Category Archives:Divorce

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Divorce Help: California’s Six-Month Waiting Period

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, basketball star Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa Bryant may be putting their divorce proceeding on hold in an attempt to work out their marital issues and reconcile. This decision may in part be based on California’s requirement that anyone filing for divorce must wait at least six months before the marriage can be dissolved.
This is a good reminder of how strict the California law is regarding the six-months waiting period—even celebrities have to abide by the waiting period—and there are no exceptions or ways to expedite the date of dissolution for the marriage.
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  NBA player Kobe ...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The waiting period begins in a California divorce once the divorce papers are filed and served. Thus, even if you and your spouse have been separated for years, the waiting period does not start until the divorce action is filed and the papers are properly served upon the other party.

There is no way to speed up the divorce process. A divorce always takes at least six months to complete. Sometimes the parties agree to all the terms of the divorce before the six months has run. In this case, the parties can prepare and finalize a divorce judgmentbefore the six month waiting period expires, but they will not officially be divorced until the six months has elapsed. Even if a judgment is prepared before the six-month waiting period expires, the terms of the agreement are still binding on both parties. They are just not free to remarry until the six months have run.
Other times, people do not resolve all the custody, visitation, child support, spousal support/alimony, and division of property issues within the six-month time period. In this case, a divorce will take longer than the six-month time frame because the parties have a right to litigate the terms of their divorce and resolve the issues before a judicial officer.
The reasoning behind a six-month waiting period, which is longer than for many states, is to make sure that you and your spouse do not change your mind about going through with the divorce. The courts want to give you time in case you decide to reconcile. You cannot get a divorce in California until the waiting period has expired.
The Kobe Bryant case is just another example of why the law is in place. Apparently, the reason for the divorce filing may have had to do with Kobe possibly cheating on his wife. If California allowed a quick divorce, the divorce would have been granted while Vanessa Bryant was still mad at her husband and had not “cooled” off from the divorce filing. The required six months waiting period may have given the couple adequate time to calm down and work on reconciliation. This is exactly the type of situation the law was created for, to give a “cooling off” period so that couples can be sure they want to proceed with the divorce, and are not merely acting on an impulse to quickly end the marriage.
Legal updates provided by the Orange County and Riverside Law firm of Don Ho, LLP.

Facebook CEO's Well-Timed Marriage

Just one day after his company made its public trading debut, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg married Priscilla Chan.
Mark Zuckerberg's original Facebook profile
Mark Zuckerberg’s original Facebook profile (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

The Facebook billionaire topped off a remarkable week with a surprise wedding Saturday to his college sweetheart Priscilla Chan. Zuckerberg, 28,  met Chan, 27, during his years as an undergraduate student at Harvard. The wedding announcement was classic Facebook: Zuckerberg simply updated his profile to: “Married Priscilla Chan.” The news had almost 850,000 “likes” Sunday evening.

Though there’s no indication that the Zuckerberg wedding had anything to do with the IPO, its timing couldn’t have been better. At least if the pair ever decide to divorce.
Zuckerberg was worth $17.5 billion as of March 2012 but that figure could now be closer to $19 billion thanks to his move to take Facebook public on May 19, according to Forbes

Prenuptial agreements generally waive the right to make claims based on California community property laws, which state that property created after marriage is community property and should be split evenly after divorce.
If there was no prenuptial agreement, Zuckerberg benefited by waiting until after the initial public offering. If the marriage had taken place before the IPO, his shares could have been considered marital assets. Since it took place afterward, he can argue his Facebook holdings were separate property acquired before marriage, and they were not marital property. He probably couldn’t make the same argument, however, about gains made after the marriage. Earnings from work are generally considered community property.
Whether or not these legal repercussions had any impact on the timing of the Zuckerberg wedding is unknown. Even if they had no impact, Zuckerburg may have just lucked out.
Some of the benefits of a prenuptial agreement include:
  • documenting each spouse’s separate property to protect it as separate property,
  • supporting your estate plan and avoiding court involvement to decide property distribution,
  • distinguishing between what is marital and what is community property,
  • documenting and detailing any special arrangements between you and your spouse,
  • avoiding extended court proceedings, which result in the time of expensive divorce attorneys,
  • reducing conflicts during a divorce,
  • establishing procedures and rules for issues that may arise in the future, and
  • assigning debt, such as credit cards, school loans, and mortgages, to the appropriate spouse to avoid both spouses sharing debt liability.

