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Who Can Claim the Kids on Their Taxes in a Divorce?

Are you considering filing for divorce, or have you already divorced your spouse in California? If so, you might wonder how your taxes will be impacted, particularly when claiming your children as dependents.

Here, we’ll discuss who is eligible to claim children as dependents and the benefits of being able to do so in California.

What Benefits Are There in Claiming My Child as a Dependent?

declaring children on taxesEach child may only be claimed by one parent at tax time each year. The two parents may not “split” the dependency exemption in the same calendar year. As you might or might not be aware, there are some significant tax benefits to claiming your child as a dependent, which could include:

  •     The exemption for the child
  •     Head of household filing status
  •     Child tax credit
  •     Child and dependent care credit
  •     Education credit or education expense deductions
  •     Earned income credit

When determining who is eligible to claim a child as a dependent, no two situations are entirely the same for divorced parents. Here are some common scenarios:

Only One Parent Has Physical Custody

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) typically allows the parent with physical custody to claim the tax exemption for the child or children. In California, the only exception is if the custodial parent agrees to relinquish these rights and completes IRS Form 8332.

Both Parents Share Joint Custody

When two parents share physical custody in California, the parent with whom the child or children spend the most nights out of the year will likely be eligible to claim the tax exemption. If the child spends six months with each parent, the exemption goes to the parent with the higher adjusted gross income. This means that the parent who can claim the exemption may change yearly.

Divorce Decrees and Claiming a Dependent

divorce decreeIn some instances, divorcing spouses may agree to share the tax benefit of claiming a child as a dependent. For example, if there is only one child, the parents may include in their divorce decree an agreement that each parent will claim the child as a dependent every other year. If there are two children, the parents might agree to each claim one child as a dependent – possibly switching each year.

While these agreements might seem fair and amicable, they will not hold up under the law if one parent realizes they are entitled to claim the child as a dependent every year. Regardless of what is written into the divorce decree, IRS tax laws take precedence over county or state court orders.

Tax Deductions and Child Support Payments

A typical misconception is that a noncustodial parent who pays child support may claim the child as their dependent and, thus, benefit from that tax deduction. This is not true. As discussed above, tax laws supersede divorce decrees. Child support payments are irrelevant to determining who can legally claim a child as a dependent.

Seek Advice from a Skilled Manhattan Beach Divorce and Family Law Attorney Today

Determining which parent is entitled to their child’s tax deduction is just one of the myriad issues divorced couples must work through and resolve. Manhattan Beach family attorney Baden Mansfield has more than 30 years of experience helping people like you resolve tax and child custody issues. He has specific experience handling complex financial matters in divorce and will be ready to put his skills and resources to work for you.

Call our firm or reach out to us online for a confidential consultation to discuss the specifics of your situation today.

Can I Text My Child When They Are with My Ex?

When you share parenting time with your ex, you understandably may want to maintain some line of communication with your child during your ex’s parenting time, especially if you or your ex have an extended period of parenting time. You may wonder if you have the right to text your child when they are with your ex.

Refer to Your Custody Agreement/Order

First, you should review your custody agreement or order to determine whether you may text your child during your ex’s parenting time. Your agreement or order may expressly prohibit you and your ex from calling or texting your child during the other’s parenting time. If you are barred by your agreement or order from texting your child during your ex’s parenting time, it goes without saying that you should not do so.

On the other hand, the agreement or order may specify how you and your ex may contact your child during the other parent’s parenting time. For example, you and your ex may be required to contact your child only through certain methods, such as phone calls, video chat, text messages, or social media messages. The agreement or order may also limit the number of times that your child may be contacted during any period of parenting time or limit the hours when your child may be contacted.

