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Fundamental rules of privacy inherent in most marriages appear to be missing when celebrity couples split up. Where would tabloids and many media outlets be were it not for public demand to know all the details of the latest divorce news involving movie and TV stars, politicians, or just about anyone living their lives in the public spotlight? A great deal can be learned about resolving common divorce issues from celebrity divorces.

Child custody, visitation and child support

They may have gone their separate ways as a couple, but Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck make custody and visitation work for them and their children by recognizing the importance of always focusing on the best interests of their children. They also understand how mutual cooperation contributes to the success of their co-parenting arrangement.

California separates child custody into legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the authority granted to a parent to make decisions affecting the health care, education and general welfare of a child and may be shared by both parents or granted to only one of them.

Physical custody refers to the location at which a child lives. As with legal custody, it can be shared by the parents or granted to only one of them. Joint physical custody allows children to split time living with each parent.

The overriding consideration for judges asked to rule on visitation, which is the amount of time a parent spends with a child, and custody is the best interest of the child. Factors a judge may take into consideration include the following:

  •       Age of the child
  •       Emotional ties a child has with each parent
  •       Child’s health
  •       Ability of each parent to take care of the child
  •       History of family violence or substance abuse

The importance of keeping a child in a particular school or in a community where friends and other relatives reside may be a factor affecting physical custody.

One celebrity couple, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan sought help from a counselor to reach an amicable arrangement for sharing time with their daughter after their marriage ended. A consultation with a family law attorney may offer options for you to pursue with your spouse.

In addition to custody and visitation, child support must also be agreed upon by divorcing parents. A guideline used in California to arrive at the amount divorced parents should pay to meet the needs of a child takes the following into account:

  •       Current or anticipated earnings of the parents
  •       Income received by the parents
  •       Number of children of the marriage
  •       Time-share or visitation of each parent
  •       Income tax filing status of the parents
  •       Child support parents pay for other children
  •       Expenses related to health insurance
  •       Costs of daycare

Courts also may consider other factors in arriving at the amount of child support, including special needs of the child.

Spousal support: How some celebrities avoid a fight

There may be an earnings disparity between spouses that must be addressed when they decide to end their marriage through a divorce. The parties may decide that one of them should pay spousal support to the other. If a negotiated agreement cannot be reached, the spouse in need of support may ask a judge to decide the issue as part of the divorce case.

A judge must determine the earning capacity of each spouse after the divorce. The goal of awarding spousal support is to ensure that each of the parties has the financial ability to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. Factors judges in California may use to decide whether to grant spousal support and the amount to award include the following:

  •       The marketable skills possessed by the spouse requesting support
  •       The likelihood of the spouse requesting support to obtain a job
  •       Education or training a spouse may need to develop the skills needed to get earn a living
  •       Time and cost for a spouse to develop marketable skills

The length of the marriage and contributions made by the spouse seeking spousal support to domestic duties may also be factors affecting a judge’s decision regarding spousal support. The fact that one party remained at home caring for children allowing the other to pursue a career or educational opportunities may weigh heavily in the decision to grant spousal support.

Some celebrity couples avoid public fights over spousal support by incorporating it into the terms of a prenuptial agreement. Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian included spousal support in an agreement they signed prior to their marriage. When they filed for divorce several years later, spousal support for Khloe had already been worked out in their prenuptial agreement before any divorce-related hostilities could make it difficult to reach an amicable arrangement.

Distribution of property acquired before and during a marriage

One of the most complex issues divorcing couples must deal with is the distribution of the property they own. The term “property” includes the following:

  •       House and vacant land
  •       Bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds
  •       Pensions, IRAs and 401(k) plans
  •       Cash value of life insurance policies
  •       Ownership of a business
  •       Furniture
  •       Artwork

Before a couple may begin distribution of the property they own, they must first identify each item as either separate property or community property.

The general rule in California is that anything you and your spouse acquire during the marriage is community property, which means it equally belongs to each of you. Community property includes money earned during the marriage.

Something you owned before the marriage, such as a house or car, that you still own at the time of a divorce is classified as separate property. An inheritance or gift you received during the marriage would also be separate property.

Separate property is not subject to distribution in a divorce. Unlike community property that must be equally distributed between the spouses, you may retain ownership of your separate property.

The conflicts that arise over the classification of property as community or separate can cause a divorce to drag and end up in court with a judge being asked to decide property distribution issues. Celebrity couples turn to prenuptial agreements to avoid conflicts over property distribution in the event of a divorce. For example, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West reportedly signed a prenuptial agreement before they were married that includes how real estate, earnings and other assets they own would be divided in the event of a divorce.

Celebrities rely on the advice of family law attorneys

The emotional stress and turmoil associated with the end of a marriage may be unavoidable. You can avoid conflicts with your spouse over child custody, support and property issues related to your divorce by learning from celebrity couples who rely upon the advice and guidance of experienced family law attorneys.

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