At KolodnyLawGroup, we specialize in handling sophisticated and complex marital dissolution (divorce) issues as well as paternity, palimony, marital and domestic torts, and child abuse and child abduction cases. We draft, analyze, and litigate complex pre- and post- marital agreements. In addition, we have extensive expertise relevant to complex financial and property issues, high and extraordinarily high-income earner and support issues. At KolodnyLawGroup, we are committed to obtaining the results our clients seek. We will never compromise that goal.
With the passage of the Family Law Act of 1969 (effective January 1, 1970), California became the vanguard state in implementing a “no-fault” divorce system. In order to obtain a divorce before 1970, one spouse was required to prove that the other had engaged in “at-fault” conduct that caused the breakdown of the marriage, such as adultery, abuse or desertion — and at the same time, to guarantee the most favorable results, show himself/herself to be blameless. California’s enactment of “no-fault” divorce law narrowed the permissible divorce grounds (required reasons) to primarily irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. This, and the enactment of the California Family Code in 1992 (operative January 1, 1994), were commonly hailed as reforms that would simplify divorce proceedings in this state. Most of the rest of the country is now “no fault.”
Despite these “advances,” DISSOLUTION — the act of bringing a marriage or registered domestic partnership to an end and determining the parties’ legal rights and obligations going forward — often remains a complex and daunting process. Not only is the legal system still difficult to navigate, but, in many cases, “fault” continues to be an underlying reality that must be addressed. (See, e.g., Domestic Torts.) The assistance of highly qualified family law attorneys, such as those of the KolodnyLawGroup, can make all the difference in obtaining a fair, just and comprehensive Judgment of Dissolution.
Which parent should a minor child primarily live with, and which should be the primary non-custodial parent — and in what respective proportions? Under California law, the answer to this difficult question lies in another question: What is in the “best interest of the child?” The KolodnyLawGroup recognizes that this conundrum can be one of the most contentious and emotional issues in family disputes.
Consistent with the law’s “best interest” standard is the importance placed on a child’s “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents, unless it is shown that detrimental circumstances exist, such as in instances of domestic violence or child abuse. We at the KolodnyLawGroup are acutely aware of the many factors that must be considered in striving to balance a minor child’s needs and parental desires.
Often a negotiated settlement of a custody/visitation dispute can be reached out of court with the able assistance of attorneys such as those at this firm; we try our best to achieve a negotiated settlement if it will be in the best interests of our client. When parents cannot agree, however, and the court is asked to resolve a custody matter, vigorous presentation of your case by our qualified family law team is part of what we are well-known to do for our clients. Your child’s health, safety and welfare are, rightfully, primary concerns of yours, the courts’, and ours. Advocating for your custody and visitation rights with this in mind is something the lawyers at KolodnyLawGroup are well-known to do.
If a stranger hit you, took your children, stole your money, sold your car, invaded your privacy, tricked you out of your money, or committed any one of a number of other harms against you, you would have the right to sue them for damages to compensate you for your loss. When a stranger inflicts such harm it is called a civil tort. When a spouse, domestic partner, family member or certain third parties injure you, it is called a domestic tort and you may be entitled to a restraining order or compensation in the form of monetary damages for the improper conduct.
Since the 1970s, the common law doctrine of interspousal immunity (for civil wrongs of one spouse against each other) has changed so that, today, a spouse is entitled to the full protection of the law with the right to take legal action when they suffer harm at the hand of a spouse or family member. Whenever these types of torts are discovered, it is important to have competent and experienced attorneys, such as the attorneys of the KolodnyLawGroup, take prompt action to stop or reduce the effects of the harm, often through a court order called a restraining order or a domestic violence restraining order. Preventing the immediate or ongoing harm is the primary concern. Then, the victim of these domestic torts can either seek certain “damages” in the Family Law Action or may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator for damages. As in all disputed matters, it is important to have highly competent counsel to represent you in such claims. KolodnyLawGroup has a long, successful history in handling such matters.
The area of domestic torts requires attorneys who are capable of thorough and immediate action to stop the harm(s) and who have the legal skill and creativity necessary to present the client’s best possible case in order to establish the value of the harm and damages. Domestic torts can include such acts as:
Breaches of Fiduciary Duty (Financial responsibility each spouse owes to the other)
Invasion of Privacy
Breaches of Medical Privileges
Abuse of Psychological and Medical Testing by professionals
The most common form of action to establish parentage of a child born to non-married persons is the paternity action. A paternity action may be filed by the mother as a basis for obtaining child support or by a person who claims to be the father of a child seeking custodial and/or visitation rights. Establishing a parental relationship may be a prerequisite for determination of inheritance rights.
Although a paternity action characteristically is less time consuming and addresses far fewer issues than a divorce proceeding, it is very often a contentious, complex, and emotional process. The KolodnyLawGroup‘s skilled and knowledgeable legal experts strive to balance an aggressive approach to paternity issues with a respect for confidentiality of the parties and concern for the child’s well-being.
Lawyers at KolodnyLawGroup have extensive international contacts that may facilitate their ability to successfully assist you with an international custody matter, including an abduction.
In 1988, the United States Congress enacted the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) to “establish procedures to implement the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, done at The Hague on October 25, 1980.” The Hague Abduction Convention, a treaty between 78 ratifying countries, is the primary civil law mechanism for parents seeking the return of children who have been wrongfully removed from their country of “habitual residence.” The team of legal professionals at the KolodnyLawGroup, using their knowledge and contacts, working within the framework of ICARA and The Hague Abduction Convention, will provide you with a good chance of bringing about the prompt return of a child who has been internationally abducted or retained abroad.
The U.S. Department of State provides a useful website for obtaining more information regarding international parental child abduction, ICARA and The Hague Abduction Convention at: http://travel.state.gov/abduction/solutions/hagueconvention/hagueconvention_3854.html
Several of the partners at the KolodnyLawGroup are members of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Membership in this exclusive organization allows us to call upon a broad network of professionals in foreign countries when it is appropriate to do so.
The rights, duties, and obligations of persons engaged in a non-marital cohabitation (i.e., living together) relationship are determined by contract.
For sound practice, planning, and prudence, KolodnyLawGroup encourages those intending to engage in a live-in arrangement (or even a serious dating relationship which at least one participant perceives as living together) to enter into a well-defined written agreement in order to avoid inevitable disputes. KolodnyLawGroup is experienced in preparing and negotiating cohabitation agreements.
Ending non-marital cohabitation often results in complicated inquiries into the nature and existence of any express or implied agreements pertaining to the parties= acquisition and division of property and wealth, as well as any agreements defining financial support obligations, if any. As long as an express or implied agreement exists and is not against public policy (e.g., an agreement for meretricious sexual services), the courts will enforce such a contract. These cohabitation cases require unique sophistication in cross-over areas of contract, family, real estate, and domestic violence law. KolodnyLawGroup has extensive experience both in defending and prosecuting such family law-contract hybrid cases.
Mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution whereby parties attempt to resolve their differences without going to court and therefore allows people to privately settle disputes they are unable to resolve on their own. The mediator is an active participant in the discussions and attempts to work out a solution with both parties, unlike an arbitrator who sits as a judge. Mediation has become very common in trying to resolve domestic relations disputes (divorce, child custody, visitation). We may act as your mediator or may act as your consulting lawyer if you are engaged in the mediation process with another mediator.
For those in need of a family law attorney, the selection process can be daunting. While you have most likely been referred to our firm by a lawyer you know, a former client, or a judge, regardless of our common connection, you will need to develop your own relationship with our lawyers. Your divorce may be one of the most intense and important events of your life. Trust and compatibility with your lawyer are very important.
