Tracy Attorney Blog

Firm's Founding Attorney Michael Martin receives highest rating of Suberb from Avvo

Posted on 2016-04-27 18:08:31

Attorney rating website Avvo.com has bestowed their highest rating of "Superb" upon San Diego Attorney Michael S. Martin. Avvo.com explains that their rating system "[W]as developed by legal professionals and people looking for legal services. The model used to calculate the rating was developed with input from hundreds of attorneys, thousands of consumers, and many other legal professionals who deeply understand the work attorneys do. We created the Avvo Rating to reflect the type of information people have identified as important when looking to hire an attorney."  

 

Divorce (“Dissolution of Marriage”) vs. Legal Separation

Posted on 2016-04-26 14:34:33

Divorce (“Dissolution of Marriage”) vs. Legal Separation

Many clients are initially confused about what the difference is between a dissolution of marriage (hereafter “divorce”) and a legal separation. A divorce is one of the only ways to legally become a single person again in the eyes of the law, other than death of either spouse and judgment of a nullity of marriage. On the other hand, a judgment for legal separation does not result in the termination of marital status (meaning you’re not divorced). Under both procedures you can divide property, set custody and visitation, and adjudicate support.

Why choose a legal separation over a divorce? There might be several reasons why a person might choose a legal separation over a divorce. First, the parties might not meet the residency requirement for dissolution. A person must be a resident of the state for at least six months prior to filing a dissolution proceeding within the state and must be a resident of the county for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of a dissolution action. These residency requirements do not apply in a proceeding for legal separation. We sometimes recommend clients to initially file for legal separation if they do not meet these requirements and we can then convert the case to Dissolution when the requirements are met.  This is also advantageous because you can “count” the time from the legal separation towards the six month minimum time requirement for a dissolution.

Secondly, there could be religious reasons why one party might file for legal separation instead of divorce. If a person’s religious beliefs prevent them from seeking a divorce, a legal separation will provide the benefits of a divorce without terminating the status of being a married person.  This will enable them to seek a court order dividing property, set amounts for child and/or spousal support, set child custody orders, and make other necessary orders.

Thirdly, there could be other personal reasons such as their spouse maintaining their medical insurance. Since a legal separation does not terminate marital status, it leaves open the possibility of remaining eligible under your spouse’s health insurance policy.  Additionally, maintaining a marital status may be beneficial for financial purposes.  At times, the financial consequences of divorce including the maintenance of tax benefits, how health care will be handled, the operation of a joint business or property that you own together may make legal separation the right choice.

For more information regarding the difference between a divorce and legal separation contact us for a consultation with an attorney. 

Co-Parenting Corner: Part II

Posted on 2015-03-11 16:08:16

CO-PARENTING CORNER by Debbie Belmar

 

As a mom working in family law, my initial concern is always for the children.  This is part two of the series of our Family Law Blog, which will focus on tips to help parents work together for the sake of their children.

 

We know that co-parenting after a break up or divorce is difficult.  Parents may be able to reach an agreement outside of court, but often one or both is unwilling to compromise or take responsibility for issues or behaviors that place the children at risk or to even consider each child’s feelings.  We encourage both parents to be flexible.   Putting your kids first during this financially complicated and emotionally traumatic period is extremely important.  Each family member struggles to cope with the transition in their own way.  Surviving the break-up of your family unit starts with helping your kids feel secure.  Feel free to share this blog with the other parent in your family.  Show your kids that they come first by following the tips in this blog series.

 

This week:  VISITATION AND CO-PARENTING AGREEMENTS

 

Keep the visitation agreement simple to remember and easy to follow, for the sake of both you and the kids.  Regular schedules are more stable for the kids.  It also helps them to adjust if they know when they will be able to see the other parent.  We suggest starting with the work and school schedules and going from there.  Be sure to take homework time into consideration, as not every parent is a good (or active) instructor.  Remember that week nights can be hectic and the kids need weekend time with the primary parent too.  Consider week day dinner visits after homework as another opportunity for visits.  Make sure you always arrive for visitations on time, and please remember to call the children or other parent if you will be late or need to cancel.

