Tag Archives: Divorce and Retirement

Arbitration and Mediation in California: What’s The Difference in These Forms of Dispute Resolution?

by Diana L. Martinez
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC

As a family law lawyer, I really look forward to my time on duty to volunteer at Riverside County Superior Court for VSC (Voluntary Settlement Conference) day. It is offered two Fridays per month and is THE most successful mediation program in the nation with an over 90 percent success rate!

Why? Because, in order to be a mediator on this panel, you must have the highest training and qualifications as both a family law lawyer and as a mediator. Not only do we donate our time, we must be in practice at least 10 years and have hundreds of hours of mediation training and practice under our belts. Other family law mediation programs that either do not have a structured program with high mediator qualifications, or that pay retired judges to do this work, enjoy a success rate below 60 percent.

Judges have an incredibly difficult job. It takes very specific skill sets to be a good judge. But being a talented judge does not, in and of itself, make you a good mediator.

I also volunteer as a fee arbitrator in attorney-client fee disputes … Read More

The Effect of California Propositions 60 and 90 on Your Divorce

by Diana L. Martinez
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC

When you are trying to navigate a divorce, there are many issues you need to address. If you own property in California, your decisions about your real estate can be among the most challenging, and perilous, if you are not fully informed.

One area often overlooked when making decisions about real property are the tax consequences. The tax implications can end up making a significant impact on your financial well-being, especially if you are part of the current wave of “gray divorces” among adults 55 years and older.

Many older couples who own property qualify for a lower property tax rate under California’s original Proposition 13. At the discretion of each county in California, Proposition 60 and Proposition 90 allow qualifying sellers to carry their Proposition 13 tax base on their original property with them towards the purchase of a new property of equal or lesser value. (Prop 60 governs real estate sales and purchases in the same county; Prop 90 governs real estates sales and purchases between two California counties).

Proposition 13 protects longtime homeowners against escalating property taxes as the value of their property … Read More

Social Security and How It Affects Your Divorce

Know your options when it comes to your Social Security benefits if you are divorced and nearing retirement age. A financial professional can help.

by Tracy S. McKenney, CFP®, CDFA™
Irvine, California

When a couple divorces, you may wonder whether anything happens to their Social Security benefits. What if the husband has been employed the entire marriage and the wife has stayed home with the children? Do they split the husband’s Social Security benefit at retirement? What if one of them remarries?

First, divorce laws are different from state to state. Social Security is a federal program and can’t be overridden by

divorce laws or a divorce judgment in any individual state including California. California courts cannot issue a divorce judgment to ‘split’ Social Security payments at retirement, because the federal rules governing Social Security override them.

What does the law say about Social Security and Divorce?

As of summer 2016, if a person has been married longer than 10 years and then gets divorced, the ex-spouse can receive 50 percent of their former spouse’s Social Security benefit –OR- 100 percent of their own Social Security benefit. Notice: you can collect only ONE benefit, not both.

For example, “Dolly” and “Dennis” got divorced when Dolly was age 52, and Dennis was age 54. Dennis decided to start collecting Social Security when he turned … Read More

When 50/50 Isn’t Always Equal in a California Divorce

Splitting your property in half, known as a "50/50 divorce," isn't always the best option for couples.

by Diana L. Martinez
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC

California is one of nine “community property” states as it relates to divorce. This means that assets and debts acquired and incurred during your marriage will be divided equally upon divorce. Exceptions exist for specific items received during marriage that are deemed “separate property” under the law. This includes gifts and inheritance.

This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in divorce law. Spouses often believe their divorce will be easy if they just split all of their property in half, or “50/50.” While strong emotions present a barrier to resolving issues during a divorce, not far behind is the misunderstandings by couples about the concept of what is “fair” when it comes to dividing up assets and liabilities.

From extensive experience as a mediator, consultant, and Collaborative Divorce lawyer, I am a strong advocate for giving spouses a greater voice in the outcome of their divorce. I am also a strong proponent of ensuring divorcing spouses have as much information as possible to make the best decisions moving forward.

Although the courts are required to enforce the laws, spouses in a divorce, with … Read More