July 2011 Archives

July 11, 2011

California High Income and Asset Divorce

Justia-photo-102 mansion.jpegDespite the economy, which has particularly hurt California, there are many married couples who enjoy a high income and/or are wealthy with respect to the value of their marital estate. Frequently, when these couples divorce they keep their emotions in check and work intelligently to preserve their income and assets for their mutual enjoyment after divorce. On July 8, 2011, the Huffington Post reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are working productively in reaching a settlement in their case. This, if true, is significant as Maria has significant reason to become emotional and to strike back in anger based on the reports of her Husband's extra marital activities which led to their separation and divorce.

With a La Jolla divorce office, my office frequently works with couples who have a high income (more than one million dollars per year) or a high asset case (marital estate worth tens of millions). We appreciate the Schwarzenegger-Shriver story as it confirms our practices in these cases; for example, our recommendation to keep the case private to work cooperatively in accounting for income and assets; and to work in the private judging system so that no one sees your case in a public courthouse. As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney I must keep informed as to what forensic experts are out there and what skills they have to bring to assist in the resolution of a high income/asset case.

The issues in these cases involve all of the same issues involved in any family law case; however especially issues involving property division, community property laws and laws involving reimbursement of separate property contributions to community property. Spousal support rights in high income cases. The use of forensic witnesses to assist determining the income available for support. Even custody is affected in a high income case due to a nuance in the law in support of a child living in similar circumstances in the homes of both parents.

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July 5, 2011

San Diego Child Custody Evaluation News

Justia-photo-101 psychologist.jpegAs a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney, my family law office frequently receives questions as to child custody evaluations. What are custody evaluations? How are they conducted? Is a custody evaluation the same as a 730 child custody evaluation? A "730" evaluation comes from the reference to the California Evidence Code, Section 730 which you can see here. There are times in family law cases where an expert is needed to evaluate the facts either for one party or for the court.

Since my office extensively handles child custody cases, I have been involved in child custody evaluations for decades. I want to work with an evaluator who is fair, impartial, open minded and will bring to the case specialized knowledge that will help to explain what is going on in a particular case, and what parenting schedule is in the best interest of a child. In my first decade of my family law practice I worked with many psychologists who qualified in the San Diego Superior Court as expert child custody evaluators. One of these evaluators was Stephen Doyne, Ph.D. This psychologist quickly became a favorite by both the family law attorneys and the San Diego Superior Court judges.

However, do not underestimate how emotional child custody evaluations can become. In one such evaluation, one parent of a child who was the subject of a custody evaluation, in which Dr. Doyne was involved, reportedly took great offense of Dr. Doyne's custody findings. To make a long and involved story short, an attack was launched on Dr. Doyne's credentials which are a necessary part in becoming qualified as an expert witness before the court. This attack went through the court system for years threatening to destroy a career and to undermine many child custody evaluations and court orders. In a June 30, 2011 press release from the San Francisco Chronicle (which you can view here) the news has just been released that this "false credentials" lawsuit has been dismissed.

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