All posts by Torrence Howell

How Your Attorney Can Help You With Community Property Issues

The divorce process can be a long and painful one. The stress of dividing family property between two spouses is an additional burden that can make the process even more complicated. Many couples divorcing may assume they can weather these difficulties on their own, especially if the split is an amicable one. However, it can be difficult to determine how to fairly divide marital assets. Hiring an attorney to help you weather the divorce process and to ensure your joint property is fairly distributed is a vital step toward resuming your life as quickly and easily as possible after the split.

If my divorce is in California, how does that affect me?

California is one of the nine states in the US that are classified as Community Property states. This means that the property and assets acquired during the marriage belong to both spouses. The family home, any other jointly owned property, cars, and businesses all fall under the category of community assets. Also included are the income earned during the marriage, as well as retirement savings, pension plans, and other employee benefits. During a divorce in a community property state, the value of the property will be divided equally among both spouses.

Anything that was the property of either spouse before the marriage occurred remains the sole property of that spouse – such as a business that the wife had started before marrying, or a vacation home the husband had previously purchased. Also, inheritance or gifts given to one spouse do not qualify as community property. In some cases, an agreement signed before the marriage can make a difference as to which properties either spouse is entitled to.

Does this present any difficulties?

It can be difficult to determine the value to be divided if the property owned by one spouse before the marriage generates income or assets that were shared during the marriage. For example, the wife’s business was partially managed by her husband and the income generated went into furnishing and maintaining their home. Or an inheritance received by the husband was used to pay down their joint mortgage. This is a tricky legal process that will require an attorney to untangle, in order to fairly benefit both parties involved and to ensure that the sole owner of the property does not end up losing his or her assets.

How can I ensure my interests are protected?

Divorce is emotionally devastating enough without the added worry of trying to figure out what you’re entitled to receiving. If there are minor children from the marriage, it’s even more important that the process goes as smoothly as possible without the added bitterness that can stem from a property battle. If you’re concerned about community property laws, get in touch with the Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell.

What else are you worried about when it comes to community property laws?

Getting A Divorce

Ending a marriage is never an easy thing. Once you have made the decision, and feel this is the best course for your future, you may feel completely at a loss for what to do next. While involved in the emotional trauma of ending your marriage and starting your life fresh, you could feel overwhelmed with the simple tasks of hiring an attorney and filing for divorce. Follow the steps listed below in order to lessen anxiety and stress and feel positively about the direction you are headed.

Step One: Hire An Attorney

It is important in this situation that your needs and desires are well represented. If this is your first experience with divorce, hiring a lawyer can ensure that your needs are well represented and fought for. Ideally, both parties would be respectful and interested in courteous divorce proceedings; unfortunately this is not always the case. Not only will an attorney protect your rights and needs, but they will also offer you the experience and knowledge necessary to know how to proceed with your divorce.

Step Two: File A Petition In Court

One or both spouses will need to file a petition in a court of law to end the marriage. If you have hired an attorney, they will handle the process for you. In this petition, several things will be listed, such as:

  • Assets owned by the family
  • Children’s names and ages
  • Each spouse’s yearly salary
  • Temporary custody request

Other issues that must be urgently decided may also be included in the petition that is filed with the court.

Step Three: Discovery

During the discovery process, each side will ask the other for specific information about the value of certain assets. Some examples are retirement funds or the value of a business owned. This is done to ensure that all assets are represented fairly and can be divided accurately by the court. An attorney can also handle the discovery process if you choose to hire one.

Step Four: The Decision

Divorces in which both parties are agreeable and have set clear terms are often settled quickly by a judge. Once each party has completed the process of discovery, each side will then make a motion asking for certain assets to be granted to them, such as custody or visitation rights of children. Once both parties have agreed on the terms, the judge can then grant the divorce and divide the assets evenly.

Protecting Yourself

While all of these steps may be performed without an attorney, you can guarantee that there is always someone on your side when you hire one. A good lawyer will make sure you are not taken advantage of and that you get what you need from your divorce.

What steps will you take in order to protect yourself during a divorce?

Should I Hire An Attorney If I’m Getting A Divorce?

