Category Archives: Debt

Common Ways Some Parents Try to Hide from Their Support Obligations

Common Ways Some Parents Try to Hide from Their Child Support Obligations

Child support to ensure the care and well-being of your children is a critical financial obligation. California Family Courts follow uniform guidelines established under state law to calculate a parent’s child support obligation. The court’s child support order is legally binding and avoiding or ignoring it has serious consequences.

Unfortunately, some parents try to avoid this obligation by employing various means to “hide” assets or defraud the system and their children. California Attorney Judy L Burger is a Certified Family Law Specialist who can help you if you suspect a former spouse is trying to hide from their court-appointed support obligations.

Examples of California Child Support Fraud

Providing incorrect information to the family court about your income is child support fraud. For example, a non-custodial parent may try to hide income from various sources and report a lower amount to the court in order to obtain low support payments. Also, a custodial parent may try to hide income to get more money from the other parent.

Here are some common examples of child support fraud:

  1. Underreporting Income: Reporting incorrect income amounts and sources on tax forms and other documents.
  2. Working for Untraceable Cash: Working a job that pays in cash so there is no paper trail to prove the income.
  3. Quitting a Job: Resigning from a job so you have no income to report.
  4. Opening Accounts In a Family Member’s Name: Hiding assets in accounts in someone else’s name so they do not appear in your personal asset list.
  5. Concealing Funds in Cryptocurrencies: Hiding assets in cryptocurrencies to complicate how these assets are tracked or reported.
  6. Transferring Funds to Offshore Accounts: Hiding assets in overseas accounts that are not subject to United States or California reporting obligations.
  7. Shielding Funds Through Shell Companies: Establishing complex legal entities to hide assets and avoid an accurate reporting of your income.

The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger uses sophisticated forensic accounting methods and other investigative techniques to uncover hidden assets and income sources. If you suspect your spouse is employing fraudulent means to escape their child support obligations, contact one of our offices near you to schedule a consultation.

Possible Penalties for Avoiding CA Child Support Obligations

California child support orders are legally enforceable under the law and carry stiff penalties when violated. Those found guilty of ignoring or committing fraud to avoid their support obligations may face several different enforcement actions that can include:

  • Credit bureau reporting
  • Suspension of driver’s license or passport
  • Revocation of professional and occupational licenses
  • Bank and property liens
  • Appropriation of tax refunds
  • Appropriation of lottery winnings
  • Asset seizures
  • Imprisonment (contempt of court is a criminal offense)

The Golden State offers several programs to help if you have legitimate problems meeting your child support obligations. Don’t wait until you get seriously behind in your payments; contact your local child support office immediately to inquire about your options. Attorney Judy Burger can also help you with support modification requests and other legal remedies.

A California Certified Family Law Specialist Can Help You Get What You Deserve

Attempting to hide assets to get higher child support payments from your spouse and hiding assets to prevent paying your fair share are both fraud. CA Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger fights tenaciously for the care and well-being of innocent children and hurting families. She and her team can help you get the support you deserve from offices throughout California. Ms. Burger can also help you if your circumstances have changed and cause problems meeting your child support payments.

Contact The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger in Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Oxnard, San Rafael, or Santa Barbara to schedule a consultation.

Am I Still Financially Responsible for My Ex-Spouse’s Debts

Am I Still Financially Responsible for My Ex-Spouse’s Debts?

Getting his final divorce order was one of the best days in Jason’s life. Finally, he could move on without his ex-wife and all her baggage. He was unpleasantly surprised to start receiving late notices from creditors and angry phone calls from collection companies. They were about his ex-spouse’s debts, not his. Can Jason be held responsible for these debts?

Community Property – and Debt

During divorce proceedings, a couple’s property and debts are split into two categories:

  • Community, which both spouses own;
  • Separate, which one spouse owns;
  • Mixed Community and Separate, which means the property or debt could be partially owned by the couple.

Property division is complex. It’s not always easy to determine whether something is community, separate, or mixed. In a community property state like California, community property and debts are usually split between the couple. As Jason unfortunately learned, there’s more to dividing debts than meets the eye.

