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Orange County Family Law Blog

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.

California adoption processes differ

California residents who want to adopt a child may have to follow different rules depending on the type of adoption they seek. The California Department of Social Services classifies adoptions using three general categories: agency, independent and intercountry. The categorization of a given adoption impacts factors like birth parents' rights, who is responsible for care and custody during the process and consent.

Intercountry adoptions include situations wherein parents adopt children born in foreign nations who receive federal special immigration entry visas. These adoptions involve a specialized Intercountry Adoption Program and specifically licensed private agencies. They differ from agency adoptions of American children facilitated by private or public agencies or CDSS offices. In these adoptions, such organizations are responsible for taking care of the child in question, finding suitable parents from a list of potential applicants and supervising placement prior to judicial finalization of the custody transfer.

Amber Portwood's custody battle

Some Californians may have heard about TV personality Amber Portwood's child custody case revolving around her young daughter. Close on the heels of winning custody of her daughter, Portwood became embroiled in rumors surrounding the revelation that her boyfriend, fellow celebrity Matt Baier, has seven children. The revelation occurred on Portwood's 'Teen Mom" reality show, in which another cast member broke the news to reporters.

Portwood responded to online criticism in defense of Baier, although the media has reported that it is unclear whether she knew about the size of his family before the show. The reality star took to Twitter and expressed her intentions to remain with Baier regardless of his family size scandal. She was also been involved in a legal dispute with Gary Shirley, her former fiance, until an agreement was reached.

Pre-divorce preparations are important

Many California residents who plan to divorce will choose to file shortly after the new year. Some will do so without thorough planning in advance, leading to potential problems later on.

People need to make certain that they are taking care to not leave trails of information that could be used against them in their divorce cases. They should also take the time to carefully consider whether a divorce is what they really want. A person might want to speak with a financial planner who does not know either spouse so the information will be confidential. A financial planner can help people to understand how the divorce will affect them.

California parents can change custody orders

Divorced California parents who have received custody and visitation orders may find it helpful to know that these orders aren't necessarily permanent. Parents with orders that don't function as intended may renegotiate their terms, and although parents that both agree to new terms can devise their own agreements for submission to the court, such consensus isn't strictly required. One parent can also formally request a modification.

Formal hearings are necessary for all changes to existing court orders, as a judge must decide on the new terms and sign any amended order. Parents may have to attend mediation sessions or similar orientations prior to their hearing dates. Mediators may assist parents with writing agreements and help prepare workable resolutions to outstanding custody or visitation problems, but because the rules requiring orientation vary, parents are advised to consult with their court clerks about the steps they need to fulfill.

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