All posts by Torrence Howell

Ask a California Attorney: Can I Request Alimony During a Legal Separation?

Ask a California Attorney: Can I Request Alimony During a Legal Separation?

If you and your spouse get a legal separation, there will be many of the benefits of a divorce. This legal separation does create a legal independence but it does not grant all the rights of divorce. Many people considering a legal separation wonder if they will be required to pay, or will be eligible to receive, alimony. Read on to get an answer to this question and then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 to find out how we can help.

Alimony is Often Available During a Legal Separation

The purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earing spouse get on their feet and have their own financial freedom. The idea is that no one should have to stay in an unhappy marriage simply because they do not believe they can survive financially without it. These issues are also possible with legal separations. As a result, alimony is often available during a legal separation in California.

Ideally, Alimony is Ordered When it Is Needed

In a perfect world, alimony is ordered when it is needed. When a couple gets divorced and splits their finances, one may not be able to work due to health issues, caring for children, or not having marketable skills. In this case, the court may award alimony. This could temporary alimony, permanent alimony, or a one-time payment – it all depends on the couple and the judge.

When a couple gets legally separated, they will still be likely dividing their finances in the same way. While they may not be to the point of splitting up all assets (such as their home) they will likely be dividing their savings account, investments, assets, etc. It is generally the end of their sharing income. If one of the spouse has a job and the other doesn’t, then alimony may be necessary.

A Number of Factors Will Affect How Much Spousal Support is Ordered

If alimony is ordered, the next question is how much is ordered. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement, then you can decide this on your own. If not, then a judge will determine. They will consider a long list of factors including the income of both spouses, the standard of living they were used to, both parties job skills and training, any health issues or disabilities that can affect either’s ability to work, how long the marriage lasted, and the age and health of both spouses.

Once the judge has made their determination, it may stand until the divorce is finalized. At that point, the amount can be adjusted. If you are in need of alimony for your legal separation, or you want to ensure that you are not paying an unfair amount of alimony during your legal separation, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation.

California Prenuptial Agreements: Learn What’s Allowed and What Isn’t

CaCalifornia Prenuptial Agreements: Learn What’s Allowed and What Isn’tlifornia Prenuptial Agreements: Learn What’s Allowed and What Isn’t

Any person who gets married in California and has large assets, business interests, investments, or other wealth, is wise to think about whether or not a prenuptial agreement is the right choice for them. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we can go over your assets to determine the right way forward. Call us at (909) 920-0908 to get started, but in the meantime keep reading to discover some things that can and cannot be included in California prenuptial agreements.

What Is Not Allowed in a California Prenuptial Agreement

It is easier to look at the items that cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement because there are fewer of them. In most cases, you can add just about anything you want to a prenuptial agreement – unless the state as specifically barred it. We will cover some of the things the state of California has barred from prenuptial agreements below.

Prenuptial Agreements Cannot Include Public Policy Violations

The court will look at public policy when deciding what limitations should be put on any contract or agreement, including a prenuptial agreement. The court wants people to be free to make decisions for their own benefit, but believes that there should be some interests protected. For example, any term that involved violence, forced sexual behavior, or another type of harm would not be allowed in a prenuptial agreement.

Unconscionable Agreements Are Not Valid

A California court will not enforce an agreement that is considered to be entirely unfair. For example, if the terms are entirely one-sided to the point that the court does not believe someone would have signed it understanding what it said, then they will not enforce it. The court often refers to these as traps and the yare unenforceable.

Child Custody and Child Support Cannot Be Included

When it comes to children, the courts find that their well being is more important than anything else. As a result, they will not uphold information in prenuptial agreements about who gets the children or how much child support will be paid. They make these decisions based on the current factors at the time of divorce – not an agreement that could have been made years yearly when the situation was significantly different.

We Are Standing by to Create an Enforceable Prenuptial Agreement

If you and your spouse add conditions to your prenuptial agreement that are not legally enforceable, a judge could hold that the entire agreement is unenforceable. You do not want to go through the stress, waste the time, or spend the money to make a prenuptial agreement that is not even enforceable.

