All posts by Torrence Howell

Do You Have Questions About Child Custody in California? Get the Answers You Need

Do You Have Questions About Child Custody in California? Get the Answers You Need

If you have a child and do not have custody or do not have a custody agreement in place, then you likely have questions about Child Custody in California. The good news is that at Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell, we have answers to your most commonly asked questions. Remember that you can call us at (909) 920-0908 for a free consultation and to get answers to your specific questions. In the meantime, read on to get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

What are the drawbacks to filing for child custody?

If you have informal custody of your child and the other parent is not involved, then filing for legal custody could bring the other party into the picture. This could result in custody battles, it could end up with several hearings, and it could put your private life open to scrutiny. That said, it can be well worth it to give you the peace of mind that your custody situation is legal.

Is it necessary to have a lawyer to file for custody?

It is not a legal requirement but we do highly recommend it – especially if the other party has a family law attorney. There is a lot of paperwork and potentially several court hearings. Without a background in family law, it would be very challenging to navigate this system on your own.

What are my custody options?

There are several types of custody, including joint physical custody in which both parents have equal rights to contact and living with their children, and joint legal custody that involves both parents sharing equally in legal decisions. Sole legal custody means that just one parent has custody and has the right to make legal decisions. The parent who does not have custody often has access to visitation.

How are custody and visitation different?

A parent who has sole custody of a child can make all decisions and has the sole responsibility of providing a home for their child. A parent who does not do this generally has visitation rights, which means that they can visit the child or have the child visit them. There are limits that can be placed on this, based on abuse and other issues that would put the child in danger.

How does the court make a decision about who gets custody?

The court considers many factors to determine who gets custody, including which parent is more likely to allow the other parent visitation, whether there is any drug or alcohol abuse by either parent, what the child’s preference is if the child is 12 years or older, and whether there is any evidence of domestic violence.

No matter where you are in the process, if you are about to have a child and want to have a plan in place or you have a child and simply want to legalize the agreement that’s been working, Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell is here to help. Contact us at (909) 920-0908 now for a free consultation.

Learn How Long Divorce Takes in California and What Shortcuts Can Cut that Time Down

Learn How Long Divorce Takes in California and What Shortcuts Can Cut that Time Down

If you are considering getting divorced in California then you likely have many questions. You may be wondering what your options are, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. The best way to get answers to your specific questions is to contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free case evaluation. In the meantime, read on to learn how long the average divorce takes in California and learn about potential shortcuts that can speed up the process.

The residency requirement for filing

First and foremost, you must meet the residency requirement for divorce. In California, it is six months. This means you must have lived in the state of California for at least six months before you can file. Once you have filed and served your petition, your spouse has 30 days to answer.

However, if your spouse needs more time and you want to allow it to them, your family law attorney can waive the requirement and allow them more time. If your spouse wants more time and you deny it, they will likely take it to court. In most cases, the court will grant it.

There is a six-month waiting period

In California, the six-month waiting period starts on the date your spouse is served – not the date you actually file the petition. If you and your spouse do not already have all your agreements in order, such as alimony child custody, etc., then your six month waiting period can be used to come to agreements. Once the agreements have been made, your attorney will submit them to the court.

Once the waiting period expires, a judge will sign the decree and the divorce will be finalized. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, then you will notify the courts at the end of the six months. At that point, a trial will be required to settle the divorce and you can expect to wait months longer.

Certain factors can extend the amount of time a divorce takes

Of course, ever divorce is different and the different factors in a divorce can affect how long it takes. For example, a person who has no children and has only been married a few years may be granted a divorce more quickly than a person who has three children with their spouse and 20 years of community property.

Shortcuts to get divorced more quickly

If you and your spouse have not yet settled every property and custody issue but you want to be divorced, California family law code does allow for you to bifurcate the divorce. This means that your marital status is terminated at the six-month mark – or whenever it is requested – but the issues are left open to be agreed upon or litigated.

