Effects Of Divorce On Child School Performance

effects of divorce on child school performance

It’s no mystery that children suffer from the effects of divorce when parents separate and suffering can hurt a child’s school performance, social interactions, and a sense of self.  

It is not easy to navigate the role of “adult getting divorced” and “parent,” but the more you can do to positively support your child’s process and provide the mental/emotional support they need, the better off they will be at school, at home, and in the world-at-large. 

FYI: Children are not alone. Divorce can also impact a parent’s work performance. Read The Effects of Divorce on Work Performance to learn more about how to support yourself through the process as well. 

Statistics Around Divorce And Its Impact On School Performance 

Some studies have shown that students with divorced parents: 

  • Have lower overall GPAs  
  • Are more likely to have to repeat a grade 
  • Have lower comprehension scores 
  • More likely to have behavior and impulsivity issues at school 
  • Are less likely to attend/graduate college 

While that sounds bleak, more recent and comprehensive studies indicate there’s more to it than that. Statistics from a recent UCLA study on divorce and its impact on school performance took a bigger-picture view.  

Researchers divided families into three different groups: couples unlikely to divorce, couples more likely to get a divorce, and those who fell in the middle.  

  • In families in the “unlikely to divorce” group, children of divorced parents were 6 percent less likely than children of non-divorced parents to graduate from high school and 15 percent less likely to complete college 
  • For children in the “likely to divorce” group, there was virtually no impact on their likelihood to graduate from high school or college if their parents’ marriage ended. The paper noted that children in that group already have lower levels of academic achievement — so a divorce generally didn’t make things better or worse for them. 

Ultimately, it seems like socio-economic stability, and emotionally healthy home has more to do with academic success than divorce rates. While divorce often causes temporary or semi-long term ripples in a child’s behavior or academic progress, an emotionally healthy and supportive household allows children to regain their traction. 

The Psychological Effects Of Divorce On Children 

It’s also important to remember that a decline in academics or escalating behaviors at school is a normal response to emotional upset.  

Your honest communication and preparation are essential 

According to verywellfamily.com: 

Children from divorced families dont always perform as well academically. However, a study published in 2019 suggested kids from divorced families tended to have trouble with school if the divorce was unexpected, whereas children from families where divorce was likely didn’t have the same outcome. 

Read 5 Tips For Helping Children Cope With a Divorce for more information on how to support your children (and yourself) through the process. 

Emotional impacts affect the ability to concentrate or focus 

The emotional impacts of divorce are like a continued ripple effect. There are so many things going on at the same time. In addition to losing the security of two parents who live together and a familiar home landscape, many children must move to a new home, change schools, make new friends, or change sports teams – all amid their personal, all-time low.  

Children often feel they’re somehow to blame for the divorce, or that if they were “good enough” the parent who has moved out or changed houses would have stayed, etc. etc. All of this diminishes their ability – and their will – to focus on academics.  

Negative feelings are painful to hold, and they’re difficult to express, which means they can come out in detrimental ways. 

Children may outwardly resent and punish you 

If academics are a household value, your children may also use academic decline, disruptive behavior at school, or negative peer interactions to punish you. This is a call for help, and any notable decline in academics, social isolation, or atypical behavior issues at school should be handled with care and close attention if it doesn’t resolve in a reasonable amount of time. 

Informing the school can instrumentally help 

Telling the teacher, administration, and counselor can be instrumental in helping your child. While you may feel as if the information is private or embarrassing, the faculty’s awareness of your child’s experience can exponentially support your child as s/he adjusts to the new version of normal. Together, you can collaborate on the best ways to support the child, tailored to his/her personality and needs and the school may be able to offer counseling support as needed, as well as space to take breaks or vent. 

Contact the Law Offices of Gerald Falzone to work with a Bay Area family law attorney who specializes in mediation and whole-family divorce support to improve the family’s emotional wellbeing. 

Can I Have My Child Transfer Schools During A Divorce?

can i have my child transfer schools during a divorce

The parameters around whether you can have your child transfer schools during a divorce are governed by the current custody agreement – temporary or legally -, a court or judge’s decision and the emotional wellbeing of your child.  

While we can provide general information about transferring a child’s school during a divorce, we recommend consulting with a family law attorney if you haven’t already before making any final decisions.  

Will Your Child Transfer Schools During Your Divorce?

If you transfer your child without respect for California child custody laws, you may jeopardize your own custody status in the eyes of the law. 

What is best for your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing? 

First and foremost, your child’s mental and emotional wellbeing should be the top priority before making the decision to change your child’s school. Divorce is extremely hard on children, disrupting their sense of self, their security, and their happiness. As the secure and familiar world they know begins to splinter and re-build around them through the divorce, the stability of the same school and friends can provide a healthy anchor while children slowly adjust to their new life with divorced parents and a divided home life. 

If you haven’t already, consider meeting with a family law mediator to negotiate child custody agreements, as well as decisions around whether or not to change a child’s school. This can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees, and neutral mediators are experienced at smoothing over the rough emotions that can get in the way of making the healthiest decisions for your child. 

Read How to Prepare for Child Custody Mediation for more on that topic. 

Is the decision a mutual one between you and your spouse? 

If the decision is mutual, there should be no issue. That said it is a good idea to get your mutual consent in writing and sign it. That way, if negative feelings or contentious disagreements arise in the future, you have proof that your ex-spouse supported your decision. 

Do you have sole or joint legal custody? 

