family law, Legal

When is a gift a gift? Legal Reasons #53

It is far too often I hear from estranged spouses who speak of partners who have taken back birthday gift, wedding rings or anything during their marriage because they are hurt and/or angry.When you get married, you agree to share more than your feelings and the bathroom — you also share property with your spouse.  California law defines community property as any asset acquired or income earned by a married person while living with a spouse. Separate property is defined as anything acquired by a spouse before the marriage, during the marriage by gift, devise, or bequest, and after the parties separate

Separate property belongs only to one spouse.  The most common forms of separate property are:

  • property one spouse owned before the marriage
  • gifts received by one spouse before or during the marriage

The gift or inheritance is likely to be separate property if the following are true:

1. One spouse was the intended heir or gift recipient

Property acquired during marriage by gift, will, or inheritance is separate property. (Section 21 of the California Constitution, California Family Code Section 752)

Except as otherwise provided by law, neither spouse has any interest in the separate property of the other. (California Family Code Section 770)

2. The gift or inheritance was not commingled

If separate and community property are commingled in such a manner that “the respective contributions cannot be traced and identified, the entire fund or property—including property acquired in exchange therefor—will be treated as community property. (California Family Code Section 760)

family law, Legal

Getting Divorced When Angry/Hurt: Legal Reasons #52

Making the decision to separate from your partner is a personal decision that many often struggle with before going forward. However,  I also have gotten potential clients who call seeking dissolution because they had a “huge fight” with their partner. I always caution others that matters like this cannot be done in heat of the moment.

Few months ago, someone filed then reconciled with their partner. Although I was glad to hear it, I wondered if they should have gone through that process before spending thousands of dollars and changing their mind. This is not to suggest that people don’t change their mind, but making an emotional decision while still in the throes of an argument or hurt means that once things calm down, they may regret their decision.  Making the decision to end a marriage based on irreconcilable differences is one only a couple knows about, yet it is truly a better way than to be faced with regret about starting a process that wastes time and money if one changes their decision.



How Do I Hire The Right DUI Attorney? Legal Reasons #51

The day a person is arrested on suspicion of a California DUI is very often the worst day of that person’s life. As the handcuffs are being slapped around the wrists, thoughts flood the mind of the person who has just been arrested for a California DUI: How long will I be under arrest? What will happen in court? What am I facing?

The first step is research. You don’t buy the first car you see at the dealership. With so much at stake, why would you hire the first attorney you talk to? Ask family and friends if they know a lawyer. You’d be hard pressed to not find anyone who hasn’t used a lawyer in the past. Lastly, check the California Bar Association’s website at to check if a lawyer has had any disciplinary action taken against them for misconduct.

It’s no surprise that lawyers can be expensive. But remind yourself that you’re paying for someone with the experience to help you make it through one of the most difficult times of your life. Make your decision to hire a lawyer based on experience, not cost. Fees for California DUI lawyers range from $1000 to $10,000. DUI defense lawyers almost always charge flat fees, not hourly fees. Often, the price of a DUI lawyer corresponds with their experience and what is included in the service. Sometimes, however, it isn’t. Make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for.

I can’t say it enough. Hiring a lawyer is an extremely important decision and one that can have lasting effects on your life. Do your research and find the right California DUI attorney.


So Why The Law Now? Legal Reasons #50

“What made you want to practice law now?” My mentor asked me recently. Except it wasn’t really the right question. The question needed to be “What made me want to take private clients?”  As in-house counsel for my company Ziba Beauty, I have been blessed to have only one client, yet there was  part of me that wanted to do more than that. I truly wanted to be in service to others. It hit me that there were many who could be helped with my license rather than just one entity so, almost two years ago, I began taking on private clients.

It’s been an amazing journey. From wondering “who would really come to me” to “oh wow, I am glad I brought in my best friend to help with the load,” I feel that when the desire, learning, and trust are there, clients do come. It is a great feeling that I am able to help people with solutions that make a difference in their live. That’s not to say that they get the resolution they want, however they do get certainty for the future. And that’s why I took this on: to provide clarity where often there is none.


Communication is Key! Legal Reasons #49

Today, I got the chance to go to a networking event where a lawyer explained the elements of a lawsuit. What he really honed in on, and I agreed with immediately is that communication is key when deciding to sue someone. A lawsuit should be the last resort in a disagreement that has caused monetary, physical or emotional loss. Many do not realize that even if attorneys cut their hourly rates or did the work pro bono, court courts could still be in the thousands of dollars in fees, bonds, and filings. Not too much the time.  It is easy to say “see you in court.” Yet there is more to that.

You better be right, and even if you are, the reality is that sometimes you won’t still wont recover what you lost or nothing at all. Don’t get me wrong. This is not to suggest to not seek legal help, however, it is not appropriate for all matters. Which is why communication is key. Only when communication has completely broken down should one consider taking it to the courts. Trust me, you don’t want to spend thousands of hours and dollars to be proven wrong especially if all it would have taken was a clear head and communication!

employment law, family law, Immigration, Legal

Fear of Being Sued: Legal Reasons #48

It is always scary to get a formal email or piece of mail that announces some kind of legal incident. The scariest: a summons.  Then there is always the attorney letter with “LAW OFFICES” usually on the stationary that tells you have violated something or the other. I admit, even as an attorney, I get nervous when I receive something like this that I am not expecting. That fact is no one truly enjoys being caught up in a legal battle that will cost time or money or worse, both.

Yet many still choose to either ignore the matter or not get guidance for an attorney.  I always tell people the initial call is free.  Make the call so you know what you are in for. There are times where the matter is not significant yet will become worse if the person does nothing. I practice law to help others. I get that many worry about costs, or feeling overwhelmed. It is at those times money should not be the factor stopping you if it’s a matter that could harm you in a significant way. Like they say “penny wise, pound foolish” is not the way to go for a lawsuit.

Give someone a call. It may be the best thing you do for a legal issue.