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Often-Forgotten Issues You and Your Ex Need to Agree on in a Divorce

Often-Forgotten Issues You and Your Ex Need to Agree on in a DivorceWhen people start divorce proceedings, they often think it will be as easy as signing some papers and paying legal fees. But it’s often much more nuanced and complicated—especially if you have children. Sure people think about working out custody agreements and child support payment amounts, but there are many other issues that couples often overlook at first. Here are some often-forgotten issues you’ll need to make sure you come to an agreement on during your divorce proceedings.

Most divorcing couples will need to remember to consider:

  • How will bank accounts and liquid assets be divided?
  • Who will gain possession of the family car, or will it be sold for the money to be split evenly?
  • How will family photographs, jewelry, and other keepsakes be split up?
  • Who will pay the legal costs of the divorce, including filing fees and expert witness fees, accountant fees, appraiser fees, etc.?

Those who have children will need to remember to consider:

  • Will the child(ren) be able to visit and/or relocate to a foreign country? What kind of permission will be necessary – from just one or both parents?
  • Will both parents need to be kept abreast of the child’s health status, as well as any illnesses and missed school days?
  • Will visitation from all grandparents at anytime be allowed, or will the divorcing couple agree to limitations?
  • Who will pay for extracurricular activities such as sports and summer camp?
  • Who will pay for medical insurance coverage as well as dental, eyeglasses, and other miscellaneous expenses?
  • Who will claim the children on their taxes?

When you hire Attorney Torrence L. Howell, he will walk you through the many legal issues surrounding a divorce. Rest assured he will handle your divorce proceedings with care and strict attention to detail. Call (909) 920-0908 to set up a free consultation today.

Key Questions to Consider About Parenting Following a Divorce

Key Questions to Consider About Parenting Following a DivorceGoing through a divorce is often hard on everyone involved, including children. If you’re getting a divorce and have children, make sure you ask yourself and discuss with your ex-spouse these key questions. This is just a sampling to get the ball rolling—other issues will surely come to mind as divorce proceedings continue.

Attorney Torrence L. Howell has over 13 years of experience helping Southern Californian families deal with divorce and reach harmonious outcomes for all parties, so he’d be happy to discuss your particular case anytime. Just call (909) 920-0908 to set up a free consultation.

First start with the physical presence of the children in the homes. Will one parent take sole custody and make all the decisions, or will there be joint decision-making and residence primarily with one parent? Alternatively, will the child live with each parent equal amounts of time, and will all decision making be done with both parents’ mutual consent? Which decisions will need to be made by both parents, and which ones can be left to one or the other parent’s discretion?

What about special times of year? Who will take care of the child during holidays, long weekends, school recesses, and summer vacations? Will birthdays be celebrated at one parent’s home, or the other? Will both parents be able to call their child anytime when he or she is at the other parent’s home? Will each parent be able to take the child out of the country for a vacation or permanent relocation?

How about access to medical and dental records? Will that be restricted to one parent, or both? Will both parents be in touch with the child’s school about grades and other matters, or just one? Will both parents need to be notified in case of illnesses and accidents?

In terms of the financial concerns, who will pay child support, and what amount? Who will pay extra expenses such as college or private school tuition, childcare costs, summer camp, and extracurricular activities expenses?

Parents often don’t realize how divisive these issues can be until they’re in the throws of divorce proceedings. Attorney Torrence L. Howell has helped hundreds of couples through these rather sticky issues, and eventually a settlement is always reached. Call (909) 920-0908 for a free consultation today.

Selling Your Business? Don’t Do It Alone

Selling Your Business? Don’t Do It AloneLike any other business transaction, you might think that selling your business isn’t that complicated. Why would you need to consult a lawyer for legal assistance? It’s actually really important that you contact attorney Torrence L. Howell when you’re planning to sell your business. There are legal nuances that are nearly impossible for someone who isn’t extremely familiar with California laws to know about.

