August 27, 2010

Child Support – Why you need an attorney

Posted in Child Support tagged at 10:55 pm by demetriagraves

Child support is one of those contentious issues that parents often disagree on. Firstly, what is child support? Child support is some form of assistance, often financial, which is paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent who has custody of the children. The state recognizes the importance of parents providing for their children, whether separated or divorced.

It is unfortunate that many parents do not fulfill their financial obligations to their children. There are several ways that a custodial parent can get the necessary support for their children. There are a number of people who try to go through their local government or the state to gain support for their children, which is often not the most effective method. Each state has its own requirements for the payment of support and each state maintains its own procedures for debt collection. Since there are many different methods that are adopted by governments for child support amounts, custodial parents are often confused about the process and sometimes do not know when or if they are paid. This whole process can be very confusing and frustrating for the parent with custody. For this reason, seeking the advice of a family law attorney is your best course of action.

There are a variety of reasons why employing the services of a family law attorney may be advantageous. An attorney has the legal capacity and resources to ensure that the custodial parent is receiving the support they deserve. In contrast to the handling of a state agency, an attorney will work on behalf of a person for financial support required is paid. A family law attorney may need to pursue a number of avenues to get payment of support. Any parent who has difficulty in obtaining the necessary support should always contact a competent family law attorney to get advice on available support options.

Most people find that when they use an attorney they’ll get fast, effective results in the receipt of past and current support for their children. If you are unsure of what your right and or obligations are regarding child support, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered.

Minimizing the Effects of Divorce on Children

Posted in Divorce tagged at 6:16 pm by demetriagraves

As a Family law attorney one of the most common concerns I hear about is how a divorce will affect the children. Kids are often excited about new things, but one thing that they certainly don’t get excited over is new parents. A divorce takes a toll on everyone involved, but most especially on the child. A divorce not only brings an end to the family, but can also leave a child feeling lonely and confused. The experience of going through a divorce can be a nightmare for a child, the feeling of absence of a stable family structure that one can no longer take comfort in. As a family law attorney my goal is to help you arrive at an amicable divorce that seeks to minimize as much as possible the negative impact on the child.

A couple’s decision to divorce is perplexing for the child. A child always seeks love and support from his parents. The parents are his first point of reference and he always tries to emulate their actions. Witnessing an ongoing conflict between his parents may leave a child with a constant feeling of instability and tension in their life.

Child custody issues often play a significant role in most divorces. There are two types of child custody. Legal custody empowers one of the guardians to make important decisions regarding the upbringing of the child. That parent can influence decisions about the education and religion of the child. The second type is physical custody, which involves the possession of the child. Physical custody can be joint, meaning that the child spends considerable time with both the parents. As a family law attorney I can also assist in grandparents’ visitation rights.

The decision to obtain a divorce can wreak havoc in the lives of the separating spouses. Walking away from a relationship with someone who has been such a constant presence in your life can be frightening and upsetting, even if it’s ultimately the best thing to do under the present circumstances. Divorce is a legal process and therefore requires the expertise of a family law attorney. The most common way of obtaining a divorce is to file for litigation. However, this can be a very expensive and time-consuming exercise. The extensive documentation process and the hefty legal charges can drain your bank account as well as your energy.

The decision that results from litigation may at times not be acceptable to either party. This can cause yet another rift in the relationship, and the tension can linger even after the judgment. For most divorcing couples, a mediative or uncontested divorce is preferable over traditional litigation. This enables both the parties to calmly discuss issues like spousal support and property distribution in a less intimidating forum rather than battling things out in the courtroom. As a family law attorney I am very experienced in mediative divorce and I’ll manage the negotiation process. Even if your divorce ends up involving more traditional litigation, I can help guide you through the process and ensure that your divorce is as smooth as possible.

No matter what your concerns might be regarding divorce, please come and see me for a free confidential initial consultation. You can get all your questions answered and any concerns addressed. Many people say that going through a divorce is one of the most challenging experiences in their lives. This is why it’s so important to have some expert advice.

August 19, 2010

No Fault Divorce for NY

Posted in Divorce tagged at 3:55 pm by demetriagraves

California was the first state to introduce no fault divorce over forty years ago.  Now New York has just made breaking up easier to do, passing a no-fault divorce law that stands to reduce long, cutthroat court battles over who’s to blame when marriages fail. On August 14, New York became the last state in the union to authorize divorces without a judicial finding of fault attributable to one or both of the spouses. The no-fault divorce bill, signed into law by Governor David Paterson recently, amends the state’s Domestic Relations Law to add a seventh ground for divorce – that a marriage has irretrievably broken down for a period of at least six months.

