A house cut in half

What is Property and Business Division?

In a divorce, what is property and business division? At a high level, it’s just like it sounds. It refers to how much of a couple’s property is divided between the two parties, as well as how a business is divided. This can be tricky though, as there are a number of factors that go into the division. 

Property Division – The Basics

During a divorce, most of the assets owned by the couple are considered to be jointly owned. These can be both physical assets and monetary assets. For example:

  • Homes (houses, condos, townhouses)
  • Furniture
  • Cars
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Precious metals such as gold or silver
  • Collections and antiques
  • Jewelry

Because these items make up the bulk of wealth for most families, they play a significant role in the property division part of the divorce. That said, there are a few exceptions that arise from time to time. 

Property and Business Division – The Exceptions

Even though most of the assets owned by a family are considered during a divorce, some tend to be left out and remain in the hands of a particular owner. Here are the most common exceptions.

  • Property owned prior to the marriage. Note that if the spouse is added to the title, this is more likely to be considered an asset that can be divided during the divorce. 
  • Pain and suffering money received from a personal injury judgement, assuming it wasn’t put into a joint account or all spent. 
  • An inheritance received by one spouse, assuming it isn’t incorporated into the rest of the family’s assets such as using cash to buy mutual funds in a joint account.
  • A gift received by one spouse from a third party. For example if your in-laws buy a car for your spouse and it’s only in their name. 

Notice a theme? The general theme is that if assets get brought into the family and are considered owned by both parties, it won’t be an exception anymore. 

Business division is also something that can get messy.

Business Division in a Divorce

Several things go into the business division in a divorce. 

First – Is it operated by just one spouse who started the business before the couple was married? If so, there is a better chance the business will not need to be divided. Even though the income from the business may be considered during the alimony and financial support piece of the divorce, the business and its assets may not need to be split between the couple.

What if the business was started during the marriage, and both spouses participate? Maybe they both work for the business or maybe both owners tend to use the business funds as their own personal money to pay for things like meals, clothes, cars or vacations. In those cases, the court is more likely to have the business divided up. 

Every property and business division case is different. For more personalized advice and guidance, please give us a call at 714.456.9118 or send us an email at info@voneschlaw.com

Courtesy of Cuselleration

What is a Marital Standards of Living Assessment?

The marital standard of living (often referred to as MSOL) is essentially a measure of the lifestyle enjoyed by a couple during marriage. It is most often used during a divorce case to help determine how much support one party should pay the other. 

Several things go into this evaluation.

Marital Standard of Living Assessment: Income

As you can imagine, the total income of the two parties is one of the most important factors. The lifestyle of a family with an annual income of $50,000 per year will be very different from one that makes $300,000 per year. 

That said, one thing to keep in mind is it’s rare for both parties to be able to enjoy the same standard of living once separated. That’s largely because living expenses are now doubled. Whether you have a $200,000 house or a $500,000, it’s always easier to just pay for one home than two. 

Another thing to consider is increases in income. Let’s say the standard of living used to be a lifestyle based on $50,000 a year. If the higher-paid party (who is the one giving support to the other) suddenly gets a huge promotion and starts making $125,000 a year, they won’t necessarily need to increase their support by a proportional amount, ie. 2.5x as much. However, the courts might make them increase support to help the other party reach that same lifestyle enjoyed at the $50,000 a year point. 

Marital Standards of Living Assessment: Savings and Retirement

Income isn’t the only factor that comes into play. The amount of money regularly contributed to things such as savings and retirement can also come into play.

For example, let’s say after taxes a family brings home $80,000. They are very frugal and like to save money, so they put away $50,000. 

In that case, they’re essentially living on just $30,000 a year. 

This will be considered during the MSOL assessment. It will be noted that the lifestyle didn’t include a lot of eating at restaurants, going on lavish vacations, owning expensive cars, etc. In this case, the amount of support necessary may be lower, since the lifestyle didn’t require as much cash. 

