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Entries in divorce (14)

Thursday
Sep122013

Modifications to Orders – Not All Family Law Decisions Are Set in Stone

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

 

When a divorce becomes final, a court issues rulings regarding spousal or child support, and child custody and visitation. These rulings are based on the circumstances of each spouse at the time of the divorce.  However, those circumstances often change, sometimes drastically.

One parent may make a dramatic career change; lifestyles evolve or regress; and health can improve or deteriorate because of a variety of causes. These are all good reasons to seek modifications, whether  you think you are paying too much, or receive too little child support.

The following changes may justify seeking a modification to previous agreements:

  1. Care Requirements: If a child requires substantially more (or less) care, than at the time of divorce, you may want to have your support order modified. This usually happens when children go to school and no longer need day care; or if ongoing medical treatment or prescriptions are no longer needed, or are suddenly required.

  2. Parent's Relocation: One parent moving out of state could affect the visitation vs. custody balance previously ordered fair by a family law court.

  3. Parent's Lifestyle: If one of the parents loses a job; engages in chronic, risky behavior (i.e. becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol); remarries – which can either add more fiscal obligations or merely increase household income.

  4. Parent's Health: Mental or physical health can change in a moment, affecting the welfare of the child. A traumatic accident or the development of a chronic condition can impose both physical and emotional burdens.

  5. Family Preferences: An older child's preferences are sometimes taken into consideration. Other times, both parents may agree that a child living with one parent rather than the other is better for the child.

Whether you seek an increase in child support, or are hoping to decrease your payments, proceed with caution. Often, more than one factor applied to a child support calculation changes over time.  While you are counting on your or your ex's change in career to work in your favor for example, be warned that the Court may also consider a changed visitation schedule, your child's increased age, etc. to weigh against you.

A family law court will have final say, but a good family law attorney can help you evaluate the risks beforehand.

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Family Law Attorney experienced in modifications to child and spousal support agreements. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com, should you have any questions.

 

 

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
Aug212013

Bad Pennies: Financial Arguments Top Predictor of Divorce

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerSpousal Support Attorney

 

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

 

Money.

According to a recent study at Kansas State University (KSU), arguments about finance are top ranking predictors of divorce.

Divorce and MoneyThe actual causes of divorce are a bit more complicated. Recent Census Bureau statistics cite education levels, income, religious beliefs and other elements that may be contributing factors. And every person will have a different opinion on why s/he is divorced, saying infidelity, growing apart, unrealistic expectations, or irreconcilable differences are the causes. Those last three can cover a wide range of problems, including financial arguments.

So back to predictors: Sonya Britt, program director of the Institute of Personal Financial Planning and assistant professor of Family Studies and Human Services at KSU, conducted the study of 4,500 couples. She has a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, and a doctoral in personal financial planning. Britt states, "It's not children, sex, in-laws or anything else. It's money – for both men and women."

Britt found that couples arguing about money early on in the marriage have a good chance of dissatisfaction with their relationship. A couple's income level, debt obligations and net worth didn't matter – the financial arguments were the common denominator for predicting divorce.

She's not alone in her findings. Jeffrey Dew of the National Marriage Project says, "Couples who reported disagreeing about finances once a week were over 30 percent more likely to divorce over time than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times per month."

Even for couples who stay together to avoid the costs of divorce (that happened quite often during the recent economic recession, if you'll remember), constant financial bickering leads to more stress on the relationship. Britt says it takes longer to recover from money arguments – more so than any other kind of argument – because the parties use harsher language and the disagreement lasts longer.

It's not all bad news, for couples who argue about the finances. Britt recommends young couples see a financial planner, pull credit reports and discuss how each spouse will handle their own and shared economic responsibilities.

Prenuptial agreements are an obvious option for some couples. And postnuptial agreements can actually save a marriage when money worries get to be too much. Read my blog, Postnuptial Agreements Relieve Pressure for more information.

Divorce Lawyer

The important factor in surviving financial arguments with your spouse or soon-to-be spouse, is the same factor in addressing other issues:

Recognize the problem, and then take steps to correct it. If both parties have completely different financial management styles, there are going to be arguments, unless each party can either compromise or find a way to adjust.

As a family law attorney, I work with financial planners and family therapists regularly – contact me if you need a referral.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Divorce and Mediation Attorney 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.
Tuesday
Jun252013

Divorce Finance: What is a Retainer Fee?

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerVisitation & Custody Lawyer

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

What is a retainer fee and how does it work? Essentially, a retainer fee is, and works like, a down payment for legal services and expenses. It is required to engage the services of a family law attorney. The fee will be put into an account earmarked for you, the client – and serves as security for fees earned. 