Issues with Texting Your Child During Your Ex’s Parenting Time

Even if your custody agreement or order does not expressly prohibit or place limits on your ability to text with your child during your ex’s parenting time, you should be mindful of these things:

  • Avoid the temptation to excessively text or call your child. This includes refraining from calling or texting during times when your child (or your ex if you call or text your child through your ex’s phone) is likely preoccupied, such as during mealtimes or when your child should be doing homework.
  • If you text or call your child through your ex’s phone, you may decide to get your child their own cell phone. Even if you simply want to avoid tying up your ex’s phone while you talk to your child, you should discuss the issue with your ex before you make a purchase.
  • Do not try to pressure your child to divulge information about your ex, such as what your child and your ex do during their parenting time or whether your ex is dating anyone new.
  • If you believe your ex is intentionally and unreasonably restricting your communication with your child (if communication is not prohibited or limited by your custody agreement or order), you should not try to take matters into your own hands to resolve the issue. Instead, inform your attorney who can handle the situation by contacting your ex and their legal counsel or advising the court and seeking a court order.

Tips for Communicating with Your Child When They Are with Your Ex

To help avoid you or your ex excessively communicating with your child during the other’s parenting time or to prevent one parent from feeling like the other is abusing their communication privileges, you could:

  • Reach an agreement with your ex on a limit for reasonable communication with your child during the other parent’s parenting time. These limits can change as your children get older or as your custody arrangement changes over time. For example, you can agree that you and your ex can text or call your child every night between certain hours, with any texts or calls outside these times being considered excessive and subject to being ignored. This will not only help respect your and your ex’s time with your child but can also make sure that your child is not distracted during homework time or extracurricular activities.
  • Consider using special applications to monitor or restrict communications if excessive calling or texting becomes a problem.
  • If your child calls or texts you outside of times that you and your ex have agreed to, you should not ignore your child nor should you also engage in extended conversations in violation of your agreement with your ex. In addition, you should also inform your ex (through legal counsel if necessary) so that you can co-parent the issue.

Contact Us If You Have a Child Custody Issue or Dispute

If you have questions about your rights to contact your child during your ex’s parenting time, or if you feel that your ex is excessively or inappropriately contacting your child during your parenting time, call the Manhattan Beach child custody and visitation lawyers of the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield at (310) 546-5858 or contact us through our website. You’ll get a confidential consultation where you can learn more about your legal rights and options.

How Are IRAs Divided in California?

Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult life events anyone can face. In addition to the emotional turmoil that is almost always part of the proceedings, both parties must deal with the reality of dividing property. Getting your fair share of any wealth accrued during the marriage is not a cut-and-dried situation.

Although California divorce law mandates a 50-50 split of community (shared) assets and property, the actual process of getting this division done fairly and correctly requires the services of an experienced divorce attorney. If you and your spouse’s community assets include one or more IRAs, your attorney may also have to obtain the help of an actuary to determine what portion of the account(s) is legally yours.

Plan for Property Division When Proceeding with Your Divorce

California is a no-fault divorce state, so pointing fingers about wrongdoing the other party has committed during the union is counter-productive. Once you have chosen to end your relationship, it is important to consult with an attorney about dividing your community assets as soon as possible.

An IRA is one of your most important possessions because its worth may increase over time. Most likely, you will need legal guidance to ensure that you will continue to get a fair portion of that account into the future. Some people believe that seeking legal services at this stressful time is an unnecessary expense. But by ensuring that resources such as an IRA is divided correctly, your bottom line will be stronger as time passes.

What Is the Difference Between Community, Separate, and Mixed Property?

  • Community property is anything that is owned by both parties. While IRAs are community property, the start date of an IRA affects how much of it each party is entitled to. Community property also includes things like cars, homes, furniture, timeshares, recreational vehicles, jewelry, and land bought with both parties’ money. Jointly accrued debt is also part of community property. As such, these assets and any money owed will be divided equally in a divorce or the dissolution of a partnership.
  • Separate property, on the other hand, includes anything earned or acquired prior to the marriage or partnership, or after a legal separation or divorce. For example, if you purchase something with money you inherited, were given, or have designated for yourself, or if you gain income from property you bought with that money, those things are considered to be separate property. In this case, the party who owns these assets retains them at full value.
  • Mixed property, assets, or debts are those that were acquired prior to the union by one party, but were paid for or supported at some point by both individuals. Say, for example, one person owned property prior to the marriage or partnership, sold it and used the money as partial payment for a boat. If both partners then make payments on the boat, it is a mixed asset if they later divorce. Property division of this type of property is complicated when dividing it during a divorce or dissolution of a registered partnership.

