Emergency Issues, Ex Parte Solutions

Emergency Issues, Ex Parte Solutions

Some divorce cases require immediate action. California law allows this through the use of Ex Parte solutions.

What is an ex parte solution?

An Ex Parte solution is a Motion that is filed with the Court that does not require the usual waiting time. In some counties, a motion may be heard within 24 hours. Usually, notice to the opposing party or counsel must be given and must adhere to the particular County’s notice requirements.

The main reason for filing an ex parte divorce is to get your case in front of a judge as quickly as possible because of an emergency situation.

What kind of emergency situations require an ex parte action?

An ex parte action might be filed for any of the following reasons:

  • The person filing the ex parte divorce is in danger,
  • A child involved in the case is in danger, or
  • Property owned by the filing spouse may be destroyed or damaged.

What is the procedure for filing for ex parte divorce orders?

The procedure and documents required for an Ex-Parte Motion are complex and confusing. Each county has different requirements and procedures. If you fail to adhere to the county’s requirements or procedures, your motion may be denied.

Find out if your situation requires an ex parte hearing.

Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.

What Certified Family Law Specialist Means for You

What Certified Family Law Specialist Means for You

You’ve decided to file for divorce. Your next step? Hiring an attorney. As you look online or through attorney directories, you notice that some attorneys are “specialists” in areas of law like taxation, criminal law, and family law. It’s only natural to wonder what a certified family law specialist can do for you.

All attorneys practicing law in California are licensed and regulated by the State Bar of California. The Bar also encourages continued training for lawyers and provides a way for some lawyers to become certified in their area of practice. Attorneys may become certified specialists in several fields, including family law.

 That all sounds great for attorneys, but what does it mean for you?

Training

A certified family law specialist completes training in excess of what is expected of other attorneys. In addition, an attorney specialist has to pass a written test in their legal specialty.

When you hire a specialist, you hire someone who has the broad knowledge of law and the specific knowledge needed for your family law matter.

Experience

A certified family law specialist must practice law in their specialty for at least five years. During that time, at least 25 percent of their time must involve their field of specialty.

This means that the attorney you hire has more experience in family law than an attorney with a general practice. An attorney who specializes in family law understands California divorce laws and how they relate to your individual case.

Continuing Education

All attorneys must go through a certain amount of training every year. A certified family law specialist is held to higher standards when it comes to continued training.

This means the specialist you hire is more likely to have a deep understanding of recent changes to California divorce law.

Respected by Peers and Judges

To become a certified family law specialist, an attorney must be viewed favorably by their peers and by judges with whom they have worked.

The specialist you hire has demonstrated a dedication to family law to people who know the law. What better recommendation can there be?

Cares About Family Law

The rigorous application process required by the State Bar is rigorous. A certified family law specialist who goes through that process has demonstrated great interest and concern in family law matters.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, Beverly Hills, and surrounding communities.
Settlement vs. Litigation: Which Is Right for Your Divorce?

Settlement vs. Litigation: Which Is Right for Your Divorce?

There are many reasons to file a divorce. Take Henry and Martha. After raising four children during their 31-year marriage, they decided to join the “gray divorce” crowd. Jake and Lucy, married four years ago, had one child together before Jake’s infidelity and substance abuse drove them apart. Both of these couples had some heavy decisions ahead. As their cases progressed, they had to decide whether settlement or litigation was best for their divorce.

Two Pathways.

The parties in most divorce cases are able to reach a divorce settlement agreement. The couple and their attorneys may negotiate privately or go to mediation. Though it is similar to a trial in that both parties present their side, mediations proceed very differently. 

For one thing, agreements reached in a mediation are confidential. Court proceedings are not, although courts can restrict who can view divorce court records. In Jake and Lucy’s case, privacy was a big concern. Lucy did not want Jake’s infidelity and drug addiction publicly aired.

Unfortunately, trial became a necessity for Henry and Martha. A lifelong homemaker, Martha had never worked outside the home. She expected spousal support to continue for some time. Henry, however, felt she deserved nothing because he had been the family’s breadwinner for their entire marriage. Both stubbornly stuck to their positions and refused to compromise.

