The decisions you make during divorce mediation will affect your life for many years. While you may just want to hurry up and get your divorce over with, it will pay off in the long run if you carefully consider all your options. Knowing what to ask for in your divorce mediation helps you focus on your needs with greater clarity. The team from Divorce Options San Diego—the experts in San Diego divorce mediation who offer a comprehensive, resolution-based alternative to expensive, time-consuming divorce litigation—explains what you should ask for in divorce mediation.
1. Work with Your Spouse to Create a Master List of Assets and Debts
One of the main things that’s decided in divorce mediation is how your shared property is to be divided. However, you may not be fully aware of all the information that surrounds what’s owned in your marriage. For instance, your spouse may have a retirement account you’re entitled to a portion of, or you may not know the value of your shared art collection. When you request a list of assets, make sure to also have one of your own. These lists can then be used to determine exactly what property must be divided.
2. Work with Your Spouse to Create a Detailed Schedule for Each Child
Depending on the various roles you play as parents, you may not know all the details about your children’s daily schedule. For instance, it’s common for one parent to handle things such as taking the children to sports practices while the other parent works. However, this information can affect child custody, since there may be times when it’s in the best interests of the children to carry out normal activities. Having your children’s schedule in hand can help you decide which visitation times are best.
3. Work with Your Mediation Team to Understand the Basic Applicable Laws
Your divorce mediation team helps you and your spouse work out your differences to find a solution that makes everyone happier. While this process gives you vast amounts of leeway to create a personalized divorce plan, you’ll still need to comply with the current California laws to ensure your divorce receives the court’s approval. For instance, a certain amount of child or spousal support must be paid in most cases. Understanding this requirement can help you identify a starting point for your negotiations.
4. Work with Your Mediator Honestly About Your Life Goals
Ideally, you should have some ideas in mind for what you hope to get out of the mediation process. Tell your mediator what your one-year and five-year plans are. For example, you may want primary custody of your children or to keep the house. Make sure to speak up for yourself and request the things you want during the discussions. In the end, you’re your best advocate, since you’ll need to live with these decisions.
5. Work with Your Mediator to Develop a Critical Thinking Tool Kit
During your divorce mediation, you may be presented with requests from your spouse that you’re not sure how to respond to at first. You can always ask for more time to think about a situation to see how you feel about it after your initial reaction. Taking time to think things over can keep stress levels down while also giving everyone a chance to come back with fresh perspectives on the situation.
Mediation offers a divorce solution that’s focused on meeting the needs of everyone in the family. Couples looking for an alternative to the expense and acrimony of traditional attorney-centered divorce should reach out to the experienced professionals at Divorce Options San Diego. We’re San Diego divorce mediators you can trust to help you dissolve your marriage in a way that’s based on respect and mutual satisfaction. Give us a call today at (858) 281-2628 to learn more.
No matter how hard a couple tries, sometimes a marriage ends in divorce. When it seems this is the path a relationship is going to take, it’s best to prepare in advance. Taking the time to prepare can make the divorce process simpler and reduce stress and conflict. The professionals from Divorce Options San Diego, the experts in divorce mediation San Diego couples rely on for alternatives to contentious and costly divorce proceedings, offer the following advice about how to prepare for a divorce.
Gather Financial Information
One goal of divorce is to divide assets and debts equally, which means you must know where you stand financially before proceeding. First, determine what you and your spouse own, including bank accounts, property, vehicles, personal businesses, pension plans, stocks and bonds, inheritances, artwork, and other belongings. Gather any paperwork related to these items, such as account numbers, titles, and deeds, and determine if the items were bought with joint or separate bank accounts. Next, look at what you owe, which may include mortgages, credit cards, and other loans. Again, gather account information related to debts. The best way to get a clear picture of debt is to obtain a credit report for you and your spouse.
Determine Your Income
Marital debt is typically split by who is better able to financially resolve the debt, which means you’ll need a clear picture of your income as well as your spouse’s. Determining each partner’s income can be more difficult if a business is owned and income fluctuates. Paycheck stubs, financial business statements, and bank account statements can give you a better picture of overall income. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have at least the past three years of tax returns.
