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Vista California Family Law Blog

Protect your property during a divorce in California

A divorce isn't something to take lightly, and most people know that even the most amicable divorce has the potential to go wrong. With a risk of your spouse becoming angry and trying to get more out of the divorce, it's in your best interests to do what you can to protect yourself.

In California, marital property is treated as community property. What that means is that the majority of your property can be divided equally between you. If you are the primary earner or came into the marriage with more assets, the burden is on you to protect yourself when it comes to divorce.

Be wary and keep your inheritance safe during divorce

When you're heading into a divorce, property division is going to be on your mind. If you've recently received an inheritance or got one in the past while married, it's something you'll want to protect. In most situations, inheritances are protected during a divorce, but that isn't always the case.

For the most part, inheritances aren't subject to equitable distribution or other divorce distribution guidelines due to the fact that they're treated as separate property. In a state like California, you may think that community property would result in you having to divide your inheritance, but as long as it's kept separate, it may not have to be.

One billionaire's divorce shows the intensity of separation

As someone who has many assets and a great deal of money, you'll want to make sure you do everything you can to protect yourself in the case of a divorce. While you may or may not have a prenuptial agreement, it's not the only thing you can rely on.

In cases where a divorce is particularly contentious, there is a great need for protective contracts and documents, but not everyone has them. In a case out of California, one billionaire described his contentious divorce with his wife. They are fighting over homes, artwork, their pets and their vehicles, just to name a few assets in dispute.

Creating a parenting plan helps balance your child's life

Child custody is an important part of any divorce. You need to decide how your child will fit into your life following a divorce, just as you did during your marriage. You should be able to work out a plan where your child sees both parents and has the support he or she needs to feel comfortable in this new situation.

Deciding on custody is difficult for parents, but it's normally in your best interests to work together to determine custody arrangements. If you and your spouse (or ex-spouse) cannot do so, then the judge will obtain the right to make the decision on your behalf. If that happens, then you will not be able to negotiate following the decision; the decision is final.

Fatherlessness is a problem to recognize in America

Divorces normally resolve around children, making sure they get the best possible outcome. However, that isn't always what happens. When a father has to be away from his children, it can make them feel distant. For many families, this leads to a kind of fatherlessness that has to be addressed.

What isn't okay is when fathers who want to be present are prevented from seeing their children despite their best efforts. The military may deploy parents, but that shouldn't lead to children feeling abandoned. Their parents' jobs are different but not reason to withhold their children from them.

What happens when you get a divorce in California?

California is a state that values equality, and this is shown not only in how people are treated there under law but also in how it protects those going through divorce. California is a community property state, meaning that each person is entitled to half of the assets acquired during a marriage or domestic partnership with few exceptions.

Common pieces of community property include residences, clothing, furniture and automobiles. Stocks, pension plans, businesses, apartments and other assets may also be divisible during a divorce. It's always presumed that the couple shares marital assets equally, but you and your spouse may work out a different arrangement if you wish.

Adopting in the military: Knowing the benefits

Adopting when you're in the military may seem difficult, but the truth is that there are benefits to doing so. Military families have benefits when they're on active duty including up to $2,000 that the military will pay individuals to cover adoption expenses. The military also allows for 21 days of leave, aimed at helping you bond with your child and health care benefits for the child prior to the adoption's finalization.

Military members can obtain $2,000 per adoption up to $5,000 per calendar year. If both parents are in the military, this amount is not doubled. You'll need to file a DD Form 2675 within a year of the adoption to obtain the reimbursement benefit.

3 separations, 3 sets of rules in California

There are three primary options for ending a marriage or domestic partnership. You can go through a divorce, get a legal separation or choose an annulment. Each one has its own benefits.

Divorces, for example, fully separate you from your spouse. You no longer have any right to each other's assets or a binding relationship. A divorce is a good idea if you intend to get married again in the future. Your time in court will be spent determining a fair agreement between you and your spouse, so if you can both come up with child support, custody and spousal support agreements on your own, that will help you resolve your divorce faster.

How can you protect your assets in a community property state?

In California, property division laws still follow community property laws. With community property laws in place, it means that any property you obtained during a marriage is to be equally split upon divorce. This is great for some people, but for others, it may mean they lose out on much of what they've done during a marriage.

Here's an example. If your spouse doesn't work and you buy a home, all the furniture and support him or her, it would stand within reason that you would take most assets upon divorce. That's not how it works in California, though. Instead, you're both seen as equal partners, so you'll split assets 50-50. The only time that doesn't apply is if assets were kept separate and earned before marriage or through inheritance.

Separation and a right to support

Spousal support is often a point of contention in divorces, because the spouse who needs to pay it doesn't want to be tied down to the ex-spouse, and the ex-spouse doesn't want to rely on his or her once-husband or wife. Despite the fact that spousal support does entwine the lives of two people hoping to separate, it is often a vital component to a divorce settlement.

For spouses who did not work or who spent significant amounts of money supporting the other spouse through schooling or other ventures, spousal support is a way to provide them with compensation and financial support. This is a complicated issue, so most people work with an attorney when determining if they owe support or if they qualify to receive it.