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Sacramento Family Law Blog

Minimizing the financial impact of a divorce

Those who get divorced are 7 percent less likely to be able to maintain their lifestyle in retirement compared to those who don't divorce, according to a new study. Getting a divorce at age 50 or older could make it even harder to maintain a sufficient lifestyle in retirement. Although the divorce rate is stabilizing for California residents and Americans as a whole, it is increasing for those who are 50 and older.

Changes to the tax code are also changing the way in which divorce settlements are structured. Traditionally, alimony payments were considered income to those who received them and a tax write-off to those who made them. However, this will no longer be true for divorces finalized after 2018.

A disability isn't enough to stop child support obligations

California residents who receive child support may need it to meet the best interests of their children. If a noncustodial parent becomes disabled, it could jeopardize his or her ability to make child support payments. However, if a parent receives disability benefits, it is likely that a portion of those payments will be garnished and given to the custodial parent.

Social Security Disability benefits may be garnished to pay child support obligations. This is generally the only reason why such payments would be eligible for garnishment. Furthermore, a judge may also consider whether a disabled parent has any other sources of income when deciding how to modify an existing support order. As a general rule, a support order will be modified on a temporary basis if the disability is expected to be temporary.

Common mistakes made when divorcing

Divorce is a unique experience for individuals throughout California, but there are quite a few common mistakes a person can make when in the process of a divorce. When considering a divorce, there a few checklist items that should be avoided.

One of the most common mistakes during an equitable split is that the settlement is often centered on the current conditions. It is important to consider future events that could affect the goals of completing an equitable split. Factoring in potential future events can prevent having to revisit the agreement in court. Maintaining the same lifestyle prior to a divorce may be difficult because the two households are essentially separating their finances. Assets may have to be sold, and lifestyle adjustments might need to be made to transition into a single lifestyle. Financial circumstances change when a divorce occurs. This means that both parties involved may need to achieve a higher level of financial education.

How to get back on your feet after a divorce

Getting through a divorce can be tough. The process can be grueling and extensive. Then, what comes after might not be any easier either.

Divorce can leave you in mental, emotional and financial distress and you may wonder if you will ever recover. Here are a few ways you can get back on your feet after a divorce.

Parents can interact with children without having custody

If a parent in California is denied custody of his or her children, it is still possible for that parent to have visitation rights. Typically, a noncustodial parent is allowed to see a child on weekends or holidays. However, a visitation plan can be customized to meet a parent's needs and to ensure the best interests of the child are being met. A judge will likely prefer that parents come up with their own plan whenever possible.

It is important to recognize that there are many reasons why a parent can be denied custody of a child. Many of these reasons have nothing to do with a parent being unfit to raise a son or daughter. Instead, a judge may decide that a child would benefit more from staying in one home as opposed to living in two.

Why the rate of gray divorces is increasing

While divorce rates have stabilized for most age groups, they have actually surged for spouses 50 and over. In a recent study, it was estimated that 25 percent of all divorces were gray (involved people 50 and older). While part of the reason for the dramatic increase is because the Baby Boomers are aging, there may be some societal factors as well. California couples may want to pay attention to these trends.

Prior to the 1960s, the basis for marriage was often the binding of responsibilities. Divorce was generally only acceptable if a spouse violated his or her vows of binding responsibilities. After the 1960s, which saw a period of social unrest, the expectations surrounding marriage changed. Marriage became about self-fulfillment and personal self-actualization. If an ex-spouse began to feel unfulfilled, he or she could exit the marriage by asking for a divorce.

Divorce and paying for college

Many parents in California have concerns about how they will be able to contribute financially to their children's college expenses. For parents who are going through a divorce, those concerns may be compounded by the impact that the process can have on their finances.

One important factor that divorcing parents should keep in mind is that their financial plans for their children's college education are likely to change. As the income for the household is divided, there is likely to be less money available to apply to college expenses. The question of whether a child is to attend public or private institution needs to be revisited. Serious consideration also has to be given to whether student loans, scholarships or grants should be pursued.

The role of financial planners and negotiation in divorce

Divorce can cost a California couple $15,000 or more. Increasingly, couples are looking at ways to keep these costs down as well as help ensure their own financial stability after divorce. Using a financial planner and negotiating a divorce settlement instead of fighting over property in litigation may be one way to do this.

The financial planner can be part of a person's divorce team that also consists of an attorney, family members and anyone else who may be able to offer support or financial advice. Couples may struggle to negotiate an agreement on their own, but having this team in place can help.

3 reasons baby boomers are divorcing at an all-time high

Grey divorces are on the rise and have many of us wondering why. Couples who are over the age of 50 are suddenly packing up and parting ways, moving onto a new chapter of their life. But, it hasn’t always been that way. In the past 25 years, the divorce rate for those who are 50 or older has nearly doubled, according to a Pew Research study.

What’s changed? Here are a few reasons that some couples say they decided to call it quits later in life.

Shifting roles within a marriage can lead to divorce

Traditional gender roles may play a part on the road to divorce for many couples in California. While many marriages begin on an equal footing in terms of household responsibilities and career advancement, many other couples assume that husbands and wives will follow traditional roles. While each type of marriage may be successful, shifting roles can cause uncomfortable change that could eventually lead to divorce.

One study by researchers in Sweden found that women whose careers suddenly took off after they started off their marriages not working or earning less than their husbands were more likely to divorce. It can be difficult for couples who started out with traditional gender roles to evolve their relationships as the women's careers thrive. Wives who are more career focused may be able to pay for professional cleaning and child care, but the shift can be jarring when they earlier had spent most of their time in the home caring for the children. In addition, some husbands, particularly those in traditional marriages, feel that their careers are a particularly important source of identity, particularly as a family provider.

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Judy L. Ford Attorney at Law
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