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Late-in-life divorce may involve asset division, spousal support

The dissolution of marriage after age 55 is becoming more and more common. Unfortunately, going through divorce later in life can be tricky, as those getting divorced may have more assets to divide and less time to recoup their divorce-related financial losses before the retirement years arrive. Here are a couple of tips designed to help people navigating late-in-life divorces in the Bay Area.

First, any assets that the two individuals earned while married must be split 50/50, as California is a community property state. Any item earned before the marriage date, however, is deemed separate property and thus is not subject to property division. In addition, any retirement asset can be split tax-free with a court order.

Divorce and your 401k

One topic that you may not have been prepared to address during your divorce proceedings in Livermore is your 401k. These retirement funds are the result of your own individual effort in your job; why would your soon-to-be ex-spouse be entitled to them? Many come to us here at the Family Law Group LLP have this same question. Like you, they have put a lot of effort into planning their retirement, and are now concerned that those plans now could be financially impacted by their divorces.

The contributions made to your 401k during your marriage come from money considered to be marital income. Thus, those contributions are also deemed to be marital assets. The entire value of your 401k account may not be subject to division; rather, only those contributions are.

Remember your estate plan in a divorce

If you are one of the many people who live in California and are embarking on the process of getting divorce, you will very quickly realize that ending your marriage is something that touches every aspect of your life. From daily realities like where you will live to things you don't often think about, there will be a seemingly unending list of items to address. One of these items should be your estate plan.

As explained by Forbes, there will be some parts of your estate plan that you may not be able to amend until your divorce is completely finalized. This is because you do not know what assets you will or will not retain until that time. Some divorce decrees even stipulate that a former spouse should remain the beneficiary on a person's life insurance policy.

When is it time for a custody modification?

Going through a divorce can be tedious and overwhelming. Once the divorce decree is finalized, it may seem as though the terms of the settlement are set in stone. Yet, life changes occur and circumstances may come up that warrant a modification of the original settlement. Child custody is one of the changes that may be made to a divorce settlement. There are a myriad of factors that can change once a child custody order is put in place and these changes could make it difficult to adhere to the terms originally set in the settlement. 

Keep in mind that when the court makes changes to the child custody arrangement, the judge presiding over the case will do so keeping the best interests of the child in mind. What may have worked well when the settlement was created, may not work well anymore and a modification is in order. Some reasons to apply for custody modification include the following:

Failure to pay child support can have consequences

When parents file for divorce, they still have a responsibility to support their children both emotionally and financially. California uses the income shares model of determining child support, meaning both parents’ income is factored into the child support payment. Children are entitled to receive the same amount of financial support that they would have if their parents would have stayed together. Yet, when one parent fails to make their court-ordered child support payment, there can be severe consequences. Not only is it a federal law to stay on top of child support payments, but it is California state law as well. 

The consequences of not paying child support vary depending on how many payments have been missed and whether it is a recurring problem. Some enforcement actions include the following:

Your divorce and your mortgage

If you are one of the many residents in California who is facing an impending divorce, you may know that California is one of a few community property states. This fact may impact your final divorce settlement but it does not at all dictate what the specific terms of that agreement will be. What creates an equal distribution of a marital estate can vary based on the circumstances. One factor often in play is the value of a couple's home.

If your spouse wants to keep your home, there are some things you should know and do before you agree to that. As explained by The Mortgage Reports, you should never allow your former spouse to keep the house if your existing joint mortgage remains intact. Many people assume that if they have a divorce decree that identifies their spouse as responsible for the mortgage payments, that is sufficient. However, that is not true.

What happens to home equity when you divorce?

Divorce in California, in its simplest terms, involves untangling your personal, professional and financial life from that of your ex, and there are certain key matters you will typically need to work through as you navigate the process. If you and your former spouse purchased real estate together, one such matter you will need to work through involves how you plan to divide any equity you have in your shared home.

According to NerdWallet, most divorcing couples figuring out what to do with shared home equity choose to take one of three paths. In the first, and arguably easiest, scenario, you and your ex can simply list your home for sale, and once it sells, you can split any proceeds you make on it between you. That way, you can each have a little nest egg to utilize as you embark on life without one another.

Recognizing signs of parental alienation

Regrettably, many California divorces end with hurt feelings and anger, and in some cases, these feelings can lead one parent to attempt to turn a shared child against the other parent. At Family Law Group, LLP, we recognize that one parent’s attempts to turn a child against the other may constitute parental alienation, and that parental alienation can have serious negative effects on your child.

Just what might parental alienation look like, and is there anything you can do if you believe your child is a victim of it? According to Psychology Today, parental alienation can occur when one parent essentially “programs” a shared child to feel or think negatively about the other parent. This can take on many different forms, but anything that involves one parent nurturing or encouraging a child’s rejection of the other parent could potentially constitute parental alienation.

What matters can you address in a parenting plan?

The co-parenting relationship is often a complex one, and if you count yourself among the many people across California who are coming to terms with new custody arrangements, you may be feeling the strain. You may, however, find that you can help make the relationship between you and your child’s other parent an easier, less contentious one if the two of you can sit down and hash out the details of a parenting plan.

Per Psychology Today, a parenting plan is a document that outlines the terms both parents agree to with regard to caring for the son or daughter they have together. While the areas addressed in a parenting plan can vary considerably based on, say, the age of the child or whether that child has special needs, many co-parents find it improves their co-parenting relationship when their plans address several distinct areas.

How children of divorce benefit from joint-custody arrangements

Seeing your child less frequently than you might like can prove difficult under any circumstances, but if you are seeing less of your child because of a new California joint-custody arrangement, it can be even more emotionally exhausting. At Family Law Group, LLP, we recognize that a joint-custody arrangement is not always everyone’s preference. However, we also understand that it may help you adjust to your new situation if you recognize how your new joint-custody arrangement can benefit your child.

According to Time, children whose parents share custody of them tend to fare better in a number of key areas than their peers who also have divorced parents, but who live with just one of those parents. To arrive at this determination, researchers reviewed nationwide data relating to nearly 150,000 children in either the sixth or ninth grades, looking at not only their familial and custody arrangements, but their overall physical and emotional well-being.

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