To learn more about your options, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908. We are happy to go over your needs and find the prenuptial agreement that works for you.

Three Reasons Couples Choose a Post-nuptial Agreement Instead of a Pre-nuptial Agreement

Three Reasons Couples Choose a Post-nuptial Agreement Instead of a Pre-nuptial Agreement

When one or both people getting married have large assets, they may choose to work with a family law attorney to get a pre-nuptial agreement. However, in some cases they may choose a post-nuptial agreement instead. Read on to learn three reasons they may choose this. If you are considering either option, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a case evaluation.

1. Couples Find a Prenuptial Agreement to Be Unfair and / or Uncomfortable

One of the top reasons that a couple will elect to skip a prenuptial agreement is because it makes them feel uncomfortable or they think it is unfair. The truth is that these agreements can indeed have a negative reputation. It is not unreasonable for a couple to find it distasteful, as it seems like an ultimatum. In some cases, the couples decide to commit to each other first and then sort out the legal aspect.

2. There Was Not Reason to Do So Before the Wedding

In some cases, neither member of the marriage may have been well off before the marriage, or both may have been on equal financial footing. If someone makes a lot more money after the wedding, if one of them starts a business, or if there are other significant changes to their economic lives, then a postnuptial may be signed. It may also be that the couple simply learned the other’s economic habits and feels that they need a postnuptial agreement to protect them.

3. A Postnuptial Can Be Used to Cancel out a Prenuptial Agreement

When a prenuptial agreement is signed but the situation changes, the couple may need to modify said agreement. This may be done via a modification to said prenuptial agreement, or a postnuptial agreement may be drawn up. In the event of the latter, the prenuptial agreement is then null and void.

Is a Prenuptial Agreement the Right Choice for You?

If you are about to get married, it is worth at least considering filing a prenuptial agreement. It will not only work to protect your assets, it will make the process much simpler if you do not end up spending the rest of your lives together.

In the event that you have already married and have started to realize that you should have had a prenuptial agreement drawn up, or you did have it drawn up but need to change it, a postnuptial agreement may be the best choice. Call Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 now for a free legal consultation and to learn more about your options.

Divorcing During Pregnancy Can Bring Unique Hurdles and Challenges

Divorcing During Pregnancy Can Bring Unique Hurdles and Challenges

Divorce is always a difficult time. For many people, pregnancy is a time of uncertainty too. When pregnancy and divorce occur at the same time, it can be a truly complicated situation. Keep reading to find out about some of the unique hurdles you may not have thought of. Then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 to request a free consultation with a divorce attorney.

Paternity is the Biggest Issue

For most people divorcing while a woman is pregnant, paternity is the biggest issue. While they can file for divorce during pregnancy, they cannot finalize it until the baby is born and all paternity questions can be answered. If the couple was married when the baby was conceived, then the husband is the legal father. However, if said husband believes that someone else may be the father, then a paternity test may be required after the child is born.

Situations in Which the Husband is the Father

If both parents feel confident that the husband is the father and paternity is not an issue, there are still many child-related factors to consider and resolve. This includes child custody, medical support, the costs of labor and delivery, child support, the cost of daycare – the list goes on and on. These issues can all be addressed and decided on before the child is born.

Situations in Which the Husband is Not the Father

On the other hand, if the child’s biological father is someone other than the women’s husband, it can be a complicated issue. If the biological father has died, cannot be found, does not want to raise the child, etc., then the women’s husband can raise the child after the divorce. This is because he is legally the father if the baby was consummated while the couple was married.

That said, the biological father can request a paternity test anytime within two years of the birth of the child. If it is determined that he is the father, the may not be entitled to custody. However, he would be entitled to visitation. He may also be responsible for paying child support.

Further Complications in Determining Paternity

The above examples all relate to straight marriages but when there is a same-sex marriage, it can be even more complicated to determine who the legal parents are – in that situation it generally comes down to a person’s intent to become a parent. It can be complicated if the mother wants DNA testing to prove paternity but two years has passed.

The bottom line is that these laws are complicated and it is best to work with an experienced paternity attorney if you have questions or are dealing with this situation. You can contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation.

