June 2010 Archives

June 30, 2010

San Diego Divorce Analysis: Tiger Wood's Possible Divorce Settlement

Justia-photo-37 golf green.jpegThis blog has previously considered the numerous family law issues involved in this case. The latest news is that the couple is close to a settlement. San Diego child custody attorneys have been following the custody and move away issues in this case. This posting will consider the settlement issues that should be involved once the news breaks.

Cash To Tiger's Wife Elin: Reportedly $750 million. All news sources are going with this amount so there is a likelihood that the amount has been leaked to the press from someone inside and this is probably an accurate number. Reportedly, Michael Jordan paid his ex Wife slightly less than this amount so the amount is not out of line with previous settlements paid by multi millionaire sports stars.

Compare Settlement with Musk Case: This blog has posted an analysis of the Elon and Justine Musk divorce. Reportedly, Mr. Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla automobile companies, has "run out of cash" which is a problem since Mr. Musk reportedly acknowledges that his monthly expenses and Ms. Musk's monthly expenses are approximately $200,000 per month. There are two major differences between these two cases: Mr. Musk heads up private companies. The income available for support is debatable. Expert, forensic witnesses may be paid over $100,000 to prove that there is no money in these cases. Tiger's income is transparent. Further, there was a post marital agreement in the Musk case which, if upheld, will limit the settlement paid to Ms. Musk.

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June 28, 2010

California Divorce Story: Expense High-Income Low

Justia-photo-36 spaceX.jpegThis blog site has considered the California divorce issues raised by this case previously. All information has been obtained from Internet reports and documents. This blog reports that which has publically reported and does not assert the truthfulness of such reports.

Recap: Elon Musk is an entrepreneur. He runs companies such as SpaceX, and Tesla automobile. Tesla makes an electric car that is faster than most gas guzzling muscle cars. (You can hug a tree and go 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.) Justine Musk is an author and you can check out her books on Amazon.com. She lives in Bel-Air. Elon Musk reportedly lives with Talulah Riley, a young actor. The divorce has been filed. Justine Musk signed a post nuptial agreement reportedly transferring all of her right, title and interest to Tesla (and possibly other companies) to Elon Musk. Issues of setting aside the post marital agreement, income available for spousal support, characterization/valuation of property, etc, are present. They are the same issues as seen in the average case. There are just more zeros in the numbers in this case.

This case is back in the news as Elon Musk has publically stated, under penalty of perjury, that he is out of cash. While this may not be surprising for a twenty year old living with his parents, it's newsworthy when it is reported by Elon Musk and in context with a divorce case where reportedly spousal support and/or other financial issues are present. Recently, Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, dug into this story with a report that is fascinating to San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorneys and La Jolla divorce lawyers.

(Elon and Talulah at a London Car Show:)

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June 23, 2010

San Diego Child Custody Discussion From Two Sides

Justia-photo-35 jail cell.jpegSan Diego child custody attorneys are frequently faced with the same problem Jesse James (who you may recall is still married to, but going through a divorce with, Sandra Bullock) recently faced in a Southern California court.

News reports following the custody case that Jesse James has with his ex-wife Janine Lindemulder report of Jesse's efforts to keep Janine from visiting the child while Janine, who previously lost custody of the child to Jesse and Sandra, is trying to re-gain custody. Reportedly, Janine has stepped up her efforts since Sandra and Jesse separated based on allegations of Jesse's numerous extramarital activities. Jesse continues to use allegations of Janine's substance abuse to keep her away from the child. This matter came to a head this month in an Orange County courtroom. Janine reportedly had a scheduled visitation with the child and reportedly Jesse refused to allow the visit due to his concerns over Janine's substance abuse issues.

The situation is this--there is a court order for visitation. The custody parent doesn't want to follow the order out of concern that the visiting parent is unstable and will harm the child. So the custody parent cancels the visit. The visiting parent wants to file a contempt motion against the visiting parent. This exact situation occurs up and down the State of California every week. La Jolla divorce lawyers and San Diego Certified Family Law Specialists try to resolve these situations out of court.

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June 21, 2010

California Divorce Laws: Whose fault is it?

Justia-photo-34 children.jpegI was in law school when the divorce law changed in California. In this county we went from San Diego Divorce fault evidence required, to Divorce No-Fault. For those who have not lived in a fault state, California divorce at one time required that the Petitioner filing for the divorce provide sufficient evidence to the divorce court proving that he/she is entitled to a divorce pursuant to the grounds for divorce as specified in the divorce law. For example, this might require proof of adultery, or abandonment, or some type of cruelty claim. San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorneys must regularly review changes in the law as the legal system quickly evolves.

New York State is now debating whether to change from a fault state to a no-fault state. There have been some informative articles in the New York Times as to this debate. In a recent article opposing points of view are described which accurately capture the pros and cons of the issue. Here is a summary of some of the points:

Children: A woman described her opposition to no-fault as it adversely affected children. However her argument was that it really was a disadvantage to stay at home moms who were raising children. She stated that child support and spousal support does not support the marital standard of living. The divorce would adversely affect them economically and I have witnessed this in La Jolla divorce cases.

