Loading...

Follow Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

In a previous blog, we talked about different classes of experts (Joint, Hired Gun, Review) employed in family law cases.  In this blog, we will talk about the different “types” of experts we use in family law. 

Forensic Accountant

Forensic accounting is a specialty practice area of accounting that is used in litigation.  Forensic accountants are used in family law to perform tracings for separate and community property, to investigate Family Code Section 2640 reimbursement claims, Moore/Marsden calculations,  to analyze/characterize stock options, and other issues which require an “investigation” of accounting issues.

What separates forensic accountant from regular accountants is specialized training focused on investigation as well as the expectation that the outcome of their investigation will result in the preparation of reports suitable to serve as evidence in a court of law.

CPA

Typically, a CPA will be hired to provide an opinion about a party’s income available to pay support or other “traditional” accounting tasks.  This commonly comes up when a party is self-employed so their income is not straight-forward. This is accomplished by reviewing the party’s financial records, bank statements, expenses reports, etc.  A CPA’s responsibility in a case might also include providing an opinion on the tax implications of various family law scenarios.

Vocational Evaluator

We have blogged many times about vocational evaluators.  This expert is hired when one party believes the other party is purposely unemployed or underemployed.  This expert performs vocation testing and comes to conclusions about a party’s ability to find employment and the opportunity for that employment in the community.  This is used by a party as evidence in support of imputing an earning ability to the other party for support purposes.

Child Custody

There are several different experts involved in child custody matters.  The two most common are mediators and child custody evaluators.  Child custody mediators are hired to assist the parties in coming to an agreement on child custody related issues.  In San Diego County, if no agreement is reached, the mediator is tasked with preparing a reports and set of recommendations for the Court to consider. (All counties in California have a specific procedure

Child custody evaluators are used to perform an in-depth investigation of the child custody issues in a case.  In contrast to the mediator, an evaluator does not attempt to facilitate an agreement between the parties.  Rather, the evaluator performs testing, interviews, and analysis in order to generate a report and set of recommendations for the Court to consider.

Property Valuation/Appraiser

Property valuators or appraisers come in many different shapes and sizes depending on what they are valuing.  Their job is to use the experience and expertise to provide the court and the parties with and opinion as to the value of a specific asset(s).

These assets include homes, cars, businesses, art, furniture, antiques, jewelry, etc.  Basically, anything of value (no matter how nominal) can be appraised by an expert.

Retirement Plan Experts

These experts are typically hired after a case is done to prepare the orders necessary to divide community property retirement accounts.  These include pensions, 401(k) accounts, 403(b), and 457 accounts.  These experts are generally hired jointly by the parties and are agreed upon as part of the Judgment.

This list is not exhaustive by any means.  For example, we recently hired an expert in mold remediation because that was an issue present in that case.  Every case is different, but the experts listed above are most common “types” of experts you will find in family law cases.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding the types of experts in family law cases. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

Lawyers love to make jokes about how bad we are at math.  Often those jokes include statements like, “if I were good at math I would have become an engineer” or if “I was good at math and science I would be a doctor not a lawyer.” Nobody likes lawyer jokes more than lawyers, but these statements are not universally true.  There are many lawyers who are good at math.  In fact at the Law Office of Nancy J. Bickford, we have the only certified family law specialist in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant with a Master of Business Administration.  Having an attorney with a strong math and accounting background helps to spot and analyzes issues, but it is in no way a substitute for a financial expert.  When it comes to financial matters, there is no substitute for a qualified financial expert.

In family law, there are many reasons you may decide to use an expert.  Similarly, there are just as many different types of experts you can hire.  You might need an expert to value your family home or a business.  You might need an expert to decide a party’s income, or what custody schedule is best for your kids.  Whatever the reason might be, you need to decide first what class of expert you want.  This blog will address the three “classes” of experts we see in family law.

