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Offering divorce and family law options to fit
your needs, and focused on reducing the emotional
and financial toll to your family.

Bay Area & Sacramento Area Family Law Blog

Social security payments after a divorce

California residents may take steps to forget about their divorce and move on with their lives. However, it may be possible to collect Social Security benefits based on the work record that a person has with a former spouse. Collecting such benefits may make it easier to live comfortably in retirement or at least make it easier to make ends meet as a person ages.

It is important to note that not everyone is entitled to collect benefits based on a spouse's work record. One requirement is that the marriage must have lasted for 10 years or longer. Furthermore, an individual is generally only eligible for benefits based on a former spouse's work record if he or she doesn't remarry. However, if a subsequent marriage ends, it may be possible to once again claim benefits based on the first spouse's work record.

Refinancing after a divorce

California homeowners who are getting a divorce should handle their home mortgages with care. Refinancing a mortgage may be the best way to protect one's financial future and a home, which usually is a couple's most valuable asset.

Refinancing is ideal because it can help protect one's credit. Removing one's name does not eliminate the responsibility for the mortgage. Even though one ex-spouse could buy out the other's ownership interests in the home, both parties will still be liable for the joint mortgage if the home is not sold.

Divorce strategies for successful co-parenting

Divorce is common in California and other states. When children are involved, separation can involve significant emotional stress and negotiation about parenting plans. It is important for divorcing couples to consider how to best co-parent their children after the relationship has ended.

In any child custody or divorce case, a judge's primary concern when making decisions is the best interests of the children. Separated parents who are learning to co-parent should make it a top priority when they are making decisions about child custody.

How to handle joint debt in a divorce

One issue that California residents could face after a divorce involves building or rebuilding credit histories. To do this, an individual should make sure that debts held with a former spouse are paid on time. In some cases, this may require an individual to pay them in full even if their spouse was technically responsible for the debt. This is because creditors are not held by any agreement made between a divorcing couple.

Therefore, if the former spouse fails to make payments, it could hurt an individual's credit score. An effective way to limit the financial fallout from a divorce may be to close joint accounts as quickly as possible. This could remove any financial connection that a person may have with a former partner. It is also a good idea to remove a former spouse as an authorized user of a credit card.

Managing finances during a divorce

When couples in California divorce, the personal finances of each spouse are often thrown into turmoil. Asset division and commitments to spousal or child support are typical aspects of the divorce settlement process. However, it is also essential for each spouse to take responsibility for their financial health during the separation process.

Divorce involves the untangling of every aspect of a couple's shared life together. This includes their financial lives. Even in an amicable divorce, it is important for each partner to protect themselves during the process and reestablish their finances independently.

Avoiding taxes and penalties when dividing retirement accounts

California couples who are getting a divorce may want to keep things as simple as possible, but if they are splitting a retirement account, they might need professional assistance to avoid having to pay taxes and penalties. For example, to split a 401(k), the couple will need a document known as a qualified domestic relations order to avoid these costs.

In one divorce, the higher-earning spouse withdrew $250,000 from a 401(k). The couple did not have a QDRO, and the tax on the withdrawal was $85,000 while the penalty for taking an early distribution was $25,000. The QDRO is a complex document that must be prepared correctly, and errors can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Therefore, people who are divorcing may want to work with someone who has experience with QDROs.

Developing a co-parenting plan after a violent marriage

For some separated couples in California and around the country, intimate partner violence is a common occurrence during marriage and after the separation. Interestingly, the type of violence that occurred has a significant impact on the ability for parents to make child custody arrangements and effectively co-parent their children following a separation.

Researchers at the University of Illinois identified two different types of violence among partners. Situational couple violence occurs when an argument escalates into violence. The argument could be from any type of negative occurrence such as a spouse learning of an affair or a difficult financial matter. The other type of violence, coercive controlling violence, involves the abusive spouse using constant methods to hold control over the other spouse. An example of this would be the abusive spouse not allowing any communication with outside friends or family or holding complete control over the finances.

Alimony deduction may be on the chopping block

One part of the proposed tax reform legislation that may impact some people in California is the proposal to do away with the alimony deduction. Under this proposal, people who are ordered to pay alimony to their ex-spouses would no longer be able to claim their payments as deductions on their taxes.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, payers would no longer be able to claim an alimony deduction after 2017. While this may ostensibly hurt them, it would also harm the recipients as well. Since the payers are normally in a higher tax bracket than the recipients, those who are paying alimony are actually paying less than what is ordered since they are able to deduct the payments on their taxes.

Being prepared can be essential to positive custody outcomes

California fathers involved in a divorce may be concerned about the impact of the end of their marriage on their children. Besides the regular concerns for a child's emotional development, many fathers worry that their bonds with their children will be strained or lessened following a divorce. However, ending a marriage does not need to mean reducing emotional involvement with one's children. Being prepared for the child custody process can help a father to maintain and improve the relationship with his kids.

Knowledge about the child custody process and a clear view of options for the family can be some of the most critical tools going into a divorce and child custody conference or mediation. The types of custody and visitation options available should be on a father's mind before the actual custody hearing or conference. Coming to the table with proposals and solutions can help in developing a positive and effective parenting plan.

How to make a divorce easier

California residents may feel uneasy about the financial ramifications of their divorce. However, there are ways to keep costs to a minimum when ending a marriage. For instance, it may be possible to seek out mediation instead of going to court. On average, the process costs between $5,000 and $9,000, which is less expensive than opting for litigation in most cases. Mediation may also be ideal because it focuses on an equitable split of marital property.

It may also be a good idea to create a budget for after the divorce. This will make it easier to account for expenses like legal fees and child support payments. It may also help an individual account for retirement savings and paying other bills on a single income. Those who have joint accounts with their former spouse should close them as soon as possible.

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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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