Cost effective Intelligent legal representation
Law Office of Stuart E. Bruers
Free Initial Consultation Se Habla Español • Llamenos Hoy 310-856-9834
Committed to Professional Representation We Listen to you
Request a Consultation

Los Angeles Divorce Law Blog

Child custody remains a family affair for Josh Lucas and ex-wife

Living in the Hollywood spotlight, it can be hard to hold a marriage together. When one actor and his ex-wife split in 2014, they chose to adopt a co-parenting arrangement known as "bird's nesting" after their divorce and child custody hearings. In California, more parents are opting for unconventional ways to parent their children after a divorce.

Hollywood heartthrob Josh Lucas, who rose to fame in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, and his ex-wife, Jessica Ciencin Henriquez, are trying to limit the disruption in their son's life since their divorce. The couple, who are both committed to their son, have maintained a united front in their relationship by putting their son's needs first. The goal for both is to create a stable life for him.

During the divorce process, how should income taxes be filed?

During the process of ending a marriage, is it best to separate finances or file taxes together as a married couple? According to the IRS, couples in the process of divorce but have not yet finalized are still eligible to file taxes together as a married couple. If filing separately, both must either take the standard deductions or both must itemize. In California and other states, couples can file joint tax returns if they are still married on the last day of the previous year.

One disadvantage of filing income taxes separately is that higher tax rates apply at lower levels of income. The amount of standard deductions declines, and itemized deductions are reduced or eliminated. More Social Security benefits are taxable when filing separately, and the likelihood of paying the Alternative Minimum Tax increases. Credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, educational Lifetime Learning Credits and Elderly and Disabled credits are off limits to those filing separate tax returns.

Child custody rights terminated because of addiction

Drug addiction is a severe epidemic, and children are usually the casualties. More and more children are removed from their parent's custody because of substance abuse. Experts say heroin is the most common drug of choice, making it the most difficult to treat, and the pain from withdrawal often has serious complications. In California, child custody rights are often terminated to protect the children of addicts.

Experts worry about the long-term effects on children who spend their childhood watching their parents get high. Sometimes, children who see a parent passed out from drug use are not sure if their mother or father is dead or alive. Children of addicts are used to taking care of others, often putting others ahead of themselves. Studies show that drug addicts can become good parents once they are free of drugs.

New laws may affect alimony and divorce outcome

Ending a marriage is rarely a pleasant experience. With new changes coming in the form of scrapping the current alimony tax laws, negotiations could get even more ugly. In California, the change in tax incentives for alimony payments could have lasting consequences for other payments such as child support that is often calculated together during divorce negotiations.

Under current laws, spousal support or maintenance can be deducted from taxable income to lower the tax burden of the spouse paying support. The recipient, who in most cases has a much lower income and is often in a lower tax bracket, pays taxes on the money received. With the present incentive, it allows people to pay more alimony because they are reaping the coveted tax benefit.

Preparing for divorce after age 50

The dissolution of marriage at any age can be unnerving and ultimately affect one’s thought process. Divorce is never easy and often causes increased stress and can take an emotional toll on a person. Being well organized and researching the state laws as they apply to divorce can help prepare for the often-tumultuous times ahead. In California, divorces over age 50 have doubled in the past 25 years.

Create an inventory of assets and identify which ones are held jointly, and be aware of any inheritances received over the course of the marriage. Make a list of all employers both present and past for both parties, and inquire about pension plans, profit sharing and stock options. It is not unusual for employer-funded accounts to be forgotten. Be sure to change the beneficiaries on accounts and property titles, which can sometimes go undetected.

Domestic violence is a growing medical concern

Reports show that one in four women will be the victim of some type of physical violence caused by a partner. Victims sustain injuries severe enough to warrant medical attention, but rarely do they volunteer the reason behind their injuries. Patients often miss out on the help they may need because of the lack of communication on both sides. In California, health providers and other agencies are working together to identify victims of domestic violence and provide support systems for them.

Experts say that in the past four years, The East Los Angeles Women's Center has trained thousands of medical personnel and social workers to help domestic violence victims. Medical staff screen patients for signs of abuse, and victim advocates are in-house to provide education and counseling. Workers also respond to calls from emergency rooms, inpatient hospitals and outpatient facilities to help people in crisis.

Domestic violence is often unreported and under recognized

Violence among intimate partners is a common problem that often goes unrecognized and unreported across the country. A study revealed that in addition to routine screening procedures, radiologists could assist in identifying those who suffer from domestic violence. In California, hospital staff can play a significant role in uncovering abuse.

Doctors assume an essential role looking for signs of abuse in emergency room patients. By screening patients of suspected abuse, they can provide access to support programs, domestic abuse shelters and counseling. Studies show that by utilizing untapped resources, such as X-ray, MRI and CT scans, hospitals may be able to reveal signs of abuse. Radiologists who see injuries at different points and think it is a repeated problem can play a vital role in putting the pieces together. 

Advanced financial planning is essential before divorce

January has been deemed the most popular month for married couples to split up. Records show that divorce filings are one third higher in January than in other months because couples do not want to ruin holiday celebrations. In California and other states, the first week in January usually sees a substantial uptake in divorce inquiries.

Most couples are unaware of the costs involved in divorce, and they often have no financial plan in place. Couples assume they will be fine without the help of professional financial guidance, but experts agree that advanced planning can provide extra security for this unexpected chapter in their lives. A financial planner can devise a well thought-out plan to ensure that individuals do not end up in debt.

Spousal benefits from Social Security after a divorce

A substantial part of income for retirees comes from Social Security benefits. After years of paying into the program, there is no reason to settle for less than the highest amount one can get. Sometimes, one spouse may receive a higher benefit than the other. In California and other states, ex-wives or husbands may be entitled to spousal benefits from Social Security after a divorce.

Spousal benefit eligibility is for those who divorce after ten or more years of marriage. If a person remains unmarried and is at least 62-years-old, he or she may be entitled to one half of a former spouse's retirement benefit. These benefits are only worth considering if the amount is more than double one's own Social Security amount.

New parenting bill may add a twist to child custody

When couples decide to end their relationship, it often involves children and a parenting agreement. For years, American culture dictated that mothers were naturally awarded primary custody and fathers were the every-other-weekend parents. In California and many other states, new shared-parenting bills could change child custody and visitation agreements.

This new trend of co-parenting will encourage shared-parenting even when parents disagree. The legal push for new custody arrangements results from lobbying by advocates for fathers' rights groups. For years, fathers have felt short-changed in their allotted parenting time and sometimes alienated from their children. Experts claim the current system is depriving children the chance to build relationships with their dads.

Office Location

Law Office of Stuart E. Bruers
2367 Torrance Boulevard
Torrance, CA 90501

Phone: 310-856-9834
Fax: 310-516-1702
Map & Directions