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Guide to Divorce in Los Angeles

Getting a divorce may be one of the most challenging things that you ever decide to do, and certainly one of the most emotional. At the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein, we are invested in your marriage, your happiness, and the course of action that is best for you. Throughout the course of this guide, we will discuss a number of different items that are designed to provide you with the information you need regarding how to maintain a happy marriage, the impact of divorce, and the divorce process. If you have any questions or are looking for legal representation, we encourage you to call an LA divorce lawyer for a consultation immediately.

Table of Contents

We know that you have a lot of questions about marriage and divorce. We plan to provide you with some advice and legal guidance and in regards to the following:

    1. How to decide on a divorce;
    2. Avoiding the common pitfalls that cause failing marriages;
    3. The impact of religious observance on divorce;
    4. Common complications with divorce;
    5. How to handle domestic abuse;
    6. Different types of divorce proceedings;
  1. The effects of divorce on children;
  2. The impact of divorce on stay-at-home mothers;
  3. How divorce can impact and influence extended family members;
  4. How to help children during a divorce;
  5. How child support is determined and different custody arrangements;
  6. How child custody works with unmarried parents;
  7. How spousal maintenance is determined;
  8. How debts are divided in a divorce;
  9. How assets are divided in a divorce;
  10. Common concerns about post-divorce arrangements;
  11. The impact of prenuptial agreements on divorce outcomes;
  12. The difference between divorces with or without an attorney;
  13. Appealing initial court divorce decisions;
  14. Divorce statistics in Los Angeles and California; and
  15. Moving on with life after a divorce.

How to Decide on a Divorce

Making the decision to end a marriage and leave a spouse is one of the hardest things a person may ever have to do. Of course, before a person actually decides whether or not divorce is the right thing for them, there are dozens of different things they must think about first. Consider the following advice on how to decide on whether or not getting a divorce is the right course of action for you and your spouse.

Start with Marriage Counseling

Before you make a decision about splitting from your spouse and meeting with an LA divorce lawyer, you should think very seriously about investing in marriage counseling from a trained professional. A marriage therapist can work closely with you and your spouse to help you address the problems that are leaving you feeling like divorce is your only options and provide you with tools for resolving those problems. While marriage therapy may not always save a marriage, it can, at the very least, help you to pinpoint exactly what the problem is and why divorce may be the right course of action.

Think About Life Without Your Spouse

It’s easy to be frustrated with a spouse and think that parting ways will provide you with the sense of relief that you need. But will it? Think about your life without your spouse. What will that look like? Sitting down and addressing the realities of life without your partner can be tough, but it’s important to do. Once you separate, you will end up living a completely different style of life which impacts you and your children alike. You may also suffer from less income than you’re used to, lose your house, or struggle to make rent or mortgage payments on your own. You may also discover difficulties in dating again and other things you no longer dealt with when you first got married.

Though life without a spouse in many instances may be challenging, it could also be something that sounds relieving and exceptional, especially if you have found yourself in an abusive relationship. Either way, be sure that you’re able to embrace a future without your partner.

Talk with Your Spouse

Surprisingly, one thing that couples who want to get a divorce often fail to do is to sit down and talk about why they want a divorce and what each party really wants from the other. If you want a divorce and your spouse doesn’t, you may be surprised to hear what they’re willing to do to make it work. Or the opposite may be true: at the mention of divorce, your spouse may tell you that they’ve been thinking the same thing and they’re ready to sign the papers. Either way, being on the same page about your wants and needs will help the future flow a little more smoothly, and if you do decide to divorce, may make working together through the divorce process easier.

Think About What You Really Need

Above all else, you should put your physical, mental, and emotional health above all else. If you have tried counseling and you do not feel as though your needs are being met and you are suffering physically, mentally, or emotionally as a result of your marriage, divorce may be the healthiest option. Think about what you really need and make this a priority by calling the office of LA divorce attorney, Evan Braunstein, today!



