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Westlake Village Legal Blog

A parent's disability can lead to child support changes

A California parent may face some unexpected challenges if they are hit with a sudden disability due to an accident, injury or another cause. Families that rely on child support payments may also face significant challenges if the noncustodial parent is no longer able to work due to a disability. A disability can often mean that the original obligation for child support cannot be met.

When a child support court order is already in place, it is generally based on a state formula that includes the parent's income. It is expected that a parent's income will remain steady or even grow. However, disability can mean dramatic changes in a person's life, especially if they are no longer able to continue working in their previous profession. The specific impact on child support payments can vary based on one's circumstances. For example, if the disabled parent has disability insurance through their job, they will receive a continued income. However, that income might be significantly less than their previous salary. In such a case, the disabled parent may need to seek a change in their child support payments.

Restrictions to expect when divorces are filed

People who file for divorce in California are often taken by surprise when the courts issue multiple restrictions against them and their spouses. These restrictions are placed on both spouses to prevent them from causing different types of harm to the other while the divorces are pending.

When divorces are pending, both spouses will be prohibited from selling or transferring property. This is meant to keep one spouse from transferring assets away or selling them when they should be included in the division of property that is part of the separation. Both spouses will also be prohibited from emptying their bank accounts. They will be allowed to spend money that is needed to take care of their basic needs but not to go on spending sprees.

Child support payments and being unemployed

Parents in California who have to pay child support may be concerned if they become unemployed. They should be aware that the obligation to submit child support does not end if they are no longer working and that any unemployment benefits they receive can be affected by their child support payments.

As soon as a non-custodial parent who has to pay child support becomes unemployed, they should determine if they qualify for unemployment benefits. If they are eligible for the assistance, they should advise the unemployment office about their existing child support order so that the child support payments can be deducted from the unemployment wages they receive.

Modifying a child support order in California

When a California couple divorces with minor children in the picture, the court will issue a child support order as part of the final divorce decree. The court determines child support based on statutory guidelines and its own assessment of the family's circumstances.

If the situation changes and you need to change the child support amount, you can request a modification. Your lawyer can tell you more about the best approach in this matter.

What prenuptial agreements can do for couples

When California couples start considering marriage, they may think about whether they should get a prenuptial agreement. While many believe that prenuptial agreements are for those who are wealthy, prenups can also protect those who are still building their wealth.

There are many benefits to drafting a prenuptial agreement regardless of how much wealth future spouses have. For example, a prenup can be used to determine how certain assets might be split up in the event of a future divorce. This could make a future divorce proceed more easily and without major arguments. Future spouses who have children from previous relationships can also ensure that their children are protected, especially if a future spouse plans to leave certain separate property to them. If a future spouse co-owns assets with another person outside of the relationship, such as a business, those assets could protect both the future spouse and the other individuals involved.

How to protect a child's college savings during a divorce

Saving up for college for one or more children requires a lot of saving. Tuition and expenses at private schools now average nearly $50,000 per year, and public institutions in California still cost about $20,000 annually. Over the course of four years or longer, this can be a significant sum. During a divorce, the assets that were put away for education could be at risk. Making sure college money goes to its intended purpose requires a lot of advanced planning before a divorce even seems likely.

While college is important, parents need to be realistic about the expenses that come up as a result of divorce. Child and spousal support will take priorities over higher education. What a parent is required to pay overall depends on their financial situation and background. In some cases, dipping into college savings may be necessary to support more immediate expenses. That's why it's important for parents to plan for many different types of scenarios.

Deciding when to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Many California residents may be battling with debt. Some individuals purchase things that they cannot afford, so they put the things they buy on credit. This becomes problematic when the borrower can no longer repay the lender.

Creditors have come up with unique ways to pressure people to repay their debts. Emails, phone calls, letters and eventually turning the data over to a collection agency are some of the tactics they use. The pressure creditors put on debtors can become overwhelming and might lead individuals to consider Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a way out.

Physical and other types of child custody

Single parents in California whose children live with them would probably consider themselves to have sole custody of their kids. But legally, custody is granted by the court, and without an official court order, a single parent might not be entitled to certain benefits like child support.

The law recognizes different types of child custody arrangements. Physical custody can be granted to one parent with the other parent usually being given visitation rights, or physical custody can be shared. Even when physical custody is not shared equally, a non-custodial parent can be very involved in the lives of the children and in decision making processes about the children. Two parents may share legal custody by court order even if they do not share physical custody equally.

What joint legal custody means for parents and children

California parents who do not share physical custody of their children after a divorce may still share legal custody. Joint legal custody means both parents have input into decisions about major issues in the child's life such as that child's schooling, health and religion. Parents might decide to share legal custody or a court might make this decision.

Sharing legal custody has some advantages. There are times when parents may appreciate being able to consult one another before making a difficult decision that will affect the well-being of their child. Joint legal custody can push parents toward a more functional coparenting relationship. Because they have to communicate effectively, parents may work harder to resolve their differences and reach solutions. It may be beneficial for children, in particular, to see their parents work together in this way.

The difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy

If you are a California small business owner and are considering filing for bankruptcy, you may have heard the terms “Chapter 7” or “Chapter 13,” but you may not fully understand the difference between the two types of bankruptcy filings. Even if you do have a general idea of the difference between the two bankruptcy processes, you may not know whether both types are available to you, and if they are, which one might be a better option.

Just what is the difference between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 filing?

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