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Sacramento Family Law Blog

Study finds many men still handle marital finances

The marriages of California couples older than 50 might be less likely to last than in previous decades. The divorce rate among older couples has doubled in the last two decades, and this could mean additional difficulties for people who have not participated in managing the household finances.

According to a report by UBS Global Management that looked at couples and divorced or widowed women with $250,000 or more in investable assets, the tendency for men to fall into the traditional role of handling investments occurs across generations. More than 60 percent of millennial women and 54 percent of baby boomer women said they did not make the investment decisions in their relationship. The study also found that significantly more men than women were confident in their knowledge of investment and that a majority of parents with children under 21 with comfortable with the idea of letting their daughter's hypothetical husband handle the marital finances.

Co-parenting after divorce isn't always easy, but it's possible

In the midst of a tough divorce or even soon after one, a lot can be on a parent's mind. One thing it can be important to consider is how to make co-parenting work and create an environment where kids feel comfortable growing up in a situation where their parents are no longer married to each other.

This consideration is also important because family court judges have expectations of divorcing parents, and considerate parents want to show the court that they can cooperate. Also of concern is that children of divorce can be adversely affected by parents' ongoing battles.

The link between chores and divorce

California residents may understand how stressful it can be to split household chores. A Harvard Business School study found that 25 percent of couples who divorced cited disagreements over housework as the main reason. The study looked at 3,000 couples, and those that spent money on items that helped save time on housework were more likely to remain together. This was because they had more time to spend with each other and were generally less stressed.

A study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending as little as $100 a month for outsourcing jobs could make couples happier. This money would generally be spent on having clothes dry cleaned or groceries delivered to a home. For those who don't have money, communication skills can help keep a relationship going strong. In most cases, couples don't actually end their relationship because they had to do the dishes again.

How parents can help children deal with a divorce

When a California family breaks up, parents sometimes have trouble conducting themselves in a way that does not harm the children. If the divorce is or was not amicable, however, dealing with child custody issues can often be difficult for the parents. However, there are things that they can do that can help the children feel stable and loved even during a time of major transitions.

During a divorce, the children may have a number of fears and emotions that they may not feel like they can talk about with their parents. The parents in this situation can help the children with this transition phase by encouraging them to continue with their schooling and activities as they would normally. Parents should also be on the lookout for any symptoms that could be related to depression, self-blame or other negative emotions. If the children are having trouble with the situation, working with a therapist may help.

Modern custody arrangements are changing

For parents in California and throughout the country, child custody arrangements are changing from the traditional model in which the mother usually got custody of the child and the father got limited visitation time, often a few hours with the child on a weeknight and alternate weekends. The model is shifting toward one that focuses on the child, and what many people believe is better for the child is spending significant time with each parent.

Couples may employ creative solutions toward this end. Some keep a home that the children live in while the parents take turns alternating in and out. However, this has its challenges. One couples bought a home with two master suites, and the woman says when she is not there, she keeps hers locked. Another found they had too much conflict about issues such as the condition the house was left in. They changed to an arrangement in which their child spent some nights during the week and every other weekend with each of them.

How to make divorce work after 50

California residents who get divorced later in life may have a difficult time managing their finances. This is because they have to maintain their own household while splitting assets that they have spent their lives accruing. Furthermore, there is less time to recover financially from a divorce that occurs at age 50 or later. However, there are ways that individuals can limit the impact.

One strategy may be to opt for a collaborative divorce. This process involves both parties working together to end their marriage in a way that benefits each person. Changes to the way that alimony is accounted for could make it worthwhile to revisit how much a person may be paying in spousal support. Couples can also benefit by waiting until 10 years has passed prior to getting divorced. Doing so makes a person eligible for Social Security benefits based on the other party's work record.

8 Steps to modifying child custody orders in California

Child custody agreements are not permanent. In fact, the California courts recommend renegotiating portions of the parenting agreement every two to three years as the child’s needs change. If both parents agree to proposed changes they simply need to submit the revised agreement to the court for approval. Requests for modifications where parents do not agree are more challenging and require assistance from the court.

The change must be warranted

Errors to avoid when dividing a retirement account

California couples who are getting a divorce will need a document known as a qualified domestic relations order if they have 401(k)s or pension plans to divide. This document, which is usually drafted by an attorney and must be approved by a plan administrator, allows a distribution from these plans in the event of divorce without incurring taxes or penalties.

The information in both the divorce agreement and the QDRO regarding this distribution must be consistent. How the distribution will be made must also be specified. A person can take the distribution directly and owe only regular income tax or roll the amount into an IRA and pay no taxes at the time.

Financial planning in case of a divorce

While no one likes to think about divorce, California couples should consider ways to protect their finances before tying the knot. Some people might feel that preparations such as prenuptial agreements indicate a cynical approach to marriage. However, future spouses may look at it as akin to wearing a seat belt even though they don't expect to be an accident.

Couples who are already married can create a postnuptial agreement, which is similar to a prenup. They might also want to consider creating separate accounts even if they also have joint accounts. They should keep financial documents, including records of inheritances. Unless the spouse wants to mingle inheritances with marital finances, it's important to keep them in separate accounts.

Managing finances in a divorce close to retirement

The divorce rate for people 50 and older is on the rise. Ending a marriage closer to retirement presents some financial challenges, but there are things people can do to address them.

Before meeting with an attorney, people should make a list of all assets as well as a list of all jobs held by either person. The former will serve as a jumping-off point to begin considering how property will be divided. The latter will help with compiling a list of stock options, pensions and other types of benefits from long-ago jobs that a person might have forgotten.


Judy L. Ford Attorney at Law
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Suite 108
Sacramento, CA 95825

Phone: 916-900-1131
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