Too Easy: Another woman expressed her fear that no-fault opened the door to adultery and children born out of wedlock and that appeared to be a step backwards morally.

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June 17, 2010

San Diego Divorce Property Bill

Justia-photo-33 arrested woman.jpegIn a cbs5.com news report, Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego, introduced a bill to the California legislature that would change current state law regarding the division of community property in a California divorce case.

San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorneys look for loopholes however the general rule is that California is a mandatory equal division of community property state. Family Code section 2550 provides that with few exceptions, community property must be equally divided between the spouses.

In 1995 the California legislature added an exception to equal division regarding a victim spouse's pension accounts when the spouse of the victim spouse attempts to murder the victim spouse. Family Code Section 782.5 provides that a spouse who is convicted of attempting to murder the other spouse through PC section 664, will not receive any portion of the community property interests in the pension or retirement benefits of the victim spouse. In other words, 100% of the community property pension accounts of the victim spouse go fully to the victim spouse.

What if the attempt is made by a hetman hired by the spouse? FC section 782.5 does not apply. FC 782.5 only applies to a spouse making this attempt and being convicted through PC 664. Just ask Detective John Pomroy working in the Los Angeles area. Reportedly, his wife lost custody of their children and tried to hire a biker gang hetman to kill her husband. The gang reported the offer to the police who taped an incriminating conversation regarding the hit, the wife was convicted, went to prison and got out from prison in 2004. Upon being released from prison she received her full equal share of the division of the community property resulting from the dissolution of marriage action filed in this case.

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June 15, 2010

San Diego Child Custody News Regarding Child Custody Attorneys

Justia-photo-32 begging.jpegThe North County Times (Vista, Oceanside, Rancho Santa Fe and other communities) reported that 63 jobs will be lost by virtue of the decision of the State of California to seek a new legal group to represent children in child custody cases with significant issues. These are the more serious matters involving petitions to remove children from their homes regarding allegations involving the safety and welfare of these children living in their homes. Frequently the cases are the result of the investigative work performed by Child Protective Services.

San Diego child custody lawyers and La Jolla divorce attorneys frequently handle cases in the San Diego divorce court that started by virtue of the report of one spouse that the other spouse is unfit, abusive towards the child, or neglecting the basic needs of the child thus placing the child in danger. In these cases the spouse would make a report to Child Protective Services involving the other spouse. Child Protective Services (frequently known as "CPS") would immediately respond and investigate and they would shortly complete their investigation with a finding of "unfounded" (no basis for the allegation); "inconclusive" (unknown whether the allegation is true), or "substantiated" (sufficient evidence to believe the allegations are true).

Child Protective Services workers are frequently overworked. Many are untrained in law yet they are making legal determinations in coming to the conclusion that the allegations are unfounded or substantiated. The workers are people subject to normal human flaws. Sometimes a worker favors a bad parent who is making a false allegation. Other times they find that a report is unfounded as the worker liked the spouse who was clearly putting the child at risk. A Riverside Grand Jury during the years of 1999 and 2000 found that Child Protective Services workers worked under leadership which often failed to set uniform standards. Further, that workers complain of being short staffed and working with excessive caseloads. Further, that workers engage in inconsistent work practices and fail to properly follow up with case supervision. Many other findings were presented.

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June 10, 2010

Questions Relevant to San Diego Child Custody Cases

Justia-photo-31 cemetery.jpegAs previously reported on this blog site, Dennis Hopper, actor, who died last week, was going through a nasty divorce with his wife. Reportedly, Dennis Hopper's divorce had been filed several months earlier; further, he had a restraining order against his Wife keeping her away from him. She was still residing on the property where the family residence was located. (It's typical that homes in Beverly Hills, Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla California, will have guest houses on the same property.) According to a prenuptial agreement report, the Wife only received a portion of Dennis Hopper's estate if they were married and living together on his death. Wife claims that since they were still "married" and she was living on the residential estate, she is entitled to her share of the estate.

Under California law, Dennis Hopper's death terminates the divorce proceeding and the Wife will battle it out with Dennis Hopper's estate lawyer who reportedly stated recently that he was "ready for war". So this story, under the category of California Divorce under this San Diego Divorce blog is over--right?

The latest report is that the Wife refused to allow Dennis Hopper's daughter to attend his funeral. Reportedly, Dennis Hopper's attorney communicated with the Wife as to Dennis Hopper's expressed wishes for the daughter to attend. The daughter reportedly did not attend and this raises several California family law related questions and topics that every San Diego Child Custody attorney should consider.

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June 7, 2010

San Diego Child Custody Cases Often Involve Claims of Child Abuse

Justia-photo-30 ambulance.jpegAs a San Diego Divorce attorney for more than thirty years I frequently see a parent filing for sole physical custody of a child based on a claim that the other parent has abused the child or committed domestic violence. In my experience, claims of child abuse are increasing in custody cases. In San Diego California Family Court Services routinely contacts Child Protective Services (CPS) to request information as to the parents and a history, if any, regarding abuse reports.

Often, the abuse alleged is very subtle and can not immediately be confirmed by professionals. Consider this recent report of a baby fighting for life after the child was removed from the Mother's home. San Diego 6 news reports of a Mother who has lost custody of her four month old baby. In fact, CPS has removed all of the other children from the Mother's home based on this report.

Reportedly the police were called by the Mother's neighbor with a report of abuse. The police responded and contacted CPS. At the scene, the baby appeared to be free of signs of abuse, however something was wrong and the child was taken to a hospital. Now the child is reportedly at Rady Children's Hospital in critical condition with broken bones diagnosed and brain trauma. The Mother absolutely denies any abuse on her part and is fighting to regain custody of her children.

The psychology department at a college studied the correlation between divorce and child abuse and actually found that after a divorce a child has an increased chance of physical or sexual abuse from the new mate of the divorced parent. These findings held constant whether the child was living with the Mother or the Father.

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June 4, 2010

La Jolla Divorce News: Dennis Hopper Remembered

Justia-photo-29 D Hopper.jpegThis blog is devoting all blogs to Dennis Hopper this week. Dennis Hopper passed away last Saturday. He was in the middle of dissolution of marriage action at his death. California divorce law provides that there are two ways to end a marriage: by death and divorce. Divorce requires a six month waiting period; death has no such requirement. The divorce issues involving premarital agreements, restraining orders, property division, and property characterization were mentioned in the last blog published by this site. This blog will focus on Dennis Hopper and happier times when he lived in San Diego California and worked on stage in San Diego and in La Jolla.

As a La Jolla divorce lawyer, my office is a short drive from the La Jolla Playhouse where Dennis Hopper appeared in a Thornton Wilder play (The Skin of Our Teeth) in 1958. Many plays have gone on to Broadway from this small theater (for example, Jersey Boys). Many actors have graduated to the big screen and big stage from this actor's studio (for example, Cloris Leachman, James Whitmore, and Dennis Hopper).

San Diego news stories have circulated since the death last Saturday. Writer Pam Kragen of the North County Times has provided background information as to Dennis Hopper's earlier, and presumed, happier years attending High School in La Mesa; being voted as the "most likely to succeed" by his high school students; obtaining his first role in 1949 in "A Christmas Carol" at the Old Globe theater in San Diego.

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June 3, 2010

San Diego Divorce Report: When Is A Divorce Over In California?

Justia-photo-28 D Hopper.jpegSan Diego 6 news has carried several articles as to the Dennis Hopper divorce. Many of the articles are published by KTLA News.

Dennis Hopper died last Saturday at the age of 74. Several months earlier he filed for a divorce against his Wife Victoria Duffy whom he married in 1996. Reportedly, Hopper and Duffy executed a prenuptial agreement which provided Victory with 25% of Hopper's estate with reported conditions that they are still married and living together at his death.

What if anything Victoria Duffy did to delay the case is unknown. However, it was widely reported that Dennis Hopper's health was rapidly deteriorating due to cancer. It is possible that Victoria knew that through extensive discovery and subpoena efforts as well as preparing the case for trial she could delay the case for many months. Months past Dennis Hopper's expected life span.

The San Diego Superior Court, Family Law division tries to end all San Diego divorce cases within one year; however many cases extend well beyond a year. With extensive filings for divorce, and motions on calendar every day, a two week trial would be hard to calendar. Possibly Ms. Duffy was trying to run out the clock.

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June 1, 2010

Will the California Divorce Court Unplug Wife's Divorce Property Issue?

Justia-photo-27 Tesla.jpgOn May 17, 2010 this San Diego Divorce Attorney blog wrote about the Mr. and Mrs. Musk divorce. Mr. Musk claims the sole and separate property ownership of the Tesla automobile company. The Tesla muscle car gets its muscles from electricity (batteries). It is among the current crop of electric cars that travel 0-60 miles per hour is approximately 3 seconds.

The blog was about the typical California divorce case involving millions of community property and a premarital or post marital agreement upon which Mr. Musk claims that his Wife signed all of her rights to the Tesla company over to him. Mrs. Musk is contesting the agreement. Mr. Musk claims that all of his funds have run out and that the car company may be lost.

Writer Owen Thomas's article recently appeared on this matter in a story carried by the New York Times. Now that Tesla is moving forward to wider production and release of it's sports car, Mr. Musk reports that he is out of money. Is this a fact? Or, is this some maneuver to dissuade his Wife from going forward with the attack on the marital agreement in California divorce court. San Diego divorce lawyers and Certified Family Law Specialist hear this type of a claim when at its loudest when the other side to the case is getting closer to upsetting the divorce applecart.

Family law attorneys are a cynical group. The typical interpretation of Mr. Musk's "I'm out of money" message is--"don't spend a fortune fighting me on the validity of the pre nuptial agreement because even if you win, the asset will be lost or into someone else's hands". The attorneys for Mrs. Musk probably won't rely on this message. They will likely respond, "Give Mrs. Musk x% of the asset and we'll drop the case.

(Tesla and Toyota news conference)

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