Archive for Attorney

Practice Tip: Be careful about the Health Insurance Deduction in DissoMaster!

financial calculation

We see many experienced family law specialists make this common DissoMaster* mistake with the health insurance deduction.

When entering the Health Insurance deduction in DissoMaster,* be sure to drill down.  There are three options and they make a difference: “paid by party”, “pre-tax wage deduction” or “wage deduction.”  Getting it wrong can make a significant difference in the calculation.

Paid By Party

“Paid By Party” is for premiums paid by the party directly to the insurer after the Premium Tax Credit (PTC).  This includes the advance PTC.  Typically, this is used for self-employed individuals who pay their premiums directly to the insurer.  Per the DissoMaster user manual, “[t]his is an income adjustment or an itemized deduction and a guideline deduction.”

Pre-tax Wage Deduction

“Pre-tax Wage Deduction” is for an employee’s health insurance contributions that are deducted pre-tax from the paycheck by the employer.  This number affects the calculation for adjusted gross income and is also a guideline deduction for child support.

Wage Deduction

“Wage Deduction” is for entering the portion of the health insurance costs that is withheld from a paycheck on an after-tax basis or amounts paid directly to the insurer by a salaried employee.  The software then treats the entire amount here as an itemized medical deduction, which would be on Schedule A.
dissomaster health insurance deduction screen shot

Screenshot from the DissoMaster software showing the Health Insurance data entry

See the DissoMaster user manual under “Health Insurance” for more explanation.

So don’t be a DissoMaster dunce!

If you get it wrong, it can make a big difference in the support calculation.  Make sure you are entering the health insurance payments correctly to ensure that you get the calculation right!
*DissoMaster is a trademark of The Rutter Group, a Thomson Reuters business. To purchase DissoMaster call The Rutter Group at (800) 747-3161 ext. 2 or visit CFLR for more information.

 

New Case – Watch out if asking question in a deposition about a custody evaluation

New Appellate Case: Anke v. Yeager

There is a new appellate which came down from the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal on February 4, 2019.  The case is Anka v. Yeager and can be found here https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2019/b281760.html.

You know it’s going to go badly for the attorney in the case when you read this in the opening paragraphs quoting the oath of admission required to practice law described in California Rules of Court, rule 9.7:

“These cautions are designed to remind counsel that when in the heat of a contentious trial, counsel’s zeal to protect and advance the interest of the client must be tempered by the professional and ethical constraints the legal profession demands. Unfortunately, that did not happen here.”  [Emphasis added.]

Yikes!

Sanctions for revealing the contents of a custody evaluation in deposition questions

In Anka v. Yeager, an attorney asked a question during a deposition as part of a child custody dispute about the contents of a custody evaluation.  The displeased trial court ordered $50,000 in sanctions against the attorney and party under Family Code sections 3025.5 and 3111.  The trial court found that the attorney’s asking questions about the custody evaluation in the presence of the court reporter and videographer at the deposition constituted an unjustified, malicious and reckless disclosure of the contents of the custody evaluation.

When the sanctioned attorney appealed.  She argued that the court reporter and videographer were “officers of the court” and were, therefore, exempt under 3025.5.  However, the appellate court held the court reporter and videographer were not employees of the court and were therefore not exempt.  The trial court did not abuse its discretion by imposing the sanctions on the attorney.  The attorney by asking deposition questions referencing the custody evaluation disclosed highly personal information about the child and family.  Moreover, disclosure in the form of questions in the presence of a court reporter was malicious and reckless.  The court affirmed the sanction of $50,000 against the attorney but reversed the sanction against the attorney’s client.

Be careful about asking questions in a deposition about a custody evaluation!

So, what is the lesson here? In a custody cases, do not ask questions about the custody evaluation in a deposition without court clearance.  If you screw this up, you may be paying a lot of money in sanctions and could even face discipline.

Big Change Coming in California Mediation Law in 2019 You Need to Know About

New Form Required by California Evidence Code § 1129

My Second Appearance on “Real Divorce Talk”

real divorce talk divorce information

I was happy to appear again on the Facebook Live program Real Divorce Talk. This time, I co-hosted with my good friend Bryan Devore. The potential for this program as a divorce information resource really excites me.