Proving Theft of Intellectual Property is Complicated but We Can Help

Proving Theft of Intellectual Property is Complicated but We Can Help

Many companies could not survive without exclusive access to their intellectual property. If they could not exclude other companies from profiting from the inventions, designs, symbols, etc. that their company has created, they could face unfair competition. The result can be the inability to get the benefits they should be getting from their intellectual property.

For this reason, it seems simple to assume that if a company is having their intellectual property stolen, they would force it to stop. It is true that there are laws in the United States that are aimed specifically to ensure that companies and individuals can retain the right to their own concepts and creations. It is also true that it can be difficult to prove that intellectual property has been stolen.

That’s where a California business law attorney comes in. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we can help move forward and help you fight against theft. Read on to learn about the process and then contact us at (909) 920-0908 to request your free consultation.

Understanding the most common types of intellectual property

First, let’s discuss what types of intellectual property exist and are protected. There are three main types. Trademarks, which include things like words, symbols, designs, and phrases, are created to distinguish one product from another. Copyrights, which include things like photographs, poems, music, software, and paintings, are created to protect artistic products.

Finally, there are trade secrets. This refers to any information that is valuable to a company and is not widely known by the general population. This might include the way a company does business or a method for shipping.

Your right to be free from intellectual property theft

If a company or entity has violated your rights to your own intellectual property, then you must know your rights. They will vary based on the type of property and the type of protection you have in place. For example, a company that holds a trademark can stop a company from using either their trademark or one that is very similar, unless the other party is legitimately using it.

Examples of copyright infringement include displaying, reproducing, copying, distributing, or using copyrighted material without consent of the owner. A trade secret cannot be copied, used, or benefitted from without the consent of the owner. The owner of a trade secret also has the right to prevent disclosure of the information in the event a nondisclosure agreement has been signed.

Do you have a case? We can help answer that question

Just having your intellectual property stolen is not enough to win a case – it must also be proven. This is not always as simple as it may seem on the surface. The good news is that at Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we have many years of experience in this field. Call us today at (909) 920-0908 for a free case evaluation.

Learn How to Prepare Yourself for the Divorce Process

Learn How to Prepare Yourself for the Divorce Process

It is rare to find a divorced person who would describe the process as easy. The truth is that terminating a marriage can be difficult financially, legally, and emotionally. The good news is that an experienced divorce attorney can help make the process as smooth as possible. Read on to learn some of the steps you can take to prepare yourself for the process of divorce and then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 to speak to a divorce attorney.

There is nothing as important as choosing the right divorce lawyer

There are many steps to take during the divorce process and none are likely to have the impact that choosing the right attorney will have. You need a family law attorney who can handle all aspects of your divorce, including spousal and child support and child custody, if applicable. You need an attorney you feel comfortable talking to, who will listen to you, and who is responsive to your needs.

Making financial preparations

It often comes down to one spouse simply packing a bag and leaving. While this may be a natural response to an emotional situation, it is not often the right choice unless there is abuse to get away from.

Remember that it takes six months – at a minimum – for a California divorce to finalize. Some of the financial steps you can take to get yourself ready to file for a divorce include:

  • Get copies of financial data including bank accounts, five years of tax returns, 401Ks, credit card statements, insurance policies, and appraisals of any valuable property.
  • Take pictures of valuable items you may leave behind.
  • Get all your important documents, including your social security card, passport, and birth certificate.
  • Make a list of all other assets such as retirement accounts, investments, intellectual property, frequent flyer miles, season tickets, and others.

Making emotional preparations

There are steps that can make the emotional impact bearable. First, write down what your goals are and what your priorities are in the divorce. This makes it easier to stay proactive and to react less. You will want to consider things like physical and legal custody of children / or pets, who gets the home, whether you can afford to stay in the home, what assets do you want the most, and what are the most sentimental assets?

It is also essential to have a good support system in place. This can include family and friends as well as a therapist. If you do not believe that anyone really understands what you are going through, consider going to a group meeting that supports people going through the process of divorce.

No matter the specifics of your situation, a divorce is possible. In fact, your spouse does not even need to agree to divorce you in the state of California – you can be granted a Dissolution of Marriage even if your spouse refuses to respond to the request. To get the process started, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908.

