Orange County Family Law Blog | The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
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Practical decisions benefit you in asset and debt division

One of the most difficult things to do during a divorce is determine who is going to get what. Both sides likely want the assets, but neither wants to have to take on the debt. While you might be tempted to try to get as much as you can during the property division process, you have to remember that many assets come at a cost.

When you are thinking about how to divide the assets, make sure that you consider the upkeep costs for each one you want to keep. This might help you decide whether it is a good idea to try to hang on to it. Sometimes, the costs can be much greater than the benefit to you.

Struggling to meet child support doesn't make you a bad parent

During your marriage, whether it lasted less than five years or more than 10, you and your spouse no doubt encountered financial challenges at some point, as most couples do. Your household expenses likely increased substantially when you had children. Many parents struggle to make ends meet. That doesn't necessarily mean they aren't doing everything in their power to provide for their children's needs.

Likewise, if you get divorced and the court orders you to pay child support, there's no guarantee a financial crisis won't hit you down the line. If that happens, you might not be able to make your payments on time, if at all. This does not make you a bad parent. If you have legitimate cause to do so, you can petition the court for child support modification. Just remember that the court will want to see evidence of need.

Divorce can cause toxic stress in children

If you're like many Californians, you probably didn't know that as of last month the state has its first surgeon general. We're one of just four states with someone in this position. Our new surgeon general is a San Francisco-based pediatrician named Nadine Burke Harris. The mother of four sons has already announced that her top priority is diagnosing and treating toxic stress in children.

Burke Harris has been an advocate for toxic stress or trauma screenings of children from low-income homes for signs of stress caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACES). In one of these screenings, parents report how many out of 10 designated issues their child has experienced. These include physical, emotional or sexual abuse and physical or emotional neglect. They also include things that have happened to one or both parents, including substance abuse, incarceration, mental illness, domestic violence and separation or divorce.

Know the ins and outs of a prenuptial agreement

A prenuptial agreement can protect you and your soon-to-be spouse by laying out the financial terms of the marriage. While many people think that this is only necessary for wealthy individuals, there are many cases that might require you to have one of these agreements in place. We know that you might not feel excited about having to ask for one, but once you find out how they can protect both parties, you might be more willing to bring it up.

One of the most important things to remember is that you can include potential inheritances in the document. This means that whichever adult gets the assets will be the one who keeps them if the marriage ends. Not only does this protect the adults, but it can also protect any children who are already born and those who might be born in the future.

Considering divorce? One or more of these issues may apply to you

There's no way to know which marriages will last a lifetime and which will end in divorce. When you got married, you likely believed (and hoped) that you and your spouse would always be together and that your relationship would overcome any challenges you might encounter along your journey. In reality, life doesn't always pan out the way we'd hoped.

Current data shows there are certain issues that make married couples more prone to divorce. There is no foolproof way of determining ahead of time whether or not you'll be among those who dissolve their relationships in 2019 or beyond. However, if you're thinking about divorce as a viable option or have already filed paperwork in court, you may have one or more issues in common with others considering their future after marriage.

What's the best way to tell kids about divorce?

Like most parents who decide to divorce, you and your spouse likely made your decision without first informing your children of your plans. That's understandable since your marriage is a personal, adult matter between the two of you. Perhaps, like many parents, you're worried about how your children will take the news and how the situation is going to affect their lives.

There are some helpful tips for talking to kids about divorce. You know what's best for your children, and your family's circumstances are unique; however, many parents in similar situations have found that certain approaches generally work better than others when the goal is to help children cope and adapt to a new family situation. It's a good idea to have contact information on hand for various family advocate groups should you or your kids need outside support.

Don't forget to make summer plans for your children early

With the summer months not too far ahead, you need to start thinking about vacations and school breaks. If you have children with your ex, making plans for these warmer months might be a challenge. Parents who don't have a child custody agreement will have to try to work out the terms for the summer. This might prove to be a challenge, but we are here to help you.

One factor that you need to decide is how child care will be handled when the children aren't in school. This can be a big project, especially if the children are young. You and your ex need to decide if each parent will make their own arrangements for when the child is with them or if you will both utilize the same child care option.

As you prepare for divorce, keep these things in mind

Making the decision to divorce might have been one of the most stressful things you've ever done; then again, perhaps you found it an easy decision to make, but you're worried about what your and your children's future will be like. If you know someone who has gone through a similar experience, you can talk to that person to seek recommendations, depending on what worked or didn't work when he or she was trying to come to terms with divorce and move on in life.

In addition to things you might want to do as you navigate divorce proceedings and lay the groundwork for your life after divorce, there are some situations you might want to avoid. It's also a good idea to have a support team lined up, should you or your kids need some extra help as you cope with the life changes you're going through.

What is 'quasi-community property?'

If you're reading this, you likely already know that California is a community property state. "Community property" refers to the assets that a couple earned or acquired, either separately or together, during the marriage. There are some exceptions, such as inheritances and gifts that remain separate as long as they don't get commingled with the couple's community property.

Under state law, each spouse owns one-half of this community property. That means that if they divorce, they can each walk away with an equal share. Of course, they can reach a different agreement either through their negotiations during the divorce process or based on a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that's already in place.

Parenting plan terms must be set based on the child's needs

Even though you and your ex are the ones who are divorcing, that decision has a big impact on your children. Everything that they've known is changing and they might not be sure how to handle that. When you decide to divorce, you and your ex should sit down with the kids and explain the situation. You don't have to get into why you are divorcing but you should reassure them that they aren't the cause. We know this might be an ongoing struggle, but the kids should be able to continue to enjoy life.

One thing that might help you to encourage the children to find the positive side of the divorce is being able to give them a plan for what is going to happen. You might not have a permanent child custody plan, but you should have a temporary agreement about how things will work. Relay this information to the children so they know what to expect. Just make sure that you don't set unrealistic expectations for anything.