Military divorces are somewhat more complicated than others because of the special rules and requirements that apply to U.S. service members and their spouses. These differences often create issues pertaining to such things as support, residency or filing requirements, and military pensions. The following is an overview of some of the steps you may need to take when getting divorced from a spouse in the U.S. military.
Get to Know Military Divorce Laws
Unlike a regular divorce, a military divorce is governed by both state and federal laws. Federal laws may impact the division of military pensions, while state laws could change how alimony and spousal support are decided. Look into the applicable laws and seek the advice of a professional.
One outstanding alternative that allows couples to avoid lawyers and courts entirely is to hire divorce mediators. San Diego military couples should definitely consider this alternative before moving forward with divorce proceedings.
The court needs the power (also known as the “jurisdiction” or the authority) to grant a divorce and bind the parties to the court’s orders. This is easy to determine for civilians, since jurisdiction is generally determined by where the person lives. However, for military personnel, jurisdiction may be the place where the person is stationed or maintains a legal residence.
Be Aware of Residency and Filing Requirements
U.S. military personnel and their spouses basically have three choices when it comes to where they can file for divorce:
- The state where the filing spouse resides
- The state where the military member is stationed
- The state where the military member claims to hold legal residency
You’ll need to investigate and determine which of these choices you should make.
Watch for Automatic Stay for Active Duty Relief
Military members who are on active duty have certain protections in court proceedings, such as the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which can “stay” or temporarily hold up the entire case if the divorce case was filed while the service member was on active duty or within 90 days from his or her release from active duty. Be careful not to file for divorce during active duty.
Divide Military Pensions and Benefits
Courts look to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) regarding the division of military pensions and other retirement benefits between spouses in a divorce. Not all states treat military retirement pay as community property, and the USFSPA doesn’t say how to divide the amount of retired pay, so the specific state laws will govern. Get familiar with these laws and seek professional advice in your state.
Consider Options for Spousal and Child Support
Special rules regarding spousal support (alimony) and child support exist for the military, and these rules ensure the military member’s family support obligations continue even after a divorce or separation. You can seek to have a court enforce spousal and child support by requesting a court order to that effect or by way of wage garnishment or a voluntary or involuntary allotment. You may also request that the court require the breadwinner spouse to maintain life insurance that would cover child or alimony support payments for a certain period.
For couples who want the opportunity to make the divorce process as smooth, respectful, and amicable as possible, there’s an amazing alternative to the animosity and high costs of traditional divorce: divorce mediation. San Diego couples can rely on Divorce Options San Diego’s experienced divorce mediators to handle every aspect of their divorces, and there will be no need to spend a small fortune on attorneys who are focused on winning instead of ensuring fairness and mutual satisfaction for both spouses. To learn more about how divorce mediation can be the best option for you and your spouse, call the expert mediators at Divorce Options San Diego today at (858) 281-2628.
If you’re heading toward a divorce, you’ll need to quickly get ready to protect yourself and focus on getting your finances in order. Every divorce is an emotionally draining experience, but you need to keep your eye on the bigger picture. By taking precautions, you’ll be in good shape whenever difficult asset distribution issues arise. Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself financially in a divorce.
The first thing to consider is whether you want to go the traditional route—hiring an attorney, spending a lot of money on legal fees, having to go to court numerous times, and getting caught up in an atmosphere of conflict that often escalates—or try a much less expensive, more respectful, resolution-centered method that eliminates all those negative aspects of traditional divorce. The San Diego divorce mediators from Divorce Options San Diego will work with you and your spouse to create a mutually satisfactory agreement that protects the interests of the entire family and leaves couples feeling ready to move on to the next stages of their lives. If you still want to take the conventional route through the courts, the following tips can help.
Locate and Describe All of Your Assets
By identifying and organizing your assets, you’ll become knowledgeable about the value of your assets and where you can gain access to them, which will allow you to sort through what counts as your separate property and your spouse’s, such as real property, bank accounts, retirement and investment accounts, and other assets. You can then put together a meaningful financial statement that will clarify how best to handle things in your divorce and beyond its completion or finalization.