Similarly, as there is often great demand for our services, we must first take the time to be certain that we are able to properly undertake your representation. Our intake process allows us to carefully consider whether or not we can appropriately allocate our time, which includes limiting taking other new cases and managing existing cases, so that we can fully commit to giving you the name and reputation of KolodnyLawGroup and the expertise and special skills that are used by the KolodnyLawGroup in connection with the handling, and strategic planning, of our cases.
Although this description is long, the process is swift and our goal is to have you into the office for you to decide about us by the next day.
When you call the firm for the first time, we will only collect some very basic information about your case. This preliminary information will help us to immediately determine if we have a conflict of interest and if we are able to properly handle your matter. After giving us your preliminary information, you can expect to promptly receive a return call letting you know if we will be able to represent you. If we are able to handle your matter, you will then have a brief telephone interview with one of the firm’s paralegals so that we can gather more detailed information to assist us in making the final determination about our ability and willingness to represent you. An appointment to meet with one of our attorneys will then be scheduled so that you can decide if you want us to represent you.
A retainer agreement will formalize our professional relationship. The retainer agreement is for our mutual advantage and protection. The agreement we sign will detail each of our obligations during your representation. The specific terms and fees are partially determined by the facts specific to your case.
When you become a client of KolodnyLawGroup, a team will be assembled so that people knowledgeable about your case are readily available to you and so that services are provided to you by the lowest billing rate person we believe is appropriate for the task at hand.
Our ability to represent you depends on your providing us with complete and truthful information. We rely upon the full and complete truthfulness of the information you provide to us in formulating strategy, giving you advice and determining the best positions to be taken for you. Failure to provide full, complete, and truthful information, including withholding from us any negative information about you or issues in your case, can materially adversely affect the outcome of your case. Our ability to provide the best service on your behalf requires your continued cooperation in this regard.
Stephen A. Kolodny and other members of our firm were involved in two important appellate cases, referred to below. The appellate court decisions in these cases affected important issues in marital dissolution cases by either creating new law or confirming issues which were previously unclear.
In re Marriage of McTiernan and Dubrow (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 1090 (35 Cal.Rptr. 3d 287)
Established that a creative person, one who doesn’t have a traditional business (such as a director or producer in the entertainment industry), does not have recognizable goodwill in a marital dissolution proceeding.
In re Marriage of Dick (1993) 15 Cal.App.4th 144 (18 Cal.Rptr. 2d 743)
Established two important points of law: 1) That a foreign national who is not permitted to reside in California full time can still be considered a “resident” for jurisdictional purposes; and 2) That spousal support could be ordered to be paid retroactive to the date of filing of the Petition for Dissolution, even though an Order to Show Cause (now “Request for Order”) for spousal support was not filed at that time, something that practitioners did not believe possible under the statutes as then written.
The legal effect of these cases remains important even today.
In high-stakes litigation, expert witness testimony is often a necessary and critical part of our litigation strategy. We will seek to elicit the support of the best available experts in all areas applicable to your case.
Aspects of many disciplines frequently come into play in family law matters. Qualified consultants and witnesses, experts whose specialties lie outside the realm of family law, often make a critical difference in a client’s case. For instance, experienced expert advice on the value and marketability of a property can be indispensable. Clients may need input from marriage counselors, domestic violence counselors, therapists, or financial or vocational consultants. The testimony of expert witnesses is an effective vehicle for presenting evidence on particular issues, and is likely to carry more weight than lay witness testimony. The following are examples of the kinds of expert consultants and witnesses who frequently augment the KolodnyLawGroup – Client relationship:
Forensic Accounting comprises both litigation support and investigative accounting. The Forensic Accountant produces work that will stand up to legal or judicial review. That is, the Forensic Accountant must present results of such thoroughness and precision that his/her findings can be sustained in adversarial legal proceedings. The work of a good Forensic Accountant forms much of the basis for discussion, debate and, ultimately, resolution of a dispute.
