All posts by Torrence Howell

Do Not Wait for the Worst to Happen: You Can Take Action if Your Romantic Partner is Making Threats Against You

Do Not Wait for the Worst to Happen: You Can Take Action if Your Romantic Partner is Making Threats Against You

If you are in an intimate relationship with a person who is making threats against you, take those threats seriously. Do not wait for them to act on those threats. You have rights and a domestic violence attorney can help ensure that your rights are respected. You do not have to live in fear – there are options out there. Contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free confidential legal consultation.

The Threats Do Not Have to Be Against You

In fact, not only can you take action if a romantic partner (or ex romantic partner) makes threats against you, you can take action if they have made threats against certain other people as well. For example, if they have threatened your children or other family members, or even if they have threatened your pet. The threats do not have to be made in person – they can be made exclusively online.

The Threats Must Considered “Legitimate”

A person can make a “joke” and not be guilty of making threats if the joke they made does not involve a real and legitimate reason for the subject of the joke to be fearful. For example, if a person threatened to set off a nuclear bomb in your home, this would not be credible because they do not have access to a nuclear. What the courts refer to as a “reasonable” person would not find this frightening.

On the other hand, if that same person threatened to drive their car through your front door and they had the means to do so, then this may be considered a criminal threat. Again, the judge or jury will have to decide if the threat is “reasonable.” This means that you being fearful is not enough – a reasonable person must also find the threats credible.

We Can Secure Emergency Protection for You

In order to get a temporary restraining order, all you need to do is contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell and we can help you through the process. However, if you want a permanent restraining order then you will need evidence. We can help you gather hits evidence, which may involve text messages, recordings of voice mails, and other types of evidence.

Get Away Now!

The last thing you want is to wait until you have actually been injured to file a complaint. If you have reason to believe that you are in danger then now is the time to get away. Contact an attorney such as Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell to get the restraining order set up. Note that your call to us at (909) 920-0908 is confidential. Even if you just want advice and decide that now is not the time to leave, everything you say to us will be confidential. Call now to get started.

When Should You Hire an Attorney to Draft a Contract for You?

When Should You Hire an Attorney to Draft a Contract for You?

No one wants to spend money on an attorney if it’s not necessary yet not hiring a business attorney can end up costing more in the long run. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we know that you may not want an attorney to review every contract you draft. For example, if you lend your friend $100 you likely do not need an attorney to look over your informal contract.

On the other hand, something more complicated such as a business merger would obviously require the help of an attorney. These are easy decisions to make but the tough choices are between them. How do you decide when you have a situation that is neither that simple nor that complex? At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we are always happy to take your call and help you understand how we can help. You can also read on to get tips on situations that may require an attorney and those that may not.

Do Not Trust Boilerplate Language

There are numerous websites that offer contracts you can download. They claim to have all the legalese needed and to a non-attorney they can appear comprehensive. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. For example, it’s common for these to be general contracts that are not adapted for particular states. This can be an issue when a contract includes a clause that is not enforceable in your state or the state of other parties involved in the contract.

Second, the boilerplate language could include items that are not enforceable anywhere. There is a misconception that if a contract states a fact then it is always law by reason of both parties signing it. People believe that if Terms and Conditions for a product or service are agreed to by the party using or buying the product or service, then they are always legal. This is not the case.

There are many specific things that are not legal to include in a contract. Depending on the specifics of the case, if there is a major portion of the contract that is rendered unenforceable, then the entire contract could be deemed unenforceable.

We Can Help Create and Negotiate Contracts

Not only can we create contracts that are legally binding for all parties, but we may be able to negotiate the best possible deal for you. Depending on what the contract is for, we may be able to find alternative, creative solutions. You may not realize that a contract is not in your favor until an attorney reads it.

Whether the contract is a lease or a business merger, it is likely worth it to at least have an attorney review your contract before signing it. The process is simple: Just contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 and let us get you started right away.

