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San Mateo California Family Law Blog

How does my move affect child custody?

Parents have a lot on their minds when going through divorce, but throughout the process they usually keep their main focus on their children. As a parent yourself, this means that getting the right child custody order is one of your top priorities. However, certain factors -- such as one parent moving out of state -- can affect the outcome of the agreement.

Take for example a situation in which your spouse moves out of state, leaving the children behind in your care. He or she may choose to file a motion for visitation or custody in the new state of residence. So which state's laws will determine how custody is handled -- California's, or the state where your ex lives? Your children's home state will have the authority to issue orders, and their home state is the one in which they have been living for six or more consecutive months before the custody proceedings begin.

Child custody and other family law myths

The basics of divorce may seem obvious to most people. However, much of what people believe to be fact regarding California family law is more myth than anything else. From child custody to property division, there is no shortage of misinformation.

Fathers play active and important roles in the lives of their children, both before and after divorce. However, even as fathers are increasingly taking on caregiver roles, the myth that mothers are automatically awarded primary custody still persists to this day. Ultimately, child custody comes down to the best interests of a child, which usually means regular involvement from both parents.

Millennials are not taking chances with divorce

Millennials in California are more financially savvy than most people give them credit for. This generation has been careful to plan for the future, and that includes marriage and divorce. These young adults are leading the way in a prenuptial agreement revolution, leaving them far more protected than past generations.

A study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 62% of family law attorneys have been seeing more clients regarding prenuptial agreements. Of these, 51% said millennials were largely driving the increase. Another study -- this one from the Pew Research Center -- suggests that millennials are more interested in protecting their assets because many had to deal with a difficult economy at the same time they entered the workforce.

What is considered income during divorce?

Income is often discussed as if it is a straightforward matter that has only one of two approaches -- a regular salary or a paycheck based on worked hours. However, many people in California also earn additional income in the form of things like bonuses, commissions and added perks. This makes dealing with the topic of income during divorce somewhat more complicated.

Although income earned during the course of a marriage is generally considered marital property, it may be appropriate to argue that prepaid bonuses with clawback provisions do not fall under that category. This is applicable for a person who received this type of bonus at the start of his or her employment, and it is still within the time frame for which the funds could be withdrawn. If the money were to be withdrawn after the divorce, it would come exclusively from the employee's asset pool rather than his or her ex's.

Is there anything I can’t include in a prenup?

For a long time, even mentioning a prenup seemed taboo. Recently however, people are starting to realize the practical advantages of such a premarital agreement. It offers spouses with valuable assets a chance to protect the property they’ve earned should a separation occur down the line. This could be stock options, retirement plans, luxury homes or other items of value.

While prenups are fairly flexible, California does have laws about what types of provisions can not be included – as well as scenarios in which provisions may not be enforceable.

California initiative proposes limits on alimony

Spousal support is a sensitive subject that many people feel very strongly about. Many people agree that alimony is important for spouses who earned less or left the workforce altogether. Others feel that alimony payments are too high or last for too long. In California, a new initiative could significantly change how judges handle this type of post-divorce support.

The new initiative proposes a cap for how long a person may be ordered to pay child support. If this initiative gets onto the ballot and voters approve it, judges would be prevented from ordering spousal support for more than five years after a divorce or a legal separation. The estimated financial impact on both local and state governments is not known.

Hidden expenses in a high asset divorce

Ending a marriage is a complicated matter and can be time-consuming and involve significant emotional and financial commitments. Since divorce is often the culmination of marital distress over a period of time, the loss of time and emotional struggles may not seem like too much to deal with. However, during a high asset divorce, the financial side of things can quickly feel overwhelming.

A recent Bankrate survey concluded that divorce costs the average person approximately $15,000. Since this is an average, some people in California pay much less while others have to shell out much more. Factors such as location, complex assets and whether a couple has children can all influence how much a person might end up spending. Most people should expect to pay for things like court costs, filing fees or even mediation fees.

High asset divorce: How women can secure financial security

Popular media likes to portray divorcing women in a single light. Women are often shown viciously going after ex-spouses for money, desperate to squeeze out every last nickel and dime for their own advantages. In reality, this is very rarely the case. When facing a high asset divorce, the average California woman just wants to be certain of her financial security.

Despite the desire to be financially secure, many women do not take the necessary steps to protect their futures. This includes having a firm understanding of current finances. For example, a woman might want to familiarize herself with the household finances, including household income, outgoing bills, debts, investments and more. If a person only understands one or two facets of the household finances, he or she will not be fully equipped to make informed decisions during property discussions.

Negotiating child custody outside of court

Divorce is a difficult process for children. Aside from seeing their parents separate, some end up as pawns in ongoing custody disputes. Not only is a battle over child custody costly and time-consuming for parents, it can be a traumatizing experience for children. This is why many California parents prefer to create a parenting plan outside of court.

A parenting plan is an agreement between two parents regarding child custody. This agreement is negotiated outside of court, usually through some type of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation. A judge will still need to approve the final version of the plan, but this usually is not a problem as long as the parents have addressed all necessary points. The judge will also make sure that the plan was fairly negotiated before giving approval.

The hidden costs of a high asset divorce

For some California couples, money may feel like a significant barrier to divorce. This does not always mean that a couple cannot afford to divorce, and indeed may even mean the exact opposite. In a high asset divorce, dividing complex assets and determining alimony payments can be daunting. Here are a few ways to approach the associated financial concerns of going through a divorce.

No matter how well a person has thought about the future, divorce can disrupt even the most carefully laid plans. Couples who end up in court generally have to pay litigation fees that, over time, can quickly add up. Mediation is a more cost-effective approach that gives both parties more of a say in the final settlement. Still, there are mediation fees to consider.

California Family Law And Litigation

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