About Bryan Devore

Bryan Devore co-founded Divorce Home Solutions.  There, he helps people gather needed facts to make tough choices (including whether to sell their home or to stay).  They provide helpful services along with access to trusted divorce pros guiding folks through the divorce transition.

Bryan and his partner, Jami Shapiro, also sponsor a  Separated and Newly Divorced Meetup support group.  They meet every two weeks on Tuesdays in Carlsbad from 6pm – 8pm.  Because each session is led by a therapist specializing in divorce, it’s a time for folks to learn and share.  Sharing experiences helps people realize they aren’t alone.

Watch Episode 2 of Real Divorce Talk for Relevant Divorce Information

This week’s Real Divorce Talk show featured Certified Divorce Financial Analyst Carlie Headapohl, divorce mortgage expert Eric Billock, nationally recognized author of The Good Divorce Dr. Constance Ahrons, and “Lemonade Divorce” attorney and mediator Allison Patton.

Today’s Topics: co-parenting, divorce emotions, divorce finances, mortgage lending during a divorce, divorce mediation, the Good Divorce, and Lemonade Divorce.

If you like what you see, then be sure to “Like” the show and follow.

For more divorce information, check out:

Forgiveness During Divorce: A key to finding peace

Watch my appearance on Real Divorce Talk on Facebook Live

We Don’t Get Along Very Well. How Can We Possibly Mediate Our Divorce?

Five Questions to Ask When Hiring a Divorce Mediator

mediation conflict resolution skillsNot every divorce mediator is the same.

In fact, some are much better than others.  What’s more, a bad family mediator can cost you a lot of stress and money in the long run.   Good conflict resolution requires a very specific set of skills.  In other words, it’s best to get a mediator as your neutral third party who knows what she is doing.

In California, there are no licensure requirements for mediators.  So, it’s buyer beware to some extent.

Here are some questions to ask a divorce mediator:

#1: How much mediation training has the mediator had?

Training is really important.  Good mediators have a specific skill set in working with parties to resolve their differences.  These listening and communication skills are crucial to a case going well or poorly.

Make sure your mediator has sufficient training and has received continuing training too.  For example, if they just took a course 15 years ago without getting updates, they will probably lack crucial skills.

Looking for divorce mediation training?
Check out Family Resolution Institute here
for more information.

#2:  What other professional credentials does the mediator have?

Make sure your mediator has professional know-how beyond just a one-time mediation training course.  Typical mediators are either lawyers, mental health professionals or financial professionals.  They should have a working knowledge of the family law issues you are going to face.

When drafting a settlement agreement, it is often helpful to have a lawyer serve as your mediator.  Mental health professionals are excellent for custody cases or cases where emotions are high.  Financial professionals help a ton with money issues.  If there is no other underlying credential, you might want to look elsewhere.

Also, be careful of unlicensed professionals.  For instance, just because someone has a J.D., they may not necessarily be a licensed attorney.  You certainly don’t want a disbarred attorney as your mediator.  If they don’t have an active license, ask why.

#3:  Is the mediator a full-time mediator, or a dabbler?

It’s best to get a mediator who mediates on a full-time basis.  Be careful of dabblers.  A person who mediates full-time takes the profession seriously.

People often get into trouble if they hire a person whose full-time job is as an adversarial attorney or a therapist, for example, who may only mediate now and then.  Such folks will likely not have the skills you need to get results.

#4:  Beware of one-day or super cheap processes.

Marriage is not an easy thing to unwind.  Be careful of mediators who promise results in one day or some other very short time period.  Chances are, you will feel rushed, and your settlement will not cover what it needs to cover.  A good process typically involves several mediation sessions.

Also, be careful of super-cheap mediators. In many cases, you really do get what you pay for.  There can be lasting consequences if you rush your divorce process and miss something important.  Spend the time and money to get it right!

#5:  Ask the divorce mediator about his/her process and conflict resolution style.

Every mediator is different and may have a different style.  Some mediators are much more facilitative while others are more directive and evaluative.  As a result, the relationship with your mediator is very personal.

A mediator who is excellent for one couple may not be so good for another.  So take the time to get to know the mediator, her process, and style before you agree to mediate.

