Can Child Support Debt Be Consolidated?

can child support debt be consolidated

Court-ordered child support payments are strictly enforced, and failure to pay on time – or skipping payments – has serious consequences. Child support debt consolidation is an option, preventing you from paying steep interest rates, or facing some of the more dreaded results of getting behind in your payments, including: 

  • Suspension of your driver’s license 
  • Legally enforced payback interest rates of 10% or more (paid to the child support recipient) 
  • Wage garnishment 
  • Tax return garnishment 
  • Property and/or asset seizure 
  • An outstanding warrant for your arrest 
  • Jail time 

While it can feel like child support enforcement is out to get you, the system is equally rigged in favor of child support debtors getting back on track. 

Determine If Child Support Debt Consolidation Is The Best Option For You 

Debt consolidation can be a solution, clearing the money you owe (child support arrears), to get you back on track. However, it’s not always the best solution.  

Continue making payments on time 

Keep in mind that you are legally responsible for continuing to make monthly child support payments while a debt consolidation loan is pending. Skipping on payments while waiting for the loan to come through can backfire if you owe thousands more than the debt covers when the loan finally funds. 

Is there a family member willing to provide a low-interest loan? 

Both the interest charged by Child Support Services and the interest charged for most unsecured loans is on the higher side.  

  • In California, and here in the Bay Area, the standard interest rate charged by the state for child support arrears is 10%.  
  • The average interest rate for a consolidated loan is 8% to 28%, depending on your credit history. 

You may find that taking a loan from a family member or friend, drawing up the paperwork, and deciding on a slightly lower interest rate is the happier medium. 

Secure fixed-rate loans at rates that are higher than what the state charges 

If your child support debt consolidation loan has an introductory rate of 8% but comes with an APR (adjusted percentage rate), you have no control over the amount the interest will raise over the course of the loan term. So, while the original 8% rate feels like a deal, you may wind up paying twice that – or more – over the ensuing months or years.  

It may be worth it to work with the county where the child support order originated – or where the petition to collect back owed child support was filed. They are willing to work with you directly to come up with a reasonable payback plan, and their fixed interest rate may save you money overall. 

Have you looked into child support modification? 

California is known for having higher-than-average child support payments because the state uses an amount per child driven by both parents’ joint income, rather than a fixed “cost per child” amount.  

However, this also means the amount you owe is fluid to a certain point. If your child’s other parent gets raises or bonuses, those need to be reported, as do yours. The same is true if a person makes notably less money than they did when the divorce and child support orders were filed. 

Visit the Child Support Services website, where you can use the online calculator to estimate current payment obligations, speak with a free family law specialist, or begin the process to request a child support modification. The child support recipient is equally obligated to help with this process (the county will take it over if s/he isn’t cooperative) by providing their most recent paystubs and/or tax information.  

If you know s/he is making money under the table, the combination of a private investigator and some well-timed surveillance can result in evidence that not only lowers your payments but results in the other parent having to pay you back with interest. 

Does bankruptcy clear child support debt? 

No, Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not clear child support arrears. Child support debt is considered a “priority debt,” and it will be added into your Chapter 13 priority debt repayment plan – including the state’s additional 10% interest rate. 

Keep this in mind because knowing that may mean that filing bankruptcy will do more harm than good for your overall financial situation. 

If the stress of child support debt is weighing you down, or you’re tempted to bury your head in the sand, it’s time to contact a family law specialist and schedule a consultation. We can help you sort out exactly which plan makes the most sense for getting you back on track, and we can facilitate your request for child support modification. 

We’re Here To Help You

Contact us here at Gerald A Falzone,  to schedule a child support debt consultation, so we can work together to find a solution. We have two convenient office locations – Oakland (510) 521-9500, and San Rafael: (415) 482-7800.

The Biggest Child Support Mistakes To Avoid

the biggest child support mistakes to avoid

When it comes to deciding child support allocations, the state of California is transparent, and the financial parameters are primarily determined by incontestable, mathematical logarithms. In other words, what you’re going to pay – or receive –rarely varies from the legally-specific standards.  

That being said, there are serious child support mistakes you can make that result in harsh fines, stiff interest rates (payable to the child support recipient), or that can jeopardize other aspects of your child custody case.  

Always consult with a lawyer, and remember that honesty is always the best policy – even if it means paying more. 

6 Child Support Mistakes to Avoid During and After Your Divorce 

These are some of the most common child custody mistakes, the bulk of which occur when parents don’t have an experienced lawyer or legal professional advising them through the process. 

Hiding or lying about your income 

This one is huge. Just as you should never lie about or try to hide assets during a divorce, you should never hide income – including side job income – from the courts or your partner/ex-spouse when you pay OR receive child support.  

This is one of the simplest ways to make a judge angry – and you can be held in contempt of court. Plus, you will wind up owing back-pay (child support arrears) and the rate of back pay interest is a whopping 10% – made payable to the child support recipient. 

Making payments outside the court-approved methods is one of the common child support mistakes

Many counties in the Bay Area use a wage garnishment method to collect court-ordered child support payments. This is a streamlined approach with the funds paid by your employer to the local child support services office, with payments automatically transferring to the other parent. This can be unnerving at first but is beneficial to both parties.  