Many people fear that discussing such matters, or even bringing up the word prenuptial agreement, will cause turmoil in their relationship. Often times, just the opposite is true. One of the main irreconcilable differences leading to divorce is finances. Talking to your spouse ahead of time regarding finances, property, and marital asset management can avoid a lot of these disagreements. You both can get on the same page in the beginning so that the issue does not pop up and cause an argument later. Furthermore, discussing these issues nurtures healthy communication. Even if you and your spouse decide a prenuptial agreement is not for you, discussing it may be a good idea.

Whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement or not is a very personal decision. Each individual and couple is unique. Therefore, you should base your decision on your own unique circumstances.

Legal updates by the Orange and Riverside County Law Firm of Don Ho, LLP.

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Divorce Help: Changing Your Name After Divorce

Divorce is very unsettling, to say the least.  It is difficult to think about changing one’s name when there are so many other more pressing issues, and many women decide to continue using their married names, at least for the time being.  Resuming your former name is a significant step. It marks a return to a former SELF, and for many women, this represents a positive step towards recovery and acceptance of the divorce.

Changing your name can be done at the time of divorce or at a later date, and is easy and cost-free.  It is slightly easier to restore your last name or change your current name during the divorce process.  If you are considering this, notify your divorce attorney before the divorce is finalized so it is handled as part of the judgment or settlement.  However, if you were not ready to make a name change at the time of divorce, and now you are, it is neither too late nor too difficult or expensive.

Change of Name Process

If you have to file a Petition for Change of Name in court, the process can take up to 3 months.  After you file your Petition for Change of Name, you will get a court date on your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name that will be between 6 and 12 weeks away.  If your paperwork is correct and you followed all the required steps, on or soon after your court date, the court will give you a court order called a “decree” officially changing your name.  Some courts are busier than others and it may take longer.

In some limited cases, the judge may not agree to change your name.  For example, this can happen if the judge finds that you are changing your name to commit fraud, or if the judge finds that you are changing your name to hide from the law or the police or for some other illegal reason.

Changing your name to your former name if your divorce is final and was granted in California.  Contact the court clerk in the county where the case was filed and give the court clerk the case number, case name (names of the parties), and the date of the order/judgment/filing, if possible. Include a copy of your Notice of Entry of Judgment (Family Law — Uniform Parentage — Custody and Support) (Form FL-190), if possible. Complete an Ex Parte Application for Restoration of Former Name After Entry of Judgment and Order (Family Law) (Form FL-395). Include a self-addressed, stamped, return envelope, if necessary.

If your divorce is NOT yet final. If you are getting divorced in California and the divorce is not final yet, you can ask the court to restore your name to your former name. You can ask for this when you submit your proposed Judgment (Form FL-180) for divorce. Talk to a  Family Law attorney to find out how to do this. If you want to change your name to something other than your maiden name or to a prior married name you used in the past, then you have to follow the steps for filing a Petition for Change of Name.

If you have any questions, contact a Family Law attorney who can review your forms to make sure you filled them out properly.

Once you have your court order changing your name (whether through your divorce or through the regular Petition for Change of Name process), you can use that court order to change your legal name on government-issued identification documents such as your driver’s license, passport, and social security card.  You will generally need a certified copy of the decree changing your name.  The court clerk can provide you with that.  You will have to pay a small fee or qualify for a fee waiver. 

Sharing Your New Name

If you have children, consider the impact of your decision to change your name, and give them a simple explanation for the switch.  The children will likely continue to use their father’s last name after the divorce is completed, so tell them the truth so they feel pride in their birth name.  Telling your family, friends, and acquaintances may require a more in-depth explanation, or none at all depending on if they knew you before you were married.  Be prepared to answer these types of questions.

A name change should not be an impulsive decision, nor is it alone the measure of your recovery from divorce. Before you change your name, make sure you have thought your decision through and it is best for you.

When filing for a California divorce, be sure to let the your attorney know if you wish to change your name.  It is much easier to do it at the time of divorce. When you elect to change names later additional work and costs are involved.

