Experienced Thorough Aggressive

sanctions-bad-behaviorFamily Code section 2122 allows a party to set aside a judgment because of fraud, perjury, and simple failure to disclose. An example of fraud would be telling a party they don’t have to participate in the proceedings while promising to be fair, but then proceeding to railroad them at a default proceeding. An example of perjury would be lying on the disclosure forms. Finally, an example of failure to disclose would be simply leaving out a material fact or record related to the value of a community asset.

However, pursuant to the public policy of California regarding the finality of judgments, there are time limits to when a party can move to set aside a judgment on the grounds of fraud, perjury, and failure to disclose.  Family Code section 2122 provides that a party must bring their motion to set aside within one year of the date they knew, or should have known, the facts constituting the fraud, perjury, and failure to disclose.

When should a spouse have known a fraud, perjury, or failure to disclose? The answer to that question is actually quite complicated and is only made clear through the review of case law.

Continue reading

hand-apple-iphone-smartphone-largeWhen is it permissible to record a phone call or video of the other party?

This is a question that comes up a lot in family law. Sometimes a party wants to record another party making a threat or acting violently. Other times, one spouse wants to secretly record a devastating admission of his or her spouse. This type of evidence can really bolster a case, as long as it’s admissible.

The lead statute on this issue is California Penal Code section 632. This statute holds that anyone who “records [a] confidential communication” “intentionally and without the consent of all parties to the confidential communication,” is guilty of a crime. Accordingly, California is considered a “two-party” consent state. That means that all parties to any confidential communication must agree to the recording. This is different than say, Georgia. In Georgia, anyone can record a phone call without the consent or even the knowledge of any other party to the phone call.

Continue reading

vaccine needleVaccination proponents and those who are against mandatory vaccinations (often called “anti-vaxxers”) have been all over the news.  Celebrities and politicians have come out on both sides of the issue, making the debate very highly contested.  For the most part, the issue of whether or not to vaccinate children was largely a philosophical discussion.  This was especially true in child custody cases where parties shared joint legal custody.  Typically, one parent would want to have a child vaccinated and another parent would not.  The reasons for not wanting the vaccination could be medical, religious, or part of a philosophical objection often referred to as a personal belief exception.

This often left the court in the difficult spot of deciding whether the or not to order the vaccinations.  In these cases, the child’s doctor might recommend the vaccination, but if the objection was religious or philosophical how was the court to decide?

Continue reading

angelina jolie and brad pitt wax figures

If you haven’t heard the news by now, I can only assume that you have been living under a rock or buried in a media-less hole for some time now. And yes, by “the news”, I mean the news of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s impending divorce.

When Angelina filed her petition for divorce on September 19 the split quickly became the only thing that anyone has talked about since, or so it seems. Although the couple has been together for 12 years, and have 6 kids together, they were only married for a short two years, and the divorce came as a complete shock to the public, and apparently also came as a complete shock to Brad himself. Continue reading

The rules of evidence can be challenging. Understanding it is a skill that must be honed and refined, which is what we try to do at the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford. In this blog, we will discuss two of the most important evidentiary privileges and their importance in family law cases: the physician-patient privilege and the psychotherapist-patient privilege.medical-record

Statements made from an adult to their treating physicians/psychotherapists are absolutely protected from privilege, unless the issue is tendered or waived. Continue reading

percentage childIf you have minor children and are paying or receiving child support, you are probably already aware that the timeshare percentage, or the percent of time that the child/ren are with each parent, plays a role in determining the amount of guideline child support. Once two parents have set a schedule and determined when the child/ren will be with each parent, it would appear that determining a timeshare percentage is a piece of cake. But, while this may be clear in many cases, there are certain situations where the timeshare percentage can become a contested issue that may end up having to be litigated in court.


Continue reading

finish lineFor anyone in the middle of a divorce case – which I imagine is most of the readers of this blog – reaching the finish line of your case may seem like an impossible dream.  I am here to tell you it happens every day and it will happen for you.  What is not often discussed is what happens once your Judgment of Dissolution is filed.

Notice of Withdrawal

Your attorney will prepare a document titled Notice of Withdrawal of Attorney of Record.  This is a form that puts the court, the other party, and the world at large on notice that you are no longer represented by an attorney.  These forms can only be filed when a case has concluded and gone to Judgment or final order.

Despite the name, your attorney is not abandoning you; in fact your attorney is trying to protect you by filing the form.  Family law is unique in that we have post Judgment motions and discovery.  These can be requests to modify support orders or to change child custody orders. If a motion of this type is filed post Judgment, if I am your attorney of record, then it is possible to serve that motion on me and my office.  If I have moved offices or retired by that point, you may never know a motion was filed and could end up in trouble or without support because you did not even know there was a hearing.

Continue reading

17-year-divorce-caseMuch to our dismay, the couple once lovingly known by the public as “Bennifer,” a.k.a. Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, announced back in June of 2015 that they were going to get a divorce. This was just before the couple’s 10-year anniversary. They reportedly consulted with legal counsel, mediators, and business managers, and agreed that they wouldn’t file the actual divorce papers until after they mediated and resolved all of the issues surrounding custody and property division.

Now over a year since the divorce news broke, neither Jen nor Ben has actually taken the plunge and filed a divorce petition. While Ben has been fairly open about the fact that he never wanted to split from Jen, it finally sounds like the divorce is officially off the table. In their case, the couple is pretty lucky that they didn’t yet file their divorce paperwork. Although it is not difficult to have a divorce petition dismissed, they did not have to bother with the extra steps necessary in actually filing for divorce and then filing a request for a dismissal.

Continue reading

mansionYou may have already heard the big news, that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are getting a divorce after only 15 months of marriage. If not, click here to read our previous article on the subject. The latest news out of this real-life Hollywood saga is that Johnny has decided to sell his palace in Venice, listed for almost $11 million.

This four-story mansion overlooking the Grand Canal has 7 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, and a private dock. Surely this gem, which Johnny purchased in 2011, prior to his marriage with Heard, will be difficult to let go of. However, the Italian media has reported that the decision to sell this property and the divorce are connected.

Continue reading

emailMany 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!

Continue reading