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Parents can support their children through divorce

While divorce can be hard on spouses, it can be even more difficult for children. In many cases, however, both parents can agree that caring for their children is the most important task. Even in cases where the relationship is more contentious, many divorcing parents in California work hard to keep their children from being exposed to marital strife or issues with divorce negotiations.

There are many ways that divorcing parents can help their children feel supported and safe. For example, encouraging a child's interests and activities can help them to feel like their own goals are important. It can also be important for parents to check in with other significant figures in a child's life, such as teachers or coaches, to see how the divorce is affecting the kids.

Child support collection efforts intensify

Unpaid child support can impose a severe burden on many single parents and their families in California. Court-ordered child support is meant to help cover the daily costs of raising a child, and when it is delinquent, parents may find it next to impossible to make ends meet. Child support funds can pay important costs for the children, including medical and dental costs, educational fees and other expenses. Because unpaid child support can have a major impact on children's health and well-being, enforcement of support orders is a priority for both state and federal agencies.

One of the most effective mechanisms of collecting delinquent support and enforcing ongoing collection is the use of wage garnishment and payroll deductions at a parent's place of work. Though child support matters are generally handled as part of state law, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, or OCSE, works to improve communication and processes across the country. Through fiscal year 2016, the OCSE collected $33 billion in child support across the country, and around three-fourths of those funds came in through direct payroll withholdings.

Errors to avoid when dividing a retirement account

For some couples in California, a retirement account could be their largest asset. Therefore, dividing the account in a divorce could be quite contentious. In a 2016 survey, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that separating retirement accounts was the second most common cause of conflict in a divorce.

Couples dividing a retirement account must take steps to avoid taxes, penalties and unfair distribution. One common error is to write out the amounts in dollars instead of percentages in the divorce agreement. This fails to account for the possibility that the value of the account might fluctuate. A person who expects to receive a distribution from the retirement account should wait until after the divorce to agree to being removed as a beneficiary on the account. Otherwise, if the account holder dies before the divorce is final, the spouse may receive nothing.

Helping a child keep relationships with parents after divorce

When California parents get a divorce, it is generally important to keep both parents in the child's life even if the child does not live with one of them. If one parent places the child in danger, this is an exception, but if the parents simply disagree about how to raise the child or think the other is not a particularly good parent, this is not a sufficient reason.

Both parents can take steps to ensure that the child maintains a relationship with each of them. They should keep their conflict between one another and not involve the child.

Housing after a divorce presents financial challenges

Finding an affordable place to live in California challenges people under the best of circumstances, and the emotional and financial strains of divorce complicate the issue. Regardless of the difficulties, the divorce process involves one or both parties moving out of the marital home. Deciding where to live after a divorce requires a person to evaluate carefully financial resources, future goals and family needs.

When one ex-spouse wants to stay in the marital home, this decision typically requires that person to assume the existing mortgage. Sufficient income is needed to do so as a single person. The person also must consider the tax, insurance and maintenance costs for the home. The option for both ex-spouses to maintain co-ownership of a property exists but entails a financial relationship for the foreseeable future, which could be undesirable. For a person who wants to buy a new home, similar financial considerations must be taken into account. Funds from the sale of marital assets will likely need to be available to complete the transaction.

Popular marriage advice could actually be harmful

When couples in California are just starting their relationship, they often plan ahead to have a healthy marriage. From the advice of family and friends to online articles, many resources act as a guide for a long-lasting marriage. However, there are some social myths and beliefs that can be harmful rather than helpful to couples looking to improve their connection.

Challenging and questioning some of these widespread beliefs and common pieces of advice can actually help people to understand their own relationship better before irreconcilable differences that lead to divorce develop. One frequent suggestion to couples is to handle disagreements by practicing active listening and expressing concerns carefully by using "I" statements. Despite the well-intended inspiration behind this advice, however, studies have shown that using a specific communication style or phrasing has less impact on marital happiness than a couple's overall feelings toward one another.

Considerations when preparing for divorce negotiations

Negotiating a divorce settlement may be a possibility for some California couples instead of going through litigation. The process may be less expensive and quicker, but it may also be more productive for people who are well-prepared.

It is important for people to fully understand their finances. This will keep them from making or accepting offers regarding spousal or child support that are unrealistic. It can also help them in working with a lawyer to determine what the best and worst case scenarios for the divorce settlement might be. An attorney can also help a person better understand California divorce law. With this understanding in mind, a person might decide that negotiations with a spouse are unlikely to be successful and may want to opt to go to court instead.

Preparing for divorce in the new year

Many spouses in California wait until after the holidays are over to get a divorce. According to one U.S. study, divorces peak around March and again in August. Many divorce attorneys theorize that holiday stress or an unpleasant summer vacation can trigger couples to think about filing for divorce. There are several ways that those who are facing an impending divorce can prepare themselves.

One of the first steps a person preparing for divorce should take is to analyze their financial information. Gathering documents such as tax returns, recent pay stubs, bank account information and credit reports is important since this information will be used to determine alimony, child support and division of property and debt.

Determining spousal benefits from Social Security

When a California couple divorces after at least 10 years of marriage, one person might be eligible to draw Social Security benefits on the other person's earnings history. This does not affect the benefits of the estranged spouse, but it usually does require that his or her income of one person has been a great deal higher than that of the other.

A person's Social Security payment is determined by calculating what is called the Primary Insurance Amount. The PIA is the monthly average of the best 35 years of a person's earnings. Subtracting a person's PIA from half of the former spouse's PIA indicates how much the spousal benefit will be. If the amount is a negative number, the person is not due any spousal benefit.

Putting together a support team during divorce

California couples who are facing the end of their marriages may want to assemble a team that can support them throughout the process. For emotional support, this could include a therapist as well as family and friends. Each party might also want a financial adviser and an attorney.

Some advisers focus a part of their practice on matrimonial finances. These professionals may be able to work with people on their specific needs during and after a divorce. For example, during a divorce, people may need to put together a financial history. Estranged spouses might also need help in evaluating various alternative arrangements relating to property division. After the divorce, people may need assistance in managing their finances on a single income.

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