California Family Law Consults for Lawyers and Non-Lawyer Mediators
I have for a number of years made myself available to provide detailed second legal opinions involving a wide range of California family law and divorce topics. Likewise, Michael C. Peterson has increasingly been asked to do this kind of work.
Early on these typically were requested by self-represented family law litigants, by non-lawyer parties involved in divorce mediations, by individuals contemplating filing for dissolution needing pre-divorce advice, and those seeking discreet second opinions over matters which their current legal professionals had advised them about but as to which the client felt unfulfilled, uneasy, or uncertain or simply that they needed to undertake some due diligence before obligating themselves to the agreements (always a wise choice).
We've loved this work because the EnlightenedDivorceBlog™ is dedicated to assisting in relationship-end decisions arrived at through informed consent - i.e., choices made with the best information available, so that you know what you are doing when you make your promises, accept financial and custody compromises, and obligate yourself to pay or receive money or accept other terms that become central to what your life is going to look like (not to mention the impacts upon family members and especially children) for a long, long time.
As our website has evolved in support of the Internet of Everything Divorce, increasingly California lawyers, lawyers from other states, mental health professionals, and mediators in and out of state who must understand family law issues according to California law have consulted with us.
On a limited and realistic basis, we make ourselves available to render assistance, time permitting, at rates below what we charge for our robust already-existing clientèle. We do this because (1) we don't have to absorb the stress of client situations in nearly the same doses that is required by serving litigants as their attorneys of record, (2) we love problem-solving human legal and emotional quandaries, and (3) we believe we can contribute value in helping to guide the parties to divorce, or their attorneys or mediators who in turn are guiding them, to better outcomes in what we all accept is characteristically a wasteland of dysfunction and destruction. Simply put - we want to help in some small way, one interaction and one family at a time, and consulting work is a cool way to do it.
I write this particular Blog article (and so to extend an invitation) because of a recent exchange I had with a delightful New York attorney and mediator who asked me to help her evaluate the legal and financial issues for a couple she is assisting in that state, that formerly lived in California and still own property here and who expect their case to be governed by California law. I realized that this type of assignment is something we are now regularly doing, and how much I enjoy this work. Probably I am crazy, because truly Mike Peterson and I are hammered with commitments, but given that all of this is what comprises the life we've chosen, arguing with the "what-is" of where I find myself is not only useless, but unrealistic. Therefore, with the facts and names obscured, I've uploaded the sample family law opinion letter that I sent today, to illustrate our approach and what it looks like. This letter addresses the interesting topics of Moore-Marsden reimbursements, Family Code section 2640 credits, and provides a truncated overview of how temporary and guideline spousal support is determined in California.
The value we may impart if we were to collaborate with you is for you to judge, but I can say this for sure: Anybody doing divorce mediation in particular, but also a high percentage of family law attorneys generally, really wants and needs to know what the rules are that would govern a court inspired outcome. While in my opinion mediation should not be yoked to what someone supposes that a hypothetical judge might do with the facts, or even track a strict legal analysis, as opposed to what the parties themselves decide are important to them, nonetheless I believe people should have some understanding of how the family law rules apply and operate. Informed consent requires that understanding, since how can one voluntarily opt out if they don't know what they are opting from looks like? Just IMHO.
While we are very humbled and grateful for any of it, we can only do so much of this type of work and manage our other commitments to our most honored friends - our own clients. If you reach out to test the waters, please consider that it is challenging to digest and respond to really lengthy emails; it is more productive to begin such discussions incrementally. A ton of questions that you may have can be answered by trying our on-board search engine at the upper right of each page, and you may find some questions already answered if you nose around our site.
In any event, if we might be of value and the timing is right, send Mike or I an email - please visit our Contact Us page for that info. It will take at least two to four weeks if you decide to engage us, to render a meaningful opinion.
As always, good luck out there in the land of relationship-endia. That is where the rubber hits the road, and you have our heartfelt support in whatever role you fill in that processing.
Author: Thurman W. Arnold III CFLS