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  • Divorce and Legal Separation

Divorce and Legal Separation

The main difference between divorce and legal separation is that a divorce ends your marriage or domestic partnership and a legal separation does not. After you get divorced, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again. When you are legally separated, you cannot remarry.

No fault divorce

California is called a “no-fault” divorce state, which means there is no “guilty” or “non-guilty” person, from the court’s point of view. When you start a divorce case, you can ask the judge to make orders about custody and visitation, child or spousal/partner support, the division of your property, and who will be responsible for paying debts. This process is the same for a legal separation.

How to decide

Reasons for choosing either process differ as well. Couples choosing divorce are sure they want to end the marriage and separate from each other in every possible way. Typically, couples decide they want to file for legal separation instead of divorce because of religious/personal reasons or they do not want to get a divorce but want to live apart and get orders from the court about money, property, and parenting issues.

Another reason for considering legal separation is when couples do not meet the required residency requirements to file for divorce in California, and they cannot or do not want to wait to get the process of separating started. For divorce, one of the parties must have lived in California for 6 months whereas for legal separation, at least one of you has to live in California, length does not matter.

Time is also a different for each case, the divorce process takes 6 months, or longer, from the date the person filing for divorce officially lets his or her spouse or domestic partner know about the divorce.

Divorce consultation

If you are unsure of your situation, and whether you want a divorce or a legal separation talk to a lawyer. Contact Thorsteinson Law Group to help you with understanding the divorce and separation processes. We provide complimentary consultations, and are dedicated to helping you.

  • talking to your children about divorce

Talking to Your Children About Divorce

Talking to your children about divorce is difficult but not impossible. While there is no easy way to talk about divorce, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make it as stress free as possible for them.

When you sit down to tell your children you have decided to divorce, it’s best to:
• Practice what you are going to say and how you will say it
• Leave anger, guilt, or blame out of the conversation
• Have both parents present for the conversation
• Keep the conversation appropriate for your child’s age, maturity, and temperament

One of the most important things to make sure you communicate to your child, is that it is not their fault. It’s easy for children to feel they are to blame. Even long after the initial conversation, be sure to reassure your children that it is not their fault.

Prepare them for the change

Give your child enough information to prepare them for the change and answer their questions truthfully. Keep in mind that children don’t need to know all the detailed reasons behind a divorce just try to make sure they understand what will change in their daily routine, and what will not.

Remember that as much stress as a divorce can give to you, you can actually transfer that to your children, which is what you want to avoid at all costs. Children tend to carry the experience of their parents separating to their adulthood. Making this conversation civil, light, and easy to comprehend as possible will benefit your kids understanding of the divorce now and in the future.

Contact Thorsteinson Law Group in Long Beach and Huntington Beach to help you with your divorce. We provide complimentary consultations, and we are dedicated to helping you through the divorce process. Brett Thorsteinson is a divorce lawyer who will advocate for your rights.

  • High net worth divorce

Things to Avoid in a High Net Worth Divorce

In a high net worth divorce, the list of assets is so large that divorcing couples find they agree on dividing some things, but not on others, and neither wants to budge. Stress is high when large amounts of money, property, businesses, assets and other items are at stake. The divorcing party can be very emotional and often feels betrayed, angry, aggrieved, disappointed and might let these emotions influence their decisions.

These factors create a recipe for mistakes on both sides of the divorce, which have long-term effects on both spouses and/or their children. Here are a few things to avoid during a high net worth divorce:

• Guilt: When a spouse wants a divorce, they are bound to feel guilt for the other, despite justification. The spouse feeling guilt tends to give more money than hey should. When it comes to financial assets, decisions should be made similar to dissolution of a business rather than with emotions.

• Agreeing to anything to be out of the divorce: A spouse filing due to domestic/physical violence, or being in love with someone else is willing to do anything to be away from their current spouse. It is important to have a thorough analysis because this can lead to damaging effects on you financially.

