Orange County Family Law Blog | The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC
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Family law cases can be very emotional

Family law cases of all sorts are challenging to deal with when you are thrust into them, especially if the situation wasn't something that you knew about. One of the most common cases that's like this is a divorce or even a nonmarriage dissolving. We know that when you are going through this type of issue, it is easy to let your emotions rule.

There are many different things that you will have to think about if a marriage or a long-term relationship ends. There are two that are fairly pressing matters. One of these is property division and child custody. Both of these matters need to be worked through as quickly as possible but not to the point where you are sacrificing yourself for the resolution.

Not married? Your relationship can still have recognition

There are many couples in California who choose not to move forward with marriage even though they are in a committed relationship. If you choose to remain unmarried, there may still be some benefits in choosing to seek legal recognition of your relationship through a domestic partnership agreement.

A domestic partnership is a legally recognized relationship that allows the two parties to enjoy certain benefits even though they are not married. Originally, domestic partnerships were sought by same-sex couples who were not able to legally marry. Now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout the United States, this type of relationship could still be beneficial for cohabitating couples who do not want to get married.

Unmarried couples and homeownership in California

It is increasingly common for individuals in committed relationships to live together and share property without getting married. In many cases, ending such a relationship is much simpler than ending a marriage. This is especially true in California, where community property guidelines can make the property division aspect of a divorce more difficult to settle than in other states.

However, when the ownership of certain property is disputed, or if two partners have different understandings or expectations surrounding their respective contributions to the household, dividing up property can prove very difficult. This is especially true when it comes to homeownership if the couple is fortunate enough to own real estate. Whereas a married couple may each have claim to value in the home regardless of which partner's name is on the title and mortgage, this is not necessarily the case for those cohabitating outside of marriage.

Child custody matters can be stressful during divorce

A child custody agreement has to be made with the child's best interests in mind. There isn't room for either parent to be selfish and try to sway the agreement in their favor.

When you are already dealing with the other matters of a divorce, you might find that trying to handle child custody matters is very stressful. We can help you to determine what needs to be addressed and help you navigate the process carefully.

Avoiding costly mistakes during your divorce

Soon after announcing that you and your spouse were planning to divorce, you probably discovered that everyone was suddenly an expert - or at least had an opinion - on the subject. You may have more unsolicited advice, perhaps even contradictory advice, than you will even need. While many of those newfound counselors may have good intentions, in the end they may leave you confused at best or making regretful decisions at worst.

In fact, taking bad advice is one of the most common mistakes people make when going through a divorce. Because of the emotional nature of divorce, you may be quick to forget that it is very much like a business transaction. If you have experience with business deals, you know that one wrong move can bring financial disaster.

How does a prenuptial agreement protect you from debt?

When a couple approaching marriage chooses to create a prenuptial agreement, they have a number of protections available. Many people often assume that prenuptial agreements are only useful to those who anticipate divorce and want to ensure that the settlement is straightforward, but this is simply untrue. Among the most important protections a prenuptial agreement can provide are legal boundaries between spouses and each other's debts.

After a couple marries, many of their possessions cease to be solely their own and become legally the property of both spouses, known as marital property. This does not only apply to assets, but also includes liabilities. This means that one spouse may unwittingly assume responsibility for the other's debts, and his or her assets may be threatened by creditors or others seeking repayment for those debts.

Co-parents of infants face difficult circumstances

A child custody case involving an infant has some very unique challenges that have to be worked through so that the baby can get everything he or she needs. There are many points that you have to consider when you are dealing with this type of situation.

One of the most important considerations is how the baby is being fed. If the mother is breastfeeding the baby, there is a chance that she won't be able to leave the baby for long until her milk supply is established and the baby is able to eat from a bottle.

Why can’t I determine child support myself?

Child support obligations are often difficult to bear for the paying parent, and can seem unfairly harsh, depending on the size of the required payments. Many parents receive a child support order and find that it is much more than they want to pay or feel they should have to pay, and wonder why they cannot determine their level of child support themselves.

Unlike a divorce settlement, child support is not left up to parents to decide, because this support is the legal right of the child. A court may place a premium on the best interests of a child, making the preferences of the parents a secondary concern at best. While this may sound cruel or unsympathetic to the paying parent's circumstances, the court determines child support based on what it believes is best for the child within the means of the paying parent, not what is best for the parent.

Control your future through divorce mediation

When you and your spouse decided to divorce, you may have envisioned sitting across from each other in a courtroom allowing a judge to determine your fate. That vision likely increased your trepidation and reluctance to move forward. Fortunately, more California couples like you are turning away from that option and using divorce mediation.

During a time in your life when things often feel out of control, finding a way to regain the control over your future undoubtedly sounds appealing. Resolving your issues outside a courtroom is possible and often results in better agreements that provide both divorcing spouses with a measure of satisfaction that you were treated fairly.

Don't overlook prenuptial agreements during your engagement

Prenuptial agreements are often associated with the rich and famous, but they are helpful in many more marriages than only those specific cases. No matter what social and financial status you have, there are protections that these agreements can provide. Make sure that you think carefully about what you want to do early in your engagement so that you can have time to get it all together.

We realize that there is a certain negative stigma associated with premarital agreements. Just to clear this up, a prenup isn't a hope that your marriage will fail. Instead, it is a way to get through some of the potentially contentious issues that might come up so that you can focus on your relationship. It provides protections for both spouses that can't come from any other means.