Top 20 Financial & Legal Steps To Take After Your Divorce Is Done

Posted by: maggio

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

In most divorce cases in most states, you cannot charge estate plans, life insurance beneficiaries, etc., until after your divorce case has been resolved and your divorce judgment has been entered by the court.  However, once your divorce is final, you need to take immediate financial and legal steps to reflect your new reality.  The following is a checklist of the actions that you need to take:

  1. Change your name on all of your financial documents, bank accounts, etc.
  2. Close and/or change the names on all joint accounts.
  3. Make sure that all credit card bills and loans are paid promptly and closed by you (or your spouse if such bills or loans were designed as their responsibility in the divorce).
  4. Open a checking and savings account in your name.
  5. Open a credit card in your name to establish your own credit history.
  6. Set up and start depositing money into an emergency bank account to cover 6 months of living expenses and don’t ever dip into it.
  7. Check all of your investment accounts to make sure that the stated ownership of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and retirement accounts are correctly listed.
  8. Change your name with the Social Security department.
  9. Change your name on your driver’s license.
  10. Change the title on your automobile(s) into your name if necessary.
  11. Change your automobile insurance coverage into your name alone.
  12. Have your spouse’s name take off of the mortgage (or lease).  This may be difficult to do without a refinance of the mortgage.
  13. Make sure that you transfer ownership of all deeds for your real estate and record with your county recorder’s office if not accomplished in the divorce case.
  14. Change your beneficiaries on all life insurance policies.
  15. Change beneficiaries on all retirement and pension plans.
  16. Revise your health insurance coverage, dependent on the terms of your divorce judgment.
  17. Make sure any Qualified Domestic Relations Orders that need to be done to divide retirement benefits per your divorce judgment get done.
  18. Contact an estate planning attorney and have a new estate plan done.  Be sure to update your medical and financial powers of attorney.
  19. Speak with a financial advisor if you did not do so prior to concluding your divorce case and determine a financial roadmap for you post-divorce.
  20. Review your tax withholding allowances and taxes with your CPA, particularly if you are receiving or paying spousal support (alimony), and make any necessary adjustments with your payroll department.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact the Orange County family law firm of The Maggio Law Firm at (949) 553-0304 or at www.maggiolawfirm.com.

 

What Role Does Social Media Play as Evidence in Divorce?

Posted by: maggio

By:  Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

What happens when a spouse reads a “tweet” you sent about your latest date or your spouse sees photos of you on a vacation she didn’t know you were taking on your Facebook page? Is Social media acceptable as evidence in a family law case? Family law is determined by state law which means each state has its own unique requirements for property division, custody and support. All states now have some form of no-fault divorce though. In a no-fault divorce it doesn’t matter if a spouse had an affair or if a spouse was otherwise to blame for the dissolution of the marriage. The idea of no-fault divorce is to save couple from gathering evidence of wrong-doing and from blaming each other in order to get more property or something other advantage out of the divorce.

In custody disputes though, a parent whose behavior could be construed as harmful to the children, or as irresponsible for a parent, etc. evidence of drug use, drinking, or otherwise inappropriate behavior may be used against a parent in a custody case. State laws vary on what may or may not be considered in a court’s custody determination and in some states, adult behavior which does not occur in the presence of the children and does not impair a parent’s ability to parent may not be a factor. Judges have a great deal of discretion though so every case is different, even different cases in one state may have different outcomes based on each judge’s discretion.

Facebook and Twitter can be used against you.  Social media sometimes offers clues to the opposing side about the truth of matters.  A person who is claiming he cannot afford to pay child support and then posts pictures of his latest cruise to the Bahamas may have some explaining to do. An individual who claims she cannot find a job and then “tweets” about her new consulting business could be caught in a contempt situation. We live in a new world where people are constantly talking about their own day-to-day activities as well as those of the people around them. Even a careful individual who does not post photos on Facebook might end up on Facebook if a friend (or even a friend of a friend) posts a photo and tags a person in it.

Is social media admissible in court? This is a growing area of law and is not entirely clear in every state or in every situation. Tweets and Facebook pages must be verified as true and verified as coming from a reliable source. Like information in Wikipedia, not everything you see or read on the internet is true, so verifying the truth of anything in social media can be difficult from an evidentiary standpoint. It has created new questions and new challenges for attorneys and for the courts. Perhaps the best advice if you are going through a divorce is to steer clear of social media until your divorce is finalized. An experienced family law attorney can help you understand your specific rights and responsibilities with regard to social media and divorce under your specific state’s laws.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact The Maggio Law Firm at (949) 553-0304 or at www.maggiolawfirm.com.

Past Due California Child Support Reaches Near-Record Levels

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Irvine, Calif. – An astounding $19.2 billion is owed in past due child support in California, according to the state’s child support services department. California has a formula that accounts for what a parent can afford and even a debt compromise program for parents who owe monies due to welfare payments. California’s interest rate on child support owed, currently at 10 percent, is sometimes blamed for the high back pay due; but ultimately a parent must pay for the livelihood of their child.

