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Marin County Family Law Blog

How much and how long: A look at alimony payments in California

If your spouse made significantly more money than you did over the course of your marriage or you forwent a career in order to take care of your children, you might be concerned about your finances after your divorce. You wouldn't be alone either.

Divorce can create major problems for lower-earning spouses who are no longer able to rely on their partner for financial stability. In such cases, it's necessary to consider alimony payments, also called spousal support.

An introduction to tax consequences of divorce in California

When Californians face the prospect of a divorce, their attention is usually fixed on child custody, child support, alimony and the division of marital assets. One issue that may not receive attention until it's too late is the tax implications of a divorce. This post will provide an introduction to some of the income tax consequences of divorce.

Alimony and child support are the two simplest issues. Child support is not deductible by the payor spouse and it is not taxable income to the receiving spouse. Alimony, on the other hand, is deductible by the payor spouse and taxed as income to the receiving spouse. To receive this tax treatment, alimony must be a cash payment that is not intended to be child support, and the payments must cease upon the recipient's death. Some divorcing spouses who are required to pay child support attempt to disguise the payments as alimony. Such efforts are strictly forbidden and may result in charges of tax evasion.

Understanding business valuations in a California divorce

One of the most complex problems faced by divorcing couples in California is the valuation of businesses owned by either or both spouses. California's community property rules require an equal division of all assets acquired during the marriage, but making this determination when an asset is an operating business can be difficult. Even if a couple is attempting to negotiate their property division, a competent business valuation can provide crucial assistance.

Business appraisers can belong to several organizations, for example, the American Society of Appraisers or the Institute of Business Appraisers. These organizations follow the Uniform Standards on Professional Appraisal Practice. Regardless of the professional category to which a business appraiser belongs, the goal is the same: using reliable and uniform methods to establish the value of a business asset.

The basics of child custody and visitation in California

When contemplating a divorce, many Californians worry most about which spouse will be awarded physical custody of their children and what arrangements will the court order for visitation by the non-custodial parent. While the final decision on these issues will be made by the judge, the parents can play an important role in resolving issues of child custody and visitation.

Custody has two aspects: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the spouse with whom the child lives. Legal custody means the right to make important decisions for the child, such as medical care, education and overall welfare. Both kinds of custody can be shared, subject to the parents' willingness to cooperate on these issues and the court's approval. If the divorcing parents are able to agree upon a plan to share legal and physical custody, the court will most likely approve this plan. If the parents are unable to agree, the court will make a finding about which arrangement serves the best interests of the child and award custody accordingly.

Risky Business: Divorce Law And Your RSUs

Our firm recently published a SlideShare discussing how California divorce law can leave your restricted stock units (RSUs) at risk. Learn how California law is different from the majority of states and how its vague rules of property division create unpredictability when considering RSUs during the division of property.

How difficult is it to split a pension in a California divorce?

Aside from the family home, retirement accounts are commonly considered one of the most valuable assets an individual can own. With so much on the line, it's no wonder dividing a pension often results in contentious disputes during divorce proceedings.

In California, however, it's not just a pension's value that can lead to property division disputes. The very nature of a pension makes it a complex asset, which can mean a lot of work during property division proceedings. Oftentimes, the inclusion of an attorney is necessary to ensure the clear explanation of how to successfully divide this type of retirement plan.

Shared parenting may be best option for children after divorce

Many California couples who are considering ending their marriage wonder about how best to plan for their children after the divorce. Should one parent have physical custody with regular visitation by the other parent? How does a joint parenting plan work out for the children? Several recent studies, including one in California, appear to indicate that joint parenting plans work better than virtually all other options.

The general result of the studies is the conclusion that children and their fathers (fathers are more often the non-custodial parent) want and need more time together. The studies also concluded that children fare better post-divorce if both parents share responsibility for their care. Such an arrangement is now referred to as "shared parenting."

Marriage annulment in California

In the eyes of most Californians, divorce is the only way of terminating a marriage. For some couples, however, a second method exists for ending a marriage -- an annulment. Annulment is very different from a divorce because an annulled marriage is declared to be a nullity (as if it never happened) and the grounds for an annulment are carefully delineated by statute. Also, the legal consequences of an annulment may be very different from a divorce.

Some marriages are never legally valid: if the parties are close blood relative, such as first cousins, or if one or both of the spouses is already married to another person. In other cases, the annulment is obtained by court order. For example, if one or both spouses were under 18 years of age when their marriage was solemnized, the court may deem the marriage annulled. Other reasons for a court ordered annulment include the existence of a prior marriage or domestic partnership or if one of the spouses was mentally unable to understand the nature of the marriage. Fraud, such as marrying only to obtain a green card can also lead to a court ordered annulment. Finally, a court may order a marriage annulled if the consent to marriage was obtained by force or if there was an inability to consummate the marriage.

Modifying child support in a California divorce

Many Californians view the entry of a judgment of divorce as the end of the travails of the divorce process. Unfortunately, life does not always evolve as we expect, and more than a few divorced California parents have made the painful discovery that their original agreement regarding child support has been derailed by unforeseen events.

A common example is an unexpected and significant change in the income of either parent. If the custodial parent experiences a reduction in income, he or she may need an increase in the amount of child support to meet expenses for the child's clothing, medical care, school expense and similar items. Conversely, the income of the non-custodial parent may drop significantly, making payment of the agreed-upon support financially impossible.

5 assets you might not have considered with your divorce

If you're currently going through a divorce, you're probably quickly learning an important lesson: property division is not an easy process. This part of a divorce requires you to make an exhaustive inventory of all your assets -- as well as your debts -- so that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can take your fair share of the community property.

With so much to consider, however, it's not uncommon for couples to overlook certain assets. Here are just five often overlooked assets you may need to consider if you're going through a divorce.

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