• Failing to account for, or hiding assets: It is common to want to hide or transfer assets in a high net worth divorce. Transferring valuable assets to another person, such as, a business partner, will be seen as fraudulent and you will lose credibility in court. It is important to take the research process seriously for the law mandates the financial documents you find.

• Listening to non-professionals: During difficult life changing experiences, we often seek council from the people closest to us. While that might be good for your emotions, it may not be the best legal and financial advise you can get. Everyone’s experience is different and in a high net worth divorce, protecting your financial assets is key. Seeking professional guidance in the specific areas or getting a team together is a step in the right direction. Keep in mind that laws change and every judge is different.

These are only a few mistakes made in high net worth divorces, most all of which can be prevented when you hire a good divorce attorney.

Contact Thorsteinson Law Group to help you protect your net worth in a divorce. We provide complimentary consultations, and are dedicated to helping you through the divorce process.

  • divorce and designated beneficiaries

Divorce and Designated Beneficiaries

Married couples typically name their spouse as the beneficiary on their company 401(k) plan, individual retirement plans, annuities, life insurance policies and other accounts with designated beneficiaries. It’s important to keep in mind that a divorce does not automatically change all your designated beneficiaries. The best way to avoid potential problems in the future is to make a note to update your beneficiaries after your divorce is final.

There is so much going on during a divorce that one of the easiest mistakes to make is to forget to update the beneficiary information on all accounts. The result of which is often realized too late, when years later a family member is told that your ex-spouse will receive all assets from a retirement or pension account.

In the case of a life insurance policy, remember that the divorce judgment itself does not automatically cancel a spouse’s right as the beneficiary. To remove the ex-spouse as the beneficiary, the insurance company may require the spouse’s consent or a clearly worded divorce judgment stating who owns the insurance policy, who shall be the beneficiary, or who has the right to designate the beneficiary.

If you are currently in divorce proceedings, you have to wait until the divorce is final to make changes. However, immediately after the divorce is final you are free to make changes and it is in your best interest to make those changes sooner rather than later.

If you are unsure whether or not you want to update your beneficiary designation, you should set a reminder in your calendar for one year later to remind you to revisit the issue and make changes if you need to.

Contact Brett Thorsteinson, your trusted divorce and family law attorney to help you with your divorce. Brett listens to your needs and works diligently to protect your interests.

Four types of alimony

Alimony is payment made by one ex-spouse to another to help support them during and after divorce proceedings. It is usually ordered when the judge finds that the divorce caused economic consequences for one ex-spouse. Below are the four types of alimony along with the factors in alimony/spousal support.

Four types of Alimony

Temporary – This is also known, as “alimony pendente lite” is an ongoing payment that is made when a couple is separated or in divorce proceedings, but not yet divorced. It can include payment for divorce costs, daily expenses, and continues until the court determines permanent alimony.

Permanent – The amount awarded after the conclusion of divorce proceedings, paid on a regular, recurring basis. Permanent alimony is usually due indefinitely, but is subject to change under certain circumstances such as remarriage or cohabitation.

Rehabilitative – In situations in which one ex-spouse is not self-sufficient, the judge may order payment of rehabilitative alimony to provide financial support while searching for a job or while attempting to expand employment skills. This is typically ordered for a fixed period of time.

Reimbursement– This type of alimony was intended to balance the scales on any support provided for higher education or work training by one ex-spouse. It requires a regular payment to reimburse the sponsoring ex-spouse the tuition costs paid, or a portion of those costs.

Lump-sum – This is also known, as “alimony in gross.” If one ex-spouse does not want any property or items of value from the marriage, the judge may order a one-time lump-sum payment in replacement of the property.

How the court awards

Spousal support awards are generally based upon the needs and abilities of each party, and when deciding, judges look at the following factors:
• The duration of the marriage
• Health and physical condition
• The earning capacity of the parties
• Present income of the parties
• The extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party;
• The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support
• The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage
• The jurisdiction of the marriage

If you have specific questions about alimony and divorce contact Brett Thorsteinson, your trusted and experienced divorce and family law attorney. Offices in Huntington Beach and Long Beach with free consultations.

