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Sacramento Family Law Blog

Appraising the value of a business in a California divorce

When a divorcing California couple turns to valuing their assets, one of the most difficult issues is the value of a jointly owned business. Many couples start small businesses early in their marriage and devote significant energy to making the business a success. Whether the success is modest or significant, the value of the company can add significant stress to settling property division issues, especially if the couple is looking at a high-asset divorce. One of the most efficient ways of determining the value of a business is to hire an experienced business appraiser.

Many people wonder why an appraiser is necessary in a community property state. After all, isn't the business divided equally between the spouses? The answer in theory is "yes," but businesses often cannot be neatly sliced in half. Some businesses must be sold, either to a third party or to the other spouse. In such transactions, both parties will want to know whether the price is fair.

What will a divorce mean for your retirement savings?

Divorce will bring several significant changes to your life, including your finances. You understand you will have to make significant adjustments to your spending and your plans for the future, including your retirement. In fact, many people have concerns that the end of their marriage will mean the end of their hopes for the future. 

Simply because you are divorcing does not mean that you will have to give up on your retirement plans. You will, however, have to be intentional about protecting your future interests and pursuing a final order that grants you a fair portion of all marital property. There is a lot at stake, and it can be helpful to put temporary emotions to side and focus on what will truly be best long term.

Enforcing an order for child support in another state

People who begin a divorce proceeding often view the entry of the final order by the court as the last step, and they are often unprepared for events that may follow. One of the most common of these unexpected events is the decision of one spouse to move from California to another state. If the couple has no minor children, such a move may have little or no impact. But if the couple has minor children who are the beneficiaries of an order for child support, the move to another state by one spouse or the other may have the potential for disrupting the provisions entered by the divorce court regarding child and spousal support.

This disruption is caused by the joint difficulties of obtaining jurisdiction over the spouse who has moved and then enforcing an order requiring the ex-spouse to make all delinquent payments. California and the other states took a significant precaution against such disruption by enacting the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. This statute, with minor modifications from state to state, establishes uniform procedures by which a spouse entitled to receive child support can commence an action in the state where the former spouse resides to obtain an order compelling the ex-spouse to make all delinquent support payments.

Private divorce courts create dilemma for state court system

Most people in Sacramento who are contemplating beginning a divorce proceeding assume that their case will be heard in the state court system. That assumption carries with it the related assumption that the proceeding could drag on for many months, because the court system lacks enough judges and courtrooms to handle the case load in a timely manner. For some divorcing couples, however, a shadow divorce court system is available to couples can pay for it.

A number of family court judges who have retired are offering their judicial services in a private judicial system to persons willing to pay for those services. The parties agree to pay the judge for presiding on the case and to abide by whatever orders the judge issues. In return, the parties obtain a much faster decision in their case and pay far less in legal fees.

The consequences of failing to pay child support in California

Many non-custodial parents in California who have been ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent often fail to appreciate the consequences of ignoring such orders. Some non-custodial parents often assume that they can defeat the obligation to pay child and spousal support if they move to another state. Both assumptions are wrong.

An order for child support is an order of the court, and those who fail to obey the order are deemed to be in contempt of court. Contempt can be punished by imprisonment in addition to another order directing the payment of past due support. Most custodial parents, however, are not interested in imprisoning their child's other parent; they would much prefer to receive the obligatory payments. A custodial parent who has not received support payments can either seek relief from the court or ask a child support agency for assistance.

Child support can still be acquired years later

Divorced parents have a lot going on in their lives after the separation. Some move to a different house or state, some have to search for a new job and plenty of them have to help their children cope with the stressful situation. That stress can get amplified in a state like California, which has drastically different costs and living conditions than the rest of the nation.

As a custodial parent, there might be times where you are too preoccupied to notice that your ex is not following the court’s orders on child support. Depending on the amount of money you have at first, it might not seem like that big of an issue. However, demanding costs from both you and your child’s futures might change your perspective on the matter. Thankfully, even after your child turns 18 and your ex’s child support period supposedly ends, you can still pursue them in court for the money they didn’t give to you before.

A closer look at child custody in California

When a California couple with minor children decide to end their marriage, one of their first concerns is who will have custody of the children. Many couples are able to resolve this issue without turning to the court, but some couples need the judge to help them out. In such cases, child custody becomes more complicated than the simple question of "Who gets the kids?" A review of common child custody questions can be useful to someone about to commence divorce proceedings.

California law recognizes two kinds of child custody:

  • Legal custody in which one or both parents will have the right to make important decisions for the child on issues such as education, health care, general welfare and the like;
  • Physical custody which means with which parent or parents the child will reside.

Using a premarital agreement to ensure marital harmony

The last few weeks and days before a wedding are usually filled with much joyous anticipation, even for persons entering a second or third marriage. California couples who are marrying for the second or third time may face an uncommon threat to their joint happiness: concern about disposing of substantial assets in a high asset divorce.

Individuals entering a second or third marriage may have accumulated significant wealth that they wish to pass to their children and not share with the new spouse in the event of a divorce. California's community property laws may interfere with this plan if the couple has not addressed the issue before they marry. Another problem is created when one member of the couple has far greater wealth than the other member. A person who has been successful in business or in a professional career may be reluctant to share the fruits of those labors with the new spouse. The solution to both difficulties is a premarital agreement.

Drafting a joint parenting plan for a California divorce

For Sacramento couples contemplating a divorce, no issue portends greater stress or heartache than the issues of which parent will be the custodian of the children. One method for alleviating some of the stress and heartache in resolving child custody issues is the preparation of a joint parenting plan. A parenting plan, sometimes called a "custody and visitation agreement," is a written agreement prepared by the parents that governs the time that children will spend with each parent and how the parents will make decisions concerning the child's health, education and general welfare. Once the plan is signed by both parents and presented to the court, the judge's approval of the plan gives it the force of a judicial order.

In approaching the preparation of a joint parenting plan, the parents should ensure that the plan helps them provide for the child's basic needs for love, protection and guidance, a healthy diet, adequate medical care and sufficient rest. Parents should consider the unique personalities and needs of their children. If the plan provides a visitation schedule, it should be clear and predictable. It should make allowance for visitation by each parent, where the child will spend particular holidays, and how vacations will be handled. The schedule should give the children a sense of security and predictable routine.

Challenging a California prenuptial agreement

Most divorce attorneys in Sacramento and elsewhere in California strongly support the use of prenuptial agreements to settle issues of property division, child custody and other issues that often lend unnecessary acrimony in a divorce. Despite this advice, more than a few people facing a divorce in California realize that they have signed a prenuptial agreement that is grossly unfair, fraudulent or otherwise counter to their best interests. Can anything be done about such an agreement? Will the courts provide relief if the agreement was obtained by fraud or undue duress? The answer can by "yes," but any challenge must be limited to a violation of the rules that make such agreements enforceable in the first place.

A prenuptial agreement must be written and signed by both parties before the wedding. Any deviation from this rule will invalidate the agreement. A prenuptial agreement that is signed after the wedding is ipso facto void. Despite the clarity of these rules, some prenuptial agreements are invalid, even if they were executed before the couple wed.

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