Law Office of Lily L. Huang
More Than A Decade Of Family Law Experience

San Jose Family Law Blog

What all can I spend my child support money on?

With the holiday season in full swing in California and across the nation, you may wonder if and to what extent you can spend the child support money you receive from your child’s other parent on gifts and other nonessentials. As Findlaw explains, while it is true that you should spend this money first and foremost on your child’s necessities such as food, clothing and shelter, once you have met those needs, you can spend it basically however you see fit, as long as your child benefits from those expenditures.

The whole purpose of child support is to attempt to allow your child to maintain the lifestyle (s)he enjoyed during your marriage and before you obtained your divorce. If you were like most families, your child likely received gifts – perhaps many of them – for Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever other holidays your family celebrated during the year. Consequently, your child deserves to receive the same type and quantity of gifts now, and neither the court nor anyone else will have any problem with you spending part of your child support money on such things.

What is a QDRO and do you need one?

California is a community property state, meaning that, during your divorce, the judge will split all assets and income equally between you and your spouse, regardless of who purchased an asset or earned the income. Like personal property, real estate, income and other assets, the judge who presides over your case will split all retirement accounts fairly between you and your spouse. Splitting retirement accounts can be a complex and drawn-out process, as each different type of retirement account has unique tax requirements. A qualified domestic relations order can help simplify the process and ensure that the judge distributes the funds in yours and your spouse's retirement accounts correctly.  

According to Bankrate, a QDRO is a legal document that helps couples fairly split individual retirement accounts with a dependent, spouse or ex-spouse, and without experiencing any tax implications. If a person were to transfer money in a retirement account without the aid of a QDRO, however, the owner of the account may incur the taxes and penalties typically associated with a transfer.

Can mediation help me after my divorce is over?

Like many Californians going through a divorce, you might have gone the litigation route, having a judge make the final say regarding property division, child custody and other matters. Or, you and your spouse may have opted for an amicable divorce instead through mediation, collaborative law or another uncontested method. Regardless of your past experiences with your divorce, you might wonder what you can do if conflicts with your ex continue after your divorce was finalized.

According to Verywell Family, many of those who share parenting time have conflict, which may come as no surprise to you. You might, however, be surprised to learn that you could benefit from mediation if parenting conflicts arise. For example, a mediator might help you negotiate resolutions to such disagreements as the following:

  • Addressing one parent being too much of a disciplinarian versus the other one spoiling the kids
  • Deciding which religion the children should be brought up in, if any
  • Coming up with a homework and extracurricular activity schedule
  • Addressing one parent trying to micromanage everything the other parent does
  • Revising visitation schedules or settling arguments over parenting time

What to know about filing taxes after divorce

Divorce brings with it inevitable change, and separating from your spouse often means new living arrangements, new child custody arrangements and a new social life, among other possible transitions. Divorcing your significant other also has important ramifications, come tax time, and recognizing how your divorce impacts your taxes can help you avoid making unnecessary or unintentional errors that can come back to bite you.

So, if you went through a divorce this year, there are certain steps to take and things to know before you file this year’s taxes. So, before you file your taxes post-divorce, there are a few pieces of information you should know.

The race to divorce in 2018

Divorce is not generally an experience that people in California try to rush through, especially when they have to come to agreements on how to separate their joint assets and liabilities. This process can take some time and requires concessions and negotiations along the way. However, an imminent change to the federal tax laws may well be changing all of this, at least for the rest of the 2018 calendar year.

A divorce settlement may well have tax implications for one or both spouses. These implications may be favorable or not. Alimony is one element of a divorce agreement that definitely carries with it some tax implications. For approximately 70 years, the person who must make spousal support payments has received a tax deduction for these funds and the person who receives the money must claim it as income on a tax return, thereby paying the taxes.

How are divorce and annulment different?

It is important for a California couple intending to end a marriage to understand the difference between a divorce and an annulment. Both are methods of putting a legal end to your marriage, but annulment is only available to you in very specific circumstances. 

According to FindLaw, an annulment invalidates a marriage completely. It not only dissolves the union but treats it as though it never happened at all in the eyes of the law. On the other hand, a divorce acknowledges that the marriage happened and was valid but has now come to an end. 

3 tips for smart social media usage amid divorce

Navigating your way through a California divorce can prove lonely and emotionally taxing, and if you are likely many people facing similar circumstances, you may rely on social media more than you once did during this time. While it makes sense that you may want to turn to your friends and reestablish old connections during a separation from your spouse to help combat feelings of loneliness, your use of social media may lead to more trouble than its worth. At the Law Office of Lily L. Huang, we understand the ways in which your use of social media can impact your divorce case, and we have helped many clients making their way through divorce make smart decisions relating to social media usage.

According to Prevention, one of the wisest steps you can take when it comes to using social media amid divorce is simply not to use it at all. While it is true that, for many people, social media has become an intrinsic part of day-to-day life, it may serve you well to simply stay away entirely until your divorce becomes final. Otherwise, anything you post, or anything others post about you, can potentially come back to haunt you. If you are unable to completely abstain from social media during your divorce, however, consider taking two additional steps.

Key considerations about executing a prenup

The use of prenuptial agreements continues to grow amongst couples looking to get married. Though you hope not to need it, a prenuptial agreement may be helpful in solidifying an amicable divorce

Along with understanding what a prenup is, it is important to know about its execution. There are a few key facts you must consider.

When might a forensic accountant help in a divorce case?

As someone navigating your way through a California divorce, you may find that some steps in the process prove far easier than others. While dividing, say, home equity and debt between you and your soon-to-be-former partner can, in some cases, prove seamless, you may find that things become more complicated when you or your spouse have considerable assets or especially complex financial portfolios. In such situations, you may find it beneficial to enlist the aid of a forensic accountant who can delve deeper into your financial affairs in an effort to help you get your fair share.

Per Forbes, a forensic accountant is someone who can help you identify whether your one-time partner is making efforts to strip you of what you deserve during divorce. For example, you may find it advantageous to hire a forensic accountant if you suspect your spouse is using his or her business to shield assets in some manner, which he or she might do by underreporting business income or creating fake business debts.

How difficult is it to modify your child custody order?

If you are a divorced California parent, there may come a time after the court originally issues your custody and visitation order when that order no longer meets your needs or those of your children. As the California Court System explains, it is not unusual for divorced parents to change their parenting agreement every three years or so as their children grow up and their activities, interests and needs change.

If you and your ex-spouse can agree on a new order, you may write it yourself and present it to the court that granted your divorce. If you cannot agree, you may wish to try mediation to help you reach agreement. If even that does not result in an agreement, however, you will need to file an application for modification in the court that granted your divorce.

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