We look out for you - protecting your legal rights, your property, and your interests during this highly personal, emotionally charged, complex and stressful time for you.
Each case is different, with specific circumstances, and a unique timeline. Even cases that are “all done, except for the paperwork” or that have minimal conflict can, upon later review, be complicated. You may think that you do not need an attorney since you are in agreement on major issues including finances, support, custody, etc. but a poorly written agreement, or one that misses issues, can become costly in the future. Or, perhaps one of you does not disclose an important fact or financial information that can cause custody or financial problems. Especially complex issues can arise in a contested divorce, high-asset divorce, child custody and visitation situations, and domestic abuse and restraining order cases. To avoid costly mistakes in the future, make sure you consult with an attorney now.
Can I end my marriage right away, while we are still deciding everything else?
It may be possible to change your married status to divorced status to move forward with your personal life while continuing to work on resolving property, financial, custody, visitation, and support issues.
How much will my case cost?
Many factors affect the ultimate cost of your case, including the complexity of contested issues, the size of the marital estate, and each party’s emotional investment driving their actions. Predicting total monetary costs for a case is difficult. We take great pride in practicing open communication, using creative problem-solving techniques, and focusing on efficient and cost-effective solutions tailored to successfully resolving your specific case.
Also affecting the process are the ability of the parties to cooperate on working towards a solution, their honesty about assets, their willingness to negotiate out-of-court, and knowing when (and what) to put-aside in order to move forward in reaching ultimate goals. Insisting on ‘’revenge’’, dishonesty, unwillingness to listen, animosity, and other negative feelings and actions cost more time and money. We keep the case focused on the legal issues and moving forward to a successful resolution, so you can focus on moving forward with your life.
What about using a mediator?
Mediation can be a great way to resolve either your whole case, or part of your case.
Working as your mediator, we help parties work through the issues so that it is often easier for them to reach an agreement they both can agree upon and settle disputes for themselves. Even if the parties do not agree on everything, mediation can help resolve some issues, so that you only need additional court assistance on those issues you have not yet resolved.
Alternatively, as a consulting attorney during mediation, we protect your rights. You want to make sure any agreement is fair, equitable, addresses your issues, and protects you and your rights. We do that for you.
Will a Domestic Violence Restraining Order affect my divorce?
Evidence of domestic abuse or violence, or a Domestic Violence Restraining Order can impact the court’s decisions on spousal support, child custody, and child support. The courts take domestic abuse and violence situations very seriously and we can make sure that your rights are protected during this stressful and emotional time.
Property Division (Assets and Debts)
California uses the community property model to divide marital property and, while it may appear simple, it can be complex. Property division is often one of the most challenging issues in a divorce. Parties often disagree on what they consider to be marital (community) property, quasi-community property, and separate property. If
you are dealing with significant assets and properties, it is crucial to have a marital settlement agreement drafted so you avoid costly property disputes in your future.
While separate property exceptions exist, each party generally keeps their separate property acquired before the date of marriage, acquired after the date of separation, acquired by gift or inheritance given to only that party, or acquired during marriage through the use of separate property accounts or income. Problems typically occur when monies are commingled, when commingled monies are used to purchase or pay on community property, or when commingled monies are used to pay on separate properties, or the parties disagree on a crucial date, or the characterization of a gift, property, loan, or debt.
Who pays for college degrees or student loans?
Tuition for one spouse’s higher education that is paid for by the marital community can be reimbursed by the graduate, if that education can be shown to have significantly enhanced the graduate’s ability to earn a living. There are exceptions, however, such as in the case of a doctor who’s increased income has made up for the cost of their medical degree.
Student loan debt, on the other hand, if it is incurred during marriage, may be assigned to the spouse whose education the loans financed.
The court can make “temporary” and “permanent” orders for spousal support. “Temporary” spousal support is calculated using a computer program, is generally modifiable upon a showing that either party’s financial circumstances have changed.
“Permanent” spousal support is more complex, especially after a long marriage, and proving the appropriate amount of “permanent” spousal support (and its duration) can take an in-depth examination of the parties’ financial histories, health, ages, etc. Furthermore, “permanent” spousal support may – or may not – be modifiable or terminable, as the case warrants. We can present your case effectively to the court to get you the best outcome for your spousal support order.
Can a Spousal Support Order Be Changed (Modified)?
If you believe that you are entitled to an increase in spousal support, or that you should be paying less in spousal support, contact us. We can help you with a modification or with challenging a proposed modification. Many orders are modifiable under the right circumstances, and must be made by court order. Spousal support orders can be modified when based on a significant change in circumstances such as an increase or decrease in income, a loss of a job/unemployment, a new job with a different pay level or structure, or retirement. Spousal support orders cannot be modified retroactively so as soon as a change in circumstances for either party occurs, you should immediately find out how it affects you and spousal support.
If I lose my job, do I still have to pay spousal support?
So long as you have a court order to pay support, you should continue paying. If you stop paying, you still owe the money you did not pay, and this type of debt accrues interest at the whopping rate of 10%. If you have lost your income, you will need to file a request in court to modify that order. Not only that, since the court can only modify support commencing the date that you file your request (and not when you lost work), you should not delay and should file this request as soon as you lose your job.
What about post-nuptial or prenuptial agreements?
This is a personal choice between you and your spouse. These agreements provide peace of mind and allow parties to move forward and enjoy their lives secure in the knowledge that their rights are protected. In the event of the death of a spouse, or a divorce, an official document stating the terms of what will happen to assets, debts, property, pets, and children can be very beneficial. Other typical reasons to draft an agreement include a significant difference in ages, a significant difference in financial status, ensuring children from a previous marriage inherit certain assets, ensuring spousal support, ensuring child support, protecting business partners rights and interests, or both parties have significant assets they want to ensure remain separate property. An agreement can also include protection from any debts the other party incurs before going into the marriage.
Your agreement should be written to withstand a court challenge to set it aside. Additionally, prenuptial agreements have strict time limits and procedural requirement that must be followed during the drafting, review, and signing before the marriage occurs. We can draft your agreement, or we can review a completed agreement to make sure it is correct before you sign it. To make sure your agreement is legal, accurately protects your rights, addresses issues you want addressed, and will withstand a challenge, you need an experienced attorney on your side.