The Nature of Debts

A community debt is generally one that the couple:

  • acquired together during the marriage,
  • one party acquired during the marriage.

Sometimes one spouse will sign for a loan or get a credit card while married but in his or her own name. Then the other spouse uses the debt or helps pay for it. This can complicate the matter further because the debt may now become part of the marital estate.

Couples may simply split their debts in their settlement agreement. In Jason’s case, he took one credit card while his ex took the other. However, when she stopped paying on the card, Jason found he might still be responsible for his ex-spouse’s debt. That’s because the divorce decree generally does not affect the agreement that caused the debt. So, if both parties sign for a loan that one party gets in the divorce settlement, the other party’s name is still on the loan as far as the lender is concerned. Basically, they just want to get paid. That’s understandable but frustrating for the party left paying for an ex-spouse’s debts. 

Talk to a California Divorce Attorney About Your Ex-Spouse’s Debts

Make sure you know where you stand financially when the ink dries on your divorce order. Suddenly learning that you have to pay your ex-spouse’s debts when you are just starting your new life is not ideal, to say the least.

Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin, San Jose, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Do These 5 Things Immediately After Divorce

Do These 5 Things Immediately After Divorce

Divorce seems to come in several stages:  First, you try to decide whether to end your marriage or not. That’s sometimes a huge decision. Then you contact an attorney and start the paperwork. After negotiating a settlement, and a parenting plan if you have children, you get your final divorce order. Instead of breathing a sigh of relief, and planning your next party, take some time to do these things immediately after your divorce is final.

#1.  Make Sure You Understand the Terms of Your Settlement or Decree.

Even if you actively participated in the entire divorce process, give your divorce settlement a final, thorough review. Take note of anything you are required to do or not do. It’s also important to know your ex-spouse’s obligations, particularly those related to your children. Contact your California divorce attorney if you have any questions.

#2.  Change Beneficiaries on Financial Accounts.

Naming beneficiaries for your financial, insurance and investment accounts is always a best practice. But it’s easy to forget that your beneficiary designations probably include your ex and maybe even some of your former in-laws.

Contact each institution to learn how to change your beneficiary designations. It’s usually a relatively easy step that people often overlook.

#3.  Change All Usernames and Passwords.

Most people have several online accounts that require usernames and passwords. If you have not already done so, change all your logins immediately after your divorce. Make sure that you don’t use passwords that your ex-spouse could easily guess.

#4.  Let Your Employer Know About Your New Status.

It’s important that you tell your boss that your marital status has changed. However, you do not have to tell your employer every detail of your divorce. Only share what is necessary and what you feel comfortable revealing.

#5.  Change Your Estate Planning.

Estate plans typically include a Will, a durable power of attorney for finances, and an advance health care directive. Other common documents are the living will and the revocable living trust.

These documents reflect your last wishes and how you want your financial and medical decisions to be handled if you become incapacitated. Not many people would want their ex-spouse to be in charge of their bank accounts or deciding when to pull the plug.

It’s usually best to contact your estate planning attorney during your divorce. Immediately after your divorce, though, make sure you change these important documents.

Help with Your Divorce Is Available

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are well-versed in divorce and the dissolution of registered domestic partnerships. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Southern California Coast.

Full Financial Disclosure - California Divorce Laws Require It

Full Financial Disclosure – California Divorce Laws Require It

Emma wanted to divorce her husband, Chaz, for many reasons. He was unfaithful, emotionally abusive, and just an all-around jerk. But Emma was particularly happy as she filed her divorce petition because she would finally know Chaz’s complete financial picture. For many years, Emma had been held hostage when it came to money because of Chaz’s secretive ways. Now, both she and Chaz each would have to file a full financial disclosure under California law. But if he hid his money, would Emma and her divorce lawyer have any options?

What does “full financial disclosure” really mean?

During a divorce, the couple’s marital assets and debts are divided. But you cannot come up with a realistic property division unless you know what property and debts are involved.

