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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerIs your family’s TV, fridge, microwave, alarm system, or lights controllable by voice or phone? Is your heating and air conditioning system outfitted with a computer? If someone was asked these questions even 10 years ago, the questioner would most likely be met by open-mouthed stares and bewilderment. Yet today, technology can be integrated into everything from ovens to surround sound systems. A fridge can sense when you are low on milk and can order more from the store without you, the homeowner, even pushing a button.

For better or worse, smart home technology is most likely here to stay, and will only become more prevalent in our society as the years tick by. Smart home appliances are taking our country by storm. In fact, annual revenue of smart home appliances is expected to grow at 12.9 percent per year, according to Statista. And, while only 10 percent of homes are currently outfitted with smart appliances in 2018, that number is expected to grow to 28 percent of homes by 2023, just five years away.

The Consequences of Smart Appliances During Divorce

There are a number of downsides to smart appliances, with the obvious being a high cost of maintenance and repair/replacement, the usual malfunctions that technology always seems to have, and the hassle of getting everything linked together or to your phone. Some even worried that the CIA was spying on people with smart microwaves, though that proved to be untrue, as reported in Wired. In general, most people who purchase smart appliances know what they are getting into, and for them, the benefits of convenience and integration outweigh the negatives of smart appliances. However, few realize that a smart appliance can be used to sabotage them during a divorce or break up. An ex that moves out of the house can still access these smart appliances from afar, and turn them on or off, monitor the spouse with an in-home camera and audio surveillance system, and invade their privacy and peace of mind in a myriad of ways. A San Jose divorce attorney can help.

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CA divorce lawyerAfter years of supporting your wealthy spouse with their business or career, by taking care of the children, or by homemaking, by initially paying for their education or providing them the capital necessary to get started, or by doing all of the above and more, it probably seems unjust that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse wants to sever the marriage without so much as a fair alimony agreement.

The new tax law, which erases the ability to deduct alimony payments from taxes, may actually spur wealthy spouses to ask for a divorce very soon, as there are only a few months left before it goes into effect. Under the old and current law, the paying spouse could deduct their alimony payments from their taxes and those who sign alimony agreements before January 1st, 2019 will still be able to take advantage of this annual deduction in the years to come. Those who do not will be stuck with paying alimony without the tax write off. For spouses already considering divorce, this may be the last straw that breaks the marriage’s back. If your husband or wife has filed for divorce, you need to contact a San Jose alimony attorney immediately.

What Is Spousal Support and How Is It Determined?

Spouses, particularly well-off spouses, have an obligation to provide financial support, called spousal support or alimony, in a variety of situations. This money can be in addition to child support payments, which are used to provide for the child. Spousal support is used to benefit the lower-earning spouse with the following:

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Posted on in Divorce

IL family lawyerThe status of healthcare in America is such that many divorcing couples are actually postponing their divorce plans in order to allow one of the spouses continuing access to the other’s employee group health care plan, as reported by Time. While pre-existing conditions no longer affect a person’s ability to qualify for healthcare (for now at least), the drastically rising costs of healthcare and lifesaving prescription medications mean that divorce may not be an option for some. However, there are actions you can take now to safeguard your future and your finances, all while staying with your partner (legally) so that you or they may continue to be covered. If you have questions regarding an impending divorce and how it would affect the status of your or your spouse’s health insurance, a San Jose divorce attorney is here for answers.

Will Legal Separation Work?

In short, no. Employee health care plans are terminated for the non-employee spouse when a couple gets divorced. And, the same is true when the couple gets legally separated. Many Californians believe that they can get around this issue of health coverage loss by getting legally separated, which used to be the case but is no longer true. In some rare cases, an employer can be ordered by a court order to keep the non-employee spouse on the health care plan. However, the odds of this happening are not in your favor.