The Joint Expert (Neutral)

A joint expert, sometimes called a neutral expert, is the most common class of expert used in family law in San Diego.  This expert is appointed pursuant to Evidence Code Section 730 to perform a specific task related to their expertise.  What is special about this expert is they are “hired” by both parties or the Court, thus they have no allegiance or tie to either party.  Their job is to look at the facts of the case and provide an opinion for the Court to consider.

There are positives and negatives to hiring a joint expert.  On the positive side, the cost is usually lower since it is often being shared by the parties – as opposed to both sides hiring their own expert. Though not always, a joint expert can reduce the level of litigation surrounding an issue because of their neutral stance.  Finally, Courts tend to give a joint expert’s opinion more weight because there is no inherent bias in their relationship with the parties.

The big negative with hiring a joint expert is a lack of control with respect to an expert’s opinion.  Since the joint expert has no allegiance to either party, they are required to report their findings fully and accurately, no matter what those findings are.

Party’s Expert (Not Neutral):

A party’s expert, also authorized by Evidence Code Section 730, is hired by only one party.  The job of the party’s expert is very similar to the joint expert.  They are asked to formulate an opinion based on the facts of the case and their particular expertise.  The main difference is with whom their allegiance lies.  They are being hired by a party with the expectation that, if possible, they will formulate an opinion consistent with the hiring party’s theory of the case; otherwise what’s the point.

There are several positives to hiring your own expert.  With your own expert you can have significant impact on the narrative of their report.  That is not to say you can/should hire an expert to lie for you, but in a situation where the facts could go either way, your own expert should tell the story in light of the facts most favorable to your case. Most importantly though, if after analyzing the facts of your case your expert’s findings are not in your favor, you are under no obligation to release their report or findings – except under certain circumstances too detailed for this blog.  You may simply proceed as if the expert was never hired.

As far as negatives go, the cost is higher since you must bear it on your own, and there is a perception that a party’s expert is biased to their party so the court may give their opinion less weight and the other party is more likely to view the findings with suspicion.

It is worth discussing what is sometimes referred to as a “hired gun” expert.  This is an expert that is hired for the sole purpose of developing a report that is favorable to you.  Initially it might seem like a good idea to get a “hired gun” as your experts, but in the long run it rarely works out well.  Most lawyers and Judges know the “hired gun” experts and will view their reports with suspicion.  Furthermore, a “hired gun’s” report is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny from another expert or a lawyer on cross examination.  In that case, not only does your “hired gun” fail to do what they were hired to do, they might have actually damaged your case.  At the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford we don’t use “hired gun” experts.  In our experience, we have found that using an experienced, well-respected, and competent expert works out best for our client’s in the long run.

The Review Expert:

The review expert is authorized pursuant to Evidence Code Section 733.  This expert is hired by a party to review and comment on the report released by the joint expert.

The review expert does not do any independent testing/data gathering of the controversy at issue.  Rather they will obtain the testing results/analysis/accounting/etc. created by the joint expert, and then provide their own opinions based on that testing.  Their job is to show the Court that the conclusions reached by the joint expert are wrong.  They accomplish this using the exact same data as the joint expert.  Put another way, their job is to “poke holes” in the joint expert’s report.

Experts are not necessary for every case.  In case when an expert is needed, it is important to hire the right one.  An experienced family law attorney will have relationships with many experts in many different fields and will be able to assist you in choosing the right expert for your case.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding using experts in your case. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

A new product has just come on the market that may have piqued your interest if you are going through a divorce: Divorce Insurance. That’s right, you read correctly, divorce insurance actually exists!

A man named Richard Zizian, a legal educator and holder of a California Juris Doctorate (not a licensed or practicing attorney), has collaborated with Great American Insurance Group to develop a new program called Marital Settlement Agreement Insurance, or “MSAI.” Zizian, after going through a divorce himself, understood the emotional toll that a divorce can take. An emotional toll which, he states, makes one more susceptible to be laid off from employment.