Make a Budget
With only one income, your post-divorce budget will look vastly different than your budget when you were married. Set a budget now to prevent financial pitfalls in your future. Make a list of your bills. Include mortgage or rent, utilities, communication, vehicle expenses, gas, food, and entertainment. Next, determine if your current income will cover the cost of these bills. If it doesn’t, you may need to look at supplementing your income or cutting back on expenses.
If most of your mortgages, property, and credit cards were under your spouse’s name, you may need to establish credit for yourself to make future purchases. Obtain a credit card with a modest credit limit and pay it in full each month to build your credit.
Consider Your Insurance Coverage
You should work with your spouse to make sure all your insurance policies—for the house, other property, your children, and each other—are in order. If you were previously covered under your spouse’s medical insurance, you’re going to have to acquire your own. Talk with your employer or an insurance agent to purchase insurance coverage. If you’re going to have a gap in your insurance coverage and need any medical procedures or dental work done, it may be a good idea to take care of those now while you still have coverage.
One spouse cannot remove the other from his or her insurance during the divorce proceedings. After the divorce is final, the payee spouse cannot be on the policy of the working spouse who has that policy. However, under certain circumstances, a court order can be obtained that mandates continued coverage for the payee spouse. In that case, there must also be a review of whether the working spouse must claim the payee spouse as a dependent for tax purposes.
Don’t Make a Move
While going through a divorce, it may be tempting to move out of the house. Unless a spouse is abusive, most experts recommend staying put. Moving during a divorce may affect your interest in the property and could affect where your children go to school.
Divorce is never easy, so knowing how to prepare for it can help a great deal as you go through the process. Another great way to approach divorce is to work with experienced divorce mediators. San Diego couples get tremendous benefits from the expertise of the team at Divorce Options San Diego. With backgrounds in law, finance, conflict resolution, and psychology, we work closely with couples, helping them end their marriages with respect and mutual satisfaction so they can move on to the next stages of their lives. To learn more about our groundbreaking divorce mediation process, give us a call today at (858) 281-2628.
Divorce mediation makes it possible to handle your case out of court, which has the advantage of keeping things out of the public eye, and many people find it eases strain on their relationships. Children also tend to fare better when their parents work out their differences in mediation and come to an agreement regarding hot-button issues such as child custody and support. While you may already be aware of what’s involved with the mediation process, a common concern people have is what happens after those sessions are over. The team from Divorce Options San Diego—experienced professionals who provide expert-driven San Diego divorce mediation couples can rely on to create optimal customized divorce solutions—offer this guide to the next important steps to take after divorce mediation is complete.
Review the Tentative Settlement Agreement
Divorce mediation may continue for six weeks to six months. However, you can expect to eventually reach an agreement that complies with California laws and addresses your personal needs. Once this happens, the mediator will draft a tentative settlement agreement that outlines exactly how everything will proceed regarding the distribution of property, child custody, and any other pertinent parts of your divorce. You and your spouse will then need to review this agreement and determine it’s exactly how you want it. If it isn’t, you’ll work with the mediator to develop the next draft and return to your mediation sessions. If it is, the mediator will create a finalized copy to submit to the court.
Wait for the Final Agreement to Be Approved
The final settlement agreement must go through the court and be approved by the judge. Working with a mediator ensures the agreement follows all applicable laws so it’s more likely to be approved. Once the judge signs the agreement, you can consider it to be active. As long as you’ve met the mandatory six-month waiting period, your divorce will be finalized.
Work to Make Sure You Follow the Agreement
The agreements you come to in your mediation sessions are meant to be adhered to, and your finalized divorce agreement is a binding legal order. Although it may be challenging at times, you should always try your best to honor your agreement regarding the division of finances and property as well as your agreed-upon parenting responsibilities, if you have children.
Know When to Return for Future Mediation
While every effort is made to address potential contingencies in your divorce agreement, future disagreements and conflicts might arise down the road that are sometimes unforeseeable. For instance, you may need to move outside of the agreed-upon boundaries you created as part of your parenting plans. Alternatively, you may need to modify child support or shared parenting time as your children’s needs change. When this happens, you can have the court modify your divorce agreement. To begin the process, you need to return for mediation to create a new settlement everyone agrees upon.
