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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

If you need to pay child support, it is imperative to stay current and understand all of your options. Aside from potentially modifying your child support order in the wake of major financial changes, it is important to have a clear understanding of other child support issues, such as your payment options.

In California, many parents who owe support have payments taken directly from their wages through an income withholding order. However, you might have to find another way to pay if you do not have a withholding order due to self-employment or you lose your job.

Different ways to pay child support

California Child Support Services provides information on your child support payment options. You can use your credit card, debit card, savings account or checking account to pay support online, over the phone or in person at a child support agency kiosk. However, you should note that credit card and debit card payments result in service fees.

You can also pay support using cash by visiting a child support agency or certain retail locations located around the state. However, if you pay at a retail location you should pay attention to processing times and convenience fees. Furthermore, you can mail a money order or check to the state.

Finding the right child support payment method

It is crucial to go over your options if you need to find a different way to pay support since this can make it easier for you to stay current. Make sure you weigh the advantages and possible drawbacks of each child support payment option and make payments on time to avoid serious penalties.

No one expects to suffer debilitating injuries from a vehicle accident or to fall into a coma that could last indefinitely.

However, if the unexpected happens, your powers of attorney (POA) for healthcare and finances will provide the assistance you need. When is the best time to draft a POA?

About POAs

A power of attorney allows the person you choose to act as your agent and make healthcare or financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. A durable POA becomes active as soon as you sign it in your capacity as the principal. The POA for healthcare enables your agent to make medical decisions for you. The POA for finances gives your agent the authority to balance your checkbook, pay your bills, file your taxes and make financial decisions on your behalf.

Creating your documents

The earlier the better is the idea to keep in mind with regard to creating your healthcare and financial POAs. First, an accident or severe illness can strike regardless of age causing incapacitation. Second, the possibility of some level of dementia becomes a consideration as the years pass. You must be mentally competent to establish and sign a power of attorney document.

The proactive approach

Owing to circumstances beyond your control, you may not know your POAs have gone into effect and that your agent has stepped up to manage your healthcare and financial decisions. But your mind will be at ease once you create these documents, and should your care ever become an issue, your family will avoid the expense and complexities of obtaining guardianship.

Even though you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have no children, your dog seems like a member of the family. If you acquired the animal during your marriage, though, you are likely to have to address its ownership when you divorce. After all, you simply cannot split the pooch into two equal parts.

Unlike in many other states, California law allows divorcing spouses to pursue custody of dogs, much like you would with a child. If you expect your husband or wife to fight a custody battle, you should prepare yourself to advocate effectively for your interests.

Judicial considerations

According to reporting from PEW, family court judges in the Golden State have the authority to consider pet care when deciding whether to award sole custody of the dog to one person or joint custody to both. Therefore, when planning to seek exclusive custody of your pup, it is important to think like a judge.

Your evidence

Before your court date arrives, you should try to collect comprehensive evidence about who cares for your dog. In addition to finding documentation about the pup’s adoption, you should think about who feeds, walks and spends time with the animal. You also may want to document the role you have played in obtaining veterinary care for your pup.

The dog’s attachment

If your dog is like many others, the animal may prefer you over your soon-to-be ex-spouse. If this is the case, it may be helpful to try to document the dog’s attachment to you. This may require affidavits from someone at doggy daycare, your veterinarian or others who are in the know.

Ultimately, by gathering as much evidence as possible about your relationship with your dog, you may increase your chances of winning sole custody of the animal.

When you and your spouse decide to split up, you may not have much insight into the process. A commonly divisive issue that comes along with it is how you and your spouse will divide finances.

The court prefers spouses to compromise, but that cannot always happen. As such, the state’s laws dictate how a judge will do things should it come down to it. Gain a basic understanding of how a judge may rule when it comes to who gets what.

What does equitable mean?

