Articles Posted in Divorce

COVID-19s Impact on Divorce

We’re now nine weeks into the shelter-in-place order put into place by Santa Clara County as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no doubt that the pandemic has had a significant impact on many people’s divorces. Initially, there were predictions for a second “baby boom” following the pandemic. Others predicted that instead of more babies, there would be more divorces. While it remains to be seen whether the pandemic will cause an increase in divorces , one thing that’s certain is that COVID-19 has caused slowing, if not a complete stalling, of many divorces.

Right now, Santa Clara County and Alameda County family courts are closed, and no hearings are being set except for domestic violence matters and emergency custody and visitation issues. Nearly all other hearings and court appearances scheduled from mid-March 2020 through the end of May have been continued. Naturally, this causes delay and disruption to an already emotional, and often time-consuming process.

Heterosexual couples now have an alternative to marriage. As of January 1, 2020, heterosexual couples can now enter into domestic partnerships.

Prior to the new law going into effect, only same-sex couples and heterosexual couples over the age of 62 could enter into a domestic partnership. Since 2013 same-sex couples have been allowed the choice of either entering into a domestic partnership or entering into a marriage, but now domestic partnership is generally available to anyone who wishes to enter into one.

There are, however, still certain individuals who do not qualify to enter into a domestic partnership. This includes anyone under 18, people who are already married, people who are not legally allowed to marry, such as certain individuals related by blood, and those who are not capable of consenting to a domestic partnership.

Divorce is never an easy task to get through, but most of us survive it and can even end up happier on the other side. Then the holiday season arrives. The holidays are hard to get through even in the most perfect circumstances, so how does one survive the holidays when newly divorced or still going through a divorce? It’s no easy task but the way you handle it will not only determine how enjoyable the holidays are for your children, but how much you enjoy yourself around the holidays as well (which is likely well deserved).

According to the article below, the overriding theme to remember during the holidays following your divorce is that “you do you.” Sure, it sounds cliché, but really, you have just come out of what most would argue was not an ideal marriage, so why not focus on your happiness for a change? Here are some tips on how to make your life easier during the holidays:

https://www.scarymommy.com/not-creature-was-stirring-surviving-holidays-divorce/

Most people agree that going through a divorce isn’t easy. Even despite best efforts to work together and remain amicable with a soon-to-be ex-spouse during and following a divorce, doing so sometimes proves trickier than people anticipate. Luckily, there are now have several useful apps that can make interacting with your ex-spouse a little easier as outlined in the USA Today article below:

7 Divorce Apps Help Navigate Life With Your Ex

OurFamilyWizard is an app that many parties with children use. OurFamilyWizard, sometimes referred to as OFW, has several features which parents find useful, the first of which is a secure message board for parents to communicate through. This is helpful if parents find communicating through other methods, such as texting, difficult. Some of the app’s other features include an interactive calendar which parents can use to schedule who has the kids on which days and what upcoming extra-curricular activities the children may be participating in. It also has an expense logto help track the children’s expenses so that one parent can easily reimburse the other. Parents can also upload receipts and invoices for these expenses, and for an added fee, even make payments within OurFamilyWizard.  The app also has the ability to store medical history, insurance information, emergency contact information, and school schedules. OurFamilyWizard costs $99 annually.

As part of their “Blended Family Friday “series, the Huffington Post ran the following article about two divorced parents and how they “co-parent” their child.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/05/advice-for-blended-families-_n_7515012.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

The article highlights just how important it is for parents to work together to raise their children, even after they are separated. Divorced or separated parents are often so angry at the other parent, that they cannot see past their issues with each other to really work together to figure out what is best for their children. When parents cannot agree on issues such as schooling, visitation schedule changes and even day-to-day parenting issues, they are left with little choice but to turn to their attorneys, requesting discussions with opposing counsel and/or the court’s intervention. This results in both parties incurring significant and often unnecessary, attorney fees and costs, and causes stress not only for the parents, but for the children as well. Ultimately, it results in a judge making a decision about children he or she has never met. Clearly, a child’s parents are better suited to be making such decisions.

