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Santa Rosa Family Law Blog

Are you headed for divorce at age 50 or beyond?

When you got married, you likely assumed it was a one-time deal and that you and your spouse would be together the rest of your lives. You may have spent the next 20 or more years building a life here in California, one that may include business ventures, children, valued friendships and more. Like many spouses, however, time and circumstances may have taken their toll, leading to a moment when you decided to file for divorce. 

Divorce is never easy, and in a long-term marriage, it can be especially emotionally challenging. You may also encounter various financial problems, retirement issues or situations related to your estate that younger couples perhaps don't deal with as often in divorce. There are several apparent reasons for the tremendous increase in late-life divorces throughout the nation. Regardless of what caused your particular situation, you may have less stress and more success if you know how to protect your rights and best interests. 

How to divide investment properties in a divorce

Dividing assets during a divorce can be contentious and frustrating. While there may be objects that hold sentimental value, the most important goal is reaching a fair division of property that will allow each of you to leave the marriage in the most positive financial situation possible.

If you and your spouse discussed the possibility of divorce prior to your wedding, you may have opted for a prenuptial agreement. This agreement can identify any assets that will be exempt from property division or designate certain assets for you or your spouse in the event of a divorce. If no such agreement exists, you may find yourself facing some complicated transactions, especially if you own investment properties.

Domestic violence may impact child custody and parenting plans

Divorce and separation are relatively common legal matters that Santa Rosa families engage in throughout the year. While a separation helps the partners to a married couple set up separate lives without terminating their legal union, a divorce severs the legal bind that marriage created between the partners. In either case, if the partners share children they will have to create a custody and parenting plan.

While many factors can influence how a court assigns child custody and visitation time with parents, one factor may create a bar to a parent's right to custodial responsibilities: domestic violence. If incidents or allegations of domestic violence exist in a child custody case then a court must consider it under special rules and evaluate it as a domestic violence custody case.

Holidays are a good time to evaluate child custody plans

As 2017 comes to an end families throughout Santa Rosa will come together to celebrate the holidays that are their traditions. While some families may share gifts and meals with the ones they love, others may use their time off from work to travel to distant locations for experiences they would not otherwise be able to share with those that they love. The holidays generally bring togetherness and moments to enjoy time with the special people of their lives.

However, a family affected by separation or divorce may not have the opportunity to enjoy these luxuries. Parents who are no longer together may be subject to strict child custody and visitation schedules that prevent them from being with their kids on holidays or being able to travel with them on family vacations when the kids are out of school.

From beginning to end: A divorce checklist

You have reached the conclusion that divorce is inevitable. Now that you have made the decision and your feelings are out in the open, you may even feel as though a huge weight has lifted from your shoulders. For many, finally making the choice to divorce is the most difficult part.

However, the process is far from over, and on the other hand, you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed at the thought of what the coming months may bring. Regardless of your feelings, you're likely wondering what to do next. Where do you begin? While each divorce is different, there are certain steps that, if followed, should help you to remember the essentials and thus make the entire process smoother from beginning to end.

Former couple still working out divorce terms

Richard and Alicia Stephenson married several decades ago and enjoyed a lavish life. Richard Stephenson was one of the founders of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and through his position with that business gained considerable wealth. The couple share one daughter but unfortunately decided to end their marriage with Alicia Stephenson moving out of the couple's estate in 2007.

Since deciding to divorce the Stephenson's have squabbled over the financial terms of their marital dissolution. Particularly, Alicia Stephenson has expressed her disagreement with the court's ruling that a $6.5 million lump sum payment and monthly maintenance in the amount of $55,000 was not sufficient. She had requested that the court award her $400,000 per month from her ex to allow her to maintain her standard of living after their marriage ended. As a result she and her legal team have filed an appeal of the matter.

What types of alimony are available in California?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is money paid from a person to their former spouse after their marriage has ended. An agreement between the parties or an order from the court may establish an alimony obligation between formerly married persons, and the form of payment that the alimony obligation takes on can be very different depending upon certain factors related to the parties' case.

A prior post on this Santa Rosa family law blog discussed factors that can contribute to a court's establishment of an alimony order, and this post will build on that information by discussing the types of alimony awards that may be put into place after a couple's divorce. It is important, though, that readers understand that their cases may proceed down different legal paths as all legal matters are distinct.

Child support has many permissible uses

In California a court may make an award of child support if pursuant to a custody case one parent is awarded sole custody and the other is awarded visitation. In such a custodial arrangement the child may live exclusively with one of their parents but still get to see the other during arranged periods of time.

If a child is under the sole custody of one parent then it is likely that the other parent will be ordered to pay child support. Child support is an important part of making sure a child has what they need after the relationship between their parents ends. Child support may be applied to a number of child-rearing expenses and the remainder of this post will discuss some of the main categories into which child support funds may be applied.

Will you have to pay a penalty when dividing retirement savings?

Financially conscious couples tend to start saving for retirement early on in their marriages. Individual retirement accounts -- IRAs -- are popular choices when saving for the future, and they provide many benefits to future retirees.

Divorce can complicate these savings though. Most California couples understand that they must divide retirement funds, but many are unsure of how to do so. Failing to consider the implications of improper withdrawals could result in both parties shelling out hefty penalties and/or taxes.

You may need to rethink what you know about child custody

California parents often find it difficult to decide to file for divorce. Although the move may be for the best, many couples are understandably worried about how the split will affect their children. Indeed, when parents do part ways, resolving issues concerning child custody usually figures as one of their top priorities.

It is no secret that a divorce will have a pronounced impact on any children involved. Research indicates that children of divorce are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their peers, and are prone to acting out in the months following their parents' break-up. But emerging studies suggest that there are steps parents can take to minimize the incidence of such outcomes.