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Roseville Family Law Blog

How a prenuptial agreement might be invalid

Prenuptial agreements serve many purposes, but in most cases they are used to provide certainty about the division of assets and payment of alimony in the event of divorce. California has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a statue that specifies the subjects that may be covered in a prenuptial agreement and the requirements for a valid agreement. While the statute answers many questions about prenuptial agreements, it does not speak plainly or loudly when the subject of invalidity arises.

Virtually every state requires that a prenuptial agreement be in writing and signed by both parties prior to the marriage. Different states have different requirements for the formalities of execution. Some require that both signatures be notarized, and other states do not impose such a requirement. California requires only the signatures of the parties; a notarization is not required.

The right legal approach to divorce

An impending divorce can create great amounts of stress, anger, sadness and grief. Many people in Sacramento who are facing the disruption of ending a marriage often wonder whether they need a lawyer to help them. Such doubts are especially common for younger people with short-duration marriages and little or no marital property. Nevertheless, the presence of minor children or joint involvement in running a family business, for example, can complicate any divorce.

The first step in a divorce is to visit an attorney and explain your circumstances. No two divorces are exactly alike, and a lawyer will need to know and understand your unique circumstances. If a divorce appears to be a complex case, a lawyer may be able to provide an understandable explanation of the issues that must be resolved.

Governor signs bill allowing courts to determine pet custody

Divorcing couples worry and wonder about many things, including the division of marital property, child custody and support and spousal maintenance. One thing that may not be considered until the last minute is the fate of a beloved pet. California Governor Jerry Brown has recently signed a bill that gives judges the explicit legal power to determine which spouse gets custody of a pet in a divorce and under what circumstances the non-custodial spouse can visit or have custody of the animal. Before the passage of this act, divorcing pet owners had no clear guidance about whether the court would consider a pet to be community property.

With the passage of this legislation, either party may file a motion with the court asking it to determine, prior to determining final ownership of the animal, which party shall be responsible for the care and feeding of the animal during the pendency of the divorce proceeding. The court, in its final order, can award sole or joint custody of the pet. The court must consider how the parties will care for the animal.

4 tax considerations when getting a divorce

Getting a divorce is stressful on its own, and paying taxes is its own difficult experience, too. When you put the two together, you may find it hard to cope. Divorcing brings a whole new set of tax issues that you must consider.

With so many things to worry and think about, it can feel impossible to understand how divorce will impact your taxes. Here is a list of four of the main ways your divorce may change the way you pay taxes: 

Dealing with retirement plans in a California divorce

For divorcing couples who have been married for a significant number of years the retirement plans owned by them may be the largest assets they own, worth more than even the house. Because California is a community property state, the process of dividing the assets in these plans can be very complex and involves provisions of both state and federal laws.

If the assets in each retirement plan are roughly equal, dividing the plans can be relatively simple: each spouse keeps his or her plan, and any significant difference can be removed by a cash payment or the transfer of another asset. But, what happens if only one spouse has a retirement plan or if the accumulated assets in the plans owned by each spouse are substantially unequal?

Two ways to avoid a court trial in a divorce case in California

Many couples in Sacramento who are pondering a divorce are concerned about the emotional strain and expense of an extended court trial. These concerns are increased if the marriage involves young children or if the couple has acquired significant assets to split during the divorce. The California court system provides two alternatives to a full-blown trial: mediation and collaborative divorce. The two processes can be very similar, but a knowledge of the differences may help a couple choose the process that works better for them.

Mediation involves the services of a person who is trained to work with divorcing couples to face their differences and to assist them in finding solutions. Most mediators will collect the facts of the case from each of the parties through court disclosures or information provided by the parties or their attorneys. After collecting the information, the mediator will meet with both parties and their attorneys. Mediators do not take sides, and they have no power to make binding decisions. Instead, a mediator helps each party understand the attitude of the other party and to see what issues divide them. Rather than choose one side over the other, a mediator will help the parties find common ground that will resolve their dispute and obviate the need for a trial. Mediators generally charge an hourly fee that is paid by the participating parties.

Parental fitness and child custody

A divorce can trigger ugly emotions for one or both spouses, especially if young children are involved. In some divorce cases in Sacramento County, one or both spouses will accuse the other of being an "unfit" parent. On some occasions, this accusation is merely the product of one spouse's anger toward the other spouse. On others, it is an attempt to injure the other spouse by preventing access to the children. And, on some occasions, the accusations are true. What happens then?

Judges do not like divorcing parents to use the courtroom as a battleground, and this preference applies very strongly in cases in which the parents are disputing child custody or visitation. In the event that one parent has valid concerns about the parental fitness of the other parent, certain guidelines should be followed. First, it is not enough to merely present personal "venom" as evidence. Anyone who wants to influence the court's decision must present information from third parties about the relative fitness of the two parents.

An overview of spousal support in California

One of the biggest concerns for any Sacramento resident who is considering a divorce is the subject of alimony, or "spousal support," to use the preferred California term. Generally speaking, California courts will order one spouse to pay support to the other spouse to alleviate unfair economic burdens that will arise out of the divorce. The spouse with the lower income will usually receive an award of spousal support from the other spouse, but a mere comparison of income levels does not settle the question.

California law specifies five factors that must be considered by the court in deciding whether to award alimony. The age, physical condition and financial condition of each spouse must be reviewed. The court must also evaluate each spouse's future earning abilities. The standard of living enjoyed by the couple during their marriage will also bear on the court's decision. The amount of alimony generally reflects whether the couple enjoyed a relatively high standard of living or a lower standard. The length of the marriage will also affect the amount of alimony - the longer the marriage, the greater the amount of alimony that is ordered. Finally, the court will look at the ability of each spouse to be self-supporting.

Dealing with post-divorce loneliness

A divorce can be an extremely unpleasant experience. Relationships are broken and rearranged, money problems may arise and any divorced person may deal with loneliness and even depression. For many divorced persons in the Sacramento area, the road to restoring life may seem endless and hopeless. Yet, psychotherapists who are experienced in dealing with post-divorce loneliness have developed a number of techniques that help people.

People who are recently divorced often seek new friendships, but limit the interaction to reciting tales of the divorce; what caused it, how awful the other spouse behaved and how miserable life is now. Such comments can easily drive away new friends. One therapist recommends taking a realistic look at the grief caused by the divorce. Her advice is to grieve freely, but be ready to leave the grief behind. Accepting the grief as a necessary part of the divorce process will help it pass more quickly.

Will you need to pay your spouse's legal fees for a divorce?

Couples will need to pay various fees when they want to divorce. Every case is different, but everyone should expect to pay quite a bit for the process. While there are some horror stories of people who had to pay upwards of $250,000 for a divorce, those instances are few and far between. 

One thought that typically pops into people's heads when starting a divorce is whether the former spouse can pay for their ex's legal fees. For the most part, each spouse will need to retain the services of separate lawyers. Each one will be responsible for paying the applicable fees, but in some circumstances, one spouse can indeed pay for the legal fees of the other partner. 

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