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Stockton CA Divorce Law Blog

How does divorce affect an estate plan?

If you are one of the many people in California who is facing an impending divorce or who may even be in the midst of a divorce right now, you know all too well just how many details there are for you to address during this process. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by what are the most pressing issues at the moment, such as whether or not you will sell your house, which spouse might keep the pets or how you will divide your retirement accounts. However, in addition to these things, you should also pay attention to other matters involving your estate planning.

As explained by Forbes, most couples list each other as their primary beneficiaries on life insurance policies or 401K accounts. Spouses are also commonly identified as heirs to a person's estate and as executors of each others' wills. It is also a standard practice for a person's wife or husband to be the identified power of attorney for financial matters and the decision maker for health care purposes when the patient is unable to make decisions for themselves.

What are some common questions about receiving child support?

If you receive child support in California, then you may have some questions about the process. While the court ordered the support payments and maintains control over the legal aspects of child support, the Department of Child Support Services manages your case. One aspect of your case management involves how you receive payment.

To begin with, the State Disbursement Unit disburses your payments. This is regardless of how you receive your payments. You have three options. You can get a check, have them directly deposited in your bank account or use the Electronic Payment Card.

Should you keep records of your alimony payments?

If you live in California and either receive alimony or pay alimony, you should be keeping records of payments for tax purposes. Unfortunately, many divorced individuals are unaware of their alimony recordkeeping obligations and are often the subject of IRS scrutiny. You can avoid scrutiny by educating yourself on what documentation is and is not worth keeping. 

According to FindLaw, alimony recipients should keep a detailed list of all alimony payments received in the last three years and details regarding each. Three years is standard tax-record-keeping protocol. For each payment, you should make note of the date, the amount received, the check number, the account number connected to the check, the name on the bank account, a copy of the payment and a copy of the receipt you endorsed in exchange for payment. Alimony is taxable in California, so this information can help you when filing your annual returns. Your detailed record keeping can also help you in the event that your former spouse stops making monthly payments.

How to ring in the holidays without co-parent problems

If you are one of many California parents who are navigating the holidays for the first time since a divorce, you may also be one of many who are a bit worried about the potential stress that could arise if you and your co-parent aren't able to get through it all without contention. Divorce is never easy, and you can have the best of intentions to compromise and cooperate as needed, then find yourself facing serious problems if things don't go as you'd hoped they might.

Your court-approved co-parenting plan is a key factor toward a peaceful holiday season. If you and your spouse wrote out the terms of your own plan, it's a good sign that, if problems arise during the holidays, you can work them out. If you litigated child custody proceedings because your ex refused to peacefully negotiate the issues at hand, you may want to plan ahead for what you will do if he or she tries to undermine your rights or impede your parent/child relationship during the holidays.

What are some guidelines for dividing property?

Your divorce in California can be made easier by working with your spouse to create your divorce agreement. One area that often is contentious is the division of property. However, when you work together on this, you can avoid having the court step in and make decisions that you may not agree with. This process may not always be easy, but there are guidelines to keep in mind to help it go as smoothly as possible.

According to The Judicial Branch of California, the main guideline is to fairly divide the property. While the amount of property you each receive is not important, the value is. You need to ensure the overall value of property is as equal as possible. You do not have to divide assets so you each get half either. For example, if one of you wants to keep the house, then the other could have property equal to the house.

Paying spousal support after a costly health crisis

Divorce can bring on many different financial changes, such as managing your finances independently. Some people may have new financial obligations in the wake of their divorce, such as spousal support payments. Whether you are unsure of how much spousal support you will be obligated to pay or you are struggling with making spousal support payments on time due to challenges you are going through, such as a health crisis that has been physically and financially demanding, it is pivotal to know which options you may have.

There are many different types of health crises that can completely unravel a person’s life. From a physical and emotional point of view, these health challenges can be extremely draining. From a financial perspective, they can be disastrous, not only because of costly medical bills and expenses related to therapy but missing work as well. Some health problems are so serious that they prompt people to stay off the job or weeks or even months. Sometimes, people never have the ability to return to their field following a major health issue.

Ground for divorce in California

You have probably heard through advertising or news stories that California is a "no-fault" state when it comes to divorce. It is for this very reason why so many that we here at Dianne Drew Butler & Associates, Inc. work with in Stockton express surprise when asked what their grounds for divorce are. At first glance, you too might also question why you need to cite grounds for divorce in a no-fault scenario. However, a quick explanation as to how these two concepts fit together might clear up your confusion. 

The no-fault concept means that neither you nor your spouse need be recognized at being at fault for the deterioration of your marriage. This is where the idea of irreconcilable differences comes in. One (or both) of you simply needs to show that your relationship is irretrievably broken and that no amount of outside interventions (e.g., marriage counseling) will fix it. 

Your spouse opened a bank account for your child. Is it suspect?

When you and your spouse decided to file papers in a California court to obtain a divorce, you likely agreed that both of you would try to keep your children's best interests in mind. That may be why you thought nothing of it when your spouse opened a bank account for one of your kids; in fact, you may have thought it was kind and helpful.

However, now you're not so sure because your spouse seems to be quite secretive about the account, perhaps getting defensive when you inquire about it. Then there was that day when you could have sworn there was more money in your joint account than there actually was, and you uncovered evidence of a recent withdrawal that you were not aware had taken place.

Domestic violence and custody matters

There are many different issues that can affect a family law case, but domestic violence is an area of particular concern. Whether a parent is wrongly accused of family violence or a child is subjected to abuse, these allegations can be extremely concerning and there may be much at stake. Furthermore, the way in which domestic violence accusations are handled in the courtroom can have a significant impact on the future of parents and their children, which underlines how vital it is to work through these matters appropriately.

In some instances, a parent may be falsely accused of abusing a family member because someone wants to gain an edge during a custody dispute. Moreover, these allegations can have a significant impact on a parent’s ability to secure custody and it is especially upsetting that some people face hardships in their lives over these lies. On the other hand, some families experience abuse at the hands of a parent or spouse and it is critical to protect those who have been abused. For example, some parents may struggle to find the courage to hold an abuser accountable and ensure that they do not have custody rights.

Social media and your custody case

There are all sorts of different factors that can have an impact on a case involving child custody, such as a parent’s income, the child’s own preferences and domestic violence. In the digital age, additional considerations have arisen when it comes to child custody cases. For example, the information that someone shares via social media could have an impact on their custody case. Whether you are worried about the type of information you should share online or are concerned about something that your child’s other parent has shared, it is very important to be careful.

If you post something that can be considered threatening, share information related to drugs or heavy alcohol use or indicate that you live a party lifestyle, this could affect your ability to secure custody. For example, if you were supposed to be watching the kids on a particular evening and share footage of you and your friends spending the night out drinking, this could be used against you.

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