When Is a Receivership Used in California Divorce Proceedings?

When Is a Receivership Used in California Divorce Proceedings?

Have you ever wondered what can be done when one spouse threatens to hide or get rid of property during divorce or legal separation proceedings? California law gives judges the power to appoint what is called a “receiver.” A receiver’s job is to find, take control of, manage, and preserve assets.

Any party may ask for a receiver to be appointed. However, receivers serve as officers of the court and must be neutral where the parties are concerned, favoring neither.

There are several reasons that a court might appoint a receiver in a family law case:

  • hiding or moving assets;
  • diminishing assets;
  • depleting assets; or
  • threatening to do any of the above.

By law, a court may impose a receivership to tend to a couple’s assets for the following purposes:

  • carrying a judgment into effect;
  • disposing of property according to the terms of a judgment;
  • preserving assets until they are all identified and divided by a court;
  • preserving assets pending an appeal; and
  • preserving assets for use in setting child support.

At bottom, receiverships are intended to prevent a party from squandering community assets to the detriment of the other party or the couple’s children.

For example, one of the major California cases relating to receiverships in family law is Quaglino v. Quaglino, 88 Cal. App. 3d 543 (1979). In Quaglino, the husband killed the wife, leaving two minor children and landing him in jail. The children’s guardian ad litem bought a lawsuit against the husband, seeking child support. The trial court appointed a receiver, and the husband appealed.

The appellate court affirmed. It rejected the husband’s argument that receivership was improper because no judgment had yet been entered. In so doing, the court specifically held that the trial court had the power to appoint a receiver due to the “great probability that [it] would soon make an order of support and that the defendant’s property was in fact needed as a source to provide payment.

Receiverships are set up to protect the parties’ assets pending the outcome of legal proceedings. Although they can be costly, they are sometimes necessary to preserve the status quo and to protect the parties and their children. If you need an aggressive family lawyer who isn’t stymied by the more complicated aspects of family law, call me today. I have an extensive background both in family law and in business: (415) 259-6636.

Vocational Evaluation: A Valuable Tool for Reentering the Workforce

Vocational Evaluation: A Valuable Tool for Reentering the Workforce

Spousal or partner support is one of the most critical issues in a legal separation or divorce proceeding. Many factors are considered in determining the propriety and amount of permanent and long-term support orders. Some of those factors, such as earning capacity and ability to pay, are directly affected by the parties’ skills and opportunities to obtain gainful employment. Unfortunately, evidence bearing on issues such as these can be difficult to obtain, especially if a party is inclined not to work in an attempt to deflate his or her income.

Enter the vocational expert. The California Family Code gives family court judges the power to order parties to undergo an examination by a professional known as a vocational expert, referred to in the law as a vocational training counselor. The law requires that these professionals have several minimum qualifications:

  • A master’s degree in a field of behavioral science;
  • The ability to assess career potential using inventories;
  • The ability to interview clients and assess their marketable skills;
  • Knowledge of factors relating to the geographic job market; and
  • Knowledge of the requirements of educational and training programs.                                              

Vocational experts need to know the mechanics of returning parties to gainful employment or to more lucrative employment. However, they should also be skilled at addressing human factors, such as the emotional and self-confidence issues that may arise due to being out of work for some period of time.

The mechanical portion of the vocational expert’s job consists of the following:

  • Evaluating the person’s skills, interests, and limitations;
  • Researching the labor market to determine opportunities and the likely earning potential of the party; and
  • Drafting a report summarizing these findings and making recommendations for how to help move the person in the direction of being self-supporting, if they are not already functioning at that level.

In addition to these functional tasks, the vocational evaluator can be helpful in easing the emotional burden on the person being evaluated, by explaining the process of imputing income and by helping to develop a career plan. The career plan may then be used by others, such as job coaches or career professionals, to achieve the goals of the evaluated party.

One of the outcomes of the vocational evaluation is that the evaluator can provide an opinion about the party’s earning capacity. This amount may then be imputed as income for the purpose of calculating spousal or partner support.

