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Sacramento Family Law Blog

Divorce may make FAFSA process more complicated

The process of getting divorced can understandably complicate a family's finances, especially when the parents are also in the process of trying to send their children to college. Specifically, it may cause confusion if a student is trying to fill out the FAFSA. Here are some pointers for families trying to simultaneously balance the FAFSA and divorce processes in California.

First of all, the parent who has custody of the child who plans to go to college must complete the FAFSA. This parent is essentially the one with whom the child lives most of the time. If the child spent equal amounts of time with the parents, the parent who provided the greatest amount of monetary support during the past year should fill out the FAFSA.

Divorce later in life and its impact on your financial health

Divorce is going to bring significant financial changes to your life no matter how old you are, but the implications are particularly serious for an older individual. Gray divorce, which typically involves one or two people over the age of 50, is a growing trend. This means it is more common for people closer to retirement age wondering what will happen to their financial security later in life.

Gray divorce will certainly affect your stability and perhaps even your plans for the future, but that does not mean that you will never be able to retire or that you will live in poverty. With preparation and a full understanding of what to expect, you can pursue an order that will work for you long-term. When making decisions, it is in your interests to think long-term, not acting according to how you feel in the moment.

Financial decisions made during divorce can have major impacts

The process of getting divorced can certainly deal an emotional blow to both people involved. However, it can be just as detrimental financially. Here are some tips for reducing the negative financial effects of divorce in California.

Before starting the divorce process, individuals may want to collect information about their finances. For instance, they ideally should know how much they have in assets, where these assets are located and how much debt they have. This information can be helpful for determining the best course of action to take when it comes to splitting assets or requesting alimony, for example. Without this information, divorcing individuals could easily make mistakes that might cost them exponentially down the road.

Dividing high assets under community property laws

Most Californians who are contemplating a divorce are aware that California is a community property state, but they are not certain how those laws will affect the division of their property. The effect of the community property statutes is especially important for couples who have accumulated a large amount of property beyond their main residence and its furnishings. For these couples, how their property will be divided can have a significant financial impact on their post-divorce lives.

The community property rule can be simply stated: property acquired during the marriage is deemed to be owned by both parties and will be divided equally between them, regardless of which spouse acquired the asset. Assets acquired before the marriage and assets acquired by gift or bequest are not considered community property. All marital property is presumptively deemed community property, and the spouse that wishes to challenge that presumption bears the burden of proving otherwise.

How is spousal support calculated in California?

Financial support is a significant concern for spouses seeking it during their divorce. It is also likely a significant concern for the spouse that would be paying support following the divorce. Because spousal support is important to both spouses during the divorce process, it is helpful for them to understand how it is calculated in California.

Spousal support may be awarded in California after the court considers a number of factors. Factors the family law court may consider when determining spousal support include the length of the marriage or domestic partnership; the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage or domestic partnership and the needs of each of the spouses or partners based on that standard of living; the ability of each of the spouses or partners to maintain that standard of living including their earnings and earning capacity; the age and health of the spouses or partners; and the property and debts of the spouses or partners.

Putting your best foot forward in a custody case

The ideal outcome of most child custody cases is for both parents to agree upon a fairly equal sharing of time with the children and to cooperate with the division of responsibility for their needs. However, this is not always possible, and your situation may be one case in which you could never see this happening. Unfortunately, the alternative is often fighting it out in court.

If you are facing a court battle over the custody of your children, you probably already know this is one of the most important challenges you will ever face. The outcome may impact your relationship with your children forever, so you want to have every possible advantage when you step into the California courtroom.

How property division is handled in California during divorce

The division of property is usually a paramount issue during the divorce process. It is helpful for divorcing couples in California to know, understand and be familiar with the rules concerning this process in California so they can anticipate how their property division concerns will be handled and property divided.

California is considered a community property state, which means that marital property is owned jointly by the spouses. This can have a significant impact when property is being divided during a divorce. Marital property includes property and assets acquired during the marriage. This is important because marital property is subject to the division process but separate property is not. Examples of separate property can include worker's compensation benefits or personal injury awards, inheritances and gifts and property one spouse entered the marriage with.

What might a vocational counselor do in a divorce proceeding?

Complexities can arise in any California divorce. With spousal support, there are numerous factors that will be considered, such as: whether the support should be paid; how long it will last; and how much the payments will be. Both the paying spouse and the receiving spouse should be cognizant of the steps of the process. Part of that might be having a vocational training counselor provide an assessment.

If the court orders a counselor to assess a case, they will conduct an analysis of whether the party can obtain employment to support themselves. This could include gauging the person's skills, work history, age, education, health situation and the job market. The goal is to see if the person can support themselves before a decision is made on spousal support.

What is a stipulation with regard to child support?

There is a common perception that determining the amount of child support that must be paid by one parent to the other will be a contentious process. However, that is not always the case and many parents can come to an agreement on their own. Provided they adhere to the guidelines or agree to deviate from it, the court will generally allow the agreement if it is in the child's best interests.

Still, there are aspects that must be understood regarding an agreement. One aspect is filling out the Stipulation to Establish or Modify Child Support and Order. Knowing why this form must be filled out and what to do with it after it is completed is a fundamental part of a case. The form provides a roadmap of the issues that must be settled when agreeing to a child support amount.

When is a premarital agreement unenforceable in a divorce?

When many California couples get married, they sign a premarital agreement. This is designed to protect a person who might have more resources than the other or owns a business. It can also be used as a means for both sides to be shielded in case the marriage fails. Often, people think that a premarital agreement is limited to those who have significant assets, but that is not always true.

Regardless of the situation and reason for it, it is important to understand when the agreement might be held unenforceable. The premarital agreement will be unenforceable if it was not agreed to voluntarily. It will also be unenforceable if it is deemed unconscionable. For a premarital agreement to be deemed unconscionable, the person who signed it must not have been given a fair, full and reasonable disclosure of the other person's property and debts.

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