Unique Issues for the Baby Boomer Divorce

Unique Issues for the Baby Boomer Divorce

It’s no secret that Baby Boomer Divorces are on the rise.

According to the Office for National Statistics, divorce is decreasing in every age group except for couples in their 60s. U.S. Census Bureau reports that 25% of all divorces occur between couples who have been married 20 years or longer.

DIVORCE TIPS FOR BABY BOOMERS
1. Settlement is more important than ever: Legal Fees can be far more expensive for divorces with assets over 1 million dollars. When choosing an lawyer to assist you, ensure that s/he is experienced with not only litigation, but mediation or collaborative law as well. A talented negotiator with a strong legal strategy can help keep legal fees reasonable, confrontation low and the “damage” controlled.
2. Social Security: Just because social security benefits cannot be divided in a divorce, does not mean you should ignore the rules that impact your benefits if you marriage lasted more than 10 years. Educate yourself on rules that such as whether or not you are entitled to survivor benefits if your former spouse dies. Additionally, if you are over the age of 62, you can collect benefits after the divorce on your former spouse’s record without your former spouse receiving a reduction of their own benefits.

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Why is date of separation so important in a California divorce?

Why is date of separation so important in a California divorce?

Date of Separation is often a hotly contested issue in California divorce actions. Why?
The reason date of separation is so important is because duration of marriage often profoundly affects two important issues in divorce:

– Spousal Support
– Community Property
When does separation occur?
Separation occurs when either party does not intend to resume the marriage and his or her actions bespeak the finality of the break in the marital relationship. The problems in the relationship must be so serious that there is no reasonable possibility of eliminating, correcting or resolving the issues. In other words — a complete and final breakdown of the marriage.

Of course, the above definition isn’t always easy to determine and therefore many cases are bifurcated to determine the date of separation prior to other issues pertaining to the divorce. Briefly, the court will look to conduct when deciding when a “separation” actually took place. I have litigated cases where one spouse argued that the date of separation was when that spouse moved out of the family residence. Despite this compelling fact, my client prevailed on her claim that the separation date was actually several years later — by offering evidence that the parties continued to eat dinners together, vacation regularly, file joint tax returns and maintain the same mailing address. In a different case, even though the parties continued to reside together and even slept together 1-2 times post-“separation”, the court ruled that they lived “separate and apart” for purposes of date of separation. In that case, the parties had each moved on to serious dating relationships, disentangled their finances (except for the house which they both wanted to keep – but neither could afford on their own), told their families and friends that they were getting a divorce, did not go to any social events together, communicated only by email and slept in separate bedrooms.

Sign up for a free subscription to read on about how date of separation impacts spousal support and division of community property.

Pre-divorce planning: Do you have an exit strategy?

Pre-divorce planning: Do you have an exit strategy?

If you are considering leaving your Domestic Partner or Spouse, a good plan of action is essential. I am not talking about taking your ex for all you can. What is most important is making smart choices without letting your emotions get the best of you. The more you think about your next steps (with a clear mind) — the better your position will be when the divorce is over.

This means considering everything from your kids to your finances and all the in-betweens. Read on, and let us help you sharpen your exit strategy.

10 Tips for the Self Represented in Family Court

10 Tips for the Self Represented in Family Court

For the uninitiated, the idea of representing yourself in family court seems outrageous. Why wouldn’t you hire a professional? Well, there are a number of reasons self-representation might be right for your subjective situation. Whether you’ve made the decision to represent yourself or you’re still on the fence, it’s important to be prepared.

Read through our 10 tips or the self-represented in family court, and make sure you’re ready for anything.

Help, my spouse is missing!

Help, my spouse is missing!

You may be wondering how to file for a divorce or other family law action when you don’t know where the respondent is. Sometimes the court allows litigants to serve documents other than by personal service (e.g. service by posting or publication).

However, before the court will allow this, you will have to prove that you have tried your hardest to find him/her. Also, sometimes it will be helpful to the action to actually find your ex-partner so that you can enforce court orders such as child or spousal support.

Tips for Finding a Missing Spouse/Partner in Order to Serve Him/Her:
• Search social networking sites: I can’t tell you how many times we have done a Facebook search and found a former partner. Sometimes locations are listed or you can email/ message a missing person. Sometimes there are photo’s of places s/he frequents that you (or a registered process server) can track down.
• Send a letter to your spouse’s last address: Ensure to write “return service requested, do not forward. If they filed a change of address form with the USPS, you will get the letter back with a new address.

Sign up for a free Hello divorce membership to read more tips on finding your missing partner in order to serve them.

What is a Legal Coach and should I get one?

What is a Legal Coach and should I get one?

Depending on the complexity of your case and your financial circumstances, a legal coach (aka consulting lawyer) may be a great way to obtain assistance with your Divorce or other Family Law Matter. At Hello Divorce, we structure agreements that clearly outline the parameters of our role in your case so cost is clearly defined and you are well versed on what we can and will help you with. Some of our most positive reviews have come from clients who have utilized the ‘divorce coach’ option to: Negotiate a legal strategy and implement it; Draft documents to present in court; Review and ‘sign off’ on an Agreement; Provide advice and guidance through a Mediation process and/or Learn about the law…

Why mediate your legal matter?

Why mediate your legal matter?

