Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midway Shelter Benefit a Success
Susan Jeffries used the back yard of her law office for a benefit party for the Midway Shelter that raised over $3,700.00 for the Shelter.
The Midway Shelter provides overnight housing and counseling services to help abused and homeless women and children adjust to a new life. Last year they helped over 265 guests. It is one of the few shelters that also takes children who otherwise would have to be placed in foster care or left on the streets
"Susan's donation will help close our funding gap of over $30,000," said Midway Treasurer, Ginny Krutilek.
The law office staff decided to do a benefit when they learned that the Shelter had suffered major losses from City budget cuts and lower donations caused by the bad economy.
"As divorce attorneys, we know how damaging even minimal domestic violence is to families, women and children. Abused women often leave their homes with nothing. Sometimes not even their shoes... often not even their wallet. Midway Shelter offers a place to go and takes them out of harms way until they are back on their feet," said Susan
"We were only able to do it because of all the generous support from the community," said Susan. "Everyone was eager to help and almost no one turned me down when I asked for a contribution of food, beverages or raffle prizes."
"The party was one of the best because of the great food and wine, and I was glad to help the Shelter too" said accountant Luise Roke.
Food was donated from four of the city's top restaurants and food purveyors plus two private chefs.
George Fitzgerald and attorney Mike Finein tended bar, dispensing wine from four private wineries and a host of smaller donations plus Stella Artois Beer, water and juice.
Fred Domondon, the office accounting manager and professional artist/musician, provided musical entertainment.
Nancy Hill, office manager and other volunteers from the office and Midway welcomed guests and helped attorney Celeste Johansson manage the raffle and silent auction.
"It was really wonderful to see so much generosity. Everyone was really happy to help the women and children at the Shelter." Said Mike Finein.
Visitors were treated to over 60 items on overstocked tables for raffle prizes as well as a silent auction. Generous donors contributed valuable antique Roseville pottery, cut glass, huge plants, and other usable items for adults and children plus coupons for food, drink, services around town and a year of free parking at Oakland Airport.
A new feature was the "Buy Board" showing needed items for the shelter which guests could buy all or parts of on the spot.
Among top auction favorites were a two bottle bag of wine from Blacksmith Cellars, a beautiful wooden box of olive oil and condiments from Greece and an oil painting of Market Street at night. The most unusual was a painted block of wood with paper stuffed into a crevice, from Pro Arts Gallery.
Every night the Midway Shelter provides housing for 25 to 30 women and their children in their Alameda facility. During their stay, the women receive individual case management, counseling and goal setting, parenting classes, weekly life skills groups, domestic violence education and other community support services. Children benefit from structured educational and recreational activities, individual case management, therapeutic gardening and advocacy in local schools.
Donations of money can be sent to PO Box 951, Alameda 94501. Call 523-2377 for donations of towels, toiletries and nightwear and other things for adults and children.
Posted By Celeste Johansson.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
A Benefit for the Alameda Midway Shelter
We are busy at the office today not only practicing law but in readying ourselves for tomorrow night's big event. The prizes have been collected from our generous community donors, and preparations are underway to decorate the back yard and entertain over 200 guests.
We are proud to host this event to support a great cause: the Alameda Midway Shelter, who not only provides a safe space for women escaping domestic violence, but also for their children.
The Midway Shelter has too few beds and resources to meet the need of this population, and we hope that you can come out to gift them with a needed item off of the "buy board" or just relax, enjoy the delicious food and wine, and bid on one of our amazing prizes in the silent auction. We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow night!
posted by Celeste Johansson
Wednesday, July 26, 2011
How SSI and SSDI affects child support:
"SSI" is Supplemental Security Income
SSDI is Social Security Disability Income
They are NOT the same
Both SSDI and SSI benefits are exempt from attachment for support or other debts.
SSI is a variety of federal welfare for disabled persons. It requires disability plus need (no assets over $2000) and it continues as long as the person is disabled. There are no dependent benefits available to SSI recipients. In California the benefit can be as much as $853 per month.
