Last week’s $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot created a frenzy like no other as people rushed out to buy their tickets for a shot at riches, the likes of which most of us can’t even fathom. There is no doubt that the frenzy and constant discussion of the billion dollar jackpot left each and every one of us daydreaming about what we would do if we were to stumble our way into such a large fortune. Of course we would pay off our debts, help out friends and family members, buy some cool new things…but did we consider the other not-so-pleasant effects that a lottery win so substantial might have on our lives? Perhaps after reading this, you won’t feel as bad that you weren’t one of the big winners!
Dividing pensions and retirement plans can be a very complicated aspect of divorce. The rules that apply to social security benefits do not make things any less complicated.
Pension and retirement plans acquired during the marriage are community property just like any other community property. Pensions and retirement plans usually need to be divided through the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (called a QDRO) or Domestic Relations Order (called a DRO). What about social security benefits? How are those divided?
There is a saying I use when talking to clients about difficult issues in Family Law Case; “The word ‘fair” only appears in the Family Code in a discussion about attorney fees.” The stark reality is this…Family Law is not fair. It can be equitable and it can be reasonable, but fair it is not. Case in point:
Imagine for a minute that you work for the federal government. This was your first and only job, and your first day was on the exact day you were married (You are a very dedicated employee.) You also separated from your spouse on the exact day you retired 30 years later. Continue reading
Currently American investors are seeing significant losses in the market. For most Americans the effects are being felt in their 401(k) accounts or mutual funds. (Hence the 401(k) to a 201(k) joke…I know it’s not very funny). In the long term, this downturn is just part of the market cycle, but if you are nearing retirement this can be very concerning.
In a divorce, other than homes, retirement accounts are often the biggest asset to divide. Continue reading
Under federal law, every single state is required to have a formula that determines the correct amount of child support that should be awarded. California is no exception. The California Guideline Child Support Calculator is based on California Child Support Guidelines and can be used to estimate the amount of child support that may be ordered in your case. It is important to remember the Court Commissioner or Family Law Judge has the final authority to determine the amount of a child support order. This calculator provides only an estimate and is not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be ordered. Other factors may affect the amount of child support awarded.
A recently published case from the California Court of Appeal clarifies precisely what conduct can justify a restraining order. It also clarifies that significant past acts of physical abuse alone can justify a restraining order. Continue reading
I have blogged in the past about tips for co-parenting, how to talk with your attorney, and any number of other ways to address child custody issues in the Family Court system. With the presidential primaries heading towards the Iowa caucuses, I thought I would do a blog called “Going Negative.” In campaigning, going negative, known more colloquially as “mudslinging”, is trying to win an advantage by referring to negative aspects of an opponent rather than emphasizing one’s own positive attributes or preferred policies.
In really “going negative” means the same thing in family law, except instead of candidates its parents, and instead of policies its parenting. However, the effect it has is no different. Continue reading
The definition of domestic violence is best summed up by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (“NCADV”). According to NCADV, Domestic Violence is defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”
As if divorce was not difficult enough, many family law litigants find themselves having to deal with domestic violence issues. When most people think of domestic violence, they tend to think of physical violence, but in California the definition is much broader. Continue reading
I handle a lot of child custody cases. That is not surprising since I am a Family Law Attorney, but I have many colleagues that simply do not handle custody cases at all. They will either bring in co-counsel to handle the case or not accept the case entirely. Handling child custody cases can be difficult, and I cannot count the amount of clients who have cried in my office. The truth is child custody is a very emotional issue at the best of times. At the worst of times…well it can sometimes be soul crushing work. Having said that, I love handling custody and working with parents to find positive resolutions to very emotional issues.
Kelly Rutherford’s heart wrenching custody battle over her two children, aged 6 and 9 years old, made headlines again last month as a Judge in Monaco ruled that the children were to stay there with their father and that Rutherford was no longer allowed to bring them to the United States. In case you are not familiar with the 6-year-long custody battle that has ensued, here is a brief overview of the key events leading up to this decision: