Category Archives: Divorce and Money

Arbitration and Mediation in California: What’s The Difference in These Forms of Dispute Resolution?

by Diana L. Martinez
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC

As a family law lawyer, I really look forward to my time on duty to volunteer at Riverside County Superior Court for VSC (Voluntary Settlement Conference) day. It is offered two Fridays per month and is THE most successful mediation program in the nation with an over 90 percent success rate!

Why? Because, in order to be a mediator on this panel, you must have the highest training and qualifications as both a family law lawyer and as a mediator. Not only do we donate our time, we must be in practice at least 10 years and have hundreds of hours of mediation training and practice under our belts. Other family law mediation programs that either do not have a structured program with high mediator qualifications, or that pay retired judges to do this work, enjoy a success rate below 60 percent.

Judges have an incredibly difficult job. It takes very specific skill sets to be a good judge. But being a talented judge does not, in and of itself, make you a good mediator.

I also volunteer as a fee arbitrator in attorney-client fee disputes … Read More

Why a Collaborative Pre-nup Makes Cents

by Suanne I. Honey
Attorney at Law, CFLS, Mediator and Collaborative Attorney

Sorry for the silly pun when this is such a serious topic. Seriously, though, pre-nuptial agreements are hot topics which give rise to many emotions.

“It paints the Devil on the wall.”

“It is anticipating failure of the marriage.”

“If he or she really loved me, this would not be necessary.”

“I am uncomfortable talking about finances.”

The list can go on and on. Sometimes emotions are an unnecessary waste of energy. Other times emotions have some benefits, even negative emotions. For example, fear in a dark alley in a dangerous neighborhood will cause you to be zealously vigilant about your surroundings which will lead you into taking appropriate steps for your safety … much like the pre-nuptial agreement itself.

Unfortunately, statistics today are not favorable for a lasting marriage. If and when there is a decision to get divorced, the person you once loved turns into the enemy. There is often a total lack of trust at the time of a divorce. There are fights over money, property, and other issues creating stress for both partners. This stress almost always filters down to the children.

Collaborative Law … Read More

Experts Contribute to Best Practices at Collaborative Practice California Conference

Orange County Collaborative Practice professionals will share their expertise with colleagues in April at the annual Collaborative Practice California Conference XII in Redondo Beach.

Members of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County (CDSOC) are in demand as professional education panelists and seminar leaders throughout Fall 2017 due to their expertise and experience working with a diverse array of Orange County clients in the Collaborative approach to divorce.

“Many collaborative professionals are committed to continuing professional education in order to provide the best service to our clients,” said Dr. Carol Hughes, CDSOC member and workshop leader. “The annual conference of Collaborative Practice California is one venue for us to do this.

“We CDSOC members are honored to be contributing to the further growth of our Collaborative colleagues throughout the state. Ultimately, the reward is offering better options to clients who want to avoid the trauma, time and expense of a litigated divorce or other disputes,” added Dr. Hughes.

Collaborative Practice California presentations include:

Collaborative Family Lawyer and Mediator Bart Carey, Divorce Coach and Child Specialist Dr. Hughes, Ph.D., LMFT, and Financial Specialist Cathleen Collinsworth, CDFA™, MAFF™ will facilitate an advanced seminar titled “Grand Rounds for Collaborative Practitioners.”

The workshop format introduces … Read More

12 Reasons To Create Your Premarital Agreement Using the Collaborative Process

by Leslee J. Newman, CFL-S, Family Law Attorney
Orange, California

  • Each premarital partner selects their own Collaborative attorney to represent him or her from the very beginning of the premarital Collaborative Process. You and your Collaborative attorney work together until the premarital agreement is completed and signed.
  • Neutral professionals such as a financial planner and/or a Collaborative coach may also be added to your Collaborative team to help you and your partner develop and fully understand your goals as a couple, and the legal and financial ramifications of your decisions.
  • Before any drafting takes place, you and your partner are encouraged to express your thoughts and concerns about what you plan to build together as joint property and what you want to maintain as separate property.
  • Full disclosure of the property and debts of each premarital partner is exchanged including some verification of each asset and each debt.
  • After full discussion, disclosure, and agreement is reached by the premarital couple, the agreement is drafted through the participation of both Collaborative attorneys.
  • After the draft of the premarital agreement is completed, the draft is fully discussed and explained to each premarital partner by his or her Collaborative attorney.
  • Additional drafts
Read More

The Most Effective Way to Reduce the Cost of Your Divorce or Civil Dispute

by Brian Don Levy, Esq., Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

What single item can add the most cost to your divorce or civil dispute? Acting or reacting based on emotional thinking, or making unilateral decisions that are based in emotional thinking.  It is critical to understand how our emotions can drive our thinking and our behavior, and it is important to manage those emotions in a healthy way that allows for understanding viable solutions and facilitates well thought out problem solving.

Every legal and financial decision is potentially wrapped in emotion, and those emotions can prevent us from fully understanding our options and choosing the options that make the most sense going forward. For almost every divorcing couple or civil disputant, trust is usually broken and communication is not working very well, if at all.  Bringing broken trust and poor communication into the decision-making process is not a good recipe for success.

