Tag Archives: Financial Settlement

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

Learn Your Divorce Options at Spring Workshops

Attending our Divorce Options Workshop and learn about the various methods for divorce in Orange County.

Informative seminars help you learn about the different divorce processes

If you are struggling to find answers for your difficult questions about divorce, attend one of the Spring Divorce Options workshops offered by Collaborative Divorce Solutions of Orange County.

The workshops take place at Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, California. The final date for spring 2017 is:

  • Thursday, April 20, 6 – 9 p.m.

Register online at the Orange Coast College website here (enter “Divorce Options” in the search box), or by phone at 714-432-5880, extension 1 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. only). For additional details, visit our Divorce Options page here. The seminar cost is $55 per person and includes all materials.

Our goal is helping people in a diverse range of situations. Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. It can be especially hard if you have children or economic difficulties. Divorce affects people from all walks of life, and no two situations are alike.

We know from experience it IS possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce.

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, … 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

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