August 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized |
We’ve all heard the nightmare stories about divorces that have been dragged through court for years, with thousands of dollars spent, tens of hours of your life consumed in litigation and the use of expert witnesses, CPA’s, therapists, counsellors, witnesses and hours of testimony. There are not doubt marital dissolutions that are so complex that unfortunately they require these kind of resources. However, I am always surprised by how divorces that are not complex and that can be resolved in a fairly amicable manner are dragged through the litigation process in a process that is similar to extracting water from a stone.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
When I say “uncontested,” I generally mean that the parties agree on (the majority) of the terms of the divorce. Couples hardly agree on every single term of the divorce, but the question you have to ask yourself is, “Is the one issue that I disagree about worth a fight in court that consumes hours of my life and will costs thousands in attorney fees?” The better approach might be to reach a compromise. Keep in mind, there is no win or lose in a family law case. This is about what’s doing best for yourself, the children (if there any) and moving on with your life.
Here are some tips to figure out whether you can have an uncontested divorce to make your dissolution a lot easier on your self.
Do You Agree On the Terms of your Divorce?
If you have children, property, assets and debts, then there is usually more room to disagree. However, if you do not have children and there is no property or assets, then chances are you agree on most of terms. So the first step to assessing whether you can proceed on an uncontested divorce is whether you feel you agree to most of the terms of the dissolution. There is where speaking to an attorney or hiring an attorney to advise you on your rights is instrumental. A good family law attorney can advise you on whether there are rights you are giving up in your dissolution. From there, you can assess whether it is worth fighting over
How to Choose the Right Attorney:
Attorneys come from all backgrounds and bring different styles and practices in how they handle their cases. I strongly advise that you find an attorney who works to resolve your case with as little conflict as possible and always approaches your case with a cost benefit analysis. In other words, is it worth it to take a litigious course of action to get what you want? In some cases it is. This is where an attorney that is good in court can really help your case. However, in a lot of instances it is more advantageous to both parties to reach an agreement out of court, or in court. Litigation is not always the key and the attorney you choose should boast an impressive settlement record in addition to being comfortable in court.
Feel free to give my office a call to discuss your case. I will be happy to discuss how to effectively resolve the issues in your case.
Sanjay A. Paul, Esq.
August 4th, 2013 | Uncategorized |
If you are going to be getting married soon, chances are the words “prenuptial agreement” have crossed your mind, but you don’t know much about it ( don’t worry, most people don’t:) and you’ve been worried about bringing it up with your spouse. Most people worry that discussions around a prenuptial agreement will kill the romance prior to a wedding and might even turn-off the other spouse and create conflict.
These are fair concerns and this article will help you think about how to approach discussions around prenuptial agreements and how it can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your relationship. Contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial agreement is not just for a wealthy spouse to protect himself or herself from marriage to a spouse with a lower net worth. It actually benefits both spouses from all backgrounds. Let me explain.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement:
A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into prior to marriage or a civil union, that generally speaking keeps property from before marriage as separate property and avoids the creation of community property during marriage. This avoids commingling of assets and debt and if executed properly, will be effective upon a parties dissolution. An easy way to understand a prenuptial agreement is to think of it as, ”what’s yours is yours, and what you earn or accumulate during marriage is yours too.”
Why a Prenuptial Agreement can be beneficial for your marriage:
When at attorney drafts a prenuptial agreement, he or she will ask both parties to list all their assets and debts in order to figure out their net worth and debt. This exercise in itself is highly beneficial, because it forces both parties to see how much the other is worth and what kind of debts they have prior to marriage. I often hear spouses during a divorce say that they had no idea the other spouse came into their marriage with so much debt or money and this is because people often times avoid that discussion.
No one likes to talk of money right? It appears cheap and is not a discussion that one wants to have while planning their dream wedding and honeymoon. However, the benefits of knowing exactly what each party is bringing into the marriage financially can lead to more trust, more understanding and present a clearer picture to both spouses about their respective financial positions in life.
Can a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Limit Child Support Payments?
It is important to know that prenuptial agreements can vary widely. However, there are a few terms that are not enforceable because they are against the law. Parties cannot limit or waive child support payments in a prenuptial agreement. In California, it is also generally unenforceable to have “at-fault” provisions in a prenuptial agreement that bar spousal support if there is infidelity in the marriage, etc.
California is a “no-fault” state, meaning that the State generally speaking does not care what the reasons for divorce are when parties file a dissolution. The law is just concerned with helping the parties start the next chapter of their lives without revisiting the reasons for a break-up.
Can a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Limit Spousal Support Payments?
