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San Francisco Family Law Blog

3 genuine reasons for a stepparent to adopt

Merging two families is seldom easy. After all, not only do biological parents, stepparents and stepchildren have to adjust to a new way of life, but they also face a few legal hurdles. Stepparent adoption is often an effective way to make combining families easier. 

Roughly 75% of individuals who divorce eventually remarry. When they do, there is a good chance either they or their new spouse has children from a previous union. While committing to overcoming the obstacles blended families often face is a good idea, you may choose to adopt your stepchildren to ease the transition. Here are three genuine reasons for any stepparent to adopt: 

How can I cope with my post-divorce financial reality?

If you are like many people in California who are separated, in the process of a divorce or already divorced, you can be realizing that your financial situation is not as positive as it was when you were still married and living under one room with your spouse. The sheer need to support two households on the same income that previously supported only one can be a big contributor to this situation. Then, many people find that they have to part with assets in a divorce, pay child support or even make spousal support payments, all of which further reduce the amount of money a person has to live on every month.

According to CNBC, many people who experience divorce-related financial stress can feel embarrassed about their situation to the point where they do not discuss money or seek support that might be beneficial to them at this point.

Hidden assets and forensic accounting

Married people who live in California and who become suspicious that their spouse is not being honest with them financially may often wonder what they can do about their concerns. If the couple is still married, these suspicions might point to an impending divorce. If a couple is in the midst of a divorce, the concerns may raise a flag about the legitimacy of the divorce negotiations that are currently underway.

One thing that some people do when they have fears that a spouse is hiding assets is to hire a forensic accountant. As explained by the Forensic CPA Society, these professionals can be involved in both investigating allegations or concerns as well as in providing support during litigation, such as in a divorce case. They are skilled at identifying hidden assets and at calculating any losses or damages that may be related to the hiding.

Are child support payments set for life?

Californian divorcees who are still supporting a child have plenty of questions about child support. One major question is: is the amount of support paid going to be the same until your child turns eighteen? Ruben Law Firm dives into that question today.

The short answer is: no, child support payments are not permanent. The payment amount that is decided upon during divorce proceedings is based entirely off of the information available to a judge at the time. This includes both parent's incomes, any medical expenses the child may have, and the cost of living in your current area.

Premarital agreements for children of wealth

Aside from the social element of marriage and the creation of a household, the institution is largely financial. As soon as the marriage partnership is final, the partners become subject to standard contract rules that govern the division of property, care for children and other important economic concerns.

This practical side of marriage is the sole concern of premarital agreements. Married couples already enter into this contract by default, and prenups simply define the terms in a way that fits for the couple personally. That is in contrast to marrying with out one, which would apply a standard set of rules determined by lawmakers to be the best default agreement for everybody in California. Almost everyone could benefit from specific terms, but children of wealthy individuals should be among the most interested in this option.

When do you stop paying child support for older children?

If you are a noncustodial parent, you may have been paying child support since you and your ex-spouse finalized your divorce. The purpose of these payments is to assist the custodial parent in raising the children to adulthood. This means that at some point, the financial support must come to an end.  

As your children move from adolescence to young adulthood, it is time to start thinking about ending your support payments. Your situation must meet specific requirements, and there is a process to making it official.

What happens to the pet in a California divorce?

When you divorce your one-time partner in California, you will undoubtedly need to work through certain matters, such as who is going to keep the house, whether one party will need to help support the other and so on. Increasingly, though, many divorces are becoming contentious with regard to who gets to keep the family pet, and the state has recently changed the way it handles these situations.

According to NBC News, dogs and other pets are a common point of contention in many modern divorces, and California’s courts will no longer necessarily handle dogs in the same manner they might cars, artwork or other assets. While couples have fought over who gets to keep the family pet for decades, California’s courts may now handle pets in a manner similar to how they would shared children.

How can I know if my spouse is hiding money?

If you are like a lot of married couples in California, one person may take the lead in handling your family's finances. This might be because one of you has particular expertise in this area or because one of you has a history of not managing money well. Regardless of the reason, Forbes indicates that this type of imbalance may open the door for the person who takes care of the money to hide assets from the other person. This can be especially harmful to one's finances if this happens leading up to a separation or divorce. 

Hiding money may take many forms, including literally taking money and putting it into a secret bank or investment account. The missing money might not even be noticed by the person who is not involved with the finances. If the spouse does notice and ask, the hiding spouse might be vague in providing an explanation.

Details matter for a prenuptial agreement

Dating or engaged couples in California who are wondering if a prenuptial agreement might help them should get the facts about what can make a marital contract most beneficial to them. They should also learn about what might make a prenup invalid so they can avoid this type of pitfall. 

As explained by CNBC, a good prenuptial agreement requires both parties to be completely honest and transparent with each other. This means they should both fully disclose not only their assets but also their debts. While this can be difficult, especially if someone has a lot of debt that they may be embarrased about, it is an essential step in the prenup creation process.

How can joint-custody benefit kids?

When parents file for divorce, children are often forced to go through the process as well. It can be extremely difficult for children to experience the separation of their family and learn to live in different households. Child custody and parenting plans are developed to lessen the impact of divorce on children and to ensure kids are able to spend time with both parents, even after the family has separated. While some children are placed in the sole-custody of one parent, others are put in joint-custody of both parents. There is evidence that children who are placed in joint-custody arrangements may reap the benefits of having access to both parents on a regular basis.

Researchers looked at kids who were raised in joint-custody, sole-custody and traditional family situations. They then compared them along a myriad of factors, including behavior, academics, health, family life and long-term outcomes. The study, which was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, found that children who are raised in joint-custody homes have advantages over those who are raised by one parent.

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