by Diana L. Martinez Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, West Coast Law & Mediation, APC
As a family law lawyer, I really look forward to my time on duty to volunteer at Riverside County Superior Court for VSC (Voluntary Settlement Conference) day. It is offered two Fridays per month and is THE most successful mediation program in the nation with an over 90 percent success rate!
Why? Because, in order to be a mediator on this panel, you must have the highest training and qualifications as both a family law lawyer and as a mediator. Not only do we donate our time, we must be in practice at least 10 years and have hundreds of hours of mediation training and practice under our belts. Other family law mediation programs that either do not have a structured program with high mediator qualifications, or that pay retired judges to do this work, enjoy a success rate below 60 percent.
Judges have an incredibly difficult job. It takes very specific skill sets to be a good judge. But being a talented judge does not, in and of itself, make you a good mediator.
by Suanne I. Honey Attorney at Law, CFLS, Mediator and Collaborative Attorney
Sorry for the silly pun when this is such a serious topic. Seriously, though, pre-nuptial agreements are hot topics which give rise to many emotions.
“It paints the Devil on the wall.”
“It is anticipating failure of the marriage.”
“If he or she really loved me, this would not be necessary.”
“I am uncomfortable talking about finances.”
The list can go on and on. Sometimes emotions are an unnecessary waste of energy. Other times emotions have some benefits, even negative emotions. For example, fear in a dark alley in a dangerous neighborhood will cause you to be zealously vigilant about your surroundings which will lead you into taking appropriate steps for your safety … much like the pre-nuptial agreement itself.
Unfortunately, statistics today are not favorable for a lasting marriage. If and when there is a decision to get divorced, the person you once loved turns into the enemy. There is often a total lack of trust at the time of a divorce. There are fights over money, property, and other issues creating stress for both partners. This stress almost always filters down to the children.
Each premarital partner selects their own Collaborative attorney to represent him or her from the very beginning of the premarital Collaborative Process. You and your Collaborative attorney work together until the premarital agreement is completed and signed.
Neutral professionals such as a financial planner and/or a Collaborative coach may also be added to your Collaborative team to help you and your partner develop and fully understand your goals as a couple, and the legal and financial ramifications of your decisions.
Before any drafting takes place, you and your partner are encouraged to express your thoughts and concerns about what you plan to build together as joint property and what you want to maintain as separate property.
Full disclosure of the property and debts of each premarital partner is exchanged including some verification of each asset and each debt.
After full discussion, disclosure, and agreement is reached by the premarital couple, the agreement is drafted through the participation of both Collaborative attorneys.
After the draft of the premarital agreement is completed, the draft is fully discussed and explained to each premarital partner by his or her Collaborative attorney.
Stock options and restricted stock may be part of the marital estate. And they are some of the more complex assets. This brief overview provides a basic understanding of the factors you need to take into consideration. It does not go into all the many tax and technical issues that are aspects of equity compensation. Seeking professional guidance for your specific circumstances is always a good idea.
Many companies grant their employees equity compensation in addition to their salaries, commissions and cash bonuses. Equity compensation is non-cash compensation representing a form of ownership interest in a company. Among the most common are employee stock options and restricted stock or restricted stock units. In divorce, stock options and restricted stock are property to be divided. The employee’s separate shares are often also considered as income in the calculations of support.
by Brian Don Levy, Esq., Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
The case history: John first came to see me looking for an attorney to represent him in his divorce case in family court. This is the most important choice he will have to make in the entire divorce process: choosing the process for his divorce case.
As a firm believer in the Collaborative Divorce Process, we discussed why John should consider the Collaborative Divorce process, which is part of every initial divorce consultation – when I meet with clients – I discuss divorce process options.
John then disclosed he had already been in mediation with some of my legal colleagues. John’s wife, Mary, withdrew from the process. He was distrustful of the process and not inclined to give it another try.
In spite of John and Mary’s failure, I still believed the Collaborative Process would serve them well. Nearly a year later, the divorce case was successfully concluded through the Collaborative Process.