Avoiding the Common Pitfalls that Cause Failing Marriages

Deciding to get a divorce with the help of an LA divorce lawyer can be one of the hardest things for a person to do. One of the best ways to avoid divorce is to recognize the common pitfalls that cause failing marriages, and to avoid these mistakes before it’s too late. Consider these common problems that many people face, and some advice for mitigating issues and preserving happiness in your union–

Common Pitfalls that Cause Failing Marriages

What causes strife within a relationship? Why do some couples make it–seemingly happily, too–while others do not? The answers may lie in some of the most common sources of tension and dissatisfaction within a marriage. These include:

  1. Financial problems. Money, and not knowing how to communicate about money, can be a tough issue for couples. In fact, money can be one of the most uncomfortable topics for couples to discuss openly. Financial pressure on the marriage–which might include fighting about not having enough money, how money is being spent or earned, or how money is being managed–is one of the biggest sources of tension.
  2. Infidelity. An extra-marital affair can quickly ruin a marriage, and once a person has an affair, regaining their partner’s trust can be difficult to do (although with therapy and desire, it is possible). Avoid infidelity by being honest with yourself and your partner about your needs.
  3. Lack of intimacy. Lack of intimacy in a relationship can leave one or both partners feeling undervalued. And remember that intimacy isn’t just about sex; emotional intimacy is critical for the success of a marriage, too. If you feel like intimacy in your marriage is lacking, talk to your spouse about it and develop a plan that works for you. Even something as small as spending 20 minutes at the table during dinner talking about your day or scheduling a date night out can make a big difference.
  4. Lack of respect. Couples who have been together for many years often become too comfortable talking to their partner more rudely and aggressively than they would others, using hurtful language, making fun of their partner, intentionally not listening to their partner, or/and overall being disrespectful. Your partner is someone who always deserves your respect, even when you’re really frustrated or hurt. If you’re having trouble being composed when emotions are high, excuse yourself and take time to think about what you want to say.
  5. Lack of communication. Finally, even if there are multiple points of tension in a relationship, communication can truly make or break a marriage. Knowing how to communicate with your spouse despite the multiple points of tension and in a way that is precise, direct, honest, and that values compromise will get you far.

If you are struggling in your marriage, talk to your spouse. If you both want to save your marriage, there are many resources available that can help, ranging from books to online resources to professional counseling and more.



The Impact of Religious Observance on Divorce

Many people shape their perceptions of divorce around religious beliefs. To some, divorce may seem like a breach of one’s vows before God. To others, divorce may represent a breach of a personal commitment made to oneself and one’s partner. To others, divorce may simply be viewed as an unavoidable, necessary means of escaping unhappiness.

How one’s feelings and values about divorce are shaped are dependent upon numerous things, including family values that the individual was exposed to growing up, community and societal values, and even things like social media. For those who are religious, the impact of religious observance can also have a profound effect on a person’s feelings about divorce.

How Religious Observance Impacts Divorce

Those who are religious may have very strong feelings about divorce, with some religions strongly discouraging divorce, and other religions embracing divorce when it is the best thing for both parties involved.

There have been a number of studies conducted on how religion and religious beliefs affect divorce decisions. In one study conducted by the National Divorce Decision-Making Project and the Institute for Family Studies, researchers found that about half of participants reported that religion, their relationship with God, or other aspects of spirituality were major factors in how they thought about their marriage. The researches also explored four major themes that emerged during the study:

  1. The belief that, because of religious beliefs, staying married was the moral thing to do;
  2. The dilemma of religious belief in that while religion might be a reason to stay married, participants simultaneously believed that God would want them to be happy (and therefore maybe divorce was better);
  3. The religious social network – the decision to divorce was often highly influenced by people’s religious social connections; and
  4. Religious practice – those who practiced religion were influenced by these practices in making a decision about whether or not to divorce. For example, “forgiveness” is a common religious practice, and provided grounding in favor of staying married after one spouse had wronged the other.

While this was just one study, the general ideas may be reflective of the majority of religious people who are contemplating divorce.

The Relationship Between Marriage, Religion, and Divorce

Interestingly, there is also research which indicates that religion/religious attendance is the single most important predictor of marital stability. In fact, when both partners in a marriage attend regular religious ceremonies, the couple is 2.4 times less likely to divorce than is a non-religious couple. Further, those who state that their religious beliefs are very important to them are nearly ¼ less likely to divorce than are those who state that religious beliefs are only somewhat important.

Reconciling Religion and Divorce

Divorce is a very difficult thing and a very sensitive topic. If you are thinking about divorce and your religious beliefs are in contradiction to your desire to separate, speaking with a spiritual/religious leader, as well as an LA divorce lawyer may prove helpful. Personal and marital counseling can also help you to make sense of your feelings and forge a clear path moving forward.