As you might imagine, the vocational expert report can have a significant impact on the support award in a case. You want an attorney with substantial experience in Northern California, who will represent you aggressively. Please contact the Law Offices of Judy Burger at (415) 259-6636 to learn more.

What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation in California?

What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation in California?

Often, our clients ask about the difference between divorce and legal separation. The essential difference is that divorce is a final action, but a legal separation is not. In a separation, the parties remain married.

This begs the question: Why obtain a separation if you are still married? There are several reasons that legal separation may be an attractive option, including more beneficial residency requirements, the possible retention of certain benefits, and its immediate effect.

One reason a person may wish to pursue a legal separation rather than a divorce is because of the restrictive residency requirements placed on divorce. California law requires that, before a divorce petition may be filed, at least one of the parties must have lived in the state for at least six months; in addition, the person filing the petition must have lived in the county of filing for at least three months.

There are no state or county residency prerequisites for a legal separation. Therefore, a person who wishes to take immediate action may file for a legal separation, then amend the petition to request a divorce after the residency requirements were met. This option would be particularly helpful for someone who wants to obtain quick court rulings on matters such as property division; child, spousal, or domestic partner support; or child visitation. These things may all be adjudicated in a legal separation proceeding, just as they may in an action for a divorce.

Legal separation may also be a valuable option because it sometimes allows the parties to retain benefits that they might lose in a divorce. Some examples of these of benefits are as follows:

  • Allowing the parties to stay within religious restrictions against divorce;
  • Allowing the parties to keep health care or other insurance coverage that would be lost due to a divorce;
  • Permitting one of the parties to retain immigration status; and
  • Enabling the parties to obtain the requisite 10 years of marriage to qualify for Social Security spousal survivor benefits.

Legal separation also has some common-sense advantage for those who are not sure they wish to pursue the finality of a judgment of divorce. That is because legal separations can allow the parties to separate on a trial basis, giving them both the ability to see how they will do financially and emotionally before pursuing a legal end to their marriage.

The financial and other matters involved in legal separations and divorces can be very complex. For example, whether insurance coverage may be lost due to divorce or separation must be determined in each individual case. For this reason, it is critical to consult with an experienced family lawyer who can explain the potential impact of each avenue before a decision is made.

Judy L. Burger pairs her extensive family law experience with compassion and respect. If you would like more information about how California law would impact your situation, please contact her  online  or call (415) 293-8314.

United States Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Legal in All 50 States

United States Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States

Until June 26, 2015, state laws governing same-sex marriage were as diverse as the states themselves. On one end of the spectrum were states that would recognize a right for same-sex couples to marry; on the other end were states that would neither issue a marriage license nor recognize valid same-sex marriage licenses issued by other states. The ability of states to treat same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples forever changed when the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The plaintiffs who filed lawsuits in the Obergefell case consisted of 14 same-sex couples and two homosexual men whose life partners had passed away. The plaintiffs were from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Initially, the cases were brought in separate actions in federal trial courts, called the district courts. All of the district courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. However, the cases were consolidated at the next stage of the judicial process, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the judgments, ruling against the rights of same-sex couples.

The two issues in the case related to the ability of the states to (1) refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; and (2) refuse to recognize as legal same-sex marriages that had been performed in other states.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, holding that the state laws that “exclude[d] same-sex couples from civil marriage” were unlawful and that states could not ” refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State.”

This decision will affect many aspects of same-sex marriage nationwide, as marriage is a cornerstone of American society. Indeed, the Court specifically delineated many benefits of marital status, such as the following:

  • tax benefits;
  • inheritance rights;
  • medical decisionmaking rights;
  • vital statistics records, such as birth and death certificates;
  • survivor rights for the purposes of insurance and workers’ compensation; and
  • child custody and support.

California was the second state to recognize same-sex marriage, in 2008. However, it has had a rocky history due the passage of a state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage. The constitutional amendment was challenged but ultimately invalidated.

The termination of a legal union can be financially and emotionally devastating. In such a circumstance, it is important to work with an experienced, compassionate lawyer who can help you navigate a very difficult time. Judy L. Burger has an extensive, successful background in family law matters in Northern California. Call her today: (415) 293-8314.