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.

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…

How will my bonus income affect child or spousal support?

How will my bonus income affect child or spousal support?

Many employers give an annual or quarterly bonus to their employees when certain company or individual goals are met.

A common theme throughout our practice are questions like will I have to pay support based on my gross income or will bonus income be treated differently? How can I pay support based on my income when I don’t know what (or if) I’ll receive as bonus income? Is my bonus community property or used to calculate support? I don’t want it double counted. How does the Department of Child Support Services track employment bonuses? And so many more.

Check off your questions and find out if that extra dough is going to affect child or spousal support by reading on.

Is a gift from your spouse really a gift?

Is a gift from your spouse really a gift?

When you are given a gift of substantial value from your spouse or Registered Domestic Partner, you might be in for a surprise at divorce in California. Why?
If you do not have an express writing from your spouse, then it will likely be deemed community property upon separation. Additionally, if that gift was paid for from your ex’s separate property funds (an inheritance maybe?), your spouse will likely be able to claim a Family Code section 2640 reimbursement for the funds spent on the acquisition of the gift. In other words, you get nada.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Don’t get left in the dark as far as gifts are concerned. Keep reading, and we’ll fill you in on the details.

7 Tips for Collecting Your Family Law Money Judgment

7 Tips for Collecting Your Family Law Money Judgment

So, you have spent months (or maybe even years) reaching a resolution in your matter, but the process is not over yet. If you received a money judgment against your ex-spouse as part of your Judgment, you still need to collect these funds and you probably want to do it quickly and cheaply!

Here are some simple, and some not so simple, but effective tips for collecting money owed to you.

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.

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.

Will Spousal Support Increase When Child Support Terminates?

Will Spousal Support Increase When Child Support Terminates?

Child support ordinarily terminates when a child turns 18 years old unless the child remains a full time high student, in which case, support continues until the child graduates or turns 19 (whichever comes first). If you are the spouse paying alimony and child support you may be looking forward to some financial relief once child support is over. (although I think we all realize that kids who turn 18 are generally not self supporting and still require the financial assistance of one or both parents). So let’s just say, you may feel some financial relief over compelled payments to your former spouse. But just how certain is this relief? Well, it depends.

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Divorce Court 101

Divorce Court 101

Most people who end up in a family law courtroom have never been to court before. Perhaps they’ve served on a jury or appeared for a traffic infraction – but rarely has a divorce litigant actually been in front of a judge — fighting for what is most important to them: family, financial stability and emotional security. To prepare you to face the unknown and demystify the divorce process, we offer a rundown on the basics of what to expect. Sign up for a free membership to read on.

Suspect Your Spouse is Hiding Assets During Divorce?

Suspect Your Spouse is Hiding Assets During Divorce?

Hopefully, you’re never in a situation where you believe that your spouse has failed to disclose marital assets in your divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, there are times when one party to the divorce or domestic partnership dissolution has taken active steps to conceal money or property in an effort to preserve what they consider to be their own money and keep their former partner from gaining a share in it. Bad faith financial activities often result in an unfair settlement (if they are not uncovered prior to resolution of the divorce action).

Sign up for a free subscription to read on about more starting points in search for concealed assets, as well as a discussion as to whether or not you should really be concerned.

Understanding QDROs: Dividing Retirement Plans in Divorce

Understanding QDROs: Dividing Retirement Plans in Divorce

In short, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO’s) are often used in a divorce proceeding to serve two functions:

– divide retirement benefits earned during marriage and/or a registered domestic partnership; and
– allow payment of child or spousal support from an employee’s retirement benefits.

What is a QDRO?

A QDRO, as stated above, is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. To be deemed “Qualified”, the domestic relations order must recognize the right of a non employee spouse to receive all or a portion of the benefits payable to the employee spouse. QDRO’s must be very specific, including (among other things)

– the name and mailing address of each ‘alternate payee’ (the spouse who was not the employee that earned retirement benefits through her/his employer);
– the amount or percentage of the benefits that will be paid to the alternate payee (or a formula detailing how the amount will be determined); and
– the number of payments that will be provided or a time period to which the order applies.

A QDRO may NOT provide that the non-employee spouse receive a benefit not otherwise provided by the retirement plan.

Looking for more tips on how a QDRO works and why you might want to use one? Sign up for a free subscription to read on and learn more.