  • alimony

Alimony and Temporary Support Divorce

California alimony laws allow for temporary support to the necessary party before there is final judgment. The court has the power to order temporary alimony based on a spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay.

Alimony and Temporary Support

Temporary spousal support generally has nothing to do with the length of the marriage. A party seeking spousal support isn’t deprived on the right to receive support even if they have income. What is reviewed is the comparative income circumstances of the two parties. The greater the difference in income, the higher the support the paying party must give. Temporary orders are traditionally ordered to be paid directly to the deemed party. The duration of the alimony generally lasts until there is a final judgment or any other date set by the court.

Courts normally use one of two computer programs to calculate temporary support: the Dissomaster or Xspouse. These programs are the same systems used to calculate child support in California. Whether the program Dissomaster or X-spouse are used, the same limitations as you would enter for child support, which include income, tax filing status, exemptions, are entered for alimony. The program determines what the net disposable income is and what alimony should be on a temporary basis. The program is not used for long term alimony, that would be forbidden in California.


If the spouses have children, this calculation is typically made with the child support calculation. The amount of the alimony is dependent on the amount of child support ordered, which means that if the child support amount is eliminated, the alimony may increase. The final support numbers depend upon how much income the court is attributing to each party. Only certain expenses matter for purposes of temporary support in California. What doesn’t matter much at the temporary phase are most personal expenses like credit card bills, rent and other costs of living. When calculating income to determine temporary support, the court will typically go back approximately 12 months. That time period is typically a fair and representative one of income, especially when income is fluctuating. The court can go longer especially if a spouse is self-employed.

Your Trusted Long Beach Divorce Attorney

For matters on alimony and temporary support, contact an experienced long beach divorce attorney. Thorsteinson Law Group is your trusted divorce and family law attorney. With offices in Long Beach and Huntington Beach, we serve clients throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

  • Divorce and Debt

Divorce and Debt

In many divorces there is debt that needs to be considered. The type can vary but typically includes mortgages, student loans, credit cards, and vehicles. During divorce proceedings, couples will need to divide assets and debt.

The general rule is that if your debt was incurred at any time during the marriage, it will be divided between both spouses. For example, if you had opened a joint credit card, each of you will be responsible for the balance regardless of who did the spending.

Instead of dividing each debt in half, the court may assign one debt to one spouse and another debt to the other spouse. This means that if you and your spouse had multiple credit cards, you may be asked to pay off one of the cards and your spouse may be asked to pay off other cards, keeping the total debt for each of you equal. Keep in mind that no matter which spouse is responsible for paying the debt, all jointly held account debt will remain on your credit report.

Credit Reports and Divorce

It is important to check credit reports after a divorce to make sure that they do not include any debts that have been paid off or that are attributed to the opposite party. However, if a joint debt was incurred during the marriage both names may still appear on the report.

Be sure to consult your divorce and family law attorney for recommendations on how to handle your divorce and debt. There are strategies that can be put in place before the divorce proceedings that can make debt easier to manage after your divorce is final.

Thorsteinson Law Group is your trusted divorce and family law attorney. With offices in Long Beach and Huntington Beach, we serve clients throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Contact us today, we are here to help.

Huntington Beach Office

17011 Beach Blvd., Suite 900
Huntington Beach, Ca. 92647

Phone: (714) 375-6619
Fax: (714) 375-6621

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Long Beach Office

3780 Kilroy Airport Way, Suite 200
Long Beach, Ca. 90806

Phone: (562) 430-7676
Fax: (714) 375-6621

Driving Directions:
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  • five steps after filing for divorce

Five Steps After Filing For Divorce

There are different strategies and ways a divorce can be handled after the initial filing. Your choice in divorce attorney can greatly effect your results. However, generally speaking, the divorce process consists of five steps after the initial filing.

The paperwork to file for divorce is called the summons and petition for dissolution. There may be additional documents needed depending on your circumstances.

After you file the initial paperwork for divorce the following five steps will occur, each with their own nuances and additional processes to help your divorce go as smoothly as possible.

