Fiscal Cliff Divorce Planning

Jumping off the fiscal cliff

Don’t jump off the fiscal cliff in the midst of a divorce without a safety net in place.

With the fiscal cliff seemingly looming as a reality, Justin Reckers, CFP, CDFA of Pacific Divorce Management has advice on financial planning strategies if your divorce settlement could be affected by this situation. Read more here and talk to legal and financial professionals such as the team at CFLG San Diego if you need to take action before the end of the year.

 

 

Gift Giving: Can You Take Out the Emotion and Leave the Joy?

CFLG San Diego member Justin Reckers, CFP®, CDFATM, AIF®, managing director at Pacific Divorce Management, was recently interviewed for a story about advising financial clients about how to keep holiday spending under control. While Justin doesn’t specifically address divorced families, it’s not uncommon for divorced parents to try and make it up to their children by giving lavish gifts that they really cannot afford. This is great advice for them, and for anyone tempted to spend beyond his or her means.

Read the article here.

 

 

Sesame Street and collaborative divorce

Sesame Street and Divorce

Abby Cadabby shows drawings of her mommy and her daddy’s homes.

The much beloved and admired children’s TV series “Sesame Street” discussed the topic of divorce for the very first time in the show’s history this week. Producers tried putting a segment together in 1992, but when they tested it with children it didn’t go over so well.

Armed with new research and a different approach, the producers believe they’ve got it right this time, and the children who previewed the presentation agreed.

It seems safe to say that “Sesame Street” would endorse the collaborative divorce philosophy, putting the children’s needs and emotional well-being first, assuring them their parents love them no matter where they live.

The show has addressed many difficult topics over the years including AIDS, natural disasters, racism, and adoption. Of all the tough topics on the show, divorce has been among the most challenging.

Read more here and let us know what you think of the “Sesame Street” approach.

 

 

The first family Christmas post-divorce

The first family Christmas after a divorce can be daunting for anyone. Read here how newly divorced mom Heidi StPink Christmasevens handled the situation with a promise for a pink Christmas tree. Do you have tips to share about navigating that first holiday – or birthday, summer vacation, or school play – after parents get divorced?

KPBS-TV Interview: Cuts to San Diego County Courts Are Affecting Families

Attorney Shawn Weber of Brave Weber & Mack and a member of CFLG San Diego appeared on KPBS Evening Edition with anchor Peggy Pico on Monday, December 3 for an interview about the impact of state court system budget cutbacks in the family law courts, and how individuals with family law matters could be affected. Weber encouraged people to give more consideration to seeking alternatives such as collaborative methods rather than pursuing matters in the courts. Please watch the interview here.

KPBS Radio Interview: San Diego County Court budget cuts will affect family law cases

CFLG San Diego member Shawn Weber, attorney with Brave, Weber & Mack, discussed Shawn Weber and Maureen Cavanaughthe impact of recent budget cutbacks to San Diego County’s family law courts on KPBS Radio’s “Midday Edition” with host Maureen Cavanaugh on Monday, December 3. Weber explained changes affecting court operations, and how this might negatively affect individuals with family law matters. Weber urged listeners to consider alternatives to going to court, such as collaborative law or mediation. Please listen to the interview at this link.

Divorced Familes Can Still Enjoy Happy Holidays

CFLG San Diego member Myra Chack Fleischer, Fleischer & Associates, offers excellent advice for divorced families on avoiding conflicts during the holiday season and making them more enjoyable for everyone in her latest column for Communities at Washington Times.

As Myra points out, all of us – attorneys, mental health professionals and financial advisors included – would rather enjoy the holidays with our own families than be called into action on behalf of stressed out clients during the season. Due to the recent court cutbacks, emergency filings are an even greater strain on everyone. This is the time to think ahead, anticipate and solve problems so you can enjoy your holiday season with minimum stress for you and your children.

The bonus: you’ll not only avoid stress but also any added financial expense from legal bills.

Read her tips here – and pass them on!

Read more: Divorced families can still enjoy happy holidays with a little planning | Washington Times Communities

 

 

 

 

 

Could collaborative process help Halle Berry avoid custody battle?

Halle Berry is in the news for all the wrong reasons after the father of her child and her  fiance got into an altercation on Thanksgiving, ending in the arrest of her ex for misdemeanor battery. The altercation occurred during a custodial hand-off involving Berry’s 4-year-old daughter with Gabriel Aubry, Nahla, according to Los Angeles police. See more details here.

Berry has been embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Aubry since they broke up in April 2010. Earlier this month, a judge denied Berry’s request to move to France with Nahla. Berry is now engaged to French actor Olivier Martinez.