Torrence L. Howell is the best choice when you’re ready to sell your business because he is extremely experienced with both business and family law. This is an advantage because if you have your paperwork perfectly in order, no one will have to worry, even children who will eventually inherit your estate. If you don’t have the paperwork done well by a legal expert, there could be mistakes that could cost you and your heirs thousands. For example, you could leave yourself liable to damages incurred after the company has changed hands. That would be nightmare scenario.

Save your time the hassle and consult with Torrence L. Howell. Your first meeting is absolutely free, so there’s nothing to lose and so much to gain. Give yourself some peace of mind before, during, and after the sale of your business and work with a hard-working, knowledgeable attorney who you can trust—Torrence L. Howell. Call today (909) 920-0908.

Top 5 Reasons Why Torrence L. Howell is the Best Lawyer to Represent You

Top 5 Reasons Why Torrence L. Howell is the Best Lawyer to Represent YouWhen choosing a lawyer in San Bernadino, Los Angeles, Riverside, or Orange counties in California, it’s important to pick the one who will represent you the best in court. Your freedom, financial stability, reputation, and/or family structure could be on the line, so you don’t want to scrimp when choosing a lawyer. Torrence L. Howell is the best choice for any case involving family law, business law, or criminal law. Here are the top 5 reasons why:

  1. He has a ton of experience.Mr. Howell was admitted to the California and US District Court Central District of California bars in 1995. He has been in private practice in California for over 20 years, so there’s no situation he hasn’t seen before. No matter what legal situation you’re dealing with, he’ll know just what to do to attain the most favorable outcome.
  2.  He’s a family man.Mr. Howell has been married since 1992 and has one son named Dylan Howell. He gets that when children are involved in any family dispute, the situation is much more dire and in need of compassionate support. If your family is going through a tough time, whether it’s a divorce, lack of child support payments, domestic violence, or any other hardship, you can count on Mr. Howell to treat you with respect and dignity. He’ll do everything he can to help your family recover and go on to live healthy, happy lives.
  3. He will fight for you. You can count on Torrence L. Howell to conscientiously study every detail of your case to represent you and your needs in a way that will get results in court.

Call (909) 920-0908 for a free consultation.

10 Points to Cover in Your Parenting Plan

A parenting plan can be a valuable tool for unmarried parents, but only if it is comprehensive.

10 Points to Cover in Your Parenting PlanAbsent the automatic legal rights conferred on married couples, parents need to establish custody and visitation agreements through the family court system. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a judge decide every aspect of your case. In fact, whenever possible it is best to reach an agreement outside of court, as this will be faster and less costly. Assuming parentage is already established, you can begin by creating a parenting plan describing how you and your co-parent want to divide responsibilities in caring for your child. Then, you can file this plan with the court and its provisions will become enforceable by a judge in the event of any dispute between you and the child’s other parent.

Parenting plans will be most useful if they are comprehensive and address all the possible concerns that may come up in the course of co-parenting a child. Here are 10 important points to cover in your parenting plan.

Physical Custody: First of all, the parenting plan should designate whether physical custody is shared by both parents or held by only one parent. In the case of joint physical custody, the child’s primary residence should be specified.

Legal Custody: The parenting plan should also address legal custody, or the right to participate in important care decisions for the child. If legal custody is shared, the plan should specify which decisions require consent from both parents (school choice, medical care, vaccinations, etc.).

Time-Sharing Schedule: For shared custody, you need to set up a schedule for moving the child between the parents’ homes. For visitation, you would need to specify the frequency and length of visits, where visits will occur, and whether they need to be supervised.

Holiday Schedule: Be as detailed in possible in specifying how parents will share various holidays, birthdays, vacations, and other special days.

Transportation Arrangements: For harmonious handoffs, it is best to specify who will be responsible for taking kids to and from parents’ homes on visits and whether car seats must be used for young children.

Travel Permissions: The parenting plan can address the possibility of one parent traveling out of state or abroad with the kids. It might give automatic permission for certain trips or require the consent of both parents on a case by case basis.