MSOL Assessment: Both Spouses Matter

Sometimes it seems like the party giving support to the other is the “loser.” They’re going broke just trying to pay the support deemed necessary so the lower-paid party can enjoy the same lifestyle they used to have.

This isn’t how it’s meant to be. Assuming one didn’t get a major increase in income, there shouldn’t be a huge disparity between their lifestyles. If one is able to comfortably live similar to how they used to and the other is almost bankrupt, there’s an imbalance that needs to be remedied. 

A material standard of living assessment isn’t a black-and-white thing that can be figured out in a day or two. It takes a lot of digging to understand how the family lived, and what kind of support is necessary to help both parties still be able to live as close to that previous lifestyle as possible. For more personalized guidance, click here to contact Von Esch Law today.

Courtesy of Cuselleration

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act? There’s a lot we can say about it, but this article will keep things brief and high level. We’ll talk about three main things: what the act is, who enforces it, and what it means to you. 

What is the American Disabilities Act?

Often referred to as ADA, the American Disabilities Act was put in place to help protect the rights of people with disabilities. These protections fall under several areas:

  • Jobs
  • Transportation
  • Communications
  • Public Accommodations
  • Access to state and local government programs and services

The act is divided into five titles, and each of the five titles is enforced by a different agency.

Who Enforces the American Disabilities Act?

Title I refers to employment, and thus is protected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As you would expect, the purpose of this title is to prevent employers from discriminating against someone just because they have a disability. Part of this comes into play with having employers restructure jobs or make changes to a job site to accommodate the person’s needs. 

Title II refers to state and local governments. An example of the type of protection involved is transportation systems such as bus or rail. The system must be able to accommodate for the needs of people with disabilities. It is enforced and regulated by the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Title III is public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, bars, golf courses, movie theaters, etc. The idea is these places should have the facilities necessary to allow people with disabilities to access these sites. Like Title II, it is also regulated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Title IV refers to telecommunications. Telecommunications companies must be able to offer specific services to accommodate people with disabilities. For example, those with hearing or speech disabilities should still be able to communicate via telephone.  Title IV is regulated by the Federal Communication Commission. 

Title V is for miscellaneous provisions for the ADA as a whole.  

What Does the American Disabilities Act Mean for You?

The short answer is – it depends. 

Do you manage a restaurant? That falls under Title III, so it would be good to make sure your facility is accommodating to people with disabilities. The most common ones that people think of are wheelchair ramps and having big enough bathroom stalls that a wheelchair can fit. 

Did you have someone with disabilities apply for a job? If so, Title I may be more of what you’re interested in. Be aware that if they are the best candidate and you hire them, you may need to make changes to your job site or restructure the job to accommodate their needs. 

At a high level, the American with Disabilities Act isn’t too difficult to comprehend. However, as you get into the details of what qualifies as a disability and what rights people have, it gets more convoluted. If you need a defense for the ADA or have questions call us at 714.456.9118 or send us an email at info@voneschlaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Courtesy of Cuselleration

Is a Purchase Order a Legal Contract?

Is a Purchase Order a Legal Contract?

The world of purchase orders and contracts can be a bit confusing sometimes. We’ve put together a short article outlining the similarities and differences between the two to help you sort them out. 

Purchase Order and Contracts Basics

Let’s start by talking about each of these documents. A purchase order is a document from a buyer to a seller that orders a product. It should include everything the seller would need to know including quantity, price, a description and a delivery date. 

When a purchase order is accepted by the seller, it does become a legal contract. The seller is acknowledging they will sell the items on the purchase order for the prices listed, and abide by the terms and conditions. 

Note that the seller does not have to accept the purchase order. It isn’t considered a legal contract until it’s accepted by the seller. 

A contract is a document that outlines descriptions and costs of goods. It also contains terms and conditions. 

This gets confusing, because it means a purchase order can be a contract. However, that doesn’t mean all contracts are purchase orders. One way that might help is to think about the timeframe. 

