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Summary Dissolution Vs. Divorce

Summary Dissolution Vs. Divorce

Getting a divorce is not as simple as it appears to be; the confusion usually springs when terms like “Divorce,” “Dissolution of Marriage,” and “Summary Dissolution” come into play. While they all mean the ending of a marriage, there are a few systematic differences between the terms that make all the difference.

Here are a few differences and similarities in meaning you may encounter in the state of California:

  • “Divorce” and “Dissolution of Marriage” are the same, with the terms usually used interchangeably. Further, in California, which is a “no-fault” state, blame cannot be assigned to either spouse
  • “Summary Dissolution” is a shorter, and easier way of ending a marriage than a ”Dissolution of Marriage”/ “Divorce”

Closer Look at Summary Dissolution

So, with “Summary Dissolution” being an easier option to end a relationship (i.e., marriage), why isn’t everyone doing it? Similarly to getting an annulment, there are a few requirements that need to be met for a “Summary Dissolution” to take place.

Requirements for Summary Dissolution:

  1. Both partners want to end the domestic partnership or marriage, usually due to irreconcilable differences
  2. The wife may not be with any children when you file for summary dissolution; you don’t have any biological or adopted children together under the age of 18
  3. You cannot have been married longer than five years
  4. Neither spouse owns land, buildings or any similar property. Having a lease to your name is okay as long as it does not contain an option to purchase
  5. Since the beginning of your marriage, neither of the spouses has incurred more than $6,000 in debt. Car payments can be excluded
  6. You and your spouse have accumulated no more than $38,000 in community property while being together in marriage or domestic partnership. You have to include any deferred compensation here but can exclude “property” like cars. “Deferred compensation” are things like retirement benefits, a 401k, and similar
  7. Neither spouse has accumulated more than $38,000 in separate property during the marriage or has owned more than this amount before entering a marriage. It includes any inheritance or gift you got during the marriage
  8. You are waiving your rights to spousal support
  9. Once the court begins the summary dissolution, you must waive your right to appeal
  10. You or your spouse must have been a resident of the County the divorce is being filed in for at least three months, and a California resident for at least six months
  11. Both spouses agree on the way belongings and debts will be divided; therefore, both sides are open to dividing their community property by signing a property settlement agreement. Your lawyer should get all the paperwork for you and your spouse to sign for the contract to be effective. It usually includes bills of sale, title certificates, and other transfers
  12. Both spouses agree to have read and understood Summary Dissolution Information; the California Courts provide this booklet

Once all these requirements are met, you and your spouse can file for a Summary Dissolution

Unlike Summary Dissolution, filing for divorce doesn’t include as many specifics. Read the most common nine steps to getting a divorce to gain a better insight into what getting a divorce entails. Also, if you are interested in knowing more about divorce, annulment, and legal separation, or how to choose the right divorce process, you can find all the information at Platinum Paralegal. Further, you can contact us for any additional information you are interested in.

Paralegal

5 Ways to Spot and Hire a Good Paralegal

No matter how dedicated you are to your business or how personally you take what you do, the truth is – you can’t do everything yourself, nor you should (hey, burnout, we’re looking at you!). So, if you’ve got plenty of things to do, and you often find yourself dozing off in the middle of a proposal you are working on, this is the perfect time to start looking for a good paralegal to hire.

Good help is complicated to find, and you don’t want to risk someone’s inexperience or their unethical behavior to ruin your business. So, go through these quick, easy tips that’ll make hiring a paralegal much easier:

Do They Have the Necessary Credentials?

The first step to considering your candidate’s application is confirming they have all the necessary credentials. You want to be on the outlook for a certificate in paralegal studies, or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The first step is to decide what you need in a paralegal, and then start the search.

Can They Follow Directions?

Start quizzing potential employees right away; while sitting down for an interview is potentially the best way to see if you’ve got a fitting candidate before you, why not start immediately with the job posting? Be very specific about what you are looking for and be clear about the instructions regarding the type of employee you are looking to get. Also, include specifics you’d like to get with the resume, such as cover letters, attachments, recommendations from the previous job(s) or salary expectations. When you receive submissions, eliminate applications that didn’t comply with your instructions. If your potential candidates don’t know how to follow instructions on a job application, you don’t want to hire them, at all.