When Is Settlement Right?

Some couples are in a position to settle their differences quickly. For them, settlement through negotiations or mediation typically is faster than going through the court system. They don’t have to wait for space to clear on a court docket to schedule hearings.

Divorce strains family relationships. Mediation may be less destructive on those relationships because they are typically less combative than trials.

Couples going through a divorce may have financial problems. Mediations and settlement negotiations are usually less expensive than going to trial.

When a settlement agreement is presented to the court, the judge will make sure the document complies with California law. However, many of the agreements contained in the settlement agreement do not require a judge’s scrutiny. Couples may hammer out agreements that suit them, but that most judges would not arrive at.

 

If negotiations and mediation fail, divorce proceedings go to the next level.

When Is Litigation the Best Option?

Some parties may be unable to resolve their issues without court intervention. So, they settle in for the long haul. They may be expected to attend several hearings or even participate in a trial that lasts for days.

Going to trial sounds terrible! So why do some couples end up battling it out in a courtroom?

Divorces with more complex issues are more likely to go to trial. What makes a divorce more complex? Among other things, disputes over property division that can’t be overcome. Inability to agree on hot issues like child custody or spousal support could end up in a courtroom.

Trial may be necessary if domestic violence or child abuse is involved. A judge has the authority issue orders that protect the abused spouse or child, something neither an attorney nor a mediator can do.

Some spouses make unreasonable demands or have unreasonable expectations. In cases where this is an issue, unfortunately, a trial usually becomes necessary.

Final Thoughts.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger can help, whether your case is settled or goes to trial. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities.
Valuing Business Assets

Valuing Business Assets

Dana and Michael owned a successful dentist practice with three locations. When their marriage foundered, the practice was in jeopardy. Dana was the dentist, with Michael serving as office administrator. Dana wanted the entire practice and, since that was her expertise, it made sense. Michael wanted other community property that equaled his half of the value of the practice. As is true with many divorces, valuing business assets became a contentious part of their divorce proceeding.

In any divorce, community assets are determined and then split. The divorcing couple may be able to iron out a divorce settlement that suits them both. However, when agreement cannot be reached, the courts decide who gets what. The final divorce settlement or judgment will take into account the value of the business.

What Courts Consider

The parties need to know what kind of information the court will be reviewing to come up with that final valuation:

  • The fixed assets of the business,
  • The accounts receivable and intangible assets,
  • Goodwill customers and vendors have toward the business, and
  • Debts and liabilities.

In most cases, courts may want answers to questions like:

  • What type of business is involved?
  • How did the business start?
  • What is the current financial condition of the business?
  • What is the book value of the business?
  • How much can the business expect to earn?
  • Does the business pay dividends or not?
  • How much is the company’s goodwill worth?
  • Have any other ownership interests been sold?
  • If the company is publicly traded, what is the stock worth?

So, it’s a given that if the business is community property, some type of value must be assigned. Otherwise, how will the court know how to divide the community property estate?

Methods of Valuation

The ways used in business valuation may depend on the type of business being valued. A real estate agency may be valued differently than a convenience store or car dealership.

For example, some types of business may best be valued by looking at comparables. Looking at comparable businesses may be useful when coming up with an average value of that type of business. For Dana and Michael, an appraiser may look at the value of dental practices of a similar size in the same area.

The liquidation value tells you how much the company is worth if it is sold. If Dana and Michael are unable to reach an agreement, they may consider selling the practice and splitting the proceeds.

Determining capitalized earnings is a common way of evaluating businesses in California divorces. This method uses the current cash flow, annual rate of return, and expected value of the business to come up with a final figure.

It’s Complicated

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings, including business valuation. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities. Our new Beverly Hills office will open soon.
Dual Citizenship’s Effect on Divorce

Dual Citizenship’s Effect on Divorce

Nancy knew when she married Mark that he was both a United States Citizen and a citizen of Nigeria. He had been born in the U.S., but his parents raised him in their home country. She did not know how Mark’s dual citizenship would affect their divorce a few years later.

Does it matter where the divorce proceeding takes place?