While the broad term “Divorce Insurance” may be a bit misleading, MSAI is actually a supplement to unemployment insurance which provides coverage in the event that a child and/or spousal support obligor loses his or her job and is unable to meet his or her support obligations. So, it doesn’t insure you against getting a divorce- sorry, the chances of that are still the same as ever- but it is meant to insure you against being unable to pay spousal and/or child support in the event that you are temporarily unemployed.

Here are some quick facts about the program:

  • Monthly premiums vary depending on the obligor’s field of employment. For example, a person working in the healthcare field will pay lower premiums than someone in the construction field due to the differing likelihood of unemployment in those fields;
  • The obligor must be collecting unemployment in order to be able to receive the benefit of this policy, which is paid directly to the supported spouse;
  • The policy covers support obligations from a minimum $433 per month to a maximum $9,000 per month;
  • Benefits can be collected for a maximum 26 weeks per year, but cannot be collected until 2 weeks after unemployment benefits have begun being paid by the state unemployment system;
  • There is a 6-month waiting period after first obtaining the policy before benefits can be collected;
  • The obligor must make a minimum salary per year to be eligible for the program. In California the yearly minimum is $44,000.

Please note that this article is not in any way meant to endorse the MSAI product, it is just meant to bring you information about a thought-provoking new service in the divorce practice area. As always, it is important that you consult with an experienced divorce attorney to better understand your support obligations arising from divorce, so that you can make an informed decision regarding matters such as these. Keep in mind that many support orders adopted by a Marital Settlement Agreement are modifiable when a change of circumstances arises (like the loss of a job). So, a product like this may not be for everyone.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding property division and support. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

On August 24, 2015, the San Diego Superior Court began an Imaging Program in the Family Court designed to reduce paper filings and storage and facilitate electronic access to Family Court files. There have been questions relating to how certain procedures differ in imaged cases. This blog post is intended to answer these questions.

What do you mean by an “imaged” case?

Imaged cases are Family Court cases (including Family Support Division cases) where the official record of the Court is imaged and stored electronically. This includes all Family Court cases (including Family Support Division cases) initiated on or after August 24, 2015.

What about cases initiated on or before August 23, 2015?

These cases will remain in paper file form.

If I’m not sure if my case is imaged, how do I find out?

You can find out if a case is imaged by visiting the register of actions for your case. If the case is imaged, “[IMAGED]” will appear in the case title under Case Information:

What procedures are different for imaged cases?

Procedure for Non-Imaged Cases Procedure for Imaged Cases
Pursuant to 2017 Local Rule 5.5.4, certain pleadings require tabbing. Pleadings in imaged cases should not be tabbed.
Certain pleadings require printing on colored paper i.e. Income and Expense Declarations, Judgments, FOAHs, etc. All filed documents should be printed on white paper.
N/A On all pleadings filed after the initial case originating filing, all parties must, to the extent feasible to do so, place the words “IMAGED FILE” in all caps immediately under the case number on all subsequent pleadings filed in the action.

 

N/A All parties filing new actions shall serve on all other parties a copy of the “Notice of Electronic Case File and Imaged Documents” with the complaint, petition, or other case initiating pleading. A copy of this notice will be provided to the filing party by the court clerk when case originating filings are processed.

 Are the procedures for lodgments any different in imaged cases?

No. The procedure for lodgments is the same in both imaged and non-imaged cases. Lodged documents will not be imaged, will not be part of the official court file, and will be returned in the manner requested or recycled if no manner of return is specified.  As with non-imaged cases, the Notice of Lodgment will be filed (and imaged in imaged cases).

What else should I know about imaged cases?

You should know that any original document filed in imaged cases will be imaged and then destroyed. Original documents relevant to a case should not be attached as exhibits to filed documents or filed in any other manner. Original documents should be lodged with the court, as necessary, under the procedures set forth in Rule 5.1.9(F).

How are confidential documents treated in imaged cases?

