Divorce Basics Attorney in Los Angeles, California

Divorce: What’s the most important thing I should know about the divorce process?

Los Angeles, CA family law attorney Joanne Ratinoff talks about the most important thing one should know in regards to the divorce process.

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What is the most important thing that someone should know about the divorce process that’s a really good question? I’m not sure that the same answer applies to everybody but first, I would tell people there’s no jury in divorce there’s only the judge and the judge sits as the court of law and equity meaning the judge listens to the witnesses, decides, ascertains the demeanor of the witnesses, is this person telling the truth? Do I value this expert’s opinion or do I weight this expert’s opinion more heavily than this expert? And the judge also decides the law and the judge has a lot of discretion. So I think the most important thing is if you’re going to go before a judge and before the court recognize that you’re not maybe going to get everything that you want and you could get an order that you don’t like so much.

For example, I had a client a couple years ago who wanted to sell her home and it was her home, it was her separate property. And we put in all these documents to collaborate her assertion that the home was her separate property and the court made and order and he said I’ll allow her to list her home for sale but I’m going to bank all the proceeds of sale into a joint account for both parties. And I argued to the judge but why would you bank all the proceeds at most, the husband would be entitled to half. And the judge shot back and he goes I don’t know what other reimbursement claims there are, I don’t know what they owe for taxes, I don’t know what the liability or allocation is going to be for attorneys’ fees. He goes I’m banking all the proceeds and the husband can participate in the listing and sale and they can decide mutually the listing broker, the terms of sale, etcetera, etcetera.

So I cam back to my client and she was furious. And I said well – and I had forewarned her that there would be possibly the order to bank the proceeds and she said, “Well, we can’t get along as it is how am I going to mutually agree with him about any of this?” And I said to her, “Well, you asked for the right to sell the home before trial, you’ve got it, and these are the orders that are part of that order allowing you to sell the home.” So that’s an example of where you go to court and you ask the court to intervene and the court says okay, here’s my order.

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