As the person responsible for paying, this method ensures you’re never late with a payment, which could immediately trigger a driver’s license suspension through the CA DMV – and places you in arrears. Emotionally, it takes money out of the equation so co-parenting your child(ren) remains the primary focus. 

However, each county has its own court-approved child support payment methods, and these are the only methods you should use to pay/receive child support payments to alleviate any potential hassle down the road. 

Always report changes in income – in either direction 

If you have taken a recent income hit, report it to your local child support services and request a modification. This may lower your child support payments. On the other hand, all raises, major bonuses, or side job income should also be reported to the payee, so s/he can determine whether or not to apply for a modification in the other direction.  

Angry ex-spouses commonly hire private investigators to track your habits and prove uncited employment, side jobs, etc., so it’s not a good idea to hide or be dishonest about any means of income. Again, the online child support guideline calculator is the best resource for determining if current income changes would alter child support payments.  

Quitting a job or not getting a new job when unemployed 

Unemployment and/or disability status does not change or stop your current child support order. You owe the amount stated in the order regardless of your personal or financial circumstances – unless and until a modification is granted. If you are at all employable, the court determines your earning potential and bases child support payments on that figure – regardless of whether you have a job or not. 

Pay precisely what the court order dictates 

If you have a court order, always pay the stated amount, no matter what. So, for example, let’s say you’ve fallen on hard times, and your generous ex says you can pay less until you get on your feet – your answer should be, “thank you, but no thank you.”  

While you’re welcome to apply for the aforementioned child support modification, you are obligated to pay the court-ordered amount, period. If your ex were to turn you report that you’ve paid less, you’ll owe back payment and interest.  

Not adjusting your budget (and paying something) immediately 

California uses a precise mathematical algorithm, that takes the combination of both parent’s incomes, and determines a specific percentage of that as the “cost of raising their child(ren). That percentage is used for resulting mathematical calculations to determine who owes what to whom. 

We often find that clients are surprised at how steep these individual payments can be. And, most of the time, those payments are owed from the time the person responsible for paying the support moves out – even if the divorce papers haven’t been filed yet. 

If you are pretty sure you’ll be paying child support, use California’s Child Support Guideline Calculator to determine the estimated amount you’ll be paying and plan your budget accordingly. Getting used to life without that money now makes it easier when you need to start paying. Note: Child support may be allocated to parents in 50/50 child custody arrangements in order to ensure a child’s reasonable standard of living is upheld in both households.  

We’re Here For You

Are you interested in paying a fair and honest child support payment, and remaining in the court’s good graces? Contact me here at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Falzone. I’m prepared to meet with you for a consultation or two in order to answer questions or help you establish estimated child support payments, to facilitate child support or custody mediation, or to represent you in court. You can also give our office a call at (510) 521-9500. 

Property Division: Annulment vs Divorce

property division annulment vs divorce

California is considered a community property state, which means all properties and assets acquired after the marriage takes place are considered evenly shared between both parties. When the marriage is dissolved (referred to as a divorce or dissolution of marriage) those properties/assets are divided jointly.

Annulments are very different than a divorce. When a marriage is annulled, it is as if that marriage never took place at all. Once the annulment goes through, there is no legal record of the marriage, and neither party is beholden to any of the laws pertaining to a legal marriage or divorce. For the most part, properties, assets, financial holdings gained individually during the marriage, etc., return back to their pre-marital status.

We recommend reading our post, Annulment of Marriage, to learn more about the ins-and-outs of marriage vs. annulment. You may find that your marriage does not qualify for an annulment, in which case you’ll need to pursue a divorce, and property and assets may be divided after all.

The Basics When It Comes To Property Division

How Annulment Differs from Divorce (or a Dissolution of Marriage)

First and foremost, it’s important to know that annulment isn’t an option for all. The courts only grant an annulment if, there is evidence of fraud that led or induced an individual to get married in the first place:

  • Bigamy (one or the other is already legally married to someone else)
  • Incest (the individuals are too closely related by blood in accordance with the state’s laws)
  • One or both of the parties were married by force
  • There is a physical incapacity to consummate the marriage
  • One or both of the individuals are 17 years old or younger
  • One or both of the individuals are of unsound mind
  • Someone was intoxicated at the time
  • Domestic violence and/or substance abuse is discovered within 6 months of the marriage date

If you feel your marriage qualifies for annulment, we recommend consulting with an experienced divorce attorney in your area to make sure before moving forward.

Property Division in an Annulment

Assuming your marriage qualifies for an annulment, your assets, retirement plans, properties, etc., you held before you were married automatically return to their original owner/holder. Because most annulments take place within a relatively short time after the marriage, it is relatively easy for the divorce to facilitate their division between both parties.

If, however, you have been married for some time, and have acquired assets or properties together while you were married, things become more difficult. In this case, an experienced divorce attorney is your greatest asset when determining what belongs to who.

