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Los Angeles Divorce Law Blog

Community property state treats debt differently in divorce

Dividing up debt does not follow absolute rules in a divorce proceeding. Even though one party assumes all of the debt by being the only person named on a credit card account, for example, courts will sometimes order that the other party pay some or all of the account balance. Courts generally have the authority to divide assets and debt with a certain discretionary authority intended to achieve fairness in divorce.  California is a community property state and thus the rules for debt and asset division are somewhat at variance with the majority of states.

In a community property state, any debt incurred after the marriage date and before the date of separation is community property for which both spouses are equally liable. The same rule applies to assets acquired after the date of marriage: they are owned by husband and wife as community property. The presumption is that the debts and assets will be divided on a 50-50 basis.  In community property states, assets and debts obtained prior to the marriage stay in the name of the original owner.

Community property and handling credit card debt in a divorce

When a couple decides to move forward with divorce, it is a decision that will being many significant changes to to the lives of both parties. Division of marital property and how credit card debt is handled will affect a person's financial stability for years to come. California is a community property state, which means both spouses are considered equally responsible for any credit card debt accumulated over the course of the marriage until the date of separation.

Credit card debt held by one spouse from before the marriage is not marital property. However, a judge may decide it is fair for the other spouse to help pay this debt because the things bought were enjoyed by both parties. Every situation and divorce is different, and the court may consider things like how long the couple was married, the financial capabilities of both spouses and income disparity between the two parties.

Divorce for Boomers can challenge existing retirement plans

The baby boomer population is mostly alive and well in California and nationwide. They are entering their retirement years and making out their estate plans to transfer a massive base of wealth to their heirs in the coming years. What happens to the normally structured procedure of retirement and estate planning when a couple decide that it is necessary to get a divorce later in life?

One fact that is now well-known is the rapid growth of divorce in the population of age 50 and older. In addition, when a baby boomer divorces and gets remarried he or she is twice as likely to divorce. It might be said -- with only half of one's tongue-in-cheek -- that marriage, along with divorce, are habit-forming transitional experiences.

Divorce may lead to possibly higher Social Security benefits

California residents who are divorced or facing a divorce should know some basic facts about Social Security retirement benefits. To qualify for benefits, an individual must have roughly a 10-year work history where Social Security taxes were paid into the fund. When a divorced or soon-to-be divorced person does not qualify under that standard, all may not be lost. There may be a way to obtain benefits on the Social Security account of the former spouse after the divorce, and this is done without interfering with the usual amount the other spouse collects.

It is also important to know that where one's benefits would be lower than the spouse, it may also be possible to collect higher benefits based on the higher earnings record of the former spouse. The rules for collecting a higher amount, or for qualifying to collect in the first place, are initially based on the mandate that the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years. The applicant must also be unmarried and age 62 or older.

Co-parenting after divorce may take some hard work to get right

How two parents handle the interaction between each other and with their children post-divorce will have a lot to say about how the children grow emotionally in their formative years. Cooperative co-parenting is a popular concept in California and other states. Truth be told, however, this is a difficult model for many parents to master after a divorce. At the least, it will take time for some parents to adjust to the idea of keeping past emotional heartaches under check for the sake of the children.

Where this model turns out to be successful it will usually signify that the parents have gone on to appreciate a new relationship that is built on appropriate values of parenting. That kind of growth may take some time and quite a bit of effort by a parent who naturally tends to cling to the old triggers that caused dissension between the spouses. A parent must come to see that the airing of such demons from the past are hurtful to the children and not in the spirit of co-parenting cooperation.

Get better results by avoiding common divorce pitfalls

There are certain universal pitfalls to avoid in California and other states when a person is involved in divorce proceedings. Despite the following considerations, however, one must consult regularly with an experienced family law attorney in order to remain fully informed and protected from the range of pitfalls that may exist. That being said, one thing that has burned many a divorce participant is talking about one's finances and activities on social media.

Claiming to be poor as a church mouse and then bragging on social media about a vacation around the world is a sure way to end up on the defensive with the other side in your case. Other things that can cause a setback in one's claims is to be unprepared with the necessary documentation on personal and marital finances. This means that one should early on collect the important financial evidence that may determine the resolution of various issues.

Divorce does not have to feel like a minefield

The marital dissolution process can feel like a minefield, with emotional explosions taking place unexpectedly. Unfortunately, these explosions could cause serious injuries that leave lasting scars. However, a couple of tips may help people in California who are going through divorce to get through the process as unscathed as possible.  

First, it may be helpful for divorcing spouses to look at their marriage's history before embarking on the divorce process. The reason for this is that their marital history can help them to predict where they might experience problems during the divorce. If they historically had disputes that became demeaning or hostile, this could happen during divorce proceedings as well. Likewise, if they mostly fought about parenting, the children or money, these areas may become the biggest sources of conflict during divorce proceedings.

Child custody and visitation goes smoothly for celebrity couple

Conscientious parents in California and elsewhere may experiment with their child custody and visitation arrangements after a formal separation and during a divorce proceeding. Sometimes, an initial flexible approach that is not written in stone is preferred to best suit the child's makeup and preferences. It is also helpful to see how the child adjusts to various changes as the transformation of living circumstances continues. When the parties can work together in a mature manner to provide flexibility and informality in a child custody and visitation arrangement, the chances that the child will adjust more readily are greatly increased.

One California couple has been monitoring the progress of their daughter as the divorce proceedings in a Los Angeles Court move toward finality. Actor Channing Tatum and actress Jenna Dewan Tatum are the couple who are attempting to settle their financial and other matters amicably. Channing recently explained to the court that he would like the judge to establish a definite structured plan for their daughter, Everly.

Prenuptial contract may be difficult to enforce in divorce case

Prenuptial agreements have become somewhat common in the divorce process in California and elsewhere. A prenup is a contract entered into prior to the marriage. It contains provisions that generally define who gets what property if there is a separation and divorce. It was traditionally used by a wealthy person entering a marriage with a less wealthy individual, and the purpose was to limit what the less wealthy partner would be able to take out of the marriage if it ended.

Experts have long debated the bad logic and unromantic thinking that forms the premise for prenuptial contracts. A major component is a feeling of distrust by the wealthier spouse that the less wealthy one is intending to marry for insincere reasons. He or she may be a gold digger and thus not deserving of a proper division of property.

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.                                                      

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