California Family Law Blog

Trying to break free from a financially abusive spouse

When you think of abuse in a relationship, you may think of physical violence or even emotional trauma. What may not come to mind is financial abuse, but this is more common than you may realize, and it may result in long-term harm of you are the target of this behavior.

You may not consider yourself a victim of financial abuse, especially if your spouse has provided you with a nice home and other things you need and want. In fact, your friends may envy your lifestyle. However, when it comes to money, you may feel like a prisoner, unable to make decisions about spending for household items, let alone planning for a major change in your life, such as seeking a divorce.

How is Martial Property Divided During Divorce in California?

When dividing marital property pursuant to divorce in California, the rules are clear, but are also often confusing. California is a community property state, and as such all property acquired during marriage is divided 50/50. Most states do not operate under community property rules, preferring instead to use a system of property division known as "equitable division." Equitable division gives the court much more discretion in applying concepts of "fault" to the decision of who gets what in a divorce. California, however, is what is known as a "no fault" state, meaning fault is not considered in this context of deciding who gets what, because (to put it simply) all assets and debts acquired during marriage belong equally to both spouses and must be divided equally upon dissolution of marriage.

Seven co-parenting resolutions for the new year

Newly single people often make personal new years' resolutions. Lose weight, eat healthier, visit friends. In addition to working towards your better self, you may consider creating a new years' resolution towards or with your co-parent. 

How to Handle High Asset Divorces

Divorce can be a contentious, time-consuming and often complex process. High net worth divorces compound those complexities. With more assets to divide, it can take more time to reach a fair and reasonable divorce settlement. (If you have a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, that can help simplify the process.)

Sole custody: Proving you are the better parent

When you first got married, you and your spouse may have been like many California married couples who felt like they were ready to take on the world as long as they had each other. Such intense emotions are common in newlyweds and tend to become a bit more subdued as time goes on and life happens. Those "us against the world" feelings may have resurfaced when you started having children. Parenthood has a way of making spouses feel strongly united.  

You may have never imagined that you'd be facing the circumstances you are right now, preparing for divorce and planning to seek sole custody of your children. If you want the court to grant sole custody, it essentially means you have to convince the judge overseeing the case that you are the better parent and that it would be in your children's best interests to live with you over you ex.  

Can you get your visitation order changed?

Now that some time has passed since you settled your divorce, you may be feeling confident that you and your children are adapting as well as expected to your new lifestyle. While you might still have a few "down" days here and there, for the most part, you have hopefully built a strong support system around yourselves that you can easily access when needed. Perhaps your extended family and closest friends are a big part of that system. 

Like most good parents in California and beyond, you realize that with life comes change. Your children have likely already adapted to many changes since your divorce; however, what if a situation arises since you signed your visitation agreement that warrants further change? Depending on the exact issue at hand, you may be able to request modification of your existing court order.  

Infidelity takes a back seat in divorce...sort of

If you are the type of person who simply won't stand for your spouse cheating on you, then when you found out about it, you probably decided that your marriage needed to end. Despite your anger, and perhaps a desire to punish your spouse, you cannot allege adultery or infidelity as grounds for divorce.

California's courts do not assign blame when it comes to the breakdown of a marriage. However, the infidelity could play a role in your divorce after all.

Getting it right when you decide to separate

Many California couples may not yet be ready to file for divorce but instead decide to separate. Perhaps they hold out hope that they can save their marriages but need to live physically apart to find out. Whether they do it for the sake of the children, for religious reasons or for financial reasons, among other things, they decide it would be better for them, at least at the time, to remain legally married.

However, they want to go their separate ways and live their own lives until they are ready to file for divorce or get back together. In any case, if it appears that the separation will last for any appreciable amount of time, it may be a good idea to enter into a separation agreement first.

Parental alienation syndrome: Are your kids victims?

Divorce is never easy and if you're one of many California parents whose children have been having difficulty adapting to a new lifestyle, you are definitely not alone in your struggle. It's understandable that your kids may go through various emotions as they come to terms with the idea that their parents are no longer married to each other. It's also understandable that you and your children will have good days and bad days as you move on in life after you settle your divorce.

However, it is not appropriate for your former spouse to try to alienate you from your children. There are certain recognizable patterns of behavior that one parent will often exhibit when trying to ruin the parent/child relationship of the other parent. In fact, experts have labeled the problem, "Parental Alienation Syndrome." If you believe your kids are victims, you can reach out for immediate support.

Can I settle child custody issues without an attorney?

As complex as child custody issues may be, you and your spouse may have decided to work out those questions on your own instead of bringing attorneys into the mix. If this worked well for you when you dealt with property division or support concerns, you may be confident you will resolve the matter peaceably.

However, it is important that any divorcing parent not lose sight of what is at stake. It can be easy to focus on sticking to the plan of negotiating a parenting agreement on your own, but there are certain signs that indicate having legal counsel is in your best interests and the best interests of the child.

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