Also, the longer a marriage has gone on prior to an annulment, the more likely a court may order temporary alimony if one spouse was dependent on the other for income or financial support. Similarly, the court may order temporary child support for “step-children” to eliminate any chance that innocent parties are negatively impacted by the loss of financial stability. Even so, these orders are typically only temporary, granted for the length of time the court feels is required for the individual to get back on his/her feet and begin earning an income again.

Because the division of jointly held properties, financial assets, a jointly held business, and other assets is so complicated, it is generally recommended that both parties hire an attorney if there is any disagreement about property division.

Child Custody Issues are Handled Separately

If any children were conceived by you and your spouse, or your recently annulled marriage, your state’s child custody laws will dictate how legal and physical custody, visitation, and child support payments are handled. Whether or not your marriage was annulled will have zero effect on how child custody is handled because the law protects a child’s well being above all else.

If there is a question pertaining to the paternity of your child(ren), we recommend visiting our post, What You Need to Know About Paternity Law in California.

Have You Considered Mediation to Settle Your Annulment?

Have you considered mediation, rather than court-based annulment proceedings? Mediation via a professional law professional is a cost-effective – not to mention an emotion-effective – way to settle an annulment.

Mediation can save you thousands of dollars and can prevent things from becoming emotionally ugly. A mediator will explain the law surrounding asset and property distribution during annulment vs. divorce and can offer input as to how the court is most likely to decide things if you pursue your case in court. Mediators are completely neutral parties, which help to de-escalate high tension and emotions.

We’re Here For You

The compassionate team here in the Law Offices of Jerald A. Falzone is here to answer questions pertaining to property divisions in both annulments and divorce. We can serve as mediators or can represent you in court when you need strong and effective support. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.

Am I Entitled To My Spouse’s Business In A Divorce?

am i entitled to my spouses business in a divorce

California is considered a community property state, and a privately owned business is part of that property’s assets. If your spouse owns his/her own business – it may be considered part of the community property, or not, depending on the situation.

If you’re pursuing a divorce and your spouse owns a business, we highly recommend you consult with an experienced family law attorney, rather than relying on blogs or online sources for your answers. Every business is unique, and complex factors affect what – if any – share of the business you have an interest in, as well as whether or not your share of the business is worth fighting for.

Here are some general considerations for anyone facing a divorce where a spouse’s business is in the picture:

When did your spouse establish the business?

If the business was owned by your spouse prior to your marriage, you may not be entitled to an entire 50% interest. It may be that the court determines the entire business – or a larger portion of it – belongs to your spouse.

What funds were used to establish the business?

If the funds came from the two of you, that’s one thing – community property. However, if the initial funds came from elsewhere, or was money your spouse already had in savings before you were married (not considered community assets), then you may be entitled to less than you think when all of the financial analysis is complete.

Is there are prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place?

If you and your spouse drafted a prenuptial agreement to protect his/her business in the case of a divorce, you may not be entitled to any of it. However, these agreements are often contested during a divorce, especially if:

  • You weren’t represented by your own lawyer
  • You’ve determined your spouse hid assets or business interests from you when the agreement was drafted
  • The agreement was drafted the week or night before you were married, rather than in a more methodical, timely fashion
  • Your lawyer finds clear loopholes that slipped by the original lawyers

So, while the prenuptial agreement (prenup) may prevent the business – or a particular share of it – from ever becoming yours, it may also be that the loopholes or shortcomings of the prenup work in your favor.

Did the business’s equity or profitability grow during your marriage?

Even if your spouse protected his/her share in the business before you were married, any increase in the business’s overall value over the course of your marriage is considered community property. Therefore, you are entitled to 50% of that appreciation.

Did your spouse take a salary, or did s/he roll profit back into the business?

If you didn’t benefit financially from the business via your spouse’s competitive salary, because s/he rolled any extra funds back into the business, you may be entitled to more than half of the business since 50% of re-invested funds were actually yours.

How involved were you in the business?

The more involved you were in the business – helping to set it up, participating in decision making, working there, etc., the more shares of the business you may be entitled to.

What is the business’s professionally assessed value?

While the questions listed above can paint a better picture as to whether you’re entitled to your spouse’s business in a divorce, there are additional considerations as well. One of these is the business’s value – and that is assessed professionally. Forensic accountants perform this type of work – assessing the business’s debt to asset ratio.

If your spouse’s business still has considerable debt, that decreases it’s overall “value,” and you may determine you are just fine with allowing him/her to keep the business.

Is your spouse willing to relinquish his/her share of other assets?

If it’s the financial portion of the business’s value that matters most to you, and you aren’t interested in the business itself – there are other ways to divvy up the assets. Sometimes, a business owner is willing to give up his/her share of other shared assets (the house, car(s), retirement account(s), other property, etc.), in which case you can forgo your share of the business and recoup the value by retaining a greater share of other joint assets.

If you’re on the same page about most of the divorce decisions, but things are getting sticky around the business, we recommend meeting with a mediator to see if you can come to a mutual decision without having to go to the more costly, time- and energy-consuming court process.

