Does How Property Is Titled Matter When You Get a Divorce?

Does How Property Is Titled Matter When You Get a Divorce?

Married couples may not always think about how their property is titled until the time comes to divorce. Then, questions inevitably arise about who owns what. This is a critical question because each person will want to ensure he or she is able to live comfortably after the proceedings have concluded.

Property division is one of the core functions of divorce proceedings. It is important to learn about how the law will affect your property, debt, and income so that you can meet your needs, and those of your children, after your divorce is final.

California is a community property state. To read more about the basics of property division in California, please see our earlier blog here.

California law has many provisions designed to protect spousal property rights. Two of the most important are (1) the presumption of community property during marriage and (2) requirements for spousal consent for certain ownership and transfer rights of property.

First, there is a presumption in California that property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is community property subject to equitable division in the event of a divorce. This is a powerful presumption. It acts to bring an asset into the marital estate even when one spouse attempts to title it in his or her name alone.

Second, California law often requires the consent of one spouse for the other spouse to own property in certain ways or to transfer certain property interests. California offers many different ways that people can own property, each with different requirements for ownership or transfer of rights. However, married couples are limited in how they may own property acquired during their marriage. For example, a husband may buy a house as his sole and separate property, but only if the wife consents for him to do so. This consent often takes the form of a quitclaim deed.

If you want to learn more about property ownership in California and how state law affects your marital assets, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can help. Call us today to make an appointment: (415) 293-8314.

Study: Working Together as Parents Can Prevent Mental Health Issues in Kids of Divorce

Study: Working Together as Parents Can Prevent Mental Health Issues in Kids of Divorce

A recent paper brings positive news for kids of parents whose marriage is on the fritz: Parents can play a meaningful role in preventing their kids from suffering from mental health issues post-divorce. Research has long shown that kids suffer mentally from a divorce, however, the new research review shows that this result may be preventable.

A pair of authors from Portugal reviewed 11 studies published over a 14-year period before drawing their conclusions. They considered only peer-reviewed empirical papers “that aimed to assess the association between coparenting and psychological development or function in children with divorced parents.”

Their findings are not surprising. The authors report that the fact of divorce is not what tends to lead to negative consequences, such as anxiety and depression. Rather, the way joint parenting is approached after a divorce “has a significant impact on children’s mental health.”

Three findings were particularly telling:

  • When children were exposed to conflict in co-parenting, they “were more likely to have issues with problems such as attention deficit.”
  • “Children’s perception of their parents’ coparenting predicted anxiety and depression” in those children.
  • Lower levels of child self-esteem were associated with “coparental hostility and conflict.”

This review suggests that parents can positively impact their children’s mental health reactions to divorce by presenting a positive coparent relationship. In the study review, a positive relationship was associated with better “academic performance and psychosocial wellbeing of children.”

If you want to minimize the effects of your divorce or separation on your kids, it is important to separate the problems in your personal relationship with the other parent from your respective roles as coparents moving forward. From this standpoint, the recent study confirms what many people likely suspected.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger have extensive experience in family law matters and can advise you about many of the consequences of divorce. Contact us today to learn how our attorneys can help you in your case: (415) 293-8314.

When Are You Considered by California Courts to Be “Separated”?

When Are You Considered by California Courts to Be “Separated”?

One of the most hotly contested issues in many divorce proceedings—the date of separation— drives when the partners to marriage can claim their respective incomes as separate property. This is a vitally important question that can substantially change each person’s financial standing well into the future.

California Family Code § 760 provides that property acquired during a marriage is considered community property that is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce unless another law provides otherwise. One major exception to this conglomeration of community property applies after the spouses are separated. This exception is located in California Family Code § 771.

Last year, the California Supreme Court considered whether a couple could be considered separate even though they were living in the same house. In the case, the couple was married in 1993 and had two kids during the 1990s. They stayed together but at some point started sleeping in separate bedrooms. There were also several other indicators of their separateness, such as the following:

  • driving separately to their children’s activities;
  • the husband washing his own laundry; and
  • the separation of their financial affairs.

