Family Law: What Every Woman Needs To Know About Divorce
Preparing for your wedding day was a long and arduous process. You spent countless hours preparing for that special day by selecting the wedding gown, the venue, the flowers, the cake – the entire package. That day was filled with happiness and anticipation. Unfortunately, the divorce rate in California is over 70% of all marriages. So when breakup is looming on the horizon, those same women should take just as long to prepare for a divorce.
For those women who walk down the aisle, here are some facts that they should know if divorce is a possibility. As a family law attorney in California, I have seen many of my female clients left in the dark because they failed to prepare for a divorce.
Let’s begin with the basic premise: California is a no-fault community property state. A family law judge will start with the assumption that all your assets and debts acquired during marriage will be equally divided between you and your husband. The fact that your husband had an affair with his 22 year old surgically enhanced assistant will not affect property distribution.
- The family home: Make sure your name is on the title of the property. Even though the title to an asset does not generally govern its characterization (remember California is a community property state), it will help your attorney ensure that your husband does not sell or encumber it after you have separated.
- Spousal Support: Make sure you make copies of all your husband’s financial records. It’s is worrisome the number of wives, including professionals, that do not know the status of their husband’s income and finances. Make copies of his tax returns and bank accounts. When the mail comes, make copies of statements and credit card bills. Log on to the computer and see if you can have access to financial records online.
- Why play the part of an investigator before divorce? Because the court will need this information to determine amount of spousal and child support you are entitled to. In addition, having this information will be less costly for your attorney to subpoena information and engage in costly discovery
- Child Custody: Don’t let your husband intimidate you with idle threats about taking your children away if you file for a divorce. Excessive badgering or physical threats is considered domestic violence in California and could lead to a restraining order.
- The policy of California is to encourage continuing and frequent contact with children by both parents. Furthermore, if you were the primary caregiver for children it is very likely that you will continue to be the primary custodial parent with dad having reasonable visitation. Most family law judges will not disrupt or destabilize the children’s schedules and schooling.
Your state of mind. Be reasonable and level headed. Do not suffer from divorce psychosis. Remember that if you email or text awful things to your husband (even if he may deserve them and probably does), it’s likely to be an exhibit to one his court documents. If you have an attorney, use her or him to document your husband’s behavior during the divorce and bring it to the Court’s attention.
Patricia Rayos is a family law associate attorney with John H. Spurgeon and Associates, Inc. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley with her family. John H. Spurgeon is a firm of family law attorneys and Certified Public Accountants.