There Are 3 Ways Private Businesses Are Handled During Divorce

If the court determines that you are entitled to any portion of your spouse’s business, there are three ways to handle it:

1. You become business partners

Often the least desirable outcome, we have also seen cases where ex-spouses become business partners, and the business remains as is with both spouses at the helm. Obviously, this is not the best solution for most couples, particularly if you weren’t emotionally or professionally involved in the business and have your own work and/or source of income.

2. Your partner sells the business

Depending on the situation, you may determine that selling the business is the best solution – particularly if one or the other of you is unable to buy the business from the other spouse, or your spouse is unwilling to grant more of your other shared assets to you, selling the business and splitting the proceeds might be the best way. Keep in mind that this can significantly slow down divorce proceedings if the business doesn’t sell as soon as you’d like.

3. One of you buys the other one out

Once the business’s value is determined, one of you buys the other one out at 50% of the value. This can be a no-brainer solution if you aren’t interested in the business, and your spouse has the means to buy it via cash or a third-party loan.

Again, your best bet is to hire a lawyer to review your options before making any final decisions about whether you are or are not interested in a share of your spouse’s business.

We’re Here To Help You

My name is Gerard Falzone and I am an experienced Bay Area family law specialist. My goal is to help my clients navigate their divorce proceedings without unnecessary angst, animosity, or drama. Contact my office to schedule a consultation at (510) 521-9500.

The Risks & Consequences Of Hiding Assets In A Divorce

the risks consequences of hiding assets in a divorce

Even the most amicable divorces can tempt you to protect yourself financially, and this protection may come in the guise of hiding or diminishing certain assets to retain them for yourself. While understandably tempting, especially if you feel your ex-spouse will make out better than you, in the end, hiding assets in a divorce is illegal and puts you at risk for serious penalties.

If you’re thinking about getting divorced, be prepared to be 100% transparent about all of your personal assets and joint assets acquired since the day you were married. Instead of viewing it through the lens of “how can I get more,” or, “how can I make sure s/he gets less,” consider your assets already legally divided by the state, 50/50, and then list them as thoroughly and accurately as possible.

Hiding Assets Is A Big No-No

Here’s a quick and concise rundown of why you shouldn’t hide assets during your divorce. If you think it’s no big deal, think again. It is.

Hiding assets in a divorce is illegal

There is no state where hiding assets is legal during a divorce. Because California is a community property state, there are very few assets that are not split unless they were yours before you were married or you have a prenuptial agreement in place.

Examples of joint or shared assets include:

  • Properties, including rental properties
  • Vehicles acquired during the marriage (or that were paid off using joint funds after the marriage)
  • Income
  • Financial accounts of all types, including investments, retirement savings, and pensions
  • Any acquisitions worth money that was purchased during the marriage (including jewelry or gifts to one another)

There are exceptions to the community property rule. Examples of those include:

  • Properties or vehicles owned prior to the marriage
  • Possessions of value owned prior to the marriage
  • Family inheritances, even if they were bequeathed during the marriage
  • Student loans (those debts travel with the person who took the loan)

Your divorce lawyer will help you determine which assets/debts are held jointly, and which will be retained.

Be 100% transparent with assets and debts

As noted above, the state already considers your jointly-held assets as divided – 50% to you, and 50% to your spouse, once your communal debts have been paid. In the state of California, these assets are listed in two, separate legal forms.

The first form is FL100, which sets up the dissolution of your marriage and asks for a list of properties and assets (including debts) held both individually and jointly. If that form does not allow enough space, you’ll continue on form FL160, specifically designed to declare properties. The detailed forms required for a divorce are complicated and daunting, one of the primary reasons it’s best to work with a legal professional during the process, such as a paralegal, a mediator or a divorce lawyer.

You’ll provide detailed account information, including the name of the account holder (even if it’s one or the other of you), the date the account was opened (or the property was acquired), its value, etc. If any of this information is incorrect, or assets are left out, it’s viewed as an attempt to hide assets, and that comes with a steep penalty.

Once the terms of the divorce are established, assets are distributed by the judge. This distribution happens in completely equal shares, excluding assets that were family inheritances or that were owned/acquired prior to the marriage. If any assets are sold (such as a house, vehicle or toy), the amount leftover after debts are paid off is split evenly between both parties.

Penalty for hiding assets during your divorce

If you or your spouse hide or devalue assets, it will be discovered – either by your lawyer or by your ex-spouse’s lawyer. If something slides past the technological radar, and you make it into court with incorrect documentation, failure to disclose assets and their values can result in legal charges – such as perjury and being in contempt of court.

It also makes judges very unhappy. Since your judge can make virtually any decision s/he wants within the boundaries of California divorce law, your dishonesty or hiding of assets will result in punitive damages. That could involve jail time in extreme cases – especially where the asset hiding was a ploy to reduce child support payments.

You may wind up having to pay your ex-spouses legal fees/charges, and it’s almost certain your ex-spouse will benefit from your dishonesty. Often, this means a larger portion of the assets (or the entire value of hidden assets) being granted to the ex-spouse.