The new law permits couples to split without assigning blame for the marriage’s collapse. It’s widely known that a grounds trial, and the expense and delay associated with it, is not a good thing. Previously, New York was the only U.S. state without no- fault divorce. Spouses who disagreed on terms of a divorce couldn’t dissolve their marriage unless one proved the other committed an act such as cruelty, adultery or abandonment. The result was protracted for some couples, with trials over who was to blame for the dissolution of a marriage, and, sometimes, false claims to make the allegation fit the law. The law, which goes into effect in 60 days, will take some of the acrimony and de facto lying out of divorce proceedings. This is going to make things more honest, by eliminating the need to show blame.

Two little words, “I do” seal the deal for people getting married. Now two comparably bigger words “irreconcilable differences” will make it easier for New York residents to unseal that same deal. Allowing one spouse to cite irreconcilable differences in a divorce, as they commonly do in all other states means that the other spouse won’t need to, or even be able to, defend the charge. This will save legal fees, judicial resources and streamline the process, as it has done in all the other states.

Even though, we’ve had no fault divorce in California for over forty years it doesn’t mean that you won’t need an attorney. Divorces can still become confrontational and you want to make sure that you can walk away with a settlement that you’re happy with, so that you can make that fresh start. I offer a free confidential initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered and ensure that you’re headed in the right direction with your divorce.

Valentine Day Divorce for Heidi & Spencer

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 3:52 pm by demetriagraves

What’s the perfect Valentine’s day gift for Heidi and Spencer? How about a divorce – it’s not one of the usual romantic traditions. But assuming there’s no reconciliation, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratts divorce will become final on February 14, 2011.

Jodeane Farrell, Montag’s lawyer has confirmed that Pratt has signed paperwork confirming that he was served with divorce papers on August 13. According to California law, Montag must wait 6 months after Pratt was served in order for their divorce to be finalized – thus making next Valentine’s Day their official split date.

Pratt, 26, wed Montag, 23, in April 2009 in a ceremony taped for The Hills, the MTV reality show that made them stars. Heidi is said to have separated from Spencer on their first anniversary. Montag filed for divorce on July 30, citing irreconcilable differences. Montag initiated the split because “she had lost contact with her friends and family.”

On the day Pratt was served with his wife’s divorce papers, she wrote optimistically on Twitter: “cleaning house and getting rid of my old life, it feels good to live fresh.”

Now that Heidi is single, apparently John Mayer is interested in dating her, according to recent rumors, John has already started flirting and asking her out. Heidi is said to be flattered, but not yet convinced.

Heidi and Spencer’s divorce is a relatively simple one. They have no children and have only been married for a short time and it sounds like both parties agree to the terms of the divorce. Often divorces can be more complicated, but even if you’re considering a simple divorce, it’s important to get the advice of an experienced attorney, to make sure your divorce turns out how you’d like it to and you don’t end up with the short end of the deal. I offer a free confidential initial consultation where you can get your questions answered and help ensure that you’re on the right track.

August 12, 2010

Tiger Woods & Elin’s Divorce Settlement

Posted in Celebrity Divorce tagged at 1:28 pm by demetriagraves

It’s been a while since I’ve given you an update on what’s happening with the Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren divorce settlement. So according to recent data here’s the latest breakdown of who gets what in the final divorce settlement – money, child custody, property, division of marital assets, and more. Of course, until the final divorce papers are actually filed in court, there could still be more last minute changes in the terms of Tiger’s and Elin’s divorce.
Elin has supposedly agreed to settle for $100 million, not the $750 million that was initially rumored. She will be eligible for child support but the monthly amount has not been specified yet. Some reports say that Tiger will have to pay as much as $20,000 a month or more. Tiger will get to keep the lion’s (or Tiger’s share) of his fortune Tiger will only have to give or 1/5 or 1/6 of his net worth.

Elin gets physical custody of their children – daughter Sam, 3 and son Charlie, 1 1/2 years will live with Elin. But there will be joint legal custody with Tiger. This means that Tiger will be allowed to have a say in any decisions that affect the children’s future.

Tiger will get generous visitation rights and will be able to see his children for up to half of each week. The plan is to also allow flexible visitation arrangements – Tiger’s visitation schedule can be adjusted to accommodate his travel schedule when he’s playing golf, so that he still gets his full visitation. There is also rumored to be a clause to allow renegotiation in 5 years, meaning that Tiger can renegotiate the terms of the custody agreement in 5 years.
Elin gets to keep a fair share of property, including:  The main family home in Windmere, Florida and another home located nearby. Plus, an apartment in Stockholm, Sweden and a secluded island in Sweden, which includes a $2.2 million estate that is currently being renovated. While Tiger gets the $80 million Jupiter Island oceanfront estate and an apartment in Los Angeles.
Tiger has asked Elin to sign a confidentiality clause that means a lifetime of silence for Elin. Initially, Elin wasn’t keen to agree to sign this clause, but it’s now rumored that she has signed the lifetime confidentiality clause. This means that Elin is prohibited from ever speaking publicly about any aspect of her life with Tiger Woods, even if Tiger should die first. If Elin violates this agreement in any way, the penalty is that she will forfeit everything she has gained.
Elin has forbidden Tiger to expose their children to his mistresses, or any female companion he is romantically involved with, unless he is married to said person. Tiger can only expose the children to women, not romantically linked to him. Plus, female members of Tiger’s staff who are personally known to Elin will be allowed around the children.

