The decision to divorce must be thought through not only from an emotional and psychological aspect but from a financial one. Keeping our clients focused on the financial repercussions of divorce is among our primary goals. The decision whether to sell or award a house to one spouse merits detailed advisement from your attorney. You need to know how it will affect your overall support, tax consequences and your financial future.
We have distilled the divorce process into 7 easy steps:
During this process we learn about your goals as a client and analyze the broad outcomes the client wants to achieve in a case and we develop a case strategy to get there.
We marshall, list/inventory assets and debts, identify separate property, community property and quasi-community property. Disclosure is a basic obligation for all litigants and necessary in order to explore early settlement, or temporary agreements.
Discovery is the process by which an attorney obtains information to help you prove up issues that necessary to resolving your case. It also assists an attorney in filling in missing information from our comprehensive consultation form, and missing or incomplete information from the Preliminary Declarations of Disclosure which both sides have an obligation to serve upon each other. As your attorney we may subpoena records from schools, banks, credit unions or from the other spouse. As part of discovery we may take the deposition of the opposing litigant in order to nail down their story about a hidden asset, a custody issue for use at trial or settlement. Third parties may be deposed as well in order to assess their testimony prior to hearing, trial or settlement.Very often discovery can be minimized by the participation of the client and involvement in obtaining bank records or other evidence.
In preparation for a hearing, our team meets and prepares our clients so that reasonable expectations are communicated and met. Many attorneys under estimate how important the initial temporary orders are. We do not. We understand that very often the initial orders are the ones you will have to live with until further order of the court and possibly trial.For custody proceedings we have over a 90% rate of securing sole legal custody when we file the Request for Orders. This is because we take the time to properly get the facts most favorable to our client especially in high conflict cases. We don’t let negligent parents off the hook. Instead we hold them to the maximum accountability under the law. Under certain circumstances such as pervasive verbal abuse, emotional or psychological dysfunction, supervised visitation may be appropriate. When you consult with us, we will evaluate if your particular circumstances fits into the fact pattern that California case law indicates is appropriate for a particular custodial arrangement.For support proceedings, we ensure that we have obtained all the evidence necessary to prove all available sources of income for payment of support. We also defend against improperly filed support actions and pursue vocational evaluations and imputation of income actions against the under earning spouse.We do file pre- trial modifications successfully and have a high success rate largely because we develop a more persuasive narrative with new facts. We stay in close contact with our clients and meticulously track case developments so that we can optimize the results of a modification.
Both parties have a duty to provide final declarations of disclosure including primary documents to prove the value of assets and debts. We gather the following documents:- The entire federal tax return including all schedules
– The entire state tax return including any K-1 Form
– Wage earner’s W-2
– We look for the existence of a pension, company car and other company perks
– Personal Property tax return
– Banking Information
– Financial Statements
– Loan Applications
– Brokerage Statements
– Certificates of Stocks, Bonds or Mutual Funds
– Pension, profit sharing, deferred compensation agreement, and retirement plan records
– Life Insurance
(This is a partial list of documents)The significance of this task must not be underestimated as failure to include an assets may give rise to litigation and remedies for the omitted asset. Concealment and similar conduct may also give rise to a breach of fiduciary duty claim against the other spouse. Valuations must be accurate and where two parties disagree on the value of an asset, an independent third party such an appraiser, a realtor, a receiver may be necessary to determine market value.Call Attorney Tamara Benefield and find out what your rights and entitlements are.
Our firm prepares for settlement similar to how we prepare for trial. Facts are important but knowing how the law applies to the facts gives us the winning edge. From the initial intake through settlement, we will develop a winning theme that weaves the facts together and explains to the court why we should win on your behalf. Turns out, themes are also persuasive upon opposing counsel and help explain the evidence favorably.We work diligently for a favorable outcome and keep you informed on all settlement negotiations. There are no agreements reached without your written consent after you have a full opportunity to meet with your attorney, ask questions and comprehend your rights and obligations.
Where two parties disagree on the proposed outcome and have engaged but failed to settle their differences, trial becomes the necessary last resort to bring the case to conclusion. After advising our client regarding the cost of trial, cost of experts, time away from work involved and attorney fees, based on our experience we give our clients a reasonable prediction of the outcome of a trial. We ensure that exhibit binders, witness lists and any other evidence is available for use at trial. We assist our clients in preparing testimony and how to withstand cross examination.
Tamara Benefield has 15 years of trial experience and is an outstanding trial attorney with a track record of outstanding results.