FAQs: Property Valuation in California Divorce

Property division is a common occurrence in California divorce. In some cases property division actually involves the sale of community property such as the family home. However, in other cases the property can be retained by a spouse. In that event, the asset is valued and the other spouse compensated for their community property interest. That compensation can come from refinancing the home or other funds. However, before property division with a compensating payment can occur, the community property must be valued.

What is the fair market value?

The fair market value of a property is the highest price agreed to on the date of valuation by:

  1. A seller, being willing to sell but under no obligation or urgent necessity to do so; &
  2. A buyer, being ready, willing, and able to buy but under no particular necessity for doing so.

It is important to determine the fair market value of property because it is the value used by the court for the marketable asset in a marital dissolution case. In addition, your divorce attorney needs to have an accurate valuation of the property to negotiate with the other party.

Who are valuation experts?

Valuation experts are people who are appointed by the court to value property. They may be court-appointed or presented by the parties. 

What should be the time for valuation?

A date as near as possible to the time of trial should be used in valuing the assets and liabilities in property division.

Can alternative dates be used?

Yes. If it is the only way to promote an equitable division of property in divorce, then an alternative valuation date may be used. Factors that may induce the court to use an alternative valuation date are:

  • A party’s deliberate actions that prevent the valuation of the property.
  • A party’s squandering of community assets after separation
  • Waste or mismanagement of assets by a party.
  • An increase in the value of the community estate through the sole hard work of a party.

Whose opinions can establish the value of real property?

The following are the only persons qualified to give opinions on the value of real property:

  • An expert qualified to express such opinions, or
  • The owner or the spouse of the owner of the property or property interest in being valued.

What are the valuation methods?

There are three methods that may be used in valuing property: the Market Approach, the Income Approach, and the Cost Approach.

What is the market approach?

Under this approach, the price of a sale or contract to sell involving the property (or a comparable property) is used as the basis for the opinion of the witness that establishes the value of the property. The sale must have been made in good faith and must have happened within a reasonable time before or after the date of valuation.

When is a property considered comparable property?

In order to be considered comparable, the following requisites must concur:

  • The sale or contract must have been made sufficiently near in time to the date of valuation.
  • The property sold must be located sufficiently near the property being valued; and
  • The property must be sufficiently alike in character, size, situation, usability, and improvements to make it clear that the property sold and the property being valued are comparable, and that the price paid for the property sold sheds light on the value of the property being valued.

What is the income approach?

In this method, the basis for the opinion of the witnesses on the value of the property are the incomes earned by the property. Income may be in the form of rent. Rental value of a comparable property will also suffice as basis under this method.

What else aside from rent can be considered in income approach?

The capitalized value of reasonable net rental value may be used as basis under the income approach, as well as a portion of gross sales or income from a business that operates on the lease property.

What determines the value in the cost approach?

The following indicates the value of a property under this approach:

The value of the land together with the cost of replacing or reproducing the existing improvements thereon, if the improvements enhance the value of the property or property interest for its highest and best use.

Less whatever depreciation or obsolescence the improvements have suffered

Legal observer to call for arrest, prosecution of officer he says shot him in the face during protests — FOX40

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The National Lawyers Guild member who was shot in the face with a projectile during protests in Sacramento plans to ask for the arrest and prosecution of the officer or officers responsible. On May 30, NLG member Danny Garza served as a legal observer at the protests near J and 21st […]

Legal observer to call for arrest, prosecution of officer he says shot him in the face during protests — FOX40

When Do Divorce Attorneys Accept A Flat Fee?

There are many difficult decisions to make in divorce. Whether to file, wait to see if your spouse will really go through with it and file, whether to fight over the kids, or even whether your should hire a divorce attorney are issues that confront many individuals facing divorce. While there are many difficult decisions to make, if you decide to hire a divorce attorney you’ll also need to decide whether to hire an attorney by the hour or for a flat fee.

Flat Fees in Family Law Cases

Divorce lawyers work on cases for a flat fee to prepare documents or engage in limited scope representation. Rarely do divorce attorneys offer a flat fee to represent clients in all aspects of their divorce or other family law issue as the scope of work is uncertain.

