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Can I Get My Spouse To Pay My Attorney's Fees?

Posted by Michael Geller | May 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

Family Code Section 2030 is a provision of California's Family Code that aims to level the playing field in family law cases by providing financial assistance to the party who earns less income or has fewer resources. This assistance is intended to ensure that both parties have equal access to legal representation, and that the legal process is fair and just for all involved.

What is a QDRO?

Posted by Michael Geller | Apr 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, is a legal document that is specific to California Family Law. It is used to divide retirement benefits between spouses during a divorce or legal separation. Retirement benefits can be a significant asset, and dividing them fairly is crucial to ensure both parties are provided for in the future.

What Are Watts Charges and Epstein Credits?

Posted by Michael Geller | Mar 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

During divorce proceedings in California, you may hear some odd terminology and shorthand references. For example, during your divorce, you may hear references to “Epstein credits” and “Watts charges” and wonder, “what are these lawyers talking about?” Gain insight into these topics.

What is a Moore Marsden Calculation?

Posted by Michael Geller | Feb 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

If you are going through a divorce in Contra Costa County involving real property, you may hear a reference to the term “Moore/Marsden calculation” and wonder, “what does that actually mean?” Here is the answer: Moore and Marsden are shorthand references to two seminal divorce cases decided by the California Supreme Court and the California Appellate Court in 1980 and 1982 respectively. These cases addressed the issue of how to determine the community property interest in a home. The two cases established that when the community in a marriage pays down principal, the community may receive a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement as well as a pro tanto (as far as it can go) share of the property’s appreciation from the date of marriage to the date of the trial. Thus, we have the Moore Marsden calculation.

What are Sanctions Under California Family Code Section 271?

Posted by Michael Geller | Jan 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

Both the California legislature and court system encourage spouses to do their best to try and reach amicable settlements to resolve divorce conflicts as quickly and efficiently as possible. So, when a spouse attempts to drive up the cost of a divorce proceeding by being difficult, unreasonable, etc. they can actually be reprimanded and sanctioned for their misconduct.

What is the DissoMaster?

Posted by Michael Geller | Dec 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

Some of the most hotly contested and complex issues in California divorce proceedings pertain to child support and spousal support payments. In an effort to systemize and standardize child support and spousal support payment obligations, both family law practitioners and California courts routinely rely on “DissoMaster” software. This software enables legal professionals to enter specific financial figures provided to the court through financial disclosures to calculate the amount owed, if any, for child support and spousal support. In fact, the Superior Court of California has relied on DissoMaster in divorce cases for over two decades.

What are Financial Disclosures in Divorce?

Posted by Michael Geller | Nov 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

When you file for divorce in California, a required step in the process is providing a preliminary financial disclosure to your spouse and the family law court assigned to oversee your divorce. The preliminary financial disclosure will typically include a list of marital assets and debts from you and your spouse. It is incredibly important for spouses to provide an accurate list of all their assets and debts. Why? Because an accurate, transparent list of all assets and debts will help expedite the settlement negotiation process and ensure an amicable resolution to the divorce proceeding.

What Fiduciary Duties Do Spouses Owe Each Other Under the California Family Code?

Posted by Michael Geller | Oct 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

Some people are surprised to discover that, under California law, married couples are obligated to act honestly and fairly towards one another. For example, the Family Code in California specifically provides the following: “This confidential relationship [of marriage] imposes the duty of the highest good faith and fair dealing on each spouse, and neither shall take unfair advantage of the other.” As a result, whether or not people in California know it, married couples owe a Spousal Fiduciary Duty to one another. This fiduciary duty applies to each spouse’s conduct during the course of their marriage. It also applies if the married couple decides to get a divorce.

How is a Divorce Started in California?

Posted by Michael Geller | Aug 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

In California, starting the divorce process is relatively straightforward. Though, it is important to note that divorce process overall can become quite complex and is fraught with potential pitfalls and issues that could cause the divorce proceedings to last for months or even years.

Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in California?

Posted by Michael Geller | Jul 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

In California, a family court has the authority to grant reasonable visitation rights to the grandparent of a minor child, or children. However, it is important to note that a family law court will not automatically approve visitation rights for a grandparent. In order to obtain grandparent visitation rights, you need to first file a petition requesting grandparent visitation rights with the family court. Grandparent visitation occurs when a grandparent formally files a motion seeking visitation with their grandchild on specific days and times. Such visitation is permitted under California law, specifically Family Code Section 3100. Upon making certain findings, a California family court may grant a grandparent’s request for visitation which will necessitate the issuance of a court order. The court will require both the grandparent and the minor child’s parents to be in compliance with such an order.