Under New York law, divorcing couples should equitably divide their property. While this sounds like it means equal, that is not the case. An equitable split is one that the court deems fair after weighing your and your spouse’s many contributions to the marriage. This may mean that one spouse gets more in a divorce than the other for many reasons.

What does the court consider a contribution?

So, what does the court look at when deciding who contributed what? While judges will want to look at income and the financial aspects of what each spouse brought, it does not end there. In an equitable split, the judge also examines situations including:

  • Who bears more responsibility for the end of the relationship?
  • Who stayed home to raise children?
  • Who has more separate property?
  • Who may need time to get income up after divorce?

It is worth noting that debt divides along the same lines as property and assets do.

If at all possible, you may want to try and work things out before a judge steps in. This keeps you and your spouse in control rather than allowing a third party to dictate your future.

No matter your age or where you are in life, getting a divorce can be tough. This can be especially true for those who are getting a gray divorce.

Although divorce is difficult, arming yourself with information can make the process easier. If you are looking to better understand what a gray divorce is and how it might impact you here are some things to think about.

Learn about gray divorce

A gray divorce is a divorce that occurs when the couple parting ways is 50 years old or older. This kind of divorce has been increasing in recent years, and it appears that older couples are changing their attitudes towards parting ways later in life.

Learn how having a gray divorce impacts the process

While divorces can have similar aspects no matter who the couple is, there are some key differences when it comes to a gray divorce. When both people in the couple are older, their goals may differ from those who are younger. Not only that, but older divorcees may have a harder time recovering financially from a divorce. These types of things can make a gray divorce slightly more difficult to navigate. Not only that but divorcing later in life can also raise the steak for those getting divorced.

A divorce can be a challenging thing to experience, especially for an older couple. The upside is, though, that by taking the time to educate yourself and make the right plans you can ensure that you are looking out for your best interests and protecting your future.

Understanding the importance of choosing a respectful and thoughtful executor is key for you and any beneficiaries in your life. After you die, you want to have a person who knows your wishes and what to do next.

Taking time to understand the weight of this choice can help you as you think seriously about who to pick.

Better handling of financial issues

According to Kiplinger, your executor should take time to review basic ideas about finances before beginning to pay any expenses or deal with bank accounts. Although this person needs to stay aware of how to spend money, they do not need to have a lot of knowledge about financial topics or formal training to do these tasks.

Asset distribution is a large part of the process, so this person must approach being an executor like a job. Picking someone who takes finances seriously is a good idea if you worry about all the tasks an executor needs to complete.

Less fighting among family

One other aspect of an executor’s personality is whether or not they will get along with family members and beneficiaries. While they may know a lot about handling money, if they are prone to fighting or tend to disagree over important matters in stressful situations, it could be a bad match.

This person is also typically significantly younger than you. Keeping your records organized and talking to your beneficiaries while you plan your will can help them understand what will happen in the future. Choosing the best executor that is willing to complete this job and fulfill your wishes can help you relax.

When you begin the estate planning process in California, you will appoint a personal representative to act as the administrator of your affairs upon your death or incapacitation.

Choosing the right person for the job is essential for making sure your end-of-life care meets your standards and your assets go to your beneficiaries according to your wishes after your passing.

Responsibilities of an estate administrator

As administrator of the estate, your personal representative takes on several duties. He or she must actively work to inventory and protect your assets, settle your debts with creditors, file your taxes, distribute your property to beneficiaries and finalize your case in probate court. Therefore, you must choose a qualified, capable and responsible individual.

Traits to look for in your personal representative

Integrity: Your representative will have access to your assets and accounts. It is important that he or she is trustworthy.

Resiliency: Settling an estate is hard work, especially for someone dealing with the emotional pain of loss. Your representative should be confident, comfortable and able to keep the probate process moving along on schedule.

Availability: Handling your affairs may take considerable time and effort, depending on the complexity of your estate. Your chosen administrator should understand and agree to the time commitment ahead of the appointment.

Your last will serves as your final commitment to your loved ones. The last thing you want is tension and conflict in your family. Therefore, you should do your due diligence and carefully consider your options when choosing your personal representative.

