Many people do not realize that there are only three major decision points when it comes to divorce. These are asset distribution, child support and alimony, and parenting plans. In this article, the Sacramento, CA, divorce attorneys at Wagner Family Law will discuss in detail these three aspects of divorce.
Asset Distribution and Community Property in a Sacramento Divorce
California rules work differently than other states when it comes to dividing the marital estate. While many states operate on a doctrine known as equitable distribution, California is a community property state. That means that the estate is divided in half and distributed among both parties to a divorce. Those who are in a divorce need to be aware of these assets and the issues they will create when dividing the estate.
It is not uncommon for spouses to have differing opinions when it comes to dividing the marital estate. However, it is important to understand that any property acquired during the marriage is technically a part of the marital estate. This includes the family home, pensions, retirement accounts, family businesses, and debts such as credit cards.
The matter is more complicated for high-asset couples in divorce. Businesses will need to be valuated to determine how much they are worth. In some cases, the business will be partly the property of one spouse who started the business before the marriage, but the accrued value of the business will be the property of the marital estate. Jason Wagner has years of experience helping Sacramento couples divide their marital estate. He can assist you in the valuation of various properties and investments.
Child Support and Alimony in a Sacramento Divorce
The second aspect of divorce is child support and alimony. When one spouse is responsible for keeping the house and the other spouse is the primary breadwinner, alimony can be established to help the at-home spouse maintain their standard of living.
Spouses who did not work or worked less than the other spouse are entitled to recover alimony in the divorce. Further, spouses who produce children in their marriage are required to pay for those children. In this section, the Sacramento, CA child support and alimony attorneys at Wagner Family Law will discuss alimony and child support payments.
There are different types of spousal support under California law. Spousal support can either be temporary or permanent. It can be made as a lump-sum payment or periodic monthly payments.
Temporary spousal support is paid during the divorce proceedings. Permanent spousal support begins when the divorce is settled and continues for a period of time decided by both parties. Spousal support is mostly made in the form of money, but it can also be made as a transfer of property. Lump-sum payments and property transfers are usually unable to be modified once the order is issued. When spousal support is made as a form of monthly payment, it can be modified.
The court uses several factors to determine how much and how long spousal support will last. These include most notably the length of the marriage and the ability of the financially-dependent spouse to secure a well-paying job in the future.
In many cases, software is used to determine the length and amount of spousal support. These programs take in certain inputs regarding the finances of both spouses and produce an output that would end up being the supporting spouse's alimony payment.
Spousal support can last for a long- or short-term period of time. The most important factor here is the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage lasts, the longer a litigant will need to pay spousal support.
A completely separate issue is child support. Under California law, a child has a right to financial support from both of their parents. In cases where both parents and the child do not live together, the court will order the non-residential parent to pay child support. The court operates under the assumption that it should never be the sole responsibility of one parent to pay for the support of the children.
Child support is paid until the child reaches the age of majority or 18 years of age. Exceptions, however, do exist. In some cases, a parent will be required to pay child support until the child graduates from high school. Another exception is made in the case of a disabled child who cannot work.
Child support is calculated using complex software that takes into account the earning power of both spouses and the child's economic needs.
Child Custody Matters and Parenting Plans in a Sacramento Divorce
California courts generally believe it is in the best interests of the children to have both of the parents making legal decisions for the children. This means that the courts will default on joint custody of the children even when the children spend most of the time with one parent. Legal custody means that the parent has decision-making power over the child's education, healthcare matters, and religious instruction. Jason Wagner believes that it is important for parents to avoid the stress and difficulty of litigation and pursue the matter as a partnership.
Child custody is often the most contentious area of concern for the parents. Who should be allowed to make key decisions in the children's lives? Where does the child primarily live? What sorts of visitation is the non-residential parent allowed? What type of parenting plan should be put in place? These are all questions that a Sacramento, CA child custody lawyer can help you answer. Jason Wagner has over a decade of experience helping parents come together on a parenting plan that represents the best interests of the children.
Talk to a Sacramento, CA Divorce Lawyer Today
Wagner Family Law represents Sacramento, CA residents pursuing a divorce. We can help you with all three of the major factors that will need to be decided once your divorce is complete. Call our office today to schedule an appointment and we can begin addressing your concerns immediately.