Let Us Help You

Your divorce lawyer will help you remain in your own integrity, ethical and legally sound self as you move through your divorce, so you aren’t tempted. Contact The Law Offices of Gerald Falzone to schedule a free telephone consultation when you need sound advice about divorce or mediation proceedings. We’re here to help you get through it as gracefully and stress-free as possible.

The Effects Of Divorce On Work Performance

the effects of divorce on work performance

When most individuals consider the negative ramifications of a divorce, they think about the effects of a broken home and the impact divorce will have on their children and family. Thus, it can come as a shock when the divorce process insidiously interferes with other aspects of their life, such as work performance and earnings potential.

While your divorce may be unavoidable, we recommend reading, Keeping it Together at Work When Your Marriage is Falling Apart, for information on how to keep things as honest, clear and straightforward with your employer, co-workers, and yourself as your divorce moves forward.

The Financial Impact Of Divorce In The Workplace

The Harvard Business Review studied the various ways divorce impacts businesses and the employee workplace and found that divorces cost American businesses as much as $150 billion dollars on an annual basis.

This financial impact is unpleasant for employers, but it is even more devastating for those in the process of going through a divorce in terms of lost days at work and necessary time off for legal proceedings. Your divorce may also cost you more time off work to facilitate children’s sick days or to supplement their transportation to appointments and extracurricular events when it’s your turn to have custody.

Here are some surprising statistics about the financial impact of divorce in the workplace:

Divorce Affects Employee Productivity In Multiple Ways

There are multiple ways that divorce affects employee productivity, resulting in revenue losses for both the employee and the employer. Missed work is only one of the ways divorce impacts employees and the companies who employ them.

Additional financial losses stem from:

Lack of focus and reduced concentration

In terms of mental/emotional wellbeing, divorce is #2 on the list of the most significant life stressors, second only to the death of a spouse. As a result, the emotional impact it has in terms of both stress and grief results in the same outcome – one of which is a lack of focus and reduced concentration.

Tasks take longer to complete, or they may have to be completed by co-workers, managers, and/or higher-paid personnel. Forgetfulness may also result in missed meetings, forgetting to return important calls and other absent-minded mistakes that take a toll on professional relationships or your company’s reputation.

Increased errors and accidents

Not only do increased errors and accidents result in errors or accidents that are a nuisance to the workplace, divorce-related errors and accidents can also lead to costly litigation. In worst-case scenarios, an absent-minded error or accident may harm someone else or result in a work-related fatality.

If the stress of your divorce is causing you to make errors that you wouldn’t normally – it’s a sign that you need better support. Consider joining a support group or enlisting the help of a family therapist who can help you navigate the windy road ahead with a better sense of balance and wellbeing.

Distraction and poor decision-making

Similarly, those who are getting divorced are more likely to be distracted, which leads to poor or erroneous decision-making. In addition to errors or accidents, you may wind up with your first “write-ups” from HR, or you could lose your job if work productivity, absenteeism, or repeated mistakes jeopardize your employment.

An Amicable Divorce Is Your Best Bet

While it may seem like an impossibility, working towards an amicable and efficient divorce is the best way to minimize the effects of divorce on your work performance. Tips for an amicable or successful divorce include:

The simpler and streamlined your divorce process is, the less impact it will have on your work attendance and performance.

Is a DIY divorce taking its toll at your workplace? Contact us for friendly, professional, and expert legal advice.

5 Tips For Helping Children Cope With Divorce

5 tips for helping children cope with divorce

You may have heard that the divorce rate in the United States is about 50%.

Currently, the divorce rate hovers around 40 to 50%, though if you’re on your second or third marriage, the chance for divorce can be much higher.

No matter when you divorce, if you have kids with your partner, helping children cope with divorce can be difficult. Divorce itself can rock a child’s foundation and make them more susceptible to psychological issues in the future.

Children depend on their parents, but when they split up, they may be thrust into a world of independence. They may also feel their home life is no longer predictable or stable, two things that can shake children’s confidence and sense of self.

Additionally, many children may not be aware that divorce is permanent. Or, they may cling to the hope that one day the family will repair itself. While this does happen, this isn’t very likely.

Helping Children Cope With Divorce

As such, it is necessary that you and your ex-spouse work together to help your children through your separation and divorce.

Read on for more information and tips to help your children deal with their newfound reality.

Take Your Children To Therapy

If you’re able to afford it, take your children to therapy. This may even be a temporary thing.

It doesn’t matter what age your children are, taking them to therapy can be a healthy and productive way for them to process your divorce. There, they can vent their anger or frustrations to a third-party who will validate them and remain neutral.

If your child is very young, they can still benefit from therapy, especially if you take them to a psychologist who consistently sees young children. There are ways of helping young kids open up and process their emotions.

Reassure Them You Still Love Them

If your child suddenly sees one parent much less than they see the other, they may worry this is because the other parent no longer wishes to be in their life. They may also assume that one parent no longer loves them as much as they used to.

While you already know this isn’t true, a child may not be able to process this.

Discuss with your child that your separation has nothing to do with them or how much you or your ex love them. Reassure them that both of you love them the same as you always did, but that you will be living separately from now on.