What is a QDRO? How Divorce Affects Retirement

If you are filing for divorce or facing property division, you may have heard of a QDRO. If you have complex assets, including retirement accounts, there are specific legal processes and documents that must be completed to ensure that both parties are protected.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) directs your pension plan administrator to give a portion of it to your ex-spouse after the divorce is final. 
Retirement (Photo Credit)

The following is a common scenario involving the QDRO:

  • A settlement agreement states that retirement assets will be equally divided between the husband and wife.
  • Three months later with a QDRO in hand, the couple finds out that the 401(k) has gone down in value and the non-qualified pension plan can’t be divided.
  • At this point, it’s necessary to determine the plan’s official division date and whether or not equivalent assets, temporary benefits, or cost of living adjustments in the plan were considered in the divorce decree.
This was an example of a common problem that arises because QDROs have only been around since 1984 and there is still confusion among some family law attorneys regarding splitting retirement plans.
Because QDROs can be complicated, it’s probably wise to consult an attorney experienced in dealing with them. But here is some basic information about QDROs:

What Qualifies as a QDRO? In general, a QDRO is a court-issued judgment, order, or decree that formally approves a property-settlement agreement that involves a retirement plan. 

What Must be Included in the Order? A QDRO must contain the following information:

  • The name and last known mailing address of the participant, and each alternate payee;
  • The name of each plan to which the order applies;
  • The amount or percentage, or method for calculating the amount or percentage, to be paid to the alternate payee;
  • The number of payments, or time period, covered by the QDRO.
How Does QDRO Work? The order will describe how the assets will be divided. The forms can be filled out by participants, but there are very specific legal requirements, so an attorney can be helpful to answer any questions.

Are QDROs Required During Divorce? Yes, a QDRO is required for any retirement plan covered by ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. 

Does a QDRO Need Approval? Yes, the QDRO must be approved by an administrator and it must meet certain requirements. 

Are There Early-withdrawal Penalties? No, QDRO transfers from a retirement account do not incur any early-withdrawal penalties

Legal updates provided by the Orange County and Riverside Law firm of Don Ho, LLP.
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Divorce Help: Don't Let Your Divorce Be More "Taxing" Than Necessary

Tax (Photo credit: 401K)

With the federal income tax filing deadline a little under a month away, many California residents are feeling the pressure of preparing and filing their taxes on time.  Filing your taxes can be confusing regardless of your financial situation.  However, they become even more complicated when you have undergone a major life change in the last year, such as a divorce, legal separation or other family law issue.

A divorce is stressful enough and despite your circumstances, the government will still expect you to file your taxes promptly and correctly. If you are really confused about your taxes, the best thing to do is to seek assistance from a tax professional.  Nevertheless, there are a few standard guidelines for filing taxes after a divorce.

What is my tax filing status?
Most importantly, you must decide the correct filing status to use.  In general, your federal income tax filing status is determined by your marital status as of the last day of the tax year.  Thus, if you were married on December 31, 2011, you will be considered married for the entire year.  If you were divorced on December 31, you are considered divorced for the year.  In general, a person who is legally separated is not considered as married.  This can vary based on state law, however, so may be a good idea to double-check with a California family law attorney.  Even if you were still married on December 31, you can choose whether to file jointly or separately.

Can I Qualify as a “Head of Household”
If your divorce was final on or before December 31, 2011, you can either file as single or as head of household.  Filing as “head of household” may result in a lower tax bill than if you were to file as single, but this designation has strict requirements. To qualify as head of household you must:

  • maintain the primary home of household for a qualifying child, or someone you claim as a dependent for more than half the year
  • be unmarried at the end of the year or living apart from your spouse for more than six months
  • provide more than half the cost of maintaining the household
  • be a U.S. citizen or resident alien for the entire tax year

Note: It may not be clear who had custody for more than half the year and is able to file as a head of household when parents have joint physical custody of their child.  The parents should agree between themselves how to handle this issue. A daily log of exactly where the child lives during the year should be kept, as well as a record of household expenses and who paid them.

Can I claim an exemption for my children?
In general, a child’s custodial parent will claim the child as an exemption in their taxes.  Although, in some cases, it may make sense financially to trade the exemption to the other parent.  A financial planner may be able to help you determine the best use of the exemption. 

Are child support payments considered taxable income?
In almost every situation, child support is tax neutral.  Child support payments are not taxable income for the parent receiving the support, nor is it tax deductible for the parent paying the support.

Are alimony payments considered taxable income?

