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 “Seasoning a disagreement with avoidable irritants can turn a minor conflict in a costly and protracted war. All of those human hours, which could have been put to socially productive uses, instead are devoted to the unnecessary war and are lost forever. All sides lose, as does the justice system, which must supervise these hostilities.” -Justice Wiley, Karton v. Ari Design & Construction, Inc. (2021)

 Most of us have heard the saving “Civility costs nothing, and buys everything”, but in the case of Karon v. Ari, Karon’s lack of civility cost him quite a bit. In this case decided just as of March 2021, the CA Court of Appeal used its discretion to lower Karon’s attorney’s fees by $210,000, causing him to lose any sort of reimbursement for the countless hours he spent accumulating these fees on his own case.

The background of the case goes like this. Karton, Petitioner, hired a contractor who was unlicensed and uninsured. In CA, when a contractor fails to prove he has a license and insurance, CA will not protect that contractor if that contractor gets later sued in court. Meaning, if the contractor breaches their contract for not completing their work, they don’t only have to pay back for the work they did not complete, they have to pay back everything. Even if they completed most of the work and purchased all the supplies. This is public policy to discourage unlicensed contractors from entering into agreements.

The Santa Clara County Court has issued new guidelines on custody and visitation during the Covid-19 Public Health Guidelines. Please see the link and direct information below:

http://cdn.ymaws.com/sccba.site-ym.com/resource/collection/8D5BD517-FD51-42C9-BE94-222AE9D82675/Child_Custody_and_Visitation_Policies.pdf

NOTICE CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION POLICIES DURING COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY

There are many financial issues to consider in a divorce case. One of the most significant issues is the division of property. “Property” includes both physical assets, such as a home, vehicles, bank accounts, etc., as well as deferred compensation, such as pension plans, 401ks, and stock plans. “Property” also includes debts. In a Santa Clara County divorce case, and in California at large, community property laws govern the division of all property. In general, in California, all property acquired during marriage is “community” in nature and must be divided equally upon divorce. All property acquired prior to marriage, or after separation is the acquiring party’s “separate” property. Additionally, any property acquired during marriage by gift, bequest, inheritance or the like, is “separate” property, as well. The characterization of an item of property as “community” or “separate” will determine how the item is divided in a divorce.

At a basic level, “community” property must be divided equally, while “separate” property is confirmed to the party who acquired it. In reality, the division of property is not quite so simple. Often times during marriage, “community” and “separate” property become mixed, or “commingled.” In that case, it needs to be determined whether it is possible to “trace” the separate property so that it can be returned to the separate property owner. Additionally, issues can arise when property is purchased during marriage, but only put in one spouse’s name. The value of assets can also be an issue.

Other financial issues to be considered include how funds are spent after parties separate. There are specific automatic orders that go into place once a party is served with divorce paperwork, preventing both parties from transferring/moving funds and/or making large purchases without the agreement of the other spouse or a court order. Additionally, each party’s income and expenses should be taken into account, to determine whether spousal and/or child support are appropriate. When setting support, it is important to know what constitutes “income” for purposes of determining support. Income is not necessarily limited to funds earned from employment, but can include commissions, bonuses, rental income, stock proceeds, interest, unemployment and disability benefits, and the like. Another consideration when setting support is whether both parties are working. If not, the court can order one or both parties to seek work so that he/she is able to contribute to the support of the minor children and/or so that he/she can become self supporting, for purposes of spousal support.

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