Patents vs Trade Secret: Which is Right for Your Company?

Patents vs Trade Secret: Which is Right for Your Company?

Most businesses will need to take steps to protect their intellectual property. That said, deciding what type of protection is best can be tricky. The decision you make could have a huge impact on the future of your company and what you can do with the intellectual property you want to protect.

Two of the main ways a company can protect their property are trade secrets and patents. They can both be used to protect things like recipes and processes, but there is a big difference in the type of protection they offer and what they mean when it comes to ownership in the long run. Keep reading to find out more about the options. Then contact a business law attorney for a free case evaluation.

What is a patent?

Most people think of patents that cover inventions but they can actually cover a lot more than just physical objects. For example, a recipe for a dish, a formula to create a substance, or even a unique process to complete a specific task can be patented. Patents generally give you exclusive rights to make money form and control the patented property for as long as 20 years. This gives you two decades to choose who can use your property and gives you total control in that time to decide how much they will have to pay.

There is one big drawback that many businesses are weary of: To be granted a patent, you must disclose your invention to the patent office. Anyone who wants to can read it and study it, though they are not allowed to use it without your permission. When the patent expires, you lose all claims to use it exclusively.

Companies may choose a patent if they expect that what they are patenting will become outdated within 20 years. For example, a cell phone manufacturer likely does not have to worry that the technology they patent today will still be a hot commodity in 20 years.

What is a trade secret?

A trade secret is entirely different. There is no registry office and there is no control over your trade secrets. The entire value of them is that they are secret and only you and whomever you choose to clue in knows the secret. If the information were to become public, then the value will likely be gone overnight – as well as any profits you may have seen.

The main reason to choose keeping information a trade secret instead of patenting it is to ensure that it stays a secret. Take Coca Cola for example. They do not have a patent on their product because they keep the formula very well hidden. Since they have been selling their product for more than 100 years, it is likely that if they had patented their formula, as soon as the 20 year patent expired, it would have been duplicated – and there would go their profits.

If you are not sure what your best options are for protecting your intellectual property then your best bet is to contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free case evaluation.

Understanding the Requirements for Date of Legal Separation

Understanding the Requirements for Date of Legal Separation

As a family law firm, we are often asked about the difference between a general date of separation and a legal date of separation. The truth is that these terms are widely misunderstood. If you want to know what your best options are, and what each one means, then we highly recommend talking directly to a family law attorney. You can reach Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908.

Filing for legal separation may not do what you think it does

One of the biggest misconceptions of the divorce process is that filing for legal separation automatically establishes a date of separation. This is not necessarily true, as the date of separation and a Judgment of Legal Separation are two entirely different concepts.

The definition of the date of separation

According to California’s Family Code, “date of separation” refers to the date that there was a “complete and final break” in the marital relationship. This date is very important because it is the date at which community property stops accruing. Several actions can indicate the date of separation, from one of the parties filing for divorce or one of the parties moving out of the house.

The definition of a legal separation

On the other hand, if you ask for a legal separation then you are asking that your marital status stays the same but that property be divided. If applicable, spousal support would also be established. The most common reasons for a couple to decide to file for legal separation are due to religious reasons that prevent divorce, or if one spouse wants to remain on the other spouses’ health insurance.

Sometimes a Request for Legal Separation is used if the spouse who wants to file does not meet the California residence requirements, which require that they have lived in the state for six months and in the county in which they are filing for three months. That situation often involves the legal separation converting to a Request for Dissolution once the residence requirements are met.

Both parties must agree to the legal separation

In the state of California, a person can get a divorce even if their spouse does not want one and does not agree to the dissolution of the marriage. This is not the case with a legal separation because both parties must agree to it.

It’s most often the case that spouse would rather have a Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage in which they have a date of separation, rather than filing a Legal Separation. However, keep in mind that the six-month waiting period before your marital status is officially terminated and you are officially single means you should make sure that your Petition is clear about what type of relief you are seeking.

Do you have other questions about divorce? Are you ready to file? Do you want to talk to an experienced family law attorney? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then we welcome your call to Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908.