Document Preparation

Divorce attorneys offer flat fees for ghostwriting, which is a term for preparing your legal documents. Once completed, you will still be self-represented and need to file your documents with the family court. However, you’ll have some assurance that your documents are accurate, prepared by a licensed attorney, and maybe even have some guidance as to the next steps in your case. While there are a few flat fee divorce attorneys for document preparation, many divorce attorneys only offer “full-scope representation.”

Limited Scope Representation

Limited scope representation is a concept that has gained traction in the past several decades, particularly within the context of family law. Instead of representing a client on all aspects of their divorce, which may include custody, support issues, etc., the attorney agrees to represent the client with regard to a specific event in their case or issue. For instance, the attorney may agree to represent the client at a particular hearing or filing a request for order for child support. By limiting the scope of the attorney’s service the attorney can offer the client a flat fee instead of traditional hourly billing. In essence, the limited scope of representation gives the attorney a better idea as to the number of hours they’ll need to invest, making a flat fee agreement more feasible for the attorney.

Resources For Filing Divorce In Roseville

Not everyone filing for dissolution of marriage in Placer County can afford an attorney. When parties must represent themselves in family court the law and court procedure can be intimidating, but there are resources that can help. From document preparers to self-help centers, filing divorce in Placer County can be accomplished without an attorney.

Note – it’s always advisable to hire an attorney when filing divorce. An attorney is licensed to provide legal advice and can help you achieve your legal objectives in family court. This article is designed for low-income individuals who absolutely cannot hire a local attorney for full-scope representation, usually by paying a several-thousand dollar retainer fee with hourly billing.

Document Preparer

A non-attorney document preparer can enter information into the required forms to start a divorce. However, they can’t provide legal advice. Their services are quite limited as forms alone usually won’t accomplish the 6 month plus process of divorce, and are even less likely to be sufficient if the other party files a response.

Ghostwriting

Even if you can’t afford an attorney for “full-scope” representation (representation from start to finish, including court appearances), you may be able to hire an attorney to prepare your documents. This is also called ghostwriting and it’s preferable to hiring a paralegal to do the same. An attorney can give you more guidance and explain the substantive law.

Self-Help Center

The Placer County Self Help Center can help self-represented parties with cases in Placer County or who reside in the county. Accordingly, residents of Roseville or others with family law cases in Placer County court can use the self-help center. The center can offer procedural guidance and assist with court forms, but they won’t represent you in court. Nevertheless, they can direct you to more self-help resources and quicken your search for reliable information.

Stipulated Child Support in California

In most California child support cases, the amount of support ordered aligns with the amount calculated by Dissomaster or other software following the Guideline formula. However, parties are free to settle on a different amount of child support and formalize that agreement in a stipulation to establish child support.

If the parties choose to stipulate to a different amount of child support there are some safeguards that allow the recipient to seek Guideline child support in the future.

Can the parties stipulate a different amount of support?

Yes. The parties may stipulate to a child support amount that is lower than Guideline child support, subject to the court’s approval.  

What should the parties declare in the stipulation?

The parties should declare the following in order for the court to approve the stipulated agreement:

  • They are fully informed of their rights concerning child support
  • They agree to the order without coercion or duress
  • The agreement is in the children’s best interests.
  • The children’s needs will be adequately met by the stipulated amount; and
  • The right to support has not been assigned to the county, and no application for public assistance is pending.

Who else should sign the stipulation agreement?

The local child support agency also has to sign when the agency is providing child support enforcement services. The child support agency cannot sign a stipulated agreement ordering an amount below the guideline amount if the children are receiving CalWORKS benefits, if there is a pending application for public assistance, or if the parent receiving support has not consented to the order. The stipulated agreement is not valid absent signature from the local child support agency. (See Family Code 4065(c)).

What information should the court provide if it approves a stipulation agreement?

When a court approves a stipulation agreement that orders child support in an amount different from the guideline formula, the court must include, on the record, the following information:        

  • The amount of support that would have been ordered under the guideline formula.
  • The reasons the amount of support ordered differs from the guideline formula amount.
  • The reasons the amount of support ordered is consistent with the best interests of the children.

