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Westlake Village Legal Blog

Signs of parental alienation

When some California parents do not get along with the other parent, they may attempt to have the child spurn that parent. Known as parental alienation, this process occurs when a child turns away from one parent or attempts to completely end a relationship with them.

There are several warning signs that may indicate that parental alienation is occurring. For example, these signs may include exclusionary requests made by the children. In these cases, a child may ask a parent not to attend a game school function. In some cases, a parent may be challenged by the child or the child may become combative when interacting with a parent. The child may indicate that the parent cannot do anything right. These sentiments may be echoed by the other parent. Finally, the child may take responsibility for alienating his or her parent, especially if he or she is confronted.

Avoid early IRA withdrawal fees in divorce

Retirement savings accounts have strict penalties built into them to prevent early withdrawals. Withdrawing money early could result in a lower standard of living during a person's retirement years. Since retirement accounts such as 401(k), IRA and pension plans may be considered community property in California, it's important for them to be divided properly in order to avoid such fees and tax penalties.

Pensions and 401(k) plans may be divided without the risk of penalties via a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, issued by the divorce court. Although an employee would normally be subjected to a 10 percent tax penalty if they make a withdrawal prior to retirement age, that penalty does not apply as long as their attorney ensures a QDRO is included in the divorce documents.

Divorce considerations for retirement

In California and around the country, an increasing number of people who are at or over the age of 50 are choosing to divorce. When people are thinking about getting divorced when they are near to retirement or after they retire, there are some important things that they should consider before they make the decision.

Getting divorced when people are retired and are no longer working can be financially devastating. Divorces can be expensive. If there are extensive issues that are litigated, the legal costs may increase and the process may be long and drawn out. Even if people are able to negotiate agreements through mediation, they should be aware that they will have to divide all of their assets, including their retirement accounts, real estate holdings, bank account balances and stock options. This may leave both parties facing their retirement years with substantially reduced standards of living.

Senior debtors experience stress relief with bankruptcy filings

The recession of 2008 imposed financial difficulties on people in California, especially among those who are 65 years old and older. Approximately 8 percent of debtors seeking bankruptcy relief fall within that demographic. Medical debt represents the top reason seniors fall behind on their bills, and once collection agencies start to contact them, their stress rises significantly.

One attorney serving older debtors said that bankruptcy filings free them from the emotional difficulty of ongoing harassment for bills that they cannot pay. The aggressive and even unscrupulous tactics of debt collectors tend to distress older people the most. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that people over the age of 62 lodged the most complaints about debt collection agencies.

Decrease the impact of a divorce on a child

During a divorce, the care of a child should be a high priority. The dynamic change that comes with a divorce can be overwhelming if the parents do not pursue measures to create stability for the child.

Though it requires work, it is important to create a normal, loving environment for the child, who is involuntarily involved in the process. There are a few things to keep in mind that can help decrease the overall impact of a divorce on a child.

Saving for retirement after filing for Chapter 13

When people living in California find themselves overwhelmed by debt, they may decide to file for bankruptcy. If they opt for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they will be in a court-supervised debt payment plan for the next three to five years. During this time, much of the debtor's income gets earmarked for creditor repayment.

One challenge that sometimes arises during the repayment plan is retirement savings. Courts typically recognize that debtors will want to continue their retirement savings plans while in Chapter 13. Reasonable deposits into retirement accounts are incorporated into the debtor's budget.

When the best option might be divorce

If couples can think about divorce as a change in their relationship rather than a failure, they might be able to better navigate the divorce process. For people in California who are considering a divorce, there may be a few circumstances in which it is the best choice. Sometimes, particularly if it is possible to end the relationship amicably, it could be better for the children as well.

For example, if there is abuse in the relationship, then the relationship should probably end. Another issue could be infidelity. This is a problem for about one-quarter of couples. If one person is struggling with this and cannot set the temptation aside, it may be time for the marriage to end.

About debt consolidation

California residents who have substantial debt do have options. Debt consolidation is one of them. This option allows debtors to combine all of their high-interest debts into one with lower interest.

With debt consolidation, debtors can lower their debt and reorganize it in order to pay it off quicker. However, it is not a cure-all for debt problems, and it does not address unwise spending habits. It also may not be the best solution for individuals who have significant debts for which a lower payment would not help.

How can I stop creditors from harassing me?

If you are struggling with debt, behind on bill payments and not sure how you are going to pay your rent in California next month, chances are you are no stranger to creditor harassment. Creditors are known for being pushy and harassing when someone falls behind on payments to them. They may use all known contact information to get ahold of you so they can receive payment. 

Although you are contractually obligated to pay them as agreed, sometimes things happen in life that can make it hard for you to uphold your end of the contract. Here is a brief overview on how to stop creditor harassment

Factors that may lead to divorce

Education, family history of divorce and even the cost of the wedding are among the factors that may affect the likelihood of divorce among California couples, according to a number of different studies. Couples who finish college are more likely to stay together longer than those who dropped out of college or only have a high school diploma. People whose biological parents divorced, even if they are adopted, are also more vulnerable to divorce. Finally, couples who spend less than $1,000 on a wedding have the lowest divorce rates while those who spend more than $20,000 have the highest.

Couples who get married in their late 20s or early 30s have lower divorce rates than those who marry in their late teens or early 20s or after the age of 32. Additionally, first marriages are more stable than second or subsequent marriages. Couples who wait to have a child at least eight months after the wedding have a lower divorce rate than those who have a kid earlier. When the first born is a daughter, the couple is also more likely to divorce.

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