A child may be eligible independently if the parent is disabled and indigent. If the child receives SSI due to a parent's disability, the benefit paid by the SSA is a direct offset against the amount of the child support order.
SSDI does provide "dependent benefits"(which can total one-half of the disabled parent's benefit) because SSI recipients have not paid in sufficient quarters to be eligible for Social Security Administration retirement / pension or disability benefits. Only a disability rating is required. No "need" is shown. The benefit paid is based on the amount they paid in.
For example, if a client has worked for the County, and nowhere else, and has paid no money into SSA, when they became disabled and all other income benefits were tapped out, they are left with SSI. Their children may then qualify for SSI as well.
If a client works for a non-government entity they qualify for SSDI benefits based on the past income which was basis the amount of taxes paid into SSA. The children can then qualify for up to one half of the parent's benefit.
In both cases, the payor's child support is offset by the full amount of the SSI or SSDI income benefit payable on behalf of the children.
Some call this a "child support exemption," but that terminology is not accurate.
SSI can NOT be legally counted as a parent's income for child support purposes. Factually, it is offset dollar for dollar by any earned income, up to the $853 per month. In addition, if a person recovers from their disability, the benefit stops immediately, regardless of need or lack of other income.
Posted by Celeste Johansson
Monday, July 11, 2011
July Negotiation tip: Irrational Commitment Sinks Ships
One of the dangers of any negotiation is the human tendency to irrationally commit to a course of action and to escalate that commitment whenever our choice is challenged. This happens in auctions (a form of negotiation) when people start to ignore the real value of the item in order to win. Such irrational commitments can be reduced by:
1. Being very aware of your competitive nature and what triggers it. Focus on getting the best deal and not on beating the other side.
2. Ignore the "sunk costs"...the amount of time, money and effort you have already invested in getting what you want. The value of the item does not change regardless of the amount of effort you put into the acquisition process.
3. Focus every one of your responses on getting the other side to make the next move that will bring them closer to your desired outcome. The more you avoid an "irrational committment" to the object, the less they will feel a need to overly commit to their plan.
4. Keep your demands in the high but realistic range.
5. Remember to answer their WIIFM (What's In It For Me). People only agree to a deal when there is something in it for them.
6. If you get a very good deal, leave room for the opponent to save face.
Posted by Susan L. Jeffries
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
An attorney practicing family law
Family law practitioners get to go to court often... so we are litigators.
We get to draft agreements... so we are transactional lawyers.
We listen to our clients and try our best to make their lives better when our relationship ends than when it began... so we are helpers and healers.
We get to think about the best interests of children every day and how to manage spouses grieving for a lost marriage.
We have to know about bank accounts, business values, children, real estate, pensions, social security, stock options, taxes, health insurance, employment issues, unemployment, Medicaid and title XX, lifestyle economics and vacation planning, among others.
We get to mediate agreements for people and help them find workable solutions to complex issues that bring a good result for everyone.
We are the broad shoulders to take the blows that come their way, and we are the soft shoulders to cry on.
We get the opportunity to help people grow into a new life, which is the best of all it is to be a lawyer.
Posted by Susan L. Jeffries
Friday, April 1, 2011
Gender Bias - Dads as Parents
The world of child custody evaluation routinely pits moms against dads. Moms have the advantage because of the fundamental myth that enslaves women and devalues men as caregivers.
The myth is that women automatically know how to care for children and want to do it, while men are seen as fundamentally unable to nurture a child and avoid it whenever possible. We find that, with encouragement and training, Dads learn parenting skills easily.
The truth is that, short of breast feeding, men have the same care giving skills and nurturing instincts as women. Traditionally, Mom became the primary caregiver because Dads abandoned the field to pursue other tasks. Other times, however, Moms unknowingly cripple Dads' nurturing by criticizing them and belittling their skills when they do try to help, or excluding them from the daily care giving. Dads often accept this because it seems easier at the time, resulting in a loss of nurturing and care giving experience.
