California Legal Blog

Use a property division checklist to stay on track

If you decide to divorce, it's natural to turn your immediate attention to your finances. More specifically, you may have concerns about property and debt division.

Since this is likely to be a sticking point during the divorce process, it's critical to maintain a high level of organization at all times. This is where a property division checklist can help.

Danger zones in a contractor’s contract documents

Being a construction contractor can feel like studying to pass the bar exam. It doesn’t take long for you to realize you’re in the legal profession.

Construction contracts are complex, high-stakes agreements where a lot of money, time, pride and maybe life and limb are in play. Part of the contracting business is understanding them and having them prepared and reviewed by experienced and skilled attorneys before you, or the people you do business with, sign them.

Spousal support: What if a marriage is not legally binding?

Not every California divorce is plain and simple, or obtained without complications. There are cases where spouses determine their differences are not reconcilable and they negotiate a fair settlement in a swift and amicable fashion. Many times, however, there are complex issues or spousal disputes that spark contentious court battles and lengthy proceedings. Actress Geena Davis has apparently been going through that type of divorce because of spousal support issues and a question as to whether she and her ex were ever really married.

Davis hired a wedding planner in 2001. She also ordered catering and enlisted the services of a minister to witness an exchanging of vows between her and the prominent surgeon she was seeing at the time. The surgeon, Reza Jarrahy, filed for divorce in 2018. He also petitioned the court for spousal support from Davis.

Hudson and Ortunga have achieved a child custody agreement

For some time now, actress Jennifer Hudson and her ex, David Ortunga, have been fighting over legal issues regarding their son. Many fans of "Hudson in California" and beyond have been following the case. While the two were never married, they were engaged for a time. After deciding to end their relationship, the former couple was unable to agree on child custody matters regarding their son, who is now age nine.

The unresolved custody issues led to a long, contentious battle in court between Hudson and Ortunga that went on for two years. On a recent Tuesday, however, the two parents finally signed an agreement. This came after nearly 10 hours of closed-door negotiations. The former couple also reportedly met with the judge without presence of legal representation for a private discussion.

Child custody: Which parent will have decision-making authority?

Virtually all parents in California and beyond want what is best for their children. In matters of divorce, however, this if often a hotly debated issue. One parent might think it is best for children to attend private school while the other wants to try home schooling. When a judge issues a legal child custody ruling, he or she is granting one or both parents decision-making authority.

This is known as legal custody. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where children live after divorce. Regarding their health, education, faith and other important life issues, a judge overseeing a particular case may decide it is in the children's best interests for parents to share the responsibility of making decisions on their behalf.

Famous grandson wins inheritance litigation

In matters of estate in California or elsewhere, it is imperative that instructions in a last will and testament or trust be written so that all parties specified clearly understand the terms in the documents. If a particular phrase or wording is ambiguous, it could affect the validity of a particular inheritance document. Actress/model/swimsuit designer Elizabeth Hurley had a son out of wedlock years ago and his biological, paternal grandfather tried to convince the court that the term "grandchild" contained in a trust was ambiguous.

The grandfather, a wealthy real estate heir, established a trust in 1980. It was intended to benefit any and all grandchildren he might one day have through birth or adoption. However, back in March, he decided that since Hurley's son was born out of wedlock, he should not have to consider him a grandchild and filed documents requesting that the legal definition of "grandchild" refer only to offspring his son has actively raised as part of the family.

Disney and others to receive $62.4 million re business litigation

Many California business owners are currently facing copyright problems that will likely prompt lawsuits. Business litigation can be a complicated matter, especially when it comes to intellectual property rights, patents, copyrights and other issues. Iconic superpower Disney and several other companies were recently awarded more than $62 million in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

A jury determined that a video-filtering company violated Disney's copyright, as well as numerous other Hollywood companies. VidAngel reportedly made copies of Disney films and charged customers $1 per movie to stream. Plaintiffs argued that VidAngel often made movies available to its customers before legitimate streaming companies such as Netflix acquired the films. 

What are the different types of trusts?

A trust is a right to property that is held by one party for the benefit of another. A trustee is the person or organization that owns a trust and a beneficiary is the party that benefits from the trust.

Trusts may be created while a person is alive or formed after death. The purpose of a trust is to preserve assets and ensure that they get passed on to the person of your choosing. Once the trust has been created, it will be dispersed according to the rules and regulations of the trust contract.

Business succession: Put it writing while there's time

Many small business owners in California have worked for decades to bring their dreams to fruition. As time goes own, thoughts of the future may become more prevalent, especially if a business owner has adult children or other descendants who can continue to build the legacy that he or she has begun. The problem is that it takes a lot more than thought to bring a business succession into action.

If a small business owner retires or passes on before signing a succession plan, chances are the company he or she built will ultimately close up shop. While there may be partners or people to keep things going, if there is no one designated to legally make decisions and there happens to be disagreements as to how things should be run, it can be difficult to resolve such problems and likely that those involved will simply decide to go their separate ways. However, a bit of forethought and customized planning ahead of time can go a long way.

Don't let child custody issues impede your kids' ability to cope

When you told your children you had filed for divorce in a California court, they likely had different reactions. Perhaps one child became sullen and quiet while another expressed anger and frustration. While every child's reaction to such news is unique, most kids are able to adapt if they have the constant love and support of both parents. If child custody problems arise, it's always best to resolve them as amicably and swiftly as possible.

Children typically cope best in divorce when they have active, healthy relationships with both of their parents. Parental conflict tends to cause kids high levels of stress. It's far better for your children to witness your willingness to cooperate and compromise with your ex for their sake than to constantly be exposed to negativity or confrontation.

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