Attorney Notes: Briefcase Seminar, February 17, 2007

This was a seminar held in San Diego, California for attorneys and non attorneys who are interested in family law. The topics covered were procedure, attorney fees, petition, mandatory fee arbitration clauses in legal retainers, income not included for guideline support calculations, child support enforcement as private collector, statement of decision and time periods for appeal, spousal support, fiduciary duty, date of separation, gifts to aged parents, transmutation, custody and visitation, retroactivity, family residence issues, default judgments and discovery for out of state corporations.   These are the notes in outline format from this legal seminar.  It is mandatory for all licensed attorneys in the state of California and San Diego County to comply with the continuing education requirements of the bar.

1. PROCEDURE
     A. Review all documents carefully with client in initial interview

2. ATTORNEY FEES
    A. No fees for self represented attorney
    B. Fees if attorney hires firm for representation

3. PETITION
    A. Always check box “x” for attorney fees which will give implied consent for a Borson motion if necessary

4. MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION CLAUSES IN LEGAL RETAINERS
    A. Arbitration clause will control if client waives MSA
    B. Arbitration clause will control if client fails to timely invoke MFAA
    C. Arbitration clause will control if client fails to follow MFAA procedures.
    D. MFAA: Section 6200

5. VALUATION OF COMMUNITY PROPERTY BUSINESS
    A. FLC Section 2552: date of valuation is date of trial
    B. FLC Section 771: post separation earnings are separate property
    C. Sole Proprietor: file bifurcation for alternative date of valuation as of date of separation
    D. Business records unreliable= valuation as of date of separation
    E. Methods of Valuation
         1. Tangible Assets including cash, inventory and machinery
         2. Goodwill is capitalization of excess earnings by a multiplier
             A. Peculiar talent, training, expertise and special reputation in community
         3. Excess earnings method
             A. Earnings from a 1-5 year period and adding back personal expenses
             B. Peer level of compensation baseline and if below baseline consider difference
         
6. INCOME NOT INCLUDED IN GUIDELINE SUPPORT CALCULATIONS
    A. Personal Injury Awards
        1. Undifferentiated damages are all not included
        2. Interest on damages is included
        3. Can use reasonable rate of return on income from award
    B. Life Insurance Benefits
    C. Gifts
    D. Non recurring loans
    E. Equity appreciation


    F. Equity in stocks
        1. Reinvestment of stocks from one to another without liquidating
    G. Stock options
    H. Strategy for including in support
         1. Exception to guidelines
         2. Use standard of living argument based upon ability to support

7. CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT AS PRIVATE COLLECTOR
    A. If practice is more than 51% child support collection and/or enforcement, must comply                   with FLC Section 5610
   
8. STATEMENT OF DECISION AND TIME PERIODS FOR APPEAL
    A. Always make request if appeal if a possibility
    B. If preparing SOD, have appellate attorney review prior to submission to O/C and court
    C. Written order: can appeal from date of written order
    D. Oral order: can appeal immediately from minute order

9. SPOUSAL SUPPORT
    A. FLC Section 4323 can be used for presumption of need
    B. Marital Standard of Living is not measurement of need
    C. MSOL may be based upon average of income rather than expenses
         1. Can divide average income by two to obtain gross amount for MSOL
    D. MSOL is fixed as of time of judgment and cannot increase post date of separation if                       earnings of payor increases
    E. Modification motions post judgment
        1. Change of circumstances is the legal standard
            A. Failure to become self sufficient
            B. Liquid assets which can be used for support
           C. Inconsistent Income and Expense Declarations
           D. Medical condition
           E. Gifts from relatives which are recurring
    F. FLC Section 4320(l) is notice of becoming self supporting in judgment language
    G. Spousal support paid pre order begins as of date of payment and not date of order for                      purposes of date of separation
    H. Never allow a non modifiable spousal support order

10. FIDUCIARY DUTY
    A. Summary of Cases
         1. Haines: presumption of undue influence when ISTD is advantageous to one spouse
         2. Lange: a fiduciary gains an advantage if benefits
         3. Delaney: burden of proof is upon the one benefitting
     B. Quit Claim Deed during marriage
         1. Good credit for financing overcomes FLC Section 721 for presumption
     C. Issues to address
          1. Does the presumption of undue influence arise?
          2. On whom is the burden of proof to rebut
          3. What evidence is required to overcome the burden and/or presumptions
     D. FLC Section 721 duties
          1. Access
          2. Information
          3. Accounting
          4. Without demand
      E. FLC Section 1100(e) duties
          1. Obligation to make full disclosure
          2. All material facts and circumstances
          3. Access
          4. Upon request

11. DATE OF SEPARATION
    A. FLC Section 771
         1. Subjective standard
         2. Objective conduct consistent with subjective intent
         3. Public perception is not the standard

12. GIFTS TO AGED PARENTS
    A. No reimbursement to community
    B. Legal obligation to support aged parents under FLC Section 4400
    C. Failure to do so is misdemeanor

13. TRANSMUTATION
     A. Revocable living trust does not constitute transmutation
     B. Must comply with FLC Section 852 which requires an express declaration to change the
         character or ownership of property

14. CUSTODY AND VISITATION
     A. Move away cases
           1. FLC Section 7501 is presumptive right of custodial parent to move
           2. Non custodial parent must show detriment
               A. Area where moving is unsafe
               B. School where to attend is poor
               C. Appoint an attorney for the minor to consider detriment
               D. Ask for a bonding evaluation under FLC Section 730 for detriment
               E. Child’s preference to be considered
               F. Rights to both parties to be applied evenly
           3. FLC Section 733 is used to hire an expert to contradict a FLC Section 730 expert
               A. Report can be submitted to court
               B. No access to child
     B. Orders Shortening time
          1. Require good cause
          2. Denies procedural safeguards since response cannot be timely prepared
     C. Post Judgment motions for modification
          1. Must be personally served
     D. Modification of juvenile exit orders
          1. Standard is “change of circumstance” and not “best interests”
     E. Termination of parental rights
          1. Step parent
          2. Felony convictions proving unfitness
     F. Presumed parent
         1. FLC Section 7611
             A. Take child into home
             B. Hold out as parent to child
             C. Name on birth certificate
             D. POPS declaration at hospital at time of birth
             E. Marries mother after child is born
        2. File brief and pleadings prior to hearing
    G. Adoption Legislation
        1. FLC Section 9205: release names of adopted siblings to each other
            A. Must be 18 years of age and applies to half and step siblings as well

15. RETROACTIVITY
     A. FLC Section 4 applies retroactively
          1. Exceptions
              A. D: if pleading filed before operative date
              B. E: if order made before operative date
              C. F: if proceeded under law at time will be protected
              D. G: matter occurred prior to operative date
              E: H: interferes with the rights of the parties (omnibus exception)

16. FAMILY RESIDENCE
    A. Moore Marsden
         1. Applies to pay down of equity in residence on purchase money loan
         2. Does not apply to the following
             A. Insurance
             B. Taxes
             C. Maintenance


17. DEFAULT JUDGMENTS
     A. List all proposed relief in pleadings if case will proceed by default

18. DISCOVERY FOR OUT OF STATE CORPORATIONS
     A. Corporation Code Section 17453
          1. Any CA shareholder has information and inspection rights

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