Typical tasks performed by the Forensic Accountant include tracing property purchased with commingled community and separate funds during marriage; analyzing sources of income; performing financial audits; detecting fraud and irregularities in financial reporting; determining cash available to one party, and the other party’s or children’s needs, for spousal or child support; establishing a “marital standard of living” reference point; discerning community interest in a business enterprise; preparing a community property balance sheet; and assisting the client in fulfilling his/her legal duty to make a full and accurate disclosure of assets and liabilities.
Reasonable Compensation Expert
– or –
Executive Compensation Expert
A party’s potential for obtaining income is an important but intangible asset to consider when, for instance, seeking spousal and child support or the equitable division of property.
The Reasonable Compensation Expert determines the fair and proper level of pay for a party’s professional services, based in part on an analysis of that party’s skills and experience, market demand for same, and compensation of the party’s peers in the workforce.
Vocational – Employment Expert
– or –
For the purpose of determining spousal support during and after the dissolution of a marriage, earning capacity may be attributed to the potentially supported party, as well as to the payor.
A Vocational Counselor’s task is to determine the extent of the supported party’s “marketable skills,” that is, his/her employability and wage earning capacity. Factors considered by the Vocational Expert are the time and expense that might be required for the party to obtain education or training, or retraining, to develop those skills he/she possesses. Also often considered is the extent to which the supported spouse’s present or future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment incurred during marriage to permit him/her to devote time to “domestic duties.”
Business Valuation Expert
The Business Valuation Expert often brings the experience of a business broker, the owner of a similar business, a CPA, an economist, or a person experienced in mergers and acquisitions. This specialist performs an analysis, and opines on the value, of the marital estate’s claim to interests in business enterprises and related entities (for example, licensing rights), in contemplation of equitable distribution of property or the sale/disposition of a business.
Child Custody Evaluator
– or –
Child Psychologist – Psychiatrist
In any contested proceeding involving child custody or visitation, rightly of paramount importance to the court is the best interests of the child. To assist in reaching a custodial arrangement that will serve the minor child’s best interests, the court often appoints an independent Child Custody Evaluator, and directs that person to render a written, confidential report, which the court may consider.
Occasionally a party will disagree with the findings of the court-appointed Evaluator. That party and his/her attorney might then retain their own such expert, in the hope of rebutting the confidential report’s findings by pointing out its weaknesses. A Child Custody Expert might also present pertinent evidence as to a child’s special needs or interests, and as to various psychological factors to consider in deciding contested custody matters.
Forensic Document Examiner
– or –
Questioned Document Examiner
The Forensic Document Examiner is adept in sciences and techniques that evaluate the characteristics of signatures and other writings on questioned documents to determine identity, authorship, and authenticity. Such experts might sub-specialize in paper, typography or handwriting analysis. Contracts, marital agreements, wills, deeds, checks, and notary public authentications are examples of documents that may require the scrutiny of a Forensic Document Examiner.
Real Estate Expert / Appraiser
The Real Estate Expert assists in determining the fair market value and reasonable rental value of real property at issue in a marital dissolution action. This at-issue property might include real estate already sold by a party, or commercial real properties owned or controlled by a party. An experienced Real Estate Appraiser will also be of great value in deciding how current market conditions might make difficult or easy the sale of a property, whether for distribution of assets or for other reasons.
Fine Arts Expert / Appraiser
These experts (among whom one finds many areas of specialization) assist with determining the authenticity and fair market value of fine arts at issue in a marital dissolution action for eventual equitable distribution of property.
Personal Property Expert / Appraiser
The Personal Property Appraiser (who may also be a Fine Arts Appraiser of sufficient expertise under the circumstances) typically assists with determining the fair market value of furniture and furnishings at issue in a marital dissolution action for eventual equitable distribution of property. Such furnishings might include antiques, decorative arts, flatware and other household contents.
Jewelry Expert / Appraiser
The Jewelry Appraiser examines, researches and forms an opinion on the fair market value of jewelry (including gems, pearls, watches and some antiques) at issue in a marital dissolution action for equitable distribution.