Short Term vs. Long Term

A purchase order usually refers to something that has a short duration. The terms may be to deliver in a couple of hours or in 2 years. Either way, the duration is relatively short compared to how long some contracts can go. 

A contract can often be a long term document. For example, it may specify that the buyer will purchase items from a seller for up to 3 years, without going to the market for competitive bids. Or it might outline how the buyer and seller manage freight and transportation of the goods. 

Another way to think about it is guidance. A contract gives guidance to how purchase orders should be executed. 

Terms and Conditions in Legal Contracts

Another example to explain the differences between purchase orders and contracts can be seen in the terms and conditions. 

A purchase order will usually have some kind of terms. For example, there will be a delivery date, address, and payment terms – such as Net 30 (meaning the buyer needs to pay for the goods within 30 days.) 

A contract will usually be more specific, thus making them useful for complex transactions and relationships. For example, it makes sense to have a contract when a company is offering marketing services to another one. It might break down the expected results, how the marketing agency will be paid, how long the two parties will work together, reporting methods and more. 

For physical goods, a contract might be used to specify certain aspects of the product such as size, weight, performance, cost or lead time. This makes sense if the buyer is paying the seller to develop a new product. 

Is a purchase order a contract? Once it becomes accepted by the seller, yes. However, the world of contracts and POs is a convoluted one, so if you have questions call us at 714.456.9118 or send us an email at info@voneschlaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Courtesy of Cuselleration

Divorce

How Long Does Getting a Divorce Take?

How long does getting a divorce take? There is not a definitive answer for everyone. A lot of factors come into play such as where you live, how quickly the pair can come to agreement on terms of the divorce, and more. 

Here are a few things that affect the overall timing.

How Long Does a Divorce Take – Waiting Period Requirements

One factor that plays into the time required for a divorce is the waiting period.

A waiting period is often referred to as a “cooling off” period. It is the length of time required by certain states before a divorce can be filed or finalized. This gives the couple time to work things out. Sometimes divorce papers are submitted as part of an emotional outburst, and this helps rectify things before they’re set in stone.

Every state has a different waiting period. Some, such as Nevada, are very short. You only have to wait 14-28 days after filing the divorce papers before it can be finalized. Others take much longer. In California, you need to wait 6 months and 1 day after the papers were filed until you can get a divorce.

This is generally a good thing, because it ensures the couple is ready for this major life change before it legally happens. Some families are able to work things out and stay together, and this long timeline gives them a better chance of that happening. 

How Long Does a Divorce Take – Separation Requirements

A separation requirement is the amount of time the two people must be separated before getting a divorce. The reason for this is similar to the waiting period. It gives the couple some time to re-evaluate and determine if divorce is what they really want.

Not all states have a separation requirement. In that case, the couple can actually still live together during the divorce. This usually happens if children are involved, so at least they can still have both parents around. In California, it’s possible for people who are divorced to keep living together. 

What Else Affects How Long a Divorce Can Take?

Besides the waiting period and separation requirements, the main thing affecting how long a divorce takes is the back and forth between the spouses and their attorneys. There are generally disagreements regarding a few factors

  • Who gets the house
  • Alimony
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Financial assets

There is no blanket black-and-white policy with how to manage these. Each divorce situation is different, and sometimes it can take months to come to an agreement. Even though some people are able to figure these things out and be divorced quickly, others draw it out to get as much as possible from the separation. 

Are you ready to file for divorce or has your partner filed papers? Give us a call at 714.456.9118 or send us an email at info@voneschlaw.com. We look forward to helping you through this difficult situation. 

Courtesy of Cuselleration

legal name change

How do I Change My Name or My Child’s Name

Wondering how to change your name? Or maybe you’ve decided to change your child’s legal name? The good news is these processes are not too difficult, and we can help you with both. However, keep in mind there are a few differences between changing your own name as an adult and changing your child’s name.

Let’s start by talking about changing your child’s name.

How to Change Your Child’s Name

The first and most important step is to make sure both parents are in agreement with the name change. This generally makes the process go smoother. If they aren’t in agreement, other things may come into play such as who is the primary guardian of the child. 