Common Complications with Divorce

Divorce rarely goes smoothly. Instead, any number of problems can crop up that might confuse you. At our office, we help divorcing clients keep their sanity by handling all their paperwork and advocating strongly on their behalf. As soon as you notice any of the problems below, give an LA divorce lawyer a call.

One of You Wants to Move with the Kids

Judges generally want to maintain the status quo at least until the divorce is finalized. But parents often have different ideas. One parent might want to leave to start a new job, move back home with family, or even start a new relationship. If he or she wants to take the children, too, then there is a definite problem.

An attorney can explain your options, whether you are the parent who wants to move with the children or the parent who is trying to block the move.

There is Only One Car

Some families only have one vehicle, which they use for all errands and for getting to and from work. During a divorce, one spouse often moves out of the home and might want to take the vehicle with them. You will need to either ask the judge to let you have the vehicle or come up with another creative solution. In Los Angeles, one parent could take public transportation, though this is rarely ideal.

You Have a Family Business Together

When spouses work together, a divorce is particularly disruptive. Now you might not even want to be in the same room as your husband or wife. What happens to the family business during this time? If you can’t get along, then your business could fail before a judge even issues the final divorce decree.

It is possible that both spouses co-own the business, but only one works in it. In that case, things could continue on as before, so long no one does anything to sabotage the business. If both spouses work together, then they might need to work in different locations and only communicate by email. Another option is to put the business up for immediate sale.

The Children Don’t Want to Live with You

Children get to have a say about who they want to live with, and the amount of weight a judge will give your child’s preference depends on the child’s maturity and age. The law does not require that judges do what the child wants, but a child’s preference is one factor.

As a practical matter, it can be very difficult to raise your children if they are dead set on not living with you, especially if they are teenagers. Sometimes, family therapy can help parents and children work through their anger and fear. In other situations, you might need to consider not seeking physical custody of your child.

You Want to Start Dating

You might want to jump back into the dating pool but are worried about how a judge will view your new relationship during divorce. This is a perfectly normal concern—and a smart one. Your children might resent that you are dating, which could affect whether you get child custody. Also, if you spend money on your new paramour, you might get less property in the divorce settlement. You should discuss your concerns with an attorney.



How to Handle Domestic Abuse

Domestic violence, unfortunately, is fairly common, and it can take many forms. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 25% of women and 14% of men can suffer severe physical domestic violence in their lifetime. If your spouse has become physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive, you should follow the steps below to protect yourself and your family.

Document the Domestic Abuse

You really want to avoid a “he said, she said” situation where allegations of abuse have no support other than what you allege. Instead, you want as much evidence as possible that abuse has occurred. To that end, try to collect the following (we know the evidence may be difficult to collect, but):

  • Take pictures of any injuries you suffered. Take vivid color photographs that show bruises, bite marks, slap marks, etc.
  • Write down the day and time each abusive incident occurred and summarize what happened.
  • Identify any witnesses to the abuse. They can provide testimony as to what they saw.

If necessary, call the police. A police report will come in handy at establishing when the violent incident occurred.

Develop a Safety Plan

In the immediate aftermath of an abusive incident, you probably are not thinking clearly. Nevertheless, you need to get to someplace safe. Many people develop a safety plan, which can include the following:

  • Identify who you can call or where you can go after an abusive incident.
  • Identify how you will get out of the house in the event of a physical attack.
  • Collect important information and documents in one place. These documents include copies of birth certificates, social security numbers, and bank information.
  • Either save sufficient cash or identify how you will get immediate access to cash if you leave the home.

There is a misconception that men don’t need a safety plan because their partners are unlikely to physically harm them. Nothing could be further from the truth. A woman can attack a man with a gun or knife, or she could hurt the couple’s children out of anger. With a safety plan in place, you can quickly get away from a violent spouse to somewhere safe.

Seek a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

A restraining order is a court order prohibiting the abuser from coming near you and doing certain things. For example, you can get an order for your abuser to move out of the house and to let you use the vehicle, if necessary. The abuser will also need to turn over his gun to the police.

You can get a domestic violence restraining order against someone you have a close relationship with, such as a current or former spouse, someone you live with, or someone you used to date.  You can also seek a restraining order for a child if he or she is being abused.