Grandparents Have Rights Too: Learn What They Are in the State of California

Grandparents Have Rights Too: Learn What They Are in the State of California

Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren in many situations. However, sometimes a grandparent’s role is not clear. Whether due to a difficult relationship with their grandchildren’s parents, or another reason entirely, sometimes grandparents must work with a family law attorney to assert their rights. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we can help with that. Read on to learn more and then contact us at (909) 920-0908 for a free consultation.

Neary 3 Million Grandparents in the United States Are the Primary Caregivers for Their Grandchildren

You may be surprised to learn that in the United States, there are 2.7 million grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. They may have had to step in because their children could not provide a safe environment. This could happen due to issue such as substance abuse, mental illness, or domestic violence. Grandparents can also take over when the parents are deployed or if a parent dies.

Grandparents Have Visitation Rights in California

If you are a grandparent and your grandchildren’s parents will not let you see your children, then you may have rights of visitation. This may also be true if the child lives with someone else, such as a foster care family. However, in order for the state to grant you visitation, you must have a pre-existing relationship with your grandchild, it must be decided that it is in the best interest of the child for you to see them, and the court must decide that the parents cannot be trusted to make the right decisions for their children.

Situations in Which Grandparents Can Request Visitation

In most cases, if the parents of the grandchildren are married to each other, grandparents do not have the right to petition the court for visitation rights. However, there are exceptions including situations in which the parents do not live together, the parents have separated, one parent has been missing for at least 30 days, one parents petitions with the grandparent, the child doesn’t live with either of the parents, or a stepparent adopted the grandchild.

We Can Help with Complicated Grandparent Visitation Cases

Of course, the above information is all general. There are exceptions. There are unique situations that require a careful consideration to discover what the options are. When you choose to work with Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell, you are choosing to work with an attorney who has many years of experience with these and other types of visitation cases. Call us now at (909) 920-0908 for your free legal consultation.

Mental Abuse is Domestic Violence: Find Out What Your Legal Rights Are

Mental Abuse is Domestic Violence: Find Out What Your Legal Rights Are

It is a common misconception that domestic violence is limited to physical abuse. We have heard women say that they almost wish their spouse would hit them because then they would have an excuse to leave the mentally abusive relationship. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we are here to tell you in unequivocal terms: Mental abuse is domestic violence. It is enough of a reason to leave.

There Are Many Ways a Person Can Exert Abuse on a Person

It is not necessary for an abuser to put their hands on the victim for it to be domestic violence. People have many ways of exerting power and control over intimate partners that do not require them to touch them at all. If you have been the victim of this type of abuse then you need to work with an experienced mental abuse lawyer. Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell can provide a free – and entirely confidential – consultation.

If You Have Suffered from Any of This Then You May Be the Victim of Mental Abuse

Many people do not know what exactly qualifies as mental abuse. They may be constantly hurt by their partner but not understand that they are victims of abuse. If your partner regularly makes you feel powerless, if they make you feel worthless, if they intimidate you, if they humiliate you – all of these can be signs of abuse.

Other common signs of mental abuse including being constantly criticized, being forced to isolate from your family and friends, being threatened with harm or having your children, family members, or pets threatened, being stalked or cyberstalked, being the victim of guilt trips, being the victim of name-calling or put downs, or being made to feel afraid via intimidation.

A Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help

You may wonder: How can an attorney help me get out of a mentally abusive relationship? When you work with Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell, we will work to use the law to protect you. We will do everything possible to help improve your chances of being safe and free.

For example, we can ensure that restraining orders are issued against the offender. We can petition for temporary alimony to help you get out. We can petition for long-term protection, child custody and child support – we can help ensure that you have the financial means you need to get out of what is not a safe relationship for you.

It is Normal to Feel Scared

If you are afraid of leaving, you should know that you are not alone. It is very rare that a woman walks away from a mentally abusive relationship with total clarity. It is normal to question if you are doing the right thing. It is normal to question if it is really abuse. The key is to call Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell anyway. Do not let the doubting thoughts get in the way of starting your life over.