If you need more detailed information about the mediation process, call on the experts at Divorce Options San Diego. All the financial, legal, psychological, and practical aspects of honorable, respectful divorce agreements can be managed by Divorce Options San Diego’s experienced, trustworthy San Diego divorce mediators. Couples can rely on our specialized comprehensive process, which is so thorough they won’t need to hire attorneys. To learn how we can help you with every aspect of your divorce, call us today at (858) 281-2628.
Going through a divorce is one of the most challenging things you can deal with as an adult. While no one enjoys having to hash out an agreement with his or her ex-spouse, mediation can keep things more civil than taking it to court. The team from Divorce Options San Diego—professionals who are transforming the divorce process with expert divorce mediation San Diego couples rely on for customized divorce solutions—offer these five tips to help you plan a successful divorce mediation with less stress.
1. Choose the Right Mediator
It’s important to understand that the mediator you choose doesn’t favor either one of you. Instead, he or she serves as a neutral party who helps you both come to agreements regarding the different aspects of your divorce, such as the division of property. However, mediators sometimes have more experience in certain areas that may be beneficial for your circumstances. For example, you may prefer a mediator who is experienced in helping with making financial plans if you expect yours to be complicated.
2. Do Some Homework First
You should also be aware of the laws that impact divorces in your state. For instance, California has specific laws regarding how property is divided and whether or not a person has to pay spousal support. Knowing the general expectations for your situation can help you make better decisions.
3. Be Prepared
Your divorce mediator may need you to supply information that ensures all of the decisions made will stand up in court. For instance, you may need to make financial documents available, such as income statements or a copy of your lease agreement. You may also need to find out information about any changes in your children’s schedules, such as the hours of their new daycare arrangement, so you and your ex-spouse can make a child support and visitation agreement. Make sure to always be prepared with the required information so you can avoid delays in the process.
4. Plan to Reflect Before Mediation
With mediation, the ultimate goal is for everyone to come out of the agreement satisfied that they’ve been heard and their needs have been respected. Take some time to think about what your ex-spouse might want or need before you speak with the mediator. Although you cannot fully predict what he or she might say, having an idea ahead of time can help you plan your negotiation strategy.
5. Keep an Open Mind
It also helps to remember that mediation involves going through a give-and-take process. In some situations, you may need to give up something, such as a piece of property, to get another thing you want. Remembering to keep an open mind ensures your priorities are met.
All the practical, legal, financial, and psychological aspects of fair, respectful divorce agreements can be managed by Divorce Options San Diego’s experienced, trustworthy divorce mediators. San Diego couples can rely on our comprehensive process, which is so thorough there won’t be a need for attorneys. To learn how we can help you with every facet of your divorce, call us today at (858) 281-2628.
Family breadwinners play a big role in making sure everyone has what they need. While the primary breadwinner should still expect to care for his or her children and possibly make some financial contributions to his or her ex-spouse, both spouses must also make sure to take care of themselves during this time. Here are some recommendations for how families with one primary breadwinner can approach divorce, brought to you by Divorce Options San Diego, San Diego divorce mediators who offer a one-stop shop approach for couples looking for a way to dissolve their marriages amicably and with mutual respect.
Get Your Financial Affairs in Order
The first thing you need to do is figure out exactly where you stand financially. If one spouse has been handling the money, take the opportunity to check out your debts and bank account statements together. You may also need to identify things such as where each of you will live so you can make financial decisions about your future.
Make Copies of All Documents
As you go through your accounts, make copies of everything. Although you can hopefully trust each other to be honest, it’s possible for essential information to suddenly go missing during divorces. You’ll need copies of documents such as your past tax return statements, pay stubs, and other proof of income. You’ll also need to prove your financial debts and responsibilities with copies of leases, mortgage loan agreements, and credit card statements.
Prepare for the Possibility of Spousal Support
California’s divorce laws govern whether a person must pay spousal support. If you live in California, the main breadwinner will probably be required to pay some amount of support to his or her ex-spouse. In most cases, the amount of support will be determined by factors such as the length of your marriage and the amount of your income. If a spouse is currently working but makes less, the primary breadwinner may not be required to pay as much. Either way, being prepared to work out the details about spousal support makes it easier to reach an acceptable agreement.