Assuming both parents agree to a name change, the next step is to submit a Petition for Change of Name for the child, which we can help you with. Once submitted, you will be given a court date between 6 and 12 weeks after the submission. 

If the court approves the name change, it will issue a “decree.” The decree changes your child’s name. 

So to summarize:

  1. Parents fill out the forms together
  2. Have a lawyer review your forms
  3. Make 3 or more copies of the forms
  4. Submit the forms to the court clerk
  5. Publish the Order to Show Cause for Change of Name
  6. Go to the court hearing
  7. Receive the Decree Changing Name from the court

To change your own name, the process is a little different, but still very similar. 

How to Change Your Own Name

At a high level, there are 3 main reasons why people change their names. They:

  1.  Get married
  2. Get divorced and want to revert back to their maiden name
  3.  Just want a new legal name

Start the process by submitting several documents with the court clerk:

  • A name change form
  • The order to show cause to change your name
  • A decree to change your name

Similar to changing the name of a child, we recommend having us review your documents before you submit. You don’t want to waste your time and money submitting something that has errors or missing information. 

Assuming everything is correct, the judge will usually grant you the new legal name. 

So the process isn’t too difficult, but it is time-consuming between filling out the paperwork, submitting to the court and waiting for a decision. 

Before submitting, keep a few things in mind. 

Things to Keep in Mind Before You Change Your Name

You can’t change it to anything  – Don’t plan on changing your name to a celebrity, using numbers, punctuation marks, a trademarked name or something offensive. Those won’t be approved, plus you’d probably regret it down the road anyway. 

Divorce and marriage are the easiest times to get a name change– This change is almost expected during these events in your life. If you are choosing to change your name without one of these events supporting it, the process may take a little longer and will probably involve more paperwork. 

Ready to get started on the name change form for you or your child? We’re here for you, just click here to contact Von Esch Law today.

Courtesy of Cuselleration

Rights of Construction Workers in California

Rights of Construction Workers in California

What are the rights of construction workers in California? At a high level, here is what the law says. 

Construction Workers Have the Right to Safe Work

The construction industry is a dangerous one. Heavy equipment, heights, and big pieces of raw materials all add up to an environment that requires caution. 

Given this environment, employers are required to give their employees a safe place to work. That could mean several things:

  • Equipment should be properly maintained to help avoid failure. 
  • Workers should have sufficient safety equipment for their tasks such as hard hats, safety harnesses, and brightly colored vests. 
  • Signs indicating dangers around the worksite. 

While obvious dangers don’t need to be pointed out by the owner, it’s usually better for them to be safe than sorry.

Who Can Sue for Construction Accidents?

The first thing to know is that if the employer has worker’s compensation insurance, a general contractor’s employee can’t sue their employer under the Worker’s Compensation law. The best way for them is to submit a claim to their worker’s compensation benefits. 

This is called the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine. There are a few exceptions, but this is the general rule. The benefit to the employee is they only have to prove they were injured on-site, and not prove fault to recover benefits. 

There is a downside though. Construction workers only receive a fraction of earnings in workers’ compensation benefits and cannot recover damages due to pain and emotional distress under the law. 

This doesn’t apply to just general contractor employees. Employees of the owner cannot sue the employer for the same reasons – the Exclusive Remedy Doctrine.

Types of Damages in Construction Accident Cases

The most common types of damages recovered by the plaintiff include

  • Medical expenses
  • Estimated future medical expenses
  • Estimated future loss of wages
  • Loss of wages already incurred

Usually, experts in these fields will be brought in to estimate these values. For example, health care professionals will testify to determine estimated medical expenses. An expert in the industry or economist may be brought in to estimate the future loss of wages. 

Another type of damage, which is often seen as the most important, includes pain, suffering, and emotional distress. This is more difficult to estimate compared to lost wages or medical expenses, so each case is different. 