“Full financial disclosure” means just what it says. Both parties to the marriage have to provide a complete picture of what they own and what they owe. Since California is a community property state, most income, assets, and debts acquired during a marriage belong to both parties – but there are exceptions. In fact, property division is complicated and should not be attempted without help from an experienced divorce attorney.

What does the disclosure of financial information work?

First, you serve your preliminary declaration of disclosure on your spouse. You do not have to file your financial disclosures with your divorce petition. However, you must serve them no later than 60 days afterward. The disclosures are not filed with the court, but you will file a Declaration of Disclosure and some other documents with the court that prove you took this step.

Your spouse will serve his or her preliminary disclosures on you.

As your divorce case proceeds, you might need to file a final disclosure.

The information submitted in your disclosures will be used for several reasons, including calculating property division. Child support and spousal support might also be affected.

How will I find money and assets omitted from my spouse’s financial disclosures?

If you and your lawyer feel information is missing, you might have to hire a forensic accountant to investigate. Also, watch for any documents, social media posts, or other signs that your spouse has hidden assets from you.

Are there any consequences for withholding information?

Absolutely! The judge can set aside your property settlement or even cancel it. If your divorce has already ended before you learn of the withheld information, the judge might reopen your case to review the new information.

People who lie on their disclosures may be unpleasantly surprised when the judge orders them to hand over the withheld assets. Finally, the withholder of information might be forced to pay the innocent spouse’s attorney’s fees.

Both Parties Need to Make Full Financial Disclosure in a Divorce

Talk to an experienced California divorce attorney today. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Please call us at 415-293-8314 to discuss your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients along California’s Northern to Southern Coast, including San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.
What Is “Property” in a Divorce?

What Is “Property” in a Divorce?

We all own ‘stuff.’ Sometimes we get quite attached to that stuff, which makes it that much more difficult to divide it up during a divorce. Both parties may want an item and have trouble deciding whether it is considered property in a divorce. Basically, property is anything that can be bought or sold or has a value. However, the question may become more complex during the property division stage of a divorce.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Generally, courts consider most property (and debts) accumulated during a marriage to belong to both parties. However, this is not as cut and dried as it may seem. For example, an inheritance one spouse receives during the marriage may remain the separate property of that party. Sometimes separate property may become mixed with community property during the course of the marriage. Hard decisions have to be made, then approved by the court.

But Is it Really “Property”

Generally, we think of personal property and real property. Some possessions may not be thought of as property, though, especially when it comes to splitting them between spouses. That said, you might expect the following items to be personal property:
  • Furniture,
  • décor,
  • collections, like wine or art,
  • appliances,
  • clothes,
  • jewelry,
  • books, and
  • other personal effects.
However, personal property also may include:
  • bank accounts,
  • retirement accounts,
  • investment accounts,
  • vehicles, including boats, cars, and airplanes.
Real estate, or real property, may include:
  • Your home,
  • Commercial property, and
  • investment property.
We sometimes don’t think of our belongings as “property” in a divorce, property that needs to be split. For example, Margie never considered her husband’s tool collection as property  — until she filed for divorce. And Liam never thought his wife’s art collection was a big deal, but then it became property to be appraised during their property division negotiations. Whether you consider items to be property or not, be aware that they may figure into your divorce settlement.

Final Thoughts on Property in a Divorce

Determining whether a possession is community property or separate property makes a difference in property division. It’s also important to know the value of your property before dividing it up. You need an attorney who understands simple to complex property situations. To discuss how to handle property and divorce issues, please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.
Financial Tips for Men Going Through a Divorce

Financial Tips for Men Going Through a Divorce

In a previous blog, we talked about finances for women going through a divorce. Now, it’s the men’s turn. The divorce experience is as different for men and women as, well, men and women. Nowhere is that more apparent than in family finances. Even though men tend to fare better financially than women post-divorce, it is still important to consider some financial tips for men who are going through a divorce.