Third Party Visitation Permissions: If both parents approve of the kids spending quality time alone with other relatives such as grandparents, relevant provisions can be written into the parenting plan.

Rules & Discipline: Co-parenting works best when parents present a united front on issues of rules and discipline. The parenting plan can help by specifying rules for things like curfews, internet use, cell phone use, etc. along with consequences for violations.

Communications: The parenting plan should also outline how parents will communicate with one another about parenting decisions and schedules.

Future Changes: Try to make your parenting plan relevant for the life of your child by including provisions that will allow for changes as the child grows. For example, you might specify that the custody sharing schedule will change when the child enters high school and needs a more stable routine during the week.

If you have questions or concerns about drafting a parenting plan, consult skilled child custody attorney Torrence L. Howell.

How Can You Prove You Deserve More Parental Rights?

Learn how previously “unfit” parents can petition the court for increased contact with their kids.

How Can You Prove You Deserve More Parental Rights?In the state of California, the court makes custody and visitation orders based on what is proven to be in the best interests of the children. This is assumed to be frequent contact with both parents, unless some sort of extenuating circumstance applies and makes one of the parents “unfit” to have contact with their kids. Unfit parents are typically denied physical custody and may be given limited supervised visitation or no visitation at all.

If you have been denied custody or visitation on the grounds that you are unfit in some way, this isn’t necessarily a permanent defeat. If you can prove that you have changed your life for the better and are no longer unfit, Torrence L. Howell can help you petition for a modification to your child custody and visitation agreement that will allow you appropriate contact with your children.

Here are some example scenarios showing why a parent might have been declared unfit and how they could prove they have changed.

Parent was addicted to drugs or alcohol: Completing a substance abuse program and joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can provide excellent evidence that a parent has conquered the substance abuse issues that previously interfered with their ability to parent their children. Compliance with drug testing would also be helpful.

Parent was unable to provide a safe, stable home environment: Sometimes parents are denied custody because they don’t have a safe place for their children to stay. Maybe they are homeless or maybe they live with another individual who is involved in criminal activity, addicted to drugs, or abusive. It may be necessary to have a social worker visit to confirm that you have moved to a better living situation.

Parent was involved in criminal activity or incarcerated: Successful completion of a criminal sentence including all the terms of probation, as well as staying out of trouble for a significant period of time, can help prove that you have paid your debt to society and are not going to be a bad influence on your children. In general, the court mainly concerns itself only with criminal activities that are relevant to parenting.

Parent was too ill to care for the child: Securing a clean bill of mental and/or physical health should prove that you deserve more contact with and responsibility for your children.

Get Started Now

You can contact the Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell right now for a free consultation to help determine if you are a good candidate for requesting modifications to your child custody and visitation agreements.

Jury Rules on iTunes Antitrust Trial

Case demonstrates how juggling conflicting demands can sometimes get businesses in trouble.

Jury Rules on iTunes Antitrust TrialAfter 10 years in court, a class action suit accusing Apple of anti-competitive practices has finally been closed. The case, which was brought on behalf of 8 million iPod owners, alleged that Apple deliberately engaged in practices designed to force out competition and maintain its position as the dominant company in the digital music industry.

The attorney for the plaintiffs presented evidence showing that Apple issued an update that deleted music off of customers’ iPods without telling them. The update accomplished this by requiring users to reset their iPods every time they downloaded music from certain iTunes competitors. When the device rebooted after the reset, the non-iTunes tracks were suddenly missing.

Apple defended its actions as being inspired not by a plan to dominate the market but by a need to abide by the provisions of its contractual obligations to record labels. Apple founder Steve Jobs characterized the company’s position as “very scared” of being in non-compliance with the record labels. Apple had promised the record labels that they would protect the DRM (digital rights management) rights of artists and labels. Therefore, the company believed it could not allow tracks that had been downloaded from other sources and most likely lacked copyright encryption to be used.

