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Are you sure you should get divorced?

Regardless of how long you have been married, the thought of divorcing your spouse can seem unconscionable. You might have to face the fact that your marriage is over. Or, in some cases, talk of divorce could make you realize how badly you want to try to make things work.

Before filing for divorce, you should think long and hard about what your motivation is. Are you leaning toward making an emotional decision based in the moment or do you truly believe leaving your spouse is best for you? You might have friends and family telling you what to do, but walking away from your marriage is a personal decision that you could regret if you do not seriously consider what would be the best course of action.

How does divorce impact teenagers?

If you are like most parents in California who get divorced, the impact of this change on your children will be among the biggest concerns you have at this time. Every child and every divorce is unique so there may be no way to fully predict how your children will react to the divorce but there are some guidelines you can be aware of based on the age and emotional development of your children. 

As explained by Very Well Family, teenagers can be among the hardest to connect with during a divorce. Kids at this age are already navigating their need and desire for increased independence yet they still need parental grounding and support, even if they do not always want to admit it. The added curve ball of a divorce may make finding the balance here even harder for teens.

What are the common signs of infidelity?

A healthy marriage involves trust from both sides. That's why suspicions of infidelity are so damaging to couples in California. While every person is different, there are some common signs that your partner may be leading a double life. Psychology Today explains what to look for if you think your spouse is cheating.

Secretive behavior

Paying for daycare after divorce

Divorce impacts all areas of a person's life in Stockton, often leaving them worrying about the future. This is especially true for those parents that were not the primary income earners in their marital homes. It may take quite a while (combined with continued education and/or training) to get them back in position where they can secure gainful employment. Receiving such training and education (as well as fulfilling the requirements of a job) becomes more difficult if one is also a custodial parent whose children require supervision during regular working hours. 

Some might say that one in such a situation has no choice but to find daycare for their kids. Such services, however, can be costly. Indeed, information shared by The Sacramento Bee shows that the average annual cost of daycare in San Joaquin County is between $12,000-$13,000. Many divorced parents cannot afford such an expense on their own, which leaves countless questioning whose responsibility it is to pay for it. 

What is joint legal custody?

If you are a parent planning a divorce in California, you probably already know that you, your spouse and potentially the court will face many decisions regarding the lives of your children after the dissolution of your marriage. You may experience some confusion over the legal terminology involved, especially terms that can have more than one meaning, such as "custody." 

According to Verywell Family, your divorce agreement will contain provisions for two different types of custody over your children: physical custody and legal custody. Unlike physical custody, legal custody has nothing to do with where your children live or how they spend their time. If you have legal custody over your children, which you may or may not share with your spouse, it means that you get a say in making important decisions that affect your children, such as those that pertain to health care, education and religion. You can still weigh in on these matters even if you live far away from your children and do not share physical custody of them. It is common for parents to share legal custody of their children even when only one parent has sole physical custody. 

Avoid being a Disneyland parent

There is little question that one of the biggest challenges you will face following your divorce in Stockton is not living under the same roof as your kids every day. Being away from them while they are with your ex-spouse can cause you to feel as though your relationship with them is deteriorating. Thus, you will likely want to maximize every minute that you have with them. Many clients as us here at San Joaquin Family Law how they might do this. While we certainly do not claim to be family relationship experts, our experience has shown us certain types of behaviors to avoid. 

Chief among these is the temptation to become a "Disneyland Parent." Per Divorce Magazine, a Disneyland parent is one who solely devotes their custodial time to over-the-top fun and diversion and avoids imposing any rules and restrictions. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying such activities once and a while, filling your parenting time with trips and excursions and avoiding simple family time together can undermine your parental authority. Your kids become accustomed to you giving them everything they want and not having to demonstrate any accountability or discipline when with you. The constant pattern of giving them everything they want contrasts with your intended role as one who has their overall best interest in mind. 

Guide your children through your divorce

Matters of the heart run deep. When you once loved someone, it can be excruciatingly painful to have them leave your life. And that is not necessarily any easier just because the choice to walk away was yours. When you share children with that person, it can be even harder. Completely severing your relationship with him or her is virtually impossible in most cases.

If you truly want to keep the best interests of your children in mind, you must consider they love their other parent – in a different way, though probably just as much as you once did. You will probably need to work through your own anger, disappointment and heartbreak regarding your divorce. But as a parent, you also must help your children understand their thoughts and feelings about your divorce as they deal with their loss.

Smart debt division during a divorce

When a couple in California decides that their marriage is not able to be saved, they must prepare for the process of transitioning to their new lives as two single people. One of the things each spouse should want to avoid is being financially tied to each other in ways that are avoidable. In some cases, this may be impossible especially if minor children are involved. But, there are some areas in which the financial connections can be minimized or eliminated and credit card debt is one of those.

As explained by Fox Business, a creditor will consider both parties on a joint account liable for the debt even after a divorce decree that assigns responsibility to one party has been signed. This means that a divorce decree, while a legal judgment, does not provide much protection to spouses.

How might the new tax law change my divorce?

The beginning of a new calendar year is a common time for couples in California to decide to end their marriages. They have made it through the holidays when keeping marriages together for the sake of larger family gatherings may be important and are now focused on their relationship and future. If you are in this situation, this year puts a new twist on how you might negotiate your divorce agreement thanks to the new tax laws that went into effect January 1.

As reported by CNBC, the shift in tax responsibility on money paid in spousal support from the recipient to the payor may force couples to rethink agreements that include alimony payments. Some people might initially think that this change would be positive for the spouse who would receive alimony but the reality is that instead of reducing their tax burden, it might just reduce their income.

Your estate plan and your divorce

If you are one of the many California residents who has made the difficult decision to separate or divorce your spouse, you may be very focused on the day-to-day logistics of this experience. Things like finding a new place to live, learning how to split time with your kids and ironing out details for your asset and debt division agreement can be very all-consuming. However, there is another part of your life that deserves attention at this time as well - your estate plan.

As explained by Forbes, you probably do not want your estranged or former spouse to be the person responsible for making medical decisions on your part if you are unable to. You also probably do not want that person to have control over your finances if you can't manage them for some reason. These are just some of the things to consider when deciding how to update your estate plan when you separate from your spouse.

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San Joaquin Family Law
10 North California Street
Stockton, CA 95202

Phone: 209-478-2700
Fax: 209-464-5949
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