We’ve created this glossary of legal terms to provide our clients with a quick and easy reference for commonly used legal terms. It is meant to serve as a helpful resource. Please leave all legal matters to us.
The right to disqualify a judge for no real reason. Very short time limit to do so
When a parent leaves a child without enough care, supervision, support, or parental contact for an excessive period of time. This term also relates to absenting yourself from a residential property or giving up use or possession of an asset. “Abandonment” can be a very important issue in some aspects of a marital dissolution case.
A written statement that one swears to under oath in front of a notary public. (See also Declaration, as an alternative to Affidavit.)
Payment for support of an ex-spouse (or a spouse while a divorce is pending) ordered by the court. (See also Spousal Support.)
A statement or claim that is made and hasn’t been proved to be true or false.
Child or spousal support that is not timely paid; may result in a contempt action for failure to pay pursuant to a court order.
These are orders that are automatically issued when the Summons is issued. They bind the Petitioner upon filing, they bind Respondent upon service of the Petition. The ATROs are (1) Removing minor children of the parties from California without prior written consent of the other party or prior written order of the Court; (2) Cashing, borrowing against, canceling, transferring, disposing of, or changing the beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage, including life, health, automobile, and disability, held for the benefit of the parties and their child/children; (3) Transferring, encumbering, hypothecating, concealing, or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, whether community, quasi-community, or separate, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the Court, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life; and (4) Creating a nonprobate transfer or modifying a nonprobate transfer in a manner that affects the disposition of property subject to the transfer, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the Court. Before revocation of a nonprobate transfer can take effect or a right of survivorship to property can be eliminated, notice of the change must be filed and served on the other party.
In addition, the ATROs advise the parties: You must notify each other of any proposed extraordinary expenditures at least five business days prior to incurring these extraordinary expenditures and account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made after these restraining orders are effective. However, you may use community property, quasi-community property, or your own separate property to pay an attorney to help you or to pay Court costs.
Violation of the ATROs could result in a contempt of court finding or the imposition of sanctions.
No proof is required for these orders.
The order of a judge in separating issues before the final trial so that one issue will be ruled upon before hearing evidence on the other issue (i.e., a bifurcated trial on attorneys fees). Most typically this term is used to describe an order to obtain an early termination of marital status.
The act of a judge declaring the parties legally divorced (i.e., they can remarry), before all issues are resolved. An early status termination generally contains conditions to protect the rights of the non-requesting party.
Burden of proof refers to whose job it is to convince the judge what court orders need to be made on a particular issue. Normally, the person who is asking the judge to make an order has the burden of proof. Except in contempt actions, normally the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence.
Determination of whether property in dispute is “community property,” “separate property,” or “quasi-community property.”
Court-ordered funds to be paid by one parent to the other parent for the support of a minor child. Usually the dollar amounts are based on the income of both parents, the number of children, the expenses of the custodial parent and the amount of time each parent has custody of the children. There is a presumptively correct, computer-generated Guideline calculation. There is a possible exception to the Guideline number for extraordinarily high income earner.
Commingling occurs when separate and community funds are put into the same account. Commingling generally results in the commingled assets being community property. Under certain circumstances, tracing to separate property sources may be permitted.
The aggregate of all property (real or personal) that is to be divided between the parties in a divorce and/or property settlement.
Property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, including the wages and other employment benefits (vacation time, pension rights, etc.) earned by either spouse from the date of marriage to the date of separation. All property acquired during marriage is presumptively community property. The presumption is rebuttable.
A mandatory mediation arm of the court, required to be used in all custody cases prior to the matter being heard in court.
A party’s willful failure to obey an order of the court. This can include failure to pay child support or spousal support. The court’s power to punish for contempt (called “citing” one for contempt) includes fines and/or jail time (called “imposing sanctions”).
Any issue on which the parties cannot agree, and is to be decided by the court.