Benefits of Mediation Privacy If you reach an agreement in mediation, you do not have to appear in front of a judge or walk into a public courtroom. Cost Even if you confer with an independent lawyer during the process, the cost of Mediation is less than courtroom litigation. Control Decisions are made by the parties – not mandated by a Judge, evaluator or arbitrator. The parties determine the process, schedule and dates of appointments. Reduce Animosity Who wants more conflict? Especially when emotions are high. A working relationship can feel empowering and reduce anger. Granted, you generally will not get your best case scenario in Mediation, but at least you can work cooperatively towards a result you can live…

Parenting Resource for Divorcing Parents

Parenting Resource for Divorcing Parents

I stumbled upon the “Parenting Plan Handbook” today from the San Diego Superior Court. I strongly encourage separating parents to take a look, particularly parents with small children. It’s very introductory and would not be very helpful for a drawn out, acrimonious, legal battle — but it is a clear, concise resource for defining (in ‘layman’s’ terms) legal terms and offers a lot of practical options for developing a parenting plan. Click here for the handbook!

Is a donor agreement enough to protect my same-sex partner from a challenge to her parental rights?

Is a donor agreement enough to protect my same-sex partner from a challenge to her parental rights?

Is a donor agreement enough to protect your same sex partner from a challenge of parental right?

Usually not. In California, maybe. In short, we recommend a second parent adoption or a ‘Paternity’ action to terminate the parental rights of the (known) donor ‘father’ and establish the non-carrying spouse as the second parent in the eyes of the law.

But why? The law is unsettled, especially with the passage of new legislation that allows for more than two legal parents of a child.

The water gets a little murky, so put on your waders and let us walk you through the details. Keep reading to learn all you’ll need to know about same sex partner parental rights.

Plan B: Why the Happily Married Should Consider a Post-Nuptial Agreement

Plan B: Why the Happily Married Should Consider a Post-Nuptial Agreement

What the heck is a divorce lawyer doing writing a blog for two people in love, married, and with no intention of ever separating? Hmmm…Is it because I’m unromantic? cynical? distasteful? Gosh, I hope not.

I guess I’ve seen a lot of good love gone bad. I’ve seen once happily married people saying things like, “she was my best friend, but I don’t even know her anymore” or “I’ve worked so hard for what I’ve earned, he doesn’t deserve what he’s demanding” or “I’m going to make her pay for giving up on us.”
But despite what we say in the heat of passion or when reacting to a broken heart, we loved and respected this person enough to marry, sometimes have children with, and share our most intimate moments.

So, are you happily married? I don’t think that means you shouldn’t consider a post-nuptial agreement, and here’s why.

Will child support change when I get remarried?

Will child support change when I get remarried?

While we find that many of California’s family laws are common sensical, this issue is not. Unfortunately, the legal answer often ends up causing one parent serious frustration and a feeling of injustice.

For purposes of calculating guideline child support, a new spouse’s income may not be considered by a court when establishing or modifying a child support order. An ‘extraordinary case’ is often times very difficult to prove and exists only ‘where excluding that income would lead to extreme and severe hardship to any child subject to the child support award.’

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Should I stay or should I go? 5 issues to consider before you move out of the marital residence.

Should I stay or should I go? 5 issues to consider before you move out of the marital residence.

Each divorce is different, and every case requires legal advice tailored to the client’s individual situation. However, there are certain issues that everyone should consider before taking the leap to move out (even if you can no longer deal with your spouse). Of course, if there is domestic violence or another abusive situation, the goal is to get out – now. Or better yet, get the abuser out. Otherwise, there are certain considerations to be made.

While your head is spinning with potential scenarios in the onset of divorce, we’ve narrowed down some of your major issues to contemplate. Sign up for a free subscription to read on.

A Quickie Divorce?

A Quickie Divorce?

We have all heard the horror stories: “my divorce lasted longer than my marriage” or “it dragged out for years.” Thankfully, if you have minimal assets and are searching for ways to streamline your divorce process you have a few options. One way to expedite the process is to proceed by summary dissolution. Summary dissolution has the same effect as a divorce, but has several benefits that a “regular” divorce does not. Notably, it’s a quick(er) and eas(ier)y process. Oftentimes, you do not even need to appear before a Judge.

If you meet the following 9 criteria, you and your soon to be ex-spouse, should consider filing for summary dissolution.

Tips for Keeping Your Divorce Out of the Public Eye

Tips for Keeping Your Divorce Out of the Public Eye

The last thing we want when going through a tough break-up, is to have to battle it out in front of a packed courtroom. However, once a party files for divorce, one’s personal financial information and custody battles becomes public record as a matter of law. The public (including your creditors, the media, or maybe that one nosy neighbor) now has a right to view all documents you file with the Court as well as attend your Court proceedings. Understandably, there are some instances where parties may not want their financial information or other aspects of their case to be public.

Perhaps you are a public figure who is concerned how divulging personal or private information could affect your career or image. Or maybe your child has an IED in place or receives state benefits for a disability and you have legitimate concern that (mis)information alleged by your spouse may limit the services available to your kids. Alternatively, perhaps you and your spouse own a business and are engaged in protracted litigation and do not want certain business information disseminated. In these circumstances, you have a few options on how to proceed:

– File a Confidential Marital Settlement Agreement and/or Request File be Sealed
–Benefits –Portions of the file can be sealed from public access; Specifically, sensitive financial information.
–Drawbacks – Highly procedural; Even if both sides agree, the court may deny the request. ‘Freedom of Press’ often prevails over ‘Right to Privacy.’

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Our Postnup Primer

Our Postnup Primer

Post-nuptial agreements are a written consensus between two parties, entered into after the marriage occurs. The purpose of a post-nuptial agreement (also known as Marital agreement or Transmutation agreement) is similar to the purpose of a pre-nuptial agreement in that it helps parties work through potential problems before they occur so there are less surprises down the road.

