Palmer Rodak & Associates
Palmer Rodak & Associates
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Oceanside California Divorce and Estate Planning Blog

I think I'm paying too much in child support. What can I do?

You went through your divorce and ended up with a financial support order to supply funds for your children. This is something you were expecting as you had been the primary breadwinner and your children are now living with your ex the majority of the time. There is a problem, though, the child support amount you've been ordered to pay is really high, much higher than the standard. What can you do?

The state of California does allow support paying and support receiving parents to seek child support adjustments. There does have to be a valid reason for doing so, though. You can go about seeking an adjustment in one of two ways: go to court or engage in private negotiations.

Selecting a child guardian

Once a person in California becomes a parent, it is amazing how quickly life becomes about the child rather than the parent. The responsibility that parents bear to care for their children covers many things and actually extends beyond their life on earth when their children are young. The need to identify a guardian for minor children is important for all parents. This is the only way for a parent to know that their child will actually be raised by the person they want should something happen to the parents prematurely.

As Today's Parent explains, the lack of any documented guardian identification leaves open the possibility for friends or family members to get into a battle over who will raise children. It also means that placement into foster care could happen if nobody is identified as able to take on the responsibility for children after their parents die. If more than one person requests guardianship, a court may have the ultimate decision that may be better made by parents ahead of time.

Why and when should you update your will?

After you write your will, it can be easy to believe that the job is done and you will no longer have to worry about it. However, life is uncertain, and circumstances change all the time. You and other Californians should understand that there are numerous reasons you might want to update your will. It is a good idea to periodically review your estate planning documents to make sure that nothing is outdated, there are no mistakes and that you have taken care of everything that should be covered.

According to MarketWatch, keeping your will up to date may help your family members avoid the heartache and hassle of trying to interpret your wishes after your death, or from getting into a dispute. The following circumstances may signal that it is time to freshen up your estate planning:

  • You got married, divorced or remarried since you wrote your will.
  • You have children, grandchildren or other relatives that you wish to include in your will, who were not included previously.
  • You decided to change what you are leaving to your heirs, or you want to cut someone out of your will.
  • You have had a significant increase or decrease in the assets you plan to leave your loved ones.
  • You believe that something is wrong or invalid with your original will; for example, someone might have coerced you into terms you did not want, or you did not fully understand what you were signing.

For some, a new year means no more marriage

Many California residents like their counterparts throughout the nation eagerly identify resolutions with which to kick off a new calendar year. No matter the nature of the resolution, the goal generally centers around some sort of hope for a better life. For some people, this might be about adding some physical activity to one's life. For others, it could be more substantial - like getting a divorce.

According to Business Insider, the thought of ending one's marriage in January may well be more common that some might have believed. One theory as to why this is the case is that the holiday season, which really spans most of the last two months of the year, can to some degree feel like a break from real life. While the holidays may be stressful they may also provide a distraction from the everyday challenges people experience.

Planning on leaving an unequal inheritance? Read this first

Deciding how much of your fortune to leave to your children can be a daunting task for you and other Californians. In an ideal world, it would be easy to just leave each of your children an equal amount and get on with enjoying your life. However, as we at Palmer Rodak & Associates understand, life is anything but easy – or fair. You might have many valid reasons for leaving your loved ones an unequal inheritance, but they probably would not react positively to the news.

What are some of the reasons you might leave some children more, some less or even cut a child or two out of the will entirely? Aside from an adult child who has done something that gravely displeased you, thus making you feel as if your only recourse was to disinherit him or her, there are other reasons that may be financially-based. For example, explains The New York Times, your oldest child may have become very successful, while your youngest has had nothing but struggle and strife all of his or her adult life. In your mind, it is only fair that your struggling child receives a larger portion of the inheritance to help during difficult times.

What is an uncontested divorce?

When you and your spouse agree that a divorce is your best option, you may not initially realize that there is more than one kind of divorce in California. One type available to you is an uncontested divorce.

An uncontested divorce is usually a simple process. According to FindLaw, this kind of divorce is recommended if you and your spouse have already decided how you will divide your property and who will have custody of the children. If you disagree about any of these issues, you typically are not eligible for an uncontested divorce. If you are eligible, though, you generally have less paperwork to file with a court.

Protecting your rights and role as a father

Fathers play a critical role in the lives of their children. It is clear that children benefit when they are able to maintain a strong relationship with both parents; yet, if you were unmarried at the time your child was born, it can be difficult to establish and enforce your parental rights.

If you are facing issues regarding your rights as a California father, you would be wise to take quick action to resolve these matters effectively and as quickly as possible. Your relationship and time with your child is on the line, but with help, you can fight to protect your role as an active, caring and present father.

How can parents resolve disputes about education?

After you and your wife get divorced in California, you sometimes still need to make decisions about your child's education together. This issue can quickly become complicated if your child needs special education.

Making a decision about your child's education can be complicated if you and your ex-wife share joint legal custody. AdLit.org says that in this arrangement, both of you can view your child's progress reports and receive the dates of team meetings so you may both attend. Additionally, you are both able to voice your opinion about the educational plan laid out for your child.

Unique types of trusts

If you are like many people in California, you may think that a trust is basically just a will that may differ only in how estate taxes are handled. While there may be some truth to this at a rudimentary level, the reality is that a trust may offer you a wealth of flexibility that would quite simply be impossible with a trust. This may happen largely due to the fact that there are so many different types of trusts from which you can choose. 

Before deciding on how to structure your estate plan, it is wise first to identify your goals. From there, you will be able to appropriately review the estate planning tools that most appropriately help you meet those goals. For example, you might be concerned primarily about making sure your grandchildren receive some money from your estate. Alternatively, providing for your spouse after you die might be your primary concern. As CNN Money explains, you may use different trusts to meet these very different goals.

How do your children handle divorce?

A divorce affects the lives of everyone who is close to you, especially your children. This can be a difficult time for a while, and it is understandable that you might worry how your children will fare in the long run. This worry is not unfounded for you and other Californians who are going through a divorce. You want the best for your kids, and you do not want them to suffer when you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse begin your new lives apart.

Not surprisingly, children can be significantly affected by their parents’ split for years, explains the Huffington Post. In numerous examples where children explained the impact of divorce themselves, you can see how varied the responses are. Nearly every child will experience pain and shock, at least at first, but some will quickly adjust and go on to do fine academically and socially. Some children, in fact, may have expected for some time that their parents would split and may be relieved.

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Palmer Rodak & Associates
Certified Family Law Specialists State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

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