Will I Get Half of Any IRAs in MY Divorce?

Whether you are legally married or are part of a registered domestic partnership in California, you are entitled to half of all community assets and property acquired during the union. However, although IRAs are community assets, each party may be entitled to only part of its value. It depends on what portion of it was earned while you were legally tied.

For example, if one party established an IRA two years prior to the marriage or partnership, the earnings of that portion of the IRA are subtracted from what is known as community, or shared, property. If the IRA began during the union, and if both parties contributed equally to that account, the IRA will be shared equally.

Should I Hire an Attorney to Divide My IRA?

Your home and your retirement assets are usually your most valuable property. With the impact they have on the economic aspects of the family’s future, it is wise to obtain a knowledgeable divorce attorney in the asset division process, one who will cut through the red tape so that you get your fair share. With an IRA, it is easy to determine how many years of an IRA’s earnings you are entitled to once you determine its start date, but it is exceedingly difficult to translate that information into how much money you can count on without the help of a seasoned family law attorney.

Contact the Property Division Attorneys at the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield Today

You have made the difficult decision to end what you had hoped would be a lifelong union. Your next step is to call (310) 546-5858 to speak to an attorney at the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield. You can also fill out our contact form for a confidential case evaluation. Our firm has served clients throughout Los Angeles County for three decades. And, most importantly, we help our clients with property division and all aspects of family law.

How is Child Custody Decided in California?

If you are a parent going through a divorce, protecting and maintaining your relationship with your child is of utmost importance. Hiring an experienced, local family law attorney is critical to ensuring that your role as a parent does not end with the divorce.

The attorneys at [firm name] are ready to review your case with compassion and competence to help you understand your rights and advocate for you as a parent. With over 30 years of experience, Baden Mansfield is known as a leading Manhattan Beach family law attorney with a track record of successful outcomes for his clients.

If nothing matters more to you than your children, allow [firm name] to review your case and fight for your parental rights. Contact us at [phone number] to discuss your circumstances today.

Types of Child Custody

In child custody cases in California, either parent can be granted custody of the children or parents can share custody. There are two types of child custody orders, and within these orders, a judge may grant joint or sole custody.

  • Legal custody is about making important decisions for the children, including those related to education, health care, and welfare.
    • Joint legal custody – Both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions for the children.
    • Sole legal custody – Only one parent is given the right and responsibility for making important decisions for the children.
  • Physical custody is about who the children live with.

Types of Visitation

A parent who has the children less than half the time is given visitation. Visitation may be granted in various ways, including the following:

  • Visitation according to a schedule – This plan details the dates and times that children will be with each parent and includes holidays, special occasions, and birthdays.
  • Reasonable visitation – This is an open-ended arrangement that allows the parents to work out visitation between themselves. This plan usually only works if the parents get along well and are able to communicate effectively.
  • Supervised visitation – This arrangement is used when supervision is required to ensure the child’s safety and wellbeing while with the parent. This plan may also be used in cases where a parent and child have not seen each other in a long time.
  • No visitation – This option is only used when contact with a parent would cause physical or emotional harm to the child.

How Child Custody and Visitation are Decided

how is child custody determined in californiaIn California, parents may make their own agreements for custody and visitation, and, in most cases, the judge will approve these agreements. If you and the other parent cannot agree, you will be required to go through a mediation process provided by Family Court Services. If mediation does not bring you to a solution, the judge will make a final decision. In some cases, the judge may request a custody evaluation to assist in making this decision.

Under California law, a judge is required to decide on custody and visitation according to what is in the “best interest of the child.” This decision will include several factors:

  • The age of the child
  • The child’s health
  • The ability of each parent to care for the child
  • Emotional ties between each parent and the child
  • The child’s ties to their home, school, and community
  • Any history of family violence or substance abuse

In addition to child custody orders, a judge will provide child support orders related to the amount of time each parent spends with the children.

In California, courts do not give preference to the mother or father and cannot deny custody or visitation due to a parent’s religion, sexual orientation, lifestyle, or physical disabilities.

In cases where giving custody to either parent is not in the best interest of the child, the court may give custody to someone else who is able to care for the child. This is called a “guardianship” arrangement.