The parent who has primary physical custody of the child.
1) PHYSICAL CUSTODY: The time which a parent spends with their child;
2) SOLE PHYSICIAL CUSTODY: The child will reside with, and be under the supervision of one parent;
3) JOINT PHYSICAL CUSTODY: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody; shall be done to assure the child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents;
4) SOLE LEGAL CUSTODY: One parent has the legal right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, welfare and education of the child;
5) JOINT LEGAL CUSTODY: Both parents have the legal right and responsibility to make decisions relating to the health, welfare and education of the child.
Date upon which it is determined, by court order or agreement, that the parties have ended their marital relationship. The date of separation is important because, as a general concept, from that day forward, each spouse’s income is his/her own separate property. Prior to the date of separation, income generally is community property.
A written statement that one swears, under penalty of perjury, that the statement is true and correct. A declaration is an alternative to an affidavit. (See also Affidavit.)
A required Judicial Council form that is mandatory in every dissolution case before a judgment can be entered. Failure to make full and accurate disclosure may cause the judgment to be set aside and/or give substantial rights to the person who did not get the proper disclosure.
UCCJEA stands for “Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.” This Judicial Council form is required upon filing a dissolution or legal separation where there are minor children. This declaration provides data about the present and prior residences of the children.
Failure to respond in the prescribed manner within the time provided by law. The Respondent in a dissolution proceeding is required to respond within 30 days after service of the petition. This time limit is often extended.
The taking and recording of oral testimony of a witness under oath by a court reporter in a place away from the courtroom, done before trial in preparation for trial.
Actions to obtain information before trial through (1) demands for production of documents, (2) depositions of parties and potential witnesses, (3) written interrogatories (questions and answers), (4) requests for admission, and other similar things. All discovery is generally required to be complete 30 days prior to the first trial date.
The termination of a marriage by legal action. Some states still require at least a minimal showing of fault, but no-fault divorce is now the rule in which “incompatibility” (irreconcilable differences) is generally sufficient to obtain a divorce.
A computer program that is used to calculate guideline child support and get a computer-generated suggestion for spousal support.
After the property has been characterized and valued, the obligation of the court is to confirm separate property to the owner of that property and to evenly divide community property.
See Restraining Orders.
A hearing scheduled by one party on short notice, by 10AM on a day prior to the scheduled hearing date. An ex parte application requires a true emergency.
A person who owes a high obligation to manage and protect property to another party. Generally, each party owes a fiduciary duty to the other spouse.
There are only two grounds for divorce in California: (1) insanity, which must be proven by professional testimony; and (2) “irreconcilable differences,” which is a finding that the court can make based merely on the statement of one party.
This generally refers to an international convention (law when adopted by a country) on child abduction/custody matters that are governed by an international agreement between countries to protect children from abduction and wrongful retention of a child. It is only effective as to countries that are “members” of the Hague Convention.
A series of written questions served upon the opposing party to discover specified facts regarding disputed issues in a dissolution proceeding. Answers to interrogatories are to be under oath and served within 30 days.
A request for the court to add a third party or entity (i.e., community business) to the dissolution proceedings. Generally, joinder is only permitted when the person/entity has rights of custody or rights in, or to control, community property.
The authority given by the legislature to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters. In order for California to have jurisdiction to grant a dissolution of marriage, a party must have been a resident of California for 6 months prior to filing; no time limit is needed to file an action for legal separation or paternity. Generally, the person against whom an award is sought must be a resident of California.
A court-decreed right to live apart, with the rights and obligations being defined but without termination of marital status. The parties will remain married and cannot remarry.
A meeting, usually at the courthouse, with the spouses, their attorneys, and a settlement officer (a judge or attorney volunteering his/her time) to attempt to settle the case, or at least some of the issues, before trial. The MSC is usually scheduled at least 2 weeks before trial. Attendance of the parties is generally mandatory.