Your Pre-Nuptial May Not Be Enforced: Learn How to Find Out if It is Legally Binding

Your Pre-Nuptial May Not Be Enforced: Learn How to Find Out if It is Legally Binding

Most couples do not contact a family law attorney to have a pre-nuptial agreement drawn up before they are married. Those that do assume that anything in this agreement will be legally binding. This is not always the case. Read on to find out about situations that may render a pre-nuptial unenforceable. Then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 if you are contemplating a divorce and want to know what your options are.

Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

In 1986, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act was passed in California. It covers the laws governing prenuptial agreements. Essentially, this agreement is a contract that you and your spouse sign. The contract lays out how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. We strongly recommend having an attorney draw up and review the prenuptial agreement to ensure that both parties fully understand what they are signing.

Things a Prenuptial Agreement Can Do

The aforementioned law specifies a few things that a prenuptial agreement can do. It is cover how finances and assets are divided up, as long as following said contract is not considered “unconscionable.” This means, in short, that the arrangement cannot leave one spouse unable to support themselves at all.

A prenuptial can specify what is community property and what is separate property. Without a prenuptial agreement to lay this out, most assets obtained before marriage are separate property and most assets obtained during marriage are community property. A prenuptial can also waive a spouse’s right to request spousal support or an inheritance.

Things a Prenuptial Agreement Cannot Do

Though you can technically write anything you would like into a prenuptial agreement, some items are not enforceable because they are not allowed by law. For example, you cannot include anything that affects the best interest of the couple’s children and you cannot waive or reduce child support. However, the agreement can include information on increasing child support over the legally required amounts.

Finally, if a judge feels that a prenuptial agreement encourages divorce, they may deem it unenforceable. As one example, if a prenuptial agreement awards a large sum of money to one spouse, then this could potentially make it more attractive to that spouse to divorce. As a result, a judge may find it unenforceable.

We Can Help You with All Issues Related to Prenuptial Agreements

Whether you are about to get married and want to draw up a prenuptial agreement, you have a prenuptial agreement and are getting divorced, or have other questions about prenuptial agreements, Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell is here to help. Contact us now at (909) 920-0908 to get started. We will review your case and offer advice on how best to proceed.

The 4 Steps Involved in Business Litigation in California

The 4 Steps Involved in Business Litigation in California

The litigation process can be challenging for an individual but gets even more complex when it involves a business. This is why companies hire a business law attorney to help with their cases. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we are happy to answer any questions you have about the process – just give us a call at (909) 920-0908. In the meantime, you can keep reading to learn about the four basic steps involved in most business litigation.

Note that not all business litigation will involve these four steps. When all four steps are involved, the amount of time each one will last varies based on a number of factors. We can go over what to expect with your specific case when you call us.

Step 1: Consultation

The first step is for the company to consult with an attorney and discuss the facts of the case. What will be covered will depend on several things, including whether the client is planning to file a claim against another party or if they have a claim brought against them and need help defending it. Either way, the best time to meet with a business law attorney is sooner rather than later. Losing time can result in costly delays and valuable rights.

After you have met with your attorney, they will begin to review all relevant documents to prepare for the case. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we will look at all applicable laws, gather evidence, and speak to our own expert witnesses when necessary.

Step 2: Filing and discovery

Once we have a good idea of what the case involves, we will file necessary documents. If you are bring the case against another party then this will likely involve filing the lawsuit. If you are responding to a lawsuit brought against you then it may involve a response to the lawsuit filed against you.

The discovery process is also part of the filing process. This is the point at which we will request information from the other side. Evidence will be traded between both parties so that there are no surprises at the trial phase. Evidence can be gathered via deposition, written discovery, and discovery documents.

This is also the point at which both parties may sit down and try to come to an agreement without going to trial. However, if the other party is not willing to compromise on a reasonable agreement then your attorney will take your case to court.

Step 3: Trial phase

After all preparations are made, the case goes before a judge. The plaintiff has the responsibility of proving their case so they go first. The defendant’s attorney then responds to the evidence that has been presented against them. Each side also gets one chance at rebuttal to respond to what the other side has said.

