Regardless of whether your divorce was planned or unplanned, amicable or unfriendly, there are certain measures you should strongly consider taking in order to make sure your rights are safeguarded in this complicated process. While divorces are rarely a positive event for either party involved, and feelings of stress are completely normal, not preparing properly for your divorce can turn an uncomfortable situation into a nightmarish situation. In order to ensure that your finances, property, and children are fully protected, it is practically essential that you go into the divorce process with a level of preparedness.
The most important step in preparing for the process of divorce is choosing the proper attorney to represent you through this ordeal. While some people are resistant to the idea of hiring a lawyer for their divorce, because they don’t want to spend the money, the amount you could lose through an unfair divorce settlement often greatly outweighs the cost of an attorney. The lawyer you decide to hire should be highly competent, and hold experience handling divorce cases in the area in which you live. Call 858-529-5150 to speak with an attorney in Imperial Beach who holds substantial knowledge of divorce law in the state of California and has worked successfully with clients in Imperial Beach.
There are other important steps you should take to ensure that the divorce goes as well as can be reasonably expected. For example, there are a few key financial decisions you should make to ensure your fiscal life is protected, especially if the divorce isn’t amicable. If you want to make sure you exit the divorce proceedings with the most money legally possible, as most divorcing people do in order to pay for the divorce itself, then you should probably think about temporarily stopping contributions to your IRA, 401k, or other retirement plan. This is because money in these accounts is often considered shared assets, and will be split between you and your spouse if your divorce goes to trial. Also, you should take out half of the money in any joint bank accounts you might have, as it is typical for angry spouses to remove all the money in a joint account, as well as any credit cards associated with those accounts.
There are also important steps you should take if you and the person whom your divorcing have children together. While things may be tense between you and your spouse, it is recommended that you do not move out of the house and away from your children, unless you and your spouse have made an arrangement for the children to stay with each of you for a substantial amount of time each week. This is because a significant amount of time away from your children can be used in family law court as a reason why the other spouse should gain primary custody of the children, in order not to throw them into an unfamiliar arrangement. Also, while divorce is almost always stressful for children, you should do as much as you can to make sure your children feel as comfortable and stable as possible.
Lastly, there are steps you should take that don’t fall into one category, but should be taken just as seriously as the ones listed above. You should keep a written record of all information that you think might be important in a divorce proceeding. This includes any major conflicts between you and your spouse, the amount of time each spouse spends with the children, and perhaps most importantly, information regarding the date of separation, the importance of which will be explained later. You should also secure any important personal property, as sadly it is not uncommon for this property to go missing or be destroyed prior to the divorce’s finalization. Also, you should make sure not to sign any documents that have not been reviewed and approved by your legal representation.
After taking these steps to prepare for the divorce, you must go through the actual process of divorce, for which the help of a local Imperial Beach lawyer can be extremely useful. A few main issues generally come up in divorces, as explained in the paragraphs below.
Different Divorce Arrangements
There are a few different kinds of divorce one can decided to pursue. The main subsets of divorce are uncontested divorce and contested divorce. In uncontested divorces, both spouses and their divorce attorneys come to agreement regarding the exact terms of the divorce, on issues related to property division, child custody and visitation, child support, and so on. Except for the final filing of the divorce, this process happens outside of a courtroom and does not involve a trial. This form of divorce is also much cheaper, as less time with an attorney is required, and you don’t have to pay court fees or other associated costs.
In a contested divorce, the two parties and their divorce lawyers don’t agree regarding the terms of the divorce, with the conflict often focusing on child custody or the division of assets. There a number of options for people who can’t agree on a divorce settlement. One option is to enter mediation, through which a licensed mediator tries to help the two parties and their lawyers come to a consensus regarding the divorce. The process is non-binding, meaning the two parties do not have to follow the advice of the mediator or make any final decisions as a result of the mediation. It is also less expensive and time intensive than other options. Another option is arbitration, through which the divorcing parties and their attorneys pick an arbitrator who will make a binding verdict regarding the details of their divorce settlement for them. The advantages of an arbitration over a trial include the fact that the arbitration takes place in a private rather than a public setting, and the time/date of the hearing can be selected by the couple. The final option is a trial, in which a judge in a family law court makes the final decision regarding the terms of the divorce.
When two people get divorced, it must be decided who will receive what property, as marriage involves a lot property that is considered shared among the two soon to be former spouses. California operates under what is referred to as a communal property legal system, meaning that all property acquired throughout the progression of the marriage must be split evenly amongst the two parties, and all property acquired after or before the marriage belongs solely to the first owner. This does not meet that all the property needs to be physically divided between the two parties, but rather that the monetary value of the property received by each party must be even. Property also includes any financial obligations or debts incurred by either party during the course of a marriage, which can be an especially contentious issues when one party racks up a sizable debt without the knowledge of the other party. Also, alimony and child support payments can be taken into account when deciding this division.
The decision regarding the way in which the property will be divided can either be made by the divorcing parties or if need be by an arbitrator/judge. In formatting the settlement for your property division, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney who understands how to format such agreements correctly. Even if the two spouses agree on how to divide the property, the judge may reject the agreement if it is viewed as not equal according to community property laws. Also, one spouse may misrepresent their property holdings in a property settlement, something which only a trained lawyer may be able to catch.
