Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law
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Sonoma County Family Law Blog

Can you use your spouse's affair to your advantage in divorce?

You may have never expected that your marriage would end in divorce. Then again, you may have considered this outcome a real possibility due to the disagreements you and your spouse had and other difficulties throughout the relationship. Still, you may have been shocked when you learned that your spouse had been unfaithful.

Infidelity commonly results in marriages coming to an end. While you and your spouse may not have had the happiest of relationships, this situation still hurts. Now, you find yourself having to determine how you will handle the divorce proceedings that you feel best suit the situation.

Keep this in mind during child custody proceedings

When you decided to divorce, your main focus centered on your children's best interests. You were careful in your choice of wording when you told your children about the situation. Your main goal was to negotiate a fair settlement that included an agreeable child custody plan. You hoped that you and your spouse could part as friends or, at least allies, regarding your co-parenting future together.  

When you realized that the two of you do not see eye-to-eye about child custody matters, you knew you'd be relying on the California court to make certain decisions and to help formulate a plan. When your goal is to avoid contention and to help your children cope with your divorce in as healthy a manner as possible, there are several things you'll want to keep in mind.  

What are the "best interests" of the child?

Like many parents, your children are your life. You likely make many sacrifices for them and do so without a thought for your own well-being. Trying to imagine holidays, vacations or even weekends apart from your kids is difficult, to say the least.

However, going through a divorce means that these situations are a very real possibility. If you are facing a custody battle, you probably have many concerns. Even if your ex-spouse is an excellent parent, it may be difficult for you to give up any time the court orders for the other parent. However, if you have doubts about your partner's fitness as a parent, you may benefit from understanding the standard by which a custody court will make its decision.

Where to look if you suspect your spouse is hiding assets

Whether the decision to divorce was yours, your spouse's or a mutual agreement, you may still be left struggling to get your head around it. You may have custody issues foremost in your mind, but your concerns about your post-divorce finances may not be far removed. Ensuring you have enough security to support yourself and care for your children depends on the success of a fair property division settlement.

Unless you have a prenuptial agreement that says otherwise, California law requires courts to divide marital assets equally. A marital asset is anything either of you acquired during the time you were married. However, it may be impossible to obtain your just half of community property if your spouse is hiding assets from the process.

A new school year brings challenges for divorced parents

In most regions across California, schools are either in session or preparing to open for students. You may look forward to the sense of order and routine the school year promises, especially if your summer was chaotic or stressful.

If any of that summer stress was related to the dissolution of your marriage, it is understandable that you are looking for the school year to offer some semblance of normalcy. However, even that routine can be frustrating and disruptive if you and your former spouse have not made a parenting plan that will head off any conflict and maintain some tranquility for the sake of the children.

How should you approach child custody in an uncontested divorce?

California readers know there are many reasons why a couple would choose an uncontested divorce. This option can be easier in many aspects, yet it will not work in every case. When there are specific complicating factors that could affect your final order, uncontested divorce may not be the right option for you.

Uncontested divorce is an option for a couple with no remaining disputes between them. This means both sides agree on everything from division of marital property to a visitation schedule before filing. If there are significant disputes regarding child custody, uncontested divorce may not be the right option for you.

Will you be eligible for spousal support after your divorce?

The end of a marriage will bring many significant changes for both parties. Some of the most significant adjustments you will have to make involve finances. You have concerns about your financial stability after your divorce is final, but it is possible you could be eligible for spousal support payments. 

Spousal support, also called alimony, can be a contentious and difficult subject for California couples to address. If you think you could be eligible for these types of payments, you would be wise to act decisively to protect your interests and fight for a fair support order. When it comes to your financial security after divorce, you would be wise to seek a full understanding of your legal options.

When and how should I tell my kids about the divorce?

You and your spouse are calling it quits. It may be your choice, his or her choice or a mutual decision. You know that eventually you will work out a settlement and move on. Your biggest concern is how it will affect your kids. When and how should you tell your children about the divorce?

This is a question plaguing numerous parents in California. Divorce affects a pretty high percentage of couples. At the end of the day, it does not matter if the divorce is amicable or horribly bitter, it will likely have a negative impact on the children. How you approach the topic with your kids can make all the difference.

Should you consider collaboration for your divorce?

The choice to move forward with divorce is not an easy one to make. This step will impact virtually every area of your life, and while it can be a complex process, there are things you can do to reduce stress and the chance of complications. One way to do this is to choose a collaborative divorce.

Collaboration is a way for you to navigate your California divorce in a way that is respectful and cooperative. The collaborative process is not the optimal choice in every situation, but it can offer you many benefits as you seek a workable and sustainable divorce order. Before you choose your path, you may find it beneficial to consider the benefits of this specific choice.

Are you seeking the guardianship of your grandchild?

For many reasons, grandparents are finding it necessary these days to take their grandchildren into their homes and raise them as their own. Sometimes it is because the parents of the children have died, are mentally ill or are dealing with substance addiction. For the safety and well-being of the children, grandparents may put aside their plans for retirement and reorder their lives to provide a stable and loving home for their grandchildren.

If you are a grandparent whose grandchildren are living with you, you may feel it is time to take matters to the next step. After all, you really have no legal authority over the children, and this could prove significant if you need to make decisions about their health, education or other issues. For this reason, you may do as many others have done and seek legal guardianship over your grandchildren.

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