Very importantly, don’t rely on your mediator for legal advice.  Even if your mediator is an attorney, he can’t be YOUR attorney because of conflict of interest concerns.  So it is always smart during any mediation process to consult with a lawyer to ensure your decisions are informed.

It’s important to know the right questions to ask a divorce mediator.  Hopefully, these tips will help you with the mediator selection process.

At Weber Dispute Resolution, we provide both collaborative law and mediation services.  To get more information, give us a call at 858-410-0144.

 

Further reading:

How much does it cost to go to divorce mediation?

Does Divorce Mediation Work for Complicated Financial Issues?

My Latest Appearance on San Diego ESPN Radio Real Talk San Diego

Shawn Weber the Dolphin Lawyer on ESPN Real Talk San Diego talking about mediation

The “Dolphin Lawyer” Shawn Weber

Shawn Weber on the Radio

I had a blast on Real Talk San Diego on ESPN Radio AM 1700 with co-hosts Ryan White and Karen Kaseno as well as my good friend and fellow University of San Diego School of Law Alum, Brian Dirkmaat, of the Coast Law Group. I enjoyed sharing my insights about Divorce Mediation and my Dolphin Lawyering philosophy. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

Listen to the Podcast Here:

https://soundcloud.com/realtalksandiego/shawn-weber-brian-dirkmaat-08-18-16

 

Five Tips to Have a Miserable Divorce

miserable divorce

Looking for a miserable divorce?  Here’s how!

Under the best of circumstances, a divorce can be an awful experience.  But there are some things you can do right now to make sure that you have a completely horrible, miserable divorce.  Here are some tips:

1.  Hire the cheapest attorney.

You get what you pay for and an attorney can be the difference in having a good divorce or a miserable divorce.  So by all means, hire the cheapest attorney in the phone book.

2.  Find a shark to represent you.

Make sure that you find the toughest and meanest attorney you can find.  Make sure she is very expensive.  Look for the largest ad in the phone book and find the picture of the attorney with the angriest face.  This is a sure way to increase the conflict in your divorce and make things completely awful.  A shark attorney will do a good job of running up the clock and the billable hours, but generally won’t care about you at all.  The shark will unnecessarily increase the conflict so that he can increase his billable hours.  What little relationship you have left with your soon to be ex will be out the window and you will have years of anger and hatred to look forward to.  When the case is over, you will probably have to declare bankruptcy because the definition of victory for a shark is that you have $2, your spouse gets $1 and the lawyers get the rest.  Best of all, you will spend your kids’ college funds and probably put your lawyer’s kids through school instead.

3. Whatever you do, don’t get a therapist.

You don’t want a therapist to help you with the emotional turmoil you are experiencing now.  You want to be plagued by depression, anger, guilt, and anxiety.  A therapist can help with all of those things, so to truly have a miserable divorce, you want to avoid any mental health professional.  Try to deal with it yourself and let your emotions blossom into a full blown temporary psychosis.

4. Use your children as pawns.

One important key to having a miserable divorce is to destroy your kids in the process.  Studies have shown that the conflict of divorce does more to harm kids than the divorce itself.  So go out of your way to increase the conflict between you and your ex.  Make sure that the kids are in the middle of the conflict.  Use them as messengers for adult business.  Tell them about how horrible your ex is.  Make sure that you fight for every minute with your kids that you can.  Be sure to have a lot of shouting and swearing when you exchange the kids.  That’s a sure way to make sure that your children grow up to have depression, relationship problems, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and drug addictions.  Best of all, your children will grow to resent you, which would truly make for a miserable divorce.

5. Demand justice.

There is no such thing as justice in Family Court.  That’s why to have a miserable divorce you should demand it!  It’s a sure way to spend a lot of time, money and energy only to be disappointed.  Don’t compromise unless it meets your perfect definition of justice and fairness.  Because your spouse probably has a different opinion of what “fair” means, this technique is particularly effective at disappointing you.

These are my top five.  Do you have any others?  Comment below and share with me your tips for a miserable divorce.

See Also:

Forgiveness During Divorce: https://weberdisputeresolution.com/forgiveness-during-divorce/

How much does it cost to go to divorce mediation? https://weberdisputeresolution.com/divorce-mediation-cost/