The plaintiffs requested $350 million dollars in damages, covering not only deleted music but also the increase in the cost of Apple music products that the company’s alleged anti-competitive tactics caused. However, Apple will not have to pay a dime because in this case the jury found the company not guilty.

This case is interesting on multiple different levels. One important lesson for business owners is that attempting to balance conflicting demands from vendors and customers can sometimes lead to situations where it seems there is no “right” choice that will satisfy everyone. For example, in this case Apple had the choice of taking actions that could violate extremely important contracts or taking actions that would frustrate and alienate consumers. Either way, the action could potentially lead to a legal dispute. In this case it seems Apple made the right choice based on the jury’s decision.

How to Resolve Your Contract Dispute Out of Court

If you own a business, the idea of being tied up in court fighting out a contract dispute or other legal issue for 10 years probably fills you with dread. Fortunately, there are other options that can be utilized to bright contract disputes to an acceptable resolution without wasting years in court.

The very first thing to do is consult a business attorney like Torrence L. Howell with experience in contract law. Your attorney can review the details of your case and advise you of the strength of your legal position. This will help you decide what outcome to pursue in the case and how hard to push for it.

Once prepped by your attorney, you can then engage the services of an arbitrator or negotiator to help you work out a deal with the other party. In most cases, the other party doesn’t want to go to court either and you should be able to reach some kind of resolution in this way.

Child Custody and Your Prior Criminal Record

Learn how your criminal record may affect your ability to secure custody or visitation rights.

Child Custody and Your Prior Criminal RecordWhen determining whether or not parents will share custody of their children, the court’s primary objective is to provide for the best interests of the children. Typically this is assumed to be ample contact with both parents, except in certain circumstances where one parent may be deemed unfit for this responsibility. A criminal past may be one such circumstance, but it does not necessarily have to be a permanent impediment to time with your kids.

What Kinds of Convictions May Be Considered?

Under Family Code section 3011, the court is given broad powers to consider any factors that it deems relevant to a parent’s fitness for physical custody or visitation. This can potentially include convictions for any type of crime as well as any evidence of past criminal conduct that the child’s other parent may present. However, in most cases the court is only concerned with criminal conduct that relates to parenting and affects the child’s safety or well-being. For example, a conviction for or even a history of domestic violence would be very detrimental to your attempts to gain custody, as would a history of sex crimes or crimes involving drugs or alcohol. Convictions for white collar crimes such as fraud are typically given less weight. The court will also consider the amount of time that has passed since the crime and whether you can present evidence that you have reformed.

Will Expunging a Conviction Help?

While expungement offers a means of “erasing” certain types of criminal convictions from your official record so that potential employers don’t see them, government entities will still see these records, and the court may consider them when making a judgment in a child custody case. However, going through the effort of getting an expungement can still help your case, as a court may perceive it as evidence that you have rehabilitated yourself from your past criminal conduct.

When to Seek Child Custody Modifications

Either parent may initiate a petition to modify the custody or visitation agreement under appropriate circumstances. For example, if you have relapsed into criminal conduct your co-parent may attempt to use this to get joint custody revoked, to require supervision for visits, or to revoke visitation altogether. However, as time passes and you continue to be law-abiding, comply with all requirements of the custody agreement, and demonstrate responsible parenting, you may be able to convince the court that you deserve the ability to exercise more of your parental rights to your children. Completing all the terms of your probation as well as undergoing substance abuse treatment or anger management counseling as may be appropriate can also be powerful factors in influencing the court to give you more time with your kids.

If you would like to discuss your options for child custody modifications, please contact Torrence L. Howell today.

Spousal Support and Retirement

While retirement does not guarantee an automatic reduction in alimony, it is a good time to reevaluate your spousal support order.