The Role of Minor's Counsel in Child Custody Matters

Posted by Michael Geller | Jun 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

In San Francisco and elsewhere in California, minors generally do not testify in court or speak directly to the judge in child custody cases. As a result, California courts typically appoint a minor's counsel who will be tasked with interviewing the child about their concerns and whether they have a preference to live primarily with one parent or the other (if they're old enough to do so). The role of a minor's counsel is to advocate on behalf of a child. In addition, the minor's counsel acts as a fact finder since they learn about the child's best interests including the health, safety, and welfare of the child. The minor's counsel needs to be this voice without compromising the rights of the child, including the child's emotional well-being. Their primary role is to consider what is the best interest of the child while not being bound by emotions that typically accompany a contentious divorce case that include a custody dispute.

How Pet Custody Works During Divorce in California

Posted by Michael Geller | May 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

For many people, their pet is a member of the family on par with a child. This is why it is fairly common for spouses to engage in heated disagreements when attempting to negotiate “pet custody.” In California, the landscape for these discussions was changed dramatically in 2019 when the state legislature passed, and the Governor signed, a new law directly impacting pet custody.

Legal Effects of Substance Abuse on Child Custody in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Apr 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

When parents decide to get divorced, the process can be stressful and emotionally charged, especially when it comes to the issue of child custody. This sensitive matter becomes even more complicated when you, or your spouse, has a substance abuse issue. If you are struggling with an addiction to opioids, alcohol, or any other substance, it is important to understand the uphill battle you are likely to encounter when seeking custody over your child, or children, during a divorce.

Procrastinating on Your Estate Plan Only Leads to Heart Ache

Posted by Michael Geller | Mar 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

Here is a true story highlighting the risks associated with failing to plan your estate. A happily married couple with two teenage children worked diligently and saved their earnings to the point that they had an estate worth roughly $4 million. They resided in San Rafael, California (an affluent area in Marin County). Despite having a fairly large estate, the married couple opted to procrastinate and failed to invest the time and resources in creating an estate plan. Like many couples, they thought to themselves, “We'll get around to planning our estate another time.” Unfortunately, that time never arrived.  

Impact of Mental Illness on Child Custody in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Feb 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

A divorce case involving a parent with a mental illness or psychological condition is inherently complex and will prove challenging. Why? Because the terms “mental illness” and “psychological condition” are quite broad and may include a parent who is depressed, a parent with anxiety, and/or a parent struggling with dissociative personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or another serious condition. As you can tell, the nature of each disorder is different, which typically means how a particular mental illness or condition will impact a particular child custody case varies and is unpredictable.

How Intestate Succession Works in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Jan 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

When someone neglects to draft a will, trust or any type of estate plan before they die, then the laws of intestate succession come into play and govern how the decedent's assets would be distributed to any relatives. Basically, intestate succession means the government gets to control how the fruits of your labor are distributed to any surviving spouse, children, and other relatives.

Creating a Revocable Trust Versus Drafting a Will

Posted by Michael Geller | Dec 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

When someone decides to take action and plan their estate, a common question arises: "should I create revocable living trust or draft a will?" This question is often followed by asking, "What are the differences between a trust and a will?" This article is intended to help address these important questions.

Four Types of Restraining Orders in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Nov 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

If you have been threatened by another individual or been subjected to physical violence, you may be able to obtain a restraining order that legally prohibits the individual from coming in contact with you or even being within a certain distance of your residence. If you are looking to get a restraining order, but are unsure about the legal process necessary to get one, this article is for you.

Drafting a Will in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Oct 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

If you want to draft a Last Will and Testament (also simply referred to as a “will”), it probably means you want to take steps to protect your hard-earned assets and protect your loved ones. A will is a legal document that formally sets forth your wishes and preferences for how your property should be distributed and what should be done with any minor children (if applicable). A will is the document where you name a personal representative who will be responsible for settling your affairs.

Understanding the Difference Between Power of Attorney and Conservatorship

Posted by Michael Geller | Aug 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

Pop star Britney Spears is doing more than making large sums of money singing and dancing in Las Vegas.  She is shedding light on a legal mechanism that can have a significant impact on an individual's life - conservatorship. If you are familiar with the concept of conservatorship, I apologize in advance, but I must hit you one more time with some facts.

How Coercive Control is Domestic Violence in California

Posted by Michael Geller | Jul 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

Experts describe “coercive control” as a pattern of abusive behavior inflicted upon someone by their partner (typically a spouse or similar significant other). Coercive control typically involves a spouse employing a combination of violence, intimidation, humiliation, isolation, and control to subordinate the will of their significant other.