Punitive damages also come into play. If the plaintiff can prove the wrongdoer was malicious, fraudulent or despicable they can get punitive damages. This is meant to set an example in society and punish the wrongdoer. 

Loss of consortium is another type of damage, which can be claimed by the plaintiff’s spouse. This is to recover damages due to the loss of factors that occurred due to the injured spouse’s non-availability due to the injury. The negative experience of seeing the plaintiff suffer is also part of the loss of consortium. 

Construction accident law can get messy. While we’ve tried to cover a few of the basics here, there is a lot more to it. If you have specific questions, give us a call at 714.456.9118 or send us an email at info@voneschlaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Review Contracts?

Do You Need a Lawyer to Review Contracts?

Do you really need a lawyer to review contracts? After all, you’re a smart person and can read it yourself, right? Why spend the money to have an attorney double-check it to make sure everything is aligned? 

The short answer is this: by hiring a lawyer, you spend a small amount of money now to prevent losing a lot of money later. Here are a few reasons why you should have a lawyer review business contracts. 

Lawyer Contract Review Reason #1: Avoid Pitfalls

The main reason to have an attorney look at your documents is to help you avoid potential pitfalls later on. For example, an attorney can identify if there is unclear language in the document which could lead to an issue later. A business contract is no place for gray areas. 

You want a contract to be very clear. Any kind of ambiguity opens a door for issues to walkthrough later on. But what seems clear to you or the other party may not necessarily be clear in the legal world. That’s why you need a set of eyes looking for these types of litigation gray areas. 

Lawyer Contract Review Reason #2: You Aren’t an Expert

You’re an expert in your field. That’s why other people or companies pay for your products and services. They trust in your skills and knowledge, which is how you’re able to produce something valuable enough to sell.

Are you an expert in contracts? No. Just because you’ve signed contracts in the past doesn’t make you an expert. It does give you an idea of what to look for, but it doesn’t mean you can rely completely on yourself in this matter. 

This is different than trying to do a basic maintenance task around your house, or learning how to use a new piece of software. Those things don’t have the potential to cause massive damage to your company and reputation. 

Contract lawyers, on the other hand, are experts. Let them do what they do best so you can do what you do best. 

Lawyer Contract Review Reason #3: Fight Fire with Fire

Contracts are usually a bit one-sided when they are first drafted. Whoever creates the first draft has their (or their client’s) interests in mind. That’s fair and makes sense, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. 

Hiring a contract attorney to review the document helps you balance the document so both sides win. The lawyer will be able to identify things that seem out of place and can recommend a change. They may also come up with ideas on what to add so the document is more reflective of your interests. 

Can you try to do these things without help? Sure. However, a fresh set of eyes from your attorney can make all the difference. It’s the same reason why authors hire editors, companies hire 3rd parties to perform market research, etc. 

So do you really need a lawyer to review business contracts? Yes – we protect your interests and help you avoid major problems down the road. 

Do you have a document you need to be reviewed? We’re here for you, click here to contact Von Esch Law today.

Spousal Support 101 - The Basics

Spousal Support 101 – The Basics

What is spousal support? How is it determined? This article explains what it is, how it’s calculated, how long it lasts and more. 

What is Spousal Support?

You’ll often hear spousal support and alimony used interchangeably. That’s because they are essentially the same thing. They are both payments for the support of an ex-spouse ordered by the court. This can include a number of things, and every case is a bit different. 

For example, one person may need to provide spousal support to cover just about everything: the house, car, food, clothing, etc. However, another individual may only need to provide enough money to cover the ex-spouse’s car or mortgage payment. 

How is Spousal Support Determined?

It depends on the current status of both the contributor and recipient. If the recipient has a successful career and is able to take care of themselves, the amount will likely be a lot less. However, if the recipient is raising kids full-time and unable to have a career, the amount will likely go up. 

Another factor is current lifestyle. What is the current lifestyle of the recipient? Do they live in a 5 bedroom house with a swimming pool in an expensive part of town? Or do they have a lower-priced home out in the suburbs or a rural area? These factors come into play as well, because the goal of the court is to avoid major lifestyle impacts. 