Yes. It is very common to have prenuptial agreements that limit spousal support or bar the payment of spousal support. If executed properly and with the right disclosures, it can be effective.
Still unsure about the nature of prenuptial agreements? You should call a reputable family law attorney to have a discussion on how a premarital agreement can benefit you and your spouse.
February 14th, 2013 | Comprehensive Immigration Reform |
What is Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)?
CIR is the name used to describe immigration reform that is being discussed in Congress to reform a severely outdated immigration system. CIR will address backlogs in the current immigration system for lawful residents and citizens who are trying to bring family members. In addition, CIR will also tackle how to bring out of the “shadows” the roughly estimated 11 million undocumented persons in the United States.
When can we expect Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) to Pass?
The Obama administration reacting to the overwhelming support of the Latino vote during his re-election, got started on immigration reform just days after his second inauguration. The Senate has given themselves a deadline of March 1, 2013 to put together a bill for CIR that embodies the principles outlined by the Obama administration. Once a bill is introduced in the Senate it will go through markups, Senate hearings and debated and voted on the floor of the Senate. To overcome any fillibusters, the bill will need to recieve at least 60 votes.
What are the Basic Principles that will be addressed under Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)?
President Obama has outlined 4 core principles that are likely to be part of CIR:
1) Strenghtening Border Security: Any proposal for immigration reform will include a component to prevent the continuning stream of illegal immigraiton into the United States. This will be undertaken by increasing security at the border and removing criminals from the United States.
2) Streamlining Legal Immigration: President Obama’s proposal will provide visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in the United States and help promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in the U.S. after graduation. The President’s proposal will also help reunite families in a timely manner instead of the current significant backlog of family visas.
3) Earned Citizenship for Undocumented Persons: President Obama’s proposal also provides undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. It will hold undocumented persons accountable by requiring they pass background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, go to the back of the line, and learn English. It requires everyone to play by the same rules.
4) Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: President Obama’s proposal is designed to stop businesses from exploiting the system by knowingly hiring undocumented workers. It holds companies accountable, and gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.
Conclusion: CIR has been long overdue and Congress will be engaging in a lively discussion over the next several months. What is clear is that CIR will be landmark legislation that addresses the backlog in family pettitions and employment petitions as well as address the estimated 11 million undocumented persons in the United States. The complete details and exact qualifications for CIR have yet to emerge, but stay tuned as we will update you as the details emerge!
December 13th, 2012 | Uncategorized |
CHILD SUPPORT BASICS
How much child support will I be forced to pay in California?
Child support is roughly determined by two factors:
- The time each party shares custody of the minor; and
- The earnings of both parties.
To calculate child support, the court uses a child support calculator software program. All the courts in California use a software program called “Dissomaster” to calculate child support because the formula is complex. This program ensures consistency across the board no matter what the county in California.
However, it is important to understand that the court is not supposed to just punch numbers into a computer to arrive at a child support calculation. The court must also exercise discretion to achieve fairness and equity. This is where a good lawyer will make a difference in your case by arguing why the court should “stick to the guidelines” or deviate from them.
Can I modify child support?
Yes. You can always ask the court to modify child support if there has been a change in circumstances. Common reasons for requesting modification include change in income of one or both of the parties.
Is my spouse or domestic partner’s income going to be counted for child support?
The Court usually uses the parents’ incomes only to calculate child support. But, the Court can ask about your spouse or domestic partner’s income for tax or other purposes.
Do I still have to pay child support if I have 50/50 custody?
If you make more money than the other parent, you may still have to pay some child support.
Will the Court consider that I have other children to support?
The Court may take into consideration of other child support orders and other children in your home that you support. The Court usually does not take stepchildren or grandchildren into consideration.
How long do I have to pay child support?
You will pay until the child is 18 years old and he or she graduates from high school. If your 18-year-old child is still a full time high school student and still lives with a parent, you must pay child support until your child graduates or turns 19. For adult disabled children, see a lawyer about the issue of adult child support.
If you have a child support issue, contact us today to see what Dream Law can do for you.
September 16th, 2012 | Uncategorized |
With so many eligible people interested in Deferred Action, many are seeking ways to get the most efficient legal help with their application. That said, please beware of the people trying to take advantage of the new policy and those applying. Deferred Action is a discretionary policy instilled by the government, meaning that there is no guarantee that an application will be approved, regardless of having a completely clean record that is free of a legal or criminal history. Beware of any attorney that says he/she guarantees that a Deferred Action application will be approved because, not only does the government have to opportunity to deny an application, but, by law, attorneys are not allowed to make guarantees to clients on any applications in any types of cases. In addition, please know that, while offering help with applications at a very low price, public notaries, or “notarios,” are NOT authorized to provide people with legal services related to immigration. For more information on “notarios” and other scams, visit USCIS website to read the USCIS’s article on common scams in regards to immigration cases.