Keep Everything in Writing
When you have written evidence, you’ll be better able to prove what’s yours and be able to protect it against any claims by your spouse. Make paper copies of account statements and tax forms, and print everything out. An electronic version may not be enough to keep your spouse from freezing you out of your joint accounts.
Have Cash at the Ready
You don’t want to get caught without enough money to pay for things on your own. However, be careful to not take too much out of any joint accounts, as this could get you into some serious trouble with the courts.
Get Familiar with Your State’s Laws
You should get to know your state’s community property laws to be able to intelligently make the right decisions. Do some research online, or use an attorney specializing in divorce law of your state.
Organize Your Thoughts
You’ll need to be able to decide what you want as well as what you need during the divorce process and thereafter. Often spouses will try to agree on a settlement of their assets, but they can’t really do so without the benefit of some clear thinking and planning. You’ll want to make decisions you can live with for the rest of your life. Take a hard look at your finances. Determine how much you’ll need to maintain the right standard of living for you and your kids, if any.
San Diego divorce mediation can protect your interests just as well, if not better, than the contentious attorney-centered divorce process. Divorce mediation is much less expensive than using attorneys, and instead of framing divorce as a win-lose situation, divorce mediation focuses on producing sustainable mutually beneficial outcomes for you, your spouse, and your children. At Divorce Options San Diego, we work with both spouses, thoroughly analyzing your financial, legal, psychological, and social circumstances to develop mutually beneficial resolutions and transition plans that allow you to start the next phase of your lives with a sense of satisfaction and optimism. Call us today at (858) 281-2628 to find out how you can avoid the stress, high costs, and heartache of going through a divorce the traditional way.
Generally, there are five emotions spouses go through during the divorce process. These emotions typically grow into more nuanced feelings, and the transitions aren’t smooth from one stage to another. It’s common for a person to revisit each stage more than once. The emotional recovery will take a long time, and it will be difficult both during and after the divorce, so try to take a break and move through it at your own pace. The professionals from Divorce Options San Diego, the experts in divorce mediation San Diego couples rely on for an alternative to contentious, disrespectful, and costly divorce proceedings, offer the following list of the five emotional stages of divorce and some suggestions as to how to handle each of them.
This stage is basically telling yourself that nothing is wrong to keep from getting emotionally overwhelmed. It’s a useful way to cope, but don’t allow it to prevent you from making progress. Use denial, but don’t abuse it in a way that no longer benefits you.
This is the stage where you’ll blame your ex for just about every problem you’ve ever had in your life. Anger isn’t something you should avoid, though. Its presence fuels creative thinking and resolution, so welcome it and make it work for you. Try to let all your grief and frustrations out and leave them behind you. This way, you’ll feel better and be able to move forward from the denial stage.
Here, you’ll try to repair and undo the damage done. Bargaining is an effort to halt the apparently unending grief and get back to an enjoyable life. There’s a good chance you’ll get through this stage more quickly than the denial and anger stages. It’s really an opportunity to come to terms with the divorce so you can make good decisions for the future. Remember that your ex will go through this stage as well, which should provide you with some degree of comfort.
You’ll be feeling a great deal of sadness at this stage. The sadness develops during the other stages and crescendos at this point, and depression becomes constant and pervasive. It’s only natural to feel this way. Surround yourself with a strong support group of your family and friends to help you get through some of the dark feelings that will plague you at this stage. Don’t be afraid to shed some tears. Also, talk it out with your support group and consult with an expert to process these negative emotions. Get plenty of exercise, too. Playing team sports is one of the best activities for depression.
Here you’ll begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to the good life ahead of you. Some sadness and anger are probably still lurking inside you, so remember you’ve made it through major adversity and grown stronger as a result. Remind yourself that it’s okay to have negative feelings like regret or loss and that you aren’t a prisoner of grief any longer. You don’t deserve to be held back from living a good life.
