Category Archives: Property Division

Taking Care of Your Financial Future During Divorce

Taking Care of Your Financial Future During Divorce

Some people may find it difficult to imagine a future without their spouse. But if you are getting a divorce, your future is at stake. While you start considering where you will live and which friends will take your side, take a long hard look at your financial future. Will you flourish financially after the divorce is final? That depends on the steps you take before and during your divorce.

Protecting Your Financial Future Before the Divorce

If you are planning to initiate the divorce, you have a little more time to get ready. If you suspect your spouse is planning to make a move, you can avoid being blindsided. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Organize your financial matters. Know what you and your spouse have and where it is located.
  • Gather your records. Get copies of all financial records and try to store them away from home. If your spouse was the person in charge of finances, you might have to quietly search for tax returns, bank statements, and investment account statements. Don’t forget Social Security and retirement accounts.
  • Avoid adding any community debt. Buying a house or any other high ticket items might hurt your financial future if you think you will be leaving soon.
  • Consider applying for a credit card in your name only. It might be difficult to get new credit right after your divorce. However, that’s when you might need it the most.
  • Start a bank account in your own name. You can start depositing money to build up an emergency account.

As you start building your financial future, consider getting a P.O. box to protect your privacy.

We have to mention this: you cannot hide finances from your spouse during your divorce. However, your spouse is not allowed to do that either.

Watch for Financial Disclosures and Shenanigans During Your Divorce

California law requires that both parties to the divorce file full financial disclosures during a divorce proceeding. This information helps the court with property division, spousal support, and child support.

  • Carefully review your spouse’s financial disclosures. Is your spouse honestly declaring income, assets, and debts? Compare your spouse’s claims with your records to look for discrepancies.
  • Is your spouse hiding income or assets? For example, you may see signs that your ex-spouse spending above their income. Unfortunately, hiding income is common. Quietly reviewing your spouse’s social media can help.

Also, this is still a time to keep an eye on your own finances.

  • Watch your spending. Making a budget based on your current finances could help preserve your financial future.
  • Check your credit report. Take action immediately if you see unusual changes. You could be the victim of identity theft, or your spouse could be doing things that will harm your financial future.

It may seem easier to give in to your spouse’s demands instead of sticking up for yourself. But taking just a few precautions with the assistance of your divorce lawyer can help you have a better financial future.

Protecting Your Financial Future Is Possible.

After the divorce is final, make sure you remove your ex-spouse’s name from your financial accounts. Take time to review your current financial situation and make necessary adjustments to your budget.

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, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

Smith-Ostler Orders How to Handle an Ex-Spouse’s Bonus Pay

Smith-Ostler Orders: How to Handle an Ex-Spouse’s Bonus Pay

Spousal support and child support are often two of the most contentious issues in a divorce. The person paying support feels the payment is too high. The person receiving support sometimes feels the payment is unfairly low. Calculating support can be challenging. The process becomes more complicated when the payer’s annual income fluctuates for any reason, including bonuses and overtime. In such situations, the judge may sign Smith-Ostler Orders.

California Spousal Support and Child Support

Generally, courts award spousal support to:

“limit any unfair economic impact to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse in a divorce by providing that spouse with an ongoing income.”

Courts consider a number of factors when calculating spousal support, including age, length of the marriage, earning ability, and annual income.

Child support is handled differently. Under California law, both parents are financially responsible for their children. Courts may order one parent to make monthly support payments to the other as a form of being financially responsible. When calculating child support, courts typically consider the amount of time parents spend with their children as well as each parent’s income.

It’s the reliance on annual income that sometimes causes problems. It’s challenging to calculate support when parents earn money from overtime or bonuses that vary from year to year.

Smith vs. Ostler

Victoria Smith and Clyde W. Ostler, Jr., married at age 17. They had four children before divorcing after 21 years of marriage.

At the time of the divorce, Clyde had a high-paying job with a financial institution that included a car allowance, dividends, and an annual bonus. Victoria had worked to put Clyde through college, then became a stay-at-home mom.

As they worked out their marital settlement, Clyde’s income became a point of contention. He wanted the Court to consider only his base salary. Victoria felt his bonus had been an integral part of the family’s annual income.

The family court ordered Clyde to pay spousal support to Victoria and child support for his two minor children. Clyde was also ordered to pay a percentage of his future bonuses to Vicki for herself and child support.

Clyde appealed the bonus part of his support order, but the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s order.

This divorce lends its name to Smith-Ostler Orders currently issued regarding an ex-spouse’s future bonus payments.

Smith-Ostler Orders Are Just One Factor Affecting Your Support.

Courts consider many actors before awarding spousal support and child support.

And support negotiations can get messy.

We strongly recommend that you talk to an experienced California divorce attorney about your divorce. 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, Beverly Hills, Gold River, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

How to Handle business assets in a divorce

How to Handle Business Assets in a Divorce

Company ownership varies, which can make handling business assets in a divorce that much more difficult. A couple may start a business, then later divorce. Some companies might have been passed down through the family for generations, giving their owners a deep sense of family pride that may not be felt by their spouse. Other people may own part of a business, perhaps as a partner or a stockholder. Dealing with assets from any type of business can be challenging for a divorcing couple. Continue reading

when is separate property no longer separate

When Is Separate Property No Longer Separate?

As their divorce proceeded, Frank and Elizabeth had much to talk about – or rather, negotiate. During their 12-year marriage, they had accumulated property and debts together. However, each had also brought separate property in their marriage. A lot had changed in the past 12 years. Property discussions heated up as disagreements over how to classify their property erupted. Frank, Elizabeth, and their respective lawyers had to figure out when separate property is no longer separate before they could finalize their divorce. Continue reading

How to Value a Professional Practice

How to Value a Professional Practice

Over the years, Jack and Alicia both contributed to the success of Jack’s CPA firm. When they decided to divorce, the CPA practice became a point of contention in an already contentious situation. Just how much of the firm was Alicia entitled to receive in the divorce settlement? To figure this out, Jack, Alicia, and their attorneys needed to know how to value a professional practice.
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What You Need to Know About Financial Disclosures and Divorce

What You Need to Know About Financial Disclosures and Divorce

Most divorces consist of several moving parts. Couples may have to deal with property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. It’s the ‘money’ part of divorce that trips some people up. How much money does one spouse have to give the other for child support? Will one spouse have to pay spousal support to the other and, if so, how much? There’s one document produced during the divorce process that helps couples and their divorce lawyers work out those details: financial disclosures.
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Dividing Debts During Divorce Not as Easy as You Might Think

Dividing Debts During Divorce: Not as Easy as You Might Think

It’s easy to say that California is a community property state. However, the actual process of assigning property and debt is complicated, especially since people are more likely to think about dividing assets than dividing debts during a divorce. As an unhappy couple and their divorce lawyers sift through paperwork, they have to get the big picture of what the couple owes and who will pay.
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My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on Anything How to Negotiate Divorce Issues

My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on Anything: How to Negotiate Divorce Issues

Constant bickering and disagreements can lead a couple to turn to divorce. However, after filing the petition, the unhappy couple now have to resolve a lot of serious issues they couldn’t settle while they were married! If you and your spouse can’t agree on anything, be prepared. You still have to negotiate  divorce issues to reach a settlement. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
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