Any documents classified or considered confidential pursuant to state, rule of court or local rule shall be filed with the court and will be imaged and destroyed. Court documents classified or considered confidential pursuant to statute or rule of court shall remain confidential and may not be released except to the extent necessary to comply with the law. Requests to view confidential documents must be made to the clerks in the Family Court Business Offices.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding property division. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

We’ve written blogs in the past about the time it takes to get a divorce in California and the infamous six-month statutory minimum waiting period. Even so, we are constantly faced with clients who come in with the misconception that their divorce will be completely over in 6 months. While that may be the case, experience tells us that a six month divorce is pretty rare.

First, let me repeat: six months is the MINIMUM length of time your divorce can take to be finalized in the state of California. This statutory waiting period is without exception. Whether you are self-represented or you retain an attorney in your divorce case, you cannot legally be “single” until six months has passed from the day you (or your spouse) filed the petition for divorce.

Understandably, almost every person looking to get divorced wants to get it over with as soon as possible. While your legal status cannot change from “married” to “single” in anything less than six months, there are some other things to keep in mind. First, if you have a relatively simple divorce, where you and your spouse agree on the disposition of your assets and/or the custody arrangements for your children, we can theoretically draft and process your marital settlement agreement right away. Once you sign the agreement, it becomes binding. That means all of the issues in your divorce have already been taken care of, we can submit your written agreement and other necessary documents (together called the judgment package) to the Court, and the only thing you would be waiting for is for your proposed judgment to be approved and your legal status to be changed 6 months down the road.

However, you must also keep in mind the time it takes for the Court to process judgments. Even if you are able to settle your divorce in, let’s say, three months, you could submit your proposed divorce judgment to the Court for processing, and depending on how backlogged the Court is at any given time, it could potentially take as long as six months to get your divorce judgment stamped and finalized by the judge. (Currently the Courts are processing judgment packages in about two months, but that can change.) In some cases, one of our attorneys may be able to get this process done more quickly for you.

With all that said, the point is that if you are getting a divorce, you should have realistic expectations regarding the length of time that the divorce process can take. While your legal status may be terminated as early as 6 months after the petition was filed, there are number of factors (assets, children, angry or agreeable spouses, attorneys) that will affect whether your divorce is over in a matter of several months or several years.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding property division and trust accounts. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Sometimes a divorce isn’t filed in the right county and a party might be seriously disadvantaged as a result.

What do we mean by “wrong county”? Let’s start with the law. Family Code section 2320 states, in relevant part, as follows (emphasis added):

“A judgment of dissolution of marriage may not be entered unless one of the parties to the marriage has been a resident of this state for six months and of the county in which the proceeding is filed for three months next preceding the filing of the petition. “

An example would be helpful here. Let’s say Husband and Wife lived in San Diego county for their entire marriage. All the community property they amassed during the marriage, everything from the marital residence to the clothes on their back, is in San Diego. They separate and let’s say Wife moves all the way to Sacramento County, a considerable 500 miles from San Diego. Wife waits for two and a half months before she files for divorce and serves the divorce upon Husband.

If Husband doesn’t proceed carefully, he may end up litigating a case in a completely foreign county. He will likely have to hire a lawyer without ever having met that lawyer face to face. He won’t have the benefit of asking friends and family in Sacramento for a referral to a divorce attorney because all of his friends and family are in San Diego. Whenever there is a hearing, it will be very expensive, perhaps prohibitively so, for Husband to trek up to Sacramento so he can participate in person. So what should Husband do in this situation?

The first thing Husband should do is file and serve a petition for divorce from San Diego County. The reason for this is because Wife was only a half a month away from meeting the residency requirements in Sacramento County. If she were to get wind of the fact that Husband was challenging her Sacramento County action, she could conceivably dismiss her petition and simply refile it after she was in Sacramento County for the full three months. Husband filing and serving his San Diego County petition as soon as possible will ensure that the San Diego case would be first in time compared to any subsequently filed Sacramento case.

Once Husband files and serves his San Diego petition, he needs to act on Wife’s errantly filed Sacramento petition and he needs to do it fast. Under the law, a party could end up waiving the right to have the matter heard in the right county if they don’t file the correct motion within 30 days of being served with the errantly filed petition.

