Category Archives: Divorce and The Law

Self-Help Is Not The Best Remedy at Time of Divorce

By LESLEE J. NEWMAN, Family Law Mediator & Collaborator

Today in Orange County, approximately 75+% of the couples who are seeking divorce or legal separation do not have attorneys, and most do not even seek any professional advice.  Most couples believe that by finding information on the Internet, they can represent themselves through some of the most important decisions they will ever make in their lives concerning money, property, and most importantly, their children.

Most people do not know that family law is one of the most complicated areas of California law and the court system is not designed for couples who do not know how to represent themselves before a judge. If you have to put on evidence in the form of a court hearing or trial, the California Rules of Evidence apply.   Most of the time, the self-represented person cannot competently present their most important documents or statements into the court record for judges to consider in making their decisions.

There are so many self-represented people now going to court who do not know how to address a judge or to present their case.   They spend much more court time than necessary and have substantially … Read More

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

John Denny takes Collaborative Practice leadership role

John Denny speaks to delegates at the 2017 Collaborative Practice California conference. Photo: David Kuroda

Will serve as 2017-2018 Collaborative Practice California Board President

Media contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA 619-997-2495 or gayle@falconvalleygroup.com

(Irvine, California) – Orange County family law attorney John Denny, member and past president of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County, was installed as president of Collaborative Practice California (CP Cal), the statewide organization for Collaborative Practice groups, at its annual conference in Redondo Beach, California on Sunday, April 30.

Individual members of the practice groups include Collaborative lawyers, mental health practitioners, financial specialists, and other professionals. The Collaborative Process is being used in family law, probate law, trusts and estates, and other civil law areas.

CP Cal’s mission is to unify, strengthen and support the Collaborative Practice community and to increase public awareness of the Collaborative Process throughout California.

“My goal during my tenure as Board President is to spread the word about the many benefits of Collaborative Practice in family law, civil matters, and trusts and estates,” said Denny. “Californians who must address legal or financial matters will benefit knowing about their Collaborative options for working through these critically important and sometimes contentious issues. They can resolve even the most difficult disputes while still preserving personal relationships with … 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

Members Lend Expertise at Collaborative Divorce Education Institute 3-Day Training

Experienced legal, financial, and mental health Collaborative Practitioners from Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County shared their expertise at the 2017 Three-Day Collaborative Divorce Interdisciplinary Team Training in January. Through lectures, discussions, and group participation, the training team helped both new and experienced Collaborative Professionals to develop more skills and a new understanding of how to support and lead their clients to a successful resolution without resorting to litigation.

If you missed this year’s event, be sure mark your calendar for next year’s training in January 2018.… Read More

OC Collaborative Professionals Share Expertise at October 2016 Events

Members of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County (CDSOC) are in demand as professional education panelists and seminar leaders throughout Fall 2016 due to their expertise and experience working with a diverse array of Orange County clients in the Collaborative approach to divorce.

Full trials are becoming increasingly rare in family law. With no relief in sight for underfunded, impacted courts in California, trials can take years to set and families can face exorbitant costs and fees. Clients are demanding alternatives to expensive protracted court battles. As a result, good negotiation skills are now absolutely critical for family law practitioners.

“Our member professionals are considered so knowledgeable in their fields, they are called upon not only to properly educate clients, they also train and educate other professionals to ensure the highest levels of ethics and competence,” said Dr. Carol Hughes, CDSOC member who will be among the lecturers at meetings this fall.

“Orange County families who are considering a Collaborative approach to their divorce can be confident in the guidance and qualifications of our members, who not only uphold high standards in their personal practice, but who are called upon to help Collaborative professionals across the United States in developing … Read More

Limited Scope Representation and Collaborative Law Featured at October Luncheon

Robert Hawley speaks with CDSOC members and guests at its October luncheon. Photo: Diana L. Martinez

Robert Hawley, former Chief Labor Counsel, Deputy Executive Director and then Acting Executive Director of the State Bar of California, addressed members of Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County and guests at the organization’s monthly luncheon on October 11.

Mr. Hawley shared his expertise to a full house luncheon honoring former CDSOC president and dear friend, Tracy McKenney who passed away on September 22, 2016.

Robert Hawley began his legal career as a disciplinary prosecutor for the State Bar.  He then entered private practice for over ten years representing management in labor and employment matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies.  He served as a member of the State Bar’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) as well as its Chair and Special Advisor, as a hearing officer in the former voluntary State Bar Court, as a frequent MCLE speaker, and as a qualified expert witness in professional responsibility and labor law matters.  Mr. Hawley has taught Professional Responsibility and labor law at various Bay Area law schools for the past twenty-five years, and is currently on the adjunct faculty of Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Mr. Hawley is the recipient of the National Organization of … 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

Your Six Different Divorce Alternatives

You have choices in the way you pursue a divorce in California. Collaborative Divorce in Orange County. 949-266-0660.

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

1.  Self-Representation (“Pro-Per”)

Both parties may consult with attorneys, but decide to represent themselves in or out of court. Both parties are ultimately responsible for the agreements and paperwork that goes to the court for filing including the final Judgment.

2. One-Party Representation

One party is represented by an attorney and the other is not. Generally, the party who has the attorney is responsible for drafting the paperwork, and the unrepresented spouse would get advice as to what he or she wants included in the final Judgment.

3. Both Spouses Have Representation

Both spouses have their own litigation counsel, and try to settle parts of the case through settlement discussion. If they are unable to settle some or all of the issues, the case goes to court for a judge to make the decisions for the spouses.

4. Mediation

Both spouses retain the same mediator who acts as their neutral facilitator and does not represent either party. Depending on the style of the mediator, and whether or not the mediator is an attorney, the spouses may have the benefit of being educated as to the law, available options, recommendations, … Read More