September 16th, 2012 | deferred action basics |
There are a number of people who are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that are currently married to a United States citizen. Because of this, many worry that applying for DACA may affect their legal residency application process obtained through their spouse. Know that, if you are in the process of obtaining legal residency through your husband or wife, applying for Deferred action will NOT affect your application status. In fact, it would be a good idea to apply for Deferred Action while you wait for your permanent residency, as the process could take years and you would be able to receive a two-year protection from deportation in the meantime. If your permanent residency is granted while you have Deferred Status, all that would need to be done is an adjustment so that you can become a permanent legal resident. For more details and specifics, contact us today to speak to a lawyer.
July 20th, 2012 | Community Events |
For those of you that missed the National Pursuit of Dreams Forum Call on Deferred Action today, it was informative and I’ve summarized the main points below:
Cut-Off Age is under age 31 on June 15, 2012: Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security yesterday clarified yesterday at an oversight hearing that the cut off-age to qualify for Deferred Action will be applicants under 31 years old on June 15, 2012.
Key-Terms for Criminal Convictions: At present we have some idea of the key types of criminal convictions or incidents that can disqualify you from deferred action – significant misdemeanors, public safety threat and national security threat. The exact definitions for these “terms of art” will be released likely on August 1, 2012. You should consult an attorney about whether your incident falls under any of these categories because each situation will face different challenges and consequences.
Education Requirement: We know that you have to have graduated high school or be currently in school. We also know that you can enroll in a GED program if you never graduated. What we don’t know yet is whether you have to wait to complete the GED program to apply for deferred action, or whether you can apply concurrently with being enrolled. Look to the August 1st guidelines for that to be resolved.
Get a Passport: We cannot emphasize this one enough; you should obtain a passport from your country of origin before applying because it is the best way to establish your real identity.
This is a link to obtaining a passport if you were born in Mexico from the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. http://consulmex.sre.gob.mx/losangeles/index.php/pasaportes
Unsure of your status? If you think there was a removal order against you or received a Notice to Appear at any point, you can find out the status of your residency by calling an automated phone system for individuals to track their cases in the court system, developed by the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). The number is (800) 898-7180. Please note you will need your Alien Number (aka “A number”) which is located on your Notice to Appear.
Fake Documents: Many Dreamers have questions about whether they will get in trouble for possessing “fake documents” upon which they gained employment or other benefits in the U.S. It is important to consult an attorney on the specific nature of your fake documents because the consequences and outcome could differ depending on what type of papers and what purpose they were used for.
If you have any more questions, email or call us for a free case evaluation!
National Pursuit of Dreamers (NPD)
July 20th, 2012 | Uncategorized |
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced today that DHS will release the guidelines for Deferred Action on August 1st, 2012 and that applications for authorized stay and employment authorization will be accepted on August 15th. Contact us today to see whether you qualify and learn how to get ready for the process!
Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary.
July 14th, 2012 | Politics on Deferred Action |
One of the most common questions we hear at Community Forums from Dreamers is whether a new President can resume deportations of Dreamers. We have no way of knowing which way the political winds will blow in the future and every Dreamer must reach a decision based on his or her comfort level. Without professing to be fortune tellers however, we believe the answer is likely no – for the following reasons:
Rising importance of the Latino Vote: In previous elections, the Latino vote was less of a factor because states that had the heaviest Latino populations were solid Republican or Democrat states. In this election cycle however, there is a significant presence of Latino voters in swing states such as Virginia, Colorado and Ohio to name a few. I don’t want to overestimate the importance of Latino voters in swing states (there is still a high percentage of eligible voters who do not vote), but it is significant enough that both parties will be focusing their efforts on campaigning towards issues that are important to Latinos, such as ceasing the deportation of Dreamers. In addition, even if a Republican president is elected, he is not likely to overturn the policy change enacted by Obama, because it would likely be very costly politically.
Increasing support for immigration reform from Americans. Polls have also shown that Americans are increasingly on board with the idea that immigration reform is needed. Soon after President Obama announced the policy change on Deferred Action, a Bloomberg poll revealed that likely voters favored Obama’s immigration stance by a 2-1 margin. This is not to say there aren’t parts of the country that don’t agree whatsoever, but we believe the tide is turning in favor of immigration reform.
Now that we have covered 2 main reasons why we don’t believe a new President could overturn President Obama’s immigration policy, the question is what can Dreamers and their supporters do in the meantime to ensure that Deferred Action is not in jeopardy of being revoked and how can we push through comprehensive immigration reform?