A post-nuptial agreement offers protection to both parties by allowing the couple to discuss the division of assets without leaving that division up to guidelines provided under California law.

California couples have many reasons for seeking post-nuptial agreements immediately after or during the marriage. Keep reading to see if a post-nuptial agreement is just what you’ve been looking for.

Tips for a Successful Mediation

Tips for a Successful Mediation

Mediation works when it is done right. It can be a fabulous way of reducing animosity, finalizing a divorce quickly and efficiently, keeping your personal life and private details more confidential, saving money and resolving conflict. Mediation is not right everyone – it only works when there is no power imbalance, both parties agree to be transparent with finances, each spouse has a serious desire for settlement and neither party has denied access to the children. Benefits of mediation include greater post-divorce stability and shielding your kids from conflict. So what can you do to increase your chances of successfully mediating a family law dispute? We’ve included some tips below to keep in mind when you embark on this process.

1. Commit to being a good listener: Ugh, really? Yes. When spouses in mediation have good listening skills (and refrain from interrupting and attacking), settlement discussions stay on track. Bonus points for empathizing with your ex as you may find that s/he becomes more cooperative when feeling like they’ve been ‘heard.’

2. Choose your consulting lawyer wisely: A lawyer who is not skilled at mediation or who is not supportive of the mediation process can kill your chances of settlement. Most divorce lawyers try to take over and control the entire case. This just sends you into litigation mode. But why do I need a consulting lawyer? A consulting lawyer can give you answers that are specifically tailored to your case. An experienced consulting lawyer can act as a law coach on an as-needed basis. Between sessions, she can clarify your questions and prepare your for negotiations by evaluating your best/worst case scenarios, help you identify legal claims you may not have known you are entitled to (e.g reimbursements for joint expenses you paid after separation or for a portion of the fair rental/use value for the property your spouse has had exclusive use of since separation) and coach you in negotiating techniques. Former clients have asked us to predict the range of possible legal outcomes if they were to go to court, the cost of litigation, and review agreements (make sure that what the mediator prepared says what you want it to say!) Another great perk of having a consulting lawyer is that s/he can be ready to jump in should negotiations fail.

Mediation might be the answer to many of your concerns going into a divorce, but you need to be prepared. Sign up for a free subscription to read more tips for a successful mediation.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Date of Separation Laid to Rest

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Date of Separation Laid to Rest

One of the first questions a divorce lawyer will ask you when you come in for your initial consultation is ‘What is your date of separation?’

Why is date of separation so important anyhow?

The “date of separation” can have a significant impact on your rights/obligations in your divorce proceeding. The Court is tasked with dividing equally your community assets and debts. The date of separation marks the end date of the accumulation of community assets and debts. For example, after you “separate” you no longer continue to accrue a share of your spouse’s retirement and you are not responsible for credit card debt incurred by the other party after that date. Additionally, once you have ‘separated’ within the meaning of California Family Law, your earnings are no longer considered community (joint) property. The date of separation also determines the length of marriage, which can have major impact on your spousal support obligation/entitlement as the length of marriage is one of the guiding posts for determining the length of spousal support.

Sign up for a free subscription to learn more about how the date of separation is determined and how proceedings can help or hurt your case.

Nesting: It’s Not Just for Birds

Nesting: It’s Not Just for Birds

What is nesting? “Nesting” is a non-traditional custody arrangement where the children stay in the family home and the parents trade off living in the house with the children, much like birds taking turns in the nest. Also called “bird’s nest custody,” a nesting arrangement flips the typical custody arrangement backwards: instead of the children traveling between two houses the parents live in, the children stay put and the parents switch off between the family house and another location.

Nesting arrangements can be used as a transition step to maintain the children’s familiar surroundings and routines through a stressful time or can be used as a more permanent custody arrangement. However, nesting is rarely ordered by a court, as it requires the parents involved to be in full agreement, active communication, and on good terms.

Does nesting sound like the right solution for you and your family? Read on to make sure.

Do I Need an Attorney?

Do I Need an Attorney?

I am getting divorced, and I think it’s pretty simple. My spouse and I get along pretty well, all things considered. Lawyers can be so expensive – so do I really need one?

The answer to this question, as with most questions in the law is – it depends. If you and your spouse are comfortable completing the judicial forms, have a fairly small estate and agree on how to divide it, you may not need one. If you have not been married very long and acquired only personal property, or perhaps even entered into a prenuptial agreement that remains uncontested, a lawyer might not be necessary. But even if you and your spouse can agree on how to divide your property, you may still need [a] lawyer for drafting purposes.

Certain types of assets, child custody, and the conditions of your divorce can all be complicating factors. Sign up for a Hello divorce membership to read more about whether or not your divorce circumstances warrant hiring an attorney.

FAQ: How Do I “Serve” My Spouse with a Divorce?

FAQ: How Do I “Serve” My Spouse with a Divorce?

“I keep hearing that I have to ‘serve’ my spouse for a divorce. What does this mean, and how can I do it?“

The law affords everyone ‘due process.’ Or in plain English, before you can sue someone, you have to first tell them what you want and why. Yes – a divorce is a lawsuit! Your spouse therefore must receive notice (via “service”) that you have filed suit, as well as notice of what exactly you are suing them for. In other words, you have to tell your spouse the legal reason for your requested divorce. If you do not get your spouse properly served, your case can be delayed.

We’ve compiled an explained list of your means to serve your spouse accessible with a free subscription to Hello Divorce.