Some attorneys draw funds from the retainer account as services are rendered. Others apply the retainer only to the final bill – the clients pay their monthly bills in full. In that situation, the initial retainer, or what is left of the retainer, is returned to the client on completion of their legal matter.

The retainer fee serves two purposes. Obviously, it ensures that you are serious about pursuing a matter and that the attorney will get paid for the work done – most reputable law firms will require one upfront. But the retainer fee also protects the client. Once you submit a retainer, it ensures that the lawyer won't take on other clients pursuing interests that are adversarial to yours.

When seeking a divorce for example, the retainer ensures your family law attorney only represents you, not you and your ex or your ex's family, etc. If the attorney is serving as a mediator, the retainer ensures that the mediator can never represent either party, against the other party.

The retainer does not represent the total amount of fees a divorce will cost – it is merely a starting point. Clients are expected to pay all fees and costs for work done on their case.

Divorce Tip: the more reasonable you and your spouse can be in resolving matters to mutual benefit, the more likely it is that the retainer will cover your divorce costs from initial filing to resolution.

Remember Ben Franklin's maxim: Time is money. The faster a case is resolved, the less you spend on attorneys' fees.

It is important that you select an attorney you trust, and who will not churn a case (drag it on). Please read my last blog, How Do I Find a Divorce Lawyer for more information.

 

What is a Fee Agreement?

 

In California, non-contingent matters (personal injury lawyers tend to work for contingency fees for example, most other legal matters, including divorce, are non-contingent) require an executed Fee Agreement between the client and the attorney, for any case that will foreseeably exceed $1,000 in costs.

The fee agreement will include a description of the legal services provided, responsibilities of both the attorney and the client, and the costs that will be charged to the client, such as:

  • Hourly rates
  • Court Costs
  • Service Fees
  • Other rates, fees and charges

It is important that you understand your fee agreement so there are no surprises in your bill.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Divorce Lawyer 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
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.

 

 

Wednesday
Apr252012

Grey Divorce | Things to Consider When Divorcing After Decades of Marriage

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerSpousal Support Attorney

 

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

San Fernando Valley Custody Lawyer Los Angeles

 

The Japanese call it Retired Husband Syndrome. Here in America, the phenomenon is not so cut and dried.

We simply call it Grey Divorce, a trend that sees twice as many marriage dissolutions for the Baby Boomer generation now, than there were 20 years ago, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

You may have seen the trend for a while: Tipper and Al Gore splitting after 40 years of marriage; Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins after 23 years; or even the 99 year old in Italy who jammed the news wires last December because he sought a divorce from his wife of 77 years. (The gentleman cites infidelity as the cause, though his wife's affair occurred in the 1940s, and he himself never knew until recently.)

The reasons are varied, ranging from extra-marital affairs, to more financial independence for women, the restlessness of empty-nest syndrome, or the ever-present "growing apart" phenomenon we hear of so often.  A change in lifestyle (like retirement) can accentuate a marriage's problems, and the differing goals of each partner can put strain on a relationship.

Whatever the cause, couples undergoing a Grey Divorce have unique problems in the dissolution process. Sure, the children may be grown so they won't have to worry about child custody or visitation schedules, but there are other elements to consider.

 

Older Divorcing Couples & More Valuable Assets

 


Spousal Support – Many Baby Boomer couples will live longer than the generations that preceded them, and they tend to be healthier than those generations as well. If the spouses are retired there is fixed income that now needs to be used to cover expenses for two households. Thus, one spouse may need to return to work to make ends meet.

People going through a Grey Divorce should remember to consider their future needs.

Retirement Benefits – Whether a spouse took care of the children or worked outside of the home, both parties in a Grey Divorce will need, and be entitled to, retirement benefits. The retirement accounts will be divided.

Financial Management – It's often challenging for a spouse who hasn't handled the finances before to have to do it all of a sudden. It's important to work with a CPA or financial planner to make sure enough money is set aside for taxes, and that a budget is established to meet living expenses.

There are other considerations as well. Older divorced people who don't have any children should think about updating their retirement and estate beneficiaries…9 times out of 10 the beneficiaries are the ex-spouses.

Whatever the reasons for a divorce, there are always obstacles that will need to be considered carefully before they can be overcome. An experienced family law attorney can help with many of these, and recommend insurance or estate planning professionals to help with the others.

 

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Divorce and Family Law Mediation Attorney in our Family Law Practice Group. You may contact her via e-mail: 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.

 

 

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