San Diego Legal Blog

Who gets to keep what? A primer on property division

You and your spouse have decided that it is time for you both to go your separate ways. On the one hand, you are eager to experience the freedom that comes with getting divorced. On the other hand, you are wondering how the family law court will handle the process of splitting your shared assets.

States handle the division of married couples' assets differently, with California being one of only a few states that go by the community property principle. Here is a glimpse at what this principle involves and how it will impact the distribution of your assets during your divorce proceeding.

How a prenuptial agreement can protect your interests

When California couples get married, they are probably not thinking about what will happen if they go through a divorce at some point in the future. It's not easy to think about the possible end to a relationship at the very beginning, but in some cases, that's a necessary step. By drafting a prenuptial agreement, a person can protect his or her long-term interests before walking down the aisle. 

A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement that outlines how the division of marital property would work in the event of a divorce. It can also allow a couple to do a few other things that could prevent issues in the future. Before you walk down the aisle, you may want to think about whether or not this type of agreement could benefit you.

When is legal separation a better choice than divorce?

It is not always easy to make major family law choices that could affect the future of your family. Sometimes, it may not be right to move forward with divorce, but at the same time, staying in your current situation may not be practical or possible. In this case, it could be appropriate to legally separate. 

Legal separation is not the same as divorce, but it does allow you and your spouse to separate your lives and move forward while remaining legally married. It is still beneficial to proceed through this process thoughtfully and carefully, and you will still find it necessary to think about how you can protect your interests. Even in legal separation, there is a lot at stake, and you take steps to make sure you make smart decisions.

Signs that your marriage may be headed for divorce

Like most married couples in California or beyond, you and your spouse have likely encountered numerous relationship challenges in your journey together. This is typically true for all spouses, whether they've been married only a year or two, or have been together for decades. You might currently be in a situation where you are considering filing for divorce.

Some people go through such times, then decide they'd rather attend marriage counseling or seek some other type of outside support to help them work things out. Others determine their relationships are no longer viable. Many spouses refer to the in-between stage as a sort of marriage limbo. During this phase, you may notice certain issues that keep cropping up in your relationship.

Proactive steps to winning child custody

No one knows your child like you do, and you may even feel you know your child better than your own spouse does. This may be what makes it so difficult to imagine losing custody after your divorce. Perhaps you already know that your spouse is going to fight hard against you, and you are uncertain about the best course of action for improving your chances in court.

Putting your best foot forward in front of a judge may seem like common sense, but when your emotions are high, as they often are in child custody matters, you may benefit from some specific guidance. Your attorney can advise you about what to say and the evidence to present, but your personal preparation can make all the difference.

Money misconceptions could affect your divorce outcomes

Major life changes can happen at any time. While you and many other California residents may have the ability to prepare for certain changes, such as buying a house or deciding to have a baby, you may not receive much notice for other scenarios, like when your spouse announces that he or she wants a divorce.

You may understandably have many concerns about how your pending divorce will affect the various aspects of your life. Divorce itself is a major change, and it can have a ripple effect that touches many areas of your life. In particular, you may have concerns regarding the financial impacts of ending your marriage and how the divorce proceedings themselves will play a role.

It's important to be thorough when drafting a parenting plan

California parents know that child custody is one of the most difficult and sensitive issues in a divorce. Both parents want to preserve their relationship with their child, and it can be hard to reach an agreement on what custody and visitation should look like. However, you and your spouse may resolve to work together on custody matters and reach a smart, workable resolution for your children.

As you draft your parenting plan, there are certain things you may want to consider in order to ensure that you reach the best possible custody solution. Drafting a parenting plan is not an easy process, and it can be beneficial to be as thorough as possible. Being thorough can help you avoid potential problems in the future.

California's new law protects your pet during divorce

There are many ways in which your dog, cat or other pet is different from other items you own. For one thing, the animal is a living creature, and you may even feel that your pet understands what you say and perceives your emotions. You would probably not take your sofa on vacation with you or allow a lamp to sleep in the bed with you, but many pet owners extend these privileges to their furry companions.

Unfortunately, in the past, if you were facing a divorce in California, your pet did not get the same consideration in court as it did in your home. In fact, in many states, divorce courts see pets as property, like your sofa or lamp. This often leads to contentious property division battles where one spiteful spouse fights for possession of a pet only so the other cannot have the animal who is a beloved companion. Recently, however, a new California law is changing the landscape for pets during divorce.

Can your credit score predict your divorce?

It is not a mystery that conflicts over money create tremendous stress in a marriage, and that more than a third of couples who divorce claim financial strain is the main reason for the downfall of their relationships. You may be among this group who has decided to end their marriages rather than continue in distress.

The financial strain you and your spouse are experiencing may result from having too little money to meet your obligations or from a disparity in your core philosophies about how to make, spend and save money. You are not alone, and a recent study reveals that even those couples with significant wealth are not immune from the stress of financial troubles.

How can an attorney help you through your divorce?

Your divorce may be a very personal event. While you may find comfort in talking to friends about the emotional upheaval you are going through, chances are you want the final discussions and decisions to involve as few people as possible. This may be one reason why you are reluctant to contact an attorney to guide you through the process.

It is true that hiring an attorney means having more people participating in your divorce as well as costing you money when you already have concerns about your finances. However, there are some important benefits to having legal counsel during this most difficult time.

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