In many cultures, historically children are property, and belong to Dad because they work for the family.
In the Victorian Era, the "tender years' doctrine" was created in the legal context and dictated that children under the age of 13 were better off with their mothers. In the modern era, the law has changed to require courts to focus on the "best interests of the child" and legal language has been neutralized to eliminate gender bias. The reality is that gender bias remains in the culture and frequently results in the conclusion that women make better parents, even though reliable research shows that children without consistent, frequent contact with both parents are more prone to crime and drug additions.
I have had a number of clients in my practice where the Dad was obviously the better parent but the hard-charging, high-functioning, business super-mom could not let Dad be the "primary parent" even though it interfered with her entire life. The consequences often were a vicious and expensive legal battle, which Mom eventually won due to her superior access to resources. These, however, were a minority. Most of the time we can work with both parents, and we can craft a parenting schedule that works for both of them and the children.
No man should be automatically discredited as a nurturing parent, just as no woman should be assumed to be a competent mother.
The best care giver is the one who is skilled at care taking and is attentive to the emotional needs of the children in his/her care. No one person or gender is "best" at this. Care giving and nurturing is partially instinctive, but it is enhanced or muffled by learned behaviors, skills and training.
Sadly, children deprived of one parent often wonder if it was their fault.
Children need both their Mom and their Dad in their lives if they are to develop self esteem and become responsible citizens and parents. Even if Mom and Dad cannot communicate, courts will find ways for a child to spend time with the other parent, so long as there is no danger to the child.
If a father wants to become more active in his child's life, it may take additional diligence which includes:
-- making time to be in the child's life,
--asking for extra time with the child,
--documenting the time spent with the child and noting the quality of the time spent and the effect on the child. Keep a daily journal and a calendar.
-- Parenting classes are a good source of support and expertise. (Moms take them too.)
-- Becoming involved in the child's life as a scout leader, class parent or trip chaperone.
---Attending school and religious events with and without your child
--Finally, a Mom or Dad that truly wants to be a parent to his/her child should never give up. Sometimes it takes time to prove good intentions or rehabilitation, especially after a long absence or behavior problems. If it comes to a legal contest, do not resign yourself to second place just because it is easier.
It takes patience, and many hearings, but courts truly strive to keep children in touch with both parents and they actually encourage a Pariah who wants to reform and demonstrates a new resolve to become a better parent.
Posted by Susan L. Jeffries
Friday, March 25, 2011
Don't post pictures on Facebook!
I want to take this opportunity to remind you to be cautious in your use of social media sites. Websites like Facebook and MySpace may play a role in how we express what is going on in our daily lives, including our divorce or child custody case. Please refrain from posting any details of your case, your social life, or your finances on social networking sites. Please do not post pictures!
This week I read a news story about a man who was arrested for polygamy after his first wife saw pictures of his second wedding that he had posted on Facebook. Be prudent about your use of social media. Ask yourself whether you would mind your judge, your child, or your spouse's attorney reading what you are about to post, and let that temper your behavior. You may inadvertently share details that you and your attorney would like to keep private, and what you send into cyberspace stays there and can be used against you!
Posted by Celeste Johansson, Esq.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Dos and Don'ts of shared parenting for your child.
Even though you are getting a divorce from your spouse, if you have children, and especially if you have young children, you will be engaged in a long-term relationship with the other parent. The earlier you can work out how to co-parent, the easier it will be not only for you, but also for your children.
If you can come to an agreement about a parenting plan on your own, or with the help of a parenting mediator or an attorney, it will save you the cost of having to go to court. However, don't sacrifice your rights to custody or visitation of your children just because you are anxious about appearing in court. Here are some tips to help you.
DO act in good faith. Your child's emotional welfare is at stake when you interact with his or her other parent. If you engage in "tit-for-tat" behavior, your child, or your relationship with your child, will suffer.
DON'T use your child as a go between. Avoid putting your child into a situation where they will feel uncomfortable by discussing the case in front of them, or badmouthing or fighting with their parent; they feel they have to "take sides" when they love you both.