Try to Make Decisions Together
Divorces don’t have to be messy and fraught with strife. Instead, you can have an amicable divorce. Trying to keep things friendly is much better if kids are involved, and you can bet you’ll both be happier with the final agreement when you can both have some input. Typically, it’s better to work through a mediation process that allows you to create a customized plan for things such as child support and visitation, since the courts might not understand the nuances of your lifestyle.
Secure Your Online Accounts
Once your accounts have been divided, take the additional step of making sure your personal information is secure. During a marriage, spouses often share passwords and login information with each other, and ex-spouses don’t need to be able to access each other’s information. Each of you should go through your online accounts and change passwords and other information as needed so you’re the only one who can gain access.
However, make sure you don’t change passwords or any other account information until you have worked with your divorce mediator to develop a fair community property equalization and divide your property. If you change passwords or other information before that happens, you can create a situation in which one of you doesn’t have access to the funds (or half the funds), which can immediately cause acrimony that ultimately leads to litigation.
These are just a few ways families with primary breadwinners can prepare themselves for divorce. 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.
During a divorce, it’s easy to focus on how your marriage is ending. However, this time also represents the opportunity to start a new chapter in your life. Although it’s true things won’t be the same, you can begin to put the pieces of your life back together and start over again. Now that the divorce process has been initiated, the time is right to focus on your future. The professionals from Divorce Options San Diego, the experts in divorce mediation San Diego couples rely on for an alternative to the often contentious and costly divorce process, advise using these strategies to make your life better than it was before.
Give Yourself Time to Grieve
You need to give yourself time to mourn the ending of your marriage. Too often, people try to jump in to dating again or make hasty decisions, such as moving to a distant location. While you may end up doing these things, you need to do so when you have a clear mind. Spend some time contemplating your marriage and allow yourself to work through the emotions that arise as it ends. Keep in mind this process can take time, but it also shouldn’t interfere with your ability to carry out your normal routine. If it does, talk to a professional counselor to work through your grief.
Some people lack the time to fully grieve. They are now single parents, have full-time jobs, and have a difficult time doing anything other than the basics. We suggest divorce support groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, group therapy, divorce coaching (which is one of our services), and individual psychotherapy if possible.
Finalize Your Divorce Arrangements
Starting over works best when you have a defined ending. Couples sometimes delay important decisions, such as selling property or dividing up their belongings. If parts of your divorce are unfinished, work with a mediator to find appropriate solutions that resolve each issue. Knowing your ex-partner isn’t going to suddenly decide he or she wants his or her share of the house or show up looking for his or her things allows you to move forward with a clean slate.
Many divorcing people move into separate houses, condos, or apartments and need help, both with the move and with the choice and design of a new residential space. Our firm can connect you to resources to help you with this transition.
Decide How the Future Should Look
This strategy sounds so simple, but it’s important to mention because people sometimes just allow their lives to unfold after a divorce. Starting over means you can do anything you choose now with the ability to make independent decisions. Consider how you would like to see yourself in the future. Some people decide to start the business they always dreamed of, while others may want to travel more. Doing something you’ve been putting off gives you momentum for rebuilding your life.
Begin to Cultivate Your Friendships
Friendships often take a hit during a divorce. You may find that some friends drop off because they feel the need to take sides. Others may become closer than ever as they lend you support. Take the time to nurture your relationships. You can also branch out and form new ones by joining social activities such as groups for people going through divorces.
Rebuild Your Identity
When you’re married, a large part of your identity is tied to your relationship status. Starting over allows you to start viewing yourself from a more independent angle. Take a class or renew an old interest that allows you to begin building a new identity.
Divorce is always emotionally difficult, so having a plan for starting over can help a great deal as you’re ending your marriage. One way to focus on that plan during your divorce is 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.
