The Different Kinds of Divorce

The Different Kinds of Divorce

The field of family law is evolving. Every family has options when it comes to moving through the divorce process. While the decision should be made on a case-by-case basis, with not every case best situated for a particular process, it’s important that families know they have options. 

Everything I chat about is legal education and information, not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I am a licensed attorney in the State of California, but I am not your attorney unless a written Retainer Agreement exists with Nicole Cheri Oden Law. You should consult an attorney in your area to make sure you’re taking the right steps for you and your family.

can i file for divorce online

Litigation.

When people hear the word “divorce,” they typically think of litigation (i.e., the Court-based contentious process with the Judge making the decisions). Litigation can be both emotionally and financially draining. 

In litigation, parties can file motions with the Court and seek temporary orders (such as spousal support, child support, restraining orders, attorney’s fees and costs, etc.) for relief pending a final trial. A typical litigated divorce can take between 6 months and 1 day to 5 years, although the various California counties attempt to process divorces within 2 years.

And there are some situations where this type of divorce is necessary. However, 95% of family law cases settle before they reach trial. There are other options.

Limited Scope Representation. 

In Limited Scope Representation (or Unbundled Legal Services), an attorney handles only portions of your divorce (while the you handles the other portions).  Think a la carte menu.

Limited Scope Counsel can act as Consulting Counsel to assist a party in mediation or a Collaborative Law matter.

Limited Scope Counsel can also:

  • Draft pleadings, 
  • Assist with settlement negotiations, 
  • Offer legal strategy and hearing preparation, 
  • Appear for specified court-appearances, or
  • Handle a particular issue (such as property division while you handles child custody, as an example).

Collaborative Law.

The Collaborative Law process is an out of court option that uses a team-based approach. The parties commit to the process by executing a written agreement that indicates they will use good faith in negotiations and disclose all relevant documents and information. 

Each party is represented by collaboratively-trained counsel. Other members of the team may be a:

  • Financial Neutral (accountant or financial advisor to help provide a clear picture of the family’s finances, which is especially helpful for complex estates);
  • Communications Coach (mental health professional for support in having hard conversations); or
  • Child Specialist (mental health professional for assistance with parenting plans).

The Collaborative Law process can be cheaper than traditional litigation – unless the parties decide to pursue litigation. The hallmark of the Collaborative Law process is if either party resorts to the traditional litigated model, Collaborative counsel must withdraw and the parties must retain new counsel (the exclusionary provision of the Collaborative Agreement).

Cooperative.

The cooperative process can be similar to Collaborative Law BUT with the option of court intervention if negotiations are at a standstill (and without the exclusionary provision).

A cooperative case can involve a team or be structured as lawyer to lawyer negotiations.

Mediation.

Mediation is an out of court option that features a neutral facilitator.

The most common misconception about mediation is that the mediator acts as an attorney for both parties. She or he doesn’t. The mediator educates about common court practices and general family law principles and facilitates discussion between the parties. 

The mediator does not make decisions, but guides the couple to make their own decisions. 

Mediation can result in a resolution that is both faster and more cost effective. And it allows both parties to be in control of the final outcome. HOWEVER, for mediation to be successful the couple must be reasonable and able to compromise.

Divorce is not black and white. Every family is different. So, choosing a divorce process that makes the most sense for your particular situation is an important conversation to have with your family law attorney.

If you’re ready to chat about process for your divorce case in the state of California, schedule a consultation here

This post is an attorney communication under Rule 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California and Business and Professions Code Sections 6157-6159.2.

Limited Scope or Unbundled Legal Services for Your Divorce

Limited Scope or Unbundled Legal Services for Your Divorce

The thought of handling your divorce may seem overwhelming and confusing. 

Many people think they either have to hire an attorney to handle their entire case or represent themselves. Hiring an attorney can be expensive, but having legal guidance throughout the divorce process can make a noticeable difference in the outcome. 

Still, approximately two-thirds of family law court filings in California are submitted by those representing themselves.

 Judicial Council of California, Statewide Action Plan for Serving Self-Represented Litigants (Feb. 2004).

As a limited scope attorney offering unbundled legal services, Nicole Cheri Oden Law offers an additional option for family law litigants.

Please note that everything I chat about is legal education and information, not legal advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I am a licensed attorney in the State of California, but I am not your attorney unless a written Retainer Agreement exists with Nicole Cheri Oden Law. You should consult an attorney in your area to make sure you’re taking the right steps for you and your family.

limited scope representation divorce

What is Limited Scope Representation (or Unbundled Legal Services)

Limited Scope Representation, or Unbundled Legal Services, is an alternative to full-scope representation. 

Instead of handling every aspect of your divorce case, the attorney handles only certain parts of the case while you remain responsible for the others, like an ala carte menu. This allows you to benefit from the legal expertise of an attorney while only paying for the services you need most. 