A process in which the parties work, through discussion and compromise, in an attempt to reach an agreement/settlement, using a neutral third party (attorney, private judge, mediator).
A court-appointed attorney for a minor child or children, to represent their interests in the custody and visitation issues.
Formal request made to the court for an order. Motions require a written factual declaration and a written brief of legal authority for granting the motion (often called “points and authorities”). Motions are generally heard only on the filed papers, rarely on live testimony.
A motion requesting the court to set aside or nullify an action, such as “quashing” service of a summons when there is no jurisdiction in California to handle the case.
California is a “no-fault” state. This means that in a divorce neither party has been accused of or found guilty of any misconduct; nor is it an “issue” in any proceeding.
If records requested pursuant to a subpoena relate to consumer transactions (i.e., the opposing party’s phone bills, purchases, bank records, etc.) or to his or her job, notice must be given, at least 10 days prior to the requested production, advising the consumer that said records are being requested. The law gives the consumer the right to object to the witness producing the records for certain reasons, hence the notice requirement.
See REQUEST FOR ORDER
An action in Family Court to establish the paternity of a child. DNA tests are often ordered in paternity cases. Determination of paternity is generally required before the court will issue orders for child support, custody, visitation and/or attorney’s fees. It is possible to seek orders prior to birth.
The party who files the action.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order. A QDRO is a court order declaring that one spouse shall be entitled to a portion of the other spouse’s pension as a part of the marital assets.
Property accumulated by married persons while they lived in a non-community property state.
To release or relinquish a legal claim; or a formal document relinquishing a claim, such as a quitclaim to property.
A formal document requesting a party to admit or deny the alleged facts or documents. Potential substantial consequences may be imposed for false denials.
A Request for Order (RFO) is filed with the court to request an order, or to change an existing order or judgment. If to modify an order, generally there must be a change in circumstances since the order or judgment sought to be modified was made.
A formal document requiring the production of documents for examination and copying.
The party against whom the action was filed.
An order by the court whereby a party is ordered not to do certain things after proof of improper conduct. (See also ATROs.)
Income and assets of a spouse earned before the date of marriage, after the date of separation, and money and other property received by gift or inheritance at any time.
The act of formally delivering legal papers. Some documents must be personally served. Most may be served by mail or delivery service. Service by e-mail is only permitted by agreement.
Payment for support of an ex-spouse (or a spouse while a divorce is pending) ordered by the court. Also called alimony.
An agreement. Should be in writing and signed by the parties and their lawyers.
A document requiring a witness to bring documents in their possession or under their control, to a certain place at a certain time. This subpoena must be served personally on the person subpoenaed.
Visitation between a parent and child with a third party present, usually a court approved person, so the visiting parent and child are not alone during visitation periods. Only ordered in extreme cases where a child may be in danger from the visiting parent.
A court order made for a limited period of time until the court can conduct a more in-depth hearing on the issue(s) in dispute. A party’s request for a temporary order is often made when action is needed on an urgent basis. In extreme cases, these orders can be made without notice to the other party.
Following the transfer of monies from their source.
The legal change of character of an asset from community property to separate property, or vice versa. (See also Commingling.)
The formal legal process in which the court (judge) receives evidence and testimony upon which the court will decide the dispute.
When the issue has been resolved, the issue is said to be “uncontested.”
Determining the value of the property in dispute. This can be done either by stipulation or by appraisal by experts.
The court location (state, county, city) where a case is filed and proceeds, or where it should be filed and proceed.
The time period when the non-primary custodial parent will have the children.
A marriage that is not legally entered into and is invalid from its beginning. Void marriages are annulled and treated as though they never existed.
A valid marriage that can be annulled if challenged, but that otherwise remains legitimate.
The waiting period refers to how long it takes to get a divorce in California; it always takes at least six months and one day before the court has the power to grant a divorce.
The KolodnyLawGroup has proudly represented members of the United States Armed Forces, as well as many other low income individuals who could not afford to retain the firm but were in desperate need of help.