So what is the motion Husband needs to file? In a civil case, the motion is called a motion to transfer venue. Family law cases have their own special procedure called the “Request for Order to Quash”:

(b) Respondent’s application

Within the time permitted to file a response, the respondent may move to quash the proceeding, in whole or in part, for any of the following reasons:

(1)Lack of legal capacity to sue;

(2)Prior judgment or another action pending between the same parties for the same cause;

(3)Failure to meet the residence requirement of Family Code section 2320; or

(4)Statute of limitations in Family Code section 2211.

Given the facts above, if Husband files his Request for Order to Quash before the applicable deadline, the Sacramento Court should decline to take the case. However, these issues can be tricky and having competent, experienced counsel could make a difference in your case.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding venue and/or jurisdiction. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Every once in a while, there is a divorce case where there is a real risk that one of the parties is going to bilk a community property financial account and run. This is more likely to happen in cases where one party has connections to another country and wishes to take community assets or the parties’ children to that country while suffering little to no repercussions for their actions. This can be especially disastrous in child custody litigation. If one party absconds with the children to another country and bilks the parties’ financial accounts, the aggrieved party will have fewer financial resources to prosecute an undoubtedly expensive international custody battle.

There are steps, however, that can be taken to prevent the other spouse from running off with hard earned community assets. Most attorneys understand that they can seek an emergency order from the Court. What many attorneys do not know, is that a party can actually unilaterally freeze an account, even one held in the name of the other spouse!

Financial Code section 1450(a) reads as follows:

(a) If an adverse claimant delivers to the bank at the office at which the deposit is carried or at which the property is held an affidavit of the adverse claimant stating that of the adverse claimant’s own knowledge the person to whose credit the deposit stands or for whose account the property is held is a fiduciary for the adverse claimant and that the adverse claimant has reason to believe the fiduciary is about to misappropriate the deposit or the property, and stating the facts on which the claim of fiduciary relationship and the belief are founded, the bank shall refuse payment of the deposit and shall refuse to deliver the property for a period of not more than three court days (including the day of delivery) from the date that the bank received the adverse claimant’s affidavit, without liability on its part and without liability for the sufficiency or truth of the facts alleged in the affidavit.

Of course, in California, spouses are fiduciaries to each other and continue to remain fiduciaries to each other until their divorce proceedings are completed and the assets are divided. If one spouse suspects the other spouse will bilk community funds, they can deliver an affidavit in conformity with Financial Code section 1450(a) and the bank will have to comply with it. It is important to remember that this remedy cannot, by law, last more than three court days. This is where Financial Code section 1450(b) comes into play:

(b) If at any time, either before, after, or in the absence of the filing of an affidavit by the adverse claimant, the adverse claimant procures and serves upon the bank at the office at which the deposit is carried or at which the property is held a restraining order, injunction, or other appropriate order against the bank from a court of competent jurisdiction in an action in which the adverse claimant and all persons in whose names the deposit stands or for whose account the property is held are parties, the bank shall comply with the order or injunction, without liability on its part.

This is the authority most attorneys and parties are familiar with: the authority of a court to, indefinitely, freeze a bank account. In nearly all cases where there is a likelihood that a party will abscond with community funds from a bank account, the best practice is to first invoke Financial Code section 1450(a) in order to freeze the account as soon as possible. Then, as soon as possible, get into Court and have the judge freeze the accounts indefinitely, before the three court day deadline to unfreeze the accounts ends.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding the freezing of assets in family law cases. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

It is no secret that getting a divorce can be pricey. While there is almost no way to estimate exactly how much any particular divorce will cost to finalize, there are some fees that will be present in any divorce case. In this blog we will break down some of the fees charged by the Superior Court in a divorce or family law matter.

