The common issues surrounding nearly all divorce cases include alimony, property division and tax consequences. But the situation can get a bit more complicated when a couple owns very high-value assets.


When a couple has high-value assets, it usually means that they own a range of different assets and have various income sources. In the event of a divorce, either party would need assurance that there is complete disclosure about the other spouse’s debts and assets, particularly in community property states such as California.


Such divorces cases, i.e. those involving high stakes, require the consideration of several crucial factors. Some of them include the following:


Identifying, Categorizing, And Calculating Assets

One of the main difficulties in high-stake divorce cases is to pick out the key assets and put them in the proper categories. As per law, almost all assets that are acquired prior to marriage are separated from the other assets, but this isn’t the case with some specific assets owing to value appreciation. You will find that some couples who own high-stake assets might decide to formulate a prenuptial agreement for applying property rights and minimizing complexities in case there is a divorce.


In California, both married partners are usually given equal entitlement to marital property, income, and other assets, irrespective of which partner earned the asset. The California Family Code Section 2640 offers couple reimbursement rights with respect to independent property contributions towards the community property. It also offers reimbursement rights for any community property that is contributed to a spouse’s individual property. This code might sound slightly complicated, and this is why most attorneys prefer the ‘Moore/Marsden calculation’, which makes it easier to calculate the real estate interest of each party when a spouse purchased the property before marriage.


It is usually difficult to come up with a simple Moore/Marsden calculation when dealing with actual divorce proceedings, especially in high-stake divorce cases. This is because it is common for couples to make improvements to all their assets, including the sum. They might even modify the title which will ultimately change the entire equation.


Tax Consequences In High-Stake Divorces

Most people show little or no interest in tax-related subjects in a divorce case. However, it is inevitable for key tax issues to arise in the division of high-stake assets including property. For instance, a partner who receives some assets might be taxed for distribution. It is common for spouses in a high-stake divorce case to ignore tax consequences of various assets. But it is recommended that such couples spend time with an experienced lawyer as he/she could simplify the process for them.


Finding The Right Lawyer For A High-Stake Divorce

As mentioned earlier, high-stake divorces can be quite complex and may take a lot more time than standard divorce cases. This is primarily due to the comprehensive processes of assessment, categorization, and asset division that may take up an unlimited amount of time. Hence, it is crucial to formulate transient orders for custody matters, spousal maintenance and legal expenses. Such complications might even lead some couples to consider the alternative of undisputed divorce.


The lawyer and law firm hired for a high-stake divorce plays a critical role in the final outcome. High-stake clients typically need an attorney who is capable of managing the specifics. In fact, property division in high-stake divorce cases is often managed by a team rather than a single lawyer. The lawyer hired for such a case should have the expertise to gather a team which may also include a skilled property-valuation expert.




Maya Shulman, Esq.

Shulman Family Law Group

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Difference between Conservatorship & Guardianship

Adults are usually adept at making all kinds of health and finance-related decisions. However, there may be a possibility that an adult loses his/her ability to make rational decisions due to various reasons-mental illness or physical ailment. The principles of guardianship and conservatorship come handy in such situations.



In the state of California, conservatorship is described as a legislative principle that allows one individual to attain legal control over another individual. The person over whom control is exercised is usually a close family member. In most cases, a person requires conservatorship when he/she has aged and has lost the physical and mental ability to care for their personal affairs. The court usually appoints such roles only in the case of minor children or elderly people suffering from something as critical as dementia or Alzheimer’s or other mental disorders.


There are basically two kinds of conservatorships in California:


Conservator for a person: In this role, a conservator is required to handle the personal affairs of an individual. These include attending to their fundamental care needs in order to maintain healthy living standards and taking health-related decisions.


Conservator for an estate: As the conservator for an estate, the appointed person is required to handle the financial affairs of the now incapable individual. This includes the management of his/her debts, income and other important financial assets. The court makes it compulsory for the conservator to file all financial reports regularly while performing this role.