Divorce is almost always an emotional rollercoaster, so knowing what to expect in advance can help a great deal as you go through the process. Another fantastic way to deal with your emotions is to bypass hiring conflict-focused attorneys and choose instead to work with experienced divorce mediators. San Diego couples can benefit enormously from the expertise of the team at Divorce Options San Diego. With backgrounds in law, finance, conflict resolution, and psychology, we empower couples to dissolve their marriages with respect and mutual satisfaction and move on to the next stage of life with optimism. To learn more about our revolutionary divorce mediation process, give us a call today at (858) 281-2628.
It may seem that a “matrimonial home” is just the one house in which a married couple lives. However, when it comes to divorce proceedings, the definition of matrimonial home and how it’s treated by the court are usually hotly contested, as the rights that spring from such a designation are extremely important and often have a ripple effect on the spouses and their marital estate.
In legal terms, the home in which a married couple lives prior to the date of their separation is known as the matrimonial home. Additionally, if the spouses regularly occupy more than one home together before they separate, each individual abode is usually considered to be a matrimonial home. Furthermore, a matrimonial home doesn’t have to be a house. Rather, it can include a condominium, a ski chalet, a cottage, or even a sailboat that has places to sleep and eat. The team from Divorce Options San Diego—the experts couples turn to for San Diego divorce mediation that’s conducted with integrity and compassion—offers the following four essential tips for getting divorced when you own more than one home.
1. Determine or Designate Extra Matrimonial Home(s)
There’s a broad definition as to whether each property is regularly occupied at the time of separation. Continual occupancy isn’t the standard. Rather, the test is whether the property has been occupied periodically as a family residence prior to separation. For example, the court will likely designate a vacation property as a matrimonial home if the property was used by the spouses or any other members of the family within a reasonable time before the separation. Also, not every part of the property needs to have been used (e.g., a farm).
2. Request Exclusive Possession
Regardless of which spouse owns the matrimonial home upon separation, either spouse can ask the court to grant him or her “exclusive possession.” If the request is granted, that spouse will have the exclusive right to live in the home and evict the other spouse during the period of exclusive possession (assuming the other spouse doesn’t leave voluntarily). In addition, if only one spouse owns the home, the owner-spouse cannot sell or mortgage it without the consent of the other spouse, both prior to and after any separation. The main reason for this is to prevent any trickery by either spouse.
3. Be Wary of Common Misconceptions
Probably the most common misconception is the belief that matrimonial homes are required to be equally divided at separation. In many jurisdictions, the courts generally view the matrimonial home as just one asset of many that are subject to equal division. One exception is that if the owner-spouse sells the home and buys another home with the sale proceeds, the owner-spouse can keep all the equity from the original home, and it won’t be subject to division.
4. Look for a Marriage Contract
The spouse who owns the home at the time of marriage can protect his or her equity by having a contract for that purpose. However, the contract cannot allow the owner-spouse to have exclusive possession of the matrimonial home if there’s a separation. That issue has to be brought before the court for a determination.
Owning multiple homes can complicate the divorce process, but it doesn’t have to. If you’re looking for an alternative to the contentious, attorney-centered manner in which divorces are usually handled, call on the trustworthy professionals at Divorce Options San Diego. We’re experienced San Diego divorce mediators who can help you dissolve your marriage in a fair way based on mutual respect, leaving both parties satisfied and ready to move on with their lives. Give us a call today at (858) 281-2628 to learn more.
You definitely want to be careful with planning your finances for the divorce process. Mistakes made in this area could prove to be rather costly. There’s no question that divorce is a very difficult process, both emotionally and financially. Sorting out assets and liabilities is often a messy affair, and you’ll need to get your finances straightened out to prepare for the long road ahead. The experts from Divorce Options San Diego—experienced professionals who provide premier San Diego divorce mediation services to couples seeking creative divorce solutions—offer this checklist for planning your finances in a divorce and avoiding some common mistakes.
Take “Free” Advice with a Grain of Salt
Be careful with the advice you get from friends, family, or the Internet. Divorce law varies from state to state, so if you’re looking to make any financial decisions before a divorce, it’s best to confer with an attorney licensed in your state.
