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Family Law Blog

Mel Gibson Settles Child Custody Dispute with Ex-Girlfriend

Thursday, September 08, 2011

In an end to what is one of the bitterest child custody disputes that Pasadena divorce lawyers have come across, Mel Gibson has settled his child custody dispute with his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva. No doubt, the settlement was hard to reach, considering that this dispute involved allegations of domestic violence by Oksana Grigorieva and battery charges against the actor.

Both the star and his ex-girlfriend arrived at the Los Angeles County Superior Court where attorneys announced their settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, Oksana Grigorieva will live at Gibson's California home until their daughter, Lucia, who is currently two years old, reaches eighteen years of age. When that happens, the house will be sold and the proceeds of the sale will be put into a trust for the child. Gibson will also pay Oksana Grigorieva $750,000 in three installments.

Gibson and Grigorieva had been involved in a relationship that resulted in the birth of their daughter. However, in 2010, allegations of domestic violence began to emerge after Grigorieva claimed that Gibson had hit her and broken her tooth. In March, the two ended up in court where Gibson admitted that he slapped his ex-girlfriend during an argument because of his concern for his child. He entered a no-contest plea, and was sentenced to three years of probation. The pair broke up and agreed to a $20 million settlement.

The dispute between the two at some points grew so ugly that it was hard to believe any settlement would be reached at all. Among other things, Gibson alleged that Grigorieva tried to extort money from him beyond the settlement amount.

Wife Alleges Investment Banker Maintained Three Mistresses, Rejects $20 Million Settlement

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Its not every day that Pasadena divorce lawyers find a divorce lawsuit involving an investment banker make it to the front page of the New York Post. The media however, has been hanging on to salacious details of the lawsuit filed by Kathy Duffy, soon-to-be ex-wife of John Duffy, who is the CEO of Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods investment bank.

The lawsuit alleges that Duffy has been engaged in “public and notorious adulterous relationships” that had him giving lavish and extravagant gifts to other women. Kathy Duffy is suing her husband for more than $20 million, alleging in her lawsuit that her husband has maintained three mistresses in three different countries in extravagant lifestyles.

The lawsuit doesn't mention the mistresses, but one of them is reported to be a “blonde and tattooed” rock star. She was allegedly given expensive watches, cars and gifts with a total value of more than $700,000. The other two mistresses, according to the lawsuit, were maintained in Canada and the Dominican Republic. These mistresses received equally expensive gifts ranging from a condo in Yonkers and a Connecticut estate worth more than $400,000, to a home in the Dominican Republic. The mistress in the Dominican Republic was also given extravagant furnishings, a new car and had her education expenses covered by Duffy.

The lawsuit details the value of the dozens of gifts that Duffy allegedly lavished on these women. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Duffy rejected a $20 million divorce settlement. Her husband is believed to have an annual income of more than $3 million.
John Duffy maintains that these homes, estates and cars were not gifts but were purchased for investment purposes. He also denies that he was involved in any sexual affairs outside of his marriage.

California Child Custody, Divorce Disputes Will Now Take Longer to Resolve

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Family law disputes, including those related to child custody and divorce, are likely to take a much longer time to be resolved after the San Francisco Superior Court announced financial cutbacks.  This means that people who want a quick resolution of their dispute will have to pay for expensive private judges.  Similar delays are likely in other parts of the state as well. 

This week, San Francisco Superior Court presiding Judge Kathleen Feinstein announced cutbacks in order to close a $13.75 million deficit.  As a result, all types of cases, including family law-related cases, are likely to move at a snail's pace from this point on.  For instance, uncontested divorce proceedings are now likely to take eight months to settle, while child custody disputes, which used to earlier settle in about six weeks, now take six months to be completed. 

Those San Franciscans who want to get their family law disputes resolved quickly will have to shell out big money for private judges.  Having a private judge could cost between $2,500-$10,000.  That is not counting your California family lawyer’s fees and other legal costs.  Those who can't afford those kinds of fees will find that their divorce or custody dispute drags on for months.