An LA divorce lawyer can help you get the restraining order by filing paperwork with the court, or you can go to the court and ask the family law facilitator or self-help center to help. A judge can issue an immediate, temporary order, but the abuser has a chance to come into court and argue why a permanent order is unnecessary.

If your abuser violates the restraining order, call the police.



Different Types of Divorce Proceedings

When you make the decision to file for divorce with the help of an L.A. divorce lawyer, you will have many divorce options from which you can choose. The type of divorce proceedings for your specific case will depend upon many different factors, including whether there are children from the marriage, whether you and your spouse have agreed to all terms of the separation, and whether there remains a possibility for compromise even if you cannot yet agree to the financial terms of the divorce. The California Courts provides helpful information about the divorce process. The following are examples of different types of divorce proceedings in California and information about how each can be beneficial.

Uncontested Divorce in Los Angeles

An uncontested divorce is the fastest option for divorce in Los Angeles. It is one in which the parties agree to all terms of the divorce. This means that you and your spouse, depending upon the specific issues in your case, agree to all of the following:

  • Dividing marital assets and debts;
  • Whether one spouse will provide support to the other;
  • Child custody and visitation plans if there are children from the marriage.

An uncontested divorce means that there are no issues in dispute and that the divorce can move forward. In an uncontested divorce, the court does not need to make any decisions about how marital property will be divided, how financial matters will be handled, or how the parents will share custody since those issues already have been agreed upon by the spouses. In order to be eligible for an uncontested divorce, you must file paperwork and wait for six months. After that point, the divorce can be finalized.

Contested Divorce and the Role of the Court

When spouses cannot agree to all terms of a divorce case, then they will go through what is known as a “contested” divorce. Even if the parties agree to certain terms but not to everything, the divorce will be contested. This means that the court will need to make a decision about certain issues, such as financial matters or child custody questions.

Contested divorce tends to take longer than an uncontested divorce because the parties must set court dates and must be heard by a judge. Then, the judge will enter an order, for example, for the division of marital property, spousal support, child support, and/or child custody.

Resolving a Divorce Out of Court: Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

If you want to resolve your divorce out of court and think there is still a possibility for compromise, you may want to consider divorce mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party helps the spouses to resolve disputes and to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator—unlike an arbitrator—does not make a final, binding decision but instead helps the parties to reach an agreement themselves. Many couples prefer mediation when there is a divorce dispute because it allows them to retain control over certain matters, as well as to keep family issues private, in a way that is not possible when a judge makes the final decision.

Another option for resolving your divorce outside of court is collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce process, both parties rely on the help of a collaborative lawyer to negotiate terms that are agreeable to both of them. Both parties work with their own attorneys to reach a settlement. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement, then they still have the option of going to court and having a contested divorce.



The Effects of Divorce on Children

Many parents who decide to file for divorce with the help of an L.A. divorce lawyer are concerned about how the divorce will affect their kids. Numerous studies have been done on divorce and its effects on children of all ages, and it is important for parents to know that they can take many different steps to help ensure that their kids adjust to the separation and to new family dynamics once the divorce is finalized. We have collated information about divorce effects on kids from an article in Psychology Today, an article in KidsHealth, and an article in Scientific American. We want to go through several considerations in these articles that can help parents to consider the various effects of divorce on children.

Framing the Divorce Can Change Its Effects

The way in which parents decide to break the news of the divorce can greatly impact the way a child responds to the news and ultimately to the divorce itself. Although it is never easy to have a discussion about divorce with your child, it is extremely important for both parents to be present and to break the news without showing signs of anger or frustration. It is also important to underscore that the child’s relationship with his or her parents may look different in terms of where the child will spend time with each parent, but the relationship itself will not change.

It is important to keep in mind that a conversation in which parents break the news about divorce “should fit the child’s age, maturity, and temperament,” according to the KidsHealth article. As such, it is often a good idea for parents to discuss the conversation with one another in advance and to tailor it to their child’s personality and age.

