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Orange County Family Law Blog

Think child support ends at 18? In California, maybe not.

In California, there are several misconceptions out there regarding the state’s child support laws — especially when it comes to how long child support needs to be paid.

For instance, some believe child support automatically ends when the child turns 18, while others think the obligation continues until he or she graduates college. Well, for many families, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Is custody automatically given to mothers during divorce?

While some may argue that courts in the past favored mothers over fathers when it came to child custody disputes, that is simply not the case today. In fact, California law clearly states that a mother and a father "are equally entitled to custody" of their child.

However, there is one caveat to this rule: the father must be presumed to be the child's father under California law. A father will satisfy this presumption so long as he was married to the child's mother and the child was born during their marriage, or within 300 days of their divorce.

Five reasons to mediate your divorce

Just because you are going through a divorce doesn't mean the process is going to be a drawn-out battle with both sides at each other's throats. In fact, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are willing to use divorce mediation instead of traditional divorce proceedings, you can often resolve your divorce-related issues more quickly and easily.

Essentially, mediation gives you, and your spouse, an opportunity to explain your side of the story and come up with ideas on how the two of you can reach a resolution. While there are several advantages to mediating your divorce, some of the more important ones include:

How long does alimony last in California?

If you are going through a divorce, you may have many questions about alimony, regardless of whether you think you may be ordered to pay it or are entitled to receive it. For instance, one of the most common questions people have is how long courts typically order ex-spouses to pay alimony, which is officially known as spousal support in California. The short answer: it all depends on your circumstances.

For instance, if your divorce is still pending, a California court may award temporary, or pendent lite, alimony, but this type of spousal support generally stops once the divorce proceedings conclude.

Hilary Duff and husband finalize divorce

A California judge finalized the divorce of Hilary Duff and her husband Mike Comrie in late January 2015. The couple was married in August 2010 and were separated in January 2014, and it was reported that they would share custody of their three-year-old child. The couple did have a prenuptial agreement in place, and Comrie is giving Duff the family home in exchange for $2.4 million.

Duff was best known for her roles in "Lizzie McGuire" and "Younger". She is also known for her star turns in various movies. Mike Comrie played in the National Hockey League until 2011, and he was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins when he retired.

How parents can help children through divorce

Parents in California who are ending their marriage may worry about the effect that the breakup will have on their children. It is important that parents reassure their children that the divorce is not their fault. Children also need to hear that they are loved unconditionally.

Parents must avoid using their children to manage their relationship with one another. For example, they should not try to get their child to talk about what the other parent does when the child is at that parent's house. A child should also not be used as a go-between to deliver messages from one parent to the other. Furthermore, a parent should never badmouth the other one in front of the child.

Prenuptial agreements can help couples in many ways

Whether an individual is getting married in California or any other state, a prenuptial agreement may be beneficial. A prenuptial agreement is in most cases a financial agreement that determines how property will be divided in the event of a divorce. Most states recognize such agreements as long as they are executed properly, which means that they are created with enough time for all parties to thoroughly review them. They allow a couple to decide how to divide their assets or whether or not either party should be given alimony.

Such agreements tend to be more popular in recent years among younger people who may have significant student loan indebtedness. Instead of being tied to a partner's student loan debt, the couple can agree to be responsible for their own debt in the result of a divorce. Writers and others who may not have a lot of money at the time they get married may not want to lose what they earned during the marriage.

Steps to protect financial interests in a divorce

Many Californians who want to divorce start the process during the beginning of the year. Some wait to get through the holidays and then rush to file without taking some basic steps to protect themselves.

Before filing for divorce, people may first want to meet with financial professionals to learn about the financial implications of their divorce. People will also want to carefully list all assets, accounts and debts both they and their spouse have. This may help them to make sure that they do not miss listing something later on that should have otherwise been divided.

Qualifying for divorced spouse Social Security benefits

Under certain circumstances, the Social Security Administration awards spousal benefits upon retirement even after a divorce. A person considering a divorce in California might wish to be informed about the standards that must be met in order to collect a Social Security spousal benefit.

For a person to qualify, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. Any amount of time less than that will exclude a man or woman from making a claim upon an ex-spouse's Social Security earnings record. This issue could be especially important in marriages in which one spouse made significantly less than the other. For example, a stay-at-home mother who earned no income for several years might only have a small benefit within the Social Security system. If her marriage ends after the crucial 10-year mark, then her retirement benefit could be based on her spouse's lifetime of earnings. The difference could be significant.

Tips to make co-parenting easier

When a California couple with children decide to divorce, they are generally responsible for continuing to raise the child after it is finalized. While some parents are not able to co-parent together, there are strategies that may make doing so easier. One idea may be to interact with the other parent like an individual would with the child's teacher. Interactions can be limited to meeting the needs of the child while leaving personal matters aside.

It is normal for problems to arise at any time in a relationship. However, instead of complaining to or blaming the other parent, it is better to focus on coming up with a solution to a problem. It is important for parents to never give up and to remember that the goal is to think of the best interests of the child no matter how difficult it may seem.

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