Seek Help from Other Professionals
Besides an attorney, a financial expert such as a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA) can provide you with expert advice with respect to your present and future financial situation. CDFAs are more commonplace these days, since they can help you determine whether a divorce is financially viable, whether your situation warrants a divorce settlement, and, if so, the optimal way to structure it. An accountant is another reliable resource for your financial decisions.
Get Organized with Your Financial Documentation
Gather your financial records together and keep them organized in chronological order. These documents tell the story of your marriage’s finances. While this task is exhausting and may feel endless, the sooner you get started on it, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Some of the most important documents are statements from your checking and savings accounts, credit card accounts, investment and retirement accounts, loan ledgers for all loans (e.g., mortgage, vehicle, personal, etc.), current pay stubs, income tax returns for the past three years, and a list of your assets and debts before marriage and those you acquired after marriage.
Track Your Expenses
By keeping track of your household expenses, you’ll be better able to create a budget and build your case for the inevitable division of your assets and debts. Completing this task will also assist you in regard to spousal or child support issues. You’ll want to maintain a record of past months and years for all household bills, such as food, clothing, home maintenance, vacations, transportation, entertainment, and any other expenses you’ve paid, as this will provide you with information to be able to intelligently project your future expenses.
Don’t Make Any Large Financial Adjustments
The court will determine your financial situation and make any necessary changes. As your finances will get sorted out in the divorce proceedings, it behooves you to wait accordingly. Don’t be tempted to make any changes without the court’s permission, as you may do more harm than good and possibly get charged with criminal contempt. Consult with your attorney about any particular move you may be contemplating.
Conserve Spending and Saving
Separating marital finances is tricky, so the less you spend and save, the easier it will be for the court to divide your and your spouse’s assets and liabilities. Maintaining financial transparency will also allow you and your spouse to live comfortably and amicably throughout the divorce proceedings.
Dealing with finances during a divorce isn’t easy, especially if attorneys are major actors in the proceedings. If you want an alternative to hiring lawyers and going through a drawn-out, acrimonious process, turn to Divorce Options San Diego. As San Diego divorce mediators, we offer a one-stop shop approach for couples who are looking for a way to dissolve their marriages amicably and with mutual respect. We can handle every aspect of your divorce for you, so there won’t be a need to hire expensive attorneys. To learn more about our revolutionary approach to divorce, give us a call today at (858) 281-2628.
There are many decisions you’ll need to make before any divorce begins. Invariably, your kids will play a major role in the timing of your divorce. Having children in the mix always complicates the divorce process, so make decisions that are in the best interests of your kids under the circumstances after you’ve made an informed and objective evaluation of the entire situation. Here are some important issues to consider in planning a divorce when children are involved.
Have a General Plan
If you plan and prepare correctly, you can ease through the entire divorce process and avoid greater heartache for you, your spouse, and the children. You’ll also have a better chance of saving money. One outstanding option is avoiding lawyers and courts entirely by hiring divorce mediators. San Diego couples should definitely consider this alternative before divorce proceedings begin.
Ages of the Children
Of course, there’s no perfect age for children when the divorce process begins. Some experts believe a divorce will be too traumatic when the children are five to eleven years old. At such ages, they may develop a fear of being abandoned or that their parents are divorcing them. On the other hand, experts will also tell you it’s generally a bad idea to divorce shortly after children leave home for college or to start their careers. History shows that young adult children have great difficulty adjusting to their new lives outside the home after they’ve been given news of their parents’ divorce.
Remaining in a stormy marriage and waiting for the “right” age of your children for your divorce is one of the worst things you can do for your children’s wellbeing (as well as your own). Discuss your divorce intentions with your spouse and come up with a good plan that works best for both of you and your children based on the existing circumstances.
Evaluate your family’s financial situation and then determine the amount of money needed for your children’s support. Typically, the breadwinner of the family will be the one who provides the financial support for your children. However, both spouses should discuss finances before the divorce proceedings begin so the children’s financial welfare is taken care of throughout the divorce and into the future.
