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Pleasanton Family Law Blog

Appeal over art and real estate in high-asset divorce denied

In California and across the U.S., divorce is common. Disputes often arise in divorce cases, especially when they involve a large amount of assets.

A prominent couple with substantial assets has had a continuing dispute over their art and real estate and how it will be divided in their divorce. Recently, an appeal as to the valuation of their property was denied. The couple, Harry and Linda Macklowe, are from New York. Mrs. Macklowe asserted that experts were hired by each side to assess the value of their real estate and art and each came to different conclusions as to what these properties were worth.

What should I know about medical child support in a divorce?

In a California divorce, those with children should be aware of various issues related to child support. Most will think about the monthly payment as a means to ensure that their child's best interests are met and their basic needs are provided. It is easy to forget that in addition to a home, clothes and other important items for the child's well-being, medical support will be needed. With any concern related to family law and support, legal help can be critical to an effective resolution.

There are key points about medical support that parents should understand. If there are disagreements, it is also imperative to understand these factors. When health coverage is provided, the law states that it must include vision and dental coverage. When the cost is assessed, it will be categorized as "reasonable" if adding children to the parent's policy costs no more than 5% of the providing parent's gross income.

Protecting your bond with your "fur baby" in a California divorce

Whether your companion animal is a dog, cat, rabbit, bird or reptile, you may have developed a very strong connection with that animal. Many modern couples choose to adopt a companion animal with their spouse or partner, not thinking about the potential heartbreak that could arise in the future because of their bond.

Some couples adopt animals into their household in lieu of having children. Others may have human offspring to care for in addition to the pets that they love. Determining who keeps the animals can be a difficult, if not heartbreaking, decision that impacts you, the animal and the children in your family.

Handling the end of a marriage after retiring can be difficult

Divorce is difficult at any age, but, if the end of a marriage comes after people have already retired, it is even more complicated. Californians categorized as baby boomers who are contemplating a divorce might not know where to turn or what steps to take. These divorces are commonly referred to as "gray" divorces, but, regardless of how they are described, people should be cognizant of the foundational factors and be fully prepared.

As with any extended relationship, there are bound to be changes as time passes. If that results in people deciding they no longer want to be together, then it is wise to think about how to address key issues. Social Security payments are vital to older people and the divorce could impact these payments. A person may be able to receive up to 50% of the spouse's Social Security payment if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years and the spouse receiving the portion has not remarried.

Is legal separation a better option for me than divorce?

California couples who are at or near the end of a marriage will automatically consider how to move on. With the various factors that must be assessed in this process, a fundamental concern is whether a divorce is the preferable strategy or not. For some, a legal separation is preferable to divorce. There can be a litany of reasons for this. When coming to a determination, however, it is wise to understand all the ramifications of the choice they make and if a legal separation is better for their circumstances. Understanding the details of a legal separation is key.

After a legal separation has been granted, the parties should remember that unlike a divorce, they cannot marry another person. When there is a legal separation, the case can later be changed to a divorce when the necessary requirements are met. There are many reasons to choose a legal separation instead of a divorce. They include: wanting to live separately but not wanting a divorce as a divorce will have mandates as to property division, support and custody; their religion prohibits divorce; they have personal beliefs that prevent them from getting a divorce; there are residency requirements not yet met preventing them from divorcing in the state; or there are financial and personal concerns. There could also be other reasons.

Modifying an order for child support or alimony in California

Californians who have endured the stresses and burdens of divorcing a spouse often think that the order and judgment for divorce has settled that part of their lives forever. Unfortunately, life is never certain, and the issues that proved so contentious during the divorce proceeding can often reemerge if circumstances change. Two of the issues that most commonly reappear are child support and spousal support.

The basis for change in both cases is proof that the circumstances of one or both parties have changed significantly. To obtain an increase or reduction in child support payments, the parent requesting the change must prove one or more changes. This could include changes such as a parent being incarcerated, a change the medical or educational needs of a child, a parent losing a job or even big changes in the amount of time the child is spending with the respective parents, among other factors.

Choosing between collaborative divorce and mediation

Ending a marriage is never a pleasant process, but the California legal system has two alternative dispute resolution procedures that may significantly reduce the emotional stress of a divorce. The first is mediation, and the second is collaborative divorce. The two divorce alternative dispute resolution procedures are significantly different, but they have a similar goal: facilitating participation of the couple in making all necessary decisions with a minimum of anger and confrontation and without the expense of a court trial.

Mediation relies on the services of a neutral third party who meets with the couple and their attorneys and suggests various solutions to problems, like child support, custody, property division and alimony. The mediator makes no decisions, and no agreement is binding upon the parties unless each of them agrees to specific terms. A mediator may be able to help resolve two or three issues, leaving the remaining issues for the judge. Even a partial mediation agreement can help the couple resolve the remaining issues.

Your kids may have a say in where they want to live after divorce

When parents get divorced with toddlers or babies, they decide -- sometimes with the help of the court -- where the children are going to live. However, this can change as the children grow older, and it can be a completely different experience when parents split up with children who are already of school age.

Best interests

Navigating a "gray" divorce can be complicated

A rising phenomenon in California and across the nation is a so-called "gray" divorce in which older people have decided to end their marriages. While there are fundamental personal factors that must be considered in the context of all divorces, it is important to understand a gray divorce and its impact.

Although the statistics for divorce are showing a drastic reduction in the overall number, divorces for people 55 and older are rising significantly. With these individuals, it is wise to think about alimony, property division, inheritances, Social Security, life insurance, and retirement accounts. Alimony - also referred to as spousal support - is worrisome for many. People who were the main breadwinners in the relationship will likely be ordered to support the other person. Since older people are likely well-established in their professional lives, there could be complications with stocks and bonuses.

What are the key parts of a parenting plan?

Children are often caught in the middle of a California divorce. While parents are usually vigilant about adhering to their child's best interests, there can be complications and problems with custody and visitation rights. This is one of the most common sources of disputes in divorces. There are key aspects of parenting plans that must be understood as the case moves forward. When getting a divorce, having legal advice is critical from the start.

With parenting plans, there are two basic portions. These are the time-share portion and the decision-making portion. The time-share will detail when the child will be with each parent. The decision-making agreement will determine how the parents decide on the child's care, education, welfare and other issues. The parents can have a written plan that clearly details how the situation will be handled. This is done to avoid conflicts between the parties.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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