Despite these indicators, the two continued to live together. The wife received her mail and telephone calls at the couple’s home, and she did not change the address on her driver’s license.

The wife argued that the two had been functioning as roommates and were separated as of 2006 despite continuing to live together. The husband argued that they did not truly separate until much later, in 2011. The trial court agreed with the wife and found the date of separation to be 2006. The court of appeals affirmed, and the husband filed an appeal.

The California Supreme Court first considered the language of the law regarding the date of separation as it related to a claim of separate property: “[t]he earnings and accumulations of a spouse . . ., while living separate and apart from the other spouse, are the separate property of the spouse.” The court determined that the plain meaning of this language seemed to require the “occupation of separate residences.”

The court also considered the legislative history of the law and later legislative developments. The court ultimately held that a couple was not considered to be living separate and apart unless two conditions were met: (1) they were living in separate residences; and (2) at least one of the partners had a “subjective intent to end the marital relationship” that was “objectively evidenced by words or conduct.”

If you need an experienced California family lawyer to discuss the particulars of your situation, contact the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We have decades of experience in family law matters, and we will put our experience to work for you. Call (415) 259-6636 to get started today.
Is There a Season for Divorce?

Is There a Season for Divorce?

If you suspect that divorce filings might be more likely at certain times of the year, you are right. A recent University of Washington analysis showed that filings spiked not once, but twice, each year, leading some in the media to proclaim that there is a “season” for divorce.

The researchers reviewed 15 years of divorce filings in nearly all counties in Washington state, then compared what they found with filings in four other U.S. states.

The results were consistent across all locations examined: filings jumped in March and August.

The researchers noted that those filing for divorce seemed to avoid three times of year:

  • Valentine’s Day;
  • summer vacations; and
  • the winter holidays.

They speculated a few potential reasons for the timing of the filings:

  • a concern that”[w]inter and summer holidays are culturally sacred times for families,” when it might be “taboo” to announce intentions to divorce;
  • the stress created by winter and summer holidays, which might lead people to “decide their differences are irreconcilable right after a big trip”; and
  • dashed expectations for family time or positive expectations during the holidays.

The authors also thought that the beginning of the school year might press unhappy spouses into action.

Interestingly, the biannual pattern held true even when the researchers controlled for “other seasonal factors such as unemployment and the housing market.”

If you need help in a California family law matter, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We will provide the compassionate, competent legal support you need. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.

Family Dispute Resolution: How It Is Used in Custody Disputes?

Family Dispute Resolution: How It Is Used in Custody Disputes?

Our children are near and dear to our hearts. When marriages break up, many of the most difficult issues pertain to a couple’s children. Most of the time, both parents want what is best for the kids. However, it can be difficult to come to an agreement about how to handle custody and visitation issues because parental judgment may differ. That’s where family dispute resolution comes into play.

In an ideal circumstance, parents have similar ideas about what is best for their kids in terms of where the kids should live, go to school, and so on. Sometimes, however, they do not. In an even worse circumstance, one or both parents does not have the child’s best interest at heart or is not healthy enough to have a proper perspective on what is best for the child.

It is in circumstances like these that family dispute resolution is used by the court system. When the parents cannot come to an agreement, the family dispute resolution program helps by conducting services such as child custody evaluations and mediations.

The goal is to help families craft their own agreement about child custody and visitation issues. Dispute resolution allows parents to play a critical part in creating their own agreement for the approval of a judge. When it is successful, dispute resolution can often help the parties avoid a hearing in front of a judge about controverted issues.

The law sets forth three goals when family dispute resolution is used for custody or visitation matters:

  • mitigating negative relationships between the parents;
  • developing an agreement that serves the child’s best interests in a way that, ideally, continues contact with both parents; and
  • resolving custody and visitation issues in the best interest of the child.

At the end of family dispute resolution, the mediator helps to draft the parties’ agreement.

If you have questions about custody or visitation issues, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.