Are You the Victim of Domestic Violence? Learn How to Protect Yourself When Leaving Your Spouse

Are You the Victim of Domestic Violence? Learn How to Protect Yourself When Leaving Your Spouse

If you are currently the victim of domestic violence, you have likely heard plenty of people wonder why people in your situation don’t just leave. They believe it is that simple. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we know that it isn’t. We know that you are in danger, that you are scared, and that you don’t know what to do. We are here to give you advice to help you get out for good.

Keep reading to learn more. If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Once you are safe, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free, confidential legal consultation.

Talk to Your Kids

If you have children with your spouse, talk to your children. This may be an uncomfortable conversation and you may believe that your children don’t know what’s going on. They do. Tell them that their only job when you are being attacked is to keep themselves safe. They are not responsible for, and should never try, to protect you. Tell them to find a safe place if they see violence. Teach your children to call for help and how to do so.

Be Ready to Go at a Moment’s Notice

You may never know when it will get so bad that you have to get out with no time to pack a bag. We recommend hiding cash, a spare key to the car, a spare key to the house, and a bag of clothes either with a friend, at work, or at the gum. If you have children, hide a bag for them as well.

Document the Abuse

If you are not yet ready to leave, then you can still help your case by documenting the injuries. Take pictures. Write descriptions of what happened. Write down dates and times. Note who, if anyone, witnessed the abuse. If possible, send this information to trusted friend or family member so that if something happens to you, there is a record of the abuse. If your spouse sends threatening texts or emails, save them.

Talk to Your Attorney About a Domestic Violence Restraining Order, Temporary Alimony, and Other Legal Options

It may seem that the law is not on your side. Your abuser may have made you believe that no one will believe you. This is false. You do have options, one of which is to have a domestic violence restraining order filed against them. If you are only staying because you believe it’s your only financial option, talk to your attorney about emergency, temporary alimony which will get you the money you need to get safe.

We know how serious this situation. We know how hard it is to leave. We know that you do not deserve what has happened to you and we are here to offer you the legal support you need. Contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 now for a free 100% confidential consultation.

The 4 Types of Visitation Allowed for in California Courts

The 4 Types of Visitation Allowed for in California Courts

California offers noncustodial parents rights to visitation, assuming the courts find them suitable. The main priority of the judge who allows visitation is to keep children safe. They will award custody based on what they believe is best for the child. Note that just because you pay child support does not automatically grant you rights of visitation.

Keep reading to learn about the four types of visitation allowed in California. If you have question about them, or you want to request visitation for yourself of prevent your co-parent from being granted visitation, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for your legal consultation.

  1. Reasonable Visitation
  2. In most cases, reasonable visitation is open-ended and allows both parents to work together to come up with the best visitation plan. This is the option that may be chosen if the relationship between the parents is relatively amicable and the courts trust that both parents can follow through on what’s best for their child.

    This is generally the ideal option, but even parents who communicate well and are willing to be flexible can end up disagreeing and causing complications in the schedule.

  3.  Scheduled Visitation
  4. This involves a detailed visitation plan with specific descriptions of when either parent has visitation / custody with the child. The schedule should include an outline of dates and times of visitations. It should include both a typical week as well as special rules for holidays, vacations, and other special occasions. This is a good option for parents who want to avoid constant disagreements about who should have the kids as it will all be spelled out very specifically.

  5. Supervised Visitation
  6. If the judge has reason to believe that the parent who does not have custody poses a threat to the well-being and / or safety of the children, then they may order that the noncustodial parent can only see their child when supervised. They can rule that the other parent is allowed to supervise, or they may require that a third-party supervise, such as a professional agency. In some cases, a judge may order supervised visitation not because they believe the child is in danger but in order to give the child and parent a chance to get familiar with one another.

  7. No Visitation
  8. If the court believes that there is a significant risk of physical or emotional damage if the child visits with the parent, even if supervised, then the judge may order that there is no visitation allowed. This means that the parent will have no contact at all with the child, in person or otherwise.

No matter which side of the battle you are on, you deserve an attorney who will be on your side. You have found that in Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell. Contact us at (909) 920-0908 now and request a free legal consultation.

