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San Diego Family Law Blog

It's not always easy to separate your assets

For most couples, the nature of their marriages is the joining of their lives. Tangibly, this often means commingling their property and finances and providing mutual support for each other's success. You and your spouse may have enjoyed this for at least part of your marriage. Whether you made your fortune together or brought your money into the marriage, you are now left with the unenviable task of dividing it through divorce.

If you and your spouse have substantial assets, you probably already understand how complicated your divorce can get, especially if you have been married long enough for your assets to become intertwined. While you will certainly want the assistance of a skilled attorney who has experience in handling the divorces of wealthy spouses, there are some things you may be able to resolve with your spouse before beginning divorce proceedings.

Is bird nesting the best choice for your kids?

No one knows better than you what your children need to help them adapt to a new lifestyle following your divorce. While you may rely on close family members or friends for advice or recommendations, the bottom line is that you know your children best and are fully equipped to make decisions on their behalves. It would be nice if divorce were so simple that all you would have to do is create the plan you determine is best for your kids then implement it.  

As you already know, however, there's another parent involved, and the California court also has to approve any parenting plan you wish to carry with you into your post-divorce future. If you and your former spouse get along well and are both willing to cooperate and compromise as needed regarding your children's care, you may have options available to you that other parents don't. For instance, you may choose to try a "bird nesting" custody arrangement. If the idea is new to you, there are support resources available to help.  

Can you tell fact from fiction when it comes to divorce?

Perhaps when you decided to divorce, you were fairly confident that you'd have a network of friends available who could help you navigate your emotions and other issues throughout the process. After all, most people know anywhere from three to 10 (or more) people who are divorced, right? The problem is that while close friends can indeed be sources of moral support and encouragement, there is also a lot of misinformation circulating in California and elsewhere that could complicate your situation.

It's crucial that you be able to identify a myth when you hear it regarding various aspects of divorce. For instance, you may have heard it said that those who divorce simply did not try hard enough to save their marriages. That's a myth that can do a lot of emotional harm if you buy into it. Getting your facts straight ahead of time and lining up other sources of support in addition to your friends may be a key to a swift and successful outcome.

When divorce isn't possible, is legal separation a better choice?

There are many reasons why a California couple may choose to end their relationship and still choose to wait to divorce. In many cases, it is not prudent for one party to simply move out, yet living together may no longer be a feasible option. In these cases, it is can be beneficial to understand more about how a legal separation could work.

Legal separation is a formal process for a couple that is currently married but no longer wants to live together. It is not quite a quite a full divorce, but there are many elements of a separation agreement that function much like a divorce. If it is the right choice for you and your spouse, you would benefit from a formally drafted separation agreement in order to protect the interests of both parties.

Three most common money mistakes in divorce

When a couple experiences significant problems in their marriage, they might start to think seriously about filing for divorce. One or both of the spouses may begin taking active steps toward bringing the marriage to an end.

Unfortunately, many who find themselves in this situation often fail to focus on some important issues that may arise during the divorce process. In this post, we discuss three of the biggest money mistakes that couples make during and after a divorce, and provide you with some practical information that you can use to avoid a similar fate.

2016 AMENDMENTS TO CALIFORNIA FAMILY CODE

The New Year brings new changes to many laws including California's Family Code. Some of these changes or amendments to California's Family Code include:

DO STEPPARENTS HAVE CUSTODY RIGHTS IN DIVORCE?

Do stepparents who have been a positive and lasting influence on their stepchildren's lives and helped to raise them have any custody rights in the event of a divorce?

NON-PARENT VISITATION

When family relationships become complicated by divorce or the death of a parent, there are sometimes disagreements about who should be allowed to visit with the minor children involved. A case in the California Court of Appeals, Herbst v. Swan, delineates some of the issues involved in deciding the rights of non-parents to visit minor children.

DO INSURANCE POLICIES QUALIFY AS COMMUNITY PROPERTY?

California is a community property state. What this means is that (generally) all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is deemed to be jointly owned by both. Generally, if a life insurance policy has been purchased by one party using "community funds" (i.e., joint funds) during a marriage, it will be considered to be a community asset or community property in the case of divorce. Similarly, the surrender value of a life insurance policy purchased with community funds may be considered community property in California. If a life insurance policy is purchased prior to marriage using separate funds, the policy will generally be considered an individual asset and not community property.

IS SEVERANCE PAY A COMMUNITY ASSET?

Going through job loss can be an incredibly stressful time in an individual's job losses and the resulting economic pressures can sometimes result in a divorce. If you are facing divorce and have been recently laid off and received severance pay from your former employer, you need to be concerned about whether severance pay is considered a community asset subject to marital division upon your divorce. For over 40 years, the Law Office of Steven M. Bishop has been assisting San Diego area residents navigate the complex legal system and divorce laws.

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