Anyone who considers divorcing a spouse with dual citizenship owes it to themselves to do a little research. Choosing to file in the country with the most favorable divorce laws could make a huge difference, especially when spousal support and child custody are involved.

Nancy may be able to file for divorce in the United States if she meets applicable residency requirements. For example, California law requires the filing party to live in California for the 6 months prior to filing. The filing party is also required to live for at least 3 months in the county in which they plan to file.

What if one spouse moves their children to their home country without permission?

In this situation, a parent who is also a U.S. citizen could reach out to the United States Department of State. However, it may also be necessary to start working through the courts of the country to which the children have been moved.

How can court orders be enforced?

The court handling the divorce proceeding has the authority to hand down orders. The problem may be enforcing orders in another country. The U.S. State Department may be able to help. However, it’s likely that a person based in the U.S., for example, will have to retain counsel in their ex-spouse’s country.

Plan Ahead for Dual Citizenship Issues.

Dealing with this type of issue can take divorce to a whole new level. This is hard to say, but the best time to plan for this type of issue is before the marriage takes place. Actions that seem harmless with the Wedding March still ringing in your ears may have serious consequences if it becomes time to divorce.

Contact a California attorney to learn your options. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.

Buried Treasure: How to Find and Handle Hidden Assets

In a perfect world, both parties would be completely honest and upfront about financial matters during a divorce proceeding. But sometimes one party will think it’s a good idea to lie about and hide assets from their soon-to-be-ex. This is never a good idea, especially if you are the spouse being left in the dark! Fortunately, there are ways to find and handle hidden assets, so you get the settlement you deserve.

Gather Information Early

Before you file your divorce petition, begin gathering financial documents like:

  • Financial statements for all accounts, including checking, savings, retirement, and so on;
  • Business records, if your spouse owns a business;
  • Loan and credit applications prepared by your spouse; and
  • Credit card statements.

Review Documents Carefully

Look for places where information on one statement is not in sync with a different document. Here are some things to look for:

  • Do income and expenses line up? Is your spouse suddenly spending less or more?
  • Is your spouse paying “fake” employees to hide business income? Is the company making less money for no discernible reasons?
  • Has your spouse been giving money, checks, or valuable items to family and friends?
  • Does it appear that expected bonuses or raises are being deferred until after the divorce is final?
  • Has your spouse been buying expensive items?
  • Do loan and credit applications list more income than expected? How does the information on the application compare to the financial information your spouse has offered? Are there any discrepancies?

Consequences for a Spouse Who Hides Assets

You may find that your spouse has hidden assets or lied about their assets on court documents. It’s best to turn this information over to your attorney, who will likely bring it to the court’s attention.

Penalties for hiding assets or lying on court forms include:

  • Being found in contempt of court,
  • Being charged with perjury if court documents or testimony was falsified, or
  • Ordered to pay the innocent spouse’s attorney’s fees.

In addition, the judge may decide to award more property to the wronged party.

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone 

Trying to locate hidden assets takes time and energy. We’re here to help. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities.

When a Special Needs Trust Is Needed

When a Special Needs Trust Is Needed

Divorce is stressful. Dealing with the special needs of a spouse or child only adds to the stress. When a divorce settlement is being negotiated, support for a disabled spouse or child needs to be handled carefully. In some cases, a special needs trust provides the right solution to the problem of supporting a disabled family member without affecting their eligibility for other benefits.

Support for a Disabled Spouse

Let’s say Martha decides to divorce George, her husband of 22 years. Since he is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, George will need escalating amounts of nursing care for the rest of his life. Martha served as the couple’s primary source of income and will pay spousal support to George. As their attorneys negotiate, they realize that support given directly to George may reduce or eliminate his eligibility for public benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.

The attorneys set up a special needs trust for George. His spousal support payments will deposit directly into the trust. The trustee will pay George’s expenses directly. This type of arrangement should provide money for his care without affecting other benefits.

Support for a Special Needs Child

When children are involved in a divorce, child support is negotiated as part of a divorce settlement. Special care is needed to provide for children with special needs.