How Much Will a Divorce Cost?

How Much Will a Divorce Cost?

I want to get my divorce resolved with as little expense possible, and have decided to represent myself to avoid lawyer’s fees. How much will it cost me to get this done?

To initiate your divorce, you will need to pay a basic filing fee to open and move along your case. It is good practice to call your county district clerk or check your local county’s Superior Court’s website to confirm the filing fees. Most of the time additional filings do not cost anything else, but there are exceptions. Court fees fund courthouse operation costs, pay the clerks and bailiffs, and provide equipment for trials and hearings.

Think that’s it? Find out just how much a divorce will cost you once everything’s said and done by reading more.

What Are My Options if I Want to End My Marriage?

What Are My Options if I Want to End My Marriage?

There are three ways to end a marriage in California – you can get divorced, legally separated, or have an annulment. Only one party needs to want to end the marriage, and no agreement is necessary. California, like every other state in U.S., is a ‘no-fault’ state, which means that the party requesting the divorce does not have to prove any fault by the other in order to grant a divorce. In the old days, the spouse would usually have to show he or she was harmed by the other spouse committing adultery, abuse, fraud or abandonment. Thankfully, these days a party can simply cite ‘irreconcilable differences.’

Divorces in California are granted either on the grounds of ‘no fault’ or incurable insanity (which is extremely rare). Therefore, you do not need to worry about providing evidence of bad behavior in order to get a divorce granted. However, the behavior of the other party can have an effect on other matters, such as custody, or alimony, particularly if there is evidence of abuse on the part of the other spouse. If you have questions about the facts and circumstances of your divorce and how it might affect the outcome of your case, it is prudent to seek out the advice of a competent, licensed lawyer in your jurisdiction.

Sign up for a free subscription to read more about the finality of your options, as well as the differences between divorce, annulment, and separation.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

How long does it take to get a divorce? The answer – as usual – is ‘it depends.’

First, before you can even file the paperwork, you must ensure that at least one of you is a California resident for the last 6 months, and a resident of the county where you file for the last three months. If you want to divorce quickly, do not move before you do it. California is one of the few states with a fairly long waiting period. The court expects you and your spouse to use this time to arrive at any property and custody agreements, or at least to make sure you do not have a change of heart.
Ready to move forward with that divorce, or are you having a change of heart? Read more to learn about just how long it could take.

How Do I File for Divorce if I’m Representing Myself?

How Do I File for Divorce if I’m Representing Myself?

In pro per, pro se party, in propria person, they all describe you – the self-represented litigant. First, you will need to figure out where you can file. If you are filing for a divorce, at least one of the parties has to have been a California resident for at least six months, and lived in the county where the case will be filed for the last three months. If your spouse is a California resident, but you are a New Yorker, you can still file in a California county provided your spouse has been there for the requisite time periods. If your family case involves children that do not live with you primarily, then the court will usually look to see where the child has lived continuously for the six months prior to filing – that will likely determine where the case should be filed (or in legal talk, the county with proper jurisdiction).

Sign up for a free Hello Divorce membership to learn about your next steps in the divorce process when representing yourself.

Complete List of CA Divorce Forms, with Links

Complete List of CA Divorce Forms, with Links

Petition (FL-100): This is the document that initializes your divorce with the Court. It is the first thing you file and requires a $435 filing fee. Download Petition for Divorce now. Template: Petition for Divorce Summons (FL-110): This is the document that accompanies your Petition. It is a notice to the other party that a case has been opened with the County Superior Court and requires a response within 30 days of service. Download Summons now. Template: Petition for Divorce & Summons UCCJEA (FL-105) : This is the document that, if you have minor children, tells the Court when there children have lived for the past five years and helps the Court to determine whether they have the jurisdiction to…

Small Ways to Save Big on Your Divorce Costs

Small Ways to Save Big on Your Divorce Costs

Divorce can be stressful enough without the additional burden of being expensive too, but divorces don’t have to break the bank. There are a few small things you could do to keep costs down which may also relieve some stress in the process.

1. Limit Emails:
Multiple emails are hard to keep track of and keep up with. When sending emails I recommend consolidating all of your thoughts and questions into one email. This is not to discourage you from sending emails altogether, but when sending an email include as much information into one email as you possibly can. If you know that you may have a lot of questions, thoughts, or ideas it may be helpful to create a section in the notes app on your phone to jot down things as they come up and at the end of the day, email everything that you have written in your notes. One email per day to your lawyer or divorce coach should be sufficient. While I know, you can get antsy waiting on a response or waiting on an endorsed copy of a document from court, try to avoid sending emails to “check-in” or check on the status of something, your lawyer will notify you if anything comes up.

2. Limit Calls:
Much like emails, multiple calls are hard to keep up with and should be limited when they can be. Calls are very useful especially when trying to explain or better understand something that is complex or complicated. With calls it is best to have a list of questions or thoughts you would like to share that you can reference during your call with your lawyer or lawyer, this will also help you to stay on track.

Sign up for a free subscription to find more ways to save on costs during the process.

Musings from a Law Office Intake Specialist

Musings from a Law Office Intake Specialist

I am often the first person that people talk to when setting up meetings with their lawyer or when they have a quick non-legal question that I can assist with. While they are always very pleased with their service and credit our lawyers with making a very difficult time easier and bearable, they often still feel overwhelmed, stressed, and drained emotionally.

Divorce can be stressful, emotional, and even tricky at times. Your lawyer is certainly there to make the process as stress-free as possible, but primarily from a legal standpoint. Divorce is a big change and an even bigger transition, which can be difficult to cope with. Finding ways to relieve stress and anxiety can improve this process from an emotional standpoint.