If you cannot communicate effectively in person or by phone, use email or make an agreement to use a logbook that passes back and forth between your houses. This has the added benefit that the Court can monitor what is being said by each parent.
DON'T pump your child for information about the other parent, but DO take note if your child brings up something that is concerning them about the other parent's household.
The safety and security of your child is more important to the court than the griping of the parents, so if you have a valid concern, make sure that you address it in an appropriate way, e.g. email the other parent, call the authorities, or bring a motion before the court.
DO keep good records. Keep a journal of events. Courts love proof. If you pay for all of your child's daycare and extra-curricular activities: save all of your receipts. If you have unreimbursed medical expenses, save all of your bills. Hold the other parent to fulfill their end of the bargain. The court will.
DON'T frustrate your child's relationship with the other parent. Don't make up excuses for why your child has to miss a scheduled visitation. If something comes up during a normal visitation time with the other parent, negotiate an exchange of this visit for another day when they ordinarily wouldn't have the child. Be kind, and set an example. This is their child, too, and children benefit from the involvement of both parents in their life.
DO work towards the parenting schedule that you want to have. Ask for more time if you can handle it. Courts love the status quo. If you wish to increase your parenting time with your child, then start working towards that end now. Take additional weekend days when you can. Ask for more overnights so the other parent can go out. When your child has a school holiday, use the opportunity to expand your visitation. That way, when you walk into court you can honestly tell the judge that you want to keep the visitation schedule that you currently have.
DO carefully monitor how your child is feeling about the other parent, especially if they have been estranged for a large part of the child's life. Courts take small steps in expanding visitation. If you have your child the vast majority of the time, the court will be cautious before giving the other parent a significant amount of visitation. Use this to your advantage.
Is the other parent a good influence on your child? If so, encourage the relationship, but make sure that your child feels safe. If the other parent provides a safe and secure environment, encourage your child to visit. Even though you may not like the other parent, your child needs time with both parents to develop self esteem. As long as it is safe, let them go.
If there are reasons that you believe your child may be in danger or not in a positive environment with the other parent, you should take all appropriate steps to protect them, and bring your concerns to the attention of the Court. There are supervising programs that can allow a parent to have visitation without placing your child in harm's way.
Remember, the best interests of your child are paramount, and that includes not only their physical safety, but also their emotional security. Your behavior and interactions with your child's other parent have an enormous impact on how well your child will cope with the stress of divorce. There are programs that can help you communicate and co-parent effectively to help your child through this difficult change in their life.
posted by Celeste Johansson, Esq.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Effect of the Great Recession on Marriages
To celebrate National Marriage Week, which runs from Feb. 7th to the 14th, a national survey of how the recent "Great Recession" has affected marriage in finds both good and bad news.
While 29 percent of couples reported that the downturn has brought financial stress to their marriages, another 29 percent agreed that the recession led them to deepen their commitment to their marriages. Among married Americans who said they were considering divorce or separation prior to the recession (about 5 percent of all respondents in the survey), 38 percent said that the recession caused them to work harder at saving their marriage.
The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, recently released their "Survey of Marital Generosity," a nationally representative survey of 1,197 married Americans aged 18 to 45, and conducted by Knowledge Networks in December and January. The resulting report, "The Great Recession and Marriage", was released February 7, 2011.
"According to this new data, although the recession has caused a great deal of stress among American couples, there are also two silver linings when it comes to marriage in America," said the report's author, Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and a sociology professor in U.Va.'s College of Arts & Sciences.
"The recession clearly brought economic hardship to many American marriages," Wilcox explained. More than one-third (34 percent) of survey respondents report worrying often or almost all the time about being able to pay the bills. About 12 percent report either difficulty making mortgage payments or a home foreclosure. Another 29 percent indicate they have experienced unemployment or reduced pay or hours as a result of the economic downturn. In fact, just over half of those surveyed have been affected by one or more of these three financial stressors.