1. Continue to engage in civic activism: If there’s one thing that Dreamers have taught us – it’s that they understand the most American of traits – how to organize and engage their government! Our law firm is proud to be based in Los Angeles, where youth driven civic groups such as Dream Team Los Angeles (DTLA) and United We Dream (UWD) organized and staged protests that were instrumental in getting the Executive Branch pay attention to the alarming amount of Dreamers being deported.
Listening to leaders from DTLA speak at the APALC community forum on July 11, 2012 I was heartened to see that they are not done with their activism. DTLA and other groups are now focusing on ensuring that Dreamers get a fair shot at Deferred Action and they are maintaining the pressure on the administration. Get involved now and keep the pressure going because politicians will listen.
2. Encourage everyone you know who can vote, to vote! One of the sad shortcomings of our Democracy, as advanced as it is, is that large swathes of people do not vote. Dreamers cannot vote for obvious reasons and therefore it is important that if you know anyone who supports Dreamers, get them to register to vote.
3. Set a good example & stay out of trouble. Dreamers have been able to shame the administration into ceasing deportations of Dreamers because they are largely a great group of kids who have worked hard and abide by the law. It is important to continue to be a positive influence on your community. If you get into any legal trouble, please hire legal counsel to defend you so that you may preserve your right to apply for Deferred Action.
In conclusion, although we are not fortune-tellers, at Dream Law we are confident that Deferred Action will not be overturned under a new President because of the rising voting power of the Latino community and the increased support from the American public for immigration reform. In addition, by continuing to engage in activism and encouraging supporters to vote, we can help not only ensure that Deferred Action remains intact, but that comprehensive immigration reform is also passed in the near future.
July 12th, 2012 | Community Events |
Tonight’s Community Forum on Deferred Action (DA) for Dreamers hosted by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) was packed by an enthusiastic crowd from all ages and backgrounds. A panel of immigration lawyers were also on hand to give advice and pointers to Dreamers considering applying for DA.
For those of you who were unable to attend this amazing event, here are some key take-away points:
- Start gathering your documents now! You should start gathering all evidence that establishes you were in the U.S. prior to turning 16, that you are in school or graduated, any evidence of military service and evidence establishing how you’ve been here the last 5 years. We cannot stress enough that when the official process opens up in August, how busy every agency will get and obtaining records from public institutions will be harder when hundreds of thousands are trying to do the same. So start now, and beat the crowds! (For a detailed list of the documents you will likely need, please download our free publication, “The Dream Law, LLC Guide to Deferred Action“)
- If you have any sort of criminal history, talk to a Lawyer! No matter how minor you think your “criminal history” is including obtaining a false driver’s license or social security card – do not apply for DA without first consulting an attorney! There are things you can do to safeguard yourself and an attorney can properly advise you in this scenario.
- Start saving your money now! The process of applying for DA including obtaining a work permit will be expensive. Although we do not yet know what the cost of filing a DA application will be, we do know that a work permit application costs $380 and a biometrics fingerprint test costs $85. Then you have to account for the legal fees you pay a qualified lawyer to file your case. Not to mention the costs of acquiring copies of some of your documents, including school transcripts etc. Therefore, start saving your money now to be better prepared for this opportunity.
- Get a valid Passport because it is likely the safest way to prove your identity. Visit your consulate and apply for a passport and do it soon. The only exception to this advice would be if you have a fear of being held by your consulate and being deported back to your country. Several non-profits, including Dream Team LA are advising Dreamers to get current passports since this is the safest and most reliable way to provide identification when applying for DA.
- Avoid Notarios or Immigration Consultants when filing for DA. We’ve said this repeatedly, and so has every non-profit organization in Los Angeles – do not pay a Notario Publico or anyone that calls themselves an immigration consultant to file a DA application for you. They are not lawyers and they have no training in the law. Consult only a licensed lawyer in good standing with the State Bar.
- Don’t just pick a Lawyer that speaks your language. Now that we have hopefully convinced you to pick a lawyer, our second recommendation would be to pick a lawyer you feel that you can trust. Trust means more than just picking a lawyer who speaks your language. Look for disciplinary violations on the California State Bar Website. If you have a “luke warm” feeling about a lawyer during a consultation, then shop around! Do several consultations until you feel comfortable with the lawyer you’ve chosen. DA is a once in a lifetime opportunity and should be taken very seriously.
Those are some of the main take away points from tonight’s amazing community forum. Check back in regularly for updates and more information on the DA process.
If you have more pressing questions about Deferred Action, please feel free to contact us via phone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.