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How to avoid common divorce mistakes

Divorces are rarely smooth or easy, but often, those involved in a divorce are going through the process for the first time, meaning they have little experience with it and therefore have the potential to make serious mistakes. While every marriage and subsequent divorce is quite different, there are many common mistakes people make when navigating the dissolutions of their families, and recognizing where others go wrong may help you avoid making similar mistakes yourself.

To ensure your divorce goes as smoothly as possible, be sure to:

Divorce can follow a cooperative, collaborative format for some

A divorce can be an emotional roller coaster filled with tough human feelings such as hate, jealousy, revenge and the like. In California and elsewhere, however, there are alternative methods that may be more suitable for a couple that is splitting on a more friendly and amicable basis. A major alternative is called a collaborative divorce, and it looks at the process in a different light -- one might say a kinder and gentler light.

The gist of the collaborative divorce is that it rules out bitter litigation as the central focus of the process. The attorneys will instead design a settlement that fits the needs of both parties. This does not eschew negotiations, but it does rule out blaming each other, maneuvering for every advantage regardless of practicality, and seeing the divorce landscape as a field of nightmares dotted with landmines of varying destructive intensity.

Divorce can raise special pitfalls for women near retirement

In California and elsewhere, the plight of a woman who is getting a divorce is a riskier proposition generally than that faced by a male spouse. Statistically, women are living longer than men, and there are twice as many women over 50 who are divorced or getting a divorce today than 20 years ago. Women do not remarry as often as men and they generally make less than men. All these factors combine to make it necessary for divorced women to save a larger chunk of their income for retirement.

For women with a relatively complicated asset and income structure, it can be helpful to work with a financial planner regarding the divorce settlement and the retirement planning that is necessary to stay on secure footing going forward. Often, a woman must decide to work a few years longer than originally anticipated. Stopping work early and taking early Social Security benefits can be an unexpected key to planning for future hardship.

3 ways anger can make your divorce worse

Divorce can get ugly quickly if you are not careful. When emotions run high, it is easy to make mistakes leading up to and during your divorce. You are probably upset and angry that your marriage is ending and you may have trouble thinking clearly. However, it is advisable to keep your emotions in check to the extent you are able to do so. Allowing anger to control your actions can turn the divorce process into a battle.

Whenever a divorce becomes contentious, it often means it will be more expensive, frustrating and lengthy. Remember that your goal is to find a resolution with a reasonable settlement. Do not do something to negatively impact your future by reasoning with your temper. Here are three crucial mistakes you should avoid. 

Financial planning and divorce

Over the years, the majority of decisions that an individual and a couple makes can have a tremendous impact upon their long-term financial security. Thus, when a California couple decides to divorce, financial ramifications are almost a certainty. However, this impact does not necessarily have to be a negative one.

In some cases, one spouse will be receiving child support and/or alimony. While child support is not reported as taxable income and thus is not a tax deduction for the individual paying it, alimony is taxable. The individual receiving alimony must claim it as income and the individual paying it is entitled to claim it as a deduction. Since alimony is taxable income, a portion of it can be saved for retirement purposes.

Divorce negotiations must be driven by vital financial facts

The fall season usually marks an increase in divorce filings in California and other states. Distractions during the summer keep divorces to a minimum, setting the stage for a burst of activity after summer ends and the kids return to school. For people facing an imminent divorce, there are some general financial tips to keep in mind for an easier transition.

Many people try to hold onto a home that they can no longer afford. One of the unexpected turn of events for some persons is that they do not realize that, at least temporarily, they are facing a time of financial sacrifice and tightening of the belt. What used to be two paychecks is now generally only one and in many cases simply not enough to support the same upkeep expenses on the house.

Is it possible to change a spousal support order?

Among other issues, divorcing couples in California deal with establishing the need for spousal support, as well as its amount and duration. You may agree with your ex on this issue and incorporate your understanding into your divorce agreement, or you may litigate it so the court issues an order. Either way, the decision relies on a variety of considerations applied to your situation at the time.

Sometimes, circumstances can change so much that a modification of the provision in the original order or agreement may indeed be necessary. California courts typically require the party asking for the modification to demonstrate a material change of circumstances.

Final ruling issued by trial judge in high-profile divorce case

California is host to some of the highest profile divorce cases in the country. Such cases occur also in other states. The divorce matter of Richard and Alicia Stephenson has been inching through the family law courts of another state for many years, but a decision by the trial court may signal a final determination. Richard is the multimillionaire founder of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Although Alicia did help out in the business for some years, the court recognized that she spent many years raising their daughter and was essentially kept from developing her own profession. On the other hand, the court noted that Alicia had done nothing since the separation to advance her education and become self-sustaining. After eight acrimonious years in divorce court, the final equities were laid on the line.

Rules regarding tax issues must be covered in family law pact

California and federal law make it important for divorcing couples to make sure that their tax issues are settled prior to agreeing to a divorce settlement. An experienced family law attorney will be well versed in the tax issues that come up during the divorce negotiation process. In discussions with one's attorney, the options and preferences will be learned and decisions made accordingly.

One basic principle of federal tax law regarding separation and divorce issues is that child support is not income that is taxable to the recipient and it is not a deduction for the parent who pays it. On the other hand, alimony and some other types of payments are classified as taxable income to the recipient and qualify as a deduction to the paying former spouse. That fact makes it more desirable for the paying spouse to qualify as much of the payments as alimony and as little as possible toward child support.

Calculating spousal support in California

Amid all the other changes it brings, divorce also means alterations of financial situations. If you are going through a California divorce or legal separation, you or your spouse may have to pay the other party spousal support, also referred to as alimony.

Spousal support is frequently one of the most hotly contested matters during divorce proceedings. There are numerous factors involved in determining which party in the marriage must pay the other, and how much.

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