The first inescapable fee is the “first paper” fee. This fee is incurred the first time something gets filed with the Court by each party. In a divorce case, the first paper fee will be incurred by the Petitioner when the Petition is filed, and by the Respondent when the Response is filed. If there is no divorce, but say for example you are filing a custody motion with the Court for the first time, the first paper fee will be incurred by the Petitioner when the first motion is filed with the court and the Respondent when a response to the motion is filed.

First paper fee: $435

After the first filing fee has been paid, there is a fee each time a motion gets filed with the court. For example, once a Petition is filed, the Petitioner may want to file a motion requesting temporary spousal support.

Fee to file a motion: $60

If the motion filed involves a modification of custody or visitation, parties are required to partake in mediation prior to the court hearing. For this, the Court charges an additional filing fee in custody and/or visitation matters.

Additional fee for filing custody/visitation motions: $25 ($85 total)

Finally, there is a cost to file a stipulation and order with the Court. This fee is incurred if parties are able to agree on any issues in their case, drafted an agreement, and desired that agreement to become an order of the Court without having a hearing.  There may be times where a motion was filed, but the parties are able to stipulate prior to going to Court on the matter. This would require both filing fees to be paid.

Fee to file a stipulation and order: $20

There are a few other filing fees for matters not relevant here, and also some exceptions to the fees listed above.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding property division and trust accounts. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

Discovery is not the first topic that comes to mind when parties meet with a family law attorney for the first time.  In fact, there is a good chance most litigants have no idea what discovery actually is.  Sure, anyone who watches any of the serialized crime dramas on TV has heard of a subpoena, but most people have no idea what they are why they are useful.

In a nutshell, discovery is the process of collection evidence, whether that evidence comes in the form of documents, statements, testimony, or information.  There are several types of discovery a party can issue.  Which method a party chooses depends on what type of evidence they are looking to obtain.  This blog will briefly describe the most common forms of discovery used in family law cases.

Demand for Production of Documents

Just as the name implies, this a request sent to the other party in the case requesting certain documents.  Typically, this includes bank/investment account statements, credit card statements, deeds to property, etc.

This is an inexpensive way to obtain documents from the other party which are necessary for your case.  It also provides you the opportunity to ask for many different types of documents in a single request.  In many cases, a well drafted Demand for Production of Documents will generate nearly all of the documents a party will need to prepare their case.

There is a downside.  You are asking the other party to your case to provide the documents.  If a party is determined to play “hide the ball” or did not keep accurate records, the documents you receive will likely be incomplete.

Subpoena

A subpoena is similar to a Demand for Documents in that it is a request to provide documents.  It differs in a number of ways though.  First, the subpoena is not sent to the other party, it is sent to whatever institution has custody of the documents.  For example, you can send a subpoena to Bank of America for a party’s bank statements for a period of time.   The upside with a subpoena is you are almost guaranteed to receive a complete response to your request.

The downside is subpoenas can be expensive (Banks charge you an hourly “research fee” and copy costs to respond to your subpoena).  Another downside is a subpoena is limited only to the institution it is served on.  If you have a case with multiple bank accounts at different banking institutions, you will need to send several subpoenas out. That can become expensive quickly.

Form Interrogatories:

Form interrogatories are a list of 21 questions created by the California Judicial Counsel that are applicable in nearly all family law cases.  The questions are contained on Form FL-145 (http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/fl145.pdf) and seek answers to questions about a party’s income, personal history, tax returns, health, requests for reimbursements, etc.

Form interrogatories are issued early in the proceedings in nearly every case.  The reason is that the answers to the form interrogatories are an easy and inexpensive way to obtain information that will assist you and your attorney in developing a full discovery plan in your case.

Special Interrogatories

Special interrogatories, like form interrogatories, are questions posed to the other party in the case.  Unlike form interrogatories, special interrogatories are tailored to a specific case.  A party can ask any question of the other party, so long as it is relevant to the family law action and is not otherwise objectionable under the California Evidence Code.

For example, if there is a dispute about the date of separation, you may ask questions about when a party moved out of the residence, where their mail was delivered, whether the parties continued to share a bank account, if they ever visited the former family residence, etc.