Children should also know that this wasn’t their fault and there was nothing they could have done to prevent it from happening.

Set Up A Routine As Quickly As Possible

Children thrive on routines, and without one, they can feel lost or aimless.

With you and your ex living in the same house, they likely fell into a routine. You’ll have to create a new routine that will involve them seeing both you and your ex.

If your child is old enough, speak to them about what they would like for their routine to look like. While your child cannot make all the decisions themselves, you should take their input into account.

Establish a new routine so that your child knows what to look forward to and when.

Listen To Your Children

Encourage your kids to speak about their emotions. While you may assume the divorce mostly affects the two of you, remember that it will also affect your children, even if they don’t seem to show it.

Don’t tell them what will happen and then not allow them their own space to discuss it with you. While speaking to a third-party or therapist is very helpful, listening to them speak to you is also paramount.

You want your child to feel heard during this process, especially as it usually involves big changes for everyone in your immediate family.

Ask them how they feel about their parents splitting up, and let them know it is okay to not know how to feel or to even feel a little angry.

Some children may not express any emotions. They may do this to placate you and your ex. Even if your child says nothing about your divorce, do not think this is because it doesn’t affect them. It does, so allow them to show it.

Don’t Fight With Your Ex If You Can Help It

You and your ex divorced for a reason. You may hate them because of the things they’ve done in the marriage or find them insufferable, but unless you have concerns about them parenting or providing a safe place for your kids, they should still see your kids when they can.

As such, you should encourage them to have a relationship with your children, and that means being civil to one another. Try not to bad mouth them in front of your children or let your kids in on the intricacies of why you broke up.

When your kids are adults, they may become privy to some of these issues, but as long as they’re in your care, it isn’t their business. It shouldn’t color how they see your ex-spouse.

Need A Lawyer?

Helping children cope with divorce can be very difficult, especially if the divorce is also rough on you and your ex. But, if you make them a priority, your family will make it through to the other side.

Do you need a divorce lawyer with a strong experience in family law? Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’ll help you take care of the legal stuff while you focus on your family.

How To Tell Your Spouse “I Want A Divorce”

how to tell your spouse i want a divorce

Every year, more than 800,000 couples throughout the U.S. decide that they want to get a divorce.

Deciding to get a divorce is never easy, nor is it easy to tell your spouse that that’s what you want.

Have you been putting off having this conversation for weeks, months, or even years? It’s a hard conversation to have. The sooner you do it, though, the sooner you can move forward with your life.

If you’re ready to tell your spouse, “I want a divorce” but aren’t sure how to go about it, keep reading.

Listed below are some tips that can make the conversation a little easier.

Be Honest With Yourself

Before you sit down and tell your spouse that you want a divorce, it’s important to know that this is truly what you want.

Once you throw out the “D” word, your relationship to your spouse will change. Don’t say it unless you really mean it.

Knowing whether or not a divorce is right for you is tricky, to say the least.

Be brutally honest with yourself about your desire for a divorce. You may also need to enlist the help of a therapist or counselor to help you figure out whether you want to proceed or not.

Consider Your Spouse’s Current State

Think about your spouse and how they’re feeling at the moment.

Do they seem blissfully ignorant and unaware that you’re unhappy? Or, is it clear that they’re unhappy, too?

Knowing where your spouse stands can help you decide the best way to broach the subject of a divorce.

Choose The Right Time And Place

No matter what your spouse’s current state is, there is definitely such a thing as a good time and place to talk about your desire for a divorce.

Do not bring it up ten minutes before you have to leave for work or while you’re out grocery shopping. Plan ahead for the conversation.

It may seem impossible, but you should try to choose a time and place when your spouse will be most receptive to your comments.

At the very least, plan to discuss it when you both are least likely to be stressed and will have the time to talk things out.

Choose Your Words Carefully

There’s also a right and wrong way to tell your spouse that you want a divorce. 

No matter how fed up you are with the marriage, there’s no need to be cruel. Remember, too, that the words you use will have an effect on the way they react.

If you choose the right words and avoid placing blame on them for your problems, you’re more likely to have a productive conversation. This isn’t always the case, of course, but choosing the right words can definitely help.

Work with a counselor if necessary to figure out what you’re going to say beforehand.

Be Firm Yet Gentle

It’s not just about the words you say. It’s also about the way you say them. Make sure that your tone is firm, yet gentle.

Be clear about what you want. Don’t hedge or try and sugarcoat things. At the same time, though, there’s no need to be overly blunt or aggressive.

You may want to practice expressing your desire for a divorce before you sit down and have the conversation. That way, you can make sure you’re using an appropriate tone. 

Prepare For Their Reaction

In addition to preparing your remarks, you also need to prepare for your spouse’s reaction to those remarks.

Do you think they’ll take it well and agree with you and your concerns? Will they cry or get angry?

No one knows with total certainty how they’re going to handle those situations. It’s a good idea to consider several different possible reactions so you can be prepared no matter how your spouse responds.

Take Safety Precautions If Necessary

Is there a possibility your spouse will become violent when you tell them that you want a divorce? If so, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe.

Consider having the discussion in a public place where your spouse is less likely to make a scene.

