Articles Posted in Divorce

A common question when a person is considering a divorce is how long the process will take. While a lawyer’s answer will generally be something along the lines of “it depends”, there are some factors, especially in California, that can help narrow down the timeline.

In California, the state has a mandatory 6 month waiting period from the date the Petition for Dissolution is served before a final divorce judgment can be entered. This means that you cannot be deemed legally single for 6 months and one day from the date the Petition was served.  While this may seem like a long time to wait from start to finish, most divorces actually take much longer than this depending on the different issues that need to be settled or determined by the court before a judgment can be entered. Further, this does not mean that you can’t settle all of your issues, such as property division, support and custody during this time. You can in theory have an entire agreement completed and filed, you will just have to wait until the six months have passed in order to be legally “single” again.

When parties cannot agree on the outstanding issues in any given matter, the divorce process tends to take much longer. This is because to the extent parties cannot agree, the court will have to make decisions. This leaves the parties at the mercy of the court system, and its calendar and schedules.

As most people are aware, student loan debt is crippling people across the country. Many borrowers are strapped with high interest rates on their principal loans that essentially never allows the owing amount to decrease. However, could you imagine being bogged down by your own debt in addition to the debt of a spouse you were divorcing? This is a reality for many borrowers who consolidated their loans through a Department of Education program for married couples back in the early to mid 2000’s. The perks for consolidating loans for married couples were amazing, the couple only had one payment per month instead of two at a much lower interest rate.

However, when the housing market of 2008-2010 began and everyone lost their jobs, marital strife was high and divorce rates were even higher. What couples going through divorce at this time were now finding out was that the consolidated loan they signed up for was not particularly easy to split. More than 14,000 people participated in this program, which the federal government closed officially in 2006. For many, it seemed like a straightforward idea at the time, but what these borrowers couldn’t foresee was a program that had no way to disentangle the consolidated debts.

One particular borrower took to Congress to change this completely misguided approach to helping borrowers. Patrick Stebly has been stuck in this situation since his divorce in 2013 and has been working tirelessly over the past five years to rectify the situation for every other borrower. Stebly’s advocacy has now prompted legislative action. A new bill introduced by Senator Mark Warner of Virgina and Representative David E. Price of North Carolina, would allow joint loans to be split proportionally based on original loan amounts for those going through divorce or suffering domestic violence. The bill was first introduced in 2017.

Pets are an essential part of any family. After all, dogs are considered man’s best friend. For a lot of newlyweds, the idea of getting a dog or a cat before having children is ideal for several different reasons. Firstly, it can be used as a test to gauge if the couple can seriously care for another living being together. Secondly, owning most pets requires people to give up a significant amount of free time for training and extra cash for toys, food, toiletries for the pets, etc. Pets are considered the predecessor to children in the world of marriage.

So, what happens to the fur babies when a couple decides to call it quits and get divorced? Pet custody can become a huge point of contention during the mediation and settlement stages of any marriage. On January 1, 2019, California enacted Family Code Section 2605, a law that aims specifically at dealing with the ins and outs of “pet custody.”

Under Family Code Section 2605, judges are given the power to determine who gets ownership of the pets based on what is in the pet’s best interest. Prior to the enactment of this law, pets were treated as community property assets, needing to be divided between divorcing parties. This is the same kind of mentality that goes into splitting assets such as the tv, cars, joint bank accounts, etc. In most cases, whoever purchased, rescued, or primarily cared for the pet typically won ownership. However, picking the parent who won the pet was always discretionary as there was no clear-cut criteria for determining who was more fit to take care of the animal.

We often hear it in polite chatter: “Have you heard? So and so are getting a divorce! Oh, well you know, it is that time of the year again.” Phrases like these are normally passed around at social and familial gathering throughout the year, but there is one time of the year where they pop the most, the winter holiday season.

We’ve all been there: traveling back to our hometowns, seeing our old friends, and breaking bread with our close, yet somehow distant, relatives over the span of Thanksgiving through the New Year. Single people get hounded with questions about why they aren’t married, newlyweds get bulldozed with questions about why they don’t have children yet, and seasoned veterans to marriage get peppered with questions as to when the second baby is coming, or why a new house hasn’t been purchased yet.

However, amongst the nosy, highly inquisitive family members are the salacious gossips of the family. Those who report back with details of other absent family members and why they aren’t at the various holiday gatherings. A big topic of continual gossip? Divorce. Many consider the holiday season to be the precursor to divorce season. You are required to remain in close proximity to your spouse for months on end while simultaneously attending a myriad of social gatherings that both parties would probably rather not attend. More couples fight during this time of the year due to trivial issues such as gift giving and general holiday cheer.

2020 was not an easy year for many relationships. Studies show that the divorce rate in California alone has spiked immensely. Couples who normally had the security blanket of leaving for work every morning were now being forced to stay home, and dare I say it…. spend time together. This created a lot of problems for many relationships that were avoiding the inevitable. With couples having to spend 24 hours in the same home, many slowly began to realize that maybe their marriage wasn’t as harmonious as they once had believed. COVID-19 has profoundly expedited the end of many relationships and marriages. Divorce rates have spiked and it has never been a busier time in the family law community.

So, it’s no surprise that celebrities are following suit. Kim Kardashian West has filed for divorce, seeking to end a nearly seven-year marriage to Kanye West that seemed to be coming for many months. In the past few years, Kanye West has run for U.S. president with no political qualifications, followed by his admission into Los Angeles’s Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center for “observation after suffering from exhaustion”, according to Billboard Magazine. He has also made some unnecessary comments via social platforms like Twitter, making his manic episodes even more public and embarrassing.

