October 2010 Archives

October 12, 2010

Divorce Issues of Custody and Support Raised by Former San Diego Athlete

Justia-photo-68 Cromartie.jpegAs a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist with a La Jolla California law office that only handles family law cases, a lot of time every day is devoted to obtaining and organizing facts in individual cases. However, when I read the story from the New York Post, written by reporter Susan Edelman, about professional football player Antonio Cromartie's birth moms and his children (born by the "birth moms"), I felt as if I had just read a trial brief. Their were more birth moms than witnesses in the Frank and Jamie McCourt divorce trial to determine the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodger baseball team.

With a little more research I found a video on YouTube where Antonio Cromartie is trying to name all of his children. (Watch this video below.) We live in a diverse society. Some will laugh at Antonio Cromartie's video and admire his ability to cause women to line up to give birth to his children. Others will be more critical. The purpose of this posting is to bring a San Diego divorce perspective to this story.

California child support laws will provide child support to the various moms, according to the algebraic formula, and this should be a significant amount given Antonio Cromartie's current high income as a New York Jet football player. However, the children are very young. The oldest is approximately 5 years old. Otherwise, the children are ages 3, 2 and less than 1. This means that support will continue for the next 18 years. Antonio Cromartie may only be in football with a high salary for a fraction of this time. Child support is modifiable and may be greatly reduced in the future.

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October 7, 2010

San Diego Child Custody News--Birth Required

Justia-photo-67 baby.jpegI work as a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney in a Family Law office located in La Jolla that only handles legal cases in that area of law know as Family Law. We handle many child custody cases and cases involving one parent's move-away, relocation or move-apart decision involving a child of the relationship. However, it seems too simplistic to say that at the start of our work in the legal service industry, someone made a choice for birth, or life as some would say.

The Money Central at MSN tells us how expensive it is to raise a child to the age of 18 -- $170,000 to $250,000 for most families. These parents must have a job so that they can pay their landlord or bank for their housing; their grocer, their car salesperson, medical doctors, nurses, school educators who work with our children, clothing store owners and many, many others. And as a result of all of this society is functioning is it not? Families are working and people throughout every segment of society are put to work by this simple decision to give life.

This leads to two stories. The first took place here in San Diego California, as reported by journalist Debbie Baker for the San Diego Union involving a mom who showed up at a fire station to turn over her newly born child under the SSB law (Safely Surrendered Baby implemented in the State of California in 2001. Under this law, if you have legal custody of the child, within 72 hours of the baby's birth the parent may turn the child over to a designated safe site and have the right to reclaim the baby for a limited period of time if the parent changes his/her mind. This is so much better for all of the service providers mentioned above, not to mention the baby, to deposit the child at a safe location, as opposed to a garbage bin.

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October 5, 2010

California Divorce Appeal Granted

Justia-photo-66 Appellate court.jpegThis blog will refer to In Re Marriage of Tharp and the decision of the Court of Appeals of California, Fifth District regarding the appeal filed by the Wife (Mary Beth) which was granted on several points in a decision certified for publication. A published version of this decision may be found here. This is a decision that is must reading for California Certified Family Law Specialist attorneys and students of California Family Law as it provides a model as to how family law cases should be handled at the trial level.

The decision publication that I reviewed was 41 pages. This posting will discuss an isolated issue and hopefully future posting will describe other important points raised in the Appellate case. Briefly, the parties were married for more than ten years ("long term marriage"); they have three minor children; the Husband is a self employed businessman with substantial earnings (not fully described in the decision but reportedly over $100,000 or $150,000 and possibly much more).

The Wife immediately, upon the filing of the divorce petition by Husband, initiated discovery requests requiring Husband to supply documents and information as to income, expenses, property and debt. Wife also filed a request for attorney's fees as she had little or no income and Husband was in control of the marital income. When Husband did not respond to the discovery requests, Wife filed motions to compel discovery by the Husband and repeated her requests for attorney's fees. The trial court initially granted some of Wife's discovery motions; however the award for fees was quite small--in an amount that later was referred to by Wife's attorney as inadequate to allow Wife the same legal representation as Husband enjoyed.

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October 1, 2010

San Diego Divorce Report of Celebrity Filing

Justia-photo-65 Nancy Wilson.jpegThe San Diego Union Tribune reports that a well known couple, married for more than 20 years, has filed for divorce. The couple is rock singer Nancy Wilson and director Cameron Crowe. The purpose of this blog will be to discuss the actual Petition for Dissolution of Marriage filed by Nancy on September 16, 2010, and the raised issue of filing for a divorce in a cooperative way leading to mutual resolution rather than resolving the case in court on a contested basis.

As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney for more than 30 years, I have resolved cases out of court (for example, through mediation) and through the contested process involving trial. I have recently posted blogs on mediation and vigorously contested divorces (for example, here) and there is no question that resolving a case on an uncontested basis is the best way to go for most divorcing couples. However, here is the math for California divorce: It takes two to marry (so far in the State of California), one to dissolve the marriage, and two to dissolve the marriage in an uncontested fashion.

The Petition in this case indicates that Nancy has hired an attorney who does not engage in divorce litigation. Specifically, the attorney describes himself as a "collaborative law" attorney. "Collaborative law" definitions are somewhat in dispute however the phrase is generally defined as an attorney who will resolve the case on an uncontested basis and involve other professionals, as needed, such as CPAs or psychologists, to address the issues in the specific case. Most of the cases in my office are resolved by mutual agreement. It is our belief that resolving a case with a Marital Settlement Agreement is preferable for our clients; however, there are also situations when it is in the client's best legal interest to litigate.

While the Petition was filed just recently, the Petition states that the date of separation was on 6/15/2008. The date of separation is a significant event in Family Law as it signifies a change as to the characterization of money and property (for example, money earned after the date of separation is generally the separate property of the earning spouse). The Petition lists two children. (This blog does not discuss the names and ages of children involved in divorce cases.) Later in the Petition, Nancy requests "joint" legal and physical custody of the children. This means that the parties intend to "co-parent" the children. It does not necessarily mean a 50/50 sharing of custody.

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