Learn Everything You Can About Your Finances

It may be difficult to negotiate a reasonable divorce settlement if you don’t know what’s involved. What bank accounts do you and your spouse have? How much debt do you have? Did you or your wife take the leading role in financial decisions. Make sure you know where you stand.

Make an Inventory of All Property

At this point, don’t worry about whether it is community property or separate property. Account for cash, bank accounts, real estate, personal property, and other assets. Prepare a list that is as complete as possible. Then put it in a safe place.

Explore Spousal Support Options

Some men resist paying spousal support. The reasons vary. Sometimes the husband took a greater role in financially supporting the family while the wife focused on home and children. Others may be worried they won’t have enough money to live on.

Some men resist receiving spousal support. In divorce cases where the wife makes more money than the husband, or where the husband takes an increased child custody role, the wife may pay spousal support to the husband.

Prepare for Child Support

Whether you will pay and how much depends on a number of factors. The judge hearing your divorce case will enter an order for one or both parents to provide a certain amount to cover a child’s living expenses.

Make sure you provide complete and accurate financial disclosures. The court will consider both parents’ net disposable income when deciding on child support.

Hold Off on Impulse Buying

Depression or even a sense of freedom sends some men over the financial deep end. This may not be the best time to buy a boat, go to Vegas, or move cross country. If possible, wait until after the divorce is final before making any big decisions.

Divorce is Hard

An experienced California divorce attorney can help you achieve the best outcome possible. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.
Financial Tips for Women Going Through a Divorce

Financial Tips for Women Going Through a Divorce

Marcia’s career skyrocketed during her seven year marriage. In fact, she had become the couple’s primary source of income and handled all financial matters. Brittany had decided to provide 24/7 care for the two children she and her husband had during their five year marriage. And Sandra worried that her divorce from Rick after 22 years of marriage would leave her destitute. She had never worked outside the home and trusted her husband to make financial decisions. Though their lives are very different, each of these women would benefit from learning some financial tips for women going through a divorce.

Assess Your Combined Financial Situation

As soon as possible, start looking over your financial accounts and property owned. You can do this before you file the divorce petition or if you even suspect your spouse is considering divorce.

  • Gather all documents related to your finances. Review them carefully. Look for any hidden expenses or evidence of hidden assets.
  • Know what you and/or your spouse own. Prepare a list of assets and store in a safe location. List everything, even property you think might be your spouse’s separate property.
  • Prepare post-divorce budget. This step will help you make informed decisions about your divorce settlement and prepare for your new life.

For women who did not participate in their family’s financial decisions, this step may be difficult. They must learn how to handle finances on their own sooner rather than later.

Build Your Own Credit History

Most women find their credit is intertwined with their husband’s. Some may find it difficult to get a credit card or sign a lease within their husband’s backing. You can take the following steps as you prepare to be single again:

  • Get a copy of your credit report.
  • Open at least one bank account in just your name.
  • Start opening credit cards and applying for credit.

Building your credit history takes time. It may be particularly tough for spouses who have given up a career to care for children.

Think Carefully About Child Support, Spousal Support, and Retirement

In addition to their own concerns, some women may have to worry about providing for their children, supporting themselves after years of being out of the workforce, or having a short window of time to rebuild retirement accounts.

  • Women with children need to focus on child support during negotiations. A consent order may provide temporary child support during the pendency of the divorce.
  • Some women just don’t have the training, experience, and education to find work that provides a sustaining wage. Vocational experts may be needed to assess their earnings potential. Spousal support can help, especially in long-term marriages.
  • Finally, women involved in a gray divorce may have expected to live on hubby’s retirement accounts. Or they built a nest egg that they now have to split with their spouse. Even if they have worked, refilling retirement accounts takes time they may not have.

Get the Advice You Need

Your divorce attorney can help you get through the financial maze. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Our new Beverly Hills office will be open soon.

Hitting the Books: Handling Finances When Students Divorce

Hitting the Books: Handling Finances When Students Divorce

Jordan and Hailey met and married while both were freshmen at Sacramento State. Unfortunately, the marriage ended after two years. Both were still in college. As their divorce progressed, they ran into some issues regarding their student loans. They learned that debt is handled differently when students divorce or when student loans are involved in a divorce.