Therefore, communication coaches are an important investment to be made in achieving a long term satisfying outcome for those in conflict. I use the term “investment” because failure to understand and manage emotions is a huge cost inflator for those engaged in civil and family law disputes.  The … Read More

New Professional Resources Page Provides Valuable Referrals to Orange County Divorcing Couples

Working with a Collaborative Practice team can make the divorce process less traumatic, less time consuming and less costly for everyone involved.

In its effort to assist divorcing couples in Orange County pursue a divorce outside traditional litigation, Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County (CDSOC) now provides a “Professional Resources” page on its website. This page offers referrals to individuals familiar with the Collaborative Practice model who offer services that divorcing families can access to help them through the process.

CDSOC welcomes Orange County real estate broker Juliane Waggoner of RE/MAX College Park Realty in Seal Beach as its first Professional Resources member listing.

Waggoner, a fourth generation real estate broker, is also a probate specialist, Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE), and has completed mediation training through the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara and has attended graduate courses at the University of California, Irvine.

“My mission is to work as a neutral real estate agent throughout your divorce or separation, bringing peace to the parties and negotiations along the way,” said Waggoner. “I can help couples explore their options, which sometimes means working to help one spouse keep the property. I can also remain a neutral consultant if a sale is required, marketing the home nationally and internationally and helping couples negotiate … Read More

The Effect of California Propositions 60 and 90 on Your Divorce

by Diana L. Martinez
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC

When you are trying to navigate a divorce, there are many issues you need to address. If you own property in California, your decisions about your real estate can be among the most challenging, and perilous, if you are not fully informed.

One area often overlooked when making decisions about real property are the tax consequences. The tax implications can end up making a significant impact on your financial well-being, especially if you are part of the current wave of “gray divorces” among adults 55 years and older.

Many older couples who own property qualify for a lower property tax rate under California’s original Proposition 13. At the discretion of each county in California, Proposition 60 and Proposition 90 allow qualifying sellers to carry their Proposition 13 tax base on their original property with them towards the purchase of a new property of equal or lesser value. (Prop 60 governs real estate sales and purchases in the same county; Prop 90 governs real estates sales and purchases between two California counties).

Proposition 13 protects longtime homeowners against escalating property taxes as the value of their property … Read More

Dividing Stock Options and Restricted Stock In Divorce

Orange County Divorce and Employee Stock Options

by Thea Glazer, CFP®, CDFA™, MS Accounting
Glazer Financial Advisors, Laguna Hills, California

Stock options and restricted stock may be part of the marital estate. And they are some of the more complex assets. This brief overview provides a basic understanding of the factors you need to take into consideration. It does not go into all the many tax and technical issues that are aspects of equity compensation. Seeking professional guidance for your specific circumstances is always a good idea.

Many companies grant their employees equity compensation in addition to their salaries, commissions and cash bonuses. Equity compensation is non-cash compensation representing a form of ownership interest in a company. Among the most common are employee stock options and restricted stock or restricted stock units. In divorce, stock options and restricted stock are property to be divided. The employee’s separate shares are often also considered as income in the calculations of support.

Employee Stock Options (ESOs)

An employee stock option is the right given by an employee to purchase a specified number of shares of the employer’s stock for a specified price and for a specified time. There are two types of ESOs, Incentive Stock Options (ISOs) and … Read More

Social Security and How It Affects Your Divorce

Know your options when it comes to your Social Security benefits if you are divorced and nearing retirement age. A financial professional can help.

by Tracy S. McKenney, CFP®, CDFA™
Irvine, California

When a couple divorces, you may wonder whether anything happens to their Social Security benefits. What if the husband has been employed the entire marriage and the wife has stayed home with the children? Do they split the husband’s Social Security benefit at retirement? What if one of them remarries?

First, divorce laws are different from state to state. Social Security is a federal program and can’t be overridden by

divorce laws or a divorce judgment in any individual state including California. California courts cannot issue a divorce judgment to ‘split’ Social Security payments at retirement, because the federal rules governing Social Security override them.

What does the law say about Social Security and Divorce?

As of summer 2016, if a person has been married longer than 10 years and then gets divorced, the ex-spouse can receive 50 percent of their former spouse’s Social Security benefit –OR- 100 percent of their own Social Security benefit. Notice: you can collect only ONE benefit, not both.

For example, “Dolly” and “Dennis” got divorced when Dolly was age 52, and Dennis was age 54. Dennis decided to start collecting Social Security when he turned … Read More

Community Property and Separate Property: What’s the Difference?

Laws governing real estate can complicate divorce matters. Be sure to get expert advice before making financial decisions.

 by Sara E. Milburn, Attorney at Law
Milburn Family Law, Laguna Beach, California

Many of my clients come into my office with the mistaken belief that after a long marriage, everything they own together is community property, and they are going to leave the marriage with one half of this property. Sometimes it is a shock for them to learn that is not necessarily the case.

Property issues in a divorce can be very complex. These are the basics to help you start working through your decision-making process.

Separate Property

In California, separate property is defined by Family Code 770. Separate property of a married person includes all of the following:

  1. All property owned by the person before the marriage,
  2. All gifts or inheritances received.
  3. The rents and profits the separate property earns.

Where this can become confusing is when the spouse who owns the separate property uses his time and talent (called “community effort”) to cause an increase to his or her own separate property. This must be more than a diminutive amount of time or effort. The court has wide discretion here. If the separate property was a stock account and the spouse was a … Read More