Spousal support, on the other hand, is considered income for tax purposes.  Such payments are almost always taxable income for the recipient –and they are tax deductible for the payor.  There are some guidelines and qualifications in regards to spousal support.  Alimony must be included in an official court order or court-approved settlement in order to qualify for tax deduction.  In addition, any alimony payments made while the spouses lived together may not be deducted.

Are assets transferred as part of my divorce settlement agreement taxable?
In general, when assets are transferred as part of a divorce settlement agreement, the person that receives the transfer does not need to pay taxes based on the transfer alone.  However, if the recipient decided to sell the asset at some future date, they would likely have to pay capital gains on the appreciation of the asset both before and after the transfer.

It cannot be denied that there are many details to consider when preparing your federal income tax return.  If your situation is especially complicated, it may be a good idea to enlist the services of a California tax or family law professional to guide you through the process.

Sources and Related articles

Legal updates brought to you by the Riverside and OC attorneys at Don Ho, LLP.
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Could Social Media Cause You to Lose Custody?

Social networking has exploded in recent years, with millions of Americans and citizens around the world joining sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, or even starting their own blogs.  In fact, social networks are truly becoming extensions of our everyday lives.  However, as these websites continue to grow in popularity, many users are finding that the sites are affecting their lives in ways they never imagined.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

The use of Facebook in family court proceedings is becoming somewhat of a norm.  Unlike criminal or other civil cases where judges remain  fairly strict about discovery, family court judges have to this point been pretty relaxed concerning the allowance of Facebook photos and posts as evidence in family court cases.  In fact, some family law firms are even creating new departments for the sole purpose of controlling their clients’ social media accounts.

During divorce or child custody proceedings, the seemingly mundane details of your life can be misconstrued and even prove detrimental to your case. Social media posts and comments can provide damaging information for opposing counsel in family court proceedings.  Anything you post may be used as evidence against you, from status updates to pictures and everything in between.

California child custody laws focus on the best interests of the child.  Such an investigation usually includes an examination at whether one parent is willing and able to help his or her child maintain a good relationship with the other parent.  Therefore, public displays of animosity against another parent on a social media site can be harmful when it comes to determining child custody arrangements.  Additionally, the social life of the parent can be a factor in the custody decision.  Posting pictures of a night out with friends or other social activity may raise questions about a parent’s actions or contradict previous statements which may influence a judicial determination.  Even though it may be completely innocent behavior, comments and images gleaned from these social media sites can paint a deceptive picture.  This is especially true in the courtroom where the only thing the judge has to go on is the evidence presented to him or her–they do not know those in front of them personally.

Many individuals incorrectly believe that they can keep private information on social networking sites.  That such information will be protected as long as they block their spouse and his or her close friends from seeing what they post.  If you are contemplating or have already filed for divorce or child custody it may be smart to terminate ALL social networking sites, Twitter accounts and blogs to avoid even the possibility of revealing information that may later prove to be harmful.  However, if you choose not to deactivate social media accounts (or at a minimum temporarily abstain from using them), here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Remove your spouse or ex-spouse, his/her friends and family from your “friends” list on Facebook and other accounts.  Even people who appear to be your “friends” may pass along posted information to opposing counsel.  Also, be careful who you “friend,” as it may be a private investigator or someone who is aligned with your spouse or ex-spouse.
  • Do not post any negative, derogatory or slanderous comments about your spouse, ex-spouse or his/her family and friends.  These posts may be taken out of context when read to the judge or jury by opposing counsel,
  • Do not post any negative comments about your children.
  • Do not change your status to “single” or “looking for a relationship” if the divorce is not final.
  • Do not post photos or comments about yourself, family members or friends doing anything illegal, that might appear to be illegal, or is otherwise compromising.
  • Do not post photos or comments about yourself, family members or friends drinking alcoholic beverages or appearing to be intoxicated. To a judge, this is not recreational fun, but irresponsible behavior.
  • Do not post comments that include foul language.
  • Do not post photos or comments about your significant other or anyone you may be dating.
  • Do not post comments about your divorce or custody proceeding.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly – NEVER post any comments about what you discussed with your lawyer!
    There are several inherent risks in using social media sites; risks which are elevated exponentially when going through a divorce or child custody proceedings.  For motivated litigants, such sites can provide evidence to use against an opponent and few litigants are more motivated than warring exes.  Therefore, the Orange County and Riverside Law firm of Don Ho, LLP would like to share one piece of advice: If you have a pending divorce or child custody case, simply assume that anything sent in an email or put onto a social media site may eventually be seen by everyone and that it is best if you simply terminate ALL social networking sites, Twitter accounts and blogs for the duration of the case.
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    Who Should Pay for College Tuition After Divorce?

