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Bay Area Family Law Blog

Millennial generation divorcing less often than others

How does the way you approach marriage affect divorce? A revealing new study shows that the millennial generation – as well as those in “Generation X” – are getting divorced at lower rates than other demographics.

Researcher Philip Cohen, a University of Maryland sociology professor, reveals that the divorce rate fell between 8 and 18 percent (across several demographics, including “baby boomers”) between 2008 and 2016. There are several factors influencing the nation’s dropping divorce rate, particularly among couples under the age of 45.

Feeling stuck in a bad relationship?

Have you ever felt stuck in a bad relationship, but found yourself unable to take the first step towards changing your situation? Have you gone through relationship “doldrums,” not seeing a way out? If so, you are not alone.

Sadly, flailing relationships abound these days, with one or both partners unwilling – or simply not able – to make headway in the direction of positive change. It turns out, though, that this indecisiveness is not a showing of weakness, a personal failing, or a lack of willpower. There is a scientific phenomenon to explain it: the “sunk-cost effect.”

Learning from the family relations mistakes of Steve Jobs

There are likely many lessons to be gleaned from the recent memoir of Steve Jobs’ daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Some of them are abstract, facing up to one’s past, remembering pain and working through it. Most of them are unique to Lisa’s relationship with her genius, yet famously abrasive father.

Others are less ephemeral, however. These are ones that we can apply to our own lives if we ever find ourselves in a similar situation: the impact of a divorce or the end of a relationship on the parent-child dynamic, especially during a transition to shared custody.

What should be included in a parenting plan in California?

Children in California whose parents are no longer in a relationship benefit when their parents can work together to create customized and workable parenting plans. Psychological research shows that children are deeply affected by conflict between their parents, whether the parents are together or not. The best way to protect your children from the harmful effects of divorce is to do whatever you can to reduce conflict between you and the other parent.

Parenting plans are comprehensive documents that provide clarity on how decisions about the children are made and and when a child will be in the care of one parent or the other. A parenting plan can account for the unique needs of each family and can be carefully tailored to reduce arguments and to protect children from the negative aspects of divorce or separation.

When does the new tax law begin to affect spousal support?

It removes the federal alimony tax deduction on spousal support agreements and orders finalized next year. What does this mean for those contemplating divorce or in the middle of the process? It could be an added incentive to finish the process before the end of the year.

The ex-spouse who pays alimony (spousal support in California) has traditionally been able to benefit from a tax deduction for the amount paid. On the other side, any alimony received has been taxable income to the support recipient. This scheme continues for pre-2019 divorce or separation instruments (the IRS definition includes a "divorce decree, separate maintenance decree or written separation agreement"), meaning that agreements or orders obtained in 2018 will continue to enjoy the benefit of the current tax treatment. How does the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act elimination of the deduction change the spousal support analysis?

Litigation and mediation serve different types of divorces

It can be extremely hard to find common ground with someone who has different ideas of what is right and wrong. It can be even more challenging to settle disputes when the parties to the dispute have deeply rooted and personal conflicts. These types of interpersonal challenges can exist when California couples choose to end their marriages in divorce, and for this reason, some divorces are more confrontational than others.

This San Francisco family law blog has offered prior informative posts on the topic of divorce mediation. Mediation puts the power of making divorce-related decisions in the hands of the parties and can provide individuals with more satisfactory resolutions to their divorce-related issues. However, mediation may not be an effective way for all couples to terminate their marital relationship.

Working for a positive divorce from start to finish

Marriages can become difficult when conflict overtakes the good and positive elements of the marital relationship. Sometimes those conflicts may surround changes that the partners have experienced in their personal lives, and sometimes the conflicts involve true disagreements and insurmountable differences that have become more apparent over time. Getting to the decision to file for divorce can occur simultaneously for partners, but more often happens for one partner before the other.

When a person decides that divorce is a necessary step in their life they may be hit with a wave of emotions. Psychologists have examined the emotions of divorce and have found that when parties begin their divorces with kindness and productive communications, the rest of their divorces proceed along similar lines. It might be hard to imagine a peaceful divorce but for Californians who elect to divorce through a consensual dispute resolution process (such as mediation or Collaborative divorce), it is a possible outcome.

Petition for sole custody: a rough road!

Even if you were able to negotiate most of the terms of your divorce settlement, it is not uncommon for spouses to reach an impasse when it comes to matters of parenting their children. As a result of psychological research areound divorce, family courts in California and across the country generally recognize that it is best for children when both parents share in the parenting process as equally as possible. If this is not a plan that makes you comfortable, it will take some effort to convince the court that this conventional wisdom doesn't apply in your case.

Seeking sole custody carries two important burdens. You must prove to the court that your former spouse is unfit, or you must demonstrate that your children are at risk of serious harm at the hands of the other parent. It is not sufficient to show that you are closer to the children or that you are more sensitive to the children's needs. The key is producing credible evidence, usually by an expert witness, that it would be best for the children to give parental decision-making to just one parent and/or have a child live mostly or entirely with one parent. 

How is net disposable income computed for setting child support?

According to the State of California, the primary duty of a parent is to provide financial support for his or her children. In some cases, a parent's financial obligation to the children may take precendence over the obligation to care for a child. For parents who are separated or divorced, a parent may be required to provide their children with financial support through a court-ordered child support plan.

Why collaborative law can be a cost- and time-effective option

If a San Francisco resident has any experience with the traditional courtroom process of seeking a divorce, then they probably know that it can be a lengthy experience. It can take many months or even years for a couple to litigate the many issues that must be resolved in order to bring a marriage to its end. Litigated divorce can, in some circumstances, make contentious relationships even more disagreeable.

However, litigated divorce is not the only option that Californians have to end their legal relationships. They may use party-driven options like collaborative law to divorce. This choice eliminates some of the waiting that goes with litigating the terms of a marital dissolution. This is because in collaborative divorces the parties work together to establish settlements for their property, custody and support needs.

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