• Community Property: California Family Law Code §760 defines community property as “except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.”
  • Date of Separation: The date agreed upon by the parties or determined by the court that the marriage ended. The date of separation is the cut-off date and income earned by parties after this date is the separate property of the earning spouse.
  • DissoMaster™: DissoMaster™ support calculation software has become a standard in helping to prepare marital dissolution settlements for California cases. DissoMaster™ uses income tax schedules, not withholding tables, to calculate support. It calculates and integrates taxes and credits at both federal and state levels. By default, the program’s alternate settlements generally increase net spendable income for both parties (at the expense of state and federal taxing authorities).
  • Expert Witness: An expert witness testifies as to an opinion that, according to Evidence Code §801 is “a) related to a subject that is sufficiently beyond common experience that the opinion of an expert would assist the trier of fact; and b)based on matter (including his special knowledge, skill, experience, training and education) perceived by or personally known to the witness or made known to him at or before the hearing, whether or not admissible, that is of a type that reasonably may be relied upon by an expert in forming an opinion upon the subject to which his testimony relates, unless an expert is precluded by law from using such matter as a basis for his opinion.”
  • Forensic Accounting: The practice of accounting in support of litigation. A Forensic Accountant provides an accounting analysis suitable to the court that will form the basis for discussion, debate and ultimately judicial decision. A Forensic Accountant utilizes specialized accounting skills to conduct an investigation into the actual earnings and income stream of individuals and businesses. A benefit of employing a Forensic Accountant is for his or her ability to communicate financial information clearly and concisely in a courtroom setting.
  • Goodwill: The goodwill of a business is the expectation of continued public patronage.
  • Gross Income Available for Support: Family Code §4058 defines income as (a) The annual gross income of each parentmeans income from whatever source derived, except as specified in subdivision (c) and includes, but is not limited to, the following:
    1. Income such as commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding to establish a child support order under this article.
    2. Income from the proprietorship of a business, such as gross receipts from the business reduced by expenditures required for the operation of the business.
    3. In the discretion of the court, employee benefits or self-employment benefits, taking into consideration the benefit to the employee, any corresponding reduction in living expenses, and other relevant facts.
      • (b) The court may, in its discretion, consider the earning capacity of a parent in lieu of the parent’s income, consistent with the best interests of the children.
      • (c) Annual gross income does not include any income derived from child support payments actually received, and income derived from any public assistance program, eligibility for which is based on a determination of need. Child support received by a party for children from another relationship shall not be included as part of that party’s gross or net income.
  • No Fault Divorce: In California, the Family Law Act of 1969 (effective January 1, 1970) eliminated fault as an element in dissolution proceedings. Subsequently, a court may decree a dissolution of marriage or legal separation on either of the following grounds:
    • Irreconcilable differences, which have caused irremediable breakdown of the marriage. These are grounds which are determined to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved. Practically, the only issue is whether or not the marriage is still viable. The refusal of one part to continue to live with the other in a marital relationship meets the test of irreconcilable differences. (Family Code §2310, §2311)
    • Incurable insanity: This requires proof by competent medical or psychiatric testimony that the insane spouse was at the time the petition was filed, and remains, incurably insane. (Family Code §2310, §2312)
  • Order to Show Cause (OSC): The court may issue orders regarding support, custody and visitation through a motion process called Order to Show Cause Hearing (OSC). Typically, a hearing is scheduled on a short cause calendar and most facts are presented by declarations of the parties and their experts.
  • Separate Property: California Family Law Code §770 defines separate property of a married person as: “All property owned by the person before marriage; all property acquired by the person during or after marriage by gift, bequest, devise or descent; the rents, issues, and profits of the property described in this section.”
  • Valuation of Property: Normally, assets and liabilities are valued at near as practicable to the time of trial. However, upon proper motion, the court may for cause value all or any portion of the assets and liabilities at a date after separation and prior to trial in order to accomplish an equal division of the community estate in an equitable manner. (Family Code §2552(b))