Only 49 percent of those surveyed have escaped all three of them, 31 percent have faced one of them, and one in five report having experienced two or three. When asked directly if the recession had brought financial stress to their marriage, 29 percent agreed that it did, while 47 percent disagreed (the remaining 24 percent neither agreed nor disagreed). Unsurprisingly, such financial stresses have had a negative impact on Americans' marital happiness.
Married Americans who have been relatively unaffected by the financial downturn - those who report low levels of financial worry, no trouble paying their mortgage and no employment setbacks - are the most likely to report having a very happy marriage (43 percent). Those who have experienced one stressor do not lag far behind these other Americans in marital happiness - 39 percent report a very happy marriage. But among those with two or three financial stressors, only 27 percent report a happy marriage.
"The data indicates that about one in five married Americans have been hit with multiple financial stressors," Wilcox said. "These Americans are experiencing the greatest challenges in their marriages." Among those who report that the recession has led them to deepen their marital commitment, just 5 percent are at a high risk for divorce, compared to 24 percent of those who disagree with that statement. Similarly, those who have redoubled their marital commitment are much more likely to be in a very happy marriage (52 percent) than those who disagree that the recession has caused them to deepen their commitment (25 percent).
"This new survey tells us that the Great Recession has had a double- edged impact on American marriages," Wilcox said. "For some, the financial stresses associated with the Great Recession have hurt their marriages. But for others, this recession has fostered a new commitment to marriage that appears to have improved the quality and stability of their marriages." The weight of the economic downturn has not fallen evenly on all married Americans, Wilcox said. The recession has damaged marriages most among those most vulnerable to it - those without a college degree.
One potential buffer against these effects is religious participation, he said. Couples who attended church together reported higher marital quality, less financial stress and, a deeper commitment to marriage in the face of the recession.
The full report is available from University of Virginia. Funding for the Survey of Marital Generosity was provided by the Science of Generosity Initiative at the University of Notre Dame, a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
NEW Tax Break for Divorced Parents
TAX EXEMPTION HELPS CHILDREN WITH MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
Sometimes, even the IRS shows heart.
Until recently, most tax breaks related to children for divorced parents could only be earned by whichever parent claimed the child as a dependent. In most cases, this was the custodial parent, unless the custodial parent waived the right to claim the child as a dependent to the non-custodial parent. In short, only one parent could claim the child as a dependent for any given year.
As a corollary to this, only the parent who listed the child as a dependent could set up a Health Savings Account or Medical Savings Account for the child.
This has changed, and it is important for divorced parents to understand this both for their own financial benefit and to improve health coverage for their children. The August 18, 2008, IRS Rev. Proc. 2008-48 under Sec. 152(e) states that a child of divorced or separated parents can be listed as the dependent of both parents under certain circumstances, regardless of who the custodial parent is or whether the exemption has been released to the other parent.
Specifically, the new Sec 152 (e) exception allows the parent who is not claiming the child as a dependent to claim tax deductions for Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Now both parents can provide health care and medical benefits to their children by using pretax dollars to fund the HSA and MSA accounts for their children. The result will be more health care coverage for more children. This law will apply retroactively for any tax year beginning after December 31, 2004.
For more information or clarifications about this new tax code procedure or other family law issues of topical interest, please post a reply to this Blog, or call the office for an appointment with Ms. Jeffries.
posted by Susan Jeffries at 4:28 PM
Friday, November 30, 2007
Healing Personal Wounds
The Wounded and the Wounder By Geoff Geiger
November 29, 2007
There are those in life who wound us very deeply.
Usually these people are close to our hearts, people we love and respect.
We have trusted them and have shared or tried to share with them the deeper aspects of ourselves.
The one who wounds might be a parent, a child, a teacher, a once-trusted friend, a husband, a wife, a lover.
Sometimes the wound is inflicted with conscious and malicious intent. But more often the wound is cut from a place of weakness and blindness. Often we are not aware that we are inflicting the wound at the very moment the act is taking place.