Age of the Children Impacts the Effects of Divorce

The age of your children at the time of the divorce will impact how the kids experience the divorce and the effects it might have. Very young children tend to have a difficult time understanding that they can depend on their parents and can continue to trust their parents when they are forced to move between different households and to split time between parents. For young children, it is extremely difficult to explain the complexities of adult relationships, and it can be difficult for a child who is still in elementary school to understand that divorce does not necessarily impact the stability of his or her relationship to each parent. It is especially important for parents to respond to the child’s concerns and to emphasize that the divorce will not change the parent-child relationship.

Older kids may respond to divorce by behaving aggressively or rebelliously out of anger that the parents are separating from one another. Many teenagers push away from their families when a divorce is taking place in order to feel “autonomous” when there is a sense that the family is disintegrating. As such, it is important for parents to provide stability and predictability for younger kids, but also for older kids.

Remember That the Effects of Divorce Tend to Be Short-Term Ones

While divorce can produce changes in children and can have far-reaching effects, parents should keep in mind that most kids experience a “rapid recovery,” according to the Scientific American article. In other words, while divorce tends to have negative effects on most kids for a brief period of time, research shows that “kids recover rapidly after the initial blow.” In particular, children’s anxiety, disbelief, and anger tend to fade quickly after parents have been divorced for about a year.



The Impact of Divorce on Stay-at-Home Mothers

Regardless of who you are, male or female, father or mother, rich or poor, etc., getting a divorce and deciding to permanently separate from your spouse can be extremely challenging. For parents, the divorce process can be especially tough, as parents must come to a determination about child custody. And for stay-at-home-mothers who have relied on a partner for financial support, and who have provided the majority of care for any of the family’s children, the prospect of divorce can be especially daunting.

Why Divorce Is Particularly Complicated for Stay-at-Home Mothers

A stay-at-home mom who finds herself in the midst of a divorce may have numerous questions and worries about the process of navigating divorce and what will happen next. Some issues in a divorce that may be specific to stay-at-home-mothers include:

  • How to navigate divorce (especially if the stay-at-home mom does not have any professional or educational experience);
  • How to afford a divorce attorney and other divorce fees;
  • How custody of a child will be determined;
  • Whether or not the mother will be entitled to child support payments;
  • Where the stay-at-home mom will live during the divorce proceedings;
  • What will happen to shared property that was purchased in the other spouse’s name, such as a family home or the stay-at-home mom’s vehicle; and
  • Whether or not alimony will be part of the divorce settlement, and if so, if it will be enough to support the stay-at-home mom in the future.

Of course, the breadth of issues in a divorce is large, and the specific issues that you encounter during a divorce as a stay-at-home mom will vary based on your unique situation.

Life after Divorce: Planning for What’s Next

In addition to getting through the divorce itself, stay-at-home moms must also ask themselves, “What comes next?” most importantly, a stay-at-home mother will likely need to find a way to gain some sort of financial independence, which may require going back to school or acquiring additional training, and eventually re-entering the workplace (depending upon the stay-at-home mom’s age and ability levels). There may also be the consideration of not re-entering the workplace to continue staying home and raising children, in which event the issues of child support and spousal maintenance become even more pressing. Remember that one’s ability to support themselves post-divorce is a large consideration in a divorce alimony determination.

Divorce Is Difficult But Doable

Many stay-at-home mothers fear divorce and what life after divorce will be like, including how they will possibly continue supporting themselves and providing care for their children. While there is no doubt that divorce can be difficult, especially for those who have chosen to stay home to raise children rather than entering the workforce, divorce is doable. One of the most important things that a stay-at-home mother can do as soon as divorce is on the table is to hire a skilled LA divorce lawyer. Not only can an attorney assist you in navigating your divorce and protecting your best interests, but can also help you to understand how legal fees work, and your options for getting your spouse to pay for your lawyer and court fees.




How Divorce Can Impact and Influence Extended Family Members

There is no doubt that the separation and divorce of a couple can be difficult on all parties living within a household, including the couple themselves, as well as any children. However, in addition to immediate family members, divorce can also impact and influence extended family members, such as the divorcing couple’s parents or grandparents, a child’s grandparent, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more. As such, before cutting ties forever with the help of an LA divorce lawyer, thinking about the impact that a separation will have on extended family members, and how any negative effects can be mitigated, is important.

The Effects of Divorce on Extended Family Members

Extended family members of parties in a divorce may experience myriad feelings and emotions when they learn that the couple is divorcing. Some common ones include:

  • Depression;
  • Anger or frustration;
  • Disappointment;
  • Confusion; and
  • Betrayal.