Can They Write?

A job application along with a candidate’s resume says a lot about that candidate’s literacy. So, take a look at your candidate’s resume, cover letter, and motivation letter (if they sent one). Are they well written? Is the formatting fitting? Do the documents look presentable? Being a good paralegal requires attention to detail, computer literacy, and excellent writing skills: their submissions will tell you more than you can imagine.

Do They Have Good Practical Experience?

Practical experience plays a huge role in hiring paralegals, and it’s usually up to you to decide which way you want to go. Are you looking into hiring someone who’s been around the block? Or, you’d instead work with a newbie that you can mold? Choose someone compatible with your requirements for the position.

Are They a Team Player?

Being great at what you do is lovely; but, being able to fit into a team and work with them for the same goal is what makes a good paralegal. Look for clues on the resume that point at this candidate’s engagement in both solitary and team pursuits, and weigh in on which one prevails. You want someone who can fit in, and play along.

Hiring a new member of the team is never easy, but these five tips will hopefully help you narrow down the candidates to a great pool. If you need any more advice on the most efficient ways to hire a good paralegal, contact Platinum Paralegals – we’ll be happy to talk with you!

Understanding DBA and LLC: Which Is Better For Your Small Business

Starting a business is a huge step, and one of the worst things you can do is choose the wrong business type for your needs. Generally, choosing between DBA and LLC means either opting for a less costly option that still offers you a good business standing or a more expensive one that gives you protection and superior benefits. Platinum Paralegals team advises you to speak with your lawyer or contact us for advice on choosing between DBA and LLC before making your final decision. It is a complicated matter, and you want to be sure you are doing the right thing.

To help you understand this better, we are shedding some light on DB and LLC:

Benefits of an LLC

The benefits an LLC offers are multifold:

  • An LLC is provided personal liability protection
  • An LLC is a separate legal entity
  • An LLC is often preferred when employees will be hired, or liability is a possibility
  • The name of an LLC is the legal name and used when conducting business
  • An LLC provides much higher protection
  • An LLC makes expansion and selling a business much more comfortable as it does seeking funding

We advise you to find a company that offers both an LLC template and LLC Operating Agreement to start your business.

Benefits of DBA

Unlike LLC, DBA doesn’t provide similar benefits. A DBA will:

  • Leave liability with the person that registered the DBA
  • Not be a separate legal entity
  • Not see bylaws, agreements, and other formalities that a corporation may face

DBA is a pretty good option for businesses that are operating under an assumed name. If you are, say, offering freelance services while being a website owner, a DBA allows you to do business under your domain name legally.

Significant Distinctions between DBA vs. LLC

The primary difference between doing business as a DBA vs. LLC is financial. DBA is much more favorable if you want to save some money as it has only two fees: a) a registration fee, b) a renewal fee. Depending on the state, these two fees are generally charged every five years. An LLC, however, requires the payment of state taxes in most cases. It is why LLC is much more costly. Usually, these taxes are a flat fee.

Business owners who don’t want to incorporate usually choose a DBA. That way they can brand and promote themselves without having to deal with the requirements of an LLC.

The best way to choose between a DBA and an LLC is to take all your business’s aspect into consideration and act accordingly. What’s good for one company isn’t for the other, so make sure you consult with the right set of experts on the best options. Our team at Platinum Paralegals will be happy to hear you out, and guide you to find the best choice for your specific business and its operations.

The Importance of Healthcare Directives

Every American remembers the story of Terri Schiavo and the heartache that came with it. In case you didn’t follow up with this unfortunate tale, Terri was a young woman whose heart stopped at the age 25 but who was kept alive by machines for fifteen years. It was because her husband and parents couldn’t agree on what she would’ve wanted – to die peacefully or kept alive artificially. Had Terri had a health care directive, none of this would’ve happened.

