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Reducing Conflict in Separation

Divorce can be an unpleasant topic. When a couple decides to get married, the topic of separation is typically not at the top of their list to discuss. However, many of the contentious issues that arise can be minimized by taking the time to discuss the tough questions with your spouse prior to marriage. Similar to insurance on an asset, a discussion with a future spouse has the potential to reduce conflict if the relationship comes to an end. Mitigated conflict can save time and money, should the worst-case scenario occur.

Major concerns that arise for couples during a divorce often surround property division and spousal support. If there are children, child support and custody will be of concern, as well. While it is extremely difficult to plan for the emotional choices related to children, most have an idea of preferred outcomes, should a relationship end.

What Affects Separation?

California is a community property state, which means that any assets or debts acquired during a marriage are presumed to be the property of both parties and to be equally divided. Under California Family Code sections 760 and 770, community property includes salary, cars, credit card debt, furniture, and real property. This code excludes inheritance or gifts to one party.

Be aware that just because the law presumes that division should occur a certain way, does not mean that that is how the division has to or will occur. People are always free to enter into agreements that are different than the presumption under the law. Separation of assets can be formalized prior to marriage (prenuptial agreements), or even during the marriage (postnuptial agreements). Common agreements that people enter into involve the characterization of salary earned or credit debt acquired during the marriage.

Try Talking First

While it’s difficult to be prepared for everything, it is important to have a discussion with a future spouse regarding separation. Through open communication, parties ensure a clear understanding of what each person wants in the worst-case scenario. Take the time to specifically discuss any real property or vehicles owned by one or both of you. It’s especially important to discuss what to do with bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts. Perhaps even more importantly, take the time to discuss each party’s debts. Such debts could include student loans, personal loans, and credit cards. Together, debts need to be decided about how they should be assigned if spouses should separate. In essence, preparation is key.

Build Your Partnership

People have said that they would never want a prenuptial agreement, as they consider it equivalent to asking for the marriage to fail. Instead, think of these agreements and discussions as an opportunity to build upon the marital partnership. The law views spouses as business partners who owe one another fiduciary obligations. It is a well-known fact that successful business people do not enter into a partnership without a contingency plan.

The attorneys at Modern Family Law are able and willing to assist with all aspects of your family law matter. Get a Free Consultation here. Whether those services are related to an uncontested divorce, mediation, document preparation, or full representation.

Posted August 16, 2018
by: MFL Team



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