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Vista California Family Law Blog

Dividing assets: Keep your kids in mind

When you're getting a divorce, dividing your assets makes a difference in your finances and future. Determining how to divide your assets is an important part of resolving your divorce.

If you have children, the decisions you make now could come to impact them in the future. For big assets, like homes and cash, determining who receives what may become difficult. Both parents need to be able to provide for a child, and in cases of joint custody, deciding who keeps the marital home could be a challenge.

Should you fight for retirement, spousal support and custody?

There are three things that are normally important to military people going through a divorce: children, money and retirement. Attorneys often tell the people involved in these military divorces to choose what is most important to them. By focusing on what's most important, you can, at the very least, fight for what you're most concerned about. If you have to nitpick each of these categories, you may find that your divorce drags on and takes many months or years to resolve.

Here's a good example of how to focus on one important thing but not to let the others fall away without your input. You want your child custody plan to be in place, and you are most concerned about having enough time with your child. That means you need to focus your time and negotiations on child custody.

Mediation can help you resolve your divorce faster

Divorce mediation is one good way to get through disputes without necessarily dragging out your divorce. Any time you and your spouse are willing to work together toward resolving a problem, mediation is a better option than turning to the court for help.

There are many things you can go over during mediation including retirement division, child support or maintenance, child custody schedules and the distribution of your property. You can also resolve disputes to do with taxation and alimony.

What should you consider during a military divorce?

It can be hard to go through a divorce when you're in the military. It may be difficult to find the time, since you may be stationed away from the United States. Even if you participate in the divorce from afar, the time it takes to mail and receive information draws out the process.

Before you go through a military divorce with your spouse, it's a good idea to talk to someone familiar with the process. It's very similar to a civilian divorce, but there are some factors that will impact you differently. For example, you will have to share a portion of your retirement payments with your ex-spouse if you have served and been married for 10 years consecutively. If your spouse doesn't qualify, that doesn't mean you won't have to pay a share of your retirement to him or her, just that the direct payments from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service won't be made automatically.

How does California law divide marital property?

During a divorce, you have to settle your debt and property arrangements. This can be incredibly complicated, depending on what you own and how it's currently divided. Before you file your paperwork with the court, it's a good idea to talk to your attorney to make sure every asset and debt is listed correctly. This is particularly important if you have anything of significant value to disclose.

What is property?

California divorces in the military

Divorce is a difficult transition for every family, no matter what the profession of each spouse is. However, when one spouse is working in the military, there are additional factors that need to be taken into account.

Specific issues that can arise as a divorcing military spouse can be in relation to being on active duty. For example, you may not be able to respond to a divorce action because you are serving oversees. When this is the case in California, there is a law to protect military members from being held in default.

Adopting a stepchild: What you need to know

Adopting a stepchild has the potential to be one of the most important times in both your lives. Adoption is a serious step, though, so it's important that you know if it's the right choice for your situation. You may have seen many videos of people uniting through adoption and the love it can bring, but it also has a potential to put strain or pressure on children or their biological parents.

When you consider adopting your stepchild, remember that one biological parent does have to give up his or her rights. Adoption makes you legally responsible for your stepchild, making him or her your child by law. You'll have all the same responsibilities of any birth parent.

Your career could define the length of your marriage

If you have had the opportunity to be involved in the military, you likely know that it's a very specific kind of life. You move often, face danger that civilians do not and may have to be away from home for long periods of time. This kind of life isn't for everyone, and it can put a strain on your relationships.

It's not just military members who could have shorter marriages as a result of their careers, though. In fact, the career you choose could determine if your marriage is meant to last. Interestingly, being in the military itself doesn't make you more or less likely to get divorced than other careers. Being a casino owner, on the other hand, increases your risk of divorce to around 52 percent. Comparatively, salaried professionals such as physical scientists have a divorce rate closer to 18 percent.

New tax codes change the way divorcees must approach alimony

If you're looking into getting a divorce, you might want to move faster than you were thinking. A new alimony tax change could end up hurting divorcing couples.

Alimony has been deductible on the payer's taxes and taxed on the recipient's end for around the last 75 years. A new change alters that. With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, all divorces that take place after Dec. 31, 2018 will no longer go by the old rules. Recipients won't have to pay taxes on alimony, but the payer no longer receives a deduction on his or her taxes.

Will you lose everything if you divorce when you're a senior?

When you reach your senior years, you may not be considering a divorce as something that you'd ever go through with. You've made it this long in your marriage, and you have a solid life built, and intertwined, with your spouse's.

That's why it was a shock when your spouse announced that he or she wanted to get a divorce. It's alarming, as well, because there's not much time left for you to work or change careers to support yourself.