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Monterey California Family Law Blog

Before moving in, consider signing a cohabitation agreement

Moving in with your significant other can be a big step for your relationship. Although cohabitation before marriage, or without the intention of marriage, has become a common occurrence, it is not a step to take lightly.

Before agreeing to move in with your significant other, be sure that you each understand the other’s expectations and goals for the move. It may make sense to talk about each person’s financial situation, hash out who will pay what monthly expenses and determine who will complete which household responsibilities. However, one of the most important things to do before moving in together can be signing a cohabitation agreement.

Handling co-parenting issues during the summer

Divorcing parents in California may face a tough transition to co-parenting. When both parents are heavily involved in their children's lives, they may find it difficult to only spend a portion of their time with their children in their homes. However, developing a relatively positive co-parenting climate can also be important to supporting their children's mental and emotional health, and many parents strive to do so. The summer months can add some additional stress, however, as the set schedule of school gives way to more unstructured time, vacation plans and other warm-weather activities.

There are several tips that parents can keep in mind to help them adjust to co-parenting together after divorce during the summer months. Communication is important at any time of year, but this is especially true for special plans over the summer months. When one parent can discuss vacations and other activities with the other parent long in advance, it can help both to create a schedule that works for the children and the parents. In addition, as plans are prone to change, a shared online calendar posted in both homes can help everyone to keep track of key events and activities, avoiding cross-scheduling and the disputes that it can produce.

Student loans may put stress on a marriage

The average student loan balance around the country is more than $34,000. This can have an impact on whether or not a person's marriage is successful. Student loan payments may make it difficult to actually have a wedding, buy a home or start a family. Ideally, California residents who have student loan debt will talk about it with their partner prior to getting married. Doing so can help a couple account for it in a variety of different ways.

For instance, it may be possible to create a prenuptial agreement that states that the debt is the responsibility of whoever accrued it. Furthermore, it may be possible for a spouse who helps pay off a debt to ask for reimbursement in the event that the couple divorces. A prenuptial agreement can also be used to determine how assets should be divided in the event of a divorce.

3 reasons you might want to consider getting a prenup

When you are planning your wedding, all you can probably think of is spending the rest of your life with your soon-to-be spouse. Divorce is the last thing on your mind. You don’t even want to think about your marriage ending when it hasn’t even begun yet.

However, you can’t predict the future. In some situations, you should consider a prenuptial agreement to make sure that your finances are secure regardless of what happens.

Handling insurance during and after divorce

When California couples finalize a divorce, they may still have a number of financial issues to disentangle. Even after the divorce decree has been issued, there will be joint accounts to close or transfer, mortgages to refinance, or insurance policies to change. Indeed, insurance can be one of the most important aspects of post-divorce planning for both parties. The two types of insurance most common in a divorce are health and life insurance.

Many people receive their health insurance coverage through their spouse's employer. After a divorce, they will no longer be eligible for coverage and will need to seek a new policy. The employee will need to notify the insurer after the divorce is finalized, and the insurance company will remove the other spouse. The other party will need to seek new insurance, either through his or her own employer or through one of the marketplaces. Under the Affordable Care Act, divorce is a qualifying life event that allows people to enroll in health insurance at any time of the year.

Teen dating and the occurrence of violence and homicide

Most California residents realize that domestic violence is far too prevalent in adult relationships. However, this type of violence also endangers many adolescents.

A recently published study showed that 7% of the roughly 2,000 adolescents who were killed between the years 2003 and 2016 were victims of violence by a current or former intimate partner. In total, there were 150 teens, 90% of them being girls, who were victims of violence by an intimate partner. These statistics show that the problem is more serious than many realize.

Many factors impact spousal support determination

There was a time when spousal support, aka alimony, was awarded in the vast majority of California divorce cases. Reflecting an evolution of gender roles in society in general and possibly a change in judicial philosophy, the decision on spousal support is now more carefully scrutinized. There are many circumstances the statutory law directs the judge to consider and weigh. Ultimately, the court has wide discretion in concluding what is appropriate in each individual case.

Legal experts indicate the fundamental concept behind spousal support is to minimize any unfair impact on a non-earning or lower earning spouse. Once the initial question of necessity is affirmed, a seminal issue becomes how long should the support last. Over the years, family law judges have increasingly viewed spousal support as temporary and expect the individual receiving payments to work toward and demonstrate the ability to live autonomously. A general rule in California is support will last half as long as a marriage of less than 10 years.

How to handle online accounts during a divorce

Most divorcing couples in California understand that they must divide assets and arrange various support agreements. However, many forget to consider dealing with some very important tech-centric details.

For example, experts say that divorcing partners need to change all their online passwords as soon as possible, including solo bank accounts, Netflix accounts, social media accounts and more. This will keep an ex from accessing money that does not belong to them or attempting to stir up trouble on social media. Experts also recommend that those going through a divorce take the time to wipe clean all shared devices, such as tablets or laptops. These devices likely have all of an individual's passwords and browsing history saved, which means they could allow an ex unwanted access to accounts and information.

Challenges older people may face in divorce

Divorce among older people is on the rise, but it also poses unique challenges. For some older California couples, there could be complications when it comes to dividing property and dealing with health care. There could also be some fallout for adult children.

Couples who have saved for retirement with the assumption that they will be using the money to support one household may struggle to use the same amount across two. Usually, the only portion of retirement savings that will not be split is anything that was accumulated before the marriage. When a couple has been together for a long time, it may be difficult to ascertain which property was acquired before the marriage versus what was obtained afterward.

Retirement assets and property division during a divorce

When California spouses decide to divorce, they might be concerned about affecting their retirement plans. Divorce has a range of financial consequences, but some of the most impactful can involve retirement accounts. These funds are often some of the largest assets held by married couples, and they are often divided in half between the two parties, especially if a long-term marriage is involved. Even if retirement is still years away, divorce may spark serious thinking about how to escalate retirement savings in order for people to protect themselves for the time to come.

While Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) have "individual" in their name, they are generally considered marital property. If the IRA existed before the marriage, it may be only the increase in value during that time that is up for division in the divorce. The same is true for pension plans, 401(k)s and similar accounts. There are a number of special rules that apply to the division of retirement accounts in a divorce. For example, people could face hefty tax bills and other penalties if the accounts are divided incorrectly.

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