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Rancho Cucamonga Family Law Blog

How does my pension plan get divided in a divorce?

When a married couple divorces, they must divide the property they own together according to state law. Each state has its own laws about the best way to do this. Most states practice equitable distribution, meaning that the law provides guidelines to ensure the division is fair. By contrast, California is a community property state. To generalize, this means all the couple's joint property should be divided equally. In practice, California property division is more complicated than a 50-50 split, especially when it comes to complex assets such as retirement funds.

The division of a pension is an extremely complicated matter which is highly suggested by California courts to be handled by an experienced divorce attorney. In addition to a common divorce settlement agreement, the parties must complete a separate form to attach to a divorce judgment. From this form, a judge, in addition to a standard divorce judgment, will enter a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO.) In this order, he will detail how a pension plan is to be divided between the parties. It must be approved by both the judge and the benefits provider.

What to consider when discussing a post-divorce parenting plan

Effectively co-parenting after a divorce requires an ongoing, conscious effort by both parties. While a parenting plan should be part of every divorce negotiation involving children, there will inevitably be unforeseen situations that arise. A thorough, written agreement can prevent such situations from getting out of hand. Let's take a look at some key points made by Psychologists familiar with divorce that should be included to alleviate unnecessary disputes and damaging impulsive reactions.

First, it should be stated that the parties agree to treat each other with respect at all times. This means speaking to, as well as about, each other in a positive manner. Keep in mind that children, although maybe not present, are always watching and aware. The parent's behavior is the model from which they will learn acceptable social interaction. One parent should never speak negative or condescending words about the other to or in front of a child. This action could have a negative emotional effect on the child.

Parenting schedules: Failing to plan is like planning to fail

As a parent facing the end of your marriage, one of your biggest concerns is probably how the change will affect your children and your relationship with them. Even the most amicable of divorces can get complicated when kids are involved, as both you and your soon-to-be ex are likely already worrying about holidays and weekends spent apart from them, and figuring out who gets to see them when.

The good news is that you can address a lot of this uncertainty and worry by creating a parenting plan. But what, exactly, is a parenting plan, and do you need one if you and your ex-spouse have a decent parenting relationship?

How to prove emotional abuse when seeking help from the courts

Domestic violence does not always entail physical abuse. Oftentimes, physical abuse is predicated by emotional, also known as psychological, abuse. In this situation, an abuser uses words and manipulations to control a victim, usually in a threatening tone of voice. They may also force the victim to lie, or perform demeaning tasks. An emotional abuser's victim is often not only their spouse, but also the children.

It is easy for victims of emotional abuse to feel trapped. Without any visible evidence of their pain, it becomes a "he said, she said" matter, and brings a burden of proof to a victim in the courtroom.

A brief overview of California Child Support Guidelines

Though parents who are ordered to pay child support sometimes disagree, there are accurate and fair guidelines put in place by the state of California to calculate those payment amounts. The same formula is applied to every child support matter, and works based on not only income, but also the amount of time a child is with each party.

The California Department of Child Support Services offers a child support calculator on it's website. There are multiple factors that are taken into consideration when calculating the payment amount. First, both parent's net disposable income is entered, along with the amount of time each parent cares for the child, per a custody order signed by the judge. These income amounts include all income, whether taxable or not. Some examples include commissions, Social Security, disability, interest, and lottery or prize winnings, among many others.

Obtaining a child custody modification in California

The requirements that must be met for a child custody modification to be approved by the Court differ by state. In California, if both parents agree, a modification can be accomplished by a simple agreement signed by both parties and submitted to a judge for approval. However, sometimes custody disputes can become difficult and even deadlocked arguments where neither parent is interested in a compromise. In these cases, there is a burden of proof placed on the party requesting modification to show that a change would be in the best interest of the child.

A change in physical custody of a child can only be granted when there has been a significant change in circumstances since the final order was made. That change must provide stability and consistency for the child, as well as be in their best interest in general. One example of this would be if the primary custodial party began working a job that required frequent travel. This circumstance would require that the child be left with caregivers often, as well as possibly change schools, which may not be in the child's best interest. In such a case, the court could find that a custody modification is appropriate.

Alimony and how it can affect your taxes

Whether you are the payer or the recipient of alimony in a divorce or legal separation, you should know where to claim it on your tax return, and how it will affect your bottom line.

The Internal Revenue Service considers alimony, or spousal support in layman's terms, to be taxable income. This means that if you are the recipient, it must be reported. If you are the payer, you may claim it as a tax deduction. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Protecting your small business in a divorce

California is one of the few states that still considers both income and assets within a marriage as community property. In other words, all property acquired during a marriage such as residential real estate, joint bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, and even personal household furnishings are considered to belong to both parties.

In the event of a divorce, a judge in a community property state will divide these items equitably. One asset that is often overlooked while in the throes of marital bliss, but that can be heavily damaged by divorce, is a small business. Since we don't usually get married planning to get a divorce, we likely don't even think about making sure our biggest assets are protected.

Heading to court? Get your custody definitions straight, first

When you and your spouse decided to divorce, you probably assumed you would face several challenges as you worked your way through the process. Especially where your children are concerned, issues are not always black and white, and many times, it takes a lot of negotiating and compromise before you can reach an agreement. Like most divorced parents in California, you likely want your children's best interests to be a central focus of your settlement.

When you divorce, even what initially seems like the most basic questions may wind up being difficult to answer, such as who will have custody of your kids. That in itself may be one of your greatest challenges since there are several types of custody, and each issue must be resolved before a final court order is issued.

What is a summary dissolution of marriage?

In California, there are two distinct paths that couples may take to end their marriages - summary dissolutions of marriage and traditional divorces. A traditional divorce takes a couple through negotiations to settle property disputes, custodial disagreements and financial conflicts, while a summary dissolution of marriage involves significantly more agreement on the part of the divorcing parties and streamlines the process for them. The remainder of this post will briefly discuss what a couple must achieve in order to pursue a summary dissolution of their marriage, but readers are asked to talk to their divorce attorneys if they hope to utilize this path to end their marriages.

In order to pursue a summary dissolution of marriage in California, a couple must satisfy several important criteria. First, the couple may not share any children. If children are shared between the parties, then a court will not allow the couple to end its marriage in this more succinct manner.

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