Elin will have freedom to live where she chooses and freedom to take the children to Sweden. Tiger has given Elin “wide latitude” to as to where she and the children live. There are no reports yet as to whether Elin and the children will permanently move to Sweden, as she earlier expressed a desire to do.  Tiger’s permanent residence will remain in the United States.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Posted in Bankruptcy tagged at 1:26 pm by demetriagraves

I’ve found that as an attorney when I’m helping clients with bankruptcy many people are uncertain of what it is and how it all works. So, let’s have a look at bankruptcy and specifically Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When an individual or company files for bankruptcy, they are making a legal declaration of an inability to repay debt to creditors. Once bankruptcy is declared, a debtor is absolved of most financial obligations; however, the bankruptcy will affect one’s credit history and ability to obtain credit in the future. In other words, bankruptcy is basically a way for individuals to wipe out their debts while protecting themselves from creditors.

Chapter 7 is the most common of all bankruptcy filings in the United States. An individual that files Chapter 7 will have their assets sold, with the exception of certain exempt property, such as necessary clothing and household appliances. The proceeds from this will go to creditors to pay off the debt. Chapter 7 does not absolve a debtor of certain obligations, including child and spousal support or student loans. All other debts can be discharged; however, the bankruptcy is reflected on a debtor’s credit report for 10 years.

The reason it is called Chapter 7 is simply because that’s the specific provision in the Bankruptcy Code. Importantly, you may have read that Chapter 7 is also called “liquidation bankruptcy”. It is true that if a corporation files Chapter 7, then it will be forced to liquidate all its assets. Individuals however in the vast majority of cases do not have to liquidate their assets, because they are entitled to “exempt” or protect their personal assets.

So then, how does Chapter 7 work? Firstly, you’ll need to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you determine if bankruptcy is the best option for you and which type of bankruptcy to file. When you’ve decided to proceed, your attorney will assist in the preparation and filing of the bankruptcy petition, schedules and statements. This set of documents is usually about 50 pages long and will itemize your assets, your debts, income, expenses, as well as a variety of other financial questions. The Chapter 7 petition is quite detailed, and you will have to sign it under oath.

Another common question I get asked regarding bankruptcy is if you can file bankruptcy again. The answer depends on what Chapter of bankruptcy you are planning to file and how long has it been since you last filed for bankruptcy or got a discharge. It is important that you know what Chapter of bankruptcy you filed and how long ago so that you can determine if you can qualify to file bankruptcy again. The following information applies only if you obtained a discharge in the previous case. If you did not obtain a discharge in your previous bankruptcy case then none of these time limits apply.

If you have filed bankruptcy in the past then the bankruptcy code allows you to file for bankruptcy again in certain situations. If the case that you previously filed was a Chapter 7 bankruptcy then you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, 8 years after you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If 8 years have not passed since you filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case then you can choose to wait or consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you file prior to the 8 years then your case will be denied a discharge.

As you can see there’s a lot to consider regarding bankruptcy. This is why it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process. If you are considering bankruptcy, I offer a free confidential initial consultation where you can get all your questions answered. Bankruptcy may be your best option but it’s important that you understand all the long-term implications.

