The Biggest Mistakes People Make In A Divorce


Going through a divorce is challenging emotionally, mentally, and financially and is often legally complex. The choices you make during this time can have a long-lasting impact on your finances, especially when you and your spouse’s finances are intertwined.

While you may feel comfortable navigating your divorce independently, there are many benefits to seeking the advice of an experienced divorce attorney and a qualified professional financial advisor.

This article will discuss some of the biggest mistakes people commonly make by divorcing spouses and how you can avoid them.

Common Financial Mistakes

Understanding how to protect your assets in California during a divorce will significantly impact your long-term financial situation.

1. Underestimating Your Expenses

You may know how much money you make each month, but have you taken the time to write down your expenses and create a realistic budget? Many people forget to include many of the more minor costs that, when added up, will be a considerable amount of money. Inflation is another crucial factor when estimating your future needs and maintaining your quality of life.

2. Determining Who Will Keep The Custodial Home

The decision about whether or not to keep the family home, especially if there are children involved, is an emotional issue. Even though it may feel more comfortable to remain where you are and avoid the costs and hassles of moving, keeping the family home may not be the best financial decision. It is essential to have a realistic sense of whether or not you can afford to keep it, no matter how attached you are to your home. You could have serious financial issues if you give up other important things to keep your home and later realize you can’t cover the mortgage, maintenance, or property taxes.

3. Equal Division Of Property, Is Not The Same As Fair Division Of Property

It is vital to understand that an asset value may not necessarily be defined or limited to its current market value. An example of this would be assets that generate income, such as a rental property that may be worth more than its market value. If you agree that each spouse should receive property of equal monetary value, It doesn’t always mean that the assets each spouse received would be an equal share of assets over time. When comparing assets or trade assets in a divorce negotiation, it is also necessary to pay attention to present value, tax basis, transaction costs, and possible future value.

4. Examine Financial Issues One At A Time

While it may seem like deciding on financial issues one at a time is the easiest way, you can miss the interaction of taxes, investment losses, capital gains, inflation, timing issues, etc. To determine a fair settlement, you must look at a comprehensive picture that includes all of your finances. When you look at a complete picture of your finances and assets, you’ll be able to understand better how each financial decision you make may impact another decision. Gathering this information together is the best way to determine how and when to divide assets.

5. Failure To Include Insurance In Spousal Support(Alimony) And Child Support

You will only be able to collect child support and alimony if your spouse can make the payments. Consider requesting that your spouse include life insurance or disability insurance policies or modify existing policies to ensure that these payments will continue during their death or disability. Have your divorce attorney review the policies to ensure that your spouse accurately designates what happens with any money that may come from the insurance policies.

 It is also essential to understand that these policies will not help you should your spouse voluntarily decide to stop paying alimony or child support. In this situation, you would need to return to court and request an order that your spouse make the agreed-upon payments.

6. Misunderstanding Your Liability For Unsecured Debt

Generally, unsecured debt is related to credit cards in most cases. If the debt was created during the marriage, it is a shared liability, no matter which spouse utilized the credit card. Both parties are responsible for the debt when getting divorced, and credit card companies can come after you.

7. Improper Evaluation Of A Defined Benefit Plan

A defined benefit plan(DBP) is a true pension plan funded and controlled by the employer and pays a monthly income at retirement. Individuals with a DBP must wait until retirement to receive payment; however, the DBP has value today, and the nonemployee party is entitled to part of the DBP. Most of the time, you will need to hire an actuary who is a specially trained financial expert to determine the present value of DBPs.

8. Including A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a legal document that states how you and your spouse have agreed to divide a defined contribution plan such as 401(k), 457, and 403(b) plans or pension plans. A QDRO will order the plan administrator to pay the non-employee their agreed-upon share. The plan administrator cannot make any payments without a valid QDRO. Getting a QDRO in place is crucial even if the pension is not payable for several years.

9. Having Unrealistic Ideas About Investment Returns

Make sure to get a professional opinion for any investment in question that may or may not grow over time to mitigate the risks of staying with risky investments and ending up with negative results. Liquid assets such as cash or things that can be converted can offer more financial security.

