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Woodland Hills Divorce Law Blog

How to help your kids adapt to divorce

The ebb and flow of family life is different in every household. If you recently informed your children that you are planning to divorce, the current state of emotions among your family members may remind you of a roller-coaster ride. One child might be angry while another appears unaffected. You might feel sad one minute and eager to move forward in life, the next. All of these feelings are natural and expected as the weeks and months ahead unfold, and you and your children adapt to a new lifestyle.  

The good news is there's no reason your children shouldn't be able to overcome the challenges they may encounter, barring any extenuating circumstances that would impede their ability to do so, that is. Like most good parents in California, you want to be there for your kids to support them and encourage them while you all face life's changes together. There are several things you can do along the way to help them keep stress levels to a minimum and avoid major complications.  

Domestic violence: facts and prevention

A household that sees disagreements on even a mildly regular basis can quickly transform into an exhausting experience. One that sees such disputes involving violence can be outright dangerous. When a California family is suffering from domestic violence, piecing relationships back together can often seem impossible. However, there are a number of resources family members can look to in this difficult time of need.

When a family member exhibits anger to the degree of violence, not only can they inflict damage on themselves, but on other individuals. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recognizes that, although raising the topic can be challenging, it is important that domestic violence issues receive proper attention. One way involves having an intervention during which family members suggest behavioral health treatment. The types of treatment can range from hospitals, community health centers, primary care programs, substance use disorder rehabilitation centers and other supportive programs. There are also the options of group counseling, medication and other types of supportive services. 

Dividing investment properties in your divorce

Like many couples in California, you and your spouse have taken advantage of the fluctuating real estate market to acquire some investment properties. Perhaps you used these properties as part of your retirement portfolio, or your profits helped you achieve a comfortable standard of living. Now that you are facing divorce, you must consider what part the investment real estate will play in asset division.

As with your home, you and your spouse have several options for dividing the rental properties. However, there are a number of factors you must consider that are different from dividing your interest in your primary residence.

Is mediation right for you?

You likely hear and see advertisements all of the time in Los Angeles that tout the benefits of divorce mediation. Indeed, the advantages such ads touch upon (cost-effectiveness, speed and ease of completion) are all true. A question you should be asking yourself, however, is whether or not it is best for your particular case. 

There are actually some scenarios where mediation may not be the most advantageous option available to you. These may include: 

  • If you were the victim of domestic violence: Even if you have a protective order against your abusive spouse, you may not want to consider trying to work with him or her through mediation. First and foremost, the protections available in a courtroom often cannot be replicated in a mediator's office. In addition, your fear of him or her may prompt you to agree to unfavorable terms just to get the process over with. 
  • If you feel like you are in a hurry to get divorced: While the speed with which mediation can be completed is listed among its benefits, you do not have to work through it quickly. You should still take the time needed to completely evaluate every aspect of your case. If speed is the only reason your considering mediation, you may want question why before committing to the process. 
  • Yours and/or your spouse's unique case is not suited for it: The American Bar Association points out that if aspects of your case make dealing with your spouse in a respectful or mature manner difficult, mediation may not be for you. 

Navigating same-sex divorce in california

With America's progressive shift regarding marriage in recent years, countless same-sex couples have experienced a smoother process altogether. However, this process often includes divorce -- a side of same-sex marriage that can become difficult. What are some current challenges that California couples face, and might it lead to a positive outlook toward the future of same-sex separations?

According to CNBC News, the current outlook regarding same-sex divorce in the state seems uncertain. For instance, dividing assets and determining child custody are two factors in the equation that have proven more difficult than the marriage itself. The main issue? CNBC states that many couples had relationships long before they were legal -- ultimately making the decision from the courts complex. Federal regulations surrounding tax-related aspects of divorce can have a firm hand in the way ex-spouses handle legal separation. As a result, spousal support can seem unclear when the exact date of a marriage began years prior to this shift in marriage laws. In addition, this same factor can make determining child support another obstacle.

Breaking it to your spouse that you want a divorce

If you and your spouse have tried date nights, counseling and retreats to reclaim the spark in your marriage, you may be able to say with confidence that you gave it every chance for success. However, if you have reached the point where you are ready to bow out and have a chance at a happy, new life, your first concern is likely breaking the news to your spouse.

The efforts you have been making may mean one of two things. Either your spouse is well aware that the marriage is in trouble or your spouse is confident that your relationship is on the mend. In either case, you may not be able to predict his or her reaction to your announcement, but you can prepare yourself for the conversation and the steps to follow.

Divvying up the 401k during a divorce

Many in Los Angeles enjoy the security that comes from knowing that, after many years of having worked in their individual professions, the funds accumulated in their 401k accounts are there to fall back on. Most might view a 401k as an individual's asset, which is why it seems so shocking to many that all (or at least a portion of) the funds from such accounts are typically eligible for equitable distribution during divorce proccedings

Perhaps this should not come as such a surprise; after all, the law does state that any assets gained during a marriage are subject to property division. Individual contributions as well as employer-matched donations made to a 401k account during one's marriage fall into this category. The question then becomes how is a 401k split during property division proceedings? 

Is legal separation a good alternative for you?

If things in your marriage haven't been going well lately, you may have discussed with your spouse the possibility of divorce. Maybe you even researched the prospect online or called an attorney or two for free consultations. There may be numerous reasons why you reject the idea of divorce at this stage, among which may be the expense.

However, it may be discouraging to think that you have no choice but to remain indefinitely in this unhappy relationship. You do have another alternative. Many California couples are finding that legal separation is an acceptable way to retain some of the benefits of marriage while gaining many of the advantages of a divorce.

After divorce, can I and my children move away from my ex-spouse?

After divorce, the instinct to pack up and move far away from the source of bad memories or traumatic separations can be entirely natural. You may want to move to another town, or you may want to vacate California completely. When there are children and custody matters involved in the divorce, however, weighing anchor and setting sail for new horizons may not be so easy. If you have children when your ex-spouse, can you just pack up and move your children away from your former partner?

The answer can't be broken down to a simple yes or no, but the common factor in all cases is that this isn't a decision you can make on your own. The California Judicial Branch outlines several scenarios called move-away situations, and how they may be addressed based on certain conditions and contingencies.

Mediating your divorce may reduce hard feelings

If you have friends or family members who have gone through painful divorces, you may sense that something about them had changed when it was all over. Perhaps they seemed more bitter in general or less passionate about their lives. You may notice that even when they are in front of their children, they have a difficult time getting along, and it seems as if the divorce itself had turned them into enemies.

Undoubtedly, you would like to avoid this with your own divorce. In fact, as you sensed your marriage coming to an end, you may have envisioned remaining friends with your spouse and working together for the good of your children. Fortunately, this can be a possibility if you choose methods like mediation instead of litigation.

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