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

San Jose Family Law Blog

Understand the mediation process

When California couples realize divorce is in their future, they may want to keep the process amicable, especially if they have children. A previous blog discussed the reasons why mediation may or may not be good for a couple. This blog will explain the mediation process so people can determine if this is a good option for them.

When couples work with a mediator, they typically attend several mediation sessions. FindLaw says that the mediation process may take anywhere from one to six months to complete, depending on how complex a family's situation is. This process generally starts with a meeting to decide what the sessions will cover. The mediator typically helps the couple understand what kind of information they need to consider and which aspects of a divorce they should discuss first. In later sessions, a couple usually discusses all of the issues they brought up in the first meeting and the mediator helps them figure out solutions. 

Parental alienation syndrome causes kids lasting emotional damage

You advise your children to not hang around a person you feel is a bad or harmful influence. At the Law Office of Lily L. Huang, we know that there is a difference between shielding your children from negative influences and deliberately alienating them from a parent who deserves their love and attention. You and other California residents should understand the harmful effects of parental alienation.

According to Psychology Today, parental alienation syndrome is the definition of one parent trying to turn the children against the other parent. If your ex is trying to alienate your children from you, he or she might use the following tactics:

  • Making false accusations about your character and parenting methods and trying to get others to side against you
  • Constantly bad-mouthing you to your children
  • Blaming you for anything that goes wrong
  • Thwarting the parenting time you have with your kids

Why shouldn’t I post about my divorce on social media?

Your favorite social media platform, such as Facebook or Twitter, can let you keep in touch with family and friends you don’t see often and allow you to voice your opinion on subjects that are important to you. Like other California residents, you probably post about your significant life events on social media. However, if your marriage is ending, you might want to refrain from changing your relationship status and making a post about the impending divorce right away.

As we have discussed in other posts, your social media activity could be used as evidence against you in a property division dispute or child custody battle. However, as Prevention explains, there are other reasons you may want to keep the details of your divorce private for a while longer. These may include the following:

  • You may later regret people who are not your closest relatives and friends seeing your dirty laundry aired on Facebook.
  • Posting about your divorce could result in some people in your friends list taking sides and complicating matters further.
  • Your boss or a potential employer could see the details about your divorce and think you are sharing too much private information.
  • It may delay your healing to talk about your divorce too much on social media.

How to determine pet custody in divorce

There is one subject that has grown in popularity in divorce courts around the country. California, in particular, has seen more couples trying to decide who gets custody of any pets spouses share. 

In a marriage, a couple may have adopted a dog or cat together. Now that they will separate, they each want to keep the pet. It may not be practical to split custody of the pet. This will undoubtedly be stressful for the animal to constantly switch environments. Here is what you need to know about pet custody in divorce

Why divorce is riskier for second and third marriages

If at first you do not succeed, try, try again. The same theory may hold true with marriage. You may have failed at your first attempt at marriage, but a second or third marriage may bring about more successful results. Right? The numbers show quite the opposite. Although more than 50 percent of all first-time marriages end in divorce in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 67 percent of second marriages and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce as well. What causes this increase in divorce rate as the number of marriages increases?

During your first marriage, you may not have seen the signs that the relationship was failing. You may have been more willing to work on the relationship rather than simply jump ship. During the second marriage, however, you may be able to spot the signs of a failed relationship sooner, and rather than work on the problem, you may wish to simply leave the marriage.

Divorced? Navigating the holidays with kids

The holidays can be stressful for anyone, but California residents who split time with their children may have an especially difficult time. There is often contention between both parents, which can affect the children. Single parents can also feel alone and sad when it is not their turn to have the kids for the holiday.

Recent information by U.S. News & World Report gives some advice on how divorced parents can co-parent and create happy memories with their children during any holiday:

  • Know ahead of time whose home the children will be visiting during the holiday, and prepare the children in advance.
  • If this is the first holiday after the divorce, talk to the children about how the holidays will be different, and explain that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • Be creative, open-minded and optimistic when planning new traditions and activities for the holidays, including having festivities with the children on a different day.
  • Don’t be lonely on a non-visitation holiday – spend time with family and friends, volunteer for a good cause or find some ways to enjoy the downtime alone.
  • Remember the children’s feelings during the holiday and try to set aside differences with the ex for the kids’ benefit.
  • Be patient – new schedules and traditions will take time to get used to.

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.

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