10. Not Considering Your Long-Term Financial Security

When you are getting divorced, sometimes you only look at your current financial situation instead of looking 10 to 20 years later. Consider working with a financial planner and experienced divorce attorney to ensure your agreements will be in your best interest in the long term.

We Are Expert Divorce Attorneys, Experienced In Family Law

Azemika & Azemika specializes in divorce law, family law, child support and custody, and adoption, and our attorneys are experts in California divorce laws. We support the community of Bakersfield, California, and our partners are here to help you navigate the complexities of family law to protect your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

Protecting Your Finances In A Divorce: A Guide


Divorce can be expensive, and it can be challenging to estimate how much it will cost you presently and long term. Even amicable divorces can be financially challenging depending on how long you and your spouse were married and your assets, debts, and intertwined finances.

Whether you are financially well off or think you have nothing to lose, working with a divorce attorney who can help protect your interest can significantly improve your long-term financial situation and quality of life.

Divorce takes a toll on almost everyone emotionally, mentally, and financially. So it is essential to do what you can to mitigate the damage. We have compiled a list of steps you can take to help protect your finances during your divorce.

Top Steps To Protect Your Finances During A Divorce

Step #1. Determine How Much Money You And Your Spouse Have

Whether you think you have a little or a lot of wealth, you must have a clear and accurate picture of your finances. You can only protect the assets that you know about, and you may even have more assets than you realize. Find out what money you and your partner have, including any 401(k), savings plan, 529 accounts, credit card bills, mutual funds, cryptocurrencies, absolutely everything. Once you have a complete picture of your and your spouse’s liquid assets, you can begin to develop a plan for the financial aspects of your future and your divorce.

Step #2. Avoid Hiding Money

You may be tempted to hide money, especially if you and your spouse have a rocky relationship, but it is a big mistake. It can lead to a loss of credibility with the judge, increased legal fees, and tension in an already stressful situation. 

Take any steps you need to protect your assets and income. Do it with integrity and out in the open.

Step #3. Create Separate Bank Accounts

Once you decide to file for divorce, it is an excellent time to establish your checking and savings account. While it may be challenging if your relationship with your spouse is complicated, do your best to begin separating your finances.

If you are concerned about telling your spouse you want separate accounts as you fear you may end up with no money, you may wish to withdraw half the money to move to an individual account. It is also essential to immediately notify your soon-to-be ex-spouse about what you did for transparency purposes and take action to close all joint accounts as soon as possible.

While one spouse may abruptly withdraw all of the money in the account, the judge will not view it favorably unless there is an excellent reason.

Step #4. Start An Emergency Fund

Your new savings account can double as your emergency fund for now, or you can open an account specifically for this purpose. An emergency fund is a great idea even if you are married and ideally should have enough to sustain you for three months.

Step #5. Hire A Divorce Attorney

During a divorce, emotions will often run high, and hiring a divorce attorney to help navigate the complexities of family court, help to protect your rights, and watch out for your best interest is critical. If you fear you will end up with nothing, the law is there to help and protect you.

For example, your lawyer can free any accounts at risk or free up funds for your living and legal expenses. If your ex-spouse empties a joint bank account, spends money on gifts or travel for a third party, transfers money, or takes on debt. In that case, your attorney can bring attention to it during the settlement if it can be proved the actions were taken in anticipation of the divorce.

Step #6. Hire A Forensic Accountant

Not everyone needs or can afford a team of high-level professionals during a divorce, but if you have a high net worth and think your spouse is hiding money from you, consider hiring a forensic accountant.

A forensic accountant will reconstruct your income and asset picture based on your expenses and lifestyle. When assets are kept in a domestic asset trust or offshore, they can be difficult to access even if they are considered mutual. Hiring an attorney with experience in asset trust can be beneficial; however, even then, you may not be successful.