Custodial and Visitation Time
Decide the proper amount of time for you and your spouse to spend with your children to care for them in a way that’s in their best interests. If you do this in advance of the divorce, you’ll be better prepared for the divorce process and how it affects your relationship with your children, both during the divorce and after it’s finalized.
You’ll need to decide if you’ll be staying at the family residence or whether you or your spouse will move out. If you decide to relocate, you’ll want to stay near the family home to ensure you’ll have enough custodial time with the kids. You don’t want to be caught in a situation in which you have to prove to the court that you were only absent from the children for a short duration, that you’ve always made reasonable efforts to have regular contact with them, and that you had no intention to abandon them. Generally, it’s best to stay at the family residence unless it’s too emotionally difficult for you or your family, such as in a situation that poses any threat of physical or emotional abuse to you and/or your children.
Having children is one of the best reasons for couples to make the divorce process as smooth, respectful, and amicable as possible. If you and your spouse want an alternative to the acrimony, expense, and emotional rollercoaster ride of traditional divorce, the answer you’re seeking may be divorce mediation. San Diego couples can have every aspect of their divorces handled without needing to hire attorneys, go to court, or spend a small fortune. To learn more about how divorce mediation can be the best option for you and your family, call the expert mediators at Divorce Options San Diego today at (858) 281-2628.
Nowadays, it’s more common than ever before for married couples to be older when they get hitched for the first time. Not only has the age of newlyweds been increasing over recent years, but many people have also remarried (and more than once), pushing their ages to even greater heights. This trend results in several middle- and upper-class people beginning their marriages while they hold substantial assets.
Of course, upon marriage, these couples inevitably commingle their separate property, which makes it difficult for each partner to ascertain where to draw the line between community (or marital) property and separate property—especially for those who are further along in life. This is true even when the couple has entered into a prenuptial agreement. Regardless, it’s almost always difficult to figure out whether a particular asset is community or separate property during any divorce proceeding.
Courts generally seek to divide community/marital property under principles of equity, and separate property often remains separate and undivided. Most commonly, property a spouse acquired before marriage, such as by gift or inheritance, will be found to be separate property and not subject to any division.
The main purpose for division of property is to promote fairness, yet courts may have difficulty deciding whether the couple’s property is separate or community, and this is especially true when either or both of the spouses have several high-value assets. Problems may arise when the property at issue initially seems to be community property but may turn out to be construed as separate property after a due diligence search known as “tracing.”
The experts from Divorce Options San Diego—experienced professionals who are transforming the divorce process with expert divorce mediation San Diego couples rely on for creative customized divorce solutions—offer these tips to aid you in tracing and simplifying your distribution of assets for divorces involving complex marital estates.
Characterize the Assets
Investment properties (e.g., residential, commercial, and agricultural real estate), retirement plans, trust funds, pensions, 401(k) accounts, individual businesses (small or large), unvested stock options, offshore money, and intellectual property such as copyrights, patents, and trademarks are common examples of challenges in regard to complex marital estates. The big problem with ascertaining whether such assets are separate property or precisely what part of them is community property (and thus subject to division) lies in the ability to trace the source of those assets based on how they’re characterized.
To help in characterizing and tracing assets, it’s best to obtain the advice of qualified professionals who have a great deal of experience in this area, such as divorce lawyers, certified divorce financial planners, appraisers, forensic accountants, tax advisers, and estate planners.
Check if You Have a Power of Attorney—You May Need to Change It
If you and your spouse signed powers of attorney, get them out and revoke them before it’s too late, particularly if the divorce isn’t amicable. You don’t want your spouse to have any more access to your assets and/or accounts, which includes access to assets in your name alone. It’s simply too risky while you’re going through divorce proceedings and thereafter. You need to revoke that power of attorney, execute a new one, and possibly provide notice to your current spouse of the revocation. This process is typically done through an attorney or divorce mediator.