Steps to Take to Remain on a Spouse’s Health Care Plan

First of all, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (more commonly referred to as COBRA) allows divorced spouses to continue receiving health insurance through their ex-spouse’s employer for a limited amount of time—usually less than 18 months. The spouse would have to pay up to 102 percent of the plan’s cost, however.

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerIn a recent study, researchers asked participants who they would save if a runaway bus was hurtling out of control towards their dog or another human being, as reported by Psychology Today. The majority of participants chose to save their dog over a “foreign tourist” or a “hometown stranger” both by a wide margin. The participants also chose saving their dog over their “distant cousin,” “best friend,” “grandparent,” and even their “sibling.” We obviously place enormous emotional value in our pets, so why does the court system treat our pets as mere property?

During a divorce, pets are considered either marital or personal property. This means that if one of the spouses owned the pet before marriage, they will get the pet no matter what. If the pet was acquired during marriage, the pet is considered marital property, also called community property here in California. However, this is all about to change thanks to the recent signing of Assembly Bill 2274 by the Governor into law. Starting January 1st, 2019, the court can determine sole or joint custody of pet animals that are community property. If you are going through divorce and have a beloved dog, cat, or other pet and it is vital that your animal ends up with you, it is essential that you contact a San Jose divorce attorney.

What Has This Law Changed?

Under the old law, and currently existing law until the end of this year:

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerEither as the stay-at-home parent who raises the children or as the parent without health insurance provided through their employer, you will have an additional hurdle in the form of finding insurance after your divorce is finalized, provided that you have been covered through your spouse’s group employee plan. Unfortunately, because you cannot stay on your ex’s employer-provided health care plan, you need to take action now to ensure that you are covered from the day after your divorce papers are signed.

In amicable divorces, you will likely have more time (up to 30 days or so) for the policyholder to notify the insurance company of the change. However, not all divorcing couples are so good to one another. It is important to not allow any lapse in medical coverage because you never know when an accident or hidden illness may come out of nowhere. A San Jose divorce attorney can help you through your divorce and answer any questions you may have about health insurance.

Applying for Insurance Through COBRA

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerAccording to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, 50 percent of retirees will run out of funds before during retirement. For many, this means that they will have to rely on family, go back to work, sell their home, or apply for government assistance. None of these options is ideal, and having to pay costly spousal support is one way to quickly drain your retirement funds, putting you at risk of falling short in your latest, most vulnerable years. Similarly, if you are receiving alimony and can no longer work due to advanced age or forced retirement, it is in your best interest to request a modification for an increase in spousal support. A San Jose spousal support modification attorney can modify your alimony payments to more accurately reflect your new financial situation whether you are the receiving or paying spouse.

Retirement Must Precede the Modification Request

Alimony (spousal support) can be modified whenever there is a substantial, continued change in circumstances for either party. This goes both ways; the paying spouse can request a modification if the receiving spouse’s income rises dramatically, and the receiving spouse can request a modification if the paying spouse’s salary increases. But how does retirement fit into this? As the paying spouse, the modification request must be made after retirement, not before or even the week before. A modification request needs to be in reaction to changes in circumstances (your retirement) that have already occurred, not for something that is expected to take place in the future.

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerWhether the spousal support that you pay or receive is temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent, no judgment is completely set in stone. Circumstances for either party may change, warranting a change in spousal support amount or duration. According to California law, one or both spouses or domestic partners must show that there has been a "change in circumstances" in order for court-ordered spousal support to be modified. An experienced San Jose spousal support attorney can help you accomplish your goals, whether you are receiving spousal support (alimony) or you are required to provide spousal support as the predominant earner in your former relationship.

Reasons for Modifying Spousal Support/Alimony

There are many reasons why one or the other party would want to or need to change the spousal support order, and most have to do with changes in financial circumstances. The following are reasons why the paying spouse or partner could change their spousal support order:

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Posted on in Divorce

CA divorce lawyerMany of us are aware of the potential conflict surrounding asset distribution during divorce. Deciding who gets the home, who gets which car, and how investments and bank account holdings should be divided is on the forefront of many divorcing couples’ minds. However, you may not have heard of the horror stories involving debt allocation/assignment during divorce. Just like property collected during the marriage is called marital property and belongs to both parties, debt is dealt with in the same way.