Step #7. Hire Professionals To Ensure Paperwork Is Filled Out And Filed Correctly

Hiring an experienced divorce attorney will ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed accurately. If you and your spouse are splitting a retirement or pension plan, your lawyer will likely need to file a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order). If you choose to navigate your divorce on your own and fail to file the proper paperwork, you will not be able to receive your share even if you are entitled to it under the terms of your divorce.

Step #8. Require Insurance For Your Ex-Spouse If You Are Relying On Support

If your ex-spouse is paying child support or alimony, they need to carry life and disability insurance just in case of injury or death to mitigate further financial hardship.

Step #9. Consider Insurance For Yourself And Update Existing Policies

you may want to add life insurance for yourself if you don’t already have it. If you do, update the beneficiaries to someone else, like a sibling, your children, or parents. 

Step #10. Monitor Your Credit 

Make sure you check your credit school regularly and ensure creditors are aware of your upcoming divorce.

Step #11. Keep Possible Taxes In Mind

Make sure assets that carry significant taxes are split fairly. For example, money in a checking account will be taxed differently than money in a 401(k).

Step #12. Remember To Include Extracurricular Activities In Child Support

If your children play sports, go to camp, dance, etc., these fees can add up fast and need to be included in child support payments to avoid returning to court or renegotiating child support later.

Hire An Experienced Divorce Attorney To Protect Your Rights

At Azemika & Azemika, we understand the needs of those going through a divorce in California. Our skilled expert attorneys specialize in family law, divorce law, division of property, adoptions, child support, and custody in Bakersfield, California. Contact us today to get the support you need, and let us help protect your rights.

What are the Grounds for Divorce in California?


If you are contemplating divorce, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, almost half of all marriages end in divorce. And while you may not have expected your marriage to take this route, it’s essential to know how your marriage can be legally ended in California.

The grounds for a divorce is the legal reason your marriage should end. Keep reading to learn some of the common grounds for divorce in California.

What is a No-Fault Divorce?

Divorces can be “fault” or “no-fault,” but California uses the no-fault approach to divorce, meaning that the blame doesn’t have to be put on either party. Instead, the couple can simply file a petition with the court basing the divorce on irreconcilable differences. As a no-fault state, the courts can’t factor in marital fault when dividing marital property, deciding custody, or awarding child support or alimony.

Being a no-fault divorce state means that one spouse can file for divorce and doesn’t have to prove what the other did, causing the marriage to end. Either spouse can decide that they want a divorce, and the other spouse can’t do anything to stop the proceedings. Should they choose not to participate, the court can still finalize the divorce by granting a default judgment.

Grounds for Divorce

Many states allow a spouse to give a reason for the divorce, such as abandonment or adultery. However, California has simplified the divorce process by establishing two legal grounds for divorce, irreconcilable differences and permanent legal incapacity to make decisions.

Irreconcilable Differences

Citing Irreconcilable differences as the grounds for ending your marriage means that the fault doesn’t lie with one person or for a specific reason. Instead, it means the marriage is no longer working and cannot be repaired, or the couple chooses not to try to fix it.

Examples of irreconcilable differences include:

  • Disagreements over finances
  • Differing beliefs in parenting, including how to raise and/or discipline the children
  • Conflicts with in-laws or extended family
  • Lack of communication leads to problem-solving or conflict-resolution issues

Permanent Legal Incapacity

Legal incapacity, also referred to as incurable insanity, is the second ground for divorce in California. Legal incapacity could result from an illness, psychological disorder, or traumatic injury. The court must determine that the incapacity is permanent based on the information provided by medical testimony.

One must provide testimony from a doctor or provide other medical documentation proving:

  1. When you filed for divorce, your spouse was incurably insane.
  2. Medical professionals must testify that they expect your spouse to be unable to make decisions at any time in the near future.

It’s more challenging to obtain a divorce this way as there is a high burden of proof. Filing for divorce based on permanent legal incapacity will extend the time you spend in court and the total cost of your divorce. Conversely, a no-fault divorce requires no proof leading to a faster divorce process.

