Important Decisions That Must Be Made in a Divorce

by | Feb 20, 2018 | Health Featured

After a long and hard-fought battle, Deadpool star Morena Baccarin and her ex-husband have finally agreed to the terms of their divorce. Baccarin is a highly-successful Hollywood actress with a high stream of income and considerable assets. Her ex-husband, on the other hand, earns a great deal less. The couple was only married for four years. However, despite the disparity in their incomes and relatively short marriage, they shared quite a substantial marital estate. The spouses are also the parents of a four-year-old boy. In order to finalize their divorce, they had to agree on how marital assets would be divided and who would get custody of their son.

Dividing Marital Assets

According to Steven Fernandez, a Los Angeles divorce lawyer, “Under California law, each spouse is entitled to an equal share of community property in a divorce. Community property includes (most) of the property a couple assumes during their marriage.” This includes income, retirement benefits, royalties, dividends, real estate, cars, and other personal effects. Community property excludes the property that is owned individually by each spouse before they get married. Spouses can, and often do, alter the title to certain property (e.g., houses, real estate, vehicles) to re-classify it as community property.

Dividing marital assets can be an extremely complicated process, especially when the spouses are embroiled in a high net-worth divorce. Who gets the family home? What about the cars, boats, or motorcycles purchased during the marriage? Spouses have a few options when making these decisions. First, they can agree to sell physical or real property and evenly split the money they make on the sale. Alternatively, spouses can agree to take ownership of different pieces of property that are valued similarly. In that scenario, one spouse may get the family home, while the other spouse gets the vacation home.

Requesting Spousal Support

When divorcing spouses have significantly different incomes, the higher-earning spouse may be ordered to pay alimony. Alimony payments are made to help the spouse with the lesser income maintain their lifestyle after the split and get up on their feet. The length of time that a spouse may receive alimony is linked to how long they were married. In some cases, alimony can be required forever. In other cases, spouses may only have a few years of support to get on their feet.

The amount of alimony that is paid to a former spouse is determined by reviewing the income and expenses of each spouse. When couples get divorced in California they must complete an income and expense declaration. This allows courts to determine if alimony is necessary and, if so, how much the higher-earning spouse will be required to pay. Baccara, a successful actress, reportedly had an income of $90,000 each month. Her ex-husband, on the other hand, only had an income of $1,375 each month. In order to help her husband get by after the split, she has agreed to pay him $5,000 each year in alimony in addition to the child support she will be paying to support their son.

Settling on Child Custody

Child custody arrangements are often the most contested part of a divorce. This is especially true when the parents have plans to live in very different places. While California prefers to award joint legal and physical custody of children in a divorce, this can be difficult to accomplish when parents will be living on opposite coasts. For example, Baccarin had plans to live in New York, while her ex-husband wanted to remain in Los Angeles. This put an added strain on figuring out where their four-year-old son would live. Rather than letting a judge decide the fate of their family’s future, the couple finally agreed to have the child live in New York. Instead of living in Los Angeles, Baccarin’s ex decided to relocate himself for the benefit of their son.

Divorce can be a very complicated and stressful process. This is especially true when the spouses have a large marital estate, a disparity in incomes, and children affected by the split.

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