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Entries in costs of divorce (12)

Wednesday
Mar272013

California Family Law: How Do I Find a Divorce Lawyer?

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

For many people thinking about divorce, the question of how to find a divorce lawyer can be as stressful as deciding to get married in the first place, or whether or not to take a job across the country.

Aggressive Divorce LawyerIt's no wonder. Divorce will cost you money in the short run – but your future, as well as your children's future, will also depend on how adept your attorney is with handling you, your spouse and the legal matters.

Here are three factors you should consider when hiring a divorce attorney:

 

Do you want a "bulldog" divorce lawyer?

 

Think again. Your attorney should care about you enough to listen to you and then explain your options in an understandable way. You want someone who not only garners respect from you, but also the respect of opposing counsel and judges. If s/he is argumentative or unnecessarily aggressive – that  just causes more conflict, which will cost you more money. Most clients prefer a solution-focused advocate.

You'll also want an attorney you feel comfortable with simply because you'll need to reveal highly personal information. If you can't explain your situation fully, the attorney can't represent you at full capacity. 

 

How much does a divorce cost?

 

Hidden Assets DivorceHere in Los Angeles, there's a full spectrum of fees (usually about $100-800 per hour in Los Angeles, plus expenses) depending on the experience of the attorney, and his or her reputation and professional ratings. Most family law attorneys require several thousands of dollars as an upfront retainer, which serves as security for their fees.

A Los Angeles divorce can cost you several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It depends on how complex your situation is, how organized you are in providing financial records, and whether or not you and your spouse can compromise.

If you and your spouse can be reasonable, my colleagues and I recommend divorce mediation to keep your costs down and resolve your matter quickly. Read my blog, Divorce in Los Angeles – 5 Things You'll Need to Know for more information.

 

What do you get in a divorce?

 

Be careful here, of hiring a divorce lawyer who tells you what you want to hear instead of giving you an honest opinion of what you, or you and your children, may be entitled to.

Ultimately a family law court will make the final decision. A good divorce attorney will know California family law inside and out, and will honestly tell you what you can expect and why.

Your divorce attorney should also know the judges in your jurisdiction, and the styles in which they run their courtrooms. There's nothing worse than hiring a disorganized lawyer who goes before a judge with little patience for wasting time. This could affect the final judgment, and cost you more in the long run.

 

These are the main factors to consider when hiring a divorce lawyer. Don't be afraid to ask questions in the initial consultation – the way the attorneys respond will give you a better idea of who is the best fit for you.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Divorce and Divorce Mediation Attorney in our Family Law Practice Group. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Jan022013

Spousal Support | How to Find Hidden Assets

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerDivorce Lawyer

 

 

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

 

When it comes to spousal support, bitter feelings sometimes prompt people to take negative action. In order to lash out or get back, some spouses will attempt to hide assets or refuse to fully disclose the value of them.

And sometimes, people just forget. (Check out my last blog, Divorce and Money – Overlooked Assets, to get an idea of what you should be looking for in this situation.)

In either case, an experienced divorce attorney can help. You and your spouse will need to draw a complete financial picture of your community and separate property so your attorneys can divide your assets properly.

 

Protecting Your Interests During the Division of Assets Process

 

So what are the most common ways for your spouse to hide funds or property? The most common is collusion – your spouse's efforts to conspire with others to hide money. Opportunities for collusion can come through:

  1. Business: Your spouse may ask an employer to delay payments on bonuses or raises until after your divorce. If your spouse owns a business, s/he could pay salary to an employee who doesn't exist, report purchases for services, equipment or supplies that never get delivered, inflate expenses, or temporarily turn down contracts in an effort to reduce annual earnings. 

  2. Family Members: If blood is thicker than a sense of ethics, your spouse's family could be holding cash, physical assets and other items. They could also be the recipients of a hefty "loan" which won't be paid back until after your divorce. 

  3. Friends: Is your spouse suddenly close to a new friend? A girlfriend or boyfriend may be helping to hide assets. Social media can be helpful in uncovering the truth, and remember that it is important to maintain active relationships with your own friends and family to help in this effort. Now is not the time to withdraw socially, you need to be alert and engaged, especially if you don't trust your spouse to be honest about finances.

