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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.

How to divide a business in a divorce

When a California business owner gets divorced, it is important to know exactly how much the company is worth. This is because it may be divided in the divorce settlement. How it is divided may depend on the structure of the business; it may be necessary to buy out a spouse if he or she is a partner in the company. Even if the business is run as a sole proprietorship, a spouse may be entitled to a portion of its value.

It may be beneficial to have an outside party perform the valuation. This person will calculate the worth of equipment such as computers, land or buildings that the business owns. He or she will also create a tangible value for intangible assets such as brand recognition and goodwill. Having a neutral party conduct the valuation may prevent a spouse from manipulating company finances to avoid paying its true value in a divorce.

Addiction, infidelity among common divorce reasons

While California marriages may end for many reasons, the causes of most divorces fall under just a few categories. Money problems are a common reason for divorce. Poverty can be stressful but so can large disparities in income, including if a woman makes significantly more than her husband.

Marriages also end because of infidelity, whether it is a one-time incident or something that happens many times. An affair might also be emotional. Addictions to things like drugs, gambling and work can also put an end to a relationship.

Risk factors for divorce

Making a marriage work is difficult for many California couples. However, they may be interested in learning about certain risk factors that can make it more likely that they will divorce. Unfortunately, people generally do not have any control over many of these factors.

For example, one risk factor is being the child of divorced parents. The scientific evidence suggests that the experience of watching his or her parents go through a divorce contributes to a child's propensity to do the same thing. Individuals who got married in their teens or early 20s also are more likely to get divorced. On the other hand, getting married after the age of 32 also is a risk factor for divorce. Another indicator of divorce is when a couple spent more than $20,000 on their wedding. In fact, the marriages of couples that shelled out this kind of money were three and half times more likely to fail.

Many Americans face wage garnishment

In the United States, one out of every 14 workers is having his or her wages garnished according to ADP Research. California residents and others were most likely to have wages garnished to pay back child support. Overall, child support garnishments made up 3 percent of all garnishments, and they were the most common type of garnishment of those studied by ADP. The study also looked at garnishment related to bankruptcy, tax debt and other common scenarios.

Nationally, there were 1.4 obligations per each worker who had his or her wages garnished. Of those who had their wages garnished, 71 percent were male, and those were mostly related to child support payments. Furthermore, 62 percent of workers who had their wages garnished were between the ages of 35 and 54. Those who worked at smaller companies were less likely than those working at larger companies to have their wages garnished.

Divorce may lead to a change in filing status

Among other changes after a divorce, California couples who are ending their marriage may find that their tax situation is different. For instance, an individual who gets divorced during the current calendar year will usually file single. This is true regardless of how much time he or she spent married during that year. It may be important for parents to determine who will have access to the child tax credit as well as the dependent credit.

The dependent credit is worth $4,050 per child, but only one parent can claim it. In most cases, the custodial parent is the one who gets it. However, it is possible for noncustodial parents to be given that credit. If a noncustodial parent does claim that credit, both parents will need to fill out Form 8332, and the noncustodial parent will need to file it with his or her tax return.

Family Law in California

When children in California have two different sets of rules to abide by, they may constantly feel on guard to avoid getting in trouble. It would be especially difficult to find common ground if the two sets of rules contradicted each other. This can be precisely what children experience when divorced parents share custody and have two separate versions of house rules.

If the rules of the two houses contradict each other too much, it can be downright confusing for children to keep up with. The most important thing that children need is a semblance of order, constancy, structure, and predictability. In contentious divorces, even the rules parents make for their children can become a battleground, and the same spite that comes out in struggles over who gets what can emerge in laying down the law at home.

What to consider before going to mediation

When a couple chooses to get a divorce, mediation may be a civilized method of accomplishing that goal. This may be especially useful for California residents who have children. However, it may be a good idea for anyone considering mediation to learn more about what this process entails. Doing so many increase the odds that mediation meets a person's needs in a family law matter.

Individuals are urged to prepare emotionally for mediation as they may feel sad, angry or frustrated about their current situation. Mediation may also present an opportunity to speak openly for the first time in years, which could increase the chances of a person getting emotional. It is important to have specific facts and numbers if the issue is related to property or other financial matters. For instance, it may be worthwhile to know exactly how much each party made in a given year or how much an item was appraised for.

Gavin & Dersch Law and Mediation

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Vista, CA 92084

Phone: 760-691-1763
Fax: 760-941-4425
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San Diego, CA 92130

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  • 10 BEST 2016 | CLIENT SATISFACTION |American Institute of Family Law Attorneys
  • State Bar of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization

    Attorney Wayne Dersch is a certified family law specialist.Learn More

  • 10 BEST 2018 | Attorney |  CLIENT SATISFACTION |American Institute of Family Law Attorneys