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Understanding rights and obligations in a divorce

When a California couple's marriage is ending, one party may make what feels like unreasonable demands upon the other. It is important for the other spouse in such a situation to understand the rights they both have.

For example, one man was presented with a series of requests from his wife when their divorce appeared imminent. The couple had two children together, ages 12 and 14, and the man's wife had gotten an MBA 20 years earlier but had not worked outside the home since the birth of the first child. She asked her husband to move out of the family home and have an unemployed male friend move in. She wanted to continue living in the home until the children went to college and asked for alimony until her husband's retirement. She also asked for half of the retirement account based on its value at his retirement.

According to an attorney, the man should be able to get a guardian ad litem for the children to agree that no unrelated adult should move in with them for at least two years. The attorney also said that his wife could claim half the value of his possessions at the time of divorce. As for alimony, the wife would most likely to able to find work that would reduce the husband's obligations.

In a high-asset divorce case in which the financial stakes are high, individuals may be particularly concerned about protecting their interests. Even if the couple has signed a prenuptial agreement, one of them might challenge that agreement in court. Splitting the value of retirement accounts, multiple homes and investments along with any businesses owned may be particularly complex. Couples might want to opt for making a legally binding agreement by negotiating through their attorneys rather than going to court where they may have little input into a judge's decision.

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