This blog is a follow up to a previous blog titled “Should I go to Trial.” If you have not read that blog it is worth reading, and not just because I wrote. There are many factors you should discuss with your attorney before you go to trial. The two main factors are the amount of time required to go to trial and the cost of doing so. Each of these is unique in every case so my earlier blog does not go into them. Before you ever set a trial date it is imperative you discuss this with your attorney.

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On March 7, 2016, the United States Supreme Court unanimously and summarily reversed the Alabama Supreme Court on a same-sex adoption issue.
In the case, V.L. v. E.L., the parties were two women who were in a relationship from approximately 1995 until 2011. In 2002, E.L. gave birth to a child and in 2004, gave birth to twins. After the children were born, the parties raised them together as joint parents. All three children were adopted pursuant to a final decree of adoption from a superior court in Georgia. E.L. consented to V.L.’s adoption as a second parent and recognized both of the parties as the legal parents of the children. Continue reading


Online dating is everywhere these days. As I hear more and more stories from friends and family members who meeting their significant others online; I receive a wedding invitation for my college roommate’s wedding to a man she met online; and my TV becomes increasingly flooded with eHarmony and commercials; it is inescapable! And, I don’t doubt that you have experienced the same or similar things I have. Although online dating intrigues me on many levels, as a divorce attorney, I can’t help but wonder what, if any, impact the rise of online dating in our society has had on marriages and divorces today.

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Spend any time watching American television or movies and you will witness scenes filmed inside a Courtroom. Sometimes they are filmed in a soundstage and other times in an actual Courtroom. No matter the location they convey the same message. Everything else failed in a case and now it is time for the exciting conclusion that is your trial. The lawyers get together in their perfectly pressed (and well fitting) suits, witnesses are called, evidence is argued, and eventually Ben Matlock gets a witness to admit they are guilty. These moments, colloquially referred to as “Perry Mason” moments, are thrilling on TV. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they almost never happen. If they do happen, they are never as exciting as on TV.

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Closeup of assorted coins.

According to section 215 of the Internal Revenue Code, spousal support (otherwise known as alimony) is generally taxable income to the payee and tax deductible to the payor. However, if payors aren’t careful, they may inadvertently agree to support arrangements that are not deductible.

Retroactive Support

In California, the Court has discretion, and often exercises this discretion, to award spousal support retroactively to the date of filing. For instance, if a spouse files a spousal support motion on January 1, 2016, but it is not heard until March 1, 2016, the Court can still order the payor to pay for the months of January and February even though the hearing wasn’t until March.

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Group of new crayons isolated against a yellow background.

One of the first things you’ll see on the Family Law Summons is the Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders (called “ATROS”). These orders issue automatically upon the filing and service of the Petition. One of the ATROS states that neither parent is allowed to take the children out of the State of California. The order is intended to prevent parents from removing children from the state before appropriate custody and visitation orders can be put in place.

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In a recent article on the CBS news website, California was listed as the most expensive state to get a divorce. California has the highest filing fee in the nation ($435) and at $402 per hour, California has the third-highest average hourly billing rate in the U.S – only Connecticut and Illinois are higher at $417/hour.  Compare this to the least expensive state to get a divorce, Wyoming, where the filing fee is $70 and the average hourly billing rate is $187.

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This past holiday season I noticed a lot of commercials pandering to the coffee aficionado in all of us. Everything from the new Keurig to the admittedly hilarious George Clooney and Danny Devito commercials for Nescafé. Personally I love coffee; all kinds of coffee. So the idea of creating new caffeinated concoctions in my kitchen is very appealing. But that is where the interest stops. I have no desire to schlep lattes for a living no matter how much free coffee they offer. Having said that, I am fairly confident I am qualified for the job of barista, and I am pretty confident everyone reading this is as well. It really cannot be that hard, save for spelling the names of course.

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I was at a seminar this weekend about the all of the new cases that were decided in 2015. The moderator of the seminar made a joke about the theme of 2015 for the Court of Appeal in California. That theme was “play nice.” Now to be clear, the moderator was joking, but there were several cases that came down in 2015 where the Court of Appeal appeared to have based their decisions on how the parties (and their attorneys) conducted themselves during the litigation. Without going into detail, suffice it to say bad behavior was not rewarded in 2015.

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Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s 15 year-old son Rocco made headlines recently after he decided that he wanted to live with his dad in London and then refused to return to see his mom in New York for the holidays. Madonna ran into court just before Christmas, where the judge ordered Rocco to be returned to New York so that his living situation could be sorted out. Apparently, even with the Court’s orders, Madonna has had no luck bringing Rocco back to New York even after flying to London and trying to reason with him. According to Guy’s attorney, Rocco will have his own court-appointed attorney at the next hearing which is reportedly scheduled in March.

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