Some San Jose divorce, custody and/or support matters are assigned to a department where a judge is presiding, while other matters are heard in front of a commissioner. So, what is the difference between the two, and is one better than another?

A judge is elevated to the bench either by election or by appointment by the Governor. A judge must also be a licensed attorney to be eligible to serve on the bench. A commissioner, on the other hand, is an individual who is hired by the court to help out with a judge’s case load. Commissioners must also be licensed attorneys to be eligible to serve as a commissioner. Often, Commissioners work very closely with judges, and judges consider them essential for managing the work of the court.

Commissioners can perform judicial duties involving the determination of contested issues only upon the stipulation of the parties, but with that stipulation they have the same powers as judges. That means that the commissioner has the same power as a judge to hear a court case and make legally binding judgments. Per California Code of Civil Procedure Section 259, “[s]ubject to the supervision of the court, every court commissioner shall have power to do all of the following:

Most people recognize that divorce isn’t easy on children, no matter what the circumstances surrounding the divorce are. However,  for may reasons, it is helpful to try to keep the divorce process as low-conflict and as amicable as possible.

Some couples are implementing “nesting”, also known as “birdnesting”, as a way to ease the impact of divorce on their children. So what is nesting? Generally, nesting occurs where parents keep the main house and then share a separate house or apartment where they will stay when they are not at the main home with the children.

The idea behind nesting is that it is less disruptive for the children to remain in the family home, and have the parents rotate to the separate location, as opposed to shuffling children back and forth between two different households. This type of nesting is beneficial to children because not only do they get to stay in a home that is familiar to them (and thus relieving the need to take belongings to different homes), but it often allows them to remain at the same school and keep in touch with friends.

Trump’s administration has recently made several changes to current tax laws and among many other areas, the tax implications of divorce have been greatly affected. If there has ever been a time to “hurry up and get a divorce” it may be now.

A change in the new tax laws will eliminate a major break that many often took into consideration when contemplating divorce. That is the ability to deduct alimony or spousal support payments on your taxes. Any divorces finalized after December 31, 2018 will no longer receive the benefit of this tax deduction, which is why countless lawyers and financial advisors are warning clients who are contemplating divorce to act fast.

Agreements signed before the end of the year will still qualify for this deduction, but this can have huge financial implications when one party earns significantly more than the other. For decades, individuals paying alimony or spousal support to a former spouse were able to deduct the payments from their taxes, which often prompted the paying spouse to pay slightly more than they normally would agree to. This could have a huge impact on the paying spouse especially when there is a large gap in income between the two parties. According to the IRS, a staggering 600,000 Americans claim this deduction.

https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/family-law/divorce/pros-and-cons-of-using-a-private-judge-in-my-divorce.html

The above article posted on lawyers.com discusses some of the pros and cons of using a private judge in your divorce case. If you are considering hiring a private judge or are wondering whether it might be right for you, contact Argyris Mah, LLP at (408) 564-5674. We can discuss your case with you, answer your questions, and provide you with expert advice as to whether a private judge might be right for your case.

There are many costs to divorce, including the obvious costs of attorney fees, court filing fees, support payments, etc. However, many people often overlook the significant costs associated with maintaining two households, versus one. A recent article on SF Gate addressed the significant costs associated with physically separating including obtaining at least one or two new residences, furnishing those residences, moving, and maintaining the costs for said residence, without the benefit of two incomes. In some cases, given the extremely high cost of living in California, and particularly the Bay Area, this can be almost impossible. As such, it appears that many people are choosing, or being forced, to remain living together, despite a separation or actual divorce.

https://m.sfgate.com/mommyfiles/article/live-in-divorce-San-Francisco-separation-cost-12770531.php

The costs associated with living separately can have a significant effect on a couple’s divorce case and can be a factor when determining spousal support, child support and property division.

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