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What happens with unpaid debts during a California divorce?

California divorces rarely happen when both parties are ready for it and there are frequently issues that are left unresolved at the time of the filing. While there are a variety of concerns in any divorce such as children, support and division or property, neither side wants to be saddled with paying debts that the other might have incurred at the legal end of a marriage. Understanding how unpaid debts are addressed under the law in a divorce is a vital part of a case and requires experienced legal advice.

When there are debts that both parties have incurred - community debts - when the trial takes place, they will either be confirmed or divided as part of the process. When the debts were incurred by either of the parties before the marriage, they will be confirmed for the party that incurred them and there will be no offset. After the marriage, if there were debts incurred and they came about before the date the couple separated, these will be divided. However, if these debts exceeded total community and quasi-community assets, the excess will be assigned based on what the court deems to be just and equitable. That will include the ability to pay.

Can a wage assignment order for child support be voided?

In a child support case in California, some supporting parents - known as the obligor - will pay via an income assignment. In these situations, the money will be taken directly out of the person's paycheck and sent to the receiving parent. For some supporting parents, this is not an issue and the payments are guaranteed to be made without needing to do anything else. In other cases, however, there are issues with the income assignment and they want to have it quashed or voided. Knowing what the law says about such a request and when it can be done is important to a case.

The assignment order can be quashed in the following circumstances: the order does not have the correct amount owed for support or for overdue support; the alleged person who is supposed to be paying the support is different from the person who is paying support; or the amount goes beyond the legal amount that can be taken out based on federal law.

Preparing for financial concerns during a gray divorce

The end of a marriage cannot be pigeonholed as solely affecting a certain faction of people who are in a specific age range. Not all California divorces are the same and the issues and matters in dispute can vary. A so-called "gray divorce" in which older people decide to move forward and part ways as a couple is growing increasingly common. There are certain foundational factors that are a concern regardless of the type of divorce, but a gray divorce is unique in a variety of ways. Considering them is critical to a reasonable resolution.

Couples 50 and older are getting divorced at twice the frequency than in 1990. There are certain considerations that are important in this rise in divorce. People are living longer with healthier, more active lives. Often, the people are on their second or third marriage. Those 50 and older who have gotten remarried have double the chance at getting a divorce. No matter why the couple decides to part ways, finances are one of the biggest worries. Thinking about important aspects of gray divorce and retirement is a smart decision as the case proceeds.

Survey says hiding financial information can spark a divorce

There are many reasons why a California couple might decide the time is right to move forward with a divorce. While personal issues and dispute are common as some people simply determine that they can no longer get along, financial concerns are also high on the list of reasons for a divorce. Some perceive that to mean there is overspending, a lack of income, non-support and other issues. However, the simple act of hiding financial information is a spark for many divorces. Those who are facing this issue should have legal help as they decide whether to take the next step or not.

A survey in which more than 500 people throughout the nation took part showed that 27 percent of participants said they would think about divorce if their spouse lied about finances. Although the survey also showed that a large portion of the participants are forgiving in such circumstances, that more than one-quarter of those who answered questions stated they would think about moving on is significant.

What couples can and cannot do under the California UPAA

The Uniform Premarital Agreement has been in force in California since 1986. Although the UPAA is effective throughout most of the country, various states have inserted their own rules within certain sections. California has established guidelines that dictate the terms the agreement can and cannot include.

What can and cannot be part of the agreement

Changing a child support order and required information

When a child support order is made in California, parents should understand that it is based on circumstances. The situation will determine how much is paid at the time of the order. If the situation changes, so too can the amount that is paid and received in child support. A child support modification can be done if the necessary conditions are in place. For parents who need to have an order modified, having legal advice is one of the most critical aspects to doing so successfully.

There are several reasons why a child support order can be modified. They are: if there is a rise or reduction in the earnings of either parent; if there is a change to the child custody agreement or the visitation time; if a parent is called to military service or deploys as a member of the military; or if there is a change with any other issue that will impact the child support guideline that was used to formulate the original amount.

Can I use the Compromise of Arrears Program with child support?

One of the most contentious issues that California parents will face as part of a divorce settlement is child support. This can continue after the case has been concluded as some noncustodial parents will have problems with delinquent payments and all the negatives that entails. Not only does it hinder the custodial parent's abilities in raising a child, but it is against the law and car result in a variety of legal issues of the noncustodial parent.

For some noncustodial parents whose children were receiving public assistance or needed to be placed in a foster home because the state was supporting them, there are alternatives to get their payments up-to-date and avoid harsh penalties. The Compromise of Arrears Program (COAP) is one such alternative. Noncustodial parents can reduce the amount they owe in delinquent payments with this program. For those who meet the requirements to take part in COAP, they can make compromise repayments to the state. This will be less than the full amount. If there is a reduction, it will be based on the noncustodial parent's income and assets.

Should I consider alternatives to child guardianship?

The State of California is vigilant about protecting children. In many cases, that requires a guardianship to ensure the child's best interests are adhered to. When a parent or the parents cannot care for the child appropriately, guardianship is an option. However, it is important for the parents and prospective guardians to understand the details and requirements of a guardianship and consider potential alternatives that might be viable.

It is not always required that there be a guardianship. A relative or another adult can care for the children on a temporary basis. Simply signing papers to grant another person the right to care for the child could make a guardianship unnecessary. This could avoid the requirement to go to court. One choice for giving another adult the right to care for a child that does not include a guardianship area is signing a Power of Attorney for a Minor Child giving physical custody and allowing the other person to decide on the child's life with medical care and education. With this, the adult must have access to the health insurance information for the child. The guardian is unlikely to be able to add the child to their own health insurance absent a guardianship. Parents have the right to cancel the Power of Attorney when they want to.

Can the state help in collecting overdue child support payments?

When a California court decides that a parent should pay to support a child, it is done with the best interests of the child in mind. The amount ordered is what is deemed necessary for the child to survive and thrive. If the parent fails to make those payments, it is a legal violation and it can cause problems for the supporting parent and the custodial parent. Custodial parents should remember not to take matters into their own hands when there is a child support dispute. There are steps that can be taken by the state to collect child support. Knowing how to go about getting this help is key.

When there is a child support order, the local child support agency (LCSA) can be contacted for help in collecting. The idea of the LCSA is to assist parents and children. It can find parents who are not making the payments as they should be and use various methods to get the payments. Examples of what LCSA can do if a parent is not adhering to the order is to: report it to a credit agency; deny them the right to renew a passport; place liens on property; suspend a driver license or a professional license; inform the Franchise Tax Board; intercept income tax refunds; take assets from financial institutions; intercept disability insurance; intercept unemployment insurance; intercept workers' compensation payments; and intercept lottery winnings.

Stop believing these prenup myths

There is a lot of misunderstanding and societal stigma surrounding prenuptial agreements. When getting ready to spend the rest of your life with someone, you focus on the specifics of wedding planning and romantic emotions. 

You may assume a prenuptial agreement is not necessary–or is a bad idea. However, there are plenty of advantages to signing a prenup with your partner. Take a look at these common myths and corresponding truths about prenups.

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