During divorce, debt will be distributed “fairly” amongst both parties, just like property is distributed fairly. Note that “fairly” does not have to mean equally, and in many cases, the debt incurred by one party should not have to fall on the shoulders of another after the marriage has ended. Instead of plodding through this treacherous terrain without any idea of what your rights are, and in so doing setting yourself up for potential crippling debt and bankruptcy down the road, consider reaching out to an experienced San Jose divorce attorney for legal guidance and protection.

California Is a Community Property State

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California family lawyerGiven that divorce is so hard on adults, it is no wonder that for a child, divorce can be such a traumatic event as to cause serious developmental problems for years into their lives. High conflict divorces, in which parents yell at each other, use abusive language, break furniture, or resort to physical violence, can damage the way a child develops relationships when they become an adult. Divorces are bound to bring out the worst aspects of an already crumbling relationship, which is why it is so important to mitigate the conflict between you and your spouse during divorce for your child’s sake.

Four Steps to Reduce Stress on Your Child

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, there are four key steps to take to manage conflict during your divorce. These include the following:

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Posted on in Divorce

California divorce lawyerWhen most people think of divorce, they imagine a courtroom, drained bank accounts, yelling, and both sides leaving unsatisfied and traumatized by the experience. However, divorce does not have to be like that. In fact, many divorces are not settled in court by a judge and go nowhere near a courtroom. One pathway that may be right for you and your spouse is what is called an amicable or collaborative divorce. To learn more about collaborative divorce, you must get in touch with an experienced collaborative divorce attorney in San Jose.

How Does a Collaborative Divorce Work?

A collaborative divorce is settled by a mediator, who is usually a retired judge or lawyer, with both parties' attorneys present. This takes place outside of the courtroom, far from any judge or jury. Instead of a judge hearing the arguments and pleas of both sides and then making a decision, a mediator will help the two sides come to a conclusion on their own.

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Posted on in Divorce

California family lawyerA woman who had gone through a divorce a year earlier took her car to the mechanic, who found a GPS device that the woman’s ex-husband had installed--a GPS device that still had 25 to 50 percent of its battery left, which meant that it had only been on the car for a few weeks. The woman knew that her ex had been tracking her, but she did not know how. She had gone out of town and stayed at friend’s houses in an attempt to escape her ex, who was physically abusive to her. He ended up knowing where she was at all times because of the GPS device, which, if the car was owned jointly during the marriage, he had a legal right to install a GPS device on. While bizarre, particularly because there was evidence of abuse, this type of spousal stalking is legal. Stalking cases such as this have become more prevalent with technology as ex’s attempt to control or monitor the other party. A San Jose family law attorney may be able to shed light on whether such tracking measures are legal or not.

California’s Gray Area Law

In California, it is legal to put a GPS tracker on a car as long as the owner gives consent. For jointly owned vehicles, it is generally legal, though the law is somewhat less clear. Personal investigators are using GPS devices frequently to track their targets. A husband may wish to track his wife or ex-wife, and because he jointly owned the vehicle and gave his consent, the majority of personal investigators feel legally entitled to use GPS, according to an investigation done by one media outlet. Of 20 personal investigators that were contacted about this, 16 replied and only one refused to use GPS in this regard.

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Posted on in Child Custody

California divorce attorneyMarried couples who decided to adopt face a similar situation that other couples face when they decide to get divorced. If you are going through a divorce, and have an adopted child of any age (under 18), it is in your best interest to contact a San Jose divorce and child custody attorney at once to discuss your options and legal plan to achieve your custody goals.