 

Consider entering into a written Co-Parenting Agreement that outlines the key terms and goals as parents.  This may or may not include the visitation schedule or child support.  If the parents cannot agree on visitation and child support, the Co-Parenting Agreement may address other parenting issues pending a court order on visitation and support.  Our office would be happy to assist the parties in preparing a Co‑Parenting Agreement.  We can also assist in negotiating the terms of the Agreement in the best interests of the children.

 

REMINDER:  Again, it is particularly important to keep all communication “clean” (especially written communications) as they may be introduced as evidence in court at a later date.  Imagine that the judge is reading your texts and emails over your shoulder as you write them, and think about how it may impact your case later.  Remember to contact your attorney for assistance before problems escalate and get nasty.

 

We've Moved!

Posted on 2015-03-11 16:07:30

Please note our new Tracy office address:

324 E. 11th Street, Suite H-1
Tracy, CA 95376

 

All our phone numbers and fax number remain the same!  Stop by to say hello and see the new office!

Coparenting Corner

Posted on 2014-10-01 13:46:14

CO-PARENTING CORNER by Debbie Belmar

 

As a mom working in family law, my initial concern is always for the children.  This series of our Family Law Blog will focus on tips to help parents work together for the sake of their children.

 

We know that co-parenting after a break up or divorce is difficult.  Parents may be able to reach an agreement outside of court, but often one or both is unwilling to compromise or take responsibility for issues or behaviors that place the children at risk or to even consider each child’s feelings.  We encourage both parents to be flexible.   Putting your kids first during this financially complicated and emotionally traumatic period is extremely important.  Each family member struggles to cope with the transition in their own way.  Surviving the break-up of your family unit starts with helping your kids feel secure.  Feel free to share this blog with the other parent in your family.  Show your kids that they come first by following the tips in this blog series.

 

This week:  COOPERATION

 

Make a conscious effort to set aside your hurt feelings and attempt to cooperate with the other parent to work together to resolve custody and visitation disputes.  It is inevitable that disputes will arise whether you have a temporary agreement or an order in place.  The most common disputes include scheduling conflicts, changes in work schedules, travel arrangements, special circumstances, and other disputes.  If you are unable to work together, it is the kids that pay the price.

 

We especially encourage parents to avoid involving the police in these types of disputes.  Involving the police can be stressful and scary for the children.  Police involvement should be limited to dangerous situations and abduction issues like out right refusal to return a visiting child or to allow a scheduled visit.  If it is a minor accommodation, it is wiser to simply try to work together to make alternate arrangements.  If it is an ongoing issue, we encourage our clients to keep a continuing record of the instances as they occur and to contact us to address the issue.  If necessary, the court may need to become involved in a contempt action. 

 

Judges want to see parents working together in the best interests of the children.  Likewise, judges also want to see a spirit of cooperation from attorneys while working toward their client’s best interests.  California appellate courts are increasingly making it clear to divorce lawyers that "[Z]ealous advocacy does not equate with 'attack dog' or 'scorched earth'; nor does it mean lack of civility."  Marriage of Davenport (2011) 194 CA4th 1507, 1536.  Some clients want to set their attorney to attack mode against the other parent and may feel like a logical or professional approach is too soft.  However, it is important to remember that we do not want to make a bad situation worse, especially for the children involved. 

 

It is particularly important to keep all communication “clean” (especially written communications) as they may be introduced as evidence in court at a later date.  It is difficult to introduce evidence against the other parent when our client is hostile or uncooperative in their messages.  It can reflect very poorly on the parent.  Sometimes a parent standing up for their rights escalates to the next level and gets ugly.  Imagine that the judge is reading your texts and emails over your shoulder as you write them, and think about how it may impact your case later.  Contact your attorney for assistance before problems escalate and get nasty. 

 

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