What We Do

 

APPROPRIATE RESOLUTION BASED UPON YOUR NEEDS

Traditional Litigation

Litigation is the traditional divorce process where each party hires a lawyer who provides legal advice and represents the party in negotiations and court hearings. Each lawyer advocates positions based on the personal wants, needs and viewpoints of his/her client. The process may involve the use of formal legal procedures known as “discovery” to obtain financial and other relevant information. Discovery may include the use of depositions (a formal taking of testimony before a court reporter) and the subpoenaing of documents or other material believed to be relevant to the issues. Each party may also hire experts to support his/her position. These experts may include psychologists, real estate and personal property appraisers, business valuation specialists, accountants and others.

Some cases cannot be resolved without going to court. If the case does not settle, any remaining issues will be heard by the judge or an agreed private judge to resolve these issues. Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP, has extensive trial experience and will guide you through that process. Our attorneys have lectured and published articles on litigating family law matters. Should your case be one that cannot be settled, we will vigorously represent you in the litigation process.

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Divorce Mediation

Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP, offers mediation services to those clients who want to take an active role in structuring their own divorce settlement. Individuals who choose mediation share with their spouses a commitment to working together in a cooperative, non-adversarial way to achieve a fair division of their property and to resolve such issues as spousal support, child support, child custody, and visitation.

California Divorce Mediation is a voluntary process through which you make decisions together with your spouse based on an understanding of your views, your spouse’s views, and the reality you face. A mediator facilitates your discussions but does not give advice or make decisions. The divorce mediator may, however, make suggestions as to how the various disputed issues can be resolved and what the process would be if the matter were litigated. The parties meet with the divorce mediator to identify issues, complete exchanges of information, and use non-adversarial problem-solving techniques to come to an agreement.

Each party can be supported in his/her decision-making by his/her own advising lawyer and other professionals such as valuation experts, financial planners, accountants, and mental health professionals. Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP, regularly consults with clients who participate in the mediation process.

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Collaborative Divorce Practice

Collaborative Divorce Practice is another option offered by Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP. If both parties in a case elect this form of representation, they commit at the outset to resolving the case through negotiation rather than court action. The attorneys agree not to be litigation counsel. Unlike mediation, the parties electing collaborative law are actively represented by their attorneys in each step of the negotiation process.

The goal of Collaborative Practice is to come to a mutually acceptable, negotiated settlement between two parties without the threat of going to court. In this practice, each party retains his/her own CA collaborative divorce attorney who will gather information, provide education on rights, responsibilities and options, and negotiate on his/her behalf. At the center of Collaborative Practice are the needs of the entire family and particularly the needs of the children. With collaborative practice, conflict is kept to a minimum so all family members can move on positively with their lives.

Collaborative Practice is a good choice when each party prefers to have his/her own independent attorney guide them through the legal process. If the participants ultimately are unable to agree, the collaborative divorce attorneys withdraw and litigation attorneys can be retained to take the matter to court.

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Division of Employee Benefits at Divorce

R. Ann Fallon is a unique resource within the law firm of Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP. Her practice is in the area of employee benefit law governed by the intersection of California Family Law statutes and cases with federal statutes and cases regarding the rights of parties in the division of employee benefits at divorce. Amongst her skills and accomplishments, Ann is knowledgeable in the drafting of all forms of Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) and Domestic Relations Orders (DROs), and provisions necessary for the effective division, assignment, protection, and recovery of employee benefits. She and her team of paralegals and assistants are experienced in navigating through the requirements of employer plans and plan administrators.

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Post-Judgment Enforcement and Modification

There are two main instances when post-Judgment action is necessary: (1) when a party is violating a prior court order and an enforcement action needs to be filed; and (2) when a party’s circumstances have changed significantly requiring modification of child custody, child support, or spousal support orders. Modifications are granted only if it can be shown that there has been a substantial change in circumstances to warrant the modification.

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Enforcement Action:

If the other party is not following orders, you have the ability to have a court enforce the orders. Available enforcement options include obtaining Income Withholding Order or an Earnings Assignment Order for payment of support, filing a Motion to enforce specific terms of an order, and filing a Contempt action (which is a quasi-criminal action) that could result in monetary sanctions as well as possible jail time.

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Modification Action:

If circumstances have significantly changed for you or the other party from the time of the original custody or support order, the order may be modified by filing a post-Judgment motion. A support modification action may be appropriate under the following circumstances:

• You are earning less income.
• You lost your job.
• You are about to retire or have retired.
• The other party’s income has increased.
• Your timeshare with your child(ren) has increased.
• Certain other circumstances.

Please be aware that a court order is required to modify support. The court will not uphold a verbal agreement, exposing you to liability for back support as well as interest when your ex-spouse reneges on the verbal agreement.

A custody modification action may be appropriate under certain circumstances, some of which may be:

• A child’s preference to modify the custody arrangement.
• A parent seeks to move away with the child(ren).
• A child is doing poorly, having emotional or substance abuse issues, due to actions by the other parent.
• A change in a parent’s availability to visit with the child(ren), due to work schedule change or moving closer to the other parent.

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Premarital and Postmarital Agreements

Premarital and postmarital agreements are contracts between spouses or prospective spouses which determine the financial rights and obligations of each in the event of divorce and sometimes death.

There are many different purposes for a premarital or postmarital agreement, including asset protection to confirm the property that the respective parties have coming into the marriage, establish rights regarding income earned during the marriage, provide for an alternate property arrangement in lieu of community property rights, and can also serve as a form of estate planning to ensure adult children of a spouse receive a parent’s assets.

We work with our clients to negotiate a premarital or postmarital agreement that will be enforceable and will meet your needs while preserving the relationship between spouses or soon to be spouses. While the decision to enter into a premarital or postmarital agreement is a personal one, protecting personal assets in the event of a divorce requires knowledge of special areas of law, including community property and contracts. Our California family law attorneys can help in crafting appropriate agreements to suit the wishes of each individual client.

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Second Opinions

Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP, is frequently consulted for second opinions in family law cases, to review the record and render an opinion as to the effectiveness of actions taken, the status of the case, and options available for future proceedings.

Contact Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP to discover more about how our expert California divorce attorneys can help you in all matters of divorce and family law.

The experienced California legal professionals of Whiting, Fallon, Ross & Abel, LLP, offer excellent family law and divorce representation to clients throughout California. Our office is located in Walnut Creek, CA, and we serve residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Counties of Solano, Alameda, and Contra Costa, the cities of Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Piedmont, Berkeley, and Oakland, as well as the communities of Kensington, Montclair, Rockridge, and the Lamorinda region.

Anna Bednarczyk Receives 2017 Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to Anna M. Bednarczyk, who received the 2017 Distinguished Service Award for an Attorney from the Alameda County Bar Association (ACBA). Anna is an active member of the ACBA Family Law Section, a mentor for new attorneys, and the Chair of the ACBA’s Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) Governing Committee.