The special needs trust for a child is similar to the one for a disabled spouse: support goes to a trust instead of to the child, then the trust is used to pay for the child’s care. However, child support typically stops at age 18 or 19 if the child is in school. Depending on the disability, a disabled child may need high levels of care for decades to come.

California Family Code 3910 states that parents have an equal responsibility, when possible, to support disabled children “of whatever age” who cannot support themselves. So, support payments may continue beyond age 19 for disabled children. As with the disabled spouse, the money should go directly to a special needs trust instead of to the child.

Final Thoughts

For this all to work, the special needs trust must be properly set up. Typically, a court order is needed. And government regulations and eligibility rules for public benefits are complicated. When a special needs trust is needed, consult with an attorney before trying to set it up yourself.

To discuss how to handle divorce issues, including special needs trusts, please call us at 415-293-8314. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger assist clients in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities. We are opening a new Beverly Hills office soon.
The Rise of Gray Divorce

The Rise of Gray Divorce

Jack and Susan B. had just celebrated their 32nd anniversary when they hit their children with a bombshell. They planned to divorce as soon as possible. No one really saw it coming. However, after much reflection, they joined the ranks of baby boomers heading for a gray divorce.

Divorce After a Certain Age

The term “gray divorce” typically refers to couples who divorce after age 50. According to Pew Research, the divorce rate for adults age 50+ has just about doubled in the past 25 years. Rates in other age groups have decreased, though. So, what is causing this “divorce revolution” among our older population?

Divorces are all different. Some of the reasons given for gray divorce include:

  • The couple may have grown apart over the span of their marriage. Interests, attitudes, even beliefs change over time. For some couples, these changes present insurmountable obstacles to their continued happiness.
  • Couples with children sometimes stay together until the children are out on their own. They may be unable to recover from empty nest syndrome and feels it’s best to separate.
  • Longer life expectancy may mean more time spent together after retirement. Some couples cannot imagine living without their spouse. Others cannot imagine living with their spouse through retirement.
  • People may have different beliefs about money, debt, and spending. At a certain point, especially looking toward the future, differences of opinion may grow too big to ignore.

While gray divorce is common, it is not without its perils.

Gray Divorcees Face Unique Problems

Most divorced couples experience the stress of reinventing their lives. Everything changes, from finances to living arrangements to relationships. However, people who divorce late in life have a few new wrinkles to deal with.

  • Sometimes the husband has been the breadwinner while the wife cared for home and children. This puts the wife in an awkward position after a divorce. Many older women who lack job skills and experience struggle to enter the workforce. Some may be able to rely on spousal support for years if the marriage lasted more than 10 years.
  • Often one spouse handled every aspect of the family’s finances. The spouse who was not involved in financial matters may face some unpleasant surprises during the course of the divorce. In addition, the non-financially-savvy spouse now has to take on their own financial planning.
  • The fact that gray divorcees are closer to retirement may also cause a few hitches. Spouses who expected to rely on retirement accounts in their golden years may have to adjust their expectations. Even worse, there’s not much time to rebuild before retirement. Older people may have maxed out their salaries and reached the end of their career opportunities, which could make rebuilding those retirement accounts very difficult.

As with any divorce, it’s best to consult with an attorney to make sure you get the best result.

Learn More About Filing for Divorce

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger are experienced at all phases of divorce proceedings. Call us at 415-293-8314 to schedule a private appointment or visit our website. We maintain offices in San Francisco, Marin County, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, San Jose, Gold River (Sacramento), and surrounding communities. We plan to add a Beverly Hills office soon.

Financial Tips for Men Going Through a Divorce

Financial Tips for Men Going Through a Divorce

In a previous blog, we talked about finances for women going through a divorce. Now, it’s the men’s turn. The divorce experience is as different for men and women as, well, men and women. Nowhere is that more apparent than in family finances. Even though men tend to fare better financially than women post-divorce, it is still important to consider some financial tips for men who are going through a divorce.

Learn Everything You Can About Your Finances

It may be difficult to negotiate a reasonable divorce settlement if you don’t know what’s involved. What bank accounts do you and your spouse have? How much debt do you have? Did you or your wife take the leading role in financial decisions. Make sure you know where you stand.