Most people assume that guardianship is applicable to children only. But there are some cases in which this principle might apply to disabled adults or senior people, who are incapable of caring for their personal well-being. When it comes to children, a guardian will typically care for a child till he/she turns 18. Alternatively, the guardianship might be terminated with the child returning to the parents. There are multiple cases in which grandparents, close or extended relatives assume the role of guardians if parents are deemed as unfit, or are unavailable or incapacitated for parenting by the court.


If there is no close person or relative available to take care of the child, the court may appoint someone known as a ‘professional guardian’ to play the important role. An agency might also be given the task of caring for the child. The guardian is usually given the authority to take all decisions related to education, overall care, safety, health and support.


Guardians are not allowed to take any decisions related to basic rights including marrying and voting. It is at the discretion of the court to order partial or full guardianship. The decision usually depends on each individual situation. In partial guardianship, the guardian can only take decisions related to specific needs.


In both guardianship and conservatorship, the court appoints a deputy decision-maker for the person who is now incapable of managing his/her personal affairs.


Effects of Guardianship and Conservatorship

It is clear that both these principles involve the transfer of some powers from the conservatee/minor to the conservator or guardian. Some of these powers include taking decisions in the area of selling, transferring or conveying property; delegating power, making gifts; incurring debts; performing the role of a fiduciary; waiving rights.


In a conservatorship scenario, it is possible for the court to alter the transferred powers if it is convinced that a particular conservatee has required capacity with respect to specific powers.


The key advantage of conservatorship/guardianship is that they are backed by court support and supervision for all decisions. By appointing the supervised conservator or guardian, the Court can ensure the best protection or guarantee of the conservatee/minor’s interests.



Maya Shulman, Esq.

Shulman Family Law Group


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If you are someone associated with International law in the United States in a legal capacity and needs to secure documents, people, or just about anything brought to the country, letters rogatory are your best friends.


If you are someone fighting a case under International law in the country, it might be a good idea to know what a letter rogatory is and how it can possibly help you. As a lawyer, you will be the person both clients and judges will reach out to for understanding and preparing letters rogatory.


What Is A Letter Rogatory?

A letter rogatory is sometimes also known as a letter of request. It is a letter written by a member of one judicial body, usually a federal judge, to a member of another judicial body with a different jurisdiction, usually a different country, requesting judicial assistance.


If a federal court requires documents, witnesses or any other evidence that might help an ongoing case in that federal court, a formal letter requesting such assistance from a judge in a court of that country is sent out. These letters usually use diplomatic channels to be delivered; that is, they use diplomatic packages to deliver the letters. This means that it could take at least a few weeks for the letter to reach the judge and costs a few thousand dollars.


All the expenses related to letters rogatory is borne by the person or people who want the assistance and not by the US judicial system. Expenses include the charges for sending diplomatic packages, any expenses incurred in procuring the evidence, and the delivery of the evidence back to the US federal court.


Preparing To Write Letters Rogatory

You will need to do some research before deciding to draft and send a letter rogatory. In some cases, such letters might not be required, while in other cases, it might be less expensive than the few thousand dollars mentioned earlier.


  • Conventions and treaties: If the country you need information from is part of an international treaty or convention, it might make your job easier. If the country is part of the Hague Service Convention, there is no need for a letter rogatory. Certain other conventions and treaties make is relatively easier to get such letters across to the other judicial body.


  • Specific requirements: Some countries are known to be cooperative and if you need assistance from such a country, it would make sense to spend the time and money preparing and sending a letter rogatory. Some countries have direct channels available for such requests, which reduces the time and cost of sending such requests.


Drafting A Letter Rogatory

These are some basic pointers when drafting a letter rogatory to increase chances of assistance from the receiving judicial body:


1.  The language used must be simple, non-technical, and easy to understand.


2.  The request must specifically state the assistance required and avoid being vague to increase the possibility of the request being executed.


