California Family Law Blog

A Divorce Attorney's Thoughts on Marriage Story

A Divorce Attorney's Thoughts on Marriage Story -

Interview with Marshall Waller from Feinberg & Waller

You know what they say, criminal attorneys see bad people at their best and divorce lawyers see good people at their worst - Ted, Marriage Story

**** Spoiler alerts for this article***

It was one of the buzziest films this Oscar season: Marriage Story, nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress, saw Laura Dern take home the gold for her supporting role as divorce attorney Nora Fanshaw. Nora, an aggressive litigator, persuades her client Nicole (played by Scarlett Johannsen) to take a scorched earth approach to divorce proceedings. The emotional pain that ensues has resonated with audiences, making Marriage Story one of the most talked-about movies of the year.

We asked Marshall Waller, a certified Family Law Specialist and Senior Partner at Feinberg & Waller in Calabasas, to give his opinion on some of the key issues raised by the film.

Can a Child Custody Order Be Changed?

With a divorce judgment in hand, everything might seem final. But when children are involved, there are plenty of reasons to revisit that judgment and change a parenting plan. As children get older, changing needs can make a modification of custody order inevitable. New spouses, homes or jobs, or loss of jobs and income, also present opportunities to reconsider earlier arrangements.

When is Spousal Support Appropriate?

When celebrities divorce, we invariably hear about disputes over "alimony." In California, alimony is called "spousal support." When a married couple divorces, the court may order the higher earner - husband or wife - to pay money to the lower earner for some period of time, as determined by the trial judge. There are two types of spousal support: "temporary support" is paid while the divorce case is working its way through the system to maintain the financial status quo between the parties, and "long term" support (sometimes called "permanent support," notwithstanding it is not always actually permanent in duration), the purpose of which is to help the supported spouse get on their feet so they can support themselves. Long term support starts (typically) when the case concludes.

"Essentials of California Family Law" Sixth Edition now available!

The updated 2019 Sixth Edition of The Essentials of California Family Law by Marshall W. Waller, CFLS, is available for purchase just in time for the upcoming October 2019 California Certified Family Law Specialist Exam.

Marshall Waller originally compiled the text while studying for certification as a California Family Law Specialist. The book has been updated to serve as a useful study guide for attorney's taking the 2019 California Certified Family Law Specialist examination. In other words, it is written for the education of family lawyers. It is a valuable resource that can also be used not only by attorneys preparing for the family law specialist exam but also as an everyday practice guide for family law attorneys. Now for the first time, you can purchase this exclusive lawyer-to-lawyer book and gain a privileged view of California family law.

What if your child gets ill before your parenting time begins?

One of the hardest parts of a divorce is not spending as much time as you'd like with your kids. You look forward to every weekend and school break, trying to make each moment count. Unfortunately, life sometimes has other plans.

Picture this: you're getting ready to pick up your child from your former spouse when you receive a call that the child has become ill and isn't sure that they should leave. You understand that your child may not feel comfortable, but you also want to receive all the time with your child that your custody agreement promises.

How Is Paternity Established in Divorce Proceedings?

When a child is born during a marriage or a man demonstrates a commitment to a child he lives with, California law assumes the identity of the father. However, there are times when paternity isn't clear; in such cases, paternity must be established before custody, visitation or child support will be ordered.

The Impact of Fiduciary Duty during Divorce Proceedings

Like a corporate partnership, marriage creates a financial relationship in which each spouse owes a fiduciary duty to the other. This requires the highest good faith and fair dealing when financial transactions are concerned. This also includes the obligation to make full disclosure to the other spouse of material facts concerning assets and liabilities (and a variety of additional information) in which both spouses share an interest.

Where to find hidden assets during your divorce

If you are going through a divorce, chances are that you feel many different issues pulling you in all directions. While you may have more pressing matters on your mind, such as the welfare of your children, you should not overlook the importance of asset division. Obtaining a fair settlement or court order is critical if you want to maintain financial security in the first months and years after your divorce.

When both spouses provide a full and honest disclosure of assets, this allows the couple in mediation or a judge in a litigated divorce to equally divide the property according to California law. However, what can you do if your spouse is less than honest about his or her assets?

What Happens To Pets In A Divorce?

Historically, pets have been treated like property in divorce, subject to the same property division rules as the family home or the car. This has generated concerns, as most pet owners see their pets as members of the family, not assets with a monetary value. The California legislature has responded to these concerns by passing a law that will dramatically change how dogs, cats and other pets are treated in a divorce. 

Trying to break free from a financially abusive spouse

When you think of abuse in a relationship, you may think of physical violence or even emotional trauma. What may not come to mind is financial abuse, but this is more common than you may realize, and it may result in long-term harm of you are the target of this behavior.

You may not consider yourself a victim of financial abuse, especially if your spouse has provided you with a nice home and other things you need and want. In fact, your friends may envy your lifestyle. However, when it comes to money, you may feel like a prisoner, unable to make decisions about spending for household items, let alone planning for a major change in your life, such as seeking a divorce.

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