PRIVATE, PEACEFUL RESOLUTION
Understanding your options
Hildy Fentin, an accomplished Family Law attorney, has been assisting clients to resolve Family Law matters for over 35 years. From child custody and support, to complex division of assets involving businesses, retirement, stock options, other forms of compensation, and tax issues, Hildy helps you understand your choices. Through divorce mediation or the collaborative process, she facilities a peaceful resolution and a smooth transition to the next chapter of your life.
Family Law Approaches
Mediation is likely the best approach for an amicable divorce assuming both you and your spouse are emotionally able to participate in the decision making process, are informed or willing to be educated about the family finances, and are capable of understanding your legal rights once explained. All communications are private and confidential. By choosing Mediation, you will have a high level of control over all aspects of the divorce process; from the frequency and duration of each mediation session, the terms of the settlement, and whether to include attorneys or outside experts in the process. Control over the process not only enables you to manage costs but also results in an agreement that is more likely to be adhered to since you, rather than the court, have developed the terms of the settlement.
As a neutral mediator, Hildy Fentin does not represent either party; rather her role is to assist you and your spouse in developing a customized, mutually negotiated Settlement Agreement that resolves child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, and all financial aspects of your estate. The resulting agreement is as legally binding (once approved by a judge) as one reached after lengthy and costly litigation.
Hildy will meet with you and your spouse face to face which allows the most difficult issues to be addressed in a respectful and productive way. These face to face sessions are highly effective as misunderstandings are handled in real time and agreements can be reached more quickly. If a significant legal issue is involved, both parties may choose to bring an attorney into the mediation process to assist them. Other experts such as tax accountants, retirement specialists, or appraisers may also be used to facilitate your knowledgeable decision making.
If either you or your spouse wishes to have more support through the process, Collaborative Divorce is another alternative to time consuming, costly and emotionally challenging litigation. It is an ideal option when the parties want to control costs and decisions, but where an imbalance in power (be it emotional, financial or knowledge) exists between the parties. With Collaborative Divorce, a professional team consisting of attorneys, neutral financial advisor(s), communication coaches, and a child advocate work together to assist you in resolving your Family Law matters peacefully without going to court. The resulting agreement is as legally binding (once approved by a judge) as one reached after lengthy and costly litigation.
If you choose Collaborative Divorce, Hildy will represent you as one of the attorneys on the Collaborative Team. A key component of the Collaborative Divorce process is that you and your spouse commit to resolving all issues and controversies privately with the assistance of the Collaborative Team — without court involvement.
Hildy has been in the forefront of implementing Collaborative Divorce in the San Diego Family Law community and can fully explain this alternative if appropriate for your family situation. For more information, go to www.CollaborativePractice.com or www.CollaborativeFamilyLawSanDiego.com.
Private judging is another alternative to traditional litigation. You, your spouse, and your attorneys can agree to use Hildy Fentin as a private judge rather than appearing before the judicial officer assigned to your case in court. The decisions that result from private judging are final and binding.
Private judging allows you and your spouse to control the timetable and pace of the hearings, eliminates the frustration of limited court availability, and ensures that all proceedings are heard in a private setting. Controlling these aspects of your case can be less costly than traditional litigation.
Your relationship with your spouse as a co-parent has a direct impact on how your children will be affected by the divorce. A healthy, cooperative co-parenting relationship generally leads to confident, emotionally stable children.
Hildy will assist you in developing an agreeable child custody and child sharing plan. Issues that can be addressed include child sharing schedules that meet your children’s needs, transitions between parents, decision making for health, education and welfare concerns, special arrangements for holidays and vacations, communication agreements, extra-curricular activities, and the need for psychological support or an evaluation for custody, if necessary.
The State of California requires that children be financially cared for in divorced families. The court uses a state-wide formula for calculating the amount of child support. The model considers key factors, including the number of children, child sharing arrangements, and each party’s income from all sources. Many assume that the party who has less custody pays child support. While this tends to be the case, it is possible that a higher earner with primary custody will be obligated to pay child support.
In the process of Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, Hildy will educate you on the state-wide guidelines and will facilitate agreement on the appropriate amount of child support to be included in the final Settlement Agreement.
Spousal Support, also known as alimony, is a means for you and your spouse to distribute income so that each can maintain a consistent standard of living. Unlike child support, there are no state-wide guidelines for calculating spousal support and San Diego County has not adopted a county-wide guideline. Numerous factors are considered in determining the amount and duration of spousal support, including the length of your marriage, each spouse’s age and health, the marital standard of living established during the marriage, each parties’ financial resources, individual and family needs, and other factors defined in the California Family Code Section 4320.
Determining the amount and duration of spousal support can be a very sensitive issue. In the context of Mediation or Collaborative Divorce, Hildy Fentin will educate you on the spousal support factors, assist you in determining your needs, and will facilitate an agreement that meets the goals of your unique family situation.
California is a community property state. Generally, if you acquire property or incur debt during the marriage (defined as date of marriage through date of separation) it is considered community property and is typically divided equally. Separate property is defined as those assets and debts that a party brings into the marriage that still exists and the assets received during the marriage through gift or inheritance. Typically separate property is awarded to the separate property holder.
Hildy Fentin begins with an understanding of your community and separate estate and guides you to a property settlement that achieves both parties’ goals. You are free to agree to any property division, including allocating an item traditionally considered to be community property to one party only. Full disclosure of all assets and liabilities, values and character (community or separate) is essential for you and your spouse to reach a well informed agreement in Mediation or the Collaborative Divorce process.
Tax & Compensation
It is not uncommon for the parties to have complex assets and compensation packages that make division of property and assessment of income challenging. When dividing assets or evaluating spousal support issues, an understanding of the tax implications is essential.
Hildy Fentin has experience handling these financial issues and is skilled at educating and assisting you in developing creative proposals that address your individual goals and needs. When necessary, Hildy recommends use of outside experts to provide further guidance for an equitable settlement.
Gay or lesbian couples who want to dissolve their domestic partnerships or marriages have the same options regarding what approach to choose: Mediation, Collaboration or Private Judging. Hildy has extensive experience working with couples to dissolve their domestic partnerships and/or marriage. In all cases, Hildy helps you understand your options and takes into account the important tax issues that can impact domestic partnerships and same-sex marriages.
Complimentary 30-minute Meeting
Learn how you can begin the divorce process and transition to the next chapter in your life. To request a complimentary 30-minute in-person introduction with Hildy Fentin, please contact us. You will find personal attention, creative problem solving and the efficient, skilled attorney/mediator you need to resolve your Family Law matters peacefully.
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