Why You Need an Attorney

When you are struggling with child custody and visitation issues while going through a divorce, it’s imperative that you act quickly to protect your rights as a parent. You need an experienced family law attorney to fight for you and your relationship with your children.

The family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield are ready to review your child custody case with compassion and competence and fight for your parental rights. Allow us to guide you through this complicated and stressful situation so that you can protect your precious relationship with your child. Contact us today by calling (310) 546-5858.

Common Law Marriage in California

Do you have questions about common law marriage in California? Contact the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield today to learn more about how the state views common law marriages or to discuss your specific situation. Reach out to set up a consultation with one of our seasoned family law attorneys. You can contact us by phone at (310) 546-5858.

What Is Common Law Marriage?

A common law marriage is a marriage that exists between two people who have cohabited and presented as married for a sufficiently long period that the state recognizes their union as a marriage, even if they were never formally married in a ceremony.

Does California Recognize Common Law Marriages?

Despite being one of the more progressive states in the nation, California does not recognize common law marriages. However, unmarried couples who have cohabitated for a long time might still have some rights. If you and your long-term partner are curious to learn more, the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield are here to help you understand your rights as an unmarried, cohabiting couple in the state.

What If I Previously Lived in a State that Recognizes Common Law Marriages?

If you and your partner used to live in a state that recognized your union as a common law marriage, then the state of California will consider you married.

For the state of California to consider you and your long-term partner married, you must have met the criteria for a common law marriage in the state where you formerly resided. Because different states have different laws on the books regarding common law marriages, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can evaluate your situation and determine whether you met your previous state’s requirements for this type of marriage. In most states that recognize common law marriage, you must present as married by filing a joint tax return and taking the same last name.

The states where common law marriages are recognized include:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • South Carolina
  • Montana

If you hail from any of these states and your union was recognized as a common law marriage in that state, you will be recognized as married in California.

What Rights Do Unmarried Couples Have in California?

unmarried couple living together If you are unmarried in California and your union was not recognized as a common law marriage in another state, you might still have some very limited rights in California. For example, suppose you and your partner reasonably believed that your marriage was valid. In that case, you might be entitled to certain rights if you split with your partner, including the division of assets and receiving financial support. However, it might be challenging to prove that you believed your marriage was valid unless, for instance, a clerical error invalidated your marriage without your knowledge.

If you and your partner separate, you could also have some rights if you signed a cohabitation agreement that promised property sharing or palimony, which is basically financial support for unmarried couples. To obtain palimony as outlined in the agreement, you must file a civil claim with a California court. The court can only intervene if you file this claim.

If you bring your palimony case before a California court, the court will consider a range of factors when evaluating whether your claim for palimony or asset division is reasonable under the law. The factors the court will consider include:

  • The length of time you and your partner lived together
  • Whether one partner supported the other financially during the relationship
  • Whether you both invested financially in a property
  • Whether you both worked together to build something valuable
  • Whether you and your partner had an express or implied agreement regarding palimony and division of assets

If you and your cohabiting partner signed an agreement and you need help enforcing it after a separation, contact the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield today to discuss your situation and review your legal options.

Contact Us Today

While California does not officially recognize common law marriages, other options are available to residents who wish to form a union outside of a traditional marriage. For instance, California permits domestic partnerships, which afford couples all the same rights as married couples.

If you have further questions about common law marriage in California or need legal representation in a palimony case, reach out to the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield today for a consultation. You can contact us by phone at (310) 546-5858.

Understanding “irreconcilable differences” when filing for divorce

One of the common grounds cited by divorcing couples is “irreconcilable differences.” Married individuals who want to become legally single again may use such ground for dissolving their marriage.

Also called “irretrievable breakdown of marriage,” irreconcilable difference is considered  “no-fault”, meaning individuals do not have to prove that their spouse had committed unforgivable mistakes while they were together. Such ground is commonly used by divorcing couples because they do not have to prove that their spouse has committed a fault. Normally, those who use “irreconcilable difference” have their marriage easily dissolved, as long as the other spouse does not contest the filing. The divorce could not be granted or the procedure can be prolonged if the other party contests the filing.