In addition to the above, it is very common for extended family members to feel as though they have to choose sides, selecting one party to the marriage over the other. This can create tension, animosity, and discord within the entire family, making family get-togethers, children’s birthday parties, holidays, and other events uncomfortable. It can also make parties to the marriage feel as though they are being betrayed. Often times, kids pick up on all of these emotions and negative feelings, leaving them confused, and sometimes even damaging the relationship that the child has with a parent or a member of the extended family.

How to Present Divorce to Extended Family Members

The best way to approach presenting a divorce to extended family members is for the divorcing couple to decide from the very start that they want their divorce to be amicable; this is especially important if there are children who will be affected by the divorce. A divorcing couple should sit down with extended family members together and explain that they are getting divorced, but that they plan to be civil and work together to ensure that a child is impacted as little as possible. Family members should also be told that it is okay–and perfectly natural–to grieve the dissolution of a marital union and the “loss” of a family member’s spouse, but that there are no sides to take.

Finally, extended family members should be reminded that no matter their feelings about the divorce, using a child as a sounding board to express such feelings–joyful or sorrowful–is not appropriate.

Finding Ways to Maintain Positive Relationships

Another thing to note is that even in contentious divorces where couples simply cannot stand each other any longer, there are still ways to maintain positive relationships with extended family members, especially when doing so is in the best interests of parties in the divorce or children of divorce. In addition to mediated sessions between the couple in reaching a divorce settlement, parties can try group therapy or family counseling sessions to learn more about coping with divorce. Children should absolutely attend counseling sessions, which can provide them with a resource for asking questions and expressing themselves in a positive way.

How to Help Children During a Divorce

While divorce can be very trying for both of the spouses involved in the divorce, even when a skilled LA divorce lawyer is involved, the greatest impact of divorce is often experienced by any children of the marriage. In fact, while most kids will recover psychologically from the trauma of a divorce, a percentage of children experience serious problems, both in the wake of divorce and long-term as adults.

Understanding the impact that getting a divorce can have on children is important, as is taking steps to mitigate negative effects of divorce and to provide a child with the psychological support that they need during such a tumultuous time. If you’re seeking a divorce in Los Angeles and you are a parent of minor children, consider these tips for helping children cope with divorce.

Protecting Children from Negative Speech

One of the worst things that you can do when you’re thinking about divorce, are in the midst of a divorce, or are in post-divorce is to talk negatively about your partner or any conflicts between you and your spouse in front of your children. Whenever you and your spouse are in disagreement, if you are frustrated with your spouse and need to vent, or if a contentious discussion is brewing, you can protect your children by resolving these issues/disputes/feelings privately. What’s more, when you and your spouse must interact around the child–such as when dropping off or picking up the child at the other’s house–commit to being amicable. Children whose parents undergo divorce experience fewer problems developmentally when negative speech is avoided during the divorce, even if the divorce and the underlying reasons for it are negative.

Continued Involvement of Both Parents

In the vast majority of cases (except for in the event of abuse or other severe circumstances), the best thing for children is for both of their parents to play an active, loving role in the children’s lives. No matter the situation between you and your spouse, your children need and deserve love from both parents.

Work With Professionals

It is normal for a child to have a range of emotions related to the separation of their parents, including fear, anxiety, anger, feelings of shame or self-blame, guilt, and sadness. One thing you may consider doing for your child is scheduling some time for your child to see a professional who can work with them to discuss their feelings and learn how to cope with those feelings. Professionals who might be useful include both school counselors and child psychologists.

Persistent Reassurance

One thing that is important for children who are witnessing the divorce of their parents is the reassurance that: 1) the divorce is not their fault and 2) that nothing could ever change your or your spouse’s love for them. If children still have equal support from both of their parents and their parents are committed to speaking kindly about one another in front of their children, the negative emotional, social, and other psychological effects of divorce are greatly mitigated. If you have more questions about how to support a child who is witnessing a divorce, you too may benefit by talking to a professional.



How Child Support is Determined in Different Custody Arrangements

Even when parents do not live with their children, they are responsible for their financial support. This duty is not dependent on the amount of time spent with the child. Child support is the amount of money that one parent will pay to the other. To help determine how much child support a parent will pay, the court looks at several factors, which I will discuss below.