Can The Recipient Change Their Mind and Seek Guideline Child Support Later?

If the parties stipulate to an amount of child support that is below that calculated using the Guideline formula, the recipient spouse can change their mind and seek Guideline child support later on. To modify a stipulated child support order that established support below Guideline support, the party does NOT have to show changed circumstances. For example if the parties file for dissolution of marriage in Modesto and stipulate to $1,000 per month child support, even though Guideline child support is $2,000, the recipient parent can always seek modification of the child support order to $2,000 without showing a change in circumstances.

When Cars Hit Pedestrians Outside of The Crosswalk

In California, car accident law often boils down to theories of negligence. At times, the negligent party is suggested by the facts. For instance, when a car hits a pedestrian who is using a crosswalk and causes injury, more likely than not the car driver was negligent to some degree. But who is negligent when a car hits a jaywalker or pedestrian outside of a crosswalk?

Pedestrian Crossing Outside Crosswalk

Pedestrians who do not use a crosswalk are required to yield the right-of-way to nearby motorists. They must also look for approaching and oncoming vehicles. Failure to observe these may lead to a finding of negligence for the pedestrian.

It is not necessarily illegal to cross the street without using a crosswalk. It cannot be used as a defense by a driver against an injured pedestrian plaintiff.

The presence of negligence on the pedestrian’s actions will not prevent them from claiming damages later on. The concept of comparative negligence under the law states that when both parties are negligent, the amount of damages that can be claimed will only be reduced.

Jaywalking

There is a presumption of negligence if a pedestrian jaywalks and there is an ordinance prohibiting it. The following requisites must exist for this presumption to arise:

  • Jaywalking continues to the moment of impact
  • It results in an injury that would not have occurred if the pedestrian had not disregarded the ordinance.

Pedestrian Walking Along Highway or Roadway

A pedestrian must walk close to the left-hand edge of the roadway if outside a business or residence district. However, the law now also allows pedestrians to walk close to the right-hand edge of the road. The latter is permitted if there is no crosswalk available.

Can Parents Be Held Liable For Their Negligent Teenage Drivers?

In California car accident law, there are several people who may be held liable for the fault of the driver. This applies especially in car accident cases involving teenagers who are under the age of 18 and employees driving cars. In case you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, it’s important to cover all your bases by knowing all the people who may be held liable for the accident.

This short article will provide an overview regarding the liability of persons other than the driver and owner in vehicular accidents.

Adult Liability for Minors

There are two different ways in which an adult may be liable for a teenage driver’s fault in a car accident. For purposes of this article, teenager will refer to legal minors (teenagers under the age of 18). The first way in which an adult may be liable for a teenage driver’s fault in a car accident is if the adult signs and verifies a teenagers driver’s license application. This applies to parents, guardians, adult spouses, or employers of the teenager. In this instance the liability of the adult with the teenager is joint. This means that the adult and minor teenager will share equally in case an amount is ordered to be paid. This kind of responsibility for the liability also exists for as long as the minor is of minor age.

The second way an adult can be liable for a minor teenager driver’s negligence in a car accident is if the adult gives permission to a minor to use a vehicle. The permission may be express or implied. In this instance, it is immaterial if the minor has a license or not; the adult will be liable for the minor’s fault if he/she gives permission. For more discussion on permissive liability, click here.

In cases where an adult is liable for a minor’s fault, liability will be limited to the following amounts:

  • $15,000 per person
  • $30,000 per accident for injury
  • $5000 per accident for property damages, and there is no imputed liability for punitive damages

Factors to Consider If You’re Filing Divorce in Roseville But Have Debt

Filing divorce can be a costly process. Hiring an attorney, process server, accountant, therapist, and paying court fees can be an unwelcome expense. In addition, divorce is always an emotional process and rarely a pleasant one. If you’re filing divorce in Roseville, consider the following factors:

Attorney Fees

Roseville is an expensive city to live in, and their attorneys aren’t cheap either. Unfortunately, unless you can figure out the process on your own with the Roseville divorce self-help center, you’ll need to hire a divorce attorney. To make matters worse, there are fewer divorce attorneys in Roseville than Sacramento, and that small group of prominent attorneys usually charge slightly more than their moderately priced Sacramento counterparts. Many Roseville divorce lawyers charge $300+ per hour, but some more affordable lawyers exist.