    With the state of the economy and the exponentially increasing cost of college tuition, many parents are finding themselves struggling with how they are going to pay for their children to go to college.  For parents going through divorce, the situation is even more complicated and emotional.  After all, for divorcing parents, it’s not just a matter of “how,” but also “who” is going to pay for college tuition.
    keith's child support
    Keith’s Child Support by Sean Durham

    Although state laws vary, under many of them, the obligation for child support ends when a child reaches eighteen years of age.  Beyond that cut-off, are divorced parents obligated to pay for their children’s college education?

    If you are contemplating divorce and have children who are –or will be –attending college, keep in mind that unless ordered by the courts, there is typically no legal obligation to pay college tuition.  Therefore, in the absence of a court order, one of the best ways to plan for the future is to include the obligation in your divorce settlement agreement. 
    Divorce settlement agreements should specifically include a written college support agreement in addition to any other child support agreements.  A college support agreement is a written plan for how the parents will handle sending their child to college.  
    A college support agreement typically includes details relating to college expenses.  Parents can divide the costs utilizing a percentage system, set out exact amounts each parent will pay or divide it up in terms of type of costs.  When discussing costs relating to college, in addition to tuition you may want to consider room and board, books, extracurricular activities and a monthly allowance.  Additionally, such an agreement can include details beyond financial terms.  Restrictions or requirements can be set on the type of college, the distance away from home, whether there can be or should be religious requirements and so much. 
    Take the time early on to alleviate concerns over your family’s future monetary and emotional well-being by devising cost-effective strategies to pay for college expenses.
    Legal updates brought to you by Orange County and Riverside Law firm of Don Ho, LLP. 
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    Heidi Klum and Seal Call it Quits

    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 28:  Model Heidi Klum ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

    A celebrity couple known for making public displays of attention announced that they were separating.  Supermodel and reality television host Heidi Klum and musical artist Seal, confirmed that they have separated after almost seven years of marriage. 

    Klum and Seal were one of Hollywood’s most high-profile couples, and appeared to have the a solid relationship.  The couple married in 2005 and have raised 4 children together; three of their own and Klum’s daughter from a previous relationship.  They renewed their marriage vows every year on their anniversary, threw lavish parties together and talked about one another with respect and love.

    However, anonymous sources have hinted that in recent months the couple had been fighting more.  In addition, as with most Hollywood couples, their busy schedules that had them at different ends of the globe.  “While we have enjoyed seven very loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul searching we have decided to separate,” they said in a joint statement. “We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart.”

    While there has been no reports with details, if the California couple decides to move forward with divorce it is anticipated that there will be a lot of assets at stake and issues relating to child custody.  Ultimately, the details of a divorce will depend on whether or not the couple has executed a prenuptial agreement.  It there is no prenup, all income that was earned by either party during the marriage will be split 50-50 upon divorce because California is a community property state.
    However, a prenup is likely given the statures of Klum and Seal.  Such prenup would conceivably keep all individual business ventures as separate income and could set the terms for spousal support.  Should any spousal support be granted, it is probable that Klum will be paying Seal as she earns more income.  While Seal has sold 20 million albums worldwide, Klum is the second-highest paid model in the world and reportedly made $20 million last year alone.
    Of course, it is certainly possible that the couple will settle their divorce confidentially out of court, which means that the terms of any divorce settlement may never be released to the public.
    The Orange County and Riverside Law firm of Don Ho, LLP can assist you regarding criminal and employment legal matters.
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    Divorce Help: Am I Entitled to Spousal Support?

