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“I wrote this to help you survive the dissolution of your marriage without the financial ruin most people face,” said Judge Stewart. His wise guidance shows readers how to: establish realistic expectations about divorce; find and hire a good attorney; control their attorney's actions and fees; use mediation and/or arbitration effectively; handle child and spousal support; protect children during the difficult times.
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"For relationships, divorce, and beyond" -- books in this series are for those building relationships, going through divorce, or rebuilding their lives after divorce. Inspired by the work of renowned divorce therapist, Dr. Bruce Fisher, the Rebuilding Books offer expert information and practical self-help procedures for adults and children. These straightforward, life-affirming resources can improve relationships and help make the divorce process easier, healthier, and less painful, leading to more-fulfilled lives and stronger "second-time" relationships.From the Author:
An Interview with JUDGE JAMES W. STEWART
--Why did you write this book?
To try to help divorcing couples avoid spending their life savings in litigation.
--Why does divorce cost so much?
It is caused by the failure to reach an early settlement in what has become the most complicated area of California law. "No fault" divorce has contributed to the high costs.
--How can a party involved in divorce litigation keep the costs within reason?
You must hire the right lawyer, and you need to keep that lawyer on a short leash. You must insist on offers of settlement and never permit the attorney to bring a motion or take any other action without asking, "How much will this cost?" and "What value will I receive if I prevail?"
--If one party is the breadwinner and has high income, and the spouse is a homemaker who has not been employed outside the home for 30 years, how can the homemaker hope to compete in court when he or she has no access to funds with which to pay a lawyer?
One of the principles of family law is that the judges should maintain a level playing field. The low earner can expect the judge to order the high earner to pay a portion of the low earner's attorney fees.
--How is child support set in California?
Everyone in like circumstances pays the same amount of child support. The child support statutes contain an algebraic formula that has the following variables: The net income of each parent, the time each parent has custody of the child, and the number of children. Judges and attorneys throughout California have computer programs that apply the formula in a given case when income, time-share, and number of children are entered into the program. The program then gives the "presumed correct" figure of child support, from which the judge has little authority to deviate.
--What kind of an attorney should a person going through a divorce hire?
A local attorney, preferably a certified family law specialist, who has experience before the local judges who hear family law matters. The attorney should know their biases, their tendencies, and their approach to various family law issues. You should never hire an attorney from out of county who does not regularly practice before the local judges that will hear your case.
--What is the most money you have seen spent in a family law case?
There was a case recently before me, in which, well prior to trial, one party had spent 2 million dollars in attorney fees and costs. The other party had spent a paltry $500,000. The party spending the 2 million dollars earned 5 million dollars per year.
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