Debt Division

If you and your soon-to-be former spouse have debt that was incurred during marriage, you’ll likely need to divide that community debt in divorce. That can be a contentious process, but there are some options to deescalate the division. For one, mediation can help address a number of divorce issues outside of court. In divorce mediation you and spouse will sit down with a neutral mediator to negotiate all your divorce issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, property division and debt division. Likewise, collaborative divorce can provide couples who can both afford attorneys an avenue to settle their debt division in a less contentious setting.

Bankruptcy

Sometimes couples need to eliminate their debt before divorce. If couples are agreeable, filing divorce in Roseville can help eliminate debt before the divorce, thereby eliminating the need to divide community debt or at least reduce the amount of debt to be divided. Couples who qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy can eliminate their debt in a little as 4 months.

Veterinarian’s Rule: Defense available to the Dog Owner

When an injury is caused by a dog bite, one of the defenses that a pet owner can invoke is the veterinarian’s rule. It is a complete defense that can remove all liability from the part of the dog owner. There are two aspects to this defense, the pet owner’s lack of duty of care and the assumption of risk on the part of the kennel workers, dog groomers, or veterinarians.

No Duty of Care

The law does not impose a duty of care on the part of a dog owner when it comes to a veterinarian or kennel worker. This means that the owner does not need to take any steps to ensure the safety of the workers. A pet owner cannot be held liable for breach of duty of care because it is not imposed in this instance.

A pet owner, however, must not also intentionally conceal or misrepresent a dog’s tendencies to workers. For example, if the dog owner knows that his dog is prone to biting people, then he should at least make a mention of this fact to the vet or kennel worker. Failure to do this can make the dog owner liable.

Assumption of Risk

The law presumes that the kennel workers and veterinarians who work with dogs are well aware of the hazards that come with the job and that they willingly assume this risk. There is an assumption of risk if the kennel worker, dog groomer or the veterinarian is employed and compensated for their service.

If the service provided is on a voluntary basis, and the personnel is not employed, then the dog owner cannot claim the veterinarian’s rule as a defense. The rule only applies in the first instance where there is both employment and compensation. Absent these requirements the dog owner can still be held liable.

Car Accident Settlements in Divorce

Nearly every divorce involves some degree of property division. In most cases, the forms of property divided include the economic value of the family home, car, bank accounts, and other regular forms of possessions. However, legal settlements and judgments can also be divided in divorce. One common settlement that arises in divorce negotiations is car accident settlement funds.

Property Damage vs. Personal Injury

A car accident settlement can compensate the victim for various injuries. Some forms of damages in a car accident include property damage, lost income, and personal injury.

A property damage settlement for a car accident is usually community property subject to 50/50 division in divorce. However, that may not be the case in rare circumstances where the car was not purchased during marriage or was obtained during the marriage but with separate property funds (like an inheritance). The same is true for car accident settlements that provide compensation for lost income. Damages for lost income during the marriage is community property, just as wages earned during the marriage is community property.

Car accident settlements for bodily injury may be classified as community property, but a section of the Family Code excepts these settlements from the 50/50 property division norm. While Family Code 780 classifies personal injury damages as community property, Family Code 2603(b) excepts personal injury damages from the 50/50 norm for dividing community property.

Community estate personal injury damages shall be assigned to the party who suffered the injuries unless the court, after taking into account the economic condition and needs of each party, the time that has elapsed since the recovery of the damages or the accrual of the cause of action, and all other facts of the case, determines that the interests of justice require another disposition. In such a case, the community estate personal injury damages shall be assigned to the respective parties in such proportions as the court determines to be just, except that at least one-half of the damages shall be assigned to the party who suffered the injuries.

Family Code 2603(b)