Whether you’re considering a divorce or you have already started the process, one of the most common questions is whether or not you should hire an attorney. Money may be tight right now—figuring out how you will be able to make rent or mortgage payments without a spouse’s salary, supporting your children, and more—and an attorney can seem like a big expense that you can manage without. However, before you decide to do it on your own instead of hiring an attorney, it’s a good idea to consider the potential implications and costs of not hiring one.

Specialized Legal Knowledge

If you’ve never been a family law attorney, or you’ve never been divorced, chances are you are not an expert on the laws surrounding the process. In this case, what you do not know can definitely hurt you, especially if your soon-to-be-former spouse has the benefit of an attorney. An attorney’s specialized knowledge of legal procedures and your rights can help you get a fair divorce. In addition, the laws are constantly changing, so if your divorce spans a significant timeframe, laws may even change in the midst of the proceedings. Having an attorney who knows and keeps up on these things can be tremendously beneficial.

Filing and Petitioning

Every legal process is filled with specific deadlines and filing requirements, and divorce is no exception. If you fail to turn in the right paperwork, filled out correctly, and by a very precise deadline, you may lose your entire case on a simple technicality. When you hire a divorce attorney, that person knows what paperwork must be filed, what petitions must be completed, how to fill it out, and all the deadlines. It is his or her business to remember so you can focus on getting your life together in the wake of such a monumental change.

A Negotiator on Your Side

Divorce is a give and take process, but without experience in negotiating for things like property division, spousal support, and child custody, you could find yourself getting the worst end of the deal in some or all of these areas. It’s best if you have someone on your side who has negotiated these deals before and understands what a fair deal looks like.

Going through a divorce is an extremely stressful time in your life, so it’s best if you have someone who can guide you through the process—filing the right paperwork, negotiating fair terms for the final settlement, and keeping you apprised of changes and intricacies in the law that can benefit your case. When you need an attorney on your side for a divorce case, contact the Law Offices of Torrence L Howell.

How do you think a family law attorney could most benefit you during your divorce?

Reasons To Incorporate Your Business

Why Should You Incorporate Your Business

When you begin a business, there are so many things that you need to consider. The first and most critical aspect is what your business is going to be. You will need an idea and a name. After that, the rest is all details. You should find a location, decorate your store or office, hire some employees, and figure out who will mange each aspect of the business. One part of business that you may not think about right off is what type of business structure you will have. While there are many options to choose from, the following will discuss some important reasons to get incorporated.

Protection Of Your Assets

While you are probably like most other business owners and plan to thrive, you should protect yourself against going out of business or being sued. Unfortunately in today’s economy those are real possibilities that many businesses have to face. When you get incorporated, your assets will typically be protected in such a situation. Rather than all of your personal assets being up for grabs in a lawsuit, only your investment in the company will be available for the taking. This is not always guaranteed, but is generally the case.


Are you starting up a business, but you want to remain anonymous? There are probably a few reasons why you might not want the general public to know all of your business affairs. An incorporated business is a great way to achieve this privacy.

Tax Advantages

With another business entity, you cannot achieve the same level of tax advantages as you can when you become incorporated. Incorporating your business provides you a separate, distinct legal entity. Structuring different transactions between you and your company can save you money when it comes to taxes. If you are a part of a business entity, such as sole proprietor or another entity besides incorporated, you cannot participate in some of the same tax benefits.

Raising Capital

Raising money through investments is a lot easier for a corporation than another business entity. Finding money from banks or other lenders is simpler when you are a corporation. Selling shares of stock is an effortless way to take on investors for a corporation.


While it might be all in the eye of the beholder, many companies have more authority simply because they have INC. or CORP. at the end of their company name. People feel more secure when they are dealing with a corporation. They feel like the business is more credible and that they can trust the business dealings that they have with a corporation.

As you look over your big list of items to get done before you can open up shop, don’t forget to become incorporated. With so many benefits ranging from protection of assets to tax advantages to simple credibility, it is no wonder why scores of businesses have already become incorporated.

If you have questions about the reasons you should become incorporated, there are places to turn. Visit to discuss some of those benefits and to really understand the legal benefits that come with being a corporation.

What business are you getting incorporated?

How to Calculate Business Valuation

Different Methods for Calculating Business Valuation

When you own a business in Upland, CA, there may come a time when you need to determine the value of that business.  For instance, if you have decided to sell your business, you must know its value, or if you are going through divorce litigation, the value of your business must be disclosed.  There are many other reasons that you need to know the value of your business, so here are some different approaches you may take in evaluating your business.