If you are in a position where you want to secure yourself against situations like these but aren’t quite sure you know and understand how, here are a few questions answered to help you out:

What Is an Advance Health Care Directive?

An advance health care directive is a document directive naming an agent to make health care decisions for you in case you are not in the position to do so, i.e., are unable to. The agent can be anyone from an immediate family member, or a close relative, or to a neighbor you trust. A health care directive is a combination of a living will and a power of attorney for health care. The person entrusted with this role is the person who speaks to the doctors in case something happens to you.

How to Choose an Appropriate, Trustworthy Agent?

Choosing your health care agent isn’t a decision that should be made on impulse.  What is more, you want to select someone who is capable – both emotionally and morally – of making the most difficult decisions in your name, such as being or not kept alive under certain circumstances.

Do not feel obligated to name your parents or your spouse as your agent. Likewise, if you are the person being named whether by your spouse or someone else close to you, but you don’t feel comfortable being entrusted with a role of this magnitude, communicate your concerns and ask to be unnamed as a health care directive agent. Explain why you don’t feel okay with this role and encourage them to pick someone else who can handle a situation this serious.

What Are Other Provisions That Might Be Included in an Advance Health Care Directive?

Apart from being a legal document entrusting another person with a decision whether or not you should be kept alive, an advance health care directive is also enabling you to make your very detailed and specific end-of-life decisions known. It covers matters from whether or not you would want palliative care even if the dosage necessary to alleviate the pain speeds death. It also refers to the issues concerning your potential organ donation, autopsies, your place of burial and everything involved, along with everything else you may find relevant. An advance health care document is allowing for a virtually limitless number of options to specifically direct anything and everything concerning your wishes in case of your death.

Whether you are in a situation where you need to be thinking about your death, or you want to be responsible, getting a health care directive is the best thing you can do – for both yourself and your loved ones. Platinum Paralegals offers legal advice on any documentation you need, so don’t hesitate to talk to us about this matter.

Paternity Actions You Should Know About If You Live In California

California is a very progressive state in virtually every way possible, including family law. With the times we live in, lawmakers try to keep up with the needs of unconventional families and everything that comes with such family structures.

In this article, we’re focusing on paternity law in California. For any additional pending questions, and clarifications, contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.

Overview of Paternity in California

In California, the word “paternity” interchanges with “parental relationship” and “parentage.” In California law, the identity of the father is assumed in situations such as:

  • When the child has two legal parents, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the child’s father if the child is born during a marriage
  • When a man lives in a family-like manner with a child and his mother, and demonstrates a commitment to the child, even if he is not the actual biological father

Apart from these two circumstances, paternity will need to be established.

How Paternity is Established

There are two ways to establish paternity:

  1. Voluntarily
  2. Through paternity action in court

When paternity is established voluntarily, the child’s parents agree to sign a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.” Upon giving birth to a child in a hospital or other medical setting, the parents of the baby (the mother and the baby’s alleged father) are given a “VDP” form to sign. By signing the voluntary declaration of paternity, the mother and father become the child’s legal parents. The father immediately gets parental rights and responsibilities to the child.

If paternity is established under California law and through a paternity action in court, any of the following persons or agencies have the right to ask the court for an order on paternity:

  • The child’s mother
  • The “alleged father” or “putative father,” i.e., the man who believes he’s the father of the child or who is identified as one
  • An adoption agency or the local child support agency that is providing services to the mother

The court always works to find the legal option that is in the child’s best interest.

Starting the Case

The agency has the authority to require genetic tests of all parties involved (the mother, child, and alleged father) if a mom uses the state child support services. Genetic testing is also required when the mother also requests child support from the alleged father, welfare, or other public benefits. If the suspected father decides not to cooperate, the court is in the right to consider the father’s refusal to cooperate as evidence of paternity.