Many of the KolodnyLawGroup lawyers volunteer their time to perform services as court mediators as well as to several outside pro bono family law organizations that offer services to low income communities.
KolodnyLawGroup lawyers, paralegals and support staff volunteer their services to the Los Angeles County Bar Domestic Violence Project, regularly helping to staff that important service to help victims of domestic violence obtain court protection.
Stephen A. Kolodny, on behalf of his prior law firm, accepted the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law Hall of Fame Volunteer Award for 2010. The KolodnyLawGroup has made volunteer work at the Center a priority and encourages, supports and requests that all of our attorneys donate their time for this important organization.
Mr. Kolodny was an early supporter and director of the Harriett Buhai Center, and remains a member of its Advisory Council.
The mission of the Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law is to protect victims of domestic violence and improve the well-being of children living in poverty. The Center provides comprehensive legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, which includes sexual assault and stalking by intimate partners. The assistance includes direct legal assistance, pro bono representation, legal education, VAWA immigration, social service and mental health referrals for the victims and their children. A significant portion of the Center’s clientele report current or former histories of abuse.
The Center pioneered the delivery of pro per (self-representation) family law services in California. Its methods were adopted and then modified by the LA Superior Court in development of their family law self-help program. Self-empowerment is a key objective with an emphasis on building skills and increasing self-esteem. Through the Pro Per Program, the Center teaches self-advocacy by preparing individuals to represent themselves in the legal system. For those clients who are unable to represent themselves, a Pro Bono Panel of lawyers, including lawyers and paralegals from the KolodnyLawGroup, is available. The Center established one of the largest and only pro bono panels of attorneys representing low-income litigants in Los Angeles County and California, of which the v are part.
The Volunteer Program is one of only a few legal aid programs in the state that has as many volunteers devoted exclusively to helping low-income families with family law problems. The Center dedicates significant resources to recruit, train, manage and recognize volunteers who provide legal assistance to those in need. In 2009, 320 volunteer lawyers, law students and post-graduate interns contributed over 16,000 hours of legal work. The KolodnyLawGroup alone has single-handedly donated over 1000 hours to the Center in addition to funding so many of the other vital programs.
Additional information about the Center and becoming a volunteer and/or donor or participating in other meaningful ways can be found at its website, www.hbcfl.org.
From its inception, the KolodnyLawGroup made the commitment to partner with the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Project. In addition to regular donations to the Project, our partnership includes a commitment to send one of our attorneys and an additional staff member (paralegal and/or secretary) to work at the Project each month for a day of volunteer services. As a further show of commitment to the Project, in July 2012, Stephen Kolodny accepted the honor of becoming the Domestic Violence Project’s Liaison with the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
The Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Project has assisted victims of intimate abuse for more than 25 years at its two Los Angeles Superior Court clinics. One is located at Stanley Mosk Courthouse, in downtown Los Angeles. The other is located in the Pasadena Courthouse. More than 150,000 persons-women, men, and children-have received legal services since its inception.
Seeing nearly 5,000 persons per year, the clinics are the busiest of its kind in California, providing pro bono legal services so that victims may file for Restraining Orders against their abusers. More than 80% of the petitioners are female, and more than 68% of the petitioners have children in their violent homes. Attorneys, paralegals, and law students donate thousands of volunteer hours per year, and work alongside staff in handling the high-volume and dangerous matters.
Each victim of domestic violence has his or her own story, but most victims have suffered abuse for years before coming forward. Often, the very first time they have shared their story is upon entering the clinics. It is an important initial step for protection. The battered, bandaged, and bloody come forward, looking for access to justice as a means to safety.
Providing legal assistance to victims of domestic violence is the Domestic Violence Project’s primary mission. However, we also provide Preparation for Hearings, Law Enforcement Training, and Legal Education Seminars.
WEBSITE: Listen to victims’ stories by visiting their website at www.lacba.org/dvp.