If you prefer to talk in private, at least make sure that someone knows where you are and when you’re going to have the conversation. That way, they can come and check on you or be waiting on standby just in case. 

It might be a good idea to have your cell phone handy with 911 pre-dialed before you begin the conversation.

Don’t Discuss The Details Yet

Immediately after you announce that you want a divorce is not the proper time to go over custody issues or other details.

There will be plenty of time for that, and it’s best if you can have those discussions after you’ve officially filed for divorce and have a divorce lawyer or mediator present.

If you discuss details now, when emotions are running high, you’re more likely to act rashly and may say or do things that you regret later on.

Don’t Involve Your Kids

Finally, don’t get your kids involved.

They shouldn’t be present during the discussion and you should do your best to keep them out of the conversation. This is an issue between yourself and your spouse.

Your kids will have to know about the divorce eventually, but they don’t need to be present at this time.

This rule applies whether your kids are adults or are young and still living at home.

What To Do After Saying, “I Want A Divorce”

After you have the hard conversation and told your partner, “I want a divorce,” it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’re going to proceed.

It’s good to have already hired a lawyer, too.

If you live in or around the Bay Area, contact the Law Offices of Gerard a Falzone today.

We make it easy for you to set up a free phone consultation so we can learn more about your case and help you figure out the best course of action. 

How To Stop A Divorce After Filing Papers

how to stop a divorce after filing papers

Divorce can be a long and emotional process for both parties involved. A lot of decisions need to be made during the process, and it isn’t unheard of for some couples to start rethinking divorce after they’ve started the process.

You may think you’re ready to sign the paperwork, but now you’re starting to think that divorce isn’t right for both of you.

Believe it or not, it’s relatively simple to stop divorce after filing.

If you’re having second thoughts about legally ending your marriage, you don’t have to go through with the divorce. Read on to learn what you have to do to stop your divorce after you’ve filed. 

Stop A Divorce After Filing

It’s important to note that both parties have to be in agreement to stop divorce after filing. If you still want to stay married and your spouse doesn’t, you can’t force them to end the divorce.

If you’ve both come to the decision to stop divorce proceedings, you can follow these steps.

Visit The Courthouse

Once you decide that you no longer want to go through your divorce you need to find some time to visit the courthouse where you filed your original petition for divorce.

Once you’re at the courthouse, explain that you want to stop the divorce process and want the correct paperwork. 

Some websites will tell you to just get the forms online. We advise against this unless you download them directly from a government website in your jurisdiction.  

Different jurisdictions have different forms of paperwork and requirements to stop a divorce. If you download something online you may not have what you need. 

Complete The Document

The paperwork you originally used to file for divorce may have been long and complicated, but the opposite is usually true for people that are trying to stop their divorce.

In most states, you’ll just have a simple single page document to fill out. The form asks you to state that you’re voluntarily dismissing or withdrawing your case.

Unlike divorce in certain states, you don’t need to give an explanation about why you want to end the divorce process.

Get Plenty Of Copies

Once you’ve completed the paperwork, make copies of everything. After you’ve made your copy you can visit a court clerk to stamp everything as filed. 

You’re going to want to have several copies for personal and legal purposes. Make sure that you have an official copy, along with your spouse and your lawyer.

Start The Serving Process

Your state may require you to formally serve your spouse with a copy of the dismissal paperwork. This can vary from state to state or even county to county, so be sure to check with your lawyer beforehand. 

In places where a formal serving isn’t required, you may just be able to give them a copy yourself by hand or by mail. 

Once you’ve completed the process, you may have to file proof with the court to prove that you’ve served your spouse. It’s a good idea to check with your lawyer about this. 

Tips For The Process To Stop A Divorce After Filing

The legal act of stopping the divorce process is simple, but navigating the emotional and social repercussions can be difficult for both you and your spouse. 

Deciding to end a marriage isn’t easy, and making the decision to continue to stay married can be even harder. Dealing with this time is tough, and we have some tips that can help make the process easier.

Keep Your Lawyer In The Loop

You may have decided to not go through the divorce, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop talking to your lawyer. If anything, they should be one of the first people you call after you make your decision.

You’ll want to make sure that you’ve done everything you need to do to formally end the marriage. A lawyer is a great way to ensure that you’re staying on track of everything. 

Also, be sure to go to them with any other legal questions you may have. They can give you insight into the best way to handle rights to marital property, custody, and other things that may have been affected because of the divorce.

Be Aware Of Your Options

You may not be ready to divorce, but that doesn’t mean that you’re ready to jump back into married life again. It’s okay for both spouses to take their time to reacclimate themselves to marriage.

Some couples that decide to stop the divorce still decide to stay legally separated. They may be on the fence about ending things entirely but still need time to themselves.

Also, you can choose to be discreet about your decision to end the divorce. Some couples choose to not share the news with close family members or friends because they’re still working on things with their partner.

Know You Can Change Your Mind 

You may decide to stop the divorce process now, but that doesn’t mean that you can never start it again.