Even when couples wish to part amicably and agree to use divorce mediation instead of attorneys, emotional and mental stress may lead to regrettable actions during a divorce. Misjudgments may occur regarding issues such as spousal support, property division, child support, and child custody. The San Diego divorce mediation experts from Divorce Options San Diego advise couples to avoid the following pitfalls during the divorce process.
1. Not Having a Pre-Divorce Budget
Many divorcing couples don’t know all the details about their financial status. This information is required to determine asset distribution as well as spousal support. To prepare for divorce, write up a household budget showing your living expenses versus income. Without this budget, you risk not allocating enough funds for spousal support. Thankfully, spousal support duration and payments can be changed, but only if your settlement agreement includes this option. If the term “non-modifiable” describes your spousal support order, you can’t alter it after finalizing your divorce. Plus, for equitable asset distribution, a divorce mediator needs copies of your relevant financial and legal records. Make sure to gather all documents concerning your debts and assets, both jointly and individually, including tax returns, vehicle titles, property deeds, trusts, wills, and insurance policies. Additionally, make copies of your account statements, such as those for checking and savings accounts, credit cards, retirement funds, and investment services.
2. Lacking a Post-Divorce Financial Plan
After divorcing, a couple’s financial situation often changes markedly. For example, one spouse may keep the house while the other rents an apartment, or a formerly nonworking spouse must now find employment. For financial security, you must both project what your new living expenses will be and how you’ll meet them. To formulate sustainable budgets for the future, consult with a financial advisor. With professional guidance, you can devise separate financial plans for you and your spouse based on your respective incomes, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Financial planning eases the transition to a single lifestyle. Additionally, many couples don’t realize that marital assets received in divorce settlements may be taxed. Consequently, expected settlement payments can differ markedly from actual amounts. To ensure you can cover any taxes due, discuss this detail with your financial advisor.
3. Haggling Over Every Issue
To produce an equitable agreement, couples must modify their expectations. If you butt heads on each issue and refuse to compromise, you could end up in court. The purpose of negotiations is to reach a middle ground that works for both spouses. Try to be reasonable and practical when discussing settlement terms. While it’s hard to release emotional ties to assets, remember you’ll be financially responsible for them after divorcing. For example, with a house, make sure you can afford the ongoing costs of maintenance, repair, mortgage payments, and property taxes.
4. Not Giving Thought to Insurance
If you have children, you and your spouse should each purchase life and disability insurance policies. Unexpected injury or the death of an ex-spouse could result in the loss of child support, tuition coverage, and property settlement payments, leaving children unprotected financially. Regarding health insurance, after divorcing, don’t immediately cancel dependent coverage. If your ex-spouse or children have chronic medical conditions, you may be responsible for paying their uncovered healthcare expenses. While it may be possible to reinstate insurance, waiting for an open enrollment period can bleed your funds. Additionally, appraise and insure any substantial assets you gain through settlement, such as a house and pensions, and remember to update the beneficiaries on your respective wills and insurance policies.
5. Letting Emotions Overrule Good Judgment
During divorce proceedings, intense feelings can derail rational thinking, causing short-sighted choices you’ll regret down the road. Stay mindful of two goals. First, prepare yourself for future financial changes. Second, make decisions that protect the emotional stability of your family. A mediator can keep you focused during negotiations. However, it may be challenging to control volatile feelings and thoughts outside those sessions. While family and friends can be supportive, their closeness to you may prevent objective input. For help in maintaining your equilibrium, see a licensed counselor. If your children are showing signs of divorce-related stress, obtain counseling for them, too.
6. Speaking Badly About Your Ex-Spouse to Your Kids
While you may be justified in your grievances concerning your spouse, don’t criticize him or her around your kids. Frequently, children fault themselves for marital problems and divorce. Bad-mouthing your ex-spouse can fuel a child’s guilt, insecurity, sadness, and depression. By speaking respectfully of your former spouse, the divorce will be less rattling for your kids. Counseling can help you keep your cool. When you must discuss your ex-spouse, see him or her through your child’s eyes. If possible, express gratitude for everything your former spouse does for the family. Then take the goodwill a step further and thank your ex-partner directly.
