Along Through Coronavirus Quarantine
To ensure the safety and health of the MFLG Rock Stars and their loved ones, the team has been telecommuting for weeks now. We remain in full operation from our home offices and continue to assist our clients in every way possible given the current circumstances and with the problems that this current crisis brings upon them. With stay at home orders in effect, we are still able to provide free initial consultations to hear your needs. They are offered via teleconferencing or phone. When emergency orders are necessary, we are filing documents with the court.
Other offices have completely shut down or are neglecting clients to stay out of their offices. Rest assured Team MFLG is able to continue to fight for you even during a pandemic. Our paperless system has allowed us the ability to work remotely to answer questions, continue to move cases forward, resolving issues, and thinking outside the box to get it done.
Like our Team, you too will get through this crisis. No matter how defeated or isolated we feel, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If your attorney has shut down and you need resolution to an issue or are not sure how to get documents filed with the court during a statewide lockdown, give MFLG a call. We can help. (951) 463-5594.
A fairly common topic with women in the midst of a divorce process is the issue of “secret” assets.
What is a secret asset? Well, it is an asset that a spouse is positive exists but has no idea where or what it is. The most common example, “I know my husband has a ‘secret’ bank account and is hiding money in it. Find it and show the judge.” Upon digging for more information about this secret account, an attorney is rarely able to obtain any more information from wife other than her strong belief hubby is hiding money somewhere. Why do you think he is doing that? “He used to put more money in our joint account,” or “I used to get more cash or allowance every month than I do now. So, I know he’s got a secret account.” Wife has no proof of said account, such as finding bank transfers from the joint account, seeing an ATM card or statement arrive in the mail, or any on-line notifications. It’s a gut feeling…and there’s no question that she is often right.
Despite the assumption, an attorney CANNOT automatically know where to find a secret account. There is not a secret account portal that attorneys can investigate. Sounds silly but many clients think attorneys must have that kind of access, ability, or power. I wish we did!
An attorney CAN go over all the options of locating accounts and perform a thorough cost analysis to do so. In short, is it worth it?
Hubby has made $45,000/year and the parties do not have any assets and have no children. Wife makes little to no money. They continue to live together and the bills are still getting paid during the divorce.
One option and the most common assumption: Go on a fishing expedition.
What is a fishing expedition? Client says, “Find that account. I want my half and show the judge he’s hiding money.” Ok, this is now a multi-step, time-consuming process that can add up to a lot of fees – not just attorneys’ fees either. For starters, the attorney with client must determine what banks will be subpoenaed.
Unless your client has some strong suggestions, maybe we go with a handful of big banks. We then, prepare an individual subpoena package for each and every one of those banks – all of which must contain the proper information unique to each bank or be rejected by the bank’s Custodian of Records. Sometimes this requires research to confirm the current requirements of each bank, which takes more time than one might think. Then — and this is often a deal breaker for a client — serve hubby a notice with a copy of the subpoena and pay a process server to personally serve the subpoena on each bank. Now we wait. We may receive a notice that hubby has no account there. If we hit the lotto, a bank will send us a letter to pay X amount of dollars to make copies. Eureka: we hit gold and then a letter comes that demonstrates hubby has an empty bank account. The hypotheticals can go on and on.
Back to cost analysis. The above process can take your legal team hours and cost thousands of dollars. Does it make sense to do this with Scenario 1?
Hubby makes $250,000+ per year. The parties have real property, recreational vehicles, checking, savings accounts and investment portfolios. Wife went from having unfettered access to the ATM and credit card, which are now suddenly deactivated. The bank teller informs wife the joint account has only $500 in it.
Does the fishing expedition make sense? Yes, it does! Is a fishing expedition always necessary? No.
If a secret account really exists, these accounts will more than likely surface during the litigation process. A good attorney will advise wife of the best method of locating the secret accounts but CANNOT guarantee that if wife chooses the fishing expedition at the onset that she will catch anything.
A good attorney CAN and will find undisclosed assets BUT this can happen using one of a bevy of options of varying levels of costs and they can occur at any point before the case goes to trial. Be sure your attorney goes over all the options and cost benefits with you before boarding the fishing boat. Not every trip ends up like Wicked Tuna.
There are lots of stories about celebrity prenup agreements you can find on the interwebs that are pretty, well, entertaining. Like Kim Kardashian keeps all her income from her clothing line and TV deals plus $1 million for every year she is married to Kanye. If Keith Urban starts using drugs again, he will share his income with Nicole Kidman. If he stays clean – it’s all his! Now, that’s Nicole just being motivating! Lamar Odom is renewing Khloe Kardashian’s car lease every time the lease is up plus court side Lakers seats and a mansion. Katie Holmes was to receive $3 million for every year married to Tom Cruise not to exceed $33 million. Britney Spears came out clean paying out Kevin Federline a nominal $1 million. Surprisingly (insert sarcasm) Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen had a cheating clause where she’d receive $4 million if he was caught cheating. Caught?
Two spouses in particular weren’t waiting for a divorce to get paid though. Elizabeth Taylor was to pay her husband Larry Fortensky $1 million if their marriage lasted five years. XOXO and cha-ching. Beyoncé wants $5 million for every baby she gives Jay-Z. When she is no longer able to dance in skimpy outfits, she might consider that some more. So, the interwebs has lots of prenup stories – whacky or wrong but entertaining nonetheless. How does one confirm such things? Well, none of their managers would accept my call.
The point to all these findings is that whether you want to continue a lavish lifestyle, you can reach that agreement up front and not fight in court spending gazillions of dollars attempting to maintain it – and lose. You can compromise now that you are thinking clearly and reasonably together. Maybe you are not a gazillionaire, or even rich for that matter, you and your spouse set terms protecting yourselves, so you do not drag each other through a family court fighting fiasco.
If you don’t have the cash rolls like these celebs, understand having your day(s) in court can cost tens of thousands of dollars in litigation fees.
How to avoid that – create a contract, an agreement in advance in case the marriage does not work. Best case scenario: stick it in a safe, let it collect dust and live your best life.
A prenup may not sound romantic but should your relationship unravel unwillingly or unexpectedly, together you already set out the terms to part ways in a less painful and more amicable manner. You will not leave your future in the hands of the court.
Our founding attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, Holly Moore, has extensive pre and post-nup litigation experience, which gives her the expertise in writing an enforceable prenuptial agreement. It will cost a fraction of what a court battle would cost, and if you have lots of assets, a business, and kids, you can be caught up in the court system for years.
Call Our Office For A Free Consultation On Pre- And Post-nuptial Agreements (951) 463-5594
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