Some people are hesitant to approach the topic of divorce once they’ve already legally stopped the process. You’re allowed to make decisions for yourself and your family that could involve legally ending your marriage.

Don’t be afraid to get individual counseling or couples counseling after you choose to end the divorce process. Getting insight from a therapist can help you both see what the next best steps to take are in your relationship.

Get The Legal Counsel You Need

It is possible, and easy, to stop a divorce after filing. Once you have the proper paperwork in order you can end the divorce process almost as easily as you started it.

Do you have any questions about stopping a divorce? Are you curious about other facets of family law? Contact us today so we can get you the answers you need.

In the meantime, explore our blog and learn a little more about family law.

What You Need to Know About Paternity Law in California

what you need to know about paternity law in california

When DNA testing first became commonplace, it changed the way families functioned forever. However, the existence of DNA tests hasn’t erased the many complicated factors that go into navigating paternity law.

If you haven’t established paternity, or are in a difficult situation involving paternity, you’ll need to know certain things about paternity law. This knowledge will help you navigate challenges from child support to custody and more.

Ready to learn the essentials of paternity law in your state? Keep reading to learn the details that will help you through your situation.

California Paternity Law: The Basics

Paternity law is a broad term governing the legalities between fathers and children.

The simplest paternity cases are when the couple who has a child is already married. Then, under California paternity law, the husband is the assumed father of the child. This law also applies if the marriage happened during the pregnancy.

However, things get more complicated when a couple that’s not married has a child. 

If you father a child with a partner you’re not married to, you’ll have the option of signing a document called the “Acknowledgement of Paternity” to confirm that you’re the father. You can also choose not to sign that document, but in that case, the mother might get the courts involved to hold you responsible for your biological child.

Other times, it may be unclear who is the father of a child. That’s when you might need to establish paternity. 

Why Establish Paternity?

What are the benefits of establishing paternity in California? Let’s take a look.

Medical information

When you know who the real father of a child is, you can access their valuable medical history. This knowledge can help the child know about and prepare for possible genetic problems that might come from their father’s side.

Parenting rights

The biological father often has an easier time accessing the right to parent and raise their child. Both child and father can value this opportunity to be involved in each other’s lives.

Legal and financial reasons

A child who has a known father might also benefit legally and financially from this knowledge. For example, their father might pay child support or serve as a guardian. Some parents don’t want to be legally or financially responsible for a child that’s not theirs biologically.

Establishing Paternity In California

Need to establish paternity in California? 

The only surefire way to establish paternity is to take a genetic test. You have a few different options for paternity testing — here are some of the most common ones.

Pre-Natal Test

If you want to establish paternity before a child is born, you can use a pre-natal test once the mother is at least eight weeks into the pregnancy.

You’ll want to opt for the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity test, which is safer than other prenatal test options. A blood sample from the mother will establish paternity. This works because she is sharing blood with the baby during the pregnancy.

Doctors will isolate the fetus’s DNA to see the paternity of the child. 

Blood Test

You can also test paternity through the blood after a child is born.

Blood tests aren’t perfectly accurate, but they have high enough rates of accuracy to be useful.

With this test, the blood type will show who’s the likely father of the child. Genes play a role in determining the blood type, so blood type can be a fairly clear indicator of fatherhood.

Sometimes, a second test is requested to confirm the results of the first one. When both tests show the same thing, the finding is considered accurate. 

DNA Test

The newer and more accurate DNA testing provides an even better method for genetic testing.

DNA testing involves samples of tissue or blood. DNA is completely unique, so this test can’t be wrong, unlike blood tests which can only determine a likelihood of paternity. 

However, it’s still common to do at least two DNA tests to confirm findings. To take the tissue sample most DNA tests use a cheek swab. As with a blood test, samples will be taken from the mother, father, and child. 

Handling Unusual Paternity Law Situations

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a unique and complicated paternity law situation. Here are some of the more common unusual situations and what to do in each one.

Post-divorce paternity

If the child was born while the couple was married, the husband is the legal father. However, keep in mind that legal father doesn’t mean biological father.

Sometimes, a divorce can cause the legal father to start questioning his paternity. Other times, the divorce might happen as a result of that questioning. 

The divorce won’t affect the legal father’s rights as a parent. However, a genetic test that shows someone else is the biological father can change all of that. 

The legal father, even if he’s not he biological father, can still be granted custody rights and required to pay child support — even if he doesn’t want to. Courts try to act in a child’s best interest, regardless of who turns out to be the biological father. 

Having a baby with another man while married

What if the couple stays married, but the husband isn’t the biological father of the child?

These cases are never simple, and many different factors can affect the outcome. If the husband decides to fight for the right to keep the child, he might be able to maintain paternal rights even though he’s not a biological parent. However, the husband might decide to not fight for custody or other rights to the child that’s not his own.

In these and any other paternity cases, you can help ensure the outcome you want by hiring a paternity lawyer.

Need A Paternity Lawyer?

Navigating paternity law by yourself can become nearly impossible, especially if you find yourself in one of the more complicated situations listed here.

Even DNA testing won’t always clear up all the issues. You need a paternity lawyer on your side.

Our team can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.