What's more, judicial budgets are being slashed across the state, and as a result, there may be such cutbacks and consequent delays in the resolution of family law cases across California.  Alameda County Superior Court is likely to have its budget slashed by $6.7 million, while at Santa Clara Superior Court, judges are talking of cutbacks of close to $7 million.  Similar cuts are in the pipeline for other jurisdictions as well.  The Judicial Council of California is meeting soon in San Francisco to discuss the distribution of financial cutbacks across the state.

Halle Berry Claims Child Custody Agreement Violations

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Halle Berry's estrangement with her boyfriend Gabriel Aubrey has been marked by a series of child custody disputes over their three-year-old toddler.  Earlier this year, the two agreed to a formal resolution of their dispute and a solution that was best for their daughter.  Unfortunately, this happy state of affairs did not last long.  The actress is now back in court, accusing her ex of violating the child custody agreement.

According to news reports, the actress is claiming that the child's father does not have good parenting skills and has put their daughter at risk.  The Oscar-winning actress's lawyer has submitted documents that spell out clearly Aubrey's less-than-excellent parenting skills and instances of alleged neglect. 

According to these documents, Berry is specifically concerned for the safety of the child when she's with her father.  The documents spell out specific instances of neglect, including some instances that occurred overseas when Gabriel acted recklessly, putting his daughter at risk.  Berry now wants the judge to find Aubrey in violation of the child custody order.  The judge has set a date for a hearing on the matter.

No child custody dispute can be completely insurmountable if the parents involved can set aside their egos to focus on the well being of the child.  Fortunately, Los Angeles child custody attorneys often find that many parents are willing to put aside their differences, and focus exclusively on what's best for the child and work towards a common agreement.  However, in those cases where parents are not willing to find a common path towards their child's good, the court may have to step in.  In such cases, only an intervention by the court can help ensure that the child’s best interests are protected.

Would a Prenuptial Agreement Help the Terminator Minimize Divorce Damage?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Terminator, aka Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California, is possibly looking at one of the biggest celebrity divorce payouts in history.  At this point, there's no way to tell whether his estranged wife, Maria Shrive,r will file for divorce, but she is allegedly in consultations with divorce attorneys.  The size of the assets in question here is large enough for plenty of speculation from California divorce attorneys about how much damage Schwarzenegger, the wealthier spouse here, could take.

There is no information about whether Schwarzenegger and Shriver signed a prenuptial agreement before their marriage 25 years ago.  Even if there was a prenup however, there are doubts about how watertight this could be.  The two have been married for 25 years and have four children together.  Many prenuptial agreements contain clauses that make them invalid after 10 years.

While Shriver on her own is a wealthy heiress, it's Schwarzenegger who's the wealthier partner.  He is believed to own millions of dollars worth of stock, and enjoys a continuous stream of earnings from the intellectual property rights to his blockbuster Terminator films.  He also owns plenty of prime real estate, including a gym in Venice Beach, California, a Goldman Sachs fund, as well as a publishing firm that publishes a string of fitness titles. 

Schwarzenegger may be able to contain some of the damage if there was a prenuptial agreement.  However, if there was no prenuptial agreement at the time of the marriage, then Shriver could walk away with as much as 50% of all his earnings during their 25-year union.  Before the marriage, Schwarzenegger was a little-known bodybuilder.  Since his marriage to Shriver, he has made some of his most successful movies.

Woman Loses Marital Support after Belly Dancing Blog Posts

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pasadena alimony attorneys have been coming across more and more instances of people complicating their other divorce proceedings, child support or alimony matters through uninhibited opinions expressed via social media.  In an example of this, a New York woman who blogged about her love for belly dancing after she claimed that she needed marital support because of a back injury, has lost her claim for maintenance.

The woman, Dorothy McGurk had requested for $850 in support from her ex-husband.  She had worked as a legal secretary before the divorce, but she claimed that she had been unable to return to work because of a car accident she had been involved in on her second wedding anniversary.  The accident she alleged, had left her with at least two back injuries, and she constantly needed pain medications.  Before the divorce trial, the judge awarded her $850 in maintenance.