The Court Treats an Adopted Child Like a Biological Child

You may have heard that during a court decision regarding child custody, California family courts make the decision in favor of the child’s best interest. This could mean joint legal custody, sole legal custody for one parent, physical custody for one parent, split custody if there are multiple children that do not get along or visitation rights for the father or mother. When a child has been adopted by a couple, the court uses the same set of criteria to come to its custody conclusion. Usually, the court believes that joint custody is in the child’s best interest, as having both parents in his or her life will lead to decreased chances of behavioral and learning problems--two things that adopted children are more likely to suffer from regardless, according to the Atlantic. The criteria that the court takes into consideration include:

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Posted on in Visitation

California divorce attorneyWhile it is ideal for children to see their parents in person, there are a lot of changing circumstances to a child visitation schedule that can prohibit physical contact. The children may travel with one parent for an extended summer vacation, one spouse may relocate for a job, or a child’s day may be too busy with school and sports to travel between homes. In these circumstances it may be useful for parents to take advantage of electronic communications to connect with their children on a regular basis. If you or your former spouse are looking to make changes in your parenting plan or are trying to incorporate virtual visitation into your scheduling, contact an experienced San Jose child custody and visitation lawyer to learn more. We will assist you throughout each step of your case.

Types of Electronic Communication

One of the most common devices used to communicate virtually is the cell phone. According to the CTIA Wireless Foundation, 38 percent of children who are two or younger have used a cell phone to access media. Even if a child is young, they can still engage with an absent parent via electronic devices with the help of an adult. Children can also connect with parents on tablets, computers, video gaming systems, and more. Communication can include:

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California divorce lawyerVA benefits are awarded to disabled military veterans based on their individual level of disability. For some, VA disability benefits are only part of their total income, while for others, these monthly benefits are their sole source of income. Currently, the maximum monthly VA disability benefit compensation is $2,915.55 for a single veteran with a 100 percent degree of disability and no dependents. However, with a spouse, children, and/or parents as dependents, the benefits can rise. A divorce will likely alter a veteran’s monthly benefits, as well as a child who reaches the age of 18 and moves out, as well as other life events.

To find out more about how your benefits may change, or what you can expect to happen if you fail to pay alimony or child support, we encourage you to talk to an attorney. Similarly, if your spouse is failing to pay child support or alimony, their VA benefits can be garnished so that you and your child are given what you deserve.

Garnishment

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Posted on in Divorce

California divorce lawyer, California military divorce attorneyUnfortunately, military divorces, which have special rules applied by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, can be much more complicated, time-consuming, and difficult than a civilian divorce. Because of this, we strongly encourage you to seek legal counsel. It can be an overwhelming process, which leads to mistakes being made and an even longer, drawn-out struggle for both parties. To speak with an experienced San Jose military divorce attorney today, contact our office at once to schedule a free consultation.

Filing For Military Divorce in California

As a military member or a service member’s spouse, you should file for divorce in the state that you have legal custody in. It is important to keep in mind that the state where the military member resides has the legal ability to divide the pension. However, the service member, if they currently reside in Florida for example, can agree to allow California divide the pension if they so desire.

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

California family lawyer, California divorce lawyerOne of the most common reasons that a couple gets divorced is due to financial concerns. Similarly, one of the most common reasons that a couple or individual files for bankruptcy is because of a divorce. If you are currently facing the prospect of divorce and bankruptcy, many of your questions can be answered by an attorney, who can also provide the legal assistance that you require to accomplish. We urge you to reach out to an experienced Santa Clara or San Jose bankruptcy attorney today.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Over 5,000 people file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy each year in northern California alone, according to the United States Bankruptcy Court. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a great option for getting a fresh start because it does put a cap on the debt limit of the debtor, the debtor does not have to go through with a repayment plan, and it discharges more types of debt. It is a relatively quick and painless process, though there are income limitations. However, you cannot repeat Chapter 7 within a time frame of six years, according to California courts.

