Ah, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could look into a crystal ball and figure out exactly what you’re going to get from your divorce? Of course, if crystal balls existed, then we’re pretty sure the rate of divorce would plummet. The truth is that we cannot tell the future.
Every client who comes through our doors wants to know what they can expect to get out of their divorce. Every situation is different but here are some possibilities to consider:
If You Don’t Have a Prenup, Then Be Prepared to Give Away Half Of Your Community Property
California is a community property state, which means that each spouse is entitled to half of all the income and assets the couple generated during the marriage. This also includes an equal share of all debts taken out during the marriage. If you two bought a house together while you were married, then each spouse has an equal share of the equity and the remaining mortgage. The same goes for any money you put into your retirement accounts during your marriage, the camper you bought last year, even the business you founded while you were married! If you have dreams that you will “get everything,” that’s just not going to happen unless you have a prenuptial agreement.
Custody Favors the Parent That Did the Most Parenting
When determining custody, a judge always tries to make a decision that is in the best interest of the children. The judge will try to disrupt the children’s routine as little as possible, so if you can show that you did the majority of the caretaking, it is more likely that you can ask for more custody. It is hard to seek full custody of your children if your spouse wants custody unless you can clearly prove that your spouse is an unfit parent. If you can show that your spouse abused your children, takes drugs, or is involved in criminal activity, you are likely to get full custody.
Figure Out What You Want the Most at the Beginning of Negotiations
Unless you have an ironclad prenup, you will most likely have to give a big chunk of your estate to your spouse. Before you enter into divorce negotiations, start thinking about the things you really want. Has your home been in your family for generations and you can’t bear to lose it? Did you just buy the car of your dreams last year? Do you care nothing for material things as long as you get as much custody of your children as possible? Figure these things out, so that you and your attorney can devise a plan for your divorce negotiation strategy. Depending on how open to negotiation your spouse is, it may be possible for you to get a lot of things you want, as long as you are willing to be flexible on your end as well. If you and your spouse want the same things (or both want primary custody), you many end up having to go to court. If your divorce attorney knows your biggest priorities from the start, he or she will be able to develop a strong plan of attack if court should become necessary.
You almost certainly won’t get everything you want in your divorce settlement, which is why you need to enter into the divorce negotiations with an open mind and a good dose of flexibility. As we just discussed, you should know what your top priorities are. If you can, give your spouse what he or she wants so that you can ask for your highest priorities. In the even that you both want custody, start considering the possibility of equal custody (unless you feel that your spouse represents a danger to your children). It won’t be a perfect solution, but oftentimes compromising will save you a lot of stress and a lot of money in comparison to fighting tooth and nail for every last penny.
Hire a great divorce attorney in Orange County who can help you develop reasonable expectations for your divorce and get what you truly want! Contact Bohm Wildish to schedule a consultation.