Read six musings from a law office intake specialist we think you’ll find beneficial.

How to Prepare for Your Meeting with Your Lawyer or Divorce Coach

How to Prepare for Your Meeting with Your Lawyer or Divorce Coach

You have decided to take the next step towards your divorce, have scheduled a meeting with a lawyer or legal coach, and are wondering what to do ahead of your meeting. I think that doing a bit of research can help you to better understand the divorce process and give you some valuable insight about what to expect.

Once you have done some preliminary research you should begin to gather a list of questions that you would like answers to or that you would like to know more about. Your lawyer or divorce coach will likely be able to provide you with answers that pertain to you personally, which can alleviate anxiety.

Keeping reading to make sure you’re fully prepared when meeting with a lawyer or divorce coach.

Calculating Timeshare Kids Spend with Each Parent

Calculating Timeshare Kids Spend with Each Parent

You’ve determined the schedule your kids will spend with each parent. Now, you want to calculate child support but can’t do so without determining the percentage timeshare your children spend with you and your ex.

When calculating child support, the amount is largely dependent on how much time your kids spend with each parent. In other words, support payments decrease as timeshare increases. Before filing a Request for Order for Child Support Orders and/or negotiating with your spouse (or domestic partner), you must determine the percentage of time the kids spend with noncustodial parent (or the parent who has less time with the children).

Take advantage of our timeshare chart which gives you quick percentages of popular time share arrangements.

Child Support Calculator

Child Support Calculator

Calculate an estimate of California child support by entering in all of the requested information below. The results will help inform your position for mediation and/or negotiation with your spouse. We recommend however, that prior to litigating this issue in court, you have a formal calculation prepared. Disclaimer Hello Divorce’s child support calculator has not been approved by the State of California and therefore not admissible in court. It is for estimation purposes only so that you can generally get an idea for what child support may look like in your case. We do not advise you to rely solely on this calculator for negotiating, mediating or litigating support. The use of this calculation alone does not constitute legal advice…

What is the Legal Status of Your Case?

What is the Legal Status of Your Case?

Wondering whether your JUDGMENT has been processed by the court? Concerned that your spouse has filed a request for child support without notifying you? In most counties you can check the status of your case by clicking on one of the links below and entering in your case number and/or name. If you have already filed for divorce, your case number (often referred to as your case ID is the number assigned by the court clerk to identify your case. It’s usually in the top right corner of a filed a document.

Sign up for a free subscription for a list of all counties in California with accompanied court links.

Spousal Support A-Z

Spousal Support A-Z

One of the key issues that arises in a divorce proceeding is spousal support, aka alimony. Spousal support comes in two varieties, temporary spousal support and long-term spousal support. Spousal support is something that has to be requested by one of the parties. If neither party requests it, jurisdiction will be reserved on the issue unless the parties agree to terminate it in the judgment paperwork. By reserved, we mean that court will continue to have the ‘ability’ to award it if one of the parties requests it at a later time (usually by filing a “Request for Order.”)

There are a lot of hypotheticals here as we talk about spousal support. In some instances it can be very formulaic, but it can also is incredibly case specific. This is one of the areas where it is always a better idea to consult a lawyer to know your rights. Ideally, you and your spouse can reach an agreement regarding the amount of support one of you will pay to the other, how long it will last, and what circumstances would allow it to be modified. But often this is not the case because we live in California and the cost of living is high.

There are two types of spousal support, temporary support and long-term support. They are different and have very different criteria.

The major pain points of spousal support revolve around (1) The determination of the amount of spousal support owed from one spouse to the other by the Court or the parties by agreement, (2) the duration of the support and how that is decided, and (3) the modification of both kinds of support and what the parties will have to show. Sign up for a free subscription to read an in-depth discussion about the key considerations regarding spousal support.

The Buck Stops Here: Options for Long-Term Spousal Support

The Buck Stops Here: Options for Long-Term Spousal Support

In a nutshell, long-term spousal support (also referred to as ‘post judgment’ support or ‘permanent’ support) usually lasts for up to half the length of the marriage (assuming your marriage is less than 10 years). If you were married for 10 years or more, support may (but not always) continue past the five-year mark and even extend for many years past that point (depending on the facts of your case). In the area of spousal support, the judicial officer on your case has a lot of discretion because it is such a case-by-case analysis. As such, you have a lot of room for negotiation.

Once it has been determined that long-term spousal support is available, there are several things to consider: Should you reserve over the issue and handle it down the road? Should you terminate it, such that one or both parties do not have the option to request it from the other? Should you make it modifiable or non-modifiable? Should you offer a buyout? Because spousal support can have such a long-lasting impact based on which of these options you chose, it is always a good idea to consult with an lawyer (and possibly a CPA) who can help you decide how to proceed (i.e. walk you through the long-term spousal support factors, analyze the specific facts of your case, and discuss possible tax implications).

Sign up for a free subscription to read an in-depth discussion about your options for resolving long term spousal support.

10+ (non legal) Essential Apps to Rely on While Uncoupling

10+ (non legal) Essential Apps to Rely on While Uncoupling

Getting unmarried can sometimes be as expensive, insanely time consuming and detail driven as planning your wedding. When we tie the knot in the first place, we use wedding planners, online worksheets, and various other ‘systems’ to keep us organized and on budget. So, why wouldn’t we do the same for divorce?

Keep reading to discover our top recommendations for apps that may make your divorce or domestic partnership dissolution a lot less stressful.