Annulling the Marriage

Under certain circumstances, the state of California also recognizes annulment. In an annulment, the court will rule that the marriage didn’t even happen. Grounds for an annulment include:

  • Incest or polygamy
  • A spouse was coerced or forced into the marriage
  • A spouse is younger than the age of consent
  • A spouse was not of sound mind at the time of the nuptials
  • The marriage couldn’t be consummated due to the physical incapacity of a spouse
  • Fraud

Turn to Kern County’s Award-Winning Family Law Firm

Keep in mind that residency requirements exist to file for divorce in California. At least one party must be a resident of the state for at least six months and a resident of the county where the divorce is being filed for at least three months. If you need help filing a divorce, or if you have any other questions enlisting the services of an experienced family law attorney is essential.

At Azemika & Azemika, we specialize in family law, so you can have peace of mind knowing that you have a knowledgeable, experienced team fighting for and protecting you and your family during the divorce process. We understand that you are going through an emotional, difficult time, and we will put our combined 56 years of experience to work for you.
Do you want an award-winning legal team on your side? Contact us today for a consultation.

Divorce and Social Media: 6 Social Media Habits You Should Avoid During Your Divorce

Social media

In 2021 there were over 4.26 billion social media users worldwide, which is expected to increase to almost six billion by 2027. Social media is a great way to stay connected to friends and family, but many people don’t realize that social media posts are admissible evidence in court during your divorce.

It’s becoming more and more common for photos and posts from social media platforms to be used as evidence in court proceedings. So whether you are considering divorce or are in the middle of one, being mindful of what you’re posting on social media is essential.

If you aren’t sure what you should avoid posting during your divorce, this article can help. We will discuss the top six types of social media activity you should avoid during your divorce.

#1. Avoid Negative Posts About Your Ex

It’s likely that at some point during your divorce, you will need to vent. However, social media isn’t the place to do it. Nasty posts about your soon-to-be ex, the attorneys involved in your case, or even the court system can damage your case during legal proceedings.

Don’t let a moment of anger change the direction of your case. Instead, be mindful and mature about what you post, and to be safe, avoid posting anything about your divorce on social media.

#2. Be Aware of the Photos You Post

If you have been living up the “almost” single life, avoid posting pictures on social media. Photos of you with alcohol or drugs could negatively impact your reputation with the family court judge.

This is especially important to remember if you are fighting for custody of your children. Pictures of you partying or partaking in dangerous activities could send the message that you aren’t a responsible parent.

#3. Don’t Post Anything That Could Falsely Represent Your Financial Status

While you may treat yourself to some extravagances during your divorce, keeping that information off social media is a good idea, especially if these purchases are outside your typical spending habits. Advertising lavish vacations or an expensive new sports car could affect the amount of alimony or child support you receive or are required to pay.

#4. Hold Off Joining Dating Apps

Waiting until your divorce is finalized before you join a dating app may be in your best interest. Joining a dating app while you’re still married could be used as proof of infidelity, even if you are separated.

The same goes for announcing new relationships, especially when children are involved. Announcing a new relationship while you’re still legally married could lead the judge to assess if it’s appropriate to have your children around a new partner during your custody case.

#5. Be Aware of What Others are Posting

Posts on your friends and family’s social media accounts could also affect your divorce. If they post pictures of you out drinking and partying instead of being at home with your children, or if a photo showed you in one place when you said you would be elsewhere, it can be incriminating evidence against you.

Asking your family and friends to avoid posting pictures or comments about your life during your divorce isn’t unreasonable. It can also prevent a broken relationship, as that person could be called as a witness against you during your hearing because of something they posted.

#6. Don’t Delete Anything

As tempting as it may be, avoid deleting your social media accounts or any social media posts without first speaking to your divorce attorney. Everything you post is technically permanent, and someone could have taken a screenshot of the post before you clicked delete.

Although these posts could be used against you, deleting them can be considered destroying evidence which is illegal. The best thing to do is to be mindful of what you’re posting or commenting on when you’re on social media.