According to Entertainment Today, the infamous couple are already in the process of reaching a property settlement agreement. When it comes to custody of their four children together, North, 7, Saint, 5, Chicago, 3, and Psalm, 1, Kim is asking for joint legal and physical custody, which Kanye agrees to. They are dedicated to co-parenting together.

It is common for people to borrow against their 401(k) to have money for a down payment on a house and for people to take money out of their 401(k) in times of emergency. Since the pandemic started, it is even more common for individuals to withdraw money from their retirement funds due to the increase in job losses and furloughs. In fact, the CARES Act passed in March of 2020, Congress made it easier to withdraw from retirement accounts. So if you lost your job or lost hours/shifts during the pandemic or if you contracted the virus and was unable to work, it is possible that you will qualify for a withdrawal of up to $100,000 in the 2020 tax year. If you qualify, you won’t pay penalty taxes, but the withdrawals will affect your income tax bracket.[1]

If you are in the midst of a divorce or if you plan on filing for divorce soon, taking money from your 401(k) can also have huge consequences for you in the future.

California is a community property state, which means that all assets and debts acquired during the life of the marriage are divided equally upon divorce. Generally, community property is everything that you and your soon-to-be ex own together, as well as all of the earning that either of you earned during the marriage and everything bought during the marriage. This includes any value of your 401(k) that has accumulated during the life of your marriage using contributions made by you while the two of you were still together. So at divorce, that value of your 401(k) will be split and half of it will be awarded to your soon-to-be ex at divorce.

5 Ways to Survive Divorce During a Pandemic

In a normal year, when people aren’t facing a deadly virus, record wildfires, civil unrest, and skyrocketing unemployment, going through a divorce is difficult both emotionally and financially. Adding extra difficulties into the mix of a divorce is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. However, if you are unhappy or unsafe in your marriage and you feel it is the right time to get divorced, it is possible to make it through the process. The five tips below will hopefully help you survive a divorce during a pandemic without losing your sanity and your money.

  1. Shop out your divorce attorney

One of the most frequently asked questions people have about going through a divorce is “how long will it take?” The answer is, it depends. Certainly, no one wants to go through a divorce that’s going to drag on for years, and family law attorneys want divorces to move along smoothly and quickly as well. However, there are several things parties can do to help their matter keep moving forward.

  1. Let go of the “principle” and be willing to compromise. Sometimes, parties become so fixated on “winning” or their spouse “losing” that they can no longer see the forest for the trees. For example, one party decides they are bent on keeping the old family couch just so that their spouse can’t have it (even though it may have no significance to them at all). This is usually accompanied by attitudes along the lines of “it’s not the actual [insert item here] I care about, it’s the principle of the matter”. These types of thoughts and feelings are a surefire way to slow a case down. However, generally, there is room to compromise in every family law case; once a party sets aside their negative feelings and is willing to work towards a compromise, it really helps move the matter along.
  2. Try meeting face-to-face. Having a meeting with the other side, their attorney, and your attorney can often move things along. Typically known as a four-way meeting or conference, these meetings used to take place in person, often at one attorney’s office. Though a little more difficult given the current pandemic, a four-way meeting can still take place through video conferencing. A four-way meeting is often helpful because it allows the parties and attorneys to have discussions about the issues in real time, unlike when sending letters, emails, or documents back and forth, and then having to wait for a response. The parties and their attorneys can then go through a list of all the outstanding issues in their matter and work through different proposals and solutions. A good approach is to start out with smaller issues that can be easily resolved first, and then move on to more complex matters. That way, if the parties aren’t able to come to an agreement on a harder issue, they won’t feel defeated right at the outset of the meeting. Another way to ensure a four-way meeting is successful is to keep in mind that a four-way meeting is an opportunity to settle as much as possible and to go into the meeting prepared to compromise.3

As we all know, 2020 has been a strange and crazy year so far. On top of a new pandemic, riots, and fires, some couples are also going through a divorce, and celebrities are no exception. From reality TV stars to country singers to social media influencers, here are some of the celebrity couples who have called it quits in 2020:

Cardi B and Offset

US Weekly and TMZ confirmed on September 15 that Cardi B has filed for divorce from Offset after nearly three years of marriage, having secretly wed in 2017. According to court documents filed in Atlanta, Cardi is seeking primary legal and physical custody of daughter Kulture, who she welcomed with Offset in July 2018.

Under California law, both parents are obligated to financially support their children until they reach the age of 18, or until they graduate if they are still 18 and in high school, whichever happens later. Except in cases of disability, California law does not contain provisions for adult child support, but as many parents know, adult children often have significant expenses they need help paying for. The most significant is typically the cost of college. Because child support terminates after a child reaches 18 (or graduates), child support will not cover tuition, room and board, books, and other college-related expenses in the large majority of cases.

Determining how (or if) you are going to pay for your child’s college education is hard enough for parents who are still married to one another. For those who are divorced, the decision is often even more complicated. Child support for a minor child is a financial matter, obviously, but the law sees child support as an entitlement belonging to the child—an entitlement that cannot be waived by either parent following a divorce. However, once the child is no longer a minor and is college-age, parents do not have a legal obligation to pay for their adult children to go to college. However, many parents do pay, and in a divorce it is understandable for each parent to want the other’s commitment to contribute to the costs of their adult children’s education. As with most other aspects of divorce, parties have a significant degree of flexibility when it comes to addressing the issue of their adult children’s college expenses.

One option that the parties may use to address the issue of their adult children’s college costs is to negotiate an agreement as part of their overall divorce settlement. Similar to an agreement regarding spousal support (or any other divorce issues), an agreement regarding college expenses should be clear on all of the key financial aspects as well as any limitations or conditions involved. For example, some considerations may include:

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