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.

 

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.

 

employment law, family law, Immigration, Legal

It’s Just A Phone Call, Just Charge Me For That: Legal Reasons#45

I often get calls from prospective clients who just want “quick advice” or “send an email” or “make just one call” as their attorney.  They often balk when I mention my retainer and hourly rate. Rarely do people realize that as soon as I become their legal representative, a whole host of ethical, legal and practical duties come into play.

It is the very rare case where only one email, letter or phone call is required.  Besides, most attorneys need to know all the facts, research the law (if uncertain) and really understand what the client desires and the possible outcomes before shooting off an email or a call.

In this new age of fast responses, and ease of technology, it is even more so difficult to agree that it will be just one email, phone call or appearance. And as my favorite cousin likes to say, ‘ when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”