Your divorce attorney will know good forensic accountants who can help find hidden assets, especially if your soon-to-be ex owns a business. The key is for you to be proactive in this situation. Stay organized and alert, and you'll minimize the financial consequences of your divorce.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Divorce and Divorce Mediation Attorney with 10 years' experience at our Firm. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec132012

Divorce and Money | Forgotten Assets

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerDivorce Attorney

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

So you're getting divorced and you're worried you might be missing something financially. Maybe you're just worried you'll forget something substantial – something that you don't normally think about every day.

It is important to be careful. And to help you remember some of the more important items, we've created this Divorce Planning Checklist to get you thinking about the more commonly forgotten assets.

This way, you'll be more prepared when you next meet with your divorce lawyer. And if you are more prepared and organized, you'll save your attorney's time, which will save you both time and money too.

 

Most Forgotten Assets When Planning for Divorce

 

We've broken this into four basic categories of overlooked possessions and potential income, because it may be hard to forget that you own a yacht, but it may be difficult to recall that there's 18 months' worth of dock space left on the lease. Remember, if it's "out of sight," it may be especially "out of mind" during a stressful divorce. 

Some of these items, especially in the Earnings or Investments categories, may be critical for couples undergoing a Grey Divorce

Earnings – Everyone remembers the regular paycheck, but don't forget about the other items listed here.

  1. Unused Bonuses
  2. Unpaid Commissions
  3. Medical Benefits
  4. Delayed Earnings
  5. Rental Property Income 

Investments – Where did you put your money 10 years ago? 

  1. Options to Purchase Stocks or Property
  2. Patents, Copyrights or Royalties
  3. Savings Bonds or Securities
  4. Unused Property for future retirement or business
  5. Prepaid Car Insurance
  6. Life Insurance Benefits
  7. Forgotten Credit Union or Bank Accounts
  8. Custodial Accounts set up for children

Entertainment – Relaxation and fun cost money. But did you prepay for some entertainment or invest in a hobby? 

  1. Travel Miles or Points
  2. Timeshare Property
  3. Club or Spa Memberships
  4. Collections, i.e. Art, Toys, Comic Books, Classic Cars
  5. Docking or Hangar Leases
  6. Season Tickets, i.e. Sporting Events, Theaters, etc. 

Miscellaneous – For many couples, every dime will count if they're not used to running two, separate households. Don't forget these:

  1. Moving Costs: Do you need to hire movers?
  2. Security Deposits for the apartment, setting up utilities, etc.
  3. Leased Vehicle: Who will keep it, make payments, and/or benefit from payments already made?
  4. Income Tax Refunds, Carry-Forward Credits, Prepaid Taxes
  5. Business Vehicles for personal use 

Remember: It is important to retain your records (credit card statements, bank statements and tax returns) to thoroughly complete your disclosure forms during a divorce. Mistakes made at that stage of the dissolution process can of course, be costly. 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is an Encino Divorce Attorney with nearly a decade's experience in divorce and divorce mediation. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Thursday
Oct042012

Postnuptial Agreements Relieve Pressure on Marriage

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerPostnuptial Agreement Lawyer

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

This may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes a postnuptial agreement can save a marriage. That's especially true if money is a major source of tension, or if one partner comes into an extra income or windfall that wasn't expected before the couple got married.

This scenario could stem from an unexpected rise in business profits, or receiving a substantial inheritance, or even winning the lottery.  

Some partners ask for postnups because of a spouse's lifestyle, i.e., excessive shopping, drinking, or gambling habits.

Whatever the case, divorce lawyers across the nation have seen a rise in couples putting postnuptial agreements, also known as marriage agreements, in place over the last few years. Interestingly, these attorneys say more and more wives are the ones seeking security in a postnup – especially now, when women have steadily been increasing their earning power over the last few decades and taking control of the finances.


Why Bother Drawing Up a Postnup?

 

Whether you're male or female, newly wed or married for many years, a postnup may very well be a good way to keep the peace in your marriage, or even to keep the peace in your own mind.