Get the Representation You Deserve with Azemika & Azemika Law

Divorce can be challenging, even in the most amicable situations. If you can, avoiding social media altogether is the best way to ensure that a post could negatively affect the outcome of your divorce. However, if you can’t stay off social media during your divorce, make sure you take a second or even a third look before posting something because once something’s on the internet, it’s always out there.

Azemika & Azemika Law specializes in family law cases. We know that each case is unique and use our experience to customize each situation to fit the needs of our clients in Kern County. Our team of experts is dedicated to protecting your interests, financial stability, and the well-being of your family during this difficult time.
For comprehensive representation, contact Azemika & Azemika Law.

What is a Termination of Parental Rights?

parental rights

Terminating the rights of a parent is one of the most serious decisions that can be made in family court. When a parent’s rights are terminated under California law, the parent is no longer the child’s legal parent. When those rights are terminated, all of the parent’s rights and obligations end.

Parental rights can only be terminated by court order. This article will discuss how rights can be terminated, what happens after a parent’s rights are terminated, and how parental rights can be reinstated.

How Parental Rights Can Be Terminated

There are a couple of different ways California courts can terminate parental rights.

Voluntary Termination

While it may sound like it would be simple to sign away your rights, the courts in California will weigh the parent’s wish to terminate their rights with the child’s right to have two parents. This means a parent must have a valid reason to terminate their parental rights voluntarily.

In the case of adoption, the courts are willing to grant a voluntary termination of rights. Stepparent adoption is an example where the court may grant the termination request. That would mean that the custody of the child will then be given to the other parent. However, it could also be granted to a stepparent.

Federal law is more lenient than California law regarding the protection of children in these cases. The state has laws that outline reasons why a parent’s rights may be terminated. In any case, California family law courts make the best interest of the child the highest priority.

Involuntary Termination

As stated, the child’s best interest is the main priority in parental rights cases. Some cases require the court to involuntarily terminate a parent’s rights to ensure the child’s safety.

This is, however, only done in severe cases. Here are some of the most common reasons a parent could involuntarily lose their rights.

  • A substance or alcohol addiction that prohibits them from being a fit parent
  • Severe child abuse or neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Sexual abuse against the child
  • Failing to uphold parenting or financial obligations for a prolonged time
  • Mental impairments that prohibit them from being a fit parent
  • Being convicted of felonies
  • Committing a violent crime or domestic violence against a member of their family
  • Receiving a long prison sentence, especially if the child would be left in the foster care system

Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include all the factors that could cause a parent’s rights to be terminated. Typically, the courts won’t terminate the rights if the petitioner can’t prove that it is in the best interest of the child’s health, welfare, and safety.

What Happens After the Termination

After a parent’s rights are terminated, the parent-child relationship is legally ended. That means the parent has no rights to custody or visitation, they are no longer responsible for the child’s actions, and they generally will no longer have to pay child support. The child will also lose the right to that parent’s social security, medical benefits, and inheritance.

If the rights of only one parent are terminated, all rights and responsibilities are passed to the other parent. If one relinquishes their parental rights for the sake of adoption, the adoption can then proceed.

When the courts terminate the rights of both parents, CPS (Child Protective Services) will find a new home for the child. Their priority is to place the child with their biological family, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle.

Restoring Parental Rights

In California, if parental rights have been terminated, parental rights can be reinstated. However, it can be challenging, and the child must petition the court to restore the parent’s rights. The parent cannot. The child must file the petition within three years of the termination, and the child cannot have been adopted during that time.

If the child is over twelve years old, they can attend the hearing to speak to the court about the original termination or the reinstatement. If the issues that caused the termination have been rectified, and the court decides it’s in the child’s best interest, they may approve the reinstatement.

Get Representation You Can Count on With Azemika & Azemika

Whether defending your rights or petitioning for termination, having an experienced legal team by your side is essential. Your legal team can focus on the best interest of your child while preparing a solid case on your behalf.

The partners at Azemika & Azemika have a combined total of over 56 years of experience handling family law cases. Our years of experience allow us to provide knowledgeable and aggressive representation to clients in Kern County in the case of divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal and child support, paternity, adoption, and abandonment.
Contact us today to work with our award-winning team.