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Fullerton Family Law Blog

Divorce mediation and property division in California

Dividing up property in divorce is often difficult no matter where the divorce occurs, but here in California, community property laws make the process even more complicated and exasperating. It is common for couples to allow the stress of defining their marital property and dividing it up to create unnecessary conflicts and draw out the divorce, but not all divorces have to turn ugly and combative. However, divorce doesn't have to be combative or spiteful, even for couples with complex assets or child custody and parenting issues to determine.

If you and your spouse face divorce and hope to keep the process fair and civil, it is wise to consider using a professional divorce mediator. Divorce mediation reconfigures the way that spouses negotiate the terms of their divorce, focusing on each party compromising toward an objectively fair outcome, led by a neutral, professionally trained mediator.

Negotiating a divorce settlement

When a California couple decides to divorce, they do not necessarily have to turn to litigation to get a decision on property division or child custody. They may be able to negotiate these issues themselves. However, careful preparation can help them make better decisions during this process.

It is important for people to understand both their own financial situation and California divorce law. People may want to go over their finances thoroughly and then speak to an attorney about their obligations or what they might be due. An attorney may be able to provide best and worst case situations for property division, child and spousal support, and child custody based on state law. A person may want to consider whether negotiating will be fruitful or if it might be better to go to court.

Divorce and its effect on a credit rating

Some former spouses in California may find that divorce can impact credit scores. There are many different ways this can happen. For example, if one spouse buys out the other's stake in the family home, they may need to refinance. This can leave a person with a great deal of debt.

Some issues with credit happen because one person deliberately tries to harm the other spouse. For example, a soon-to-be ex might run up debt in the other person's name and fail to disclose that. This can be easier for a person to do if the couple has not separated their joint accounts. The couple might also agree to divide a debt, but if one person does not pay, it could also hurt the other's credit. If spouses are not communicating effectively, they might miss paying bills even though neither means to cause a problem.

Are you ready for same-day divorce?

Not all divorces turn into months-long battles between spouses, with good reason. While divorce is usually a stressful, difficult season, both parties can choose to work together in a civil way to achieve quick, effective divorce with minimal conflict.

Some attorneys even offer same-day divorce services, which allow spouses to file all the proper paperwork for a simple divorce in only one meeting. While not all couples qualify for same-day divorce, couples willing to research their options fully often find they have more options than they realize.

Preparing for a new year by filing for divorce

In California and elsewhere, statistics show that many people start off the New Year by filing for divorce. According to a poll, it is estimated that one in five couples begin to consider getting a divorce once all of the winter holidays are out of the way. Studies also show that the actual divorce rates peak in March and August, potentially due to the fact that a failed winter holiday or lackluster summer vacation could be the final nail in the coffin for a marriage.

For those considering filing, there are several steps they should take when preparing to talk to a divorce attorney. For example, they should get all of their financials organized. This includes the most recent pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. Individuals should also do some very basic research so that they have an understanding how the divorce process works in the state of California. The attorney will help with understanding the process, but self-education can take some of the surprise away.

Reasons for divorce

There are a number of common reasons that people in California might get a divorce. Infidelity is one reason although this does not always lead to the end of a relationship. Abusing alcohol or drugs is another reason.

A lack of commitment can lead to divorce, and it can reveal itself in a number of different ways. One of those ways is refusing to continue to work on the marriage. Some marriages may fail because the conflict level has simply become too high. Other marriages end because the two people grow apart. According to an article published in the "Journal of Divorce & Remarriage," this was the top reason selected by participants in one study. They could select multiple reasons, but over half included this one.

Mediating custody and parenting agreements

Few things hold the power to harm every member of a family emotionally and financially like a lengthy, bitter child custody dispute during a divorce. If things get exceptionally nasty, the children at the heart of the dispute may never recover from the experience fully, or may project that experience onto all of their personal relationships indefinitely.

Beyond the enormous emotional toll that an ugly custody battle can levy, such disagreements are often enormously expensive for everyone involved, draining precious resources that are surely better used caring for the children than fighting over them. Still, many divorcing parents cannot see past their own heartbreak and survival instincts, pulling the conflict in a needlessly destructive direction.

Eligibility for Social Security benefits after divorce

When a couple in California gets a divorce, if one spouse makes significantly more than the other, the other spouse might be able to draw on that spouse's Social Security benefits. However, there are several factors that determine this eligibility.

The marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years, and the couple must have been divorced for at least two. The person receiving the benefits must not have remarried, although if the person did remarry and the marriage ended, it might be possible for them to get benefits from the previous spouse. Both must be at least 62. However, a person will get more benefits by waiting until the full retirement age of 67 to begin drawing benefits and even more by waiting until the age of 70.

Sharing child custody during the holidays

Divorce is increasingly common in California and in other parts of the nation. Sharing child custody presents many challenges at any time of the year, but it can be especially difficult during the holidays. There are, however, ways for parents to make the holidays easier for themselves and their children.

It is a good idea for both parents to be flexible and understanding when it comes to visitation plans during the holidays. This is not a good time to seek revenge on an ex-spouse by withholding time with the children because this ultimately hurts the children most.

Choosing professionals to assist in a divorce

For California couples, divorce can be an emotional time, and it can mean that a support team is needed. For emotional support, a person might turn to friends, family and a therapist who specializes in divorce issues. For financial and legal support, a financial adviser and an attorney might be useful.

A financial adviser with a background in matrimonial finance may be better prepared to deal specifically with issues around a divorce. For example, the first thing a person may need to do is organize financial records. The individual may also need assistance in comparing the options for dividing property in the divorce agreement. Finally, after the divorce, a person might also need help in planning for life on a single income.

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