Instructions for Restoring your Maiden Name

Instructions for Restoring your Maiden Name

Many people change their names when they get married, but when they get divorced, some individuals wish to have their former name restored. If you would like to keep your name the same, then there is nothing you need to do during the divorce process. If, however, you would like to have your former name restored, doing so is a simple process. This article will address the steps you need to take to restore your former name before or after your divorce has been finalized. If Your Divorce Has Not Yet Been Finalized If your divorce has not yet been finalized and you want to restore your former, pre-marriage name, then you need to indicate your desire to restore your…

Your Hello Divorce “Cheat Sheet” to Self Representation

Your Hello Divorce “Cheat Sheet” to Self Representation

If you’re navigating divorce without legal representation, we’ve got your back! Review this outline to understand what will happen throughout the divorce and what you need to do. Don’t forget to utilize Hello Divorce’s (other) free legal resources along with our instructional templates and DIY instructional videos.

If you want an experienced lawyer to prepare or review your documents before you submit them to the court or help you plan your position or give you pointers for negotiation – we help with that too. We offer ongoing flat-fee help throughout your divorce. If you decide to go the Mediation route, we will guide you through each step and form so sit back and relax.

Sign up for a free subscription to gain access to our cheat sheet to Self Mediation.

Divide, Buyout or Cash-out Retirement Accounts?

Divide, Buyout or Cash-out Retirement Accounts?

There are several types of retirement benefits that you or your spouse may have. The IRS provides descriptions of the different plans here. The most common plans we see are defined benefit plans (similar to pensions), profit sharing plans, 401k’s, IRA’s and other deferred compensations benefits.

Your first inquiry is determining whether all or any of the retirement asset is community property. The asset is all or partially community property to the extent employee or employer contributions were made during the marriage and before separation. The amount of the contributions during marriage plus any gains or losses since date of separation is the community portion. Community property is ordinarily divided 50/50.

Confused? Keep reading, and we’ll help you understand what portion of your retirement accounts are on table during a divorce settlement.

Property and Debt Division Cheat Sheet

Property and Debt Division Cheat Sheet

When and Why When: When you and your spouse are ready to dive into the ‘nitty-gritty’ and divide you assets and debts. You can use this spreadsheet for everything from weighing your options, negotiating with your spouse (and/or his or her lawyer), to attaching it to your final agreement. Why: You can’t split every asset or debt (nor would you want to) equally. This spreadsheet allows you to enter in all of your property and/or debt (separate and joint!) and assign it to the spouse who wants it. Once you’ve accounted for everything you both own, you will know who is receiving more $$ and then determine if either party owes the other a sum to equalize the division. How to Use…

Social Security Benefits & Divorce – 10 Facts You Need to Know

Social Security Benefits & Divorce – 10 Facts You Need to Know

1. A marriage of at least 10 years triggers social security rights.
2. Ten years is defined as Date of Marriage to Date of Divorce. So, for example, even if you separated with your spouse at eight years, you may still be able to collect social security based on your ex spouse’s record, so long as the divorce was not finalized until you hit that 10-year mark.
3. Your benefit as a divorced spouse is equal to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement or social security disability benefit (assuming you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age). If you begin drawing from social security before your full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced.
4. Social security benefits that you (ultimately) receive based on your ex-spouse’s contributions to social security do NOT reduce your ex’s benefit.

You have questions and we have the answers. Sign up for a free subscription to read on more need to know facts about social security as they pertain to divorce.

Emails & Divorce: Five Things You Need to Know

Emails & Divorce: Five Things You Need to Know

For many of us, email is a primary method of communication for everything from connecting with family members and friends to running our businesses and talking to our children’s teachers. Email can be super helpful to show evidence of certain types of behavior, but it can also be damaging in your divorce action if you are not careful. We’ve compiled a few tips to keep you on the right track – a path toward a divorce that minimizes exposure and maximizes the probability of a successful outcome. Sign up to read on.

Should I File a Response?

Should I File a Response?

If you have been served with the Summons (FL-110) and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (FL-100), you are the Respondent. Once you’ve been served, you have to file a Response (FL-120) within 30 days unless (a) you do not object to the requests articulated in your spouse’s Petition; (b) your spouse has granted you an extension (in writing) to hold off on filing a response while the two of you mediate or negotiate the issues involved in your divorce (assets, debts, kids, financial support, attorney fees); or (c) you are filing another document to try and dismiss or move the divorce to another county or state.*

If you are considering not filing a response, proceed with caution and only after obtaining the advice of an experienced divorce lawyer.

In the event that you and your spouse are working towards a mediated agreement, it may benefit you not to file a response. Sign up for a free Hello Divorce subscription to learn more about your options after being served.

Which Type of Mediation Will Work Best for You? The Three Types – Explained

Which Type of Mediation Will Work Best for You? The Three Types – Explained

Wondering what type of Mediator is right for you? Michael Lubofsky shares an informative resource explaining the three general types of mediation services. If one or more of these techniques peeks your interest, make sure to ask your prospective mediator what style of mediation they use when helping parties come to resolution on all issues involved in divorce.

Sign up for an in-depth discussion of facilitative, evaluative, and transformative mediation.

What County and Courthouse Do I File for Divorce in?

What County and Courthouse Do I File for Divorce in?