3.  The letters must be addressed correctly and to the correct authority in the receiving country.


4.  The letter must include details of the case, the parties involved, the request for assistance, any documents required to process the request, and details of the person or people to be contacted, when relevant. 


Letters rogatory may not always be relevant or necessary, so it is important to do your research and understand your requirements well. As a person requesting such assistance, you must be financially and legally prepared for the process. As a lawyer, you must understand every facet of sending such a request and advise your client accordingly.



Maya Shulman, Esq.

Shulman Family Law Group

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If you are going through a divorce and have a kid, you know that there will be a child custody case that will decide who gets to keep the kid and who gets visitation rights. There are mediation services in California for child custody cases.


Child custody mediation helps avoid bitter child custody battles by getting a third party involved, one who understands the law and can help you sort out differences. Mediation is usually undertaken by a lawyer or attorney and can be quite useful, especially if you are expecting a messy divorce and a child custody battle with your spouse.


Preparing For Child Custody Mediation


Here are a few ways you can prepare for your child custody mediation meetings:


  • Have the basics handy: Basics include your work and travel schedules and your kid’s school timings, planned school trips, holidays, exams and tests, and special requirements if any, such as medication or therapy. You can make a list of these basics and print them out for your attorney and mediator and for your spouse, if required.


  • Create a potential plan for your kid’s life: A potential plan should include how you plan to go about parenting, changes in your work and personal schedules, how visitation can fit it, planning for vacations and short trips, who makes the major life decisions for your kid, and anything else that you think your child might require. Having a potential plan in place helps streamline discussions and make mediation sessions useful.


  • Meet with a counselor: If you or your kid feels agitated or if you are unable to keep your composure when talking about custody, it might make sense to talk to a counselor before going for mediation. This will help you remain calm during heated discussions, put your points across clearly during meetings, and ensure that you do not lose your cool in front of your kid.


  • Be open to negotiation: Even if you have a potential plan for your kid’s life in place and you feel you have it figured out well, you should be able to take suggestions and be open to change. The idea of mediation is to reach a consensus and avoid bitter custody battles in court, and negotiation is crucial to the process.


  • Keep your child’s best interests in mind: You may be extremely attached to your kid or hate your spouse, but you need to keep these factors aside when making a decision about your kid’s life. You must not overlook what your child needs because of your prejudices and emotions.


Tips To Ensure Your Child Copes Well


Ensuring that your kid is coping well is important at every step of the divorce and custody cases, and is essential. Here are a few things you can do to help your kid cope well:


  • 1. Speak to your child about what is going to happen and ensure they know what is going on and what is expected of them.


  • 2. If your child is expected to make decisions during the mediation, explain what the expectations are before the mediation so your kid can prepare for it.


  • 3. Ensure that you do not speak ill of the other parent in front of the kid, irrespective of how the divorce and custody are proceeding.


  • 4. Take your kid to a counselor before and during the mediation if your kid seems to be confused or is struggling to cope with everything that is going on.


It is important to constantly remind yourself during custody cases that the priority is the child and not you or your differences. You must put your child’s interests before yourself and ensure you do what is best for your kid.




Maya Shulman, Esq.

Shulman Family Law Group

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What Is Spousal Support?

The phrase ‘spousal support’ basically refers to alimony. It is a fixed payment given to a spouse on a monthly basis after a divorce has been finalized. Why is spousal support necessary? Spousal support helps ensure that the dependent spouse is in a position to enjoy a decent quality of life, one that they have gotten used to during the period of their marriage.


It is critical for both spouses to be aware of their rights and obligations with respect to spousal support before the divorce papers are filed. Each partner must know important details such as the exact amount of support to be offered and the duration for which it will be paid. This information will help both spouses be prepared for what is to come.


