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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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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Family Code section 3170 requires that parties to a child custody or visitation dispute attend mediation first. In San Diego County, we call this Family Court Services mediation. This process has different names in other counties. For example, in Riverside County, this is referred to Child Custody Recommending Counseling.

San Diego County is referred to as a “recommending county.” If the mediation process does not result in an agreement on custody and visitation, the Family Court Services mediation counselor will issue a report to the Court that includes a written recommendation. Continue reading


As one Court appropriately put it, granting a parent’s request to move out of the county “is one of the most serious decisions a family law court is required to make.” The ramifications of the decision will undoubtedly affect both parents involved and their children for the rest of their lives. The law on California move-aways is not simple. In this blog post, we will discuss a few myths about move-aways in California.

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Previously, we discussed the basics of the Moore/Marsden calculations, which is how the Court determines the community interest in the home when community funds pay down mortgage principal of a separate property home. The Moore/Marsden formula provides for the community to receive not only a reimbursement for principal paydown, but an interest in the appreciation of the home as well.

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As Chris Rock prepares to host the upcoming Oscars, and while much of the population is focused on his potential commentary in light of the highly-criticized lack of diversity in Oscar nominees, something else has captured our attention this week as an interesting legal question that  has risen in Chris’s divorce from Malaak Compton-Rock. Chris filed for divorce in New Jersey last year after 19 years of marriage and, of course, their case encompasses just about everything that we have come to expect out of a celebrity divorce. Continue reading