So you’ve made the decision to file for divorce. You need to know what county to file your paperwork in and what address should be used on your court forms (or risk the possibility of them being rejected (returned to you unfiled)). To file for divorce in the county you live in, you must have resided there for at least three months prior. If you have not been there that long, you may want to either File for divorce in your spouse’s county (assuming s/he has lived there for at least three months; or File for ‘legal separation’ in the county you currently reside in and later amend your Petition to state that you actually want a divorce. This resource…

How to Keep Your Divorce Conversations Productive

How to Keep Your Divorce Conversations Productive

First things first. If you want to negotiate an agreement with your spouse, you have to remember (and accept) the following principles:

• Be mindful that your purpose is to avoid arguing and to be as persuasive as possible.
• The communication issues you had during your marriage will not go away in separation.

What does that mean? It means you need to manage your expectations and negotiation style or risk one or more of the following: constant arguing, bickering, flat out fighting, delay, defensiveness, lack of progress, and disappointment.

You have to remember, especially if you have young children with your spouse, that you are going to have to communicate with this person for a very long period of time. Let us help you ensure the ongoing conversation will always be productive.

Oh No! I Missed the Deadline to Respond to My Spouse’s Petition for Divorce. What Do I Do Now?

Oh No! I Missed the Deadline to Respond to My Spouse’s Petition for Divorce. What Do I Do Now?

If you missed the deadline to file your Response to the Petition (30 days after the date of personal service), you will first need to confirm whether or not your spouse has filed a Request to Enter Default. A Default effectively takes away your leverage and your voice. Your spouse is free to proceed without you. Since most of us have at least some assets, money, personal property, gifts, vehicles, debts etc. and some exposure to pay financial support, or right to receive it, it is usually recommended that you file a Response so that you can protect your interests.

Is that too many Requests, Defaults and Responses to quickly? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading, and we’ll help you decode the deadline dos and don’ts so you’re comfortable with everything.

Presenting Evidence in Family Court

Presenting Evidence in Family Court

Most people (even some lawyers) don’t expect the Evidence Code to apply in family law in the same way that we see it used in Criminal or Civil Law. The fact is that it most often does. Even when we are in front of a judge who has a more informal approach (allows evidence to be considered without meeting all of the legal criteria), general knowledge of the rules of evidence can really help you to gain a legal advantage in your divorce or other family law action.

Why? Well, many judges will review evidence (such as out-of-court statements, school records, agreements, police reports, financial records, title to property, proof of payment, social media postings, photographs etc.) without a proper foundation unless the opposing litigant or lawyer makes a objection.

Keep reading to make sure you don’t get blindsided as far as a judge reviewing evidence is concerned.

Tips for Getting Your Spouse On Board with Mediation

Tips for Getting Your Spouse On Board with Mediation

Mediation, whether through Hello Divorce, with a trained mediation counselor or a divorce financial planner, can be a great option for resolving the issues pertaining to your divorce. At Hello Divorce, we not only guide you through the negotiation process, we prepare your divorce judgment and all the mandatory documents that go with it. Learn more about Hello Divorce Mediation.

Mediation works best for separating couples who share the common goals of reaching a resolution that feels fair, and saves time and money. Most important, both spouses must be able to act in good faith and be transparent with finances. If you have made up your mind that mediation is the best option for you, consider sharing the information below with your spouse in an attempt to get her or him to “see the light” and get past their reservations.

Some of the feedback we’ve heard about why one spouse is hesitant about mediation include: it’s a waste of money/time (“we can do this on our own”); it’s too much time to be in the same room; “I can get a better result if I go in front of a judge” (usually a bluff); too far apart in positions; it’s too hard to coordinate schedules; or “I need financial support now and can’t wait to see if mediation works.”

Not Doing It Will Cost More
For the spouse who says it’s a waste of time and money, point them to national statistics that estimate the average cost of divorce (per person) is approximately $15,000 (with California likely averaging much more). If your divorce proceeds to court, expect fees to go up dramatically with costs for experts and court reporters added to that. Mediation with an experienced mediator usually totals around $3,000 – $4,000 per person and includes everything from the actual negotiating piece to the preparation, filing and service of all required (and optional) pleadings (documents).

Mediators can save both of you lots of time and money since you don’t have to learn how to navigate the complicated divorce process and sessions are focused on issues that matter since ground rules are instituted to keep your eyes on the prize. Sign up for a free subscription to read more tips for getting your spouse on board with mediation.

Your Spouse Did Not Respond to Your Petition for Divorce. What Happens Next?

Your Spouse Did Not Respond to Your Petition for Divorce. What Happens Next?

After you have served the Petition, your spouse has 30 calendar days to “respond”. By respond, we mean filing a “Response” (FL-12).If the thirtieth day falls on a weekend or a holiday, your spouse has until the next business day to file.

If after the statutory time has lapsed and no Response has been filed, you can prepare a Request to Enter Default ([b]Judicial Counsel Form FL-165[/b]). Defaults, and the required accompanying documents, do take a bit of time to prepare and if your spouse comes back a few days later and wants the default set aside, most Judges will usually grant that request, regardless of the reasoning for failing to file their Response. To potentially avoid having to prepare additional documents, and delay your action, unnecessarily, you may want to alert your spouse that you will file a default by a set date if they do not file their Response.

Caution
If you take your spouse’s default, they will not be required to prepare their disclosures so if you need their financial information to obtain orders for support or division of debts, the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to get it is by them completing and serving their required disclosures.

Wondering whether or not to take the default? Sign up for a free subscription to read on.

My spouse can earn more but refuses to. How is this handled for purposes of Child Support?

My spouse can earn more but refuses to. How is this handled for purposes of Child Support?