Update or Amend Your Trust or Will
In some states, you can make a new trust or will so your spouse is no longer in charge of your estate. You should think about whether you wish to remove your spouse as trustee or executor. Also, consider whether you want your spouse to be the guardian or manager of your minor children and whether to name an alternate manager or guardian. You may also want to disinherit your spouse in your will. Additionally, if you have a trust, you may wish to remove gifts to your spouse. Furthermore, you should contemplate removing your spouse from having access to and/or control of money for your children.
Review Your Estate Plan Once Your Divorce Becomes Final
After your divorce is finalized, you’ll want to evaluate and reassess your estate plan and focus on anything that needs to be updated, including such things as beneficiary designations.
If you need more detailed information about divorces involving complex estates, reach out to the experts from Divorce Options San Diego. Even if your divorce involves intricate financial issues, you still don’t have to spend a lot of money on lawyers. Every aspect—financial, legal, and practical—of amicable, respectful divorce agreements can be managed by Divorce Options San Diego’s trustworthy, experienced divorce mediators. San Diego couples can rely on our thorough mediation process, one that’s so comprehensive there won’t be a need for attorneys to get involved. We perform all our services ourselves—we’re the experts, so we don’t hire outside professionals. To find out more about how we can assist you with every part of the divorce process, call us today at (858) 281-2628.
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Going through a divorce is never going to be enjoyable, but a mediator can make the process as convenient and relatively pain free as possible. The mediator functions as a neutral third party who encourages both spouses to freely discuss sensitive subjects and make difficult decisions without becoming acrimonious. Choosing to work with San Diego divorce mediators instead of lawyers allows you to access these great benefits.
1. Faster Resolution of Issues
When you go through the court to deal with any issues between you and your ex-partner, it tends to be a long, drawn-out process. Choosing the mediation method of divorcing instead is much quicker, which is ideal for those who want to just finish up the divorce fast so they can move on with their lives.
2. Creative Solutions
When people are divorcing in a court of law, they’re limited by what the law covers. Judges focus more on fulfilling the precise definitions of divorce law instead of making both parties happy. In mediation, more creative solutions are allowed. Parties are free to discuss things that might seem petty or irrelevant in a divorce court instead of being forced into a “one size fits all” solution.
3. Less Expensive Fees
Lawyers are notorious for charging high fees, and this can add up quickly when your lawyer is spending hours going through finances and communicating with your ex’s attorney. Mediation fees are normally a bit cheaper per hour than attorney’s fees, and since mediation takes less time, it costs far less in the long run. On average, mediation costs about half as much as using a divorce attorney.
4. Reduced Stress
When you work with divorce lawyers, every interaction is essentially an argument between your party and the other party. Mediation differs from litigation in that it isn’t about one side trying to prove a point or show that the other side is in the wrong. Instead, it’s all about finding an agreement that’s mutually satisfying to both parties. This more collaborative and stress-free approach can give you a lot more peace of mind during the divorce process.
5. Confidential Discussions
The typical divorce in a court can be awkward and embarrassing. You may end up having to air your dirty laundry in front of your lawyers, the judge, witnesses, and other people in the courtroom waiting to see the judge. Mediation tends to be far more confidential, since you can pick any private location you desire. Only you, your ex-spouse, and the mediator will have records of what took place during the discussion.
6. Better Familial Relationships
If children are involved, maintaining a positive relationship with your co-parent helps your child have a happier childhood without constant parental conflict. Since mediation encourages couples to work together, you’re less likely to have bitter arguments that could sour familial relationships for years to come.
7. More Control Over Final Resolution
Mediation uses a team-based approach to create agreements that provide mutually beneficial outcomes for all parties involved. You have control over the situation, giving you and your spouse the opportunity to work together to arrive at resolutions that are reciprocal and consider everyone’s best interests. The final settlement agreement is determined solely by the agreements made by the couple.
These are just a few of the many ways mediation can be a better choice for you and your family when it comes to dissolving your marriage. For couples in San Diego, divorce mediation may be the ideal choice when they’re ready to go their separate ways. If you’re interested in learning more about how mediation works and why more people are choosing it every day, call the mediation experts at Divorce Options San Diego at 858-281-2628.