Once the initial paperwork in a divorce proceeding is filed, both parties must complete what is called a “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure.” This disclosure mainly consists of two documents, the first is the party’s “Schedule of Assets and Debts” and the second is the party’s “Income and Expense Declaration.” Just as the names imply, these forms are designed to gather information related to each parties’ assets, debts, income, and expenses. In addition to being mandatory, these disclosures are due early on in the case and are extremely important as they will be the framework for which a settlement, if possible, is reached. Continue reading
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all American’s lives and created a trickle-down effect upsetting aspects of our lives many did not originally anticipate. Federal and State governments have blown the metaphorical whistle signaling the changing of tides and ordering the closure of stores, schools, government offices, and generally life as we have known it.
The Department of Labor reported over 6.65 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week. In California alone, almost one million claims were filed in the last two weeks.
Of the myriad of people facing loss of employment amid the pandemic, some will be fortunate enough to receive severance packages as they make their exit. Whether this feels fortunate or not will likely depend upon the following information regarding how severance pay is handled by the Court for support purposes. Continue reading
Ex-Union-Tribune owner Douglas Manchester has divorced from his second wife, Russian immigrant Geniya Derzhavina. Douglas, a wealthy real estate developer, filed for dissolution of marriage in October 2019 and the parties settled their divorce just two months later.
Douglas married his first wife, Betsy, in January 1965. They divorced in 2013 after 48 years of marriage. Douglas and Betsy’s divorce lasted four years and Betsy highlighted the couple’s lavish standard of living throughout the proceeding. Betsy claimed, amongst other things, that in 2007 the parties threw a birthday party for Douglas that cost over $200,000. The parties then flew on a private jet to Costa Rica where they spent a week on a private chartered yacht. Betsy claims the Costa Rica trip cost more than $350,000. Continue reading
Whether you are getting ready to file for divorce, or already have, you probably have seen or heard the words “community property” and “separate property” many times. These are common family law terms that parties will need to understand throughout their proceeding for dissolution. Pursuant to Family Code section 760, “Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.” This statute is followed by Family Code section 770, which states, “Separate property of a married person includes all of the following: (1) all property owned by the person before marriage, (2) all property acquired by the person after marriage by gift, bequest, devise, or descent, and (3) the rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.” Continue reading
During marriage, neither spouse is supposed to devalue the community estate by wasting of assets. “Wasting” means spending community money for a non-marital purpose. The classic case has been the spouse who changes his lifestyle, often in the process acquiring a friend to whom the spouse gives money, pays expenses or buys gifts. The other spouse neither knows of these actions nor would approve of them if they were known. But the non-wasting spouse can attempt to recoup losses by negotiation or in court. Continue reading
Earlier this year, Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos announced his divorce from wife MacKenzie after 25 years of marriage and four children together. The couple met and married before Jeff founded Amazon. Jeff, who has a reported net worth of nearly $157 billion is the world’s richest man.
The couple, who allegedly did not have a premarital agreement, reside in Washington state. Washington is a community property state similar to that of California. That means that generally all assets and debts acquired during marriage will be divided equally.
Despite the couple’s massive estate, the couple finalized their divorce in July 2019, just 7 months after making the announcement. MacKenzie Bezos will get, amongst other property, 25% of the couple’s Amazon stock, an amount equal to roughly $38 billion. This stake in Amazon makes MacKenzie the third richest woman in the world. https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-mackenzie-bezos-divorce-official-settlement-38-billion-2019-7 She has promised to donate at least half of her fortune to charity!
As we’ve mentioned many times over on this blog, support (both child support and spousal support) can be very complicated in California. In some instances, the relevant statutes provide the Court with vast discretion that needs to be clarified in subsequent court cases. One of those Court cases is the Pearlstein case which deals with the determination of income resulting from capital gains.
In Pearlstein, Husband sold a substantial amount of shares in a business. In consideration for the sale of his shares, Husband received shares of another business and cash. What Husband ended up doing with the stock and cash he received from the sale is the key to the case: he did not sell the shares and he reinvested the cash.
Bifurcation is an often underutilized procedure in civil cases (including family law cases) that, if used correctly, can significantly reduce the attorney fees and costs necessary to bring a case to a conclusion and can significantly increase the prospect of settlement.
So what is bifurcation exactly? In the process of bifurcation, the Court, usually on the motion of one of the parties, agrees to hear a trial on just one part of a case. Often times there are difficult issues, that once resolved, simplify the rest of the case. Continue reading
The question of a party’s income available for support has been the scourge of many attorneys and forensic accountants for a long time. It is a difficult and evolving issue, with new cases coming out honing and refining the interpretation of Family Code section 4058. Below, we take a look at a few common topics that are raised in child and spousal support cases.
If one party gets a seven figure inheritance from Great Aunt Birgit, is that income available for support? This was the question raised in County of Kern v. Castle. The Court determined that inheritances are not income available for the purposes of child support. Continue reading
Many people understand that, generally, confidential communications between a person and his or her attorney are protected by an evidentiary privilege called the attorney-client privilege. Evidence Code section 950-962 lays out in detail how the privilege works.
What this means is that if a party or attorney wanted to know the substance of a confidential communication between the other party and that party’s attorney, an objection of attorney-client privilege can be raised and the Court should sustain that objection (i.e. grant the request).
Only “confidential communications” are subject to the privilege and what defines a “confidential communication” has been up for debate. Certainly, there is a case that everyone should know about and those cases are the focus of this blog post. It turns out there are probably countless people sending communications to their attorneys thinking they are confidential when they are really not!