Calculation Of Spousal Support In California

As mentioned earlier, the court orders for spousal support typically instruct one spouse to make a fixed monthly payment to the other for a certain period of time. The time period for spousal support is usually determined on the basis of the duration of which the couple was married and some other relevant factors. An experienced divorce attorney can guide couples with regards to calculation of the alimony money.


When the court is determining alimony, it would usually consider the income of the spouse who has received higher earnings as income in the last 12 months. Spousal support is meant for preserving the existing lifestyle and financial situation of a spouse as best as possible.


As far as the calculation of spousal support in California is concerned, the Solano Superior Courts follow the “Santa Clara Guideline” for temporary spousal support. LA, Ventura and Santa Barbara also follow the same guideline. The “Alameda Guideline” formula is followed by the Contra Costa and Alameda counties. According to the guideline, the support paid by a spouse should be approximately 40 percent of their total monthly income. This will be divided by half of the total monthly income earned by the receiving partner. In cases where child support is involved, the calculation of spousal support is done after the calculation of child support.


Time Duration For Spousal Support In California

Even though spousal support is offered for helping the lower income earning spouse, there are various ways in which it can be misused. Also, there is a common misconception regarding the permanency of spousal support. For those who are involved in a divorce litigation including spousal support, it is vital to have all the necessary information regarding issues which will be important in determining the support duration and amount to be paid or received.


In most cases, spousal support is not offered for the entire lifetime of the receiving spouse. The purpose of spousal support is to allow the partner to become independent within a realistic time period. In cases when the marriage lasted for less than 10 years, the court usually considers one-half of the marriage length as a reasonable time period for spousal support. For marriages with a duration that’s less than 10 years, alimony will be paid for half of the length of the time. For instance, if a couple was married for 8 years, then one of the spouses will be offered support for 4 years, that is, half of the marriage duration.


Spousal support works a bit differently for marriages that have lasted over 10 years. In such cases, the spouse providing support may continue to pay alimony to the dependent spouse until the time it is needed. The reason why there is no finite time period for spousal support in long-term marriages is because of the fact that the courts do not have a proper system for determining the same. However, this does not imply that California law is in favor of permanent spousal support.



Shulman Family Law Group

Maya Shulman, Esq.


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Divorce in dictionary



The Olden Days

“Evidence showed that there was no final parting of the ways or intention not to resume marital relations under the same roof until such time as wife refused to permit husband’s return to their home”–Legislature adopted the Civil Code in 1872.



“The question is whether the parties’ conduct evidences a complete and final break in the marital relationship”. Marriage of Baragry (1977)


“The court held that “legal separation requires not only a parting of the ways with no present intention of resuming marital relations, but also, more importantly, conduct evidencing a complete and final break in the marital relationship”. Marriage of von der Nuell (1994)


Current View From The Bench

In our view, the language in these cases–requiring consideration of ” all of the relevant evidence” regarding ” ‘whether the parties’ conduct evidences a complete and final break in the marital relationship’ ” (Umphrey, Baragry), requiring both a lack of “present intention of resuming marital relations … [and] conduct evidencing a complete and final break in the marital relationship” (von der Nuell), and indicating that “[a]ll factors … are to be considered” in deciding the ” ultimate question” of “whether either or both of the parties perceived the rift in their relationship as final” (Hardin)–must be understood in the context of their facts, which reflect that in each case the parties had moved into separate places of residence. These cases do not address, and therefore are not authority for a conclusion that “living separate and apart” was intended by the Legislature, originally or subsequently, to require, as wife argues, only demonstrated conduct reflecting a subjective intent to part ways with no plan of resuming the marital relationship, which might, but need not necessarily, include physical separation. (Cornejo)


We conclude that living in separate residences “is an indispensable threshold requirement for a finding that spouses are living separate and apart”. This interpretation of the statutory language aligns with the common under-standing of the words, the statutory history of the provision, and legitimate public policy concerns.



Shulman Family Law Group

Maya Shulman, Esq.


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