, it may be difficult for couples to decide how to divide property in half, such as a house. In other states, it can be a challenge to determine how to split assets fairly.

In one high-profile New York divorce, an estranged couple has been fighting for more than a year over an art collection worth several hundred million dollars. The wife contends that her husband took $200 million worth of artwork from their home in order to hide the assets, and she claims that he has hidden assets offshore.

Common reasons why women end marriages

According to the American Sociological Association, women initiate roughly 70% of all divorces in California and throughout the United States. One of the key reasons why a woman would want a divorce is the feeling that marriage is holding her back. Despite the fact that they make up a majority of the workforce, most women haven't seen any change in their responsibilities at home as they take on more work outside the home.

A Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that 49% of female respondents said that they did housework on a daily basis. Only 20% of male respondents said the same thing despite the fact that both partners were employed. Ultimately, a woman who is focused on her career may feel as if marriage is a burden and seek a split from her husband.

How do the courts determine what is in a child's best interests?

When you made the decision to divorce your spouse, your first concern was probably how it would affect your children. You want what is best for them, but you may also know the courts have their own standard – one regarding the best interests of the child.

You may wonder how the court can figure that out considering they know nothing about you or your family. For this reason, the court looks at certain factors in order to gather the information needed to make a determination. Whether you and the other parent are working out your child custody issues outside the courtroom or relying on the judge to make a ruling, it may help you to know what those factors are before you head into court.

Helping kids navigate divorce

When parents in California make the decision to divorce, they may be concerned about how the changes to their relationship will affect their children. Absent a context of neglect or abuse, divorce does not have to interfere with either parent's relationship with the kids. By keeping some key priorities in mind, parents can help their children to navigate the changing home environment that comes with divorce successfully. While different concerns may arise for children of different ages, both parents have a role to play in supporting their children's emotional health throughout the process.

Both parents may want to avoid sharing any negative information or thoughts about the other parent with their children. Kids need to feel free to love and enjoy a close relationship with each parent without upsetting or angering the other. It is normal for kids at many ages to go to one parent over the other, but kids should not be afraid to share their affection for either parent at any time. It is also important for kids, especially younger children, to understand that they are not the reason for the divorce, and there is nothing that they can do to change their parents' decisions. This, of course, can also combine with love and reassurance of both parents' affection.

Preparing to co-parent after divorce

When parents in California decide to divorce, they may face challenges transitioning to a co-parenting relationship. Many people want to avoid hurting their children and fear they may do so by separating while other people have a highly strained relationship. Whether the separation is proceeding amicably or less so, the spouses involved still need to find a way to navigate parenting together. There are several steps that people can take to help lead the way to a positive co-parenting framework that can help parents raise their children after a divorce.

While setting a child custody schedule can be an important part of divorce negotiations, it is also important to be flexible with the agreement in practice. It is important for kids to feel like they can be close with both of their parents and that their needs come first. This does not mean that parents should constantly change the schedule; for younger kids in particular, routine can be important. Mutual flexibility, however, can help kids feel more confident navigating family relationships after a parental divorce.

Division of retirement accounts in divorce is all in the details

As some California couples begin the divorce process, retirement accounts, including IRAs, will be on the table for negotiations. Unlike other retirement accounts, which need a QDRO for their division, IRAs are divided based on the negotiations that lead to the divorce agreements.

When couples are negotiating the division of marital property, they might also negotiate how to split existing IRA accounts. Because IRAs are set up in a way that can lead to steep penalties if the established rules are not followed correctly, the division of IRAs and what each spouse does afterward with the money need to be carefully considered. As IRAs were originally set up to help people save enough for retirement, Congress created certain rules to encourage people to use funds for their intended purpose. Distributions of IRA funds are subject to regular income tax as well as a 10% penalty for early distribution unless at least one of the few exceptions are met.

How to avoid long-term money woes after a divorce

While California residents may experience financial and emotional consequences after a divorce, it is possible to recover from them. According to a survey from Fidelity Investments, it takes about five years for most people to feel as if they have recovered both emotionally and financially from the end of a marriage. Those who played a role overseeing a household's finances said it was easier to recover from the financial fallout of a divorce.

The same was generally true for those who played a role in crafting a household's long-term financial plan. Ideally, both parties to a marriage will have a basic understanding of how much a household is worth. Financial information can be gleaned from a tax return or by reviewing bank or other account statements regularly. Couples are encouraged to communicate about money while they are married, and doing so may reduce the chances that a spouse has hidden assets or debts.

Why an old calendar is helpful in child custody cases

As soon as the new year starts, one of the first things that many California residents do is throw away their old calendar and put up a new one. However, this may not be the best move to make if a person is considering filing for a divorce and wants custody of their children.

As a person goes through the divorce process and tries to get custody of their children, it is easy to experience brain fog. An old calendar can prove helpful when it comes to establishing dates and times and helping to jog a person's memory as far as when certain events took place, how much money was spent and how much time each parent spent with the children.

When might divorce mediation be inappropriate?

Nearly every couple facing divorce wants to do so without a lot of drama. They want to keep their costs low and their heads down, and get through the process in the most amicable way possible, especially if they have kids. For these reasons alone, mediation is an attractive alternative to the traditional courtroom divorce, and it may be the first thing more couples consider now.

Unfortunately, some couples' relationships are so toxic or volatile that they cannot and should not attempt to resolve their divorce issues outside of a courtroom. Some Redwood City residents need the protection of the court while others need its power to help them. If you are unsure whether you should even attempt mediation, you may want to review the family situations below that make it a bad idea.

Some attorneys say divorce filings increase in January

Couples in California may be more likely to file for divorce in January than at any other time of year. Many attorneys say that there is a surge in divorce filings just after the holidays.

There are a few reasons this might be the case. Some people want to give their children a memory of a last good holiday. Others realize during the holidays, which can be stressful, that they no longer want to continue in the marriage. People may decide they want a fresh start in the new year. In states that have a waiting period, including California, couples may want to get the divorce underway as soon as possible after the first of the year.


The Law Offices of Oliver R. Gutierrez
600 Allerton St., Suite 200
Redwood City, CA 94063

Phone: 650-399-0962
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