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.
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.
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.
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.
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.