Five steps after filing for divorce

1. Temporary divorce order: You or your spouse may ask for a hearing so a judge can decide any temporary child custody, visitation, and support or restraining order disputes.

2. Discovery process: This is an exchange of information about each party’s assets, income and liabilities. In California, there are mandatory preliminary and final disclosures that must be made by both parties.

3. Agreement: You, your spouse and your lawyers will work on permanently resolving the issues mentioned in the dissolution.

4. Trial: If you are unable to reach an agreement, you and your spouse will go to court and a judge will make the decisions to resolve the conflicts.

5. Judgment: A final judgment ending your marriage can be entered six months after the day your spouse was served with the initial divorce paperwork. The court does not automatically end your marriage when the six months have passed.

Keep in mind that not every divorce will require all these steps, but these are the steps that occur in most divorce cases.

Your trusted divorce attorney

Contact Thorsteinson Law Group , to help you file for divorce and take the steps after filing. We are compassionate and here to help you.

  • Forensic accountant in a divorce

Benefits of a Forensic Accountant in a Divorce

Using a forensic accountant can assist the filing spouse in revealing essential information during the preparation stage of the divorce. The accountant can also help provide vital divorce documentation once the divorce process starts. Some forensic accounting services include calculating how much money is available for alimony payments and child support, trace community assets and liabilities, and uncover hidden assets and income streams.

When to use a forensic accountant

Typically forensic accountants are brought on to the divorce team which includes a divorce attorney and depending on the case, a private investigator.

In a collaborative divorce, the accountant acts as a “neutral advisor” who provides the divorcing couple with unbiased financial advice. However, a forensic accountant can benefit the spouses regardless of the type of divorce.

Some benefits include

• Identify and Clarify any inconsistencies between financial information and documentation to determine whether or not the other spouse is hiding assets
• Validate financial information with non-financial information.
• Calculate the cash flow, which may be used in calculating support payments
• Assist your attorney in preparing document requests of the other party, preparation of subpoenas, contacts with computer forensics and other professionals, and deposition or trial questions to be asked of the other party’s forensic accountant.
• Testify and provide input in court or at depositions and during the settlement process.

Contact Thorsteinson Law Group , your trusted divorce lawyer to help you with your California divorce. We provide complimentary consultations, and are dedicated to helping you through the divorce process.

Selling a Home During a Divorce

Whether you are selling a home during a divorce or buying a home, every divorce is unique and has it’s own challenges. Working through your divorce with a skilled and experienced divorce attorney can help reduce a big challenge to a small problem with a quick resolution.

One of those potential challenges people face during divorce is selling a home. If you are thinking about selling a home during a divorce here are some things to consider:

First, understand that if either spouse moves out during the divorce process, it will not impact whether the house loses community property interest. However, it does mean having to plan ahead as to paying mortgage, insurance, and taxes. Community property refers to property owned jointly by a married couple. Remember if property is held as community property, each spouse technically owns an undivided one-half interest in the property.

Second, understand the agreement set by you and your spouse before considering selling a home. This is where it gets complicated because of the Standard Family Law Restraining Orders that goes into effect as soon as the divorce petition is filed. These restraining orders generally prohibit a sale lacking a written agreement or a court order. The easiest way to sell the house during a divorce is through a written and signed agreement between the spouses that then becomes a court order. Effective legal representation is important so remember to speak to your family law attorney about the terms that fit your needs.

Third, you can consider other options. One would be to ask the court for an order to sell the house before the divorce trial. You would need a very good reason such as: selling the house during divorce because of the threat of foreclosure or selling the house during divorce to pay for attorney fees and costs. The reason the court would grant your request under these circumstances is because a house is only an asset. The family court does not attach any emotion to it. Hopefully, one or both of the spouses will move diligently if such issues arise, as a foreclosure or financial instability are rarely in either spouse’s best interest.

If you are unsure of your situation about selling your home during a divorce, Contact Thorsteinson Law Group to help you with understanding the processes. We provide complimentary consultations, and are dedicated to helping you.

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