Saturday, January 24, 2015

There's a New Dog in Town

Former Beverly Hills attorney and certified family law specialist, Elizabeth McVicker, recently opened an office in Canyon Lake, California. Ms. McVicker gave up the glamorous life of representing movie stars and athletes after falling in love with the man of her dreams, truck driver, Tim McVicker. The unlikely couple met at a local dog park and instantly connected over their love of Huskies.

The couple married in 2014 and moved to the area with plans to open a dog rescue for Huskies. In order to support their passion, the couple has teamed up in business, as well. Elizabeth runs McVicker's Family Law in Canyon Lake, where she provides legal representation for divorce and all family matters. Elizabeth is a certified mediator and provides mediation services to her clients. Tim runs All Legal Access, a paralegal service in Canyon Lake, which offers low cost document preparation services.

Hollywood Madam comes to Hemet

Former "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss recently appeared in our Hemet courthouse to defend a restraining order against her former girlfriend, Julie Bailey-Savage. The two met while incarcerated, and then began living together in Temecula. Among other allegations, Ms. Bailey-Savage claimed that Ms.Fleiss' birds attacked her on several occasions. After a day of testimony, a two-year restraining order was issued against Ms. Fleiss. The former madam then asked one of the court deputies for his cell phone number. He declined the offer.

New courthouse planned

Riverside county is planning to build a new courthouse in the next few years. Expected to be completed in 2018, the courthouse will be located in Menifee, near the 215 freeway and Newport. The courthouse will be located in the Menifee Town Center. It will replace the aging Temecula and Hemet courthouses. The new courthouse will house all family law and probate matters for Southern Riverside county, allowing the matters to be heard in a central location. Menifee was chosen as the new location due to the rapidly growing populations in the Temecula and Murrieta areas.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Alternatives to Divorce

There are several other choices one should consider before the filing for divorce in California, these are:

Summary dissolution

A summary dissolution is actually a type of divorce proceeding. It is a simplified divorce process that few people qualify for. The requirements are:
  • Both parties must sign the papers
  • Each spouse has only limited assets
  • Each spouse has only limited debts
  • Neither spouse has any real property
  • There are no children of the marriage
  • The date of marriage is within five years of the filing of the action
  • Neither spouse is asking for spousal support
In theory, a summary dissolution can be completed without the assistance of an attorney. Many clients want an attorney to handle their case anyway, for convenience and peace of mind. 



An annulment voids the marriage, and, in the eyes of the law, the marriage never happened. There is no six-month waiting period like in divorce actions, but a court trial is mandatory even if the other spouse agrees to the annulment. A short marriage is not automatically annulled, and changing one’s mind after marriage is not a basis for an annulment. This action has very specific requirements. Marriages are usually annulled for fraud or bigamy. Some examples are:
·         Bigamy- one of the parties was already married
·         Fraud- the parties never intended to live together
·         Fraud- one of the parties never intended to have children
·         Fraud- the marriage was only for immigration purposes
An annulment is not sealed and is public record. Anyone can access information about the annulled marriage. Because an annulment always requires a court trial, it is as expensive—or even more expensive—than divorce. Many people who qualify for an annulment choose not to obtain one for these reasons.

Legal Separation

A legal separation is litigated just like a divorce. All the assets and debts are divided. Spousal support orders are made. If there are children, custody and child support are ordered. 

The only differences between a legal separation and a divorce are that a legal separation requires no waiting period and both spouses must agree to the legal separation. If both spouses do not agree, the matter automatically converts to a divorce.  If one spouse wishes to convert the legal separation into a divorce after the judgment is entered, he or she must then file new paperwork with the court to have the marriage dissolved. 

A legal separation is appropriate only in limited circumstances. The most common circumstances include:
·         Religious Reasons: the spouses' religious beliefs prohibit a divorce
·         Medical Insurance: one spouse needs the other spouse's medical insurance due to health reasons
·         Pension Benefits: one spouse will receive additional Social Security or Retirement benefits if they remain married
·         Residency Requirements: the spouses have not lived in the state or the county long enough to file for divorce

Most clients who inquire about legal separation are unsure of divorce. A legal separation is not a solution to a bad marriage. It should only be filed if the spouse has already decided the marriage is over and a divorce, for whatever reason, is not the best choice.

Physical Separation

Oftentimes, spouses physically separate long before paperwork is filed with the court. This usually means one spouse has moved out of the house, but not always. To be considered “physically separated,” one spouse must make the decision that the marriage is permanently broken and take action toward ending the marriage (like moving out or consulting with an attorney). If a spouse is uncertain as to whether the marriage should be saved, an alternative is to obtain a separate residence. This gives the parties time to work on the marriage before ending the relationship once and for all.