If you have sole legal custody, you can change your child’s school without permission from your ex. If your spouse has visitation rights or partial/joint physical custody, you should notify him/her about your decision so s/he can’t say that you’re trying to keep the child from him/her by withholding information about where your child is, needs to be picked up for visitation, etc. 

If you have joint legal custody, you cannot transfer your child to another school without your ex-spouse’s consent OR a judge grants you permission. 

Is the new school a reasonable distance from your ex’s home or place of business? 

If you have joint physical and legal custody, it makes sense that your child’s school should be a reasonable distance from your home, and your ex’s. Transportation to and from visitation is a 50/50 endeavor between parents. If your chosen school is notably further from your ex’s home or work than the current school, s/he has a right to oppose it. In that case, you may need to go to court. 

Will your child transfer schools and be happy? 

How does your child feel about the transfer? Hopefully, your child’s feelings are seriously considered by you and your ex-spouse. Keep in mind that if your child does not want to change schools, and your ex opposes you, the judge may not side in your favor if you wind up in court. 

Is transferring your child’s school worth a trip to the courtroom? 

If you have joint legal custody (even if you have sole physical custody), you cannot make the decision to transfer your child’s school until your ex-spouse agrees or the court orders it so. If your ex is not willing to budge on his/her stance, you will need to go to court and let the judge decide. This can cost thousands of dollars if lawyers have to be involved, and there is a chance the judge will want to hear from the child, which can be traumatic for some children. 

While younger children’s testimony is sometimes requested, California Family Code 3042 states that children who are 14 years or older, and who can clearly express their feelings or preferences can have a say in where they live and where they go to school. If your child is 14-years old or more, the odds are the judge will want to know how s/he feels about the idea of transferring. While judges do not automatically base their decision on older children’s feelings, they do take the child’s testimony into consideration to establish whether your reasoning justifies the switch. 

We’re Happy To Serve You

Contact me here at Falzone Law, 415-582-7800, and schedule a free, consultation. In addition to reasonable hourly fees, I am happy to serve as a mediator to keep you out of the courtroom and facilitate a more streamlined divorce and child custody agreement process. 

Can My Ex Track Me During My Parenting Time?

can my ex track me during my parenting time

Even the smoothest of divorces are emotionally complex when children are involved. All of a sudden, the loss of control over where your children are and what they’re doing when they’re with the non-custodial parent can lead to excessive worry and concern. 

That worry or fear, combined with the innovation of GPS trackers and other monitoring devices, can make it tempting to track the non-custodial parent when they have custody of the children. This is completely illegal in the state of California. 

Is Your Ex Tracking You During Your Parenting Time?

If an ex is tracking you during your parenting time, you should consult with an experienced family lawyer who can help you decide what to do next. 

California is a dual-consent state 

California is a dual-consent state. This means that both parties must consent before wiretapping, GPS tracking, or other location tracking devices are used to monitor someone’s movements or behaviors. In addition to facing criminal charges, any information or evidence supplied by these devices is considered null and void in a courtroom.  

However, there are exceptions to this law. The most common is if your ex has convinced the courts that you are at risk for taking the children outside the jurisdiction without consent. In this case, a judge can order tracking devices on your car, phone, etc., so your ex can keep track of your movements when you have the children.  

Again, the ability for an ex to track you during your parenting time would only be legal if it was ordered by the court. Otherwise, s/he is violating your right to privacy and your rights as a parent. If you have found a GPS or other tracking device on your car or phone that was installed for your ex’s use, without your consent, s/he can face civil and criminal charges. 

Avoid the need for your ex to track your movements during parenting time 

Any time spent in a courtroom is expensive, and it can create ugly, unnecessary emotional entanglement that is detrimental to your child(ren)’s wellbeing. If your ex is so upset or worried that s/he’s threatening to track your movements when you have the children, we recommend taking the following actions. 

Meet with a family law mediator 

Meeting with a licensed, family law mediator can work wonders for facilitating communication between ex-partners who cannot see eye-to-eye about child custody arrangements, or who are not acting or thinking rationally when it comes to the other partner’s time with the children. 

Family law mediators are completely neutral parties. We do not take sides. We simply facilitate communication and negotiations between two parties and let them know what a judge would be most likely to say or decide if the issue is brought to court. 

Because you pay by the hour, session, and/or the documentation required for filing – family law mediation continues to be markedly more affordable than hiring a lawyer and going to court. Simply put, mediation often saves couples tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. 

Consult with a family law attorney

If your ex is unwilling to go the mediation route, consult with a family law attorney to explain your situation and determine the next steps.  

The goal is always to move forward with the least amount of stress and contention as possible, so the first step may be for your lawyer to write a letter explaining the illegality of your ex’s threat to track you – and that legal steps will be taken if you are, indeed, being tracked without your consent. 

If first-step actions are ignored by your ex, we can move forward with further steps to protect your rights and to support you in building a trusting relationship with your children. 

Find evidence of the tracking device(s) and take action 

Next, it’s time to consult with device tracking professionals who can scan your vehicles, phones, computer, etc. to locate and identify actual tracking devices. This is the evidence you would need to pursue action from the courts. 

Just as a judge hates to be lied to about hidden assets, s/he also balks when an individual says they haven’t been tracking their ex – only to have evidence presented to the contrary. There is no point in taking legal action until you have solid proof of tracking devices to follow it up. 

We Are Here For You

Do you need professional legal and emotional support as you work through sticky and painful child custody details? Please give me a call, 510-521-9500 (Oakland) or 415-482-7800 (San Rafael), or contact the Law Offices of Gerald Falzone online to schedule a free consultation.

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.