Experienced Thorough Aggressive


An interesting decision out of an Australian Federal Circuit Court this month caught our eye when a judge ruled that a man was entitled to only 1/3 of the marital estate because he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was estimated to live for only one more year. In this case, after a 30-year marriage, the parties had accumulated approximately $1.5 million in assets that had to be divided in their divorce.

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In two previous posts, we discussed the very important Moore/Marsden formula, which is the formula that determines the community interest in real property when the community pays down mortgage principal on the separate property of another spouse. In the first post, we discussed the basic formula, while noting that in the age of the low interest rate, the basic formula is almost never used due to frequent refinancing. In the second post, we discussed how the formula applies to improvements. In this post, we will address one of the most common adjustments that need to be made to the formula (that usually occurs after a refinance): How do you calculate the community interest in one spouse’s separate property after the other spouse is added on title?

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With summer right around the corner questions about summer vacations should begin coming soon.  Inevitably one of the questions will be about the children traveling abroad.  Whether you are the parent who wants to take the children abroad or you are a parent concerned about the children traveling abroad, this blog should help to explain what issues you will face, what concerns are valid and how to go about getting an order allowing or preventing travel abroad with the children.

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In the news over the past few weeks, you may have heard of Lexi, the 6-year-old Choctaw girl who was fostered by a family in Santa Clarita Valley and, against the wishes of her foster family, sent to live with her relatives in Utah:

In photos, they are a happy family – but Sunday could be the worst day for the lives of Rusty and Summer Page and their 6-year-old foster daughter, Lexi.

Lexi spent time in two other foster homes before the Pages took her to live with them and their three young children four years ago. Now, they want to adopt her.
“She’s a very happy girl and she’s a part of our family and we love her dearly,” Summer said.

Rusty added that Lexi moved in with them when she was only 2 years old and knows the couple as her mother and father.

But the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services plans to come to the Page family home Sunday to take Lexi away and send her to live with a family in Utah. The decision was made because of her heritage – she is 1.5 percent Choctaw.

Because of that, her case fell under the Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law passed in the 1970s that aims to protect the best interests of Native American children and promote stability of tribal families.

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Famous clothing designer, Karl Lagerfeld once said of photographs, “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” Mr. Lagerfeld captured in that simple quote what it is we humans love so much about photographs; capturing moments.  Until scientists are able to recreate a time machine, photographs and home videos are the only way we can go back in time to relive moments.

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We’ve been hearing a lot about the “Panama Papers” lately; the leak of millions of documents out of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca disgorging details of the firm’s wealthy clients hiding money via shell companies in various tax havens. Among those allegedly involved are world leaders, athletes, celebrities and businessmen.

As divorce attorneys, it is not uncommon that our clients are convinced that their spouse is hiding money. Continue reading


In a previous post, we gave an overview of what parents can expect from the contested child custody process in California, from the filing of the Petition until the time the Court makes its first orders. In this post, we will go beyond the Court’s first orders and discuss the process from that point until a child custody trial that results in a judgment.

Again, remember that parents can agree to custody and visitation arrangements without getting the Court involved, except to approve the agreement.  This post is mostly about cases where the parents can’t agree.

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The largest single asset I deal with in any divorce is a family residence.  Home ownership in the United States has hovered between 63-69% over the last 20 years.  In California the percentage is a bit lower coming in at 53% in 2015 – no big surprise when the median home price in California is $450,000.  However, with the “purported” divorce rate of 50% of marriage, the intersection of homeowners and divorces is fairly common.

We have blogged in the past about the myriad of issues that can impact the division of a family residence.  Honestly these issues are endless.  This is probably because we deal with dividing the interest in a family home so frequently.  The focus of this blog will be to address the mortgage associated with your home when you get divorced.  For those of you with a mortgage free home – about 30% of America – well done you can stop reading now.   For the other 70 percent of us…keep reading.

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If you are a parent who is anxious about the child custody process in California, you are in good company. These feelings are perfectly normal. After all, the decisions on custody and visitation are so crucial and most parents know so little about the process. I thought I would explain the process in a general sense so parents have a better idea of what to expect. This post will explain the process from the filing of the Petition until the time the Court makes its first orders. The process from that point forward until trial will be explained in a subsequent post.

Keep in mind that parents can agree to a custody and visitation arrangement and the Court will almost always rubberstamp it.  This post is mostly about cases where the parents can’t agree.

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When I talk to clients about what constitutes income available to pay for child support I ask them to imagine an umbrella…a very BIG umbrella. Everything underneath that umbrella is income available to pay child support.  In California, this has been codified in Family Code Section 4058, which states;

“The annual gross income of each parent means income from whatever source derived…and includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Income such as commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding to establish a child support order under this article.”

I emphasized “social security benefits” because that is the theme of this blog.  Continue reading