Call a Family Law Attorney in Claremont CA to Help with Your Divorce

Call a Family Law Attorney in Claremont CA to Help with Your Divorce

It is true that California is what’s known as a “no fault” state. This means that divorce proceedings should be more amicable than in other states because neither side has to prove that the other side is at fault. However, this is not always the case. There are always important, complicated issues to deal with, from alimony to custody to property division. This is why you need a family law attorney in Claremont CA who has experience with it all.

To find out more about what the most important things are regarding your divorce, read on. Please then call Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation. We are here to help you move forward and get the help you need in the process. We will advocate for your rights at every step of the process.

We can help with all aspects of a divorce

There are many aspects of your divorce, all of which must be handled by an experienced family law attorney in Claremont CA. For example, we can help with property division, alimony, business property division, child custody, child visitation, and child custody. Note that these are some of the most common issues that those going through a divorce need help with. If there are other issues involved in your divorce, you can count on us to help.

Yes, you need to hire a family law attorney in Claremont CA

Are you required by law to hire a family law attorney in Claremont CA? No. However, it is always best to have your interests looked after by an experienced attorney. Even if you are not going the litigation route and instead are going through mediation, you still need an attorney to look over your settlement. Even if you do not have kids, even if you have few assets, even if the divorce was short, it is always worth it to talk to an attorney.

Remember that your attorney has many roles to fill. They will take care of essential legal tasks and they will ensure that your divorce filing is done correctly. They will service papers to your spouse if needed. We will provide the essential information you need about your rights and options so that you always know your rights are being protected.

If you decide not to hire a family law attorney in Claremont CA, you may risk agreeing to a divorce settlement that is not fair. You may end up paying more in alimony than you should, you could end up with an unfair property allotment, or you could end up without the custody you are entitled to. The best way to prevent this unfortunate situation is to contact an attorney today. You can reach Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 now for a free legal consultation.

Can a Family Law Attorney in Pomona CA Help You Modify Your Custody, Child Support, or Alimony?

Can a Family Law Attorney in Pomona CA Help You Modify Your Custody, Child Support, or Alimony?

Ideally, any child support, child custody, or alimony agreements you’ve signed or been assigned are fair. However, they may not be. If that is the case, then a family law attorney in Pomona CA may be able to help. Even if they were fair at the time they were issued, that does not mean they are fair now. If you need to modify your family law documents then there is good news: Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell is here to help.

Are modifications applicable to your alimony situation?

Not everyone is eligible for modifications to custody or support agreements. However, if spouse who is supporting the other has a decrease in income, or the spouse who is being support has an increase in income, then alimony modification may be applicable. For example, if the paying spouse loses their job or the support spouse gets a new job or a raise, or if the supported house gets remarried or moves in with a romantic partner, then alimony modification may be appropriate.

There are a few situations in which there need not have been a major financial change in order to be granted a modification to alimony. This is generally the case if the supported spouse is making no effort to become employed and / or to support themselves. In this case, the right family law attorney in Pomona CA could convince a judge to terminate or modify the support agreement.

Should you call a family law attorney in Pomona CA for help with a child support modification?

We can also help you if you are in need of changes to your child support agreement. This can be due to a number of situations. If you are the paying parent then it may be the result of changes to your income or health that prevent you from paying as you once did, it may result from a change in custody, or because the child has been emancipated.

If you are the parent receiving child support then you may want it modified due to your child requiring additional support for a medical or educational reason, or your child may have reached 18 and still need support due to a disability.

Call us now if you need help with child custody modifications

The first goal of any child custody agreement is to ensure that the best interests of the child are being met. There are many reasons that a custody agreement should be modified, including protecting a child from an unsafe environment, relocation of either parent, or if one parent was previously unfit but has taken steps to improve and has demonstrated that they are now ready to have contact with the child.

If you believe that you are in need of any type of family law modification, whether for your child custody agreement, your child support amount, or your alimony agreement, please contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a case evaluation.

