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Spousal Support 101 - The Basics

Spousal Support 101 – The Basics

What is spousal support? How is it determined? This article explains what it is, how it’s calculated, how long it lasts and more. 

What is Spousal Support?

You’ll often hear spousal support and alimony used interchangeably. That’s because they are essentially the same thing. They are both payments for the support of an ex-spouse ordered by the court. This can include a number of things, and every case is a bit different. 

For example, one person may need to provide spousal support to cover just about everything: the house, car, food, clothing, etc. However, another individual may only need to provide enough money to cover the ex-spouse’s car or mortgage payment. 

How is Spousal Support Determined?

It depends on the current status of both the contributor and recipient. If the recipient has a successful career and is able to take care of themselves, the amount will likely be a lot less. However, if the recipient is raising kids full-time and unable to have a career, the amount will likely go up. 

Another factor is current lifestyle. What is the current lifestyle of the recipient? Do they live in a 5 bedroom house with a swimming pool in an expensive part of town? Or do they have a lower-priced home out in the suburbs or a rural area? These factors come into play as well, because the goal of the court is to avoid major lifestyle impacts. 

These are just a few factors. There’s even more to consider here:

  • Education level of the recipient: Are they educated enough to have support themselves and their dependents, or will they need to go back to school?
  • Age and physical condition of the recipient
  • Financial condition (i.e. assets available)
  • Length of the marriage
  • The ability of the contributor to both support the ex-spouse and him/herself

As you can tell, there are many gray areas with spousal support. It doesn’t have the same kind of strict guidelines we see with child support. 

How Long Must Spousal Support be Paid? 

Again, this is a bit of a gray area. It’s common for spousal support to be rehabilitative. That means it only lasts long enough to help the ex-spouse get back on their feet. That could mean finishing their education, landing a good job, etc. 

Sometimes it lasts a bit longer though. If the divorce decree doesn’t have specific termination criteria then the payments must continue until the court orders otherwise. One example that can cause the court to order a change is marriage. If the recipient remarries, the court usually determines the spousal support no longer needs to be paid. 

One thing to keep in mind is that times are changing. It used to be that spousal support was almost always a man sending financial support to his ex-wife. There is a trend of more women giving spousal support to men since the number of women in the workforce has increased. There is also a trend of more same-sex cases, where the ex-spouse with the highest income has to provide spousal support to their ex-spouse. 

For more personalized advice on spousal support, give us a call at 714. 456. 9118 or send us an email at info@voneschlaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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What is Considered Domestic Violence

What is Considered Domestic Violence?

What is considered domestic violence? Most people have some kind of idea what’s involved, but it’s actually a broader topic than most expect. 

Here are the different types of domestic violence, along with a short explanation of each. 

Types of Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse -This is probably what most people think of. It’s any physically aggressive behavior, threat of physical harm, indirectly harming someone physically or withholding physical needs from someone. Threats, punches, denying food or sleep, and holding people hostage all come under this type of abuse. 

Emotional Abuse – This is any kind of behavior that exploits another person’s vulnerability, security or character. One example is insulting or criticizing someone to lower their confidence and self-esteem. Regularly ignoring or neglecting the victim’s needs also falls here. Telling someone they’re mentally unstable or incompetent is emotional abuse. 

Control – This is when one person maintains dominance over the victim. They control the victim’s behavior and believe it’s perfectly justified. One example is not giving the victim freedom with the types of clothes or hairstyle they wear. They may invade the victim’s privacy by never giving them time alone. Sometimes children are used to help control the victim parent by using them as spies or threatening to harm the child. 

Sexual Abuse – This is forcing sexual behavior on someone or using sexual behavior in an exploitative fashion. Sometimes it can be using force or manipulation to make the victim partake in sexual activities with other people or do things they don’t want to. In addition to these, it could be engaging in sexual activity with someone who can’t consent, for example if they’ve used drugs or are asleep. 

Isolation – Similar to control, this keeps the victim from seeing people they want to see. By keeping them socially isolated, the victim doesn’t get to see that the rest of the world wouldn’t agree with the types of abuse the victim is suffering. The victim is often told things to make this behavior sound okay by saying things like “if you really loved me, you’d want to spend time with me instead of your family or friends.”

Verbal Abuse – Somewhat self-explanatory, this includes any language used to threaten, embarrass or unfairly criticize the victim. Maybe the victim is being called names, or are constantly told they are undesirable or ugly. This could also include constantly be yelled at, or never talked to. Threats to hurt or kill the victim or their loved ones is also considered verbal abuse. 