What are the Different Types of Unbundled Legal Services?

A limited scope attorney can:

Provide specific legal advice and strategy. Your limited scope attorney can answer any questions that arise during the family law process in terms of your specific situation and provide customized guidance and options that help you move toward your goals in a strategic manner.

Offer legal coaching. Family law matters involve intense emotion and uncertainty. Negotiating for yourself can be intimidating or difficult. A limited scope attorney can help put your mind at ease to help you feel more confident and prepared by providing insight on courtroom procedure and behaviors.

Review documents. Pleadings, financial disclosures, and settlement agreements can be confusing to prepare and understand. A limited scope attorney can review the paperwork to ensure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed to ensure there are no misunderstandings or potentially costly mistakes.

Draft legal documents. A limited scope attorney can also prepare pleadings, financial disclosures, and settlement agreements on your behalf

Advise you during mediation. If you have chosen to mediate your case with your spouse, the mediator is a neutral facilitator who is unable to provide you specific legal advice. Your limited scope attorney can act as a consultant and do all of the aforementioned during your mediation process.

Make a limited appearance. If you have a hearing, settlement conference, or trial set, your limited scope attorney can make the appearance on your behalf.

The divorce process can seem daunting, but enlisting a limited scope attorney to provide unbundled legal services can be a tremendous help. 

If you’d like to explore whether unbundling legal services would be a good fit for your divorce case, you can book a consultation here

This post is an attorney communication under Rule 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California and Business and Professions Code Sections 6157-6159.2.

What are the benefits of hiring a virtual law firm?

What are the benefits of hiring a virtual law firm?

In today’s day and age, you have more options to work with an attorney than just the traditional stuffy law firm environment.

Case in point? The virtual law firm.

what is a virtual law office

A virtual law firm has no brick and mortar location but instead attorneys work remotely to deliver services using teleconference and videoconference communication software and cloud-based operations. Virtual law firms are redefining the legal landscape, creating a win-win for attorneys and clients alike. 

This set-up results in:

Less overhead costs. 

Lean operations means more competitive fee structures with the same high quality legal service so that you don’t have to break the bank to cover your legal bases. 

Easier access to an attorney. 

This less traditional attorney’s office set-up provides more flexibility to communicate with you around your schedule which ultimately results in better legal service.

Increased confidence. 

The atmosphere is less stuffy, formal, and nerve-wracking. And you have confidence in knowing your matter has an attorney’s attention. 

Entrepreneurial agility. 

While traditional firms are slow to adapt, a virtual practice provides flexibility that allows us to be more agile to keep up with our clients’ needs.

virtual law firm

Nicole Cheri Oden Law is a virtual firm, offering family law and contract law services. If you are looking to hire a California attorney who can leverage technology while remaining attune to your needs, please schedule a consultation.

This post is legal education and information, not legal, business, or financial advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I am a licensed attorney in the State of California, but I am not your attorney unless a written Retainer Agreement exists with Nicole Cheri Oden Law. You should consult an attorney in your area to make sure you’re taking the right steps for you.

This post is an attorney communication under Rule 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California and Business and Professions Code Sections 6157-6159.2.

The importance of boilerplate provisions…and understanding your contract

The importance of boilerplate provisions…and understanding your contract

I would venture to guess that you’ve read a contract a time or two if you are an online business owner. And chances are that the provisions toward the end of the contract, the ones that seem to be legal mumbo jumbo, you glossed over at best.

The phrase “boilerplate provisions” refers to the provisions in a contract that a business owner does not pay attention to – and often times they’re the provisions in whatever form agreement they started with. They’re the standardized clauses in a contract that business owners often agree to with little (or no) negotiation. 

Many times, a business owner’s boilerplate provisions are inconsistent, provisions are missing, or they could even be detrimental.

I am here to say that the devil is in the details! Contract interpretation or enforcement can hinge on what’s in those boilerplate provisions. And if you fail to spend any time considering boilerplate provisions, you could be hindering your chances of success if a dispute does arise with a client or customer.

This is why I’m a steadfast proponent that business owners work with an attorney to develop solid boilerplate provisions for their contracts and policies. And take the time to sit with the attorney to understand the provisions.

Before I go any further, note that this post is legal education and information, not legal, business, or financial advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I am a licensed attorney in the State of California, but I am not your attorney unless a written Retainer Agreement exists with Nicole Cheri Oden Law. You should consult an attorney in your area to make sure you’re taking the right steps for you and your business.

boilerplate clauses

3 Boilerplate provisions to consider are:

1. Entire Agreement Provisions

I’m going to address an important concept in contracts – Parol Evidence. I know, it sounds like some sort of crime show right?! But what it really means is generally you’re not allowed to bring in other evidence to show what a contract was intended to mean. In other words, if you have a dispute about your contract with a client, they can’t use your Facebook messages to show what they think the contract was really supposed to mean. 

