All posts by Torrence Howell

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.

Taxes and Joint Custody: Who Can Claim the Kids?

Taxes and Joint Custody: Who Can Claim the Kids?

Child custody and child support can seem complicated enough on the surface, but it can be even more overwhelming when you consider all of the legal ramifications that lie below the surface. For example: If there is joint custody then which parent is able to claim the kids on their tax return? Keep reading to get the facts about this type of case and then contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 if you are in need of a consultation with a family law attorney.

Cases of Shared Custody

As far as the law goes, you can claim your child if they are financially dependent on you. You can claim an exemption for yourself, another for your spouse (if you file together), and one each for each dependent child in your home. It is possible that if you are paying child support for a child that does not live with you, the court may allow for you to claim the deduction.

Think of it this way: Taxes simply reflect finances – not living situations. If one parent is paying for the costs of the child and another parent is raising the child, the one who is financially responsible would likely be the one who could claim the child on their taxes.

Cases of 50/50 Custody

In the event that you and your co-parent have split custody, then it may not be obvious who should get the tax exemption. In most cases, whatever court handled your custody case will include the tax exemption in their order and the rule should be clear. However, you mand your co-parent may be able to negotiate to come to a conclusion about the exemption yourselves.

Generally speaking, if both parents share time halfway and both parents pay for half of the child’s financial needs, then the exemption will go to the parent with a higher income. However, that parent can fill out an IRS form to essentially grant the exemption to the other party. This may come in exchange for additional time with the child or another negotiated bonus. Some parents will take turns and claim their child every other year. If you have more than one child then you may split the exemptions.

Only One Parent Can Claim the Exemption – Be Sure You Know Which One It Is

The bottom line is that while this may seem like a minor issue, it is essential that you know who gets the exemption. If you claim it when you are not legally able to do so, and your co-parent also claims it, then you could end up in trouble with the IRS. If neither you nor your co-parent claims it then you are essentially leaving money on the table.

If you have questions about child custody, child support, and other family law issues, we welcome your call to Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908.

Unmarried California Couples Cannot Take Advantage of Community Property Laws When Dividing Property

Unmarried California Couples Cannot Take Advantage of Community Property Laws When Dividing Property

When a married couple gets a divorce in California, any property obtained during that marriage is subject to community property laws. This requires that all property is divided 50% to each party. When an unmarried couple has property such as homes and cars, the rules are not that simple. If you are in this situation then your best option is to contact a family law attorney for a consultation. You can also keep reading to get the basic information about these cases.

Cohabitating Couples Are Treated as Roommates by the Law

The law essentially treats couples like they do roommates – each member has full ownership of their own property. On paper this is simple but in reality it is far from simple. After all, most couples have many items they bought together. This may even include expensive things like homes and cars. It is these cases in which determining property rights can be a challenge.

Consider less expensive items too, such as bedding, towels, TVs, and other household items. If they were bought for joint use they are jointly owned – but how are they then divided up? Your attorney will help you determine the answer to that question.

Splitting Up Cars and Houses After a Breakup

Believe it or not, cars and house can be easier to split up than other goods for one main reason: They come with ownership papers. It may be hard to prove that you are half owner of the kitchen table, but if you are half owner of the house or car, then your name should be on the deed or title. If the property has a sole owner then that owner will get the property.

If you are both on the deed or title then you likely fall under the legal category of “tenancy in common.” This means that both of you would keep your share of the property based on what you agreed to or who paid for it. For example, if you paid for 75% of the car then you would own 75%.

You cannot cut a car in halves or quarters, so you will need to do one of two things. First, you can sell all your joint property and split the proceeds based on the percentage of ownership each had. Second, you can split up the belongings based on their value. For example, if the items you jointly owned were worth $10,000 and you each had 50% ownership, then you would each take items worth $5,000.

You Need the Right Attorney for Your Property Rights Case

Just because you were not married does not mean you do not need an attorney when you split up. In fact, not being married may mean that it is more complicated and an attorney is even more important. You can contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 to request a free legal consultation.

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.