That the wounded person can heal is part of the good news. And the healing process goes something like this:
(1) Come to understand that one is wounded.
(2) Be open to experiencing the inner pain we must travel through to heal without resorting to addictions or mindless escapes.
(3) Give the wound the time it needs to heal.
(4) Protect oneself from further wounding by setting necessary limits.
(5) Become increasingly aware, day by day, of life’s beauty, and let it bathe and cleanse the spirit.
And the last two are the icing on the cake:
(6) Forgive, and
(7) be kind and loving to the wounder.
For the wounder to heal is probably more difficult. But the essential steps are these:
(1) Acknowledge to oneself that one has inflicted the wound.
(2) If possible, acknowledge this also to the person one has wounded.
(3) Be open to hearing the wounded one’s truth, uncensored.
(4) Accept this truth without argument or commentary, and thank the person for expressing it.
(5) Ask forgiveness from the wounded, or God, or yourself, or all sentient beings, or from any combination of the above that works.
(6) Release all guilt.
(7) Become more conscious of one’s inner demons, and (8) make progress in wounding less.
The wounder’s journey requires a willingness to look deeply at the dark, shadow side of oneself. Not everyone can walk this road, which can be both humbling and terrifying. But for those who do, there is great opportunity to break the bonds of the cycle of wounds.
And for the wounded one who heals, there is a deepening compassion and a level of layered understanding that can bestow exquisite gifts of healing to a hurting world.
It is part of the human dilemma, tragedy and opportunity that we are all both wounded and wounders.
posted by Susan Jeffries at 4:30 PM
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Tax Free Education Plans as Child Support
Child support can be paid into an education fund allowing tax deductions for the payor, a tax free fund for the payee parent, and a growing education fund for the child. Most funds are designed to save for college expenses.
Did you know that some of the tax-advantaged plans for education can benefit children in grades K-12? Most plans that we think of are designed to help college students, but there are at least two types of program that can help pay for school expenses of younger students.
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (“ESA”s) can pay expenses of a beneficiary beginning with kindergarten and going up through graduate school. A maximum of $2000 can be contributed per child, per year. There are income limits for the donor, but they are quite high: donations are restricted beginning at $95,000 of taxable income on a single return and $190,000 on a joint return.
Here’s how the Coverdell ESA works: money is contributed to a child’s plan or plans. Income earned in that account is tax-free as long as the plan assets are used to provide a surprisingly wide variety of education expenses. Funds for students K-12 can be used to provide tuition and fees, books, supplies, equipment, uniforms, transportation, tutoring, and computer access. Costs for special need students may also be included. In addition, money in a Coverdell ESA may be rolled over into a Sec. 529 Qualified Tuition Plan.
Financial assistance can also be provided to children in grades K-12 via scholarships. While this isn’t something that parents can fund for their children, it is important to be aware that scholarships exist for children in grades K-12. Scholarship funds are not taxable income as long as the scholarship is used to pay tuition, required fees, and course-related expenses, such as books, supplies and equipment. Some scholarship grants permit funds to be used for other expenses, such as room and board. If funds are used for this second category of expense, the scholarship grant is subject to income tax.
Want more information?
Ask the IRS for IRS Publication 970 Tax Benefits for Education is full of good ideas. It’s available online at www.irs.gov. Or contact your accountant, tax attorney or estate planner.
Provided by Mildred Brown, CPA, Oakland CA November 20, 2007
posted by Susan Jeffries at 4:22 PM
Friday, October 5, 2007
Can I take money out of our joint account?
What are the funds normally used for? If they are necessary for maintaining the CP business, then you need to take that into account. But if they are just savings, then you can take them before you file or are served with the Petition for divorce.
LEGALLY, there is no prohibition against doing this. Prior to filing the Petition, there are no ATROS in effect. My argument would be that taking the money is simply to preserve the CP assets until properly adjudicated by the court. There are fiduciary duties owed to the other spouse (which ARE effective prior to filing a Petition) under Family Code section 721 which require each to deal with the other in the highest duty of honesty, good faith, and fair dealing. The location of the money must be DISCLOSED immediately to the other spouse. FC section 721 requires each spouse to 1) provide access to the BOOKS, 2) disclose all INFORMATION about the transaction, and 3) HOLD AS TRUSTEE any CP money in his/her control.
