5 Things to Know About Spousal Support in California

Alimony is always a contentious subject to navigate, especially when it is in the context of a divorce. Most people understand the basics behind alimony, where a higher-earning spouse makes regular payments to the other partner, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about alimony and its presence in divorce proceedings.

Our experienced attorneys will be able to review the circumstances surrounding each divorce case and give advice and counsel about spousal support laws, and how they might be impacting a case.

One of the biggest points of confusion stems from the fact that each state has their own laws and requirements related to alimony. Alimony is commonly known as spousal support. Here are five things to know about spousal support in California.

1. Spousal Support Is Not Necessarily Set Forever

Circumstances surrounding spousal support can change, and one side can petition to make changes to the support that was originally ordered in settlement agreements. For example, a paying spouse who is in an accident and finds income being diverted to medical bills can work to possibly modify the terms of support. However, both sides will have to agree to any changes, or you might have to go to court to settle any disputes if an amicable change is not able to be reached.

2. Spousal Support Stops After Death

Spousal payment requirements terminate once either spouse passes away. This means a payor spouse’s estate will not be held responsible to keep up with payments. If the spouse being supported passes away, their estate is not allowed to petition the payor spouse for funds.

3. Spousal Support is Only Allowed for Financial Purposes

In California, spousal support is only awarded for purposes related to finances. It is not doled out due to misdeeds like adultery, and it can not be used as a tool to punish bad behavior. However, a judge is able to withhold support if a supported spouse carries out an act of violence against the would-be payor.

4. Spousal Support Is A Calculation of Multiple Factors

There is no set algorithm or calculation used to decide the amounts of spousal support. All instances are calculated based on the specific circumstances of a couple. Judges in a case will weigh multiple factors before deciding on amounts, like marriage duration, ages, health, income, employment ability, and ability to pay.

Generally, spousal support is set to be somewhat equal to the standard of living a supported spouse was able to have during the marriage. In California, spousal support is also able to be tax deductible for the payor, as long as they are not filing joint taxes with the supported spouse.

Click here to learn California property division laws!

5. California Has Multiple Types of Support

California divorce cases have the option of allowing temporary or permanent spousal support. Temporary support is one that might be mandated before a divorce is officially finalized, and will not carry over once the divorce is rendered official. It is used as a tool to make sure the lower-earning spouse has enough money to be provided for during proceedings.

On the other hand, permanent support comes in the form of regular payments from the payor spouse to the supported one. This is mandated for a specific period of time after a divorce is finalized, and is intended to help the supported spouse maintain a financial level they had during the marriage itself.

Do you have a question about spousal support in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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Pro and Cons of Signing A Prenuptial Agreement

Nearly one million divorces happen every year in the US. According to a survey carried out by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in 2010, three out of 4 lawyers said there was an increase in the demand for prenuptial agreements over a period of five years.

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that a couple needs to sign before they get married. It stipulates how marital debts and assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. It also indicates what each party brings into the marriage and the assets acquired during marriage. Prenuptial agreements help minimize confusion, stress, and high legal fees in the event of a divorce or death. It is highly recommended for:

  • Couples with children from another marriage
  • Those entering another marriage
  • Couples with big age, debts, businesses, and income differences

Benefits of Signing a Prenuptial Agreement

  1. Minimize conflicts – In the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement will make it easier to distribute assets. It makes the divorce process faster, less traumatic, and more respectful. It can also help to speed up the court process, because it gives the court a clear picture of what the couple initially intended. Additionally, couples can state in the agreement how every asset will be divided among their children, helping protect their future inheritance.
  2. Debts – A prenuptial agreement enables the couple to have a clear distinction of their debts. It separates the marital debt from individual debt and it protects the debt-free spouse from assuming the debt responsibility of the other.
  3. Protection of property – A prenuptial contract is important since it helps to distinguish between spouses’ separate property and marital property. During a divorce, marital property is divided equally but separate property is not subject to division.
  4. Transparency – This form of agreement also helps promote transparency among spouses regarding each other’s financial situation. It gives a full disclosure of the assets and debts of each party, making each party aware of their partners’ spending and budgets. It also enables the couple to plan for their financial future.
  5. Spouse protection – In the instance of there being an agreement for one partner to leave their career to take care of kids, this agreement ensures compensation in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement also limits the amount of spousal support paid by another spouse during divorce.

