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Angelina Jolie - Pitt looking to finalize divorce by year's end

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's divorce has been headline news for years now. There have been accusations on both sides and child custody headlines concerning the custody status of their six children. In recent news, Angelina Jolie reports that she is seeking to have a resolution to their divorce by the end of 2018. This process has been in the media spotlight for the roughly 2 years since divorce was filed with the court.

According to reports from Angelina and her team, Brad "has paid no meaningful child support" since the couple separated years ago. Due to the failure to financially support their children, Angelina's team insists that she'll seek a court order to get retroactive payments from him. There were reportedly unofficial arrangements made between the two to work out financial arrangements for their six children.

Enforcing child support orders in California

The failure of a non-custodial parent to pay court-ordered child support can be one the most bothersome post-divorce issues imaginable. Usually, the custodial parent depends on these payments for food, clothing, medical care and other aspects of the child's care. In the frequent situation where the custodial parent is not financially well-off, one or two missed support payments can be catastrophic. California recognizes the importance of support payments by providing penalties for anyone overlooking the responsibility to pay according to the court order.

A person who is owed delinquent child support can take a copy of the support order to an Office of the California Department of Child Support Services, and the agency staff will take the necessary steps to contact the other parent. If this process does not work, the delinquent parent often simply refusing to pay, the power of the courts must be invoked.

Using a joint appraiser in a California divorce

One of the most contentious issues in divorces involving wealthy couples is the valuation of joint property. Even in a community property state like ours, where joint assets are divided equally, many assets may require a valuation to ensure the equal division required by law. In the past, common practice dictated that each spouse hire an appraiser to provide expert testimony on the value of real property, business interests and uniquely valuable assets, such as works of art. A new trend is now emerging: the use of joint appraisers.

The concept is simple and the potential advantages are many. The divorcing spouses agree to hire one appraiser to value a particular asset such as a wholly owned small business. The spouses agree on which appraiser to hire, and they also agree to split the appraiser's fees and expenses. The spouses then exchange information and provide the same information to the appraiser. The appraiser then presents an opinion on value that both spouses have agreed to accept.

Could a legal separation be better for you than divorce?

The old idiom, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure,” could also apply to couples who make a quick decision to divorce, then regret their hasty actions later.

Sometimes divorce is not the answer, at least not for the time being. A legal separation might be the better, near-term solution to your marriage problems.

Enforcing child support orders across state borders

One the most vexatious post-divorce issues is enforcing an order for child support when one or both of the divorced parents has moved to another state. Fortunately for California residents facing this problem, the state has enacted the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), a law that significantly eases the problems of enforcing a support order in another jurisdiction that has adopted the same law. The law was adopted by California and the other 49 states in response to passage of an amendment to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.

A person who obtained a valid order from a California superior court requiring the payment of child support can ask the court to send a request to the court having personal jurisdiction over the payor spouse requesting issuance of an order for support. When the court that receives the request issues its own support order, that order then becomes enforceable against the payor parent. The payee parent can use the collection mechanisms in the state where the payor spouse resides. These mechanisms usually include wage garnishment and judgment liens against real property.

Understanding child custody in California

Of all the issues and disagreements that may arise in a divorce, child custody probably generates more emotional distress than alimony, property division and child support combined. Some divorcing parents use custody of the children as a weapon, while some genuinely believe that the other parent is not fit to have any sort of custody of the children. Many divorcing parents do not understand the different kinds of custody that are allowed under our state's law.

The most immediate issue is deciding which parent will have physical custody of the children, i.e., where will the children live. Physical can be sole or primary, meaning that the child will live with one parent all of the time and only visit the other parent. Custody can also be joint, meaning that the parents will share time with the children on a more or less equal basis. The type of custody is determined by the court's assessment of which arrangement serves the best interests of the child. In making this determination, the court considers a number of factors, including the age of the child, the child's relationship with each parent and the child's ties to school, home and the community.

The impact of social media on California divorces

Cell phones and social media have become part of daily life in Sacramento. People routinely send their friends pictures of children, pets and notable events in their lives. Even the stress of going through a divorce does not have much effect on how people use social media, but perhaps, it should. The thoughtless transmission of personal information on Facebook, Twitter and the many other forms of social media can have a damaging effect on a contested divorce.

One of the largest pitfalls of using social media is the creation and preservation of evidence that may help the other side. E-mails and text messages are admissible in evidence, and they can be obtained by subpoena. The transmission of vacation pictures at a luxurious resort may cripple the argument of a person who claims to have a low income job to avoid being saddled with high alimony or child support payments. Pictures of a new car could have the same effect.

Can spousal or child support debts be discharged in bankruptcy?

Once a Californian divorce is finalized and the court has issues its order obligating an ex-spouse to pay child and spousal support, ex-couples can finally breathe freely. But, then one receives a notice that says their former spouse has filed a petition under Chapter 7 of the federal Bankruptcy Code, asking the court to declare those child and spousal support obligations no longer binding. Is this possible? The person likely wonders whether they have endured the pain of divorce for nothing. The answer lies in the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, and the answer is positive.

Chapter 7 is intended to allow the debtor to shed most debts by surrendering his (or her) property to the bankruptcy trustee and selling that property to provide funds to pay existing debts. Any debts that are not paid are then discharged -- declared by the court to be uncollectible. If this provision applied to either child support or alimony, a person could defeat the ruling of the divorce court by filing a bankruptcy petition. Fortunately, Congress decided not to permit such an obvious ploy.

3 social media tips during divorce

If you regularly use social media, chances are you will keep logging on during your divorce. But be careful–what you post on social media may become part of a court document. Emotional outbursts or angry comments may be used against you in your divorce proceedings. 

You should carefully consider limiting your social media activity until your divorce is over. If you cannot keep yourself away, here are some guidelines for using your social media accounts while you are ending your marriage. 

Valuing a small business in a California divorce

Most residents of Sacramento contemplating a divorce understand that a fundamental issues is the division of marital assets. For couples without high value assets, the division can be relatively simple, but for couples who have accumulated significant wealth, the division of property can be complex. One of the thorniest questions is how to value a small business, especially if both spouses worked in the business.

The first step is the complete and accurate disclosure of all assets. For a small business, the company's assets and liabilities must be carefully tabulated. Next, a valuation date must be chosen. Usually, the parties select a date that is close to either the date of separation or the date of trial. Using some other valuation date may require approval from the court.

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