If you are in the middle of a divorce, or if you want to file, then you need an LA divorce lawyer in your corner who can discuss child support issues.

The Factors a Court Considers

The amount of child support required is not decided at random. The California Legislature has created a formula that judges use as a guide. There are many numbers entered into the formula:

  • The number of children to be supported.
  • The amount of parenting time each parent has.
  • Each parent’s disposable income

There are other factors, but the 3 above are the most significant. Other expenses, such as health insurance or educational costs, can be added to the formula.

How Much Will I Have to Pay?

The more time you have with your children, the less you will have to pay in child support. For example, a parent who has 50% physical custody will probably pay less than a parent who has the children only 15% of the time—provided all other factors are equal.

There are many types of child custody arrangements:

  • One parent could get every other weekend, for 26 total weekends, as well as certain holidays.
  • If one parent lives far away, he or she might get a couple of months during the summer months.
  • One parent could get every other weekend as well as overnight visits during the week. This option is popular if parents live closer together.

When it comes to child support, the key is to calculate how much of the year you have custody. If you get custody of the children for 26 weekends, then that works out to only 52 out of 365 days, or 14.24% of the year. This percentage will go into the child support calculations.

Can I Lower my Child Support Payments?

One option to lower child support is to increase the amount of time that you have with your children. This will also increase your expenses, such as food, transportation, etc. So you should critically analyze how much it would cost to have your children with you for an increased amount of time.

You also should be careful about requesting more time with your children, especially considering the care and attention they will need. No one will benefit from increased custody if you cannot provide a safe and loving environment.

You should also avoid trying to artificially suppress your income. A judge can impute income to you. This means the judge can look at your education and experience and determine how much you could make if you were trying to get a job. The judge then uses this number in the child support calculations. Being honest and transparent is the best policy.

Worried about Child Support?

California guidelines have taken quite a bit of the guesswork out of child support determinations. Despite that fact, a judge still has the discretion to increase or decrease the amount awarded. To talk about your child support situation, please contact the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein today.



How Child Custody Works with Unmarried Parents

More and more children are born to unwed parents. When it comes to deciding child custody, the law is not all that different than when a child is born to a married couple. The largest difference is establishing paternity, which can impact a father’s ability to see his child.

If you are seeking a relationship with a child when you were never married to the other parent, please contact an experienced LA divorce lawyer to discuss your case. You might need to move swiftly to protect your rights.

Establishing Paternity

The biggest hurdle in these types of cases is determining paternity. If the mother and father were in a relationship at the time of birth, then the father’s name usually goes down on the birth certificate, which establishes him as the father. If the couple later splits, then either parent can seek custody, including the father, and you will have a typical child custody case.

Children are sometimes conceived when the parents are not in a relationship. There are many situations where this occurs, and the mother might have reasons to keep the man in the dark that he is the father. In any event, a man needs to establish his paternity before he can seek custody.

Determining Child Custody

All custody decisions are made according to the child’s best interests. This is true whether the parents are married or not. Courts will look at a variety of factors as part of its analysis, such as:

  • Your child’s age
  • Your child’s health
  • The child’s ties to the community, school, or current home
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the child
  • Each parent’s current emotional ties with the child
  • Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence

California law does not prefer mothers over fathers; each stand on equal footing. A mother does not automatically get custody of young children, which might have been the law ages ago but is no longer how judges decide cases. California Family Code § 3046 states that a parent’s short absence should not count negatively in a custody case if the parent made a reasonable attempt to maintain contact with the child.

Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney

If you are seeking custody of a child born to unmarried parents, you should meet with an experienced attorney to review your case. The sooner you establish paternity, the better. If paternity is not an issue, then a lawyer can help you understand which next steps to take. Contact the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein today.




How Spousal Maintenance is Determined

Married couples in Los Angeles who are considering divorce also likely have questions and concerns about alimony and the ways in which spousal maintenance is determined in the state. Whether you want more information about how courts determine alimony or about how courts decide the amount and duration of support, a LA divorce lawyer can assist you. California law uses the term “spousal support” to refer to support paid from one spouse to the other, while other states use the terms “spousal maintenance” or “alimony.” When speaking generally about support, the terms refer to the same thing.