    When dissolving a marriage or domestic partnership, the issue of spousal support or alimony is often a primary concern of the parties.  In general, there are two types of alimony that can be awarded: permanent support, which deals with the support to be received at the conclusion of the divorce going forward, and temporary support, designed to maintain the status quo (as much as possible) during the divorce

    Temporary Spousal Support
    A spouse may have the right to receive temporary support during the dissolution process for the purpose of assisting that spouse with their financial obligations.  Immediately obtaining a temporary spousal support order may be necessary to secure financial security for a spouse who was dependent on the income of the other party.  Calculations of temporary spousal support are generally based upon the needs of the supported party and the ability of the supporting party to pay.  Prior to a judgment for dissolution, calculations for temporary spousal support are similar to calculations for child support and use a judicially recognized “guideline” calculated by a program.

    Permanent Spousal Support
    Permanent spousal support, or support ordered after a judgment for dissolution has been entered, is calculated by a careful consideration of a long list of factors under Family Code section 4320.  Such factors include the respective incomes of each spouse, the length of the marriage, ability of a party to pay, the standard of living during the marriage, the assets and debts of each party and whether there has been any domestic violence.  Permanent spousal support is generally payable for duration of half the length of the marriage, except in cases of a marriage of a long duration, or over 10 years, where the court may reserve jurisdiction over the termination of spousal support.  When calculating permanent spousal support it is important to evaluate the specific factors of the Family Code and also to consider the unique facts applicable to the individual’s case.  For example, the supported spouse may require retraining or education, one of the parties may have paid for one spouse to go to school and obtain additional professional skills, the supported spouse may previously had job skills and is that supported spousal maximizing their earning potential.

    Modifications for Support Order
    Unlike property division orders, an order for spousal support may be modified upon a determination of necessity.  On motion for modification of spousal support, a judge will consider changes in circumstances, such as unemployment or disability.

    When you are going through a dissolution that involves temporary spousal support and permanent spousal support in particular it is important to have an experienced family law attorney because a negative result may not be modifiable and may a long-term financial impact.

    Legal updates brought to you by the experienced attorneys of the Orange and RiversideCounty Family Law firm of Don Ho, LLP.

    Other Resources

    Turning to Mediation in Tough Economic Times

    In tough economic times, it is important to find ways to ease the cost of divorce, both emotionally and financially.  One way to do this is by taking advantage of mediation.  Mediation has always made sense for a lot of couples, and is even more attractive in today’s tough economy.
    Why Mediation?
    Though the mediation process can often be misunderstood, it can also be a highly viable alternative to litigation.  Although mediation may not be the right path for all divorcing couples — particularly in instances where domestic abuse is present, judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol or a spouse is hiding assets — it does have significant advantages over courtroom litigation for many people.
     Here are some reasons why mediation is a good option for many divorcing couples:
    1. It can be less expensive than litigating a divorce in court;
    2. It can offer privacy as California law protects settlement discussions in mediation as confidential;
    3. It allows the parties in a divorce to have more control of the outcome, rather than a judge; and
    4. It can be a more amicable way to part ways, which can prevent hostility for years down the road, especially if children are involved.
      Issues for Mediation
      The mediator will typically mediate the following issues:
      • Child Custody and parenting plan
      • Support including: Child Support; Spousal Support; Family Support
      • Property division
      The Mediation Process
      Whether you have been referred to mediation by the courts or have chosen to initiate mediation on your own, the first step is to secure a qualified mediator and schedule a time that is best for all of the parties involved.

      Initial Appointment: Once a mediator has been selected, an initial appointment is held during which both spouses attend and the general goals of the parties are discussed.  During this appointment, a written agreement between the parties themselves as well as the mediator will be reviewed and signed and the mediator will assign certain tasks at this initial meeting, such as bringing in certain documentation for the next meeting.

      Subsequent Appointments: A series of subsequent appointments are then conducted.  Most of these appointments will involve both spouses and the mediator but sometimes the mediator may have individual meetings with only one spouse.  The number of appointments will depend on the number of issues the spouses need to negotiate and the degree to which they are willing to compromise.  The frequency of appointments is scheduled according to how much time spouses need to complete “homework assignments” and/or to “think” between sessions.
      Agreement:  The mediator will make detailed notes of agreements as they are reached during the sessions.  Once all issues are resolved as a result of the mediation sessions, the mediator will draft a settlement agreement which summarizes all agreements that have been made.  It is recommended that each spouse take the agreement to a “consulting attorney” to look over the final document before signing. Once signed, the document is sent to Court for approval by the Judge and the matter is concluded.
      Legal updates brought to you by  the Orange and Riverside County Family Law firm of Don Ho, LLP.
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