Disadvantages of Signing a Prenuptial Agreement

  1. Change of circumstances – Most couples sign a prenuptial agreement without anticipating the future. Due to life uncertainties, the agreement may get impacted, thus a need for updating it. These situations can arise due to sickness, career change, or children. Sometimes, the agreement can even be rendered useless.
  2. The validity of the agreement – The court will scrutinize every detail of the prenuptial agreement in order to establish the validity and enforceability of the contract. It can be rejected if it is established that during the making of the agreement, there was non-disclosure of some assets, absence of representation, fraud, or duress.
  3. Planning for a divorce before marriage – Prenuptial agreements are enforced when either a party dies or the marriage is dissolved. Many people view signing a prenup as accepting failure in the marriage before attempting it. Trust issues may arise as a result of a prenuptial agreement, leaving the spouses vulnerable to a divorce.
  4. Child support – The court is the final decision maker when it comes to matters regarding the children’s support and welfare. A prenuptial agreement should not involve child custody and support matters. The court will disregard an agreement that includes child support.
  5. Not necessary – Sometimes, couples may bring up this uncomfortable conversation, only to realize their state laws do not permit prenuptial agreements for certain issues. It is imperative that couples first look into the enforceability of prenuptial agreements within their jurisdiction.

A prenuptial agreement, if done well, is useful in the event of a divorce. Signing a prenuptial agreement is a personal decision that should be based on the individual’s specifics and circumstances. If you and your future spouse are weighing the pros and cons of signing a prenup, give us a call to set up a consultation with one of the members of our team.

4 Facts You Should Know About Domestic Violence

When it comes to domestic violence, California already has special rules that have been put in place to combat this heinous crime. Domestic violence may consist of anything from threatening, stalking, abandoning, inflicting any kind of physical injury, or damaging of property. And as for the rule governing domestic violence, these crimes are distinguishable. They are of different types as mentioned above.

There are laws meant to protect victims who suffer from corporal injury from their current or former intimate partners. The California Penal Code can either be filed as a felony or simply a misdemeanor.

1. Domestic violence reports

In most instances, you may not entirely understand even what is mentioned in the police report regarding domestic violence. Men and women who are accused of inflicting violence are sometimes the victims of the crime. That is where you can make your judgment saying that the domestic violence system isn’t entirely 100% perfect, or even close to it, based on some arrests that the authorities may end up making.

In some situations, you find that these investigatory decisions are made based on the superficial factors only – not looking at the facts behind the scenes. For example, if the perpetrator calls 911 first on the victim or even looks to be more upset or had more apparent physical or any other kind of injury, there will most likely be a bias. In some situations, gender bias may

even come to play. Simply put, the time has come where abusers can now manipulate the system to their advantage.

2. The prosecutor’s charge

Before any judgment is ruled on the abuser, the victim plus his/her prosecutor first need to convince the jury, beyond any reasonable doubt, that corporal punishment was inflicted by an intimate partner. Only then, will the case even be considered to be a domestically violent crime. Distinguish whether the injuries were willful or intentional on the intimate partner. And whether it has caused any traumatic condition to the victim of the crime.

3. Did the injury sustained cause any traumatic condition to the victim?

Some people get angered pretty quickly and are light on their hands. Before they even notice it, their hands and/or feet are flying about hitting their partners. But even so, you still need to prove to the DA whether or not the strike was meant to cause the victim and unintended injury or not. Remember, though, that it is your actions that caused the victim to suffer any injuries in the first place.

4. Legal Defenses

You can use any number of the defenses mentioned below depending on the manner of your domestic violence case.