When we calculate child support, we generally use the actual incomes of both spouses. But what happens when your spouse is under earning? That is, s/he is working less than full time and/or is not earning as much as s/he is capable of? You may have some leverage in negotiations and/or a court hearing to seek a modification to the child support number based on your spouse’s refusal to seek employment commensurate with his or her experience and education level.

If you are able to successfully prove that your spouse is underemployed, “imputing” higher wages to her/him can change the child support calculation dramatically. If your spouse is the “payor”, child support will increase. If s/he is the recipient of support, support will decrease.

But it’s not that simple. Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of child support payment in light of an under earning spouse.

Pre-Leaving Checklist

Pre-Leaving Checklist

If you have one foot out the door, you may be tempted to run and as fast as you can. But before you do, it’s important to do a few things to be as prepared as possible and have access to originals or copies of the necessary documents you’ll need for your dissolution.

I’ve broken it down into two categories—To-Do’s and Documents—and you owe it to yourself to slow down and walk through the checklist.

FAQ: What is a divorce by default?

FAQ: What is a divorce by default?

As if “divorce by default” isn’t a foreign enough term on its own, we get the wonderful opportunity to inform you that there are actually two types. Both types refer to a divorce where one party files a petition and the other does not file a response. Sign up for a free Hello divorce membership to learn the difference between a “true default” and “uncontested” divorce.

What Are the Different Types of Court Hearings I Might Have to Attend?

What Are the Different Types of Court Hearings I Might Have to Attend?

The most common type of hearings in Family Court are related to child support, spousal support and/or child custody. These hearings are scheduled after one spouse files a “Request for Order.” Depending on the complexity (or contention) of your case, the jurisdiction you live in and/or the speed your case is progressing, there are several other court appearances you may have to participate in. Review this resource to understand what types of hearings you may need to attend.

Case Resolution Conference or Status Conference
If your case doesn’t seem to be progressing, the Judge assigned to the case may require you and your spouse to come to court and explain ‘where you are at’ with efforts to finalize your divorce. Prior to court, you must prepare and file a form. No orders for support, custody, visitation and/or property division are made at these hearing, nor will the Judge usually hearing any arguments or testimony regarding these issues. These conferences are only used to discuss the status of the case and whether or not the matter needs to proceed to a settlement conference, evidentiary hearing or if an agreement is in the works. The court appearance usually only lasts 5-15 minutes.

Quick Tip: Usually the court sends you notice indicating what form you need to complete if the Court appearance is called a “Status Conference” or “Case Resolution Conference.” If not, check the county court website to see if there is a ‘local’ form to complete before you go to court. For example, Alameda, San Mateo, Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties all have local forms.

Sign up for a free subscription to read on about temporary orders, settlement conferences, and evidentiary hearings.

Breaking the ‘D’ News to Friends and Family: Helping Them Help You

Breaking the ‘D’ News to Friends and Family: Helping Them Help You

Depending on your divorce, it is possible that you have embarked on one of the most difficult emotional journeys of your life. While you know that you’ll come out just fine on the other side, getting to that finish line can take a toll. Remember: you don’t have to do this alone. You are surrounded by people in your life who care and want to be there for you.

As you share your news with those closest to you, you’re likely going to hear the words: “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help”. That answer isn’t a cop-out.

Keep reading to learn how best to break the divorce news to friends and family and how to accept help when it’s offered.

Special Considerations for Your Same Sex Divorce

Special Considerations for Your Same Sex Divorce

We have all heard the good news. California no longer recognizes a distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. Any couple can now obtain a marriage license and wed, regardless of that couple’s sexual orientation. In 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality across the United States.

Even with these wins, our work is not done. There are issues that affect your marriage and divorce that are generally not applicable to heterosexual marriages. As if divorce weren’t complicated enough, the end of your same sex marriage can bring even more considerations to the table. Sign up for a free subscription to learn more about your considerations during same sex divorce.

How to Get a New Judge to Hear Your Case

How to Get a New Judge to Hear Your Case

Help! My judge clearly has different religious or ethical views than I do. How can I get a new judge to ensure my hearing is unbiased? This can be a tricky one. There are some ways to work around this, but you’ve got to act with prudence, because you only get two (realistic) chances to get this right.

Do your homework before the petition is filed. In California, you must file for divorce in the county where you or your spouse have lived for the preceding three months. If you’ve moved out of the marital home and now find yourself living in a conservative county, whereas your spouse lives in a progressive county, that can help you decide where to file. Filing where the politics are more in your favor could help you get a judge more sensitive to your case.

And that’s just the beginning. Keep reading to find out how to get a new judge if you think your current one isn’t going to be unbiased.

10-Step Quick Guide for Tackling Divorce Financial Issues

10-Step Quick Guide for Tackling Divorce Financial Issues

Tackling the financial issues of divorce can be overwhelming even for those of us who are comfortable with numbers. Sometimes the biggest challenge is figuring out where to start.

Read and follow our 10-step guide (additional resources included) to increase your chances of a “win-win” financial outcome and a strong post-divorce financial foundation.

6 Steps to Take Before You Begin Divorce Mediation

6 Steps to Take Before You Begin Divorce Mediation

Thinking about divorce mediation? Excellent idea if you and your spouse have the shared goal of uncoupling amicably or dissolving your marriage in a fair and cooperative way but have too many issues to resolve on your own.

Working with a good mediator has its perks — most notably you can cut down on attorney fees and costs, go at your own pace, keep the intimate details of your life a lot more private, and work toward an agreement that meets both of your needs (instead of relying on the court model, which is more of a zero-sum game).

Follow these six steps to feel comfortable beginning your divorce mediation.

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