Make an Inventory of All Property

At this point, don’t worry about whether it is community property or separate property. Account for cash, bank accounts, real estate, personal property, and other assets. Prepare a list that is as complete as possible. Then put it in a safe place.

Explore Spousal Support Options

Some men resist paying spousal support. The reasons vary. Sometimes the husband took a greater role in financially supporting the family while the wife focused on home and children. Others may be worried they won’t have enough money to live on.

Some men resist receiving spousal support. In divorce cases where the wife makes more money than the husband, or where the husband takes an increased child custody role, the wife may pay spousal support to the husband.

Prepare for Child Support

Whether you will pay and how much depends on a number of factors. The judge hearing your divorce case will enter an order for one or both parents to provide a certain amount to cover a child’s living expenses.

Make sure you provide complete and accurate financial disclosures. The court will consider both parents’ net disposable income when deciding on child support.

Hold Off on Impulse Buying

Depression or even a sense of freedom sends some men over the financial deep end. This may not be the best time to buy a boat, go to Vegas, or move cross country. If possible, wait until after the divorce is final before making any big decisions.

Divorce is Hard

An experienced California divorce attorney can help you achieve the best outcome possible. Judy Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist, and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. Please call our offices at 415-293-8314 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys. We assist clients along the Northern to Central California Coast.
Financial Tips for Women Going Through a Divorce

Financial Tips for Women Going Through a Divorce

Marcia’s career skyrocketed during her seven year marriage. In fact, she had become the couple’s primary source of income and handled all financial matters. Brittany had decided to provide 24/7 care for the two children she and her husband had during their five year marriage. And Sandra worried that her divorce from Rick after 22 years of marriage would leave her destitute. She had never worked outside the home and trusted her husband to make financial decisions. Though their lives are very different, each of these women would benefit from learning some financial tips for women going through a divorce.

Assess Your Combined Financial Situation

As soon as possible, start looking over your financial accounts and property owned. You can do this before you file the divorce petition or if you even suspect your spouse is considering divorce.

  • Gather all documents related to your finances. Review them carefully. Look for any hidden expenses or evidence of hidden assets.
  • Know what you and/or your spouse own. Prepare a list of assets and store in a safe location. List everything, even property you think might be your spouse’s separate property.
  • Prepare post-divorce budget. This step will help you make informed decisions about your divorce settlement and prepare for your new life.

For women who did not participate in their family’s financial decisions, this step may be difficult. They must learn how to handle finances on their own sooner rather than later.

Build Your Own Credit History

Most women find their credit is intertwined with their husband’s. Some may find it difficult to get a credit card or sign a lease within their husband’s backing. You can take the following steps as you prepare to be single again:

  • Get a copy of your credit report.
  • Open at least one bank account in just your name.
  • Start opening credit cards and applying for credit.

Building your credit history takes time. It may be particularly tough for spouses who have given up a career to care for children.

Think Carefully About Child Support, Spousal Support, and Retirement

In addition to their own concerns, some women may have to worry about providing for their children, supporting themselves after years of being out of the workforce, or having a short window of time to rebuild retirement accounts.

  • Women with children need to focus on child support during negotiations. A consent order may provide temporary child support during the pendency of the divorce.
  • Some women just don’t have the training, experience, and education to find work that provides a sustaining wage. Vocational experts may be needed to assess their earnings potential. Spousal support can help, especially in long-term marriages.
  • Finally, women involved in a gray divorce may have expected to live on hubby’s retirement accounts. Or they built a nest egg that they now have to split with their spouse. Even if they have worked, refilling retirement accounts takes time they may not have.

Get the Advice You Need

Your divorce attorney can help you get through the financial maze. Please call us at (415) 293-8314 to schedule a confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.

Ms. Burger is a California Certified Family Law Specialist and founder of the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We assist clients in California’s Northern to Central Coast, including San Francisco, Gold River, Santa Barbara, Ventura/Oxnard, and surrounding communities. Our new Beverly Hills office will be open soon.