Work with a Family Law Attorney in Rancho Cucamonga CA Who Can Help with All Family Law Matters

Work with a Family Law Attorney in Rancho Cucamonga CA Who Can Help with All Family Law Matters

When you are dealing with any type of family law dispute, it is likely that there are emotions running high on all sides. This can be a difficult situation in which to focus solely on the legal aspects. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we know that you need an experienced family law attorney in Rancho Cucamonga CA who can help with all your family law needs. Read on to learn how we can help and then contact us at (909) 920-0908 to set up a consultation.

We can help with alimony needs

Whether you need temporary alimony to get through your separation, or you need permanent alimony to be incorporated into your final divorce settlement, we can help you. If you are being asked to pay alimony then we can help with that too. No matter what side you are on, we are here to help.

Turn to a family law attorney in Rancho Cucamonga CA for help with child custody and support

Any child custody battle has the potential to be challenging. You want to protect the best interests of your child but your own interests must be protected too. This can be difficult to handle on your own but Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell can help. Whether you’re a parent, stepparent, grandparent, or another person with a strong bond with the child, a family law attorney in Rancho Cucamonga CA is here for you.

If you are not the custodial parent of a child then you are likely to be asked to pay child support. The state of California has guidelines established to offer baseline amounts for that support, but this is a general guideline. It may not be right for your unique case. Attorney Howell can help with negotiations, mediations, litigation, and other services related to child custody.

You need the best attorney to handle your divorce

You have found a family law attorney in Rancho Cucamonga CA who can help with all types of divorce proceedings. Whether it is a simple case in which you just need a legal opinion, or a complicated one in which you need an aggressive negotiator, we are here to help. which you need an aggressive negotiator, we are here to help. Take advantage of Attorney Howell’s honest opinions and tireless commitment to help clients with whatever family law needs they have.

Do you need help with divorce or custody modifications?

Just because you signed on the dotted line one day does not mean that what has been decided will work for you a year later. This is why modifications exist. We can help you with modifications related to child custody, child support, alimony, and other divorce issues. The next step is to contact a family law attorney in Rancho Cucamonga CA who can help with your case. Call Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell today at (909) 920-0908 to set up your consultation.

Ask a Business Law Attorney: What Are the Main Differences Between Federal and State Courts?

Ask a Business Law Attorney: What Are the Main Differences Between Federal and State Courts?

Being involved in business litigation is never something a company looks forward to. However, whether it is heard in the state court system or the federal court system can have a huge impact on how complex the case is. Read on to find out how these two court systems are different. Then reach out to a business law attorney who can help you with your business litigation.

There is a big difference between federal and state judges

A California judge is elected by the people of the state. On the other hand, a federal judge is appointed. This gives the judges differences in authority. In most cases, a federal judge is more likely to have a deep understanding of and better credential compared to state judges. Of course, state judges are also highly experienced but they do not always possess the same level of credentials as federal judges.

Federal courts tend to be more formal

Federal courts are more formal than state courts in just about any way you can think of. It is common for a federal judge to have held a high position with a prestigious law firm. It is common for them to have run a successfully private practice or to have served as a well-respected federal prosecutor. As a result, they are more rigid.

In fact, even at the clerk level, the federal court system is more rigid. The rules are strict and the judges go by the letter of the law when it comes to processes and documents. You can expect a federal judge to be entirely unwilling to bend in the way they apply Federal Rules of Evidence. On the other hand, California judges are bound to the California Evidence Code, which is not as strict. Additionally, depending on the specific law in front of the judges, it is common for state judges to have more leeway regarding their rulings.

Federal courts are generally more expensive

The fact that federal courts are so rigid is one of the reasons that federal lawsuits are much more expensive to litigate compared to state lawsuits. It is true that there is no such thing as a cheap lawsuit, but it is common for a company who is facing federal litigation issues to instead choose the more affordable arbitration or mediation option.

Both courts require an experienced attorney

No matter what court your business law issue is being handled in, you need an attorney who can help you through the process from A to Z. Reach out to Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell to speak to an experienced attorney who is ready to help you. Call (909) 920-0908 or send your info to info@torrencelhowelllaw.com to get the process started.