However, that maintenance payment began to look quite shaky after the judge saw blog posts in which McGurk waxed eloquent about her love for belly dancing.  In some posts, she mentioned that she'd “danced herself silly”, and in others, she mentioned that she danced every day.  Once the dancing habit was revealed in court, McGurk tried to claim that she had been prescribed belly dancing as a form of physical therapy by her doctor.  However, her doctor denied any knowledge of this.

A New York judge has now denied her request for $850 in marital support a month.

It is the first piece of advice Pasadena divorce lawyers would give anybody who's even considering a divorce - if you like to blog, stop blogging immediately.  If you're on Facebook, shut down your account and if you're on Twitter, cease tweeting.  On the Internet, on social media like blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook, it's too easy for a person to feel anonymous.  Unfortunately, this could prove disastrous to your divorce proceedings or your alimony or marital support claim.

McCourts Working Towards Divorce Settlement

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dodgers owner Frank McCour,t and his estranged wife Jamie, are working towards what California divorce lawyers often recommend - an out-of-court settlement of their much-publicized case. 

Last week, the court postponed a hearing that was scheduled for April 11th, during which Jamie was expected to request that her husband be ordered to give her all papers related to the Dodgers’ financial and business operations.  The date of that hearing has been moved to May 11, and provides the two parties more time in which they can negotiate an agreement to settle their acrimonious divorce.

The two parties have gone to the settlement table before, but attempts to bring about an amicable resolution of the divorce have been largely fruitless.  In several rounds of settlement talks, Jamie McCourt agreed to give up ownership of the Dodgers to her ex-husband in exchange for a payout, but refused to accept some of his conditions.  So far, it's unclear to California divorce attorneys how the two might settle their divorce.  Frank McCourt has maintained all along that any settlement must end with him becoming the sole owner of the Dodgers team.

A couple that has filed for divorce proceedings in California can choose to settle out of court.  If the couple and their attorneys manage to resolve all issues through mediation or collaborative law, then the final resolution of the divorce is outlined in a settlement agreement.  This agreement is then submitted to the judge, followed by an informal hearing.  During this hearing, the judge will make sure that each party is well aware of the terms of the agreement, after which each party has to sign the agreement.

After the couple signs the agreement, the judge gives them a divorce decree that shows that the divorce is final.  The divorce decree will involve information about division of the couple's marital property, child custody, living arrangements, visitation, parenting time, child support and spousal support.

Sacramento County Shows Great Improvement in Child Support Collection

Friday, February 04, 2011

The California Department of Child Support Services recently recognized the child support collection agency in Sacramento County for having made the greatest improvement in child support collections. Sacramento County has an impressive overall performance in child support collections among all the large counties in California. According to estimates, in 2010, the Sacramento County collection agency collected $105 million in payments.

California family lawyers may find Sacramento County’s performance even more impressive, considering that child support collections in California fell dramatically last year. In 2010, the state of California collected $2.2 billion in child support payments, a sharp 1% drop from the previous year. Additionally, 57.7% of California's child support cases were reported as being in arrears at some point during 2010. That rate is up from 56.2% in 2009.

There was also a sharp drop in child support collections through wage withholding, which continues to be one of the biggest ways of collecting child support payments. Such payments fell 5.5% from 2009. There was also an increase in child support payments collected through unemployment checks, by 62%.

All of these estimates have simply reflected the dismal state of the economy in California, which continues to struggle with an unemployment rate that is at least 2% higher than in the rest of the country. There are simply more numbers of people receiving unemployment checks in California, and child support payments tend to be easier to collect through unemployment checks.

The state of child support payments in California also mirrored the national picture. For the fiscal year ending September 30th, 2009, the total collections amounted to $26.4 billion, a decline from .7% from the previous year.

 

Welcome to our Family Law Blog!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Blogs are a great way of sharing information with people on a variety of topics, and I hope that my blog can be a place where my staff and I can share news relating to the practice of family law with my clients and other interested people.   Please note that most of our blogs will not be specifically about our firm's cases, but rather family law cases of interest that we feel relate to issues our clients are facing as well.  For obvious reasons, none of these blogs should be construed as legal advice.  Thanks for reading.

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