Special interrogatories are useful in helping to focus the evidence in your case and to get an idea of what the other party’s theory of the case will be at trial.

Requests for Admissions:

Request for admissions are a discovery tool used to determine what facts a party agrees are true and what facts they believe are untrue.  Request for admissions can be a very powerful tool in focusing the facts of your case.  A well drafted request for admission can produce a wealth of helpful evidence. An example of a request for admissions is the best way to demonstrate.

  1. “Admit that you and Petitioner maintained a joint bank account with Bank of America after you moved out of the residence.”
  2. “If your answer to Request No. 1 was an admission, admit that your monthly wages were deposited in the joint bank account with Bank of America after you moved out of the residence.”

If the party admits to both of the requests, you know they agree with your version of the facts.  That is, it is uncontested that the parties maintained a joint bank account with Bank of America after the Respondent vacated the family residence and Respondent’s pay checks continued to be deposited into that account.  In a date of separation case, that is important information.

This list of discovery demands is not exhaustive.  There are other forms of discovery that can be useful in a family law case.  However, along with depositions, these are the most common forms a party will encounter.

It is important to point out that discovery is not only for cases that will go to trial.  Performing well thought out and complete discovery is on of the best ways to settle a case.  The attorneys at the Law Office of Nancy J. Bickford have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the discovery process in your family law case.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding discovery in family law cases. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Nancy J. Bickford | Divorce Blog by Law Offices Of Nancy J. Bickford, A.. - 8M ago

If you have been through or are going through a divorce, you likely learned the hard way that a divorce is a longer and more complicated process than you previously expected. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could finalize your divorce in one weekend? Well, a Dutch company called DivorceHotel International has recognized this desire in divorcing couples and come up with a solution: a weekend divorce getaway, where divorcing couples stay at a hotel and in one friendly weekend sort out all of the details of their divorce.

The “DivorceHotel” was launched first in the United Kingdom, and has now made its way to a location in New York. The Hotel promises complete anonymity, mediators and attorneys onsite, and access to outside specialists like accountants as needed. While staying at a luxury five-star hotel, the company says it strives to make their divorce service a positive, professional and fast experience for its clients. And, per the company’s website, it is important that couples looking to partake in DivorceHotel’s service “are both able to wish each other a positive and bright new future after divorce.”

Well, while the DivorceHotel service sounds wonderful, it has left us thinking that it sounds a little too good to be true. First, the time it takes to get a divorce depends in large part on the ability of the parties to get along. Unfortunately though, we as divorce attorneys know all too well that couples going through a divorce often have a difficult time even being in the same room together. Divorce is inherently an emotional process, and can cause spouses to act irrationally. So, the amicability requirement already limits the pool of potential couples who would benefit from DivorceHotel’s services.

Also, while a quickie weekend divorce sounds nice, it has the potential to be pretty dangerous. The brief time frame would make it almost impossible to do any due diligence or discovery regarding any of the issues in the divorce matter. It would essentially require that both spouses were completely involved in finances and completely trust that the other spouse is being 100% truthful regarding all items at issue in the divorce. Unfortunately, it is our experience that one spouse in a marriage typically has much more control over the finances. If parties are rushing a divorce agreement, the non-financially-involved-spouse must essentially blindly trust their spouse. To do so could lead to serious problems down the road, if it turns out that one spouse was hiding something. While there is potential for this to happen in any divorce, the risk heightens when parties do not take the time for procedures like discovery. This also makes it much more difficult for attorneys to advise their clients as to the best course of action.

While we can’t promise your divorce will take anywhere near 2 days, we do make every effort to settle divorce matters and keep the court’s involvement as limited as possible. Even though a weekend divorce seems ideal, it is almost certainly unrealistic and could even pose a real harm to some spouses.

Feel free to contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding property division and trust accounts. Nancy J. Bickford is the only Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) in San Diego County who is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

www.bickfordlaw.com

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview