Tag 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
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CDSOC Members Honor and Remember Tracy McKenney

Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County members share their remembrances of their colleague Tracy McKenney, former CDSOC Board President who passed away from cancer in September 2016.

“Tracy McKenney was always, smart, positive, with an uncanny ability to summarize and synthesize all thoughts on a collaborative team or in a Collaborative meeting.”

“Cannot think of Tracy without remembering her smile and her laugh. Professional and competent go without saying but her heart and the ability to reach out to touch the people she worked with. That was her gift and I will miss her.”

“Tracy was positive. She had a great laugh and was very helpful to her (and our) clients. I have come across people lately who she helped before and who she encouraged into a non-adversary process. Her children are her everlasting testament.”

“It still feels surreal. With Tracy’s sense of humor and sense of adventure. I still feel like she’s just away on one of those amazing trips. I still see and feel her in my everyday life. I still think she’s messing with me. Like the weekend after she passed, I met a couple named Scott and Tracy. That’s classic Tracy. She will always be with … 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

10 Best Reasons To Do Your Divorce Collaboratively

Ten smart tipes for managing a divorce to get the best possible results for you and your family.

by John R. Denny, Family Law Attorney
Hittelman Strunk Law Group, LLP, Newport Beach, California

  1. The team approach helps you get through the process without going to war.

You will work with a team of legal, financial, and mental health professionals who are specifically trained in the Collaborative Process. They agree to work with you to reach a settlement outside of court.

  1. You make the decisions, not the judge.

In the Collaborative Process, the parties do not go to court. They resolve their differences through cooperative negotiation. Thus, all orders are made with both parties’ agreement.

  1. The process is less expensive than a litigated divorce.

While all cases are different, studies show that a successful Collaborative case is less expensive than a litigated case, even one which settles before trial.

  1. Coaches help you and your spouse learn to communicate in ways which can reduce the adversarial nature of the divorce.

In a full team Collaborative Divorce, each party will work with an assigned mental health professional acting as a coach. Among other things, the coach will assist the party to avoid the type of communication which will further divide the parties, and make settlement more costly and difficult.

  1. Your children’s
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The Cost of Divorce To Your Business

Personal challenges follow employees into the workplace and negatively affect their performance, including divorce.

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

Divorce takes an emotional, physical, and financial toll on spouses and their children. But the potential negative effects of divorce don’t stop with the family directly involved. They often spill out past the front door and affect many other people.

When a valued employee is going through the trauma of a divorce, the divorce can affect the entire workplace. The cost to employers can go well beyond absenteeism for a few days here and there to attend court hearings or meetings with the lawyers. Trying to accommodate the employer and the divorce process can prove challenging.

Courthouses are open only between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Most lawyers’ offices are only open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. While some lawyers can be more flexible, most judges and courts cannot. The higher the conflict in the divorce, the more court appearances and the more time spent with the lawyers and in court.

Additionally, less obvious costs include:

  • “Presenteeism”: The employee who is physically present at work, but unable to focus as a result of the divorce.
  • Employees wasting valuable work time talking with co-workers about their
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When 50/50 Isn’t Always Equal in a California Divorce

Splitting your property in half, known as a "50/50 divorce," isn't always the best option for couples.

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

California is one of nine “community property” states as it relates to divorce. This means that assets and debts acquired and incurred during your marriage will be divided equally upon divorce. Exceptions exist for specific items received during marriage that are deemed “separate property” under the law. This includes gifts and inheritance.

This is one of the most misunderstood concepts in divorce law. Spouses often believe their divorce will be easy if they just split all of their property in half, or “50/50.” While strong emotions present a barrier to resolving issues during a divorce, not far behind is the misunderstandings by couples about the concept of what is “fair” when it comes to dividing up assets and liabilities.

From extensive experience as a mediator, consultant, and Collaborative Divorce lawyer, I am a strong advocate for giving spouses a greater voice in the outcome of their divorce. I am also a strong proponent of ensuring divorcing spouses have as much information as possible to make the best decisions moving forward.

Although the courts are required to enforce the laws, spouses in a divorce, with … Read More