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Sacramento Family Law Blog

Protecting corporate shares with a prenuptial agreement

For some people in California entering their first marriage, the concept of a prenuptial agreement carries a negative stigma. Not everyone at that stage in their lives can understand why they should elevate financial concerns above the romantic notions of marriage and living happily ever after. Some people are fortunate in never needing to face the answer to that question. However, other people will understand the answer after they have endured at least one divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are intended to remove the enormous uncertainty that is otherwise known as the "future." These agreements serve many useful purposes, but one of the most critical is protecting a spouse's interest in a close corporation or limited liability company. People entering into a second or third marriage may have invested a significant portion of their lives into making a particular business endeavor successful. Without a prenuptial agreement, they could lose a large portion of that success.

Why mediation may not be the best option for high-asset divorces

Mediation is often encouraged for spouses that want to divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible. It does work for numerous individuals as they end up coming to an agreement with their ex-spouses and the mediators on what the settlement should be before they begin the newest chapter in their lives without as much drama or money loss as a court case would be.

Unfortunately, the process doesn’t work for everyone. Couples that can’t stand to be in the same room as each other would just be wasting their time and money if they know they cannot come to an agreement so easily. However, if you and your spouse have a significant amount of property to divide, mediation might not be the best divorce process to take even if you two get along with each other. As you are determining how you want to go about the separation process, you should know what disadvantages high-asset couples have in divorce mediation.

California changes pet custody in divorce

Pets are an important part of families but were traditionally a minor legal matter when couples ended their marriage. California has changed this by enacting a new law ensuring that pet care is considered when a divorce is underway and after the decree is issued.

Pets were legally considered as property that had to allocated like other assets. In California, any pet acquired during marriage had to be awarded to one of the spouses. But, visitation rights were often granted.

Understanding prenuptial agreements in California

A common question faced by Sacramento residents who are contemplating marriage or re-marriage is whether to sign a prenuptial agreement that has been requested by the other party. This question is especially common in second marriages where one or both parties have significant assets.

Prenuptial agreements may seem antithetical to the emotions of deep affection and trust that ordinarily accompany the decision to marry, but prenuptial agreements can often have effects that will ensure the long term survival of those intense feelings. Although prenuptial agreements usually look ahead to how assets will be divided by the couple in the event of a divorce, the agreements may give one or both couples peace of mind about what happens to their assets.

Understanding how an appraiser determines value

Perhaps the most critical issue in most California divorces is the value of the homestead. For most couples, the family home is their most valuable asset. The value of the home will determine how all other marital assets will be divided.

Because our state is a community property state, all assets acquired after the marriage are considered joint or marital assets. Those assets must be divided equally between the spouses in the event of a divorce. The value of the home will affect the division of all other assets, and a basic understanding of the mechanics of a real estate appraisal can inform all other decisions about the division of assets.

Understanding the role of mediation in a California divorce

Ending a marriage can burden one or both spouses with extreme stress. This stress often leads one or both parties to take an unreasonable position on one or more critical issues, such as child custody or property division. Our state's courts are now using mediation to help people deal with this important change in their lives without developing a chronic hatred for the ex-partner and without engaging in wasteful litigation.

Mediation uses a trained third person to meet with the divorcing couple, explore their differences and suggest ways to resolve the disagreement. Mediators are trained in the techniques of mediation, such as listening carefully, suggesting options and helping one or both parties understand how a solution could help both of them. Most mediators charge an hourly fee that is split by the parties.

What is a parenting plan in a California divorce?

Virtually any divorce can be extremely stressful. And, if the couple has minor children, the level of stress about issues of child custody can reach painful levels all too quickly. Divorcing parents in Sacramento can use a legal device called, a "parenting plan" or "custody and visitation agreement," to reduce some of the stress.

A parenting plan is a voluntary agreement between the parents about how they will care for and interact with the children after the divorce has been completed. Perhaps, the most important feature of a parenting plan is that it represents the voluntary decision of the parents about how the children will be treated. Once completed, a parenting plan must be submitted to the court for approval. If the judge approves and signs the plan, it becomes an order of the court.

Modifying custody agreements when your ex has a mental illness

Not every child custody agreement is final. Parents who believe they should spend more time with their children or that their ex is unfit to look after them can revisit the agreements later onto make some changes. However, they require sufficient reasoning to convince the court to alter the initial custody placements.

While some reasons are more straightforward such as one parent having a better income than before, others can be more complex. Mental illness is an often-discussed controversial topic that could determine who your child goes with. If your ex demonstrates symptoms of strong mental illness such as bipolar disorder or depression and it is affecting your child’s development, you should know how to modify your child custody agreement.

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