  • Lack of willful intent
  • False accusations
  • Self-defense
  • Lack of proof

Penalty enhancement situations may include:

  • Prior convictions
  • Great bodily injury
  • Child endangerment
  • Elder abuse

Do you have a question about domestic violence? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

What is a Child Custody Agreement?

Families that have everything planned out for them and are living the good life with their kids together under one roof feel that they may never need to learn about custody agreements and visitation schedules. But the issue is that these divorce is real and can happen to your family.

One thing spouses always need to know when getting into any commitment, especially marriage, is that anything can happen. Two partners will either stay together and happily, or things might go south and end in divorce. In most cases, children are involved.

When children are involved, one partner is going to have primary custody of them, and the other parent will have scheduled visitation rights or even have the children visit from time to time depending on the relationship of the partners after the separation.

In situations that involve mental health and or domestic violence, however, this status doesn’t apply. In general, if the spouse who doesn’t have custody over the children is reasonable, of sound mind, and is actively involved in their children’s lives, then the separated parties can come together and have a child custody agreement.

Reaching an agreement with the other partner can help you gain some form of control over the whole process. The best first step here is to prepare a visitation schedule. This will definitely help the two of you to build a healthy co-parenting relationship and allow your children to still be part of both of your lives without much stress from either of the separated spouses.

Most people usually think that having a judge decide your case is always the best option. But it isn’t. in fact, litigation needs to be your backup plan only if agreements between you and your separated partner isn’t possible. Courts can end up damaging any chance of having a good co-parenting relationship as revelations and tempers can end up flying back and forth.

Child Custody Agreement

There are three terms in a custody agreement: legal custody, visitation schedule, and physical custody. The agreement of any situation here needs to be in writing and filed by the court so as to ensure that the court order is enforced. In most situations, signatures are needed to make the agreements notarized.

Legal Custody

This has to do with the parent who will be making all of the parenting decisions on matters relating to the children’s health, welfare, and education. A joint legal custody can also be agreed upon which allows both parents to have equal rights to make such decisions about their children.

Physical Custody

This type of custody deals more with which household the children are going to primarily live in. Joint physical custody can also be agreed upon in situations where both parents will be having equal times with the kids in their homes. But in cases where the children only live with one parent and only visit the other occasionally, it is referred to as sole physical custody.

Visitation

In some situations, a visitation plan may need to be generated and agreed upon by both parents. Visitations can be every day, holidays, vacations, special days, etc. It is also important to note that each of these categories is considered separate even though they relate to one another.

Do you have a question child custody agreements? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

California Property Division Laws

Divorces may rank among some of the most horrifying moments married partners have to deal with and it gets even more complicated and stressful when properties are involved.

For instance, one partner contributes a larger sum of finances into an investment owned by the two parties like a residence or even in cases where there are pension and retirement benefits to divide. Chances are that tempers will rise and words will be thrown and finally a lawsuit will be filed. Here is where the stakes get higher.

Family law litigation will definitely ensure that the whole divorce process takes longer than anticipated and more legal expenses will also be incurred in the long run. At the end of the day, you will realize that the emotional and financial aspects of it all may cost so much that you even start thinking whether it was a wise choice to go to court.

But if you believe that the court can rule in your favor, then this is the time you need to look for a good and experienced attorney in the field who will advise you on how you should proceed with the case.

Marital property

Marital property can be classified into many different classifications, namely the quasi-community property and the quasi-marital property. At this stage, the judges and attorneys attempt to figure out the total assets and debts of the two partners and their attributes towards these debts as both community and separate properties.

Community property

This is a fancy name of calling the property that is obtained during a marriage and is still owned until the date of the separation, and which may also be subjected to be community property as per the laws of California. In such cases, each of the separated parties has 50% ownership interest in all of the community properties as well as the equal rights of the control and management of the properties.

Community property usually includes all the assets and debts of the separated couple in a marriage as well. This is usually a vital step in trying to determine who will be responsible for paying off the debts during the legal separation or marriage dissolution.