How Social Media Can Undermine your Divorce Action

How Social Media Can Undermine your Divorce Action

More than ever, litigants and lawyers are using social media to collect information that they can use as ‘evidence’ in a Family Law Case. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and various dating websites are all popular places to look when in the midst of a messy divorce.

Why are social media posts important to a Divorce or other Family Law action? Most of us with a smartphone spend a lot of time tapped into some form of social media. Popular posts include sharing a fun photo of a family outing, a ‘check in’ at an out of town event or vacation spot, a statement a rant about an unfaithful spouse or a request for advice on a specified topic. In divorce cases, all these posts can end up in a court of law — used as evidence against a party, thereby affecting spousal support, child support, child custody and/or property division.

Keeping reading, and let us help you make sure you’ve got your social media accounts under control before your divorce.

How Can I Enforce a Court Order?

How Can I Enforce a Court Order?

If your spouse isn’t complying with visitation schedules and child support rulings, you might just be pulling your hair out in desperate need of some stability, wondering where to go next.

First, try speaking to your ex directly. Make sure he/she understands that you do not wish to go back to court to address this bad behavior, but if it does not stop that you will do what is needed in the best interest of your children. If this fails to work, then you will need to seek court intervention.

Sign up for a free Hello Divorce membership to learn more about your legal options to enforce a court order.

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.

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…

Ten Important Laws You Need to Know About (if You’re Getting a Divorce)

Ten Important Laws You Need to Know About (if You’re Getting a Divorce)

1. Spousal Support (Family Code Section 4320): While pre judgment spousal support is generally calculated using a formula, long term spousal support is determined by review of various factors. Some of the factors the court considers include:
– Age and health of the parties
– Marital standard of living
– Debts and assets of each party
– Duration of marriage
– The ability of one spouse to pay spousal support
– Possible need for retraining or education to the supported spouse
– Periods of unemployment for one party who stayed home to tend to domestic duties.

2. Domestic Partners (Family Code Section 143): This law clarified that “spouse” includes “registered domestic partner.” All references to “husband” and “wife” in the family code now apply to domestic partners as well.

3. Temporary Spousal Support (pre divorce) (Marriage of Samson, Marriage of Stanton (2010) 190 CA4th 547): A change of circumstances is required to modify a temporary spousal support order. An example would be one spouse losing their job or the other receiving a raise at their employment.

4. Calculating Child Support (Family Code Section 4055(a)):While it’s a lot easier to calculated child support using the Department of Child Support services calculator, we get a lot of people asking us about the actual formula. FC 4055(a) specifies it.

Sign up for a free subscription to continue reading about laws that you need to be familiar with before proceeding into your divorce.

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…

Dividing Personal Property in a Divorce

Dividing Personal Property in a Divorce

Because personal property is defined as everything that you and your spouse own that is not real property (real estate), this category covers a vast number of items.

Here is a list of typical examples from dissolution cases:

• Household furniture and items
• Bank accounts
• Stocks and bonds, stock warrants, and stock options
• Copyrights, patents, and licenses
• Royalties
• Motor vehicles, aircraft, and boats, along with their associated equipment
• Pets, including racing and show animals
• Collectibles such as paintings, other art work, rare books, coins, stamps, antiques, jewelry, and musical instruments
• Safe deposit box contents
• Club memberships
• Hotel points and frequent flyer miles
• Accrued vacation from an employer
• Judgments due to a party or potential civil claims.

Personal property is not commonly appraised in a family law proceeding because the cost of litigating the property interests in these items generally exceeds their value. Household items, such as furniture and dishware, are usually valued at their ‘garage sale’ value. In other words, unless the furniture is an antique, the value is the resale value, not what you purchased it for. However, highly valuable items of personal property (vehicles, boats, airplanes, antiques, collectibles, furs) may need to be appraised.

Apportioning everything can feel overwhelming. Subscribe for a free membership to read on about tips for getting through the process.

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 Tips for Writing a Persuasive Family Law Declaration (to Attach to Your Request for Orders)

10 Tips for Writing a Persuasive Family Law Declaration (to Attach to Your Request for Orders)

A declaration is a written statement made under the penalty of perjury. If you are filing a “Request for Order” (or responding to a “Request for Order”) asking that the Judge enter orders providing you some type of temporary “relief”, you will need to attach a declaration explaining the basis for your request and the facts that support it.

Your declaration will be read by your judge and possibly even your court mediator if child custody is at issue. Your spouse will also read your declaration and if you establish strong enough facts, it might give you the leverage you need to settle issues before they end up in the courtroom.