Some Things To Be Taken Into Account

  • The value standard or conditions under which it will be valued must be determined
  • The premise of value, such as assuming that the business will remain a going concern
  • Economic conditions must be considered, particularly regarding the specific industry of the business
  • Financial statements must be normalized

Income Valuation Method

The income method of valuating businesses in Upland, CA, is designed to come up with a fair market value.  The professional determining the value may include cash flows, capitalization of earnings or the excess earnings method.  The process includes using a discount rate or a capitalization rate so that the present value of the business can be determined.

Asset-based Valuation Method

This method is sometimes seen as a more objective method than the Income valuation method.  The basic idea is that the asset values are adjusted to current or fair values based on the current market, and adjusted for liabilities, which gives you the book value.  The liquidation value is often used when the business is not expected to remain a going concern.

Market Valuation Method

The market valuation method of calculating the value of a business in Upland, CA, is based on the principle of supply and demand.  Basically, the sellers will not accept less than a certain value and the buyers will not pay more than they would pay for a comparable enterprise, so that equilibrium has been reached.  The challenges with market valuations come because it can be difficult to find public companies that are comparable to the actual business being valued.  There must be something to compare to that is sufficiently equal to make an accurate comparison.

Option Pricing Valuation Method

Because equity can be looked at as an option or a call option on the firm, option pricing can be a method used to determine value.  Even if the debt of a business is high, equity can remain valuable.  Basically, investors could exercise their options to either repay business debt or to liquidate the business.  This type of valuation is used for firms that are struggling and that would be difficult to value using other valuation methods

Seeking Help for Business Evaluation

Determining the value of your business in Upland, CA, is usually a difficult and complex job.  If you don’t use the best valuation methods, you may not end up with an appropriate value and may even cause critical problems.  Working with a professional who has the experience necessary to select appropriate valuation methods can be very beneficial.  In addition, they can offer an objective view and give the investors or buyers greater confidence in an independent review.

Do you know the value of your business?

Spousal Support Factors To Consider

Going through divorce is never easy and one of the big decisions that must be made is the amount of spousal support to ask for.  There are several factors that should be carefully examined and discussed between you and your attorney in order to make a fair claim that will be approved by the court.


The amount of money that your spouse makes and that you make, if you are employed, is going to play a key role in determining how much spousal support you will likely receive.  You should provide all sources of income that your spouse has such as investments, income from property, salaries, bonuses, and any fringe benefits (company car, club memberships, etc…).  You will need to provide paper proof of all claims you make but your attorney should be able to help you obtain the necessary documentation.  These same income sources also apply to you as well, if you are working.

Earning Capacity

Even if your spouse should lose their job and take their time in searching for a new one, you can still be awarded spousal support.  You will need to show the court your spouse’s working skills, experience, and evidence that jobs in their skill range are out there.  In effect, you are proving to the court that your spouse is simply not putting in the effort to obtain employment.

Length of your marriage

The easiest way to put this is that the longer you are married, the more spousal support you may be entitled to.  If you have children and have remained at home the last several years to care for those children, the court understands that it will not be easy for you to find employment in your field now that you are responsible for the day to day expenses.  In the state of California, if you have been married for ten years or more, you can receive spousal support for as long as you need it.

Your lifestyle

As a married couple, you may have enjoyed a higher level of lifestyle.  Perhaps you belong to the local country club, you have a favorite salon where you get a pedicure every couple of weeks, or you purchase designer goods.  With a divorce, that standard of living can drastically change for you but there is a stipulation in the law that if your spouse makes sufficient money to support both of you in this same lifestyle, than you can include this in your calculation of spousal support.

Age and health

Your age and health should also be considered when you and your attorney are figuring out the amount of spousal support to ask for.  Make sure that your attorney has a complete picture of any health issues that you struggle with.  You will also need to show medical evidence to the court, backing up your claim for higher spousal support if this is a primary factor.  However, it should be remembered that spousal support will only be awarded if your spouse makes enough money to pay the amount requested.

A spouse’s requirement to pay spousal support is also influenced by their health and age.  If you have both reached retirement, your spouse’s ailing health or age should be considered by you and your attorney as you calculate a support amount.