Quasi-community property

This is also another very important consideration you need to have in mind when filing for a divorce if the property involved was acquired by both partners outside of California during the marriage. It’s no big news to find married couples that own houses in other states or countries together these days as people tend to move around a lot. And in the process, you and your spouse may decide to buy new residences in other states which can be a real headache, especially when the couple now wants a divorce and both are laying claim to these properties.

These types of assets are usually referred to as the “quasi-community properties” which is another way of saying that this is a case of legal separation between two parties who acquired property from another state while they were still married.

In such cases, the quasi-community properties are usually treated as part of the “community estate” and are always divided as with the community property. Equal treatment is given to both sets of property by the law of California.

Do you have a question about division of property during a divorce? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Child Support Guidelines in California

One of the most disputed issues in any divorce is child support. Usually, you find that the parent who is most likely winning the case, intends to limit the other parent’s time spent with the child proactively. And in most cases, you will also find that other ex-spouses attempt to underreport their original income to limit the amount that they will have to pay for child support.

Either way, you should know that paying child support is obligatory in California, but with one exception. This article will highlight some of the child support guidelines that have been set in the state of California.

Overview of child support guidelines

In California, both parents are required to always provide child support to their young children in case of any separation of the spouses before the children come of age. Usually, the amount of child support that each parent puts into the child support is based on the circumstances that the parents are in at the moment. This means that the child support that each parent puts up is based on the amount of income they make.

Both parents are obliged to contribute child support for the child until the child is 18 years old when the state officially recognizes the child as an adult. As a parent to the child affected by your separation between you and your spouse, you are allowed to put more money in your child support amount than required, but must never pay any amount below the one stated by the court.

If both parents fail to reach an agreed child support amount, then the parties can agree to file a motion for a temporary child support order that will be active throughout the divorce period. The temporary child support order will only be active until the court activates a permanent order.

Child support add-ons

Add-ons such as child health care and other forms support also qualify as mandatory and need to be paid in addition to the child support as stated in the child support laws in the state of California. In this regard, the court usually orders each of the parents to pay half of the child care expenses that are needed by the parent who has custody of the child.

Retroactive child support payments

Usually, the retroactive child support payments are made when the non-custodial parent fails in his/her duty to provide child support during the specified periods. In such cases, the court usually issues an order that will have the non-custodial parent making child support payments earlier that when the actual order was made.

The consequences that come with child support

You need to know that child support payments are not categorized under taxable income, and so these payments cannot be written off by the parent paying them on their income taxes. The parent that receives the child support is not obliged to report these payments on his/her income taxes.

Would you like to learn more about child support guidelines in California? Click here to contact the experts at Von Esch Law today!

 

Tips on Preparing to Divide Your Marital Assets in a Divorce

There are a lot of decisions that you will need to make after getting a divorce. Your whole life may end up changing completely, your world will turn upside down. There is also the issues of who gets custody of your children, deciding whether your spouse will get alimony after the divorce, and thinking about how your marital property will be assigned to both of you. The list can range from being pretty simple to very long depending on where you stood in your relationship.

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Alimony Laws in California

The State Laws in California, which relate to the alimony legislations affect the decisions of both spouses in a marriage. How the couple will deal with the case, the complexity and length of the case, and settlements can turn a simple divorce case into a very complicated legal battle with no end. These factors are the complex factors of all Californian divorce trials. Alimony is also another heated issue, especially when the higher earning spouse isn’t willing to pay for the maintenance. On the other hand, the low earning partner will want to get the alimony; such disagreement can result in years of court battles unless the two parties reach a compromise.

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Guide to California’s Child Support Laws

What is the purpose of child support laws?

The California Family Code 4053 lays out this answer pretty well. This code teaches that the parent’s first and most important obligation is to support their child. This obligation is mutual and based on ability, a mother and father’s income and time with the child should be consistent with the child’s best interest. A child should share in the standard living of both their mother and father. Child support might improve a custodial parent’s standard of living because it would improve a child’s standard of living, meaning that it also reduces the disparity of a mother and father’s standard of living.

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