ETHICALLY, there is no problem with such a transfer, based upon a reasonable belief that he/she is preserving a CP asset (as opposed to the unethical goal of "bleeding him dry.") the spouse can preserve MORE THAN HALF of the money if, for example, there is $25,000 in CP credit card debts that need to be paid off.
In conclusion, I do not see anything illegal, or unethical, about grabbing control of the "disputed" CP money. There should be enough left in the account that is "reasonably" not in dispute as being a part of the other spouse’s share. Then immediately disclose in writing the transfer, including the bank information, account number, and balance, and advise husband that the money will be preserved until the court can adjudicate division of same. And finally, inform in writing that $10,000 of the money was paid to her attorney as a retainer toward anticipated attorney's fees.
posted by Susan Jeffries at 3:32 PM
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Property division procedure
Divorce starts by filing the Petition, and filing the Response. Then you start working on the financial issues to determine spousal/child support and property division. (Child custody and visitation issues are resolved separately from the property and support issues) First you make a list of what assets you have, then you add the current value for each asset, and any related debts. Then you list all the debts, the creditor and what the money was for.
The court requires full and complete disclosure of all financial information before any settlement is signed and will not issue the final judgement without full disclosure by each party.
We have special forms and worksheets to make this simpler for our clients.
Working with an attorney, you determine what is legally separate or community property. The separate property belongs to the owner and is not divided. The community property must have a current value (by agreement or appraisal) before it can be divided.
Finally, the community property is added up, divided by two, and then distributed so each person gets half of the value.
As long as no one stalls the process, the disputes may be small and can be resolved by a joint meeting of the parties and their advisors.
You can bring disputes to a mediator, a private judge or even a trusted neighbor. If you agree, the "mediator" drafts a "Memorandum of Understanding" to put your agreement on paper. The MOU is NOT a legally binding document. One attorney drafts the legal agreement for the other party to review and approve. It becomes legally binding when it is approved by the court.
posted by Susan Jeffries at 1:41 PM
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process you can use to resolve disputes. If you have no dispute, you do not need mediation.
Mediators do not have to be attorneys. A mediator can be anyone you trust who can help you resolve your dispute. However, you do need to know the legal basis for your position before you start the process or any negotiation.
A Mediator is not working as an attorney and should not prepare legally binding documents on the disputed issue.
The best way to mediate is to have a neutral mediator manage the negotiations while each party consults privately with their own attorney who helps them understand the issues, the facts and the law and helps develop a negotiation and settlement strategy.
My firm works with parties in mediation all the time. Often the client represents him/her self and we only "consult and counsel" them as they request. This saves client's money because we do not work directly with opposing party at all.
If you have questions about mediation, we can help you with them.
posted by Susan Jeffries at 1:15 PM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
New Case: pension division
Where the trial court found in a 1980 dissolution judgment that wife was entitled to an interest in husband’s pension pursuant to the "Brown Formula," but record did not reflect either an agreement of the parties to employ the "time rule" or a judicial exercise of discretion to do so, it was error for court to conclude 25 years later that Brown Formula was synonymous with time rule. Given usage at the time and other circumstances, reference to the Brown Formula is reasonably interpreted as an indication that the court had then determined the community to have an interest in husband’s pension and had directed that total accrued benefits at retirement would be divided in kind in the future exercise of the court’s discretion. In re Marriage of Gray - filed August 28, 2007, publication ordered September 21, 2007, Sixth District Cite as 2007 SOS 5896
This is what happens if the formula for division is not stated in the court order or in the marital settlement agreement. They divided the pension and Wife may not not be able to get a "lump sum" cash distribution. She may take monthly payments instead. SLJ
posted by Susan Jeffries at 6:26 PM