Splitting Debt in a Divorce

Typically, most debt incurred during a marriage is community debt that is split between the spouses. There are exceptions, and other factors to consider, but this is the general rule of thumb.

For example, Jordan uses the couple’s credit card more than Hailey does. When they divorce, however, it is possible that Hailey will be forced to pay half of Jordan’s credit card debt.

But that’s credit card debt. What about debt related to education?

Student Loans in a Divorce

Debt incurred for education or training is handled differently that other debt. Student debt acquired before or during a marriage is the separate debt of the spouse that incurred it.

Our star-crossed couple, Jordan and Hailey, both took out student loans. Some of the loans were taken out before the marriage and some during the marriage. Jordan most likely will pay his loans only. The same is true for Hailey.

Even so, there may be exceptions to the ‘student-debt-is-separate-debt’ issue when it affects the community estate.

Community Reimbursement

According to California law, community contributions for one spouse’s education or training may be reimbursed if the training enhanced his or her earning capacity. The same may hold true for repayment of loans for education or training.

However, reimbursement may be limited or eliminated if:

  • The community benefited from the party’s education, training, or student loan.
  • Both parties received community contributions for education, training, or student loans.
  • Education paid for with community funds reduces that party’s need for support.

The parties may agree to different settlement amount.

Learn More About Student Loans and Divorce

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities. Also, we are opening a Beverly Hills office soon.
Paying Bills After Filing the Divorce Petition

Paying Bills After Filing the Divorce Petition

Bill and Marcie decided to end their stormy 13-year marriage. After Bill filed the divorce petition, he and Marcie started negotiating the final divorce settlement. One of the first things they did was to divide their bills and household expenses. Bill became concerned when he started receiving late notices from utility companies and the mortgage company. Marcie was living in the house, so he felt she should be paying all the household-related bills. But Marcie felt like Bill had always paid the bills and, as primary breadwinner, should continue doing so. They took the issue to their respective attorneys.

Joint Debts, Separate Debts

As couples head toward a negotiated divorce settlement, decisions are made about marital property. Debt is also divided along community debt and separate debt lines. Those lines can be a bit vague until the settlement is final, but the bills still keep rolling in.

If possible, both spouses could cover the bills by:

  • Splitting the bills with each party paying approximately the same amount;
  • Total the bills and have each spouse pay half;
  • Temporarily separate the bills related to the home, if any, based on who is living at the home.

Each party should retain receipts of any bills they pay.

Spouse often keep joint credit cards. Typically, the balance due at date of separation may be considered to be marital debt owed by both parties. Sometimes people cancel joint credit card accounts so that one spouse does not run up a bill while the divorce is pending. However, if one spouse does use the card inappropriately, the other can ask for reimbursement.

Decisions about community debt and separate debt may be made on a case-by-case basis. For example, if Bill uses the joint credit card to pay expenses for the home that Marcie is still living in, it may be considered joint debt instead of Bill’s separate debt.

Sometimes one spouse is unable or unwilling to pay their fair share of the bills. In that case, the other spouse may pay the bills and request reimbursement. This may include situations where one spouse is living in the marital home while the other spouse pays the house-related expenses.

When Homes Are Involved

Mortgage companies, financial institutions, and landlords still expect to get paid. That’s reasonable. A party that is unable to pay a fair share of the expenses may ask the court to order the other spouse to temporarily pay them. For example, Marcie may ask a judge to order Bill to continue paying expenses although he is no longer in the home.

In situations where the couple leased or rented a home, things can become more complicated. Did both spouses sign the lease or only one? Did one spouse sign the lease, but now the other spouse is living in the leased property? The party or parties that signed the lease are still responsible for paying the lease. It’s best to discuss these situations with your attorney.

If Your Divorce Is Pending …

Protect yourself. Gather your bills and address their payment before late notices pile up.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Marin County, Oakland, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), Roseville, and surrounding communities.