California’s Probate Code recognizes surviving spouses as rightful heirs of a deceased’s estate. The California Legislative Information website notes that the probate court may verify the end of a marriage by a divorce decree.

Although a legal separation could have taken place, the separation document may not generally confirm that a couple divorced. When a spouse dies before the divorce proceedings end, California’s probate court may act based on the contents of an existing will.

Who may inherit my property?

As noted by the Judicial Council of California, the executor named in your will introduces it to the probate court after you die. Your executor gathers your assets and pays your debts. The probate court may review your will and verify your assets’ titles before transferring them to your named beneficiaries.

If you and your spouse own property together, your death may result in your spouse taking ownership. As described by Bankrate.com, surviving spouses generally become sole owners of properties that name couples as “joint tenants with survivorship.”

Who may inherit my assets if I die without a will?

If a spouse dies without a will, the probate court may distribute property under California’s intestate succession laws. SmartAsset.com explains how surviving spouses may inherit all assets acquired during marriage. This type of property distribution could occur when a California couple is childless and the deceased does not have a surviving parent or sibling.

With a surviving child, parent or sibling, however, a surviving spouse must divide half of the deceased’s separate property when no will exists. Separate property includes gifts or inheritances received during a marriage. It also includes assets obtained before the wedding date.

Divorce may require careful planning when facing an illness or a life-threatening injury. To avoid property distribution under California’s intestate succession statutes, you may create or revise an estate plan to fulfill your wishes.

In the time before you officially get married, you and your soon-to-be spouse may have many questions. One of the possible topics you both may talk about is getting a prenuptial.

Learning about why people choose to craft this agreement and how it can impact them is essential for a couple who feels interested in writing one.

Handling debts

According to Psychology Today, one spouse may have a significantly higher amount of debt than the other one. In some cases, you both may agree that the obligation to pay this off if a split happens should fall to the person who originally had the debt.

Having a prenuptial crafted means that, in the event that you both decide to divorce, the debt stays with the spouse who had it first. Staying out of debt may be one way to protect yourself or your business, if you own one.

Securing assets for your children

People who have children from past marriages or relationships often look for a way to make sure they can pass on what assets they have after their death.

Whether this is property or family heirlooms, having an agreement in writing that your children will get your assets and property instead of your new spouse can help you feel secure about their future.

Clarifying for the future

Some people may wish to prevent future fights or disagreements before they begin. If you both worry about what will happen to your own savings in the event of a divorce, you may avoid many arguments or time in court.

Learning about the reasons why people seek out a prenuptial can help you both make the best choice for you.

When sibling rivalries grow wildly out of control, it can result in major problems for everyone involved. This is especially true when it comes to matters involving the assets or estate of parents, as is the case with probate.

Some sibling rivalries can even escalate to the point of litigation. But how, and why?

Sibling disputes of the past

Metrowest Daily News discusses potential sibling disputes that might arise over probate. In general, past wounds and negative ties tend to get aggravated in the wake of a parent’s death due to the emotional disturbance it brings. Add in the fact that it involves assets, and it creates a powder keg.

There are two main reasons for sibling disputes to rise to the point of litigation. The first has to do with old bad blood and the poor handling of a parent’s estate. In some cases, a parent may leave unequal or inequitable assets divided up among their children. This can stoke old resentment about perceived favoritism and cause children who got less to lash out and litigate in an attempt to even the divisions out.

How can you avoid them?

The easiest way to avoid this is by the parent making sure to divide the assets equally from the start. If that is impossible for some reason, then it is important for the parent to make a clear statement to their child about why this has happened.

The other issue is undue influence. This involves one sibling accusing another of manipulating an elderly parent, especially if they have mental health or memory problems. The accused sibling likely did this to gain a more favorable mention in the estate plan. There is not much to do in this case but go through litigation, unfortunately, which is why having legal aid may be of service.