A judge has since issued an emergency protective order requiring Aubry to stay at least 100 yards (meters) from Berry, their daughter and Martinez, according to celebrity website, TMZ.com

While Berry and Aubry were never married, a collaborative process involving counseling for everyone involved in this difficult situation could have prevented this situation. Halle, we’re available if you need us!

Consider a Divorce Coach To Set the Stage for a Healthy Family Transition

By Shawn Weber, Attorney, Brave Weber & Mack

In any family law case, a person’s relationship with his attorney is crucial.  I tell my clients that as their attorney I have “got their back” when they walk into the courtroom or a negotiation situation. It is not smart to try to litigate without an attorney, at least one on call, to make sure that any decisions you make are informed.  There is an old saying that a person who tries to represent herself “has a fool for a client.”  For the most part, I agree.

However, there are other professionals besides the attorney that are simply invaluable to any party in a family law case.  One hugely underused professional is the Divorce Coach.

A divorce coach is typically a mental health professional such as a marriage and family therapist, licensed clinical social worker or psychologist.  He or she has special training or experience in family law related issues.  As a family law attorney, I find the divorce coach extremely helpful. Divorce and custody cases can be so emotional.  If it weren’t for the emotional trauma, most divorces would be just like any business transaction.  In essence,  it would just be math.

While a divorce coach is typically trained in psychotherapy, he or she is not doing therapy when coaching. Rather, the coach is helping a client deal with the “here-and-now” emotions of the divorce.  The coach helps people deal with their soon to be ex-spouse and teaches  skills to help parents craft the best possible parenting plan.  Coaches are incredibly helpful in short-circuiting difficult issues that could typically lead to extreme conflict, animosity between spouses and painful litigation.  Coaches can also help provide a voice for children.

It is best when coaches are brought in early in a case.  My experience has shown me that a case goes much more smoothly and typically costs less when parties use coaches.  Many of my clients try to use me, their attorney, as a therapist. While I consider myself sensitive and empathic, I am simply not qualified to help with emotional issues. Even if I were, it’s expensive to pay an attorney to be your therapist. If a coach gets involved at the beginning of a case, many of the emotional conflicts can be resolved to make room for the case to move quickly to settlement. Patterns, boundaries and goals can be established early in the case to ensure a smooth transition for families. This reduces the amount of emotionally driven and often unnecessary litigation that can be so damaging to families and in particular children.

I am a big believer in making sure that divorcing couples arm themselves with every tool available to ensure that their divorce goes smoothly. My clients who use coaches appreciate the guidance they receive from a mental health professional during a difficult time.  Their children benefit from it. Setting the stage for a healthy transition at the very beginning of a case is so important and coaches provide powerful tools to make it happen.

If you are in San Diego County, I recommend using any of the coaches or child specialists listed on the website of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at this link.

Post Election Income Tax Planning for Divorce

By Justin A. Reckers CFP®, CDFA™, AIF®

Managing Director, Pacific Divorce Management

We now have a bit more clarity about the future income tax landscape in the United States and the State of California specifically. Here is what I know.

In 2013 the 0.9% Medicare surtax kicks in on taxable income over $200K for single filers and $250K for married filers.

In 2013 the 3.9% Medicare tax on unearned income such as dividends, interest and capital gains kicks in for single filers with taxable income over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married filers.

President Barack Obama wants the top rate on capital gains to rise to 20% for single filers with taxable income over $200,000 for single filers and $250,000 for married filers. He also wants the top tax rate to go higher from its current 35%.

What does this mean to you? It may be a good idea to sell appreciated assets in 2012. Taking gains in these assets in 2012 could save you the 0.9% Medicare surtax, the 3.9% Medicare tax on unearned income and 5% or more from the increase in capital gains tax rates.

For divorcing parties this might mean selling some appreciated assets such as stock positions or real estate in order to lock in the 15% capital gains rate and avoid the 3.9% additional Medicare tax rather than retaining them post divorce. It might mean exercising non-qualified stock options in 2012 to lock in the maximum 35% income tax bracket and avoid the additional 0.9% Medicare surtax.

California voters passed Proposition 30 on November 6. Prop 30 raises taxes on EVERYONE.

  • The income tax increases are RETROACTIVE to January 1, 2012
  • Sales tax rates are increased by 3.45%
  • Three new high-income tax brackets are created: raising rates from 9.3% to 10.3% for taxable income over $250,000 but below $300,000 (10.6% increase); from 9.3% to 11.3% for taxable income over $300,000 but below $500,000 (21.5% increase); from 9.3% to 12.3% for taxable income over $500,000 but below $1 million (32.26% increase); and from 10.3% to 13.3% on taxable income over $1 million (29.13% increase).

There is nothing you can do about Prop 30 at this point since the changes are all RETROACTIVE. It amazes me how many people did not realize the measure was retroactive.