Frequently Asked Questions

Initial Consultation

What Will Happen at the Consultation?

An initial consultation is a time for you and a managing partner at our firm to get to know one another and discuss your case. A consultation is your opportunity to learn about the process and discuss strategy related to your specific situation. You will also discuss or address:

  • Background information about the firm and our experience;
  • Your background (i.e., where you work, how many children you have, employment history, etc.);
  • Recommendations on strategy for your case;
  • Information regarding how the firm handles cases similar to yours;
  • The employment contract between you and the firm;
  • Hourly rates, retainers and fees for the firm’s services; and
  • Questions that you have regarding the process.

May I Bring My Children to the Consultation?

Children should not be present at consultations. This is a time for you and an attorney to speak about serious matters, and you should be able to dedicate your full attention to the meeting. Moreover, it may be harmful for them to be in the room or even in the office. Courts typically discourage children from being involved with the specifics of the lawsuit. If you are unable to attend your consultation without your children, please discuss appropriate options when you schedule your consultation. Exceptions can be made based on the following:

  • Express permission from the attorney beforehand;
  • The age of the children;
  • The maturity of the children;
  • Your ability to bring an adult to supervise the children during the meeting; and
  • Whether or not the children will wait in the waiting area while you are in the consultation meeting.

May I Bring Friends or Family to the Consultation?

From a legal perspective, exceptions can be made for friends or family members to accompany you, but it will depend on whether or not:

  • You obtained express permission from the attorney to bring them with you beforehand;
  • Their attendance is necessary due to a language or communication barrier; or
  • You agree to have the person attend the meeting, in writing, before the meeting.

Be careful—allowing a friend or family member to join in your consultation may waive your right to privacy through attorney-client privilege. Consult with your lawyer before allowing additional parties to be present.

What Should I Bring With Me?

Bring any information that may be helpful to your case or help us to answer your questions. You might find it helpful to jot down questions you don’t want to forget to ask. Here are some documents that you should bring with you as well as some of the information you should be prepared to provide:

  • Photo identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.);
  • A copy of the health insurance card for your children.;
  • Paper/tablet to take notes;
  • A copy of your prior order if this is a modification or enforcement;
  • Your date of marriage and separation (if divorcing);
  • The address where the other party can be served;
  • A form of payment for the retainer if you desire to hire our firm at the consultation.

Can I Reschedule or Cancel the Appointment?

You may reschedule your appointment at any time prior to your scheduled meeting. We will try to accommodate your schedule as much as possible when rescheduling your appointment. Typically if you need to reschedule due to an emergency, we will try to reschedule you for the soonest available time that works for you and the attorney. Your consultation fee will not be refunded in the event of a canceled appointment.

You can cancel your appointment any time prior to your scheduled meeting. However, please be aware that cancellations made within four hours of your scheduled meeting will result in a forfeiture of your consultation fee.

You can view available appointment times by following the instruction on the Schedule a Consultation page.

Billing

What Should I Expect on My Bill?

We bill hourly like all attorneys, but approach our billing in a way that is more transparent, honest and fair. We don’t play games or hide the ball. We have an open and honest dialogue about costs. We publish our hourly rates and estimated retainer fees online. Try to find another law firm that discloses this information.

To see more details about our billing process and fees, visit our Attorney Fees and Billing page

How Much Will My Case Cost?

We believe in fair fees and efficiency. Check out our Attorney Fees and Billing page for a breakdown of how our billing works and what to expect when hiring our team.

What is a Retainer Fee?

A Retainer Fee is a deposit paid by a new client at the time they hire our firm. A client is required to keep refreshing that deposit so that there is always a positive balance. Once the case is completed, the balance is refunded to the client.

Learn more about how retainer fees are collected in our blog, Understanding Retainer Fees

Divorce & Property Division

How Will My Personal Property Be Divided in My Divorce?

In a divorce, debts, and assets are categorized as either community property or separate property. Community property is any asset to which both spouses have a claim to ownership. Typically, any property obtained by either spouse during the marriage (regardless of which spouse’s name the property is in) is community property, and community property is divided between the spouses. Even if only one spouse bought a house, the other spouse would still have a claim to the equity in the home. In this characterization process, both parties will make a detailed inventory of their personal property, and they will either agree on the division of property or submit to the court.

Assets are not always divided into two equal parts. For example, if the property was registered under one name, but purchased with community property, it may be characterized as community property. To learn more about factors that can affect the way in which your assets are distributed, click here.

Is My Spouse Entitled to Half My Retirement?

Your spouse may be entitled to a portion of your retirement. Any portion of your retirement earned during the marriage (and before your date of divorce) will be considered community property. In a divorce, community property is divided between the spouses, but individual assets are not necessarily shared equally. For example, you could keep your retirement and give more equity in the home to your spouse to accomplish an even division of the property.

To determine the characterization of your current portfolio, you will want to gather information/documentation regarding your stock plan such as contact information for the plan administrator. A full list of recommended materials can be found here.

Can My Spouse Get Property That Is Only in My Name in the Divorce?

It is a common misconception that an asset that is solely titled in your name cannot be awarded to your spouse; this is not true. For example, a retirement account is typically only in the name of one partner, but it is common property if the funds contributed were done so during the marriage.

Possession, Custody, & Conservatorship

What is Custody?

In a divorce, debts, and assets are categorized as either community property or separate property. Community property is any asset to which both spouses have a claim to ownership. Typically, any property obtained by either spouse during the marriage (regardless of which spouse’s name the property is in) is community property, and community property is divided between the spouses. Even if only one spouse bought a house, the other spouse would still have a claim to the equity in the home. In this characterization process, both parties will make a detailed inventory of their personal property, and they will either agree on the division of property or submit to the court.

Assets are not always divided into two equal parts. For example, if the property was registered under one name, but purchased with community property, it may be characterized as community property. To learn more about factors that can affect the way in which your assets are distributed, click here.

Are Mothers Given Preference Over Fathers in Custody Cases?

In California, the law explicitly states that no preference may be given to either males or females. Instead, the courts look to see who has historically been the primary caretaker, who prioritizes the kids’ needs, and the parents’ abilities to co-parent when making decisions regarding the children.

What are Bad Facts?

“Bad facts” are factors that reflect negatively on a party’s parenting, credibility, or judgment, and can shift custody from one parent to the other. When it comes to bad facts, substance abuse is the most common, family violence is the most heavily punished under the law, and untreated mental disorders are usually the most complex. Other examples of bad facts include failure to respectfully co-parent, exposing kids to a paramour, and prioritizing negative feelings for the other parent over the well-being of the kids. The existence of these factors requires that you have an exceptionally experienced and skilled attorney on your side to take advantage of said facts or to properly defend against them.

Do I Need Witnesses?

One of the most effective components of a case is the testimony of witnesses. The value of witness testimony varies significantly, but generally, the most effective witnesses are neutral parties, such as neighbors, teachers, and mental health professionals. Statements from family or close friends are often perceived as biased.

Consider the following: if you’re looking at restaurant reviews, would you trust a review from the restaurant’s owner, or would you look for a review from an unbiased third-party?

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