Spousal Support and RetirementIf a spousal support order was included in your divorce decree, you are no doubt familiar with the various considerations that the court may use to calculate the amount of support that must be paid. These considerations include the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, the high-earning spouse’s income, and the supported spouse’s ability to become self-sufficient. Considering that a high-earning spouse’s income typically takes a big hit at retirement, it might seem reasonable to assume that alimony should be automatically reduced or even ended at retirement. In reality, the question of spousal support after retirement is much more complex.

Whether you or your ex is the one paying alimony, it would be wise to reevaluate your alimony agreement now so that the process of requesting any necessary modifications may begin as promptly as possible after retirement.

Is the Supported Spouse Still Single?

In some cases, the question of alimony after retirement can be avoided completely due to the supported spouse entering a new relationship. If your ex gets remarried the alimony should be terminated, and if your ex can be proven to be cohabiting with a long-term partner and enjoying reduced living expenses as a result, the alimony should be reduced. Or course you don’t have to wait for retirement to approach to consider chancing alimony based on these factors, but you should not fail to consider them at retirement.

Recalculate Both Spouses’ Income

In the years following divorce, ideally the supported spouse will have moved towards greater self-sufficiency and be earning more income. This may reduce their need for alimony. As the spouse paying alimony enters retirement, typically their income will decrease, and the court must acknowledge this reduced ability to pay. It is important to remember that the ability to pay support is based on income, not assets. So while the income from retirement investments may be considered, the principals of those investments may not.

Check Social Security Benefits

The ability of the supported spouse to collect Social Security should also be considered, as getting Social Security benefits can help the supported spouse continue to make ends meet while helping to lift the burden of alimony from the paying spouse. Spouses can collect benefits from their ex’s work history, provided that the couple was married for at least 10 consecutive years, the working spouse paid Social Security tax for at least 10 years, and the low-earning spouse is not married. Any alimony being paid will be deducted from the supported spouse’s benefit.

What To Do About Back Child Support

Whether you are paying or receiving child support, you must react quickly when payments fall behind schedule.

Back Child SupportWhen parents live apart, one parent is often required to pay support to the other to ensure that all the child’s needs can be met. Unfortunately, many parents fall behind on their obligations. In fact, right now there is $7.95 billion in back child support owed by parents in California. In this blog we will cover steps that parents receiving and parents paying support can take to get back on track.

If You Are Receiving Child Support

If you are receiving child support, your co-parent missing even one payment has the potential to create serious problems for you and your child. The first thing to do is figure out whether your co-parent is already having their wages garnished. If the Local Child Support Agency is involved in your case, wage garnishment is pretty much automatic. But if you came to your own child support arrangement, you are probably relying on the other parent to voluntarily make the payments. In this case, filing paperwork to initiate wage garnishment is an excellent way to ensure timely, regular support payments in the future.

If your co-parent is unemployed, obviously wage garnishment won’t work. You can seek other types of court actions to get the support you deserve. For example, you can ask the court to issue:

  • Property liens
  • Income tax refund intercepts
  • Unemployment or disability benefit intercepts

Depending on your own financial circumstances, you may also consider turning to CalWORKS for support. This government entity will pay the support and your spouse then will owe the government for that support.

If You Are Paying Child Support

If you are the one paying child support, falling behind can expose you to serious consequences. You might lose your drivers license and passport, as well as any state-issued professional licenses. You may even get sent to jail if a judge determines that you have the means to pay support but are deliberately and willfully withholding it.

If you find yourself unable to keep up with your child support payments, the first thing to do is reach out to your Local Child Support Agency and/or your co-parent and see if you can work out a temporary payment plan to help you get back on track.

Another important step to consider is seeking a modification of your child support agreement. This might be appropriate if you have lost your job or gotten demoted. Modifying the agreement can potentially lower your payments permanently.


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My ex-wife hired an attorney which prompted me to do so for our divorce. Torrence Howell was highly recommended from a friend of mine who used Torrence’s services for a divorce just like mine. The results came out much better than he ever thought it would. With all things being equal I felt Torrence would

-Anonymous May 23, 2018

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