How do I Know if This is Domestic Violence?

People involved in domestic violence situations don’t always know it. They may realize they’re being abused, but don’t consider reporting it to the proper authorities. 

If you know someone who seems like they’re being abused (including yourself), the best thing you can do is talk to someone who understands the subject. You never know until you ask, and it’s important to resolve these situations as early as possible. The longer it goes on, the more harm will be done to the victim. 

We’re here for you, click here to contact Von Esch Law today. 

Child Custody

Child Custody 101 – The Different Types of Custody

This Child Custody 101 article was crafted for one thing – to help simplify a complex subject. By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the terminology often used when referring to the subject. 

Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

This is a big one, so let’s start with it. At a high level, there are two types of custody – legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the parent’s responsibility to make decisions regarding the child’s health, education and overall well-being. Physical custody is just like it sounds – it refers to who lives with the child. 

Within those two buckets are several types of custody. Here are the most common.

Sole Custody of a Child

This parent is solely responsible for the child. This means exclusive physical and legal custody. The parent without custody has limited access to the child. This is often called visitation. 

Note that visitation doesn’t mean the parent can only see the child on rare occasions. It just means they don’t have the right to make decisions regarding where the child lives or things like education or the primary physician. 

Joint Custody of a Child

Joint custody means both parents have rights and responsibilities to care for the child. The first thing that may come to mind is a 50/50 split. In reality that’s difficult for everyone, so usually the responsibilities and time spent with the child lean more towards one parent than the other. Ideally, the time would be split as evenly as possible, and both parents would participate in major decisions affecting the child. 

Click here to read more about child custody laws during the holiday season.

Alternating Custody

This is where the parents alternate taking care of the child. For example, it may be that the mother keeps the children for 5 days a week, and the father keeps them for the weekend. Or maybe they stay with one parent for 3 days, then go back to the other parent’s home for another 3 days. Every family has a different arrangement that works for them. What’s important is that it works for everyone and both parents are still involved in the child’s life. 

More Types of Custody

Most situations end up in one of the situations listed above. Here are a few others that sometimes occur. 

Bird’s Nest – This is where a child lives in the same home all the time and the parents move in and out. The benefit is more consistency for the child but can be hard on the parents. 

Serial – This is where a child lives with one parent for a certain period of time (Ex: until they’re a teenager) and then they move in with the other parent for a certain time increment. 

Third-party – If the courts determine the parents are unfit to care for the kids, they can grant custody to another family member such as an aunt, uncle, grandparent or older sibling. 

Split – This is usually seen as a last resort, as it is hard on the entire family. Split custody is where one parent takes some children, and the other parent takes the others. This is difficult because children benefit from being with their siblings. Even if their parents have joint or alternating custody and the children are constantly moving from one parent’s home to the other, at least they always have each other. Split custody removes that and makes things complex. 

Do you have a question about the different types of custody? 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.

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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!

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How Does Age Play a Role in Child Custody Cases?

Parents dealing with child custody issues oftentimes wonder if the court takes age into consideration when deciding. Here is a break down of child custody rules by age.

Age 0-2

When it comes to infants and toddlers in this age group, the separation time from both parents should be very small. This will help reduce the child’s anxiety and maintain the bond between both the child and parents. The implication of extended separation time with children in this age group is related to the lack of long-term memory. An infant or toddler could lose an attachment with a parent fast if there is not a consistent and frequent level of contact. Contact days between the noncustodial parent and child needs to be consistent.

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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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6 Early Signs of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is an incredibly serious issue that in no way should be taken lightly. Some individuals can spot it early on and aren’t sure how to handle things, while others may never have seen it coming. At Von Esch Law we take domestic violence very seriously, which is why we work closely with the spouses and families involved to end abuse. If you are worried you may be in danger or at risk of domestic violence it is important to reach out for help or support. We’ve put together a list of some ways to spot domestic violence early on. Although if your spouse is guilty of some of these things it may not necessarily lead to abuse, but more often than not we see cases of it happening. If your spouse is guilty of any of these things, be alert and let someone know you are worried.

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Top 6 Myths About Divorce

Divorce is a difficult situation for all parties involved because it can take time, money and an emotional toll. Divorce can get especially complicated if there are children involved and custody becomes an issue as well. If you or a family member is going through a divorce make sure to take note of these myths about divorce that can seriously change a situation if you believe them to be true.

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