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Offering divorce and family law options to fit
your needs, and focused on reducing the emotional
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Bay Area & Sacramento Area Family Law Blog

Dividing retirement plans for divorce

Couples in California who get a divorce should take extra precautions when dividing their retirement assets. The different types of retirement accounts are governed by specific rules that dictate exactly how they should be divided. If the correct procedure is not adhered to, divorcees may find themselves saddled with expensive penalties and tax bills. They may also end up giving their ex-spouse a larger percentage of their retirement funds than they intended.

A qualified domestic relations order is needed to divide workplace retirement plans like traditional pension plans and 401(k) plans. The legal order is the only way individuals who are entitled to a portion of their ex-spouse's workplace retirement plan will be able to legally obtain their share.

What to know about custody battles

California residents who are seeking custody of their children have to work to balance their needs with the needs of their children. One way that parents can obtain a favorable outcome is to keep good records. For instance, they could write down how much time was spent with the child or how much money was spent to provide for a son or daughter.

In some cases, an act as simple as driving a child to school or to a friend's house can beneficial in showing how a parent cares for their child. It may be ideal to keep a list of people who witnessed an individual interacting with or providing for a son or daughter. In addition to keeping records about what a parent does right, it might be necessary to document the possible dangers a child faces from the other parent. Documenting drug use or other dangerous behaviors of a parent can increase the odds that the other parent obtains custody of a child.

Financial planning and the possibility of divorce

California couples who are planning to get married might want to consider a prenuptial agreement. If they are already married, they may want to consider a postnuptial agreement. Both of these can help protect people financially in a divorce. While some people might think these types of agreements indicate a cynical approach to marriage, one financial planner points out that financial precautions are no different from safety precautions such as wearing a seat belt.

Even if a couple already has or does not want a prenup or postnuptial agreement, there are other steps they can take to protect their finances. Even couples who primarily share a joint account may want to consider also having their own separate accounts for managing any separate property. For example, if a person receives an inheritance and does not wish to mingle it with marital property, it should go into the individual account. If the inheritance is a piece of property such as a home and the person needs to renovate or make other changes to it, those funds should come from the individual account.

Fathers and relationships with children after a divorce

When California parents get a divorce, they might need to be particularly careful about ensuring that their children spend enough time with their father. In some cases, if the child lives with the mother and the parents are not diligent, a child's relationship with the father can suffer.

One woman moved 80 miles away from her son's father, and this presented difficulties because she did not have a car to take the child for weekend visits. In that case, the father was able to expend the additional effort to spend time with the child, but this is not always possible. Eventually, the woman moved back so her son could be nearer his father, but this was costly as well. The woman had to leave a home she owned behind and rent an apartment, and the son had to leave friends at school. However, ultimately, it was good for the child to be nearer his father and have the opportunity to maintain that relationship.

Resolving conflict in a joint custody arrangement

California parents who are getting a divorce might wonder whether shared parenting would work for them or if it would be disruptive for their children. Some people might think that because they are in a high-conflict relationship, they will be unable to manage shared parenting. However, studies show that neither of these assumptions is true.

According to one researcher and expert in shared parenting, when asked, children say they would rather have the disruption of moving between their parents' homes rather than see one parent infrequently. Studies show that shared parenting is the most beneficial arrangement for children. There is no evidence that it is harmful for even an infant or toddler to spend some nights with one parent and some with the other.

Child support enforcement moves toward centralized system

Child support enforcement can be a constant source of stress and confusion for single parents in California as well as the government agencies charged with overseeing the efforts. When parents do not receive their court-mandated support payments, raising children can be difficult. However, many states do not have the modern technology necessary to keep the system functioning well. In this context, the federal government is preparing to develop a nationally networked system for child support enforcement across the United States.

Most initiatives of the Trump administration have generally moved toward more state authority and limited federal centralization, but child support enforcement is a deviation from that trend. The $63-million Child Support Technology Fund seeks to develop a new IT system, located in the federal Department of Health and Human Services, to manage a centralized database for monitoring and enforcing state child support payment. This would be a change from a previous focus on funding states to update their own localized systems. Following the federal development, the HHS would allow states to join the new national system.

Kelis wants more child support from Nas after sharing custody

Some California parents of minor children might relate to the celebrity child support and custody battles that frequently play out in the headlines. Singer and songwriter Kelis has filed a court petition requesting an increase in child support payments for her young son. The father, hip-hop recording artist Nas, currently pays $8,000 a month to his ex-wife to cover the child's expenses.

The petition arrived shortly after the ex-spouses resolved a custody dispute. Nas had complained that his ex-wife blocked regular access to his son. Their custody settlement allowed Nas to care for his son during four weekends across three months.

Thinking of the children during a divorce

California residents who are going through a divorce may want to keep their children in mind as it moves along. Failing to shield them from the more painful aspects of the split could cause issues today and during adulthood. One way to resolve custody issues is to assume that each parent should have equal time with the children as a starting point for negotiations.

In the event that one parent isn't on board with that idea, it may be possible to avoid a court battle by opting for a collaborative divorce or divorce mediation instead. In some cases, it may be possible to ask the children what their preferences are if they are old enough to express them.

Parents can choose from many types of child custody arrangements

Parents in California who are getting a divorce might wonder about the different models of child custody that are available. First, parents should understand that there are two types of custody. Physical custody has to do with where the child lives. Legal custody concerns which parent has the ability to make important decisions about the child's life regarding issues such as religion, education and health care. One parent may have sole legal and physical custody of the child, or the parents may share joint custody in some way.

There are many different approaches to joint custody. Parents might even keep their family home and take turns living in it while the children remain there. A more common option is alternating custody; this involves the child either alternating weeks or days with each parent.

Collaborating for successful co-parenting

California parents know that parenting during and after a divorce can be a challenging situation. However, collaborating during the divorce negotiations to come up with a parenting plan that works well for all parties might be a key step in successful co-parenting after the marriage ends.

According to experts, working together to create a parenting plan that works is necessary to lessen the impact of the divorce on the children. It also means that the parents are putting the children and their best interests first. One of the first things parents need to figure out when dealing with child custody issues is where the children will live and how their time will be divided after the divorce. There is no one solution that fits all situations, so the couple needs to consider the options available and how they would best work in their family's particular situation.

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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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