While some people may be under the impression that the mother has more rights than the father does when it comes to children in divorces, this is simply not the case. The law specifically bans judges from making any decision regarding children in a divorce on the basis of sex.
For a father to ensure that his rights as a parent are protected, it is crucial that he make sure his paternity is legally established. If paternity has not been established, then the father is not viewed as a parent in the eyes of the law, and therefore has none of the rights of a parent to see or spend time with his child. For formerly married couples, this is normally not an issue, although there are certain cases when this is not true. If a father did not sign the Declaration of Paternity document at the time of the birth of the children, then his paternity rights almost certainly have not been established. In this case, the most common method for a father to establish his paternity is through a DNA test ordered by a family law court. A father may also gain a paternity judgement from a family law court if he can provide an alternative form of documentation showing he has raised the child as his own, even if it is not his biological child. If your paternity is proven and accepted by the court, then you will be required to sign a Declaration of Paternity that must be notarized.
If you feel your legal privileges as a father are not being properly respected by your ex-spouse or by the courts, do not hesitate to call 858-529-5150 to speak with an Imperial Beach lawyer who will fight for your rights as a father.
Child support is money paid from one parent in a divorce to the other, in order to compensate them for the cost of raising the children. Child support is only generally required in cases when one of the parents is spending much more money than the other to support the child, and is typically not applicable in situations when both parents are contributing equally to the child’s upbringing in financial terms, usually in cases of joint custody. As with property division, child support can be agreed to by the parents and then approved by a judge in family court, or determined solely by a judge if an amount cannot be settled by the two parties independently.
Child support is determined by a formula, which takes into account the total disposable income of each parent, how much time each parent spends with the child, and how many children are being supported by the receiving party. Child support, except in special circumstances, is owed on a monthly basis. If a parent misses a child support payment, perhaps due unemployment or injury, an interest rate of 10% per year is placed on the money owed. If one goes multiple months without paying for child support, the court can order that one’s wages be garnished to compensate for the missed payments. If it can be proven that one willfully chose not to pay child support, you can be charged with contempt of court and even jailed as a result.
Contrary to popular belief, child support money does not need to be spent directly on the child, on items such as healthcare expenses, education, childcare, or travel. The receiving parent can use child support money to pay for the rent or pay off pending bills. This is because these payments improve the quality of life of the parent and the quality of life of the child simultaneously, even if the money isn’t being spent on something that directly benefits the child.
Child custody is the determination of which parent the child will spend time with and when, as well as who will have control over the decisions married couples would normally make in conjunction. This choice can be conjointly made by the parents and their attorneys together, or if they cannot reach a mutual decision, by the family court system. The judge will attempt to make a choice that is best for the child, with judges generally heavily leaning toward shared custody between the two parents, as it usually best for children to have a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. Also, since Family Code Section 3042 was introduced in 2012, the preference of the child is also strongly considered, although the choice of the child isn’t necessarily adhered to, especially if the child is of a younger age. The judge will also take into consideration the strength of the relationship the child has with each parent, the age and health of the child, as well as a history of abusing children with either parent. Unfortunately, it is not entirely unheard of for one parent to falsely accuse the other of abusing the child in order to gain an upper hand in the custody negotiations. If this happening to you, don’t hesitate to contact an Imperial Beach attorney who has experience fighting against this kind of accusation.
Custody of a child consists of both physical custody, which determines how much time the child will spend with each parent, and legal custody, which determines how much control each parent will have over the child’s life. In sole legal custody, one parent holds the exclusive right to decide medical decisions, residence, school, and other meaningful decisions. In joint legal custody, both parents make these decisions together. In primary physical custody, the child spends the majority of time with one parent, with the second parent seeing their child only through visitation. In joint physical custody, the child spends substantial time with both parents, although not necessarily an exactly equal amount of time. Call our child custody attorney for a free consultation.
When one parent has primary physical custody over a child, the time the second parent gets to spend with the child is referred to in legal terms as visitation. Most visitation is set by a visitation order, which lays out an exact schedule for when visitation will be permitted. For example, one parent may get to spend every Sunday with their child as part of a visitation order. In other situations, the parents or judge will decide that a set schedule does not work, and that what is called reasonable visitation is a better option. Through reasonable visitation, there is no set time when the child and parent without physical custody will get to see each other, rather it is open ended and must be regularly decided. This type of visitation is only generally used when both parents get along relatively well and can be counted on to regularly make such arrangements without conflict. Visitation in both of these forms may be supervised, meaning that the parent with primary custody, another adult, or a person from a professional agency may be required to present throughout the visitation period.
Contact an Imperial Beach Divorce Attorney Near Me
After reading through part or all of this guide, you may feel as if you want to speak with a legal professional about your divorce case, or employ a divorce lawyer to represent you in mediation, arbitration, or in trial. Call 858-529-5150 today to have a conversation with an Imperial Beach divorce lawyer with San Diego Divorce Attorney, who will bestow you with advice and an evaluation of your case, no initial payment required.