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Orange County Family Law Blog

What gross income means in child support modification requests

When parents divorce and one is ordered by a California court to pay support for their children, he or she may feel economically overwhelmed. Sometimes, though, supporting parents may decide to avoid paying in whole or in part even though they have the means.

A good recent example is the case of a California man who lost his job in commissioned sales, took a lower-paying job and then requested a child support modification to avoid paying the original amount ordered by a court when his marriage ended. The man's ex-wife challenged the request and alerted the appeals court that the man's job loss was entirely his own fault.

Are marital contracts worthwhile for women about to marry?

Many California women dream of getting married and raising a family. For some, the idea of raising children and running a household is a dream. For others, the idea may be appealing, but they may be concerned that giving up a career will mean having less economic power that could haunt them later if their marriages end.

So what can a woman do to ensure that she has secure financial footing in the event of a divorce? Fortunately, both prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements offer some protection if a marriage ends. Prenuptial agreements have been well known for decades and are used by many prospective spouses, both male and female. However, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the number of people seeking postnuptial agreements is growing. A 2012 AAML survey found that 51 percent of the association's attorneys had seen an increase in the number of clients seeking postnuptial agreements.

What California requires of couples who want to adopt

Adoption can be a blessing for couples who for some reason cannot have children themselves or who wish to add to their families.

In California, the Department of Social Services investigates every person who wishes to adopt a child. A department social worker will submit a report to the court based on the person's findings, a process that typically takes as long as six months. If allowed by the court, the department can take even longer to submit its report.

How are child custody orders modified in California?

Many Californians assume that once a court has assigned custody of minor children to one parent in a divorce, the order either cannot be changed or is extremely hard to modify. In fact, a child custody order can be changed for several reasons. As children grow, for instance, their needs and interests may change and they might prefer being with the noncustodial parent. In addition, the priorities of parents often change, so a custodial parent may be willing to change custody in order to take a new job, move to a different part of the country or be with a new partner.

Parents should revisit their custody orders every three years or so. If both parents can agree on changes requested by one parent, then the custody order can be changed right away. If they cannot reach an agreement on a new custody order, then one parent may need to seek a child custody modification order in court. Either parent can meet with a mediator to explain why a change in the child-custody order is or is not needed.

Staying mindful of tax rules for alimony can eliminate trouble

Any California resident who has been through a divorce knows that taxes can figure prominently during negotiations to end the marriage and apply to alimony as much as child-support payments and property division. Generally, alimony is money paid by one spouse to the other once the divorce is finalized. It is calculated based on a preset statutory formula that considers many factors before setting a monthly alimony payment that is supposed to be manageable for the payer.

In general, the paying spouse can deduct the amount from the person's total income, thus reducing that spouse's tax liability. The alimony recipient, on the other hand, must include alimony income on that person's tax filing. In the event one spouse lists an amount that does not match that claimed by the other, then the IRS is likely to perform an audit to uncover why there are discrepancies. One federal report said nearly half of all tax returns filed by those givers and receivers did not match and led to audits.

California's child support formula and guidelines

When a couple's relationship goes downhill, it creates a family issue that affects the financial well-being of a child. Divorcing parents or unmarried parents who decide to separate must resolve the issue of child support during the breakup. Under such circumstances, the California's child support guidelines will play a role.

Providing alternatives for your child custody case

Parenting a child is an everyday challenge in California. Parents need to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their child, both emotionally and financially. These requirements become more challenging if the child's parents decide to go separate ways. Under these circumstances, child custody is usually the most complicated part of a divorce.

As explained on our child custody webpage, these issues range from the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent to the amount of parenting time for each spouse and the relocation of the children. Each of these issues may have a negative impact on a child. Children may not thoroughly understand why mom and dad are getting divorced. Sometimes children even blame themselves for the parents' separation.

Hamm divorce settlement tops $1 billion

Californians are no strangers to high-asset divorce cases, particularly those living in Orange County. Considering that many celebrities call the Golden State home, it is not unusual for residents to hear about the latest celebrity divorce filing and affluent couples separating. One recent particular high-asset divorce concerning an oil tycoon tops them all.

The divorce made headlines after the couple decided to stop feuding and settle. According to the report, the man agreed to pay his ex-wife, $1 billion as part of their divorce settlement. A subsequent court ruling ordered the 68-year-old billionaire to pay his ex-spouse about $323 million by the year end followed by $7 million per month until the rest of the settlement is paid. The wife also obtained the $4.7 million marital home and a ranch in California valued at $15 million. On the other hand, the man, will keep his 68 percent stake in the company he founded in 1967, the year he met his ex-wife. While $1 billion seems like a lot for a divorce settlement, this amount favors of the oil tycoon because he maintains control of the business.

Prenuptial agreement myths in California

People usually make excuses when they are hesitating to do something that might have a good or bad effect on their lives. This procrastination rings true when it comes to considering a prenuptial agreement. California couples should assume a positive mindset about creating a prenuptial agreement because it will help smooth the way to an easier divorce, if one should occur.

A prenuptial agreement is considered a back-up plan or a marital contract that secures the financial stability of a person in the event of separation or divorce. However, most people today believe different superstitions about this contract. Some say that drafting a prenuptial agreement is like a bad omen that divorce is expected. Some say that a prenuptial agreement indicates that couple does not trust or love one another enough.

Helping grandparents assert their child visitation rights

Children who have grandparents in their lives typically love spending time with them whenever they can and especially during family gatherings and holidays. The close relationship between a grandparent and grandchild spans the generations and usually helps hold a family together. When a child's parents decide to part ways, however, the bond between grandparent and grandchild can be disrupted. The separation can become even greater as the court focuses on child custody and the noncustodial parent's visitation rights.

In many divorce cases in California, grandparents' rights are rarely discussed or addressed by divorcing parties. They are usually busy dealing with property division, child support and child custody. That does not have to be the case, however. All grandparents can secure their rights to see or visit their grandchildren despite the divorce of the children's parents. As explained on our family law page, every family law decision concerning children should ensure that the best interests of the children are considered first and foremost.

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