That being said, without an Entire Agreement Provision in your contract, they might be able to introduce those Facebook messages into evidence to explain or potentially supplement the terms of the contract. Sounds like a loophole, right?

An Entire Agreement Provision in your contract acts like a gatekeeper. It says that the contract is complete and exclusive and no other evidence can be used to show what the contract meant aside from the language of the contract itself. And the courts do give these clauses great weight. 

The question you’re probably asking is, “Why should I care?” As a business owner, we all understand that negotiation is part of all business relationships. There will probably be some back and forth in terms of price or services being offered, for example. A contract with an Entire Agreement Provision provides some certainty that everything is contained in one document that acts as the backbone for your working relationship.

2. Severability Clause 

So, let’s say you have a dispute arise with a client or customer. And they decide to challenge your contract. If the Court were to find that a provision was invalid or unenforceable, it could also find the whole contract is invalid and unenforceable.

A Severability Clause prevents this from happening by saying that the unenforceable or invalid provision be severed (or removed) from the contract and the remaining provisions remain in full force and effect. Including this type of provision can weigh heavy in the Court’s eyes to prevent your whole contract from being set aside.

In California there is a preference for severability in the Civil Code. And since contract law varies on a state by state basis, you should check in with a local small business attorney to explore your state’s view on severability and how it affects this provision in your contract.

3. Notice Provision

If your contract provides that there will be interaction between the contracting parties or there are deadlines for performance, it should also include a notice provision.

The notice provision will outline things like:

  1. the means of providing notice (personal delivery, mail, fax, etc.)
  2. the addresses for notice
  3. procedures for changing the addresses

If you work in the online space, much of your work is probably done virtually and via email. Email notices are generally enforceable under the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN) (15 USC §§7001–7031) and the California Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) (CC §§1633.1–1633.17) if you’re based in California. 

BUT there is always a risk that your email could end up in the spam folder or never even show up if there are server capacity issues going on. For that reason, I always recommend that if you plan to give notice by email, you also provide a hard copy of the notice by mail. Just in case.

If you are ready to understand your contract’s provisions – or need a contract drafted – for your online business, book a consultation here

This post is an attorney communication under Rule 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California and Business and Professions Code Sections 6157-6159.2.

The Importance of Contracts for your Online Business

The Importance of Contracts for your Online Business

Online businesses involve a unique blend of legal issues – advertising, affiliate marketing, sweepstakes and promotions, email marketing, intellectual property (copyright and trademark), data privacy and security – all blended with contracts and contract law.

Avoiding contracts like the plague is not a smart way to do business. But signing a jankity contract you find on the internet can be a BIG mistake.

You never know if you’re using the wrong contract.

If you’re leaving out important provisions.

If you’re signing something you don’t even understand.

If you’re opening yourself up to a copyright infringement claim.

If you’re not accounting for California law requirements.

online contract agreement

Having solid written contracts and policies in place for your online business is key to:

1. Mitigate your risk.

Contracts are a reflection of your negotiation with the other party. A well-drafted contract should protect both parties and serve as a reminder that the business transaction should be taken seriously.

2. Form the backbone of your relationship with clients and customers.

Your contract reflects the expectations of each party. It serves as the guidepost for each party’s actions and can encourage communication and collaboration when negotiated properly.

3. Protect your income.

Having your agreement in writing increases the odds of a successful working relationship because it provides protection if terms are not followed. And if an issue does arise, enforcement can be much easier.

Quite simply, working with an attorney to ensure you have solid contracts and policies in place for your online business now can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

That’s where Nicole Cheri Oden Law comes in. The virtual firm is uniquely situated to provide solid legal advice as both an attorney and entrepreneur to ensure that you’re protecting your online business by offering:

Contract Drafting – having a contract or policy drafted for your particular situation takes out the uncertainty.

Contract Review – it’s important that you review any contract prior to signing it to ensure you have a solid understanding of its terms and that it meets both parties’ intentions. Reviewing the contract with an attorney who can provide you with an explanation of any complex terms and may allow you to negotiate better terms.

Legal Strategy Sessions – an intensive meeting to discuss the specifics of your business, the contracts and policies you currently have in place, and the contracts and policies you should consider getting in place.

Book a consultation with Nicole Cheri Oden Law here.

This post is legal education and information, not legal, business, or financial advice and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I am a licensed attorney in the State of California, but I am not your attorney unless a written Retainer Agreement exists with Nicole Cheri Oden Law. You should consult an attorney in your area to make sure you’re taking the right steps for you.

This post is an attorney communication under Rule 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California and Business and Professions Code Sections 6157-6159.2.

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