Read our 10 tips for ensuring your declaration is on point!

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.

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.

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.

When are Attorney Fees Awarded in a Divorce Action?

When are Attorney Fees Awarded in a Divorce Action?

It’s no secret that hiring an attorney is expensive. Even if you are using a lawyer on a ‘limited scope’ basis to help you only with strategy or to review and revise your forms, it is still a cost that you probably didn’t plan for. So when can you request that your spouse pay your fees? Conversely, will you be on the hook to pay some or all of your ex’s lawyer costs? While there are many ways fee requests come in to play in a divorce action, we’ve limited this article to the two most widely used methods for requesting fees.

“Need Based” Fees
The issues that need to be resolved in your divorce are property and debt, child custody, child support and spousal support. Additionally, attorney fees need to be considered and resolved in a way that makes sense for you and your spouse. The Family Code allows the court to award fees in the amount that are “reasonably necessary” to properly litigate and/or negotiate a divorce. “Need based” fees can be requested at any point during your divorce. So, for example, if you have been in mediation and have been unable to come to an agreement, you or your spouse can request fees from the court to be able to hire a lawyer. To request fees during a divorce, one spouse must file a Request for Order with the court. The Court will schedule a court hearing for you and your spouse to argue your respective positions and then the judge will make a decision. If you can come to an agreement before the hearing, there is no need to attend the court date. If your spouse has filed a Request for Order, you will need to file a response or the court may not consider your objection.

Sign up for a free subscription to read on about fees as “sanctions,” as well as factors determining which spouse is responsible.

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.

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.

I Am Not on Title to Our House, Is it Still Joint Property?

I Am Not on Title to Our House, Is it Still Joint Property?

Is your house still joint property if you’re not on the title?

Well the long answer is “maybe, and the short answer is, probably “yes!”
Why can’t lawyers just say “yes” or “no?” Why does everything have to be so complicated? Well, partially because the law is not just made up of statutes of codes. We also have to consider “judge made law” – law that is created as a result of a decision a judge or panel of judges made on a particular case.

In marriage, we do all sorts of things that we wouldn’t necessarily do with a business partner. For example, we may put one spouse on the title (grant deed) to a home to avoid the mortgage company running the credit of a spouse with low credit. This doesn’t usually mean that the parties intend for the home to be the sole property of the titled spouse – rather, we make these choices to better our financial position (obtain a lower interest mortgage rate, etc.).

Find out if your house is still joint property with a free subscription.

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.

What to Wear to Court

What to Wear to Court

As a general rule, you should think of the courtroom as a formal environment. Dress as you would when going for an important job interview or to church. You can be barred from the courtroom if you violate the Court’s dress code.

Suggested Guidelines
Men: wear shoes with socks; long pants (on pants with belt loops, wear a belt); collared shirt (tucked in) with a tie, with or without a jacket. Pants must be worn at waist level.
Women: wear shoes; a knee length or longer dress or skirt; or long pants; a blouse, sweater or casual dress shirt.

You will NOT be allowed to enter the courtroom wearing the following inappropriate clothing (being asked to leave to change, can affect the outcome of your matter):

Shorts
Hats (men) or hair curlers (women)
Halter or tube top
T-shirt or muscle shirt
See-through top
Flip flops
Clothing that exposes your midriff or underwear
Ripped or torn jeans
Baggy pants that fall below your waist
Clothing with an emblem or wording that promotes illegal or inappropriate activity
Clothing that depicts or promotes violence, sex acts, illegal drug use or profanity

It may not be the runway, but if you’re still in wardrobe malfunction more, we have more fashion tips for your court appearance available with a free subscription.

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.

What is Contempt?

What is Contempt?

In the course of your divorce, the family court may issue a range of orders, including visitation and custody determinations, orders to pay attorney’s fees, and divisions of property. When an ex-spouse (or soon to be ex-spouse) is not following the court’s orders, it’s natural to want a means to force him or her to comply and, in certain cases, contempt may be the answer. However, before turning to this solution, there are two important things to note:

1. This area of law is highly procedural. We do not recommend filing a contempt action, or responding to one, without legal assistance.

2. Family law is not a punitive system. This is a good thing — we want judges to be more focused on individual and familial well-being then on punishment. However, it also means that family law judges often disfavor contempt orders.

Yet, there are times when contempt is appropriate. Sign up for a free subscription to read on about the basics if you or your spouse is considering filing for contempt

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.

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.

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