It's a way for you to save your personal assets in the event all goes awry in your marriage – and if nothing else, it's a pressure release valve that will hopefully relieve some financial tension. Even happy couples disagree on how money should be spent.

A good postnuptial agreement could help resolve issues regarding:

  • Assets (business and personal)

  • Support

  • Children's College Tuition & Expenses

  • Debt

  • Inheritances (past or future)

  • Property (everything from the art collection to the golf gear to the timeshare in Zanzibar)

  • Protections for Step-Children

  • Retirement Benefits

If one or both of you are worried about the financial future, a postnuptial agreement may be the very tool to relieve some of the pressure and even act as a reset button for your marriage.

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Family Law Attorney experienced in divorce and division of assets, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, and support modification agreements. Contact her via email at vnellis@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Aug012012

Divorce Planning Checklist: 5 Financial Steps to Take Before Filing for Divorce

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerDivorce Attorney

 

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

It's no secret that divorce is almost never easy, with the huge emotional and financial tolls it takes on you, your children, other family members and even your business. Yet nearly half of all new marriages are now projected to end with a trip to a family law court. Despite the many difficulties and adjustments that need to be made, 50 percent of newlyweds will eventually choose to divorce.

Divorce Planning AttorneyAs a family law attorney, I have some advice: Try to preserve the relationship.

That may sound odd coming from a divorce lawyer, but if there's any way at all to reconcile, you should pursue that glimmer of hope. Undergo family counseling, give or accept apologies, make compromises whenever possible. Even if you decide later to divorce, if things are amicable, it will be less difficult emotionally and cost less money.

If none of that works, you may find some comfort in knowing you tried, and you'll want to find all of the emotional validation you can get. Then start prepping for your financial future.

 

How to Prepare for Divorce – Five Financially Savvy Steps

 

Since divorce can be costly, I always recommend divorce mediation for couples who might be able to work out differences in a timely and reasonable manner. I NEVER recommend using an online divorce service though – initially a cheap way to get a divorce, that path can lead to much bigger financial problems in the future.

As for what you need to do before getting a divorce, start here:

 

  1. Save Money: Are you the spouse that's moving out, or the one staying put? Either way, you'll need cash to stock or maintain your household. Hopefully, you've been saving your own money in your own account since your very first job. If not, you should start socking funds away the moment the word "divorce" crosses your mind.

  2. Inventory Your Assets: List your business assets, real estate, vehicles, major appliances, furniture, jewelry, family heirlooms and anything else of value. Note the items that you think should be considered your sole property, i.e. something left to you from your family's estate, etc. Take photos of the more valuable items, and copy insurance policies or certifications of these assets.

  3. Tally Your Debts: The expense of maintaining a second household will come as a shock for most families. Figure out what loans and expenses you have, if you'll have any tax liabilities later in the year, what your kids spend on day-to-day lunches/snacks/entertainment, etc., and what expenses you can eliminate right now.

    Determine which credit cards and other debt obligations belong solely to you, to your spouse, or are co-owned. If you don't have any credit cards of your own, you should consider getting one for emergencies.

  4. Become a Super Sleuth: Will your spouse tell you what he or she makes, or do you already know? Many people, especially if both parties are working professionals, do not know how much money their partner earns in salary, bonuses and benefits. Time to dig out those old tax returns and W2s. If your spouse owns a business, you may need a forensic accountant.

  5. Separate the Money: Time to maintain separate bank accounts. Working together, you should be able to divide savings accounts or checking accounts and expenses.

    If you suspect you'll be financially "punished" the moment you ask for a divorce though, talk to your attorney about taking steps to secure some resources.

 

Whatever you do, realize that this is not the time to procrastinate. You and your partner should work out your problems if you can. If you can't and/or you think your spouse is hiding assets, get a lawyer, save money, and gather as many financial facts as you can before filing for divorce.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Family Law Attorney who represents high profile clients in divorce, visitation or custody, spousal or child support, division of assets and divorce mediation proceedings. Contact her via vnellis@lewitthackman.com for more information.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

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