Filing for divorce is an, unfortunately, complicated process, especially if children and assets are involved. However, if you are in such situation in Manhattan Beach, a lawyer of the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield may work for you. Find out how we may legally assist you today by calling (310) 546-5858.

Divorce of Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez now official

A December 30 article of revealed that estranged Hollywood celebrity couple Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez are officially divorced.

Reports said the divorce of Martinez and Berry was amicable, as they have agreed to completely share custody of their son, Maceo, 3. The former couple confirmed the divorce rumors in 2015, two years after they got married. Reports revealed that Martinez and Berry took a long time to finalize a property settlement even though they had secured a prenuptial agreement. After the former couple initially forwarded their divorce papers, Martinez chose to retract his filing in order to make Berry the sole petitioner in accordance with a California law. Halle Berry had two previous divorces and Martinez only had a previous relationship with singer Kylie Minogue.

In the often painful situation that you have decided to file for divorce, enlisting an experienced family attorney is a viable option to make sure your interests are upheld. Call a Manhattan Beach attorney with the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield today at (310) 546-5858 to learn more about your options.

Khloe and Lamar divorce official

American TV celebrity Khloe Kardashian and former Lakers player Lamar Odom were recently cleared by a Los Angeles judge to go their separate ways after finalizing their divorce, an article of NBC Los Angeles reported on December 9.

According to reports, even though the judge signed off on the divorce, the estranged couple became legally single starting December 17. The 32-year-old younger sister of Kim Kardashian initially filed for divorce in late 2013. However, she nullified the filing last year after Odom, 37, was found in a comatose condition in Nevada. Then last May, Khloe filed again for divorce and cited irreconcilable differences. The estranged couple reportedly agreed not to receive spousal support from one another and chose to discontinue their “Khlomar” company. The two had been married for nearly seven years before their divorce was finalized.

In the tough situation that you decide to give yourself another chance through a divorce filing, working with a skilled attorney is important, especially if you are still recovering from your emotional hardships. Call an attorney at the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield in Manhattan Beach today at (310) 546-5858 for your legal assistance.

Judge denies Brad Pitt’s plea to seal divorce docs

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge recently denied Hollywood actor Brad Pitt’s request to seal the ongoing child custody deal related to his divorce, an article of USA Today reported on December 7.

In the order issued by Judge Richard Burdge Jr. on Wednesday, the 52-year-old actor failed to meet the sealing detail requirements in his filing for joint custody. Pitt reportedly attempted to have the details sealed after attorneys representing Jolie, 41, forwarded the initial custody conditions agreed by both parties in October. A divorce attorney explained that securing “monitored visitations” is critical in securing a deal because it can be legally enforced. In California, joint child custody is often favored when there is no presence of abuse from the parties at hand.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield in Manhattan Beach fight for individuals who want to secure the custody of their loved ones. If you are in such situation, we will tirelessly work on your behalf to help secure the welfare of your children. Call us today at (310) 546-5858 to learn more about your options.

US divorce rate has reached its lowest recorded percentages in years

Research data recently released by the Bowling Green State University revealed that compared to nearly 40 years ago, the current divorce rate in the U.S. is at a considerable low, an article of Time reported on November 17.

In the data released by the “National Center for Family and Marriage Research,” they have recorded 1.69% of married couples divorced last year, compared to the near 2.3% divorce rate recorded in 1980. The researchers noted that while divorce rate has been a 40-year low, there was an increase in people getting married. The data showed that last year’s marriage rate was 3.22% of unmarried women became married, compared to the 31.9% recorded in the year earlier and the highest since 2009. Researchers determined the figures by analyzing data of women whose age is 15 or older and their marriage status. According to the report, the data could not provide a definite explanation for the declining divorce rate, and researchers also noted that first marriages have a chance of lasting compared to succeeding marriages, leading to the widely-debated statistic that 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.

Though nationwide divorce rates have been declining, the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield understands that some individuals in Manhattan Beach are considering filing for divorce. If you are in such situation, we may offer you all the legal support you need while you are dealing with emotional hardships. Call us today at (310) 546-5858 to learn more about your options.

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