Hefty fines and even jail time can be the consequence of not paying child support. If a parent has a valid reason why their child support should be modified, they should get legal counsel to show proof of the change in circumstances. Job layoffs, a big cut in pay, or disasters and emergencies can greatly affect a parent’s ability to pay.

“An individual must show the change has substantially affected their income, is permanent, and was not a voluntary change,” says Irvine child support attorney Gerald Maggio, of the Maggio Law Firm. “Many people wait until they are already behind to get a modification, but the minute a big change has occurred you should be getting legal counsel.”

Support orders should be reviewed every three years to account for any financial changes of the parents or needs for the child. An experienced Orange County child support attorney will ensure the accuracy of filing the modification, and sometimes even an extension is needed for a child’s schooling or medical situation. It’s important to know that child support cannot be modified retroactively, so if a parent waits too long to modify, the back pay will still be due at the different amount.

The Maggio Law Firm has a successful track record of enforcing child support orders and modifying it for clients when a big life change occurs. They are accomplished in child custody, division of property, spousal support, and many California divorce matters. Maggio is known for aggressively pursing his client’s and their child’s rights with empathy, skill, and efficiency.

For more information:

The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.

www.maggiolawfirm.com

Orange County Office

8105 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 600

Irvine, CA 92618

(949) 553-0304

(949) 553-0346 Fax

Riverside Office

3750 University Avenue, Suite 670

Riverside, CA 92501

To learn more about the Maggio Law Firm visit http://www.maggiolawfirm.com/.

How to Maintain a Unified Front with Your Former Spouse for Your Children

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Staying amicable with an ex-spouse who probably put you through veritable hell is something that is probably inconceivable. In some instances, such as when domestic violence or other egregious circumstances are involved, it is understandable or even advisable to stay your distances.

However, when children are involved, partners who were once bonded by marriage will, in some form or fashion, still have to deal with each other when it comes to joint parenting or issues concerning the children, no matter who is paying child support or who thinks they got the shorter end of the stick.

Divorced couples whose goal is to raise well-adjusted kids in light of the divorce and separation have some work ahead of them that requires balance, commitment and a keen focus from both sides. They both must come together as a unified front for the betterment of the children.

Of course, there are the classic emotional stages of divorce that most couples find themselves going through. There is the guilt and shame that usually occurs when there is the feeling of failure – all normal reactions to the drastic changes of divorce. No doubt that there may be an emotional roller coaster of grief. Subconsciously, or at many levels, there may be denial, bargaining, resentment, anger and acceptance –all are on the vast spectrum of emotions people feel after a divorce.

There can be much to be gained by remaining allies, even though communication or mutual respect has diminished in your marital relationship. Being civil and maintaining family ties on both sides can ensure balance and equilibrium for children who need stability and extended emotional support more than ever. It is always good to remember to put your children first. Do not be petty by rehashing old arguments and opening up old wounds. Try to also be inclusive. Involve each other in your children’s milestones, shortcomings and achievements.

To let go of resentment and the emotional baggage of a failed marriage and the many disconnects that might have occurred, the idea of maintaining some sort of harmony in front of and around the children will always speak volumes and can also help your children adjust to the divorce and become well-adjusted adults in the long run.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange Country divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

What are the major factors used in calculating child support?

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

How child support is calculated in divorce cases can be perplexing and even frustrating. But there is a method to the madness.

There is a child support guideline formula in the state of California that is used to determine the appropriate amount of money due to the parent who has legal custody. Net income and the quantity of time each parent spends with the children are two major factors in calculating child support payments.

With these two main factors in mind, the California Family Court calculates child support based on each parent’s net income and the amount of time a child spends with either parent. There are additional factors in calculating child support payments, such as: child care expenses, medical insurance premiums, home mortgage payments, tax filing status and any other expenses that can impact the family’s financial situation.

A judge will begin the process by looking very closely at the amount of time each parent spends with the children. This amount of time is then entered into a complex formula that is used to calculate support payments, often referred to as the “J Factor.” This element is named so because the California Child Support Guideline operates using a mathematical formula in which “J” refers to the amount of time the non-custodial parent spends with the child or children. The formula used in calculating child support is the same in every case and in every court in California. Because the formula used to calculate the child support amounts is complicated, the court most commonly utilizes a computer program called a Dissomaster™ to calculate the monthly child support amounts.

An experienced family law attorney will know how to negotiate what gets calculated into the non-custodial parent’s net income. This can include bonuses, commissions, overtime pay or any other form of income that occurs on a regular basis. Such calculations will help to ensure that the proper amount of child support is received each month.

Because basic child support doesn’t include child care or uninsured medical expenses, the court will consider these expenses in addition to the guideline support. This is called a mandatory add-on. Generally, each adult is responsible for paying half of the child care expenses if the custodial parent is employed full time.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange Country divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

How Do I Get Temporary Orders For Child Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal support, etc. In My California Divorce Case?