There Are 4 Categories of Breach of Contract Per California Law

There Are 4 Categories of Breach of Contract Per California Law

Business contracts are an essential part of a well-functioning business. They outline the responsibilities and duties of each party and they offer recourse in the event that one party does not hold up their side of the contract. When the party does not do that, either by failing to comply with the contract, revealing that they do not have the intention of complying with it in the future, or, despite their best intentions, not being able to comply, then they are breaching the contract.

This can be very frustrating but there is good news: A business lawyer can help you find the solution that works for you. Continue reading to learn about the four categories of breach of contract, then contact an experienced breach of contract attorney to help you by calling Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908.

  1. Partial / Minor Breach
  2. A partial (aka minor) breach is one in which the non-breaching party is only able to sue for actual damages – not for specific performances given. For example, let’s say a contractor agrees to use one type of tile but then uses another type during a remodel. If that tile looks the same and is of the same quality, then the homeowner would not be able to claim a partial breach since there was no damage for the breach.

  3. Material Breach
  4. This is a much more substantial breach and allows the party who has experienced a loss to sue for damages. Let’s consider the same contractor example. If the tile they used instead was fragile and immediately began cracking, then the homeowner would be able to seek compensation. This may involve either getting financial assistance to replace the tiles or getting restitution equal to the loss of value in their home.

  5. Repudiatory / Fundamental Breaches
  6. Even more substantial breaches are called repudiatory or fundamental breaches. They dramatically change the situation and allow for the party who has been harmed to use for damages and to end the terms of the initial contract. Once again considering the tile contractor, let’s say that the tile they used reacted with the countertop and resulted in mold growing throughout the home. This would be a fundamental breach. Not only did it cause a breach in the terms of the contract, but there was significant damage and health issues.

  7. Anticipatory Breaches
  8. This allows for the party who has followed the contract to look at their broken contract as an immediate situation that requires suing before the service is completed. For example, if a contractor is in the middle of remodeling a client’s home but stops showing up and won’t answer their phone, the client can end the contract immediately.

Do you have questions about these or other breach of contract cases? Contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 now to request your free legal consultation.

3 of the Many Ways a Contract Attorney Can Help Individuals and Businesses

3 of the Many Ways a Contract Attorney Can Help Individuals and Businesses

Contracts are essential for all types of business and for work done even by one friend to another. A clearly, legally drawn contract can make conflict resolution simple as it will state the terms all parties must follow and the consequences of not doing so. However, a contract that is poorly drawn up may not have enough detail. It may not be enforceable.

Keep reading to discover three ways that a contract attorney can help you, whether you are an individual or a business. If you have to come up with and / or sign a contract, then you should be working with a business attorney. Once you understand what a contract attorney can do, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation.

  1. A Contract Attorney Can Draft Contracts

  2. First and foremost, you need a contract that is created to protect you and others involved in the transaction. If a contract is not drafted correctly, then it could end up to not be legally binding. It is all too common for a layperson to add an unfair and / or illegal provision that they did not realize was unacceptable. In other cases, they may leave a loophole that they did not realize could be exploited. Letting an attorney handle these cases is the best way to ensure the contract you create does what you think it does.

  3.  We Can Help with Contract Disputes

  4. In the event there is a disagreement about a previously signed contract, the right contact attorney can help you settle the issue outside of court. When you choose Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell, you can count on him to take the time to understand the dispute and your side of it. He will then provide honest advice on both how strong your case is and the advantages for the various dispute-resolving options.

  5. Let us Handle Breaches of Contract

  6. If a dispute cannot be resolved outside of the courtroom then you will need a contract attorney who can provide the aggressive response that is necessary to protect your interests. You can count on Attorney Howell to use his many years of courtroom experience whether you are bringing the claim of breach of contract or you are responding to one.

Get a Free Legal Consultation from an Experienced Contract Attorney Today

If you find yourself dealing with any of the above three issues then your next call should be to Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908. We are standing by to take your call and understand your needs. With a support staff who cares about your case, and an attorney who has the experience to find the best possible outcome, you are in good hands. Whether your question is simple or complex, we invite you to contact us today.