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Bay Area & Sacramento Area Family Law Blog

Divorce and consistent household rules for children

California parents who are splitting up should make sure that their children have consistent household rules as they move between homes. Parents may have separate rules either because of genuinely different ideas about raising children or because they want to spite their ex-spouses. No matter the reason, the differences can be damaging for children. It is important that parents try to sit down for an in-person meeting about household rules. Knowing what rules they are unwilling to change will help parents be more flexible with other rules to reach a compromise. Parents might ask their children to participate in the process.

However, this face-to-face meeting may be unsuccessful, and if this happens, parents can take advantage of other resources to help them resolve conflict. Options include mediation and parenting classes. In a parenting class, parents might learn the important of reaching a consensus on household rules or find out more about typical rules. A mediator sits down with parents to help them find a solution that satisfies both parties.

Why shared parenting may be best

While California residents may not have much knowledge about shared parenting, it can have benefits for mothers, fathers and children after a divorce. In about 80 percent of child custody cases, the mother is awarded physical custody. This means that a mother may not be able to go back to work while a father may be disappointed to have limited contact with his children.

Research has shown that children who have both parents in their lives generally do better than those who don't. Giving custody to mothers more often than fathers is partially because women are still seen as homemakers while men are still seen as breadwinners for their families. Embracing shared parenting helps to treat parents equally and helps society move away from outdated stereotypes. By shifting to a shared parenting paradigm, women have a greater chance of excelling in the workplace.

Tips for co-parenting in difficult circumstances

California parents who are divorced may struggle in co-parenting with a difficult ex. There may be a number of reasons for this. In some cases, it is related to a parent's turmoil over the divorce. If the conflict is not over issues as serious as addiction or abuse and is mostly between the parents, there might be ways to smooth over the situation.

The first thing a parent should do is recognize that the focus needs to be on the child's well-being. This can help the parent avoid getting wrapped up in conflict over other unrelated issues. Parents should draw strong boundaries around their personal lives and try to limit communication with the other parent to matters relating to the child.

Preparing for mediation might help its success

California couples who are divorcing might choose mediation as a way to resolve matters related to the end of the marriage such as as child custody and support issues. Mediation can be a good option for couples who are looking to resolve these matters quickly, peacefully and in many cases more economically than in a drawn-out court battle. One way of helping to have a successful mediation is to prepare for the process.

During mediation, each party should prepare to truly listen to each other. While the needs and desires of each party are often different, there are times when both parties are seeking the same result. Additionally, listening carefully without attempting an immediate response can prevent the mediation process from failing. It is also important to be prepared to deal with a range of strong emotions, which can include anger, sadness and bitterness, related to the process.

Alimony, child support and taxes

Alimony and child support payments are parts of many California divorce decrees, and they may represent significant ongoing expenses. To help reduce the overall costs, alimony payments can be considered tax deductible, but child support payments are not. It is important for a person to understand the complicated differences between the two.

How to properly deduct alimony from taxes depends on how the divorce agreement was prepared. In some agreements, child support and alimony are clearly and separately defined. This creates a situation of fixed child support. A person cannot deduct any payments that are fixed child support, but the amount is generally easy to determine and separate from other payments.

DNA testing can provide answers in child support cases

People in California planning to establish paternity for their children may want to consider a DNA test to assist in child support and custody matters. A paternity test can help to secure child support for a child whose parentage is unknown or disputed.

Because DNA testing is nearly 100 percent accurate, it is clearly possible to determine with certainty whether a man is or is not the father of a child. When a mother and father are not married at the time of a child's conception or birth, there is no automatic presumption of being the legal father of the child. The father's name does not need to be listed on the birth certificate, and he will not have an obligation to pay child support or a right to visitation or custody unless recognized legally as the father.

Dividing a TSP during divorce

When going through a divorce, estranged California couples must divide their marital assets. Although some can come to an agreement on their own, there are certain types of assets that require some more attention to detail. These include retirement accounts, such as Thrift Savings Plans that are owned by federal employees.

A court might decide how assets are split, or couples may be able to make decisions on their own. To divide a TSP, a Retirement Benefits Court Order is needed. Legal documents like a court-approved divorce decree, settlement papers or a Qualified Domestic Relations Order could serve as a RBCO in some cases.

Public aid a factor in child support

Most parents in California are dedicated to providing for their children. This is generally true whether they are parenting together with a spouse or in separate households. While it is not unusual for one parent to voluntarily pay child support to the other, there are cases in which a court will order child support even if the parent receiving the funds has not requested it.

In a recent case, a Fresno mother was ordered to pay child support to her ex-husband, with whom she shares custody of three children. However, her ex-husband did not request this child support, and most of the funds will not go to him. County officials went to court requesting that the mother begin paying child support because the father receives public assistance.

Child support payments reimburse state for spouse's benefits

A California woman who has five children and who shares custody of three of them with their father was ordered by the state to pay almost $500 monthly in child support. However, most of that payment will go to repay the state for aid received by the father.

The children spend three days per week with their father, and the father receives public assistance because he has a medical condition that prevents him from working. He says the majority of the benefit he receives goes to support his children. The court ordered the mother to pay $475 per month, but only $50 of that is for child support. The remainder is reimbursement to the state. In addition, she has to pay $25 per month in back payments.

Creating a co-parenting plan

Research has shown that California children who grow up with parents who are in a stable, loving marriage benefit from this type of environment. However, approximately half of all American marriages end in divorce, meaning that many children spent some time growing up with parents who were not happy. Some parents who are no longer together are still able to effectively work together to co-parent their child.

Co-parenting is a style of parenting where both parents work together to raise the child even though they are no longer together. This offers a variety of benefits, including stability and the ability to establish and maintain relationships with both parents. However, it can still be difficult, as this parenting style requires the ability to amicably communicate and work together to solve problems as they come up.

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Miller & Associates, Attorneys LLP

Miller & Associates, Attorneys LLP
6542 Lonetree Boulevard
Rocklin, CA 95765

Phone: 916-780-0848 
Fax: 916-780-0787

Miller & Associates, Attorneys LLP
850 Iron Point Road, Suite 113A
Folsom, CA 95630

Phone: 916-365-4941 
Fax: 916-780-0787


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