Monday, August 19, 2013

Can my boyfriend/new wife/mother/daughter/friend come with me to meet with my attorney?

Short Answer: YES, but you may want to THINK TWICE. 

The 5 most popular 'type' of people who accompany our Divorce clientele to their consultation:

1. New spouse (for post-judgment support modification requests)
2. New girlfriend / boyfriend
3. Mother and/or Father
4. Friend 
5. Sibling

What's wrong with having a support person join you in the consultation? 

While we love meeting your family and friends (and often do), sometimes we need to be careful with whether or not they attend your legal consultation. If you bring a third party into your conversation with your (potential or actual) attorney, you waive the attorney / client privilege for the conversation that occurs. In other words, you consultation is NO LONGER PRIVATE in that it can be "discoverable" in court.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Have a heavily contested chid custody action?

You've separated from your child's other parent. Life is tough and litigation is messy. You are looking for good resources any where you can find it. 

Do try a support group.
Do consult an attorney or a court facilitator.
Do try mediation if your ex is a good candidate for it. 
Do think about co-parenting counseling.
Do ask counsel about the possibility of a child custody evaluation.
Do determine if minor's counsel may be appropriate in your case.
Do focus on the needs of your child instead of revenge on your ex.

Do read books that help you focus on your child's needs during this seriously conflicted, scary and frustrating time. 

Don't turn to books like "Hit Him Where it Hurts" or "How to Outsmart Your Husband." Judges can see through that behavior and family law is all about good faith. 

What are some alternative reads?
Try Janet Johnston's "Through the Eyes of Children" or "A Safe Place to Grow" for helping your child cope with a multitude of trauma, including violence, abuse and insecurity.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why mediate your legal matter?

Benefits of Mediation

If you reach an agreement in mediation, you do not have to appear in front of a judge or walk into a public courtroom.

Even if you confer with an independent attorney during the process, the cost of Mediation is less than courtroom litigation.

Decisions are made by the parties - not mandated by a Judge, evaluator or arbitrator. The parties determine the process, schedule and dates of appointments. 

Reduce Animosity
Who wants more conflict? Especially when emotions are high. A working relationship can feel empowering and reduce anger. Granted, you generally will not get your best case scenario in Mediation, but at least you can work cooperatively towards a result you can live with as opposed to a feeling of someone won / someone lost.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Common California Divorce Questions

At Levine Family Law Group, we find that many clients ask the same questions about California Divorces. They seem like simple questions, but sometimes it is difficult to find the right answer. We've done our best to answer some of the most common questions below. 

  • Will my divorce be automatically finalized in 6 months?
No. Once your divorce is filed, you must have a third person serve the petition personally on your spouse. Your divorce may be finalized six months from the date of service. However, all of the mandatory paperwork must be filed prior to obtaining a final judgment of divorce.

  • We were married or domestic partnered in another state, but I live in California now. Can I file for Divorce in California?
It depends. To file for divorce, you must have lived in California for six months and your county for three months just prior to filing your Petition. If your ex still lives in another state, and your children primarily reside in that state, you can file your Petition in California but risk the possibility that some (or all) of your divorce action will be transferred to that state.

  • Can I change my name through my divorce?
Sure. If you are filing a divorce or domestic partnership dissolution in California, you can return to your maiden name through your divorce judgment. If you finalized your divorce in California but did not change your name back, you can still file a request to change your name back to your premarital name.

  • What is a legal separation?
A legal separation resembles a divorce except the parties are  not free to remarry. There are no residency requirements to file a legal separation. Be careful not mistake legal separation for date of separation.

  • What is divorce mediation?
Unlike arbitration or litigation where a judge or arbiter makes a final decision, mediation allows the parties to negotiate an agreement that is satisfactory to both of them. Mediation at Levine Family Law Group involves several joint meetings between spouses wherein we discuss issues which need to be resolved in your case. The mediator facilitates the discussion, assists with communication, provides information and suggestions and uses their specialized training to assist the parties resolve differences. Once an agreement is reached, the mediator can write up the agreement.

  • How is child support determined?
California law provides that parents have an obligation to support their kids -- whether or not the parents were married. In general, child support is based upon the incomes of both parties, the custodial time share and certain tax deductions. The information is collected and a computer program is used to calculate support.

  • What is an annulment?
An annulment, or Judgement of Nullity may be obtained under any of the following circumstances: incest, bigamy, lack of informed consent to the marriage, the husband or wife of the prior marriage was believed to be dead at the time of the subsequent marriage, but in fact was not, unsound mind, fraud, force (unless afterwards the party who was forced freely cohabitated with the other party as husband and wife, or either party, at the time of the marriage, was physically incapable of consummating the marriage, and the incapacity appears to be incurable. If you are seeking an annulment based on fraud, an action must be filed within 4 years of discovering the facts constituting fraud.

In some cases, even though a Judgment of Nullity voids the marriage, a party may be able to obtain support, division of property and/or restraining orders.