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Overview of California's relocation and custody laws

When you initiate a divorce, your family will certainly change. You may even want to relocate to start a new life or get a new job. If you are the custodial parent, you must follow the move-away laws in California before packing up your bags and taking your child to a new city.

While California laws provide you with the right to change your child's residence, the core concern in a custody case is what is best for your child. If moving away will have a negative impact on your son or daughter, the judge may decide to give your ex custody instead. Here are some important considerations in move-away cases. 

Property division: Community property vs quasi-community property

For Californians who are in the middle of a divorce, one of the most common topics for intense dispute is property division. There are certain laws that regulate how property will be distributed as part of the divorce. While most will understand the concept of community property and separate property, there is also quasi-community property. Understanding the difference between community and quasi property is important in a case as it moves forward.

With community property, anything that the spouses own in tandem will be included. If it was purchased or acquired while they were married - except for gifts and inheritance - it will be community property and subject to equitable division. In addition, earnings that both parties brought into the relationship and everything purchased will be community property. Also included is debt that was accrued. Even if one party used, for example, a credit card in his or her name, both are responsible for it. The property and debt is split evenly in California.

Understanding the details of joint custody in California

Many residents of Sacramento County have heard the phrase, "the devil is in the details." The exact meaning of the phrase often remains obscure until a person goes through a divorce involving custody of minor children. Whether parents agree or disagree on which of them will have custody of the children, the details that must be settled either by agreement or court order are numerous. The failure to give proper consideration to one or more of these details can derail even a well-intentioned parenting plan.

Many divorcing couples opt for joint custody of the children because they know that children fare better if both parents are involved in their lives. Sometimes, however, a failure to understand the basic mechanics of joint custody can lead parents to make wrong choices for themselves or their children. Child custody means either legal custody or physical custody. Legal custody refers to the parental right to make decisions for children in the areas of education, health care, general welfare and religion. Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the children will live.

Calculating spousal support in a California divorce

When a couple in Sacramento County decides to end their marriage, the issue of spousal support can be troubling to both parties. Generally, the court will order the higher earning spouse to pay alimony (or "spousal support") to the lower earning spouse. This generality has been modified by the California legislature to include a list of several factors that they must use in calculating both temporary and permanent spousal support. Sacramento County courts use the "Santa Clara method" for calculating temporary support: 40% of the high earners net income (less child support) minus 50% of low earner's net income.

The factors include the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, the standard of living that the couple enjoyed during their marriage, each spouse's earning capacity, each spouse's ability to contribute to maintaining the standard of living they enjoyed during their marriage, whether one spouse helped the other obtain an education or career training and whether the income of one spouse was lowered by the duties of child care. Other issues that may have an impact on support are the tax impact of paying or receiving support and whether either spouse was guilty domestic abuse toward the other spouse or other family members.

Lack of prenup may cost singer Adele millions in divorce

Pop singer Adele took her time in confirming that she was married to her financier husband. The pair waited five years after they started dating to announce that they were married. Now, the couple appears to be on the verge of divorce, and Adele faces the loss of many millions of dollars because she and her husband apparently did not sign a prenuptial agreement. No divorce proceedings have commenced, but observers of celebrity marriages are already talking about the amount of money that Adele will be required to pay to Konecki if the high asset divorce is filed in California.

Since California is a community property state, the money earned by the couple during their marriage must be divided equally. The exact numbers have not been disclosed, but one magazine has estimated Adele's net worth to be about $182 million. Much of this wealth was earned during the couple's marriage. One source estimated that Adele's net worth increased by $100 million in 2017 and 2018. Her husband is not exactly penniless; he was a successful financier at Lehman Brothers before he married Adele.

How a forensic accountant can ensure a fair property division

Most residents of Sacramento who are thinking about ending their marriage may think they can go through the process alone with minimal professional help, but this might leave them at a disadvantage. Experts, such as a forensic accountants, can be very helpful during the divorce profess. This branch of the accounting profession is not well known, but an expert forensic accountant can be an essential part of a winning divorce team.

Forensic accountants specialize in analyzing, evaluating and testifying in court about financial matters. In a high asset divorce, they can offer testimony about the identification of marital assets and liabilities, the value of minority shares or a controlling interest in a business and future income projections of small businesses. Forensic accounting firms are frequently retained to perform an overall evaluation of a couple's properties and to prepare a report that the court can use in dividing personal property.

What happens after the divorce?

Most Californians who get divorced think that the judgment ending the marriage is the end of the divorce process. However, divorced persons should attend to a number of matters that are not usually addressed in the typical judgment.

Perhaps the most obvious post-divorce issue is ensuring that the former spouse is no longer able to use credit cards that formerly belonged to both spouses. The easiest way to deal with this problem is usually cancellation of all jointly held cards and opening a new account in one name. Life insurance policies and wills usually have named beneficiaries. Changing these names may be necessary (assuming that such changes do not violate the final judgment and decree). Anyone who is newly divorced should inform his or her employer of the changed status so that withholding statements, W-2 Forms and other tax issues will reflect the employee's correct marital status. Another issue may be a jointly owned automobile that the court awarded to one spouse or the other. The California Department of Motor Vehicles should be notified of the change in ownership.

Why have a prenuptial agreement?

Marriages are generally regarded as times of celebration and optimism toward the future. Why spoil these good feelings with the suggestion that the couple execute a premarital agreement? Don't such agreements deal with the consequences of divorce, not marriage? And don't prenuptial agreements, by their very nature, conflict with the emotions that have led to the decision to marry? While the answers to the last two questions may seem like a "yes," premarital agreements can promote marital stability and happiness by eliminating questions about the division of property in the event of a divorce.

The requirements for a binding premarital agreement in California shed light on how this goal can be achieved. First, the agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties before the wedding takes place. Second, both parties must make complete financial disclosure to the other party at least seven days before the agreement is signed. Both parties should have the agreement reviewed by their own attorney, and each must sign the agreement voluntarily. A showing of duress by one party can invalidate the agreement.

Consider your credit in a high asset divorce

Sometimes, relationships and financial accounts don't mix. This can be true when you and your now estranged spouse are thinking about or going through a divorce. Most married couples share some financial assets and responsibilities that can include bank accounts, mortgages and credit cards. Since California is a community property state, there can be additional things to consider in terms of finances, separation and divorce.

It's good to keep an eye on all financial accounts while you and your spouse are separated or during the divorce process. The last thing a person wants is for their spouse to go on a spending spree, to open or close accounts without a person's knowledge or to affect a person's credit score by affiliation by marriage. However, it's also good to keep an eye on it to ensure there is no unusual activity on those accounts and also to keep a person's financial accountability in check.

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