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

After the initial divorce paperwork has been filed with the court, either spouse may file for an “Order to Show Cause” hearing with the court requesting a hearing to decide temporary orders for child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support and other orders while the divorce is pending. Other orders can involve temporary use of marital property, restraining orders and orders that one party pay the other party’s attorney feed and costs.

What Do I Need to Know Concerning Spousal Support in My California Divorce Case?

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

California law makes a very important distinction between “short-term” (also known as “lite” spousal support) and “long-term” (i.e. beyond the divorce itself) spousal support that is extremely important to understand. This distinction affects how the court determines the duration of spousal support payments and the jurisdiction of the court to award spousal support. For marriages less than 10 years in duration, California law and precedent maintain that the spouse obligated to pay spousal support is obligated to do so for one-half the length of the actual marriage.

However, for marriages 10 years or more, the court generally has continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support and the longer the marriage, generally the prospect of continuing spousal support for many years to come.

To determine the amount of long-term spousal support, the Court will consider such factors as the standard of living during the marriage, the length of the marriage, the needs of the parties, the age, health, earning capacity and job histories of both parties.

These factors are specifically stated in California Family Code section 4320, which by law the court must consider all of the factors state in 4320.

California Family Code section 4320 states as follows concerning long-term “permanent” spousal support:

In ordering spousal support under this part, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances:

a. The extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, taking into account all of the following:

  1. The marketable skills of the supported party; the job market for those skills; and the possible need for retraining or education to develop or acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
  2. The extent to which the supported party’s present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage by periods of unemployment that were incurred during the marriage to permit the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.

b. The extent to which the supported party to devote time to domestic duties.

c. The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support, taking into account the supporting party’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets and standard of living.

d. The need of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.

e. The obligations and assets, including the separate property, of each party.

f. The duration of the marriage.

g. The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party.

h. The age and health of the party.

i. Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence, as defined in Section 6211, between the parties, including but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.

j. The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party.

k. The balance of the hardships to each party.

l. The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. Except in the case of a marriage of a long duration as described in Section 4336, a “reasonable period of time” for purposes of this section generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage. However, nothing in this section is intended to limit the court’s discretion to order support for a greater or lesser length of time, based on any of the other factors listed in this section, Section 4336, and the circumstances of the parties.

m. The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse shall be considered in making a reduction or elimination of a spousal support award in accordance with Section 4325.

n. Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.

How do California Courts Calculate Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

California has a child support guideline formula that is used in all cases to determine the proper amount of child support. Generally, the courts and all attorneys in California use one of the two recognized computer programs based on the child support guideline formula called “Dissomaster” and “X-Spouse.”

The factors considered in making child support orders are primarily the gross income of the parties and the amount of time each parent spends with the minor child. However, other factors that can be considered include any itemized deductions the parties can claim on their taxes, medical insurance premiums paid each month, and any mandatory requirement payments and union dues for individuals whose employment requires them to be part of a union and to contribute to a deferred compensation retirement plan (i.e. a pension).

In addition to the basic monthly child support, the court will generally also order that the parents equally share the costs of childcare expenses necessary for the custodial parent or both parents to work, as well as any medical, dental and vision expenses for the minor child not covered or reimbursed by medical/dental/vision insurance.

Child support can also include expenses for the special needs of a child, such as tutors or other services, as well as the transportation costs for visitation of a parent.

Finally, the Court generally orders that both parents keep their child medically insured if it is available at no cost or at reasonable cost to both parents.

Child Support is generally paid until the minor child reaches the age of 18, or the age of 19 if they are still a full-time high school student at age 18, unless the minor child dies or becomes emancipated prior to becoming an adult.

When Can I Seek a Modification of My California Child Support Order?

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

California Child Support order can be modified if there is:

1. A significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income;
2. A change in custody or the amount of time the child spends with each parent;
3. Any other change that would affect the child support guideline calculations.

What Does it Mean to Open a California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) Case?

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Generally, each county in California has a Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) governmental agency designed to wither establish, enforce, or modify child support support orders.

There are 2 types of cases opened by DCSS: Public assistance (i.e. Welfare) and Non-Public Assistance. If you receive public assistance, you have automatically assigned to DCSS or the State of California your right to receive some or all of you current and past-due child support. In other words, you may be receiving Public Assistance but the agency from whom you are receiving such assistance will go after the supporting parent to get reimbursement for such assistance.

For Non-Public Assistance, you can open up a DCSS case to establish a child support order (generally in situations where non-marital parents are involved) or to enforce a child support order made in a divorce or legal separation case. The benefit of opening a DCSS case to enforce a child support order is that DCSS is a part of the statewide and sister-state system of support enforcement and DCSS has powers of enforcement that include suspension of the supporting parent’s driver’s license and professional licenses, interception of state income tax refunds, etc., at no cost to you. Although DCSS deals with huge numbers of cases, the circumstances of your case may be such that opening a DCSS case is advisable once your attorney has established a child support order against the other parent.