COLLABORATIVE LAW

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One of the growing areas of family law (both in California and around the nation) centers on the idea of collaboration instead of litigation. Collaborative law, also known as Collaborative Divorce, and Collaborative Practice, derives from the desire of parties who do not want to go to court and engage in an emotional legal battle.

The collaborative process, when done correctly, helps the parties avoid the debilitating process of litigation, which often exacerbates family disputes rather than healing or resolving them. What distinguishes collaborative divorce from hostile litigation is the concept of a collaborative process – one that not only includes collaborative attorneys, but also other team members from other professional disciplines, who are sometimes referred to as the interdisciplinary team.

The unique outcome one can anticipate from the collaborative process is that of an agreed upon settlement formula that works fairly for both sides. Both sides take a “want” list into negotiations, and both sides have to chisel away until all issues are agreed upon. Instead of litigating every single aspect of an agreement, the parties and their counsels work out an amicable solution. The collaborative attorneys work hard to generate a fair settlement, which allows the family to move forward in a healthy and constructive way.

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CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT IN CALIFORNIA

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A marital dissolution can be one of the most traumatic experiences divorcing parties can face in life. The very foundation they had built over years of hard work and cooperation has now begun to crumble. Separation and anxiety have replaced togetherness. Property and support issues are now the center of discussion, replacing grocery lists and family outings as topics of integral familial importance.

When dealing with support issues, a newly single mother or father may be forced, for the first time, to deal with the issue of which parent will pay the other for the support of their child(ren). In California, child support is calculated using a formula that takes into account many relevant factors, including the parents’ incomes. In determining a parent’s available income for child support calculations, the court will utilize California Family Code § 4058, and its definition of gross income.

Gross income of each parent is defined as the income that includes, but is not limited to:

  • commissions
  • salaries
  • royalties
  • wages
  • bonuses
  • rents
  • dividends
  • pensions
  • interest
  • trust income
  • annuities
  • workers compensation benefits
  • unemployment insurance benefits
  • disability insurance benefits
  • social security benefits, and
  • spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding to establish a child support order.

According to forensic accounting expert, Brian M. Boone, there are other sources of income that every California court should consider for child support purposes as well. They include: income from the proprietorship of a business (such as gross receipts from the business reduced by expenditures required for the operation of the business); employee or self employment benefits (at the discretion of the court), and earning capacity (imputation of income that is arguably available that is not being currently realized, at the discretion of the court).