Step 4: Post-trial phase

After the trial has been decided, post-trial actions such as appeals and collections on the final judgment can take place.

When you work with Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we will be there for you from step one through to the end. Call us at (909) 920-0908 to get the process started.

Learn How to Become Financially Independent After a Divorce

Learn How to Become Financially Independent After a Divorce

There are many aspects of divorcing that are challenging. For a person who has been a stay-at-home parent, or who was otherwise financially supported by their spouse, figuring out how to become financially independent can be a huge challenge. At Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we are here to help make this process easier for you.

Keep reading to learn more about how to become financially independent after a divorce. If you need help applying for spousal support or otherwise require legal assistance, you can contact us at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation.

What to do when spousal support is not enough

There are several types of spousal support that are designed to help the lower-earner become financially independent after a divorce. For example, in some cases a spouse may be required to pay for the other’s education so they can begin to support themselves. In some situations, the amount of spousal support may not be enough, perhaps because the higher income provider cannot afford more support.

In this instance, it will be time to find work that can support you. That may seem like an obvious tip, but remember that this is not the same as finding the same type of work you once had. For example, if you once worked as a server in a restaurant, this may not provide the income needed to be financially independent once you have children. In that case, consider what skills you have earned. Remember that your time raising children or running a home was not wasted time – you learned many skills. Make sure that shows up on your resume and that you are looking for jobs accordingly.

Understanding child support

It is not uncommon for a person who is about to get divorced to have an inaccurate idea of what child support is and what it can do. Some people assume that it is something that can help them run their household. That is not its purpose and it cannot be used in that way. However, others go too far the other way and believe it should not be used at all when figuring out how to become independent after a divorce.

You can use child support for the costs of raising your child. This includes their food, transportation costs, clothing, and perhaps part of the mortgage or rent payment. While you should not plan to survive off of child support alone, as you build a budget to determine how much you need to be financially independent, remember that many of the costs associated with raising your child can be offset by child custody payments.

If you have questions about how to ensure you get a fair settlement in your divorce then we recommend you contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 sooner rather than later. We are here to answer your questions, offer a consultation, and get you through what is a potentially difficult process.

Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have 50/50 Custody in California?

Do I Have to Pay Child Support if I Have 50/50 Custody in California?

It wasn’t long ago that a family court almost always awarded custody to the mother when parents divorced. In this case, the father would almost always be the noncustodial parent and would be in charge of paying child support. The good news is that this has changed in the last two decades. Today, courts throughout the U.S. – and in California – do not assume that the mother is automatically the better fit.

However, with this good news comes complications. While most people are glad that the courts are now considering what is truly in the best interest of the child instead of awarding custody based on a parent’s gender, the new custody rules have made some situations and unclear. For example, what happens when parents share custody 50 / 50 – does one of them pay child support? Keep reading to get the answer – then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 for a free legal consultation to find out more about your options.

Child support in the era of joint custody

It may seem that if both parents agree to joint custody, live in the same school zone, and share the care for the children, that there would be no reason for child support. That is not how it necessarily works in California.

In most cases, one of the parents will make more money than the other parent makes. In that case, the parent with higher earnings may be required to pay child support, or they may have to pay for additional costs such as extracurricular costs, school, and childcare costs. It all depends on how much more the higher earning makes and how much the child’s care costs are.

Now consider a different case: A case in which parents share custody but not equally. Let’s say the child is with one parent five days a week and the other parent two days a week. Will this be a factor in determining child support? In most cases, yes – the amount of time a child spends with each parent will be one factor in determining child support. The more time a child spends with you, the less support you will be obligated to pay.

Once again, it is not always this simple. The actual formula used for child support is complicated and there are other factors in play beyond how much time a child spends with one parent. For example, if one parent has the child five days per week but makes five times the salary as the parent who has the child for two days, then the higher earner may in fact have to pay child support – even though they have the child roughly ¾ of the week.

If you have questions about child support, child custody, or other family law concerns, contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 now for a free legal consultation.

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.