August 5, 2010

Judge Overturns Gay Marriage Ban in California

Posted in Marriage tagged at 10:25 am by demetriagraves

There’s been big news recently on the subject of gay marriage in California. To give you some history on this subject, on November 8, 2008, California voters passed a ban on gay marriage as Proposition 8. This ban came five months after the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Now the pendulum has swung the other way with a federal judge overturning California’s same-sex marriage ban in a landmark case that could eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if gays have a constitutional right to marry in America. The details of this story from AP are below.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker made his ruling in a lawsuit filed by two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban violated their civil rights. Despite the favorable ruling for same-sex couples, gay marriage will not be allowed to resume. That’s because the judge said he wants to decide whether his order should be suspended while the proponents pursue their appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The judge ordered both sides to submit written arguments by Aug. 6 on the issue.
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples,” the judge wrote in a 136-page ruling that laid out in precise detail why the ban does not align with the Constitution.
The judge found that the gay marriage ban violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.
“Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the judge ruled.
Supporters of Proposition 8 argued the ban was necessary to safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage and to encourage responsible childbearing.
Both sides previously said an appeal was certain if Walker did not rule in their favor. The case would go first to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, then the Supreme Court if the high court justices agree to review it.
Walker heard 13 days of testimony and arguments since January during the first trial in federal court to examine if states can prohibit gays from getting married. The ruling puts Walker at the forefront of the gay marriage debate. The longtime federal judge was appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
The verdict was the second in a federal gay marriage case to come down in recent weeks. A federal judge in Massachusetts decided last month the states legally married gay couples had been wrongly denied the federal financial benefits of marriage because of a law preventing the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex unions.
The plaintiffs in the California case presented 18 witnesses. Academic experts testified about topics ranging from the fitness of gay parents and religious views on homosexuality to the historical meaning of marriage and the political influence of the gay rights movement.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson delivered the closing argument for opponents of the ban. He told Judge Walker that tradition or fears of harm to heterosexual unions were legally insufficient grounds to discriminate against gay couples.
Olson teamed up with David Boies to argue the case, bringing together the two litigators best known for representing George W. Bush and Al Gore in the disputed 2000 election.
Defense lawyers called just two witnesses, claiming they did not need to present expert testimony because U.S. Supreme Court precedent was on their side. The attorneys also said gay marriage was an experiment with unknown social consequences that should be left to voters to accept or reject.
Former U.S. Justice Department lawyer Charles Cooper, who represented the religious and conservative groups that sponsored the ban, said cultures around the world, previous courts and Congress all accepted the “common sense belief that children do best when they are raised by their own mother and father.”
In an unusual move, the original defendants, California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, refused to support Proposition 8 in court.
That left the work of defending the law to Protect Marriage, the group that successfully sponsored the ballot measure that passed with 52 percent of the vote after the most expensive political campaign on a social issue in U.S. history.
Currently, same-sex couples can only legally wed in Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C.

Divorcing on Friendly Terms

Posted in Divorce tagged at 10:22 am by demetriagraves

One of my main focuses as a family law attorney is helping those clients who are going through a divorce to stay focused on the bigger picture and finalize their divorce rapidly and keep on friendly terms as much as possible. Many people going through a divorce may have witnessed some volatile family separations and are vowing to do it differently. Even if their own parents didn’t divorce, many kids saw how hard it was on their friends. Thankfully these days more soon to be ex- couples are opting for a friendly divorce, whether through mediation, collaboration or the more traditional approach. The majority of people choosing friendly divorces are those with children. Often, it may be easier to have a friendly divorce when there are no children or assets to potentially disagree on.

However it’s done many people want the divorce process to be more amicable. In the end, they save time, money and increase the odds that they might actually still be friends. The biggest beneficiaries of a friendly divorce are the kids. You’ve made the decision that your marriage isn’t going to last – why prolong the agony with an adversarial approach. The sooner you can come to an agreement on things like property division, custody, child and spousal support; the sooner you’ll be able to get on with your life and make that fresh start. Many people going through divorce can’t stand to be in the same room together, let alone think about spending time dealing with each other in the future. But let’s face it, if you have children together you are going to have to have some sort of a relationship with each other regarding the children, so the more civil it is the better.

Most divorce cases still are handled in the traditional way, with attorneys on each side trying to get the best deal for their client, often involving nasty disagreements over custody, child support, property settlements and finances. Divorcing couples typically aren’t feeling friendly toward each other anyway, and contentious experiences in court can make those feelings even worse.

Mediation is one kind of a friendly divorce. Collaboration is another, in which both parties retain their own attorneys but also use experts and work together for a solution for everyone. Couples don’t set foot in court in either instance. Proponents say it reduces the emotional costs on everyone; both children and adults start their new lives on relatively stable ground. In California, mediation is mandatory for contested child custody and visitation.

Instead of both parties going out to find their own expensive and aggressive lawyer to be adversaries, it is possible to sit down together on the same side of the table and figure out what would be best for all parties especially your kids. Even though your lives might now be going in separate directions, it’s still possible to look at what is going to be best for each other and your children.

How parents interact and handle the kids during the initial separation and early in the divorce sets the tone for the years ahead. Research shows that kids who remain close to both parents are less stressed by divorce, and dads who are connected to their kids are more likely to keep up with their obligations, financial and otherwise.

If you’re considering divorce, make sure that you get the right advice from the start, especially if it’s your intention to keep the divorce as friendly as possible. My goal is to keep things on friendly terms as much as possible, even with a traditional divorce. The key to this is being able to rapidly get agreements in place and focusing on what will happen in the future. I offer a free initial confidential consultation where you can get all your questions answered and get some advice on the best way to move forward in your particular circumstances.