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Redwood City Family Law Blog

Planning makes custody transitions easier on everyone

The implementation of a child custody plan can be as hard on the parents as it is on the children. For parents in California who are moving toward a new child custody arrangement, there are a few things to keep in mind that can prepare the whole family for the transition. Among the most important things are giving the children enough notice, communication between the parents and setting the kids' expectations.

Giving the children sufficient notice is important as they need to what they can expect during the drop-off and pick up. The more detail that can be conveyed, the better. Kids do better if they have a detailed account of what to expect. For example, if the father will drop off the kids but not come inside the mother's home, that can be conveyed to the kids so it's not a big deal when the drop off happens.

Property division and keeping a house with a buyout

Californians who are getting a divorce will have many issues to navigate, such as spousal support and child support. Another vital aspect is property division. If the couple owns a home, it may have significant value. One or both spouses might want to retain it. To sift through the complexities in this situation, it is important to know how to resolve it.

For many couples, a buyout can be effective. To buy out the other spouse, there are key points to remember. Many might think about the home value, but the equity is even more critical. Whatever remains from the equity will be split in half, and the spouse wanting to buy out the other will need to pay that. To know what the home's value is, it must be accurately appraised. Regardless of how an estimated value is reached, it will give the parties a guideline as to how much it will cost for a buyout.

The way you get paid could affect your divorce

Not everyone simply earns a paycheck for the work they do. You may be one of the numerous employees here in California who earns your income through other means. Yes, you get a paycheck, but you get more than that.

If you end up going through a divorce, you will need to divulge all your sources of income. Since California is a community property state, those other sources will more than likely end up as part of the marital estate.

Healthy ways to approach divorce

Getting through a divorce is an experience that often involves having to mourn a lost way of life. However, California residents can approach their divorce in healthy ways that might help them overcome the negative feelings that often accompany a split.

Building a support system is important. The process of divorce is a time to seek out family and friends who can offer this support, which can mean simply having someone to listen or having someone to share new experiences and adventures with. The support system can also involve a psychologist or therapist because they might offer professional advice that comes from experience of helping people work through painful, stressful situations such as divorce.

Children sometimes ask to change child custody arrangements

Family law judges in California and around the country may modify child custody arrangements when doing so would be in the best interests of the child. Sometimes, custody arrangements are revised because custodial parents have problems with drugs or alcohol or enter into relationships with toxic or dangerous individuals, but judges could agree to a change in living arrangements simply because the child involved has decided that they would rather live with the noncustodial parent.

Custodial parents often feel hurt or betrayed when their children tell them that they would prefer to live with the parent's former husband or wife, but it is important for them to keep their emotions under control and understand how difficult it must have been for the child to broach the subject. Divorce can be very hard on children, and acting hurt or reacting with anger or bitterness in these situations could cause long-term damage to parent-child relationships by making the child less likely to discuss sensitive issues in the future.

Prenups more popular among millennials

Research suggests that more and more California couples are signing prenuptial agreements before marriage. Once thought to be the exclusive province of celebrities and the ultra-rich, prenups have become an option for couples of various means, especially as more people marry after establishing their careers. According to a recent study by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, younger people are particularly likely to consider a prenup before tying the knot. Of the lawyers surveyed, around 62% said they have seen an increasing number of clients wanting a prenuptial agreement in recent years.

Many attributed the growing number of prenups to increased interest among millennial clients in particular. While fewer millennials own homes when they marry, many have retirement funds, investment accounts and stock options. Around 70% of millennials have some type of investment. In addition, millennials are likely to marry partners with similar income and career goals. When neither partner plans to stay home to care for children and both are dedicated to their careers, they may want to avoid excessively shared finances.

Dealing with divorce finances requires preparation

Going through a divorce can be a messy process financially. The parties are forced to navigate through the state law labyrinth, choosing beneficiaries and divvying up their assets; it can be complicated and expensive to untangle the couple's finances. The average cost of a divorce in California is the highest in the country, according to a study conducted by Nolo Research, but there are some things a person can do to keep the costs down.

Handling the bank accounts should be among the top priorities. The majority of couples have one or more jointly held bank accounts. The parties should begin by listed out every account they're tied to, without regard for how it is held. Once the list is complete, joint accounts should be noted. Couples who are on good terms can close the joint accounts with a quick trip to the bank. Couples who are not on good terms will likely have to wait for the divorce settlement to be finalized.

Having your assets valuated during a divorce

Determining the value of certain property can be complicated. You may not have thought much about having to valuate certain items unless you intended to sell them, but now that you are getting a divorce, you may need to know these values as part of the property division process.

Different methods can apply to valuating assets, and the type of assets involved often determine the method used. It is also common for professional appraisers and other parties to step in to use the correct method and come to a conclusion about the value.

Children are the first priority in a divorce

When a California couple with children begins experiencing marital difficulties, there is typically a great deal of thought about what's best for the family. If the conclusion is that divorce makes the most sense for all under the circumstances, it is natural for both parents to focus on the legal issues such as community property, separate property, property division and spousal support. Of course, the issues of child custody and support are at the forefront; although the settlement of these issues is part of the divorce process, the welfare of the kids as they transition from one family home to two separate residences is of the utmost importance.

Believing that the children will be better off after the divorce is finalized and the conflicts are over may be true, but children are extremely vulnerable during the process. Family relationship experts stress the importance of several considerations that parents should keep in mind. First, consistency of lifestyle, routine and activities should be maintained as closely as possible. It is natural to seek comfort in the familiar when there is turmoil in part of one's life.

Study raises concerns over courts' handling of abuse

Some people believe that fathers face discrimination in California child custody cases. While in the past mothers were often believed to be the "natural" caregiver for a child, courts have long since shifted to a model that prefers shared physical custody. In fact, many studies have found that when fathers pursue custody, their claims are given a higher level of credibility in the courtroom and they are more likely to be successful than mothers. Some research has pointed out troubling numbers that could indicate that credible abuse claims are being pushed aside in decisions that could be related to stereotypical or social beliefs about fathers and mothers.

One study of 2,000 child custody cases nationwide has raised concerns about how allegations of abuse are often handled in family court. The cases involved in the research all included allegations of child abuse, domestic violence or parental alienation. Parental alienation refers to activities of one parent to drive the child away from a good relationship with the other parent. Historically, it is associated with psychological theories that were commonly invoked in 1970s custody cases that typically blamed mothers for alienating their children from fathers. These theories were never accepted by the American Psychiatric Association, but they found a relatively warm reception in the family courts.

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

Phone: 650-399-0962
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