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Posted on in Divorce

California divorce lawyer, California family law attorneyProperty division is one of the biggest issues during divorce. Knowing what combined property exists between the couple is not only important, but is legally necessary. Hiding property is unlawful, and can hurt you in the long run. However, it is also important to have a grasp on what type of property is considered marital property, and what may be considered personal. If you are going through divorce, an experienced divorce attorney can provide invaluable advice and legal assistance throughout the process.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

California law recognizes two types of property: community and separate. Community property is property that is owned by a married couple or a domestic partnership, according to California law. Debt acquired during the marriage is also considered community property. Each spouse owns one-half of the community property, including the debt. Separate property is property of an individual that they owned before the marriage, was a gift or inheritance to them alone during the marriage, or any property that they earned, acquired, or were given after the date of separation. Additionally, gifts and inheritance are considered to be separate property, as well as financial compensation earned from a civil lawsuit.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family law attorneyDeciding to adopt a pet can be an exciting commitment to make. Often the caretaking responsibilities are shared between spouses and children, and bonds are quickly formed. According to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, six out of ten pet owners consider their pets to be a family member. Unfortunately, when divorce threatens to split a family apart, the companion animals are also involved.

Pets Are Considered Personal Property

While some couples consider their dog a child of sorts, the law almost always designates animals as personal property under the Fourth Amendment when settling assets in a divorce, according to the American Bar Association. This means the court decides what is in the best interests of the owners and not necessarily the pet’s well-being. One way to prevent ugly arguments over the pets is to include them in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with your spouse.

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California divorce attorney, California family law attorneyMany people view divorce as a fresh start to life, and this is true for some. But what happens when the divorce process itself is flawed from the beginning? As with marriages, not all divorces end in agreement. When a divorce case has been finalized by a court’s judgment, and both parties have legally agreed to the terms, there still may be an opportunity to have a specific part of that agreement, called an order, canceled. The process of canceling or “setting aside” a court order in a divorce case is difficult and complex, and in the end, is left to the judgment of the court. There is also a strict time limit for setting aside a motion. In California, you have six months from the date of the judgment to file a motion for setting aside an order, according to California Code 473. If you are unhappy with a court order in your divorce agreement, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Santa Clara County divorce attorney today.

Requesting an Order to be Set Aside Vs. Appeal or Reconsideration

Neither an appeal nor reconsideration are similar to setting aside an order. During an appeal, the same set of information will be presented to the court as in the original hearing, while a motion to set aside an order generally stems from an issue such as failing to show up to court or a type of excusable negligence. Make sure to consult with your attorney about the best way to proceed, either with an appeal or with a motion to set aside. You must have a valid reason for requesting a motion to set aside an order; otherwise, you may be forced to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees and costs associated with responding.

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California divorce laws, California divorce attorneyThe military lifestyle is stressful on a family. The frequent uprooting of the family from one city to the next, the inherent dangers of military duty and the stresses that they bring, and the isolation and long periods of time spent alone that the non-military spouse endures can all wreak havoc on a marriage. When young children are involved in the picture, it can be even more stressful. As such, divorce is not uncommon. The rate of military divorce is 3 percent, according to the U.S. military, and just lower than the civilian divorce rate, which is 3.6 percent, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Military divorce law is different than civilian in that there are certain rules and regulations that go along with a military divorce in order to ensure that the service person's family is well taken care of. Often, the non-military spouse will have given up their own career aspirations in order to support their spouse’s military career. The constant moves across the country usually mean that the non-military spouse will not even be employed at all, or will be constantly underemployed. This leaves them with little job experience or relevancy if a divorce occurs and they have to provide for themselves after years of supporting their military spouse at home and raising the children. If you are going through a military divorce, contact the experienced San Jose military divorce attorneys at our office today to learn how we can provide you with professional assistance.

Dividing the Pension and Benefits

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