Orange County Family Law Blog

It's worth the effort to get along with your kids' other parent

If you share children with a spouse you're divorcing, you will likely have that person at least peripherally in your life for the foreseeable future. When the kids are minors, there will be custody exchanges and probably the payment or receipt of child support.

But even when your children are grown and have families of their own, you will still run into your ex at extended family functions, especially once there are grandchildren. All of this makes it worthwhile for the two of you to attempt to heal old wounds and form at least a civil relationship with one another.

Shared vacations with the ex? You could make it work

With Easter and Passover fast approaching, many families will be taking holiday vacations. For divorced spouses with children, these holidays can be bittersweet, as the kids often miss their other parent's presence.

Some families have taken the unusual step of agreeing to share vacations together for the children's sake. If the thought intrigues you instead of making you run screaming from the room, read on to learn if it might be a good option for your family.

I was ordered to pay child support. What happens next?

Sometimes, a petition for child support comes at the end of a failed relationship or marriage. On other occasions, it might come like a bolt out of the blue, leaving the alleged father shocked to learn that he may have a child whom he has never met but for whom he now owes child support.

If you're in the latter group, once you've wrapped your brain around the idea that you might be a father, it's time to do some homework. Whenever there is the slightest doubt about the paternity of the child in question, it is vital to first establish that you are indeed the father. Never make any promises to the mother or sign any agreements until paternity has been established.

Should you comply with a co-parent's request to swap days?

Cooperation is key to co-parenting. But how far should one parent go to accommodate their co-parent's requests to swap days they spend with the kids?

There's usually nothing wrong with agreeing to swap weekends to compensate for scheduling SNAFUs, but if your co-parent is constantly asking to swap days or arrange early pickups, bigger problems might be brewing.

When you need something other than a divorce

Sometimes, couples get married, and almost immediately, the bottom falls out. Neither party can see a clear path forward to remain together as a couple. It's clear this is not a lasting match, but do they need to seek a divorce?

In some circumstances, that might not be the remedy to pursue. Dependent on the circumstances, it may be more appropriate to get the marriage annulled.

How to know when to pull the plug on a marriage

Those who are trapped in loveless marriages may not be able to pinpoint one specific moment or incident that caused them to pull the plug on their relationships. Often, it is the cumulative load of years of disappointments and arguments that brings about the end of a marriage and not a cataclysmic event.

Still, there do tend to be watershed moments where spouses realize that they just can no longer remain married to their spouses. These might include some of the following examples:

When should you modify your custody agreement?

The decision to modify your child custody agreement should not be made lightly. After all, children thrive on structure and security, and altering their custody schedule can throw their world into flux.

But a custody agreement that is no longer working doesn't reflect your child's best interests. The challenge is determining which circumstances justify petitioning the court for a modification.

Can my child's other parent move away with them?

If you're an Orange County parent who has children with an ex-spouse, learning that the other parent intends to move away with your child is alarming. But does your co-parent have the right to do this?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer for all situations. These custodial "move-away" situations are complex and challenging for the courts to determine. But there are circumstances where it may be possible that the courts will grant your ex permission to move out of the jurisdiction with your child.

If I change jobs, will I owe more child support?

Non-custodial parents who pay child support might wonder what changes, if any, a new job with a higher salary will have on the amount of child support they must pay to their exes. The short (and not very helpful) answer is "it depends."

Going in depth a bit, support-paying parents may be relieved to know that there are no automatic changes to your court-ordered support as a result of a salary increase. The parent who receives the support payments must petition the court in order to modify a child support order.

Legal, financial help a must when splitting retirement money

Living in Orange County, California, is expensive; we all know that. And when you divorce, your finances will be more important than ever as you face living in a two-income community on just one income. But you have a better chance of long-term financial health if you have help from your lawyer and financial adviser in the divorce process to make wise decisions. Start with your 401(k) retirement account.

Since California is a community property state, the accounts are considered joint property. This means a court generally will divide the accounts in an equal share. You and your spouse, if you agree, could present an alternate plan to the judge, however. That might occur if one of you earns considerably more than the other. Once that agreement is made, you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) for the judge to sign and for you to submit to the plan administrator. That allows for money to transfer hands.

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