The most important piece of information to know about how spousal maintenance is determined is that courts make this decision on a case-by-case basis after taking into account many different factors.

You Must Seek Spousal Support in Your Divorce Case

Generally speaking, courts first determine whether spousal support is appropriate before determining the amount and duration of the support. Accordingly, if a spouse wants to receive alimony, then she or he must seek spousal support. In other words, the court will not automatically determine if one spouse is entitled to alimony.

Courts take into account many different factors in deciding whether spousal maintenance should be awarded, and ultimately the court can order one of the spouses to pay support to the other each month if the court determines that it is appropriate.

Factors the Court Considers in Deciding Whether to Award Alimony

California courts take into account many different statutory factors when determining whether spousal maintenance should be awarded. When the court orders spousal maintenance, the statute requires it to consider:

  • The extent to which the earning capacity of the parties will allow them to maintain the standard of living that was established during the marriage;
  • Marketable skills of the party seeking support, including the possible job market for those skills and/or the amount of time and expense it would take the party seeking support to obtain the appropriate education or training to be marketable;
  • Impairment of present or future earning capacity of the party seeking support because that party took time off from work to perform domestic duties;
  • The extent to which the party seeking support contributed to the other party’s education, career training, or licensure;
  • The ability of the supporting party to make spousal support payments;
  • Needs of each party based on the standard of living during the marriage;
  • Separate property and separate obligations and assets of each spouse;
  • Duration of the marriage;
  • The ability of the party seeking support to obtain gainful employment without interfering with the party’s ability to perform custodial duties with regard to dependent minor children from the marriage;
  • Age and health of the parties;
  • Evidence of domestic violence;
  • Tax consequences of spousal support for both parties;
  • Balance of the hardships for each party;
  • The goal of the party seeking support to ultimately be able to support himself or herself;
  • A criminal conviction of an abusive spouse; and/or
  • Any other factors that the court considers to be just and equitable.

Temporary support can be awarded based on specific guidelines, but courts make determinations about the amount and duration of support on a case-by-case basis.

Contact a LA Divorce Lawyer

Spousal support is determined on a case-by-case basis in  California divorces based on a number of statutory factors. If you have questions about spousal support, you should speak with a Los Angeles divorce attorney about your case. Contact the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein for more information.




How Debts Are Divided in Divorce

Anyone who is considering divorce in California should know that debts, like assets, can be classified as community property and can be divided in a divorce. At the same time, debts that are classified as separate property will not be divided in a divorce. Once community property is classified, community debts are divided equally between the two spouses. Whether you have questions about classifying community debt, or if you have concerns about commingled community and separate property, an LA divorce lawyer can speak with you about your case.

Classifying Debt: Community Debt or Separate Debt?

The first step in learning more about how debts are divided in a Los Angeles divorce involves understanding how debts are classified. California is what is known as a community property state. When two people get married in California, the state views those two individuals as a single legal community. Accordingly, if those two people decide to get divorced, then any property they acquired, including both assets and debts, during the marriage are known as community property. Within the category of community property, there are community assets and community debts. In most cases, any property acquired during the marriage will be classified as community property.

Separate property includes any property acquired prior to the date of the marriage. It can also include inheritances by only one of the spouses during the marriage, or gifts made to only one of the spouses during the marriage. Any property acquired in exchange for separate property, or any increase or loss of value of separate property, that happens during the marriage still remains separate property. Separate debt will not be divided.

Community Debt is Divided Equally Between the Spouses

California law makes clear that each spouse owns 50% of all community property. As such, when a married couple files for divorce, the court divides community property so that each spouse gets their 50%. When it comes to community debt, each spouse also splits the debt 50-50.

Complications of Dividing Commingled Community Debt and Separate Debt

Complications of dividing community debt can arise when community property has been commingled with separate property. For example, if one spouse had a significant debt before the marriage and the couple used community property to pay off the debt, then the property has become commingled. Courts will attempt to trace out the property, but it can be difficult to classify commingled property without the help of a lawyer.

Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney

In a community property state like California, community debt is divided equally between the spouses. If you need assistance with your divorce case, including help with the proper classification of community and separate debt, an experienced Los Angeles divorce lawyer can help. Call the Law Offices of Evan Braunstein today.

Evan Braunstein
Phone: (424) 500-2983
Fax: (310) 492-4025

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