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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

When you and your child’s other parent end your relationship and are unable to agree about custody and parenting time, you may task California’s family court system with coming up with an arrangement for you. When making decisions about child custody, family courts review the same set of factors. However, how much weight each factor holds may vary based on your child’s age, among other considerations.

Per the California State Legislature, the following are some of the areas the state considers when making decisions about parenting time and custody.

The health, safety and welfare of your child

Ultimately, the state seeks to create a custody arrangement that helps preserve the health, safety and welfare of your child. Expect the state’s family courts to consider how much each of you prioritizes these areas and put the child first when making custody decisions.

Whether there is any history of abuse

If there is any evidence or history of abuse between a parent and child, between you and your child’s other parent or between one parent and another party one of you is dating, this may impact custody decisions.

The nature of the existing parent-child relationships

How much time and attention each of you has given to raising your shared child thus far may also have a hand in custody decisions. For example, if you have been the primary caretaker for your child while the other parent has spent very little time caring for him or her, this may boost your custody chances.

When possible and appropriate, California courts often prioritize having a child spend time in the homes of both parents.

Avoiding probate is a noble goal of estate planning, but some gambits are much more trouble than they are worth. Many Americans wonder about the best way to pass down property to their heirs. Often, property is the largest asset that an American owns, and taking care of passing it down properly is a big concern.

In order to help airs avoid probate, some Americans are electing to put their adult child’s name on the deed to their home. However, according to In Charge, this is often a major mistake.

How does this work?

If you put another adult on the deed to your home, you and that other adult now own the property in joint tenancy. With joint tenancy, if one owner of the property dies before another, the property automatically passes to the surviving owner. In this way, the property avoids probate.

Why is this a bad idea?

Once you put another adult on the deed to your home, that person owns the home in the exact same capacity that you do. It makes no difference if you are the parent or if you owned the property for several more years. This means that you will not be able to sell the property or refinance without the permission of the other owner. This often causes conflict between parents and children.

Additionally, this puts your home at risk if your child is not financially solvent. For instance, if the IRS goes after your child for back taxes, the IRS may put a lien on your home if your child’s name is on it. Usually, it is a better idea to put the home in a trust if you want to avoid probate.

Going through a divorce is no easy feat. While there are many topics to negotiate, dividing property may be one of the most difficult. You can achieve property division through mediation or through traditional litigation, depending on the circumstances of your case.  

It is beneficial for divorcing couples to understand the difference between marital and separate property to make sure they secure everything they are meant to receive in the final divorce decree.  

How does community property work?

California is one of the few states in the nation that follow a community property law when it comes to dividing marital assets. Under this model, California courts divide all community property equally in half. Furthermore, all existing debt incurred during the marriage is divided equally in half as well.  

What is the difference between separate and marital property?

According to California Courts, community property includes the following: 

  • Bank account contents 
  • 401k plans, retirement accounts, stock options and term life insurance policies 
  • Intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks and copyrights 
  • Lottery ticket winnings and income tax refunds 
  • Memberships to country clubs and golf courses 
  • Travel reward miles and loyalty points 

Gifts you and your spouse exchanged during the marriage are also community property.  

Yet there are items that may stay with you after the divorce settlement. Gifts you received from a third-party before, during or after the marriage is known as separate property. In addition, inheritance, personal injury compensation and property you owed prior to the marriage. It is important to avoid mixing your separate property with community property. Doing so can change the status of the property and assets to community property, making it eligible for division in the final settlement.