Nancy J. Bickford

Yes, even Spice Girls get divorced just like any one of us. In March 2017, former Spice Girl Mel B, perhaps better known as “Scary Spice” or as a current judge on America’s Got Talent, filed for divorce from her husband of 10 years, Stephen Belafonte.

Mel B, worth a reported $60 million, filed for divorce in a Los Angeles Superior Court after she and Belafonte separated in December 2016. While Mel B’s nickname might have been “Scary,” it seems as though her marriage to Belafonte was in fact scary, as she filed for a restraining order against him shortly after filing for divorce. It appears that she had been covering up injuries from abuse from Belafonte for years. And, while Mel B’s petition reportedly requests joint custody of the couple’s daughter, it also requests that the Court to deny spousal support to Belafonte. Continue reading

On August 24, 2015, the San Diego Superior Court began an Imaging Program in the Family Court designed to reduce paper filings and storage and facilitate electronic access to Family Court files. There have been questions relating to how certain procedures differ in imaged cases. This blog post is intended to answer these questions.

What do you mean by an “imaged” case?

Imaged cases are Family Court cases (including Family Support Division cases) where the official record of the Court is imaged and stored electronically. This includes all Family Court cases (including Family Support Division cases) initiated on or after August 24, 2015.

Continue reading

We’ve written blogs in the past about the time it takes to get a divorce in California and the infamous six-month statutory minimum waiting period. Even so, we are constantly faced with clients who come in with the misconception that their divorce will be completely over in 6 months. While that may be the case, experience tells us that a six month divorce is pretty rare.

First, let me repeat: six months is the MINIMUM length of time your divorce can take to be finalized in the state of California. This statutory waiting period is without exception. Whether you are self-represented or you retain an attorney in your divorce case, you cannot legally be “single” until six months has passed from the day you (or your spouse) filed the petition for divorce. Continue reading

Sometimes a divorce isn’t filed in the right county and a party might be seriously disadvantaged as a result.

What do we mean by “wrong county”? Let’s start with the law. Family Code section 2320 states, in relevant part, as follows (emphasis added):

A judgment of dissolution of marriage may not be entered unless one of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of this state for six months and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months next preceding the filing of the petition. “ Continue reading

Every once in a while, there is a divorce case where there is a real risk that one of the parties is going to bilk a community property financial account and run. This is more likely to happen in cases where one party has connections to another country and wishes to take community assets or the parties’ children to that country while suffering little to no repercussions for their actions. This can be especially disastrous in child custody litigation. If one party absconds with the children to another country and bilks the parties’ financial accounts, the aggrieved party will have fewer financial resources to prosecute an undoubtedly expensive international custody battle.

There are steps, however, that can be taken to prevent the other spouse from running off with hard earned community assets. Most attorneys understand that they can seek an emergency order from the Court. What many attorneys do not know, is that a party can actually unilaterally freeze an account, even one held in the name of the other spouse! Continue reading

It is no secret that getting a divorce can be pricey. While there is almost no way to estimate exactly how much any particular divorce will cost to finalize, there are some fees that will be present in any divorce case. In this blog we will break down some of the fees charged by the Superior Court in a divorce or family law matter. Continue reading

Discovery is not the first topic that comes to mind when parties meet with a family law attorney for the first time.  In fact, there is a good chance most litigants have no idea what discovery actually is.  Sure, anyone who watches any of the serialized crime dramas on TV has heard of a subpoena, but most people have no idea what they are why they are useful.

In a nutshell, discovery is the process of collection evidence, whether that evidence comes in the form of documents, statements, testimony, or information.  There are several types of discovery a party can issue.  Which method a party chooses depends on what type of evidence they are looking to obtain.  This blog will briefly describe the most common forms of discovery used in family law cases. Continue reading

If you have been through or are going through a divorce, you likely learned the hard way that a divorce is a longer and more complicated process than you previously expected. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could finalize your divorce in one weekend? Well, a Dutch company called DivorceHotel International has recognized this desire in divorcing couples and come up with a solution: a weekend divorce getaway, where divorcing couples stay at a hotel and in one friendly weekend sort out all of the details of their divorce. Continue reading

Child custody is one of the most difficult and emotional parts of any contested divorce.  It is not uncommon for two parents to agree on all of the financial issues, child and spousal support, and property division, only to find it impossible to come to any agreements about how their children will be raised post-divorce.  It is understandable too; we love our children and we want what is best for them. This point, wanting the best for our children, is the great irony of child custody litigation.  Ask any parent whether they believe dragging their children through months or years of custody litigation is healthy for them.  They answer will be a resounding, “No.”  Yet that is exactly what happens in so many family law cases. Continue reading

Appeals can be a lengthy, difficult, and expensive process. In fact, most civil appeals in the Fourth District Court of Appeals, Division One (San Diego) take about a year from start to finish. If a trial court’s error is the result of a minor oversight or a mathematical error, it might be a better idea to simply direct the Court’s attention to the oversight or error than go through the trouble of an appeal. In our experience, judges have been almost universally open to correcting these kinds of minor oversights or errors at the trial level, particularly if the oversight or error resulted from the judge’s own mistake.

It is very important, therefore, for one to use the proper procedures. There are two procedures that come to mind. The first is a motion pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 473(d), which is designed to allow for the correction of clerical mistakes. Code of Civil Procedure section 473(d) reads as follows: Continue reading