7. Publicizing Your Pending Divorce on Social Media
Venting on social media works against settlement agreements. If your spouse sees any negative posts, it could impede your progress. If you’ve already aired grievances, remove any adverse comments from the Internet. You might even want to consider locking down your privacy settings or temporarily deactivating some social media accounts. If you and your spouse decide to announce your divorce, discuss when to do it. A joint decision prevents unpleasant surprises. To protect the privacy of children, in your settlement agreement, you can include a policy on child-related posts. For example, you could agree to limit posts and pictures that hint of spousal separation. Additionally, ask family and friends to refrain from posting anything that casts your family in a poor light. Such publicity could sabotage other aspects of your lives, such as job prospects. Going forward, avoid mentioning any lifestyle improvements resulting from your divorce. Such bragging will only hurt your children and their ongoing relationship with your ex-spouse.
8. Rushing Divorce Proceedings
Some couples, eager to end their marriages, don’t give careful consideration to their agreements. Consequently, they may not be at peace with some of their joint decisions. Take your time to work out a mutually beneficial settlement. Generally, the mediation process can span weeks to months, and the specific length is determined by several factors. One is your thoroughness in compiling information. Another is the degree of spousal collaboration. During mediation sessions, you’ll discuss substantive issues, such as debt, asset value, property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody. Outside mediation sessions, you’ll need to meet with a financial advisor and asset appraisers. Once you and your spouse agree on all pertinent issues, the mediator will draft a settlement proposal. The next step is your joint review and signatures before presenting the agreement to a judge. Then you can face the future, confident that your family is financially and emotionally secure.
If you’re at the point where you think divorce is the right choice for you, mediation provides an ideal alternative to hiring lawyers and having to make countless court appearances. The expert San Diego divorce mediators at Divorce Options San Diego provide a one-stop shop, offering comprehensive services that cover all aspects of divorce from beginning to end, and we focus on helping couples form mutually satisfactory agreements based on trust and respect. Give us a call today at (858) 281-2628.
Divorce is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. In fact, people often find there are moments of tension even when they choose to keep things amicable. When you know your marriage must end, you can use these strategies to keep things as stress free as possible.
Agree to Use Positive Communication
Now that you’ve decided to get a divorce, it’s time to let go of the past. It no longer matters who was right or wrong during the marriage, and doing things such as name-calling only makes things worse. Make an agreement with your ex-partner to only use positive language during your discussions. If you find you’re beginning to speak harshly or argue, take a break. All your decisions regarding the divorce don’t have to be decided in one day.
Put Your Kids and Pets First
Many marriages that end involve children and/or pets. Making sure they come first is often the one thing couples can agree on during their divorces. While your thoughts about what’s best for them may differ from your ex-partner’s, this concept can remind you both of why it’s important to keep things civil. When you’re dropping off the kids or meeting for pet visitation, try to avoid discussing the divorce. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to do this later, and it’s best for the children and animals to benefit from both of you showing them support.
Hire a Divorce Mediator
Divorce lawyers can sometimes create drama you didn’t even know existed. For instance, they may recommend fighting for something you really don’t care about. Pitting two lawyers against each other also sets a bad precedent for keeping things civil. Instead of using lawyers, consider hiring divorce mediators. San Diego couples who use the mediation process effectively talk through decisions that affect things such as child custody and the division of property. While this process can take some time, it can help you both feel more in control of what happens with your lives. Working things out in a mediation environment versus a courtroom is also less stressful in general.
Find Ways to Release Your Tension
Your mediation meetings will go better when you show up already relaxed and ready to communicate positively. Use this time to start taking better care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and get to sleep on time. You can also add a few relaxation strategies to your normal routine. Try journaling about the issues that bother you surrounding your divorce. Alternatively, you can spend some time meditating upon what you envision happening in your future. Playing a sport or pursuing a new hobby also gives you positive things to focus on so you can better manage your stress.
If you and your spouse want to reduce the amount of stress involved in your divorce, the answer you’re seeking may be in divorce mediation. San Diego couples can have every aspect of their divorces handled without the need to hire attorneys, go to court, or spend a small fortune. To learn more about how divorce mediation can be the ideal option for you and your family, call the expert mediators at Divorce Options San Diego 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.
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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