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Fullerton Family Law Blog

3 tips for talking to your teen about divorce

Talking to your teen about what you're going through with divorce probably isn't something you're eager to do. No parent wants to break bad news to their children. Despite that, you know you have the responsibility to do so and want to do so in the best possible manner.

What can you do to make sure your teen understands what's happening? How can you make your teen aware that both you and his or her other parent are still going to do your best to be there for him or her?

Some spouses have little input in financial matters

California residents who are getting a divorce and have had little experience managing the marital finances might have to learn about these matters for the first time. A study by UBS Global Wealth Management found it is not unusual for women to leave financial and investing decisions to their husbands. With the divorce rate for older couples doubling since the 1990s, this means that some people could be headed into retirement with little financial experience.

The survey of 1,500 couples and 600 widowed or divorced women found that traditional roles in which the husbands handled investment and financial decisions were not uncommon across generations. Among millennial women, 61 percent let their husbands make the investments while 54 percent of baby boomer women reported the same. A majority of parents who had children younger than 21 also said they did not object to the idea of a daughter's future husband taking on this role.

How mediation might proceed in a divorce case

Divorcing California couples might choose mediation over litigation as a way to reach an agreement on property division and child custody. Although mediation is not the right choice in every case, it can offer couples a quicker, less costly and less stressful resolution.

A mediator is an impartial person who works with the parties involved to try to resolve conflict. Usually, a session starts with the mediator explaining the ground rules. This often includes confidentiality. Each party may then make preliminary remarks. The mediator might then encourage conversation. However, if the conflict begins to get out of hand, the mediator may separate the two. The mediator would then consult with each person and go between the two with demands and offers.

Asset division is easier with planning

California couples wanting to protect their finances during divorce might want to consider taking steps to limit fiscal damage prior to filing court papers. Keeping a sense of awareness and maintaining essential records can go a long way toward getting a fair monetary settlement for spouses who may consider themselves at an economic disadvantage during a marital break-up.

Even if one partner handles most of the finances, it's important for both spouses to gather individual records. Having a clear picture of marital finances is key to getting an equitable division of assets. Of particular importance are real property holdings, joint investment accounts and retirement accounts. Keeping account and tax records in a safe place can also save a great deal of time and money during a divorce. Furthermore, closing joint credit accounts and requesting credit reports can help capture a true financial picture and limit exposure to the other spouse's credit-based spending after a divorce is filed.

Collecting child support

Parents in California may be interested in knowing that almost $33 billion in child support was collected in the 2016 federal fiscal year, according to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. Seventy-five percent of the funds collected was obtained by being withheld from people's income. The OCSE is making certain recommendations to ensure that the system for collecting child support remains effective.

Requests for verification of employment are issued by child support entities to collect data on income, withholdings and the availability of health insurance so that child support orders can be executed. However, many of the requests that are issued to employers are forwarded to third-party processors, who then charge the child support agencies.

Divorce mediation protects a family’s rights and privacy

Couples who choose to divorce often worry about keeping the matter calm and civil, but also private. While a divorce may remain responsible and civil if a couple chooses, it is not always possible to keep the matter private, especially once it enters a courtroom.

Divorce mediation is an excellent option that provides couples neutral guidance during their divorce while also providing valuable privacy. If you and your spouse hope to keep your divorce as amicable or private as possible, it is wise to consider how divorce mediation may meet your needs.

Child custody cases may hinge on stability

For many parents in California who decide to divorce or end their relationship, dealing with child custody issues can be the most challenging aspect of the process. Both parents want to remain connected to their children and often seek a significant amount of time with their kids. In some cases, parents can work together to agree to joint custody and a shared schedule that reflects the best interests of the children as well as the desires of each parent.

However, in other cases, child custody and visitation matters are difficult or impossible to resolve without active intervention by the family courts. In these cases, the court will make decisions about how the children will live with their parents and how the parents will need to establish a schedule and co-parenting plan. In reaching a child custody decision, a court will consider a number of factors, including financial and emotional stability, the presence of siblings in the home and the relationship of the child with both parents. Courts have a mandate to prioritize the best interests of the children when reaching a custody decision.

Dividing 401(k) plans in divorce requires accuracy

When California couples reach the end of their marriages, dealing with the financial fallout can be some of the most complex and contentious concerns that come with the divorce. In many cases, one or both parties in the divorce may have significant retirement funds, which are frequently some of the largest and most important assets at stake, especially given the importance of these accounts for both spouses' financial futures and security.

There are multiple types of retirement accounts, and they can be handled differently when divided as part of a property distribution settlement in a divorce. When the distribution is not handled according to the rules for that kind of account, both spouses can lose money due to taxes and penalties. In addition, when the division is handled inappropriately, an inequitable division can also result.

Will you need to split your pension with a stay-at-home spouse?

When you start considering divorce, you're usually most concerned about issues related to the division of your marital assets and the custody arrangements for your children, if you have any. One asset that many couples focus on while divorcing is the marital home. That makes sense, since the house is often the biggest investment of your adult life.

However, there is another major asset that couples end up worrying over in divorce. Pensions and retirement accounts, when properly funded, can represent as much capital, if not more than, your home. It's only natural to worry about what will happen with your retirement fund in a California divorce. The truth is that there's no simple answer to help predict the outcome of your divorce.

Early planning saves divorce headaches

California couples headed for the altar may think divorce planning is bad luck, but putting structures in place to protect finances in the event of a marital breakup can also protect them in other ways. Between added protections to protect against unexpected contingencies and the simple truth that a large percentage of marriages end in divorce, it pays to plan for the worst while working toward the best in romance.

Maintaining separate assets is prudent for married couples. Even without divorce, creditors can come after joint accounts if one spouse has unpaid debts subject to collection. Estate planning can also be made easier if some assets are kept apart. In the event of a death, a spouse may trust his or her partner to take care of the kids, but can the partner's next spouse, who may end up with joint assets, may not have the same financial priorities. Couples are advised to have both individual and joint accounts, which are dedicated to specific purposes. Joint assets should be provided for from a joint account.

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