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Los Angeles Divorce Law Blog

World's richest man announces divorce after 25-year marriage

Celebrity divorces often occur in California due to its being the home to the entertainment industry. Other nearby states also are the home to some famous divorce matters due to their association with some of the largest technology companies. One of the biggest divorces recently made public is that of the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, the founder and owner of Amazon.

Bezos has an estimated wealth of $137 billion and a marriage that has lasted for the past 25 years. There is no prenuptial agreement and the couple live in a community property state, which generally means that everything made during the marriage is presumed to be owned on a 50-50 basis. Accordingly, some people believe that after the divorce is finalized, Bezos may return the richest man mantle back over to the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.                                                      

Pets finally get rights in divorce cases in California

California recently became the third state to recognize that pets have rights.  A state law that became effective on Jan. 1 provides among other things that in divorce cases family law courts will have the authority to determine what is in the best interests of the pet animal. The judge will be able to consider the care and welfare of the animal and to establish shared custody arrangements for pets.

Many people have long complained that the law has viewed domestic pets as personal property of the owner. Courts have been forbidden from awarding pain and suffering to pet owners who lost their pets to the negligence or even cruelty of others. In recent years, progress was made with respect to the criminal law and it is now a crime to inflict inhumane treatment on dogs, cats and other animals in nearly all states.

Domestic violence can mean non-physical abuse

Far too many people, here in California and all over the country, are victims of domestic violence. Abuse from a romantic partner can take a toll on victims in many ways. A survivor, who now works with other survivors, says that the abuse she endured wasn't physical, at first, the way many of us often think of domestic violence. She warns other potential victims to take notice of non-physical abuse that may escalate to physical harm.

The first sign was isolation -- she said her husband wouldn't allow anyone over to their home, nor was anyone allowed to leave. He wouldn't permit her to have a cell phone, insisting that she use his when she wanted to make calls to extended family. Another sign was criticism -- she recalled a time he threw food on the floor that he'd asked her to prepare. He also took total control over the family's finances, and wouldn't give his wife money for household or personal expenses. It all finally escalated to a physical attack in front of her children.

Tips for coping with grief amid divorce

It's no secret that the end of a marriage is emotionally and psychologically taxing. Divorce can wreak havoc on a person's mental well-being. In fact, coping with a divorce is not unlike coping with death, as both events represent a drastic life change. Grief is a common emotion associated with both events. The following tips can help California residents deal with grief amid divorce.

First and foremost, it is crucial to acknowledge that there will be a grieving process and accept that a marriage is over. Acceptance allows the grieving process to begin. It is common to experience a roller coaster of emotions, but make it a goal to release negative emotions and do not get stuck in negativity. Also, playing the blame game will only hinder the healing process. Dwelling on blame is not only damaging to those going through divorce, it can be particularly damaging to children.

Interference with child custody is not the same as kidnapping

Authorities in all jurisdictions, including in California, tend to apply criminal charges such as kidnapping somewhat indiscriminately today in connection with custody disputes. Thus, for example, where a father hides with a child after the court has awarded child custody to the mother, the authorities will hunt down the father and, in many instances, arrest him for criminal kidnapping. It should be pointed out that the violation of the custody court in this manner is gender-neutral and is committed by both mothers and fathers.

One state court has confronted the issue and ruled that such acts will not generally stand as a predicate to establish the felony crime of kidnapping against a biological parent. The highest appellate court in that state ruled in a case where a father concealed the whereabouts of himself and his daughter after the issuance of a court order awarding custody to the grandmother. The man was found and arrested, and his daughter was turned over to the grandmother.

Divorce disputes over the family pet may be prevented in a prenup

Divorce in California and elsewhere continues to take on new issues as the law and people's values evolve. One area where that dynamic is seen often is on the issue of which spouse gets to keep the family dog, or even their faithful and affectionate cats, after the divorce. It is a sad commentary on human nature, but in some divorces, spouses are known to use the family pet as a bargaining tool or a hammer of revenge.

Sometimes, the problem can be associated not with manipulation but because of a genuine attachment that each spouse has with the animal. In some relationships, the thought of parting with a beloved pet may be nearly as emotional as negotiating for child custody and visitation. The issue can get so involved that divorcing couples are now inserting clauses in their prenuptial agreements to cover their pets.

Former child star arrested re domestic violence claims

A former child star is facing charges in connection with an altercation with his girlfriend. Jason James Richter is best known for his role in the film, "Free Willy." The California resident was recently arrested on domestic violence charges stemming from an alleged argument with his girlfriend in their Los Angeles home. Richter was freed on $20,000 bail after spending a couple nights behind bars.

Apparently Richter's girlfriend filed a domestic violence complaint at the police station after the argument. Richter, now 38 years old, also starred in "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home" and "Free Willy 3: The Rescue." Recently, he has landed roles on several television series, including "Bones," "Criminal Minds" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch."   

Positive outcomes are also a likely part of the divorce landscape

In California, the holidays are celebrated by people of many different backgrounds at this time of the year. For those who are intending to file for divorce or find themselves already in such legal proceedings, it can be a difficult time to retain a positive attitude, especially with memories of lost dreams being intensified by holiday festivities. Fortunately, the picture does not have to be so gloomy as there are reasons to keep one's spirits high and engaged.

It may sound counterintuitive but researchers in one university-sponsored study concluded that women felt much happier for up to five years after the official end of their marriages. This may have been due to the sense of relief and independent freedom that comes with shedding the burdens of an unhappy marriage. Other research indicates that continuing in a conflict-filled, unhappy marriage can make one a higher health risk for heart disease, cancer, chronic pain, diabetes and emotional illnesses.

Divorce settlements hampered by new tax law rules

Divorce law may get a bit more difficult for practitioners in California and elsewhere after the end of the year. It may also get a bit more expensive for some clients to get a divorce at that time. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress eliminates the alimony deduction for payers as of Jan. 1, 2019.

The deductibility of alimony to the paying spouse has always been a convenient way to get more dollars to the less wealthy spouse. Although the recipient would have to pay an income tax on the alimony received, the recipient was likely in a much lower tax bracket than the individual paying the alimony. Family law attorneys are familiar with the incentives encouraged by the rule, but now they must look for new ways to structure such matters so as to benefit the parties.

Divorce could come with some nasty financial surprises for women

Women are very independent these days, and that includes financially, even if married. California couples often share assets though, and when they're headed for divorce court, a woman may not be prepared for what that could do to her financial situation. A recent survey turned up some startling information: 46 percent of women surveyed admitted that divorce was accompanied by some financial surprises.

The issues for which many women were unprepared were the size of the debt the couple was carrying within the marriage, believing they could keep the home they shared with their spouse, thinking they wouldn't have to return to work, the exorbitant cost of health insurance and not realizing the cost associated with divorcing. These findings reiterate the importance of a woman knowing what is going on financially within her marriage. Women who don't take an interest in the financial aspects of their relationships may find it harder should that relationship fail.

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