These are just a few factors. There’s even more to consider here:

  • Education level of the recipient: Are they educated enough to have support themselves and their dependents, or will they need to go back to school?
  • Age and physical condition of the recipient
  • Financial condition (i.e. assets available)
  • Length of the marriage
  • The ability of the contributor to both support the ex-spouse and him/herself

As you can tell, there are many gray areas with spousal support. It doesn’t have the same kind of strict guidelines we see with child support. 

How Long Must Spousal Support be Paid? 

Again, this is a bit of a gray area. It’s common for spousal support to be rehabilitative. That means it only lasts long enough to help the ex-spouse get back on their feet. That could mean finishing their education, landing a good job, etc. 

Sometimes it lasts a bit longer though. If the divorce decree doesn’t have specific termination criteria then the payments must continue until the court orders otherwise. One example that can cause the court to order a change is marriage. If the recipient remarries, the court usually determines the spousal support no longer needs to be paid. 

One thing to keep in mind is that times are changing. It used to be that spousal support was almost always a man sending financial support to his ex-wife. There is a trend of more women giving spousal support to men since the number of women in the workforce has increased. There is also a trend of more same-sex cases, where the ex-spouse with the highest income has to provide spousal support to their ex-spouse. 

For more personalized advice on spousal support, give us a call at 714. 456. 9118 or send us an email at info@voneschlaw.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Courtesy of Cuselleration

What is Considered Domestic Violence

What is Considered Domestic Violence?

What is considered domestic violence? Most people have some kind of idea what’s involved, but it’s actually a broader topic than most expect. 

Here are the different types of domestic violence, along with a short explanation of each. 

Types of Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse -This is probably what most people think of. It’s any physically aggressive behavior, threat of physical harm, indirectly harming someone physically or withholding physical needs from someone. Threats, punches, denying food or sleep, and holding people hostage all come under this type of abuse. 

Emotional Abuse – This is any kind of behavior that exploits another person’s vulnerability, security or character. One example is insulting or criticizing someone to lower their confidence and self-esteem. Regularly ignoring or neglecting the victim’s needs also falls here. Telling someone they’re mentally unstable or incompetent is emotional abuse. 

Control – This is when one person maintains dominance over the victim. They control the victim’s behavior and believe it’s perfectly justified. One example is not giving the victim freedom with the types of clothes or hairstyle they wear. They may invade the victim’s privacy by never giving them time alone. Sometimes children are used to help control the victim parent by using them as spies or threatening to harm the child. 

Sexual Abuse – This is forcing sexual behavior on someone or using sexual behavior in an exploitative fashion. Sometimes it can be using force or manipulation to make the victim partake in sexual activities with other people or do things they don’t want to. In addition to these, it could be engaging in sexual activity with someone who can’t consent, for example if they’ve used drugs or are asleep. 

Isolation – Similar to control, this keeps the victim from seeing people they want to see. By keeping them socially isolated, the victim doesn’t get to see that the rest of the world wouldn’t agree with the types of abuse the victim is suffering. The victim is often told things to make this behavior sound okay by saying things like “if you really loved me, you’d want to spend time with me instead of your family or friends.”

Verbal Abuse – Somewhat self-explanatory, this includes any language used to threaten, embarrass or unfairly criticize the victim. Maybe the victim is being called names, or are constantly told they are undesirable or ugly. This could also include constantly be yelled at, or never talked to. Threats to hurt or kill the victim or their loved ones is also considered verbal abuse. 

How do I Know if This is Domestic Violence?

People involved in domestic violence situations don’t always know it. They may realize they’re being abused, but don’t consider reporting it to the proper authorities. 

If you know someone who seems like they’re being abused (including yourself), the best thing you can do is talk to someone who understands the subject. You never know until you ask, and it’s important to resolve these situations as early as possible. The longer it goes on, the more harm will be done to the victim. 

We’re here for you, click here to contact Von Esch Law today.