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Fullerton Family Law Blog

Reasons to get a prenuptial agreement

California couples may want to consider the benefits of prenuptial agreements. While some people may feel such documents could increase the likelihood of divorce, creating a prenup can actually improve communication and teach compromise. In particular, people who are heading into second marriages, have blended families or own businesses may benefit from a prenup.

Without a prenup, a divorcing entrepreneur may have to give up part of their business to an ex. One could even lose a business in the divorce. If one person comes into the marriage with significant assets, that person may want a prenup for added protection. A prenup can also protect one partner from the other spouse's debts.

Does divorce threaten immigration status?

Divorce is a complex process that affects nearly every area of two spouse's lives, both personally and even professionally, in some cases. On a personal level, divorce means ending a relationship, or at least ending the relationship in its current form, but the legal impactions are much larger.

Divorce also means that the legal privileges that one enjoys in marriage may not continue once the marriage ends. For immigrants working toward permanent resident status and ultimately full citizenship, divorce can present some significant setbacks.

Feelings of hopelessness predict divorces

Californians who feel hopeless about their relationships are much likelier to divorce than people who feel like their marriages are worth working on. When one spouse feels indifferent about their relationships, they might be unwilling to invest time and energy in order to save them.

According to a study that was conducted in 1992 by researchers at the University of Washington, the strongest predictors that couples would divorce were feelings of disillusionment and disappointment. In the study, people who felt hopeless about their marriages at the beginning of the research period were much likelier to be divorced three years later.

How to prepare for child custody proceedings

Some parents in California who are going into a child custody hearing might wonder what they should expect and how they should prepare. The courtrooms where child custody hearings are held are generally smaller than other courtrooms, and only a few people are present. The hearings also tend to be short, so people should be prepared to present their case efficiently.

People should dress conservatively for these types of hearings. An attorney may be able to help someone prepare. Individuals should be ready to answer questions about providing emotional support for their children and ensuring that the kids have adequate living conditions, including a place to sleep. Parents can bring along people, such as teachers and child care providers, who can testify on their behalf.

Friends' divorces can impact others

People in California may be surprised to learn that when their friends divorce, they are more likely to consider divorce themselves. While ideas about the social contagion of divorce have always been popular, especially when people see several friends end their marriages in quick succession, the concept is backed up by scientific research. A study conducted by researchers at Brown University, Harvard University and the University of California at San Diego found that people with friends who divorce are 75 percent more likely to end their own marriages. In addition, even people with friends of friends who get divorced see their likelihood of divorce rise by 33 percent.

There are a number of contributing factors to this social phenomenon. In the first place, all of these events may happen inside social groups that are already comfortable with and supportive of divorce. However, it is also true that watching a friend's divorce can stir up thoughts and emotional responses, especially for those in unhappy marriages. Many people have thought about separating for years but do not take action. When they see their friends move forward with their lives, they may be inspired to break free of that sense of stagnation.

Financial issues commonly associated with a divorce

Some of the stress that can go along with ending a marriage in California concerns financial issues. Many separating couples fail to focus realistically on their financial needs and obligations during and after the divorce process. However, paying more attention to assets, liabilities, income and expenses could reduce the stress level of soon-to-be-former-spouses making the transition from joint responsibilities to individual ones.

Lower-income or non-working partners generally need to pay particular attention to available assets when getting a divorce since there is often a need to cover expenses during the transition period. Primary marital assets include cash on hand; checking, savings, and money-market accounts; stocks and bonds; mutual funds; and real estate investment trusts. Dividing and accessing some of these assets involves tax payments and, in some cases, penalties. With work-based retirement or pension plans, it can be helpful for a divorce agreement to state whether death benefits would go to the surviving ex-spouse.

A strong parenting agreement protects the whole family

If parents hope to provide the best life they can for their child after a divorce, it is necessary for them to create and maintain a strong parenting plan. In most cases, courts require parents to file a parenting plan as a part of their divorce. However, some parents choose to create a plan they don't intend to follow, making the experience more difficult and destructive for themselves and for the children they love.

A strong parenting plan is not a silver bullet to cure all the tension between parents who divorce, but it goes a long way towards establishing a dependable structure that parents and children can depend on. It's easy to work things out without a written plan when two parents are on good terms and their child is relatively happy, but once conflicts arise, parenting plans help keep both sides in line and protect the best interests of the child.

Gray divorces and dividing assets

The Pew Research Center reports that the divorce rate for seniors throughout California and the rest of America is twice what it was during the 1990s. While it is important that all couples know how to properly divide their retirement assets and other types of properties, the process is especially important for older couples who may not be able to recover from mistakes that can result in hefty tax bills or substantial financial consequences.

To properly divide 401(k) plans and pensions, a qualified domestic relations order may be required. A QDRO is a legal order that specifies a divorced spouse's right to have a portion of or all of the accountholder's qualified plan. After the judicial decree is given to the plan administrator, the specified portion of the plan can then be transferred into the ownership of the divorcing spouse.

Student loan debt burden can push couples toward divorce

Younger people in Fullerton are often struggling with a serious burden of student loan debt. Across the country, the average student loan borrower owes $34,144, and people who graduated from university in 2017 have an average burden of $39,400. These numbers don't tell the whole story; in the last 10 years, the percentage of borrowers who owe more than $50,000 in educational debt has tripled. Many millennials have postponed life goals as a result of debt, particularly student loans, and living life with substantial debt can have a major impact on psychological health and well-being as well as the choices that people make about their jobs, relationships and spending habits.

All of this means that student loan debt can put significant stress on a marriage. While many young people have waited to marry until an older age, those who marry with outstanding student loans have often found that financial conflicts have caused division and even led to divorce. People with outstanding student loans may want to delay milestones like purchasing a home or even having children, leading to conflicts with partners who want to pursue these goals more urgently. In other cases, partners may find out that their priorities for managing money are substantially different.

Planning to co-parent effectively following divorce

Co-parenting can be a difficult transition for California parents who make the decision to divorce. When a parent is accustomed to the constant presence of the children, it can be awkward and uncomfortable to move into joint custody or visitation time. However, the process of co-parenting can be improved by keeping a few guidelines in mind.

First and foremost, both parents should always put their children's best interests first. While exes may have little interest in interacting with each other shortly after finalizing the divorce, the children will still be just as interested in both parents. Therefore, each parent has a responsibility to foster and nurture the children's connection with the other parent.

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