Also, the court can order:

  • Child support
  • Health insurance for the child
  • Visitation, the non-custodial times when a parent will see the child
  • Physical and legal custody of the child, i.e., the child’s place of residence and whether one or both parents will be able to make decisions for the child
  • Payment of the genetic testing
  • Payment of either party’s reasonable attorney’s fees
  • Payment of court costs, i.e., the fees the court charges to start the case

California Law if very clear when it comes to family law. Still, if you want to be sure of your rights, consult with the right firm to help out. Platinum Paralegals offers consultation, guidance and help with actions like these. Talk to us for the best advice.

Divorce, Annulment and Legal Separation and their Differences

No matter what the public says, going separate ways with your partner is not the end of the world. If anything, it’s one of the healthiest ways for both of you (and your children) to grow and find happiness elsewhere. We grow together, and we grow apart, and being rational and strong enough to understand when the time has come to call it quits is one of the most mature decisions you can make.

If you are in the life stage where staying together is no longer an option, there are three common ways to end the relationship: divorce, marriage annulment and legal separation. Read below to find out the difference between the three:

Divorce

A divorce is an official way to end your marriage or domestic partnership. Once you are divorced, you are free to enter new relationships, become a domestic partner or marry again as you are no longer tied to your (ex) partner in any legal way. After both parties sign divorce papers, each of the partners is considered single.  

During the divorce process, you are allowed to ask the judge for orders like spousal support, child support, custody and visitation, a division of property, domestic violence restraining orders, and other orders.

Divorce is also known as “dissolution of marriage” or “dissolution of domestic partnership.”

Legal Separation

Unlike divorce, a legal separation is not an official end to marriage or domestic partnership. If you are legally separated, you can’t marry anyone else. Legally, you are also not to enter partnerships with someone else other than your legal spouse; however, this rule is often broken as partners separate and start seeing other people.

A legal separation is the best option for couples who don’t want to get divorced but want to live apart. A legal separation gives equal rights to both parties to decide on property, money, and parenting issues. Couples who file for legal separation often still love each other but are going through a phase in their lives where they feel it’s important they figure their issues individually.

If you file for a legal separation, you may later ask the court to either withdraw your request or move onto a divorce.

Just as the case with divorce, a legal separation case allows you to ask the judge for orders like child support, partner support, spousal support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, or any other requests.

Annulment

Annulments aren’t that common when it comes to partner separation. If you do ask for an annulment, you will have to go to hearing with a judge, anyhow. An annulment means that a partnership is NOT legally valid.

What is good cause for a marriage to be annulled? Usually, factors like incestuous or bigamous partnerships, relationships declared “void” because of fraud, force, physical or mental incapacity, one of the spouses was already married or in a registered domestic partnership, one of the spouses age (i.e. if they were too young to marry or enter into a domestic partnership legally,) and similar. Annulment is also called “nullity of marriage” or “nullity of domestic partnership.”

What about the children?

For spouses who have children in common, they both have the right to ask the judge for custody. The best way to establish this relationship is to consult with a lawyer and find the best option.

   Any form of separation is hard, mainly if you’ve spent a good part of your life with your partner. To make things run as smoothly as possible and avoid unpleasant situations, hire a lawyer or an advisor with years of experience in family law to help. Contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.

Quick Guide: Choosing The Correct Divorce Process

Wondering how to file a divorce and where to begin? Choosing the right divorce process is very important if you want to go through the experience as painless as possible. In this article, we will talk about the necessary steps you need to take to finish the divorce process correctly.

Preparing the Forms

If you want to start the divorce process without a lawyer, you will need to find and complete all the necessary forms by yourself. The good news is you can obtain these forms online on the California Courts website, and here you can also find instructions for each form in video and PDF format.

All California courts use the same primary forms, but there may be some additional forms required depending on where you live. You can find out whether there are any required additional forms in your particular courthouse on the website, too.

The Los Angeles Superior Court Website is an excellent place to learn what to expect. It provides links for all the local forms required by Los Angeles County judges.

When completing the forms, make sure you give detailed answers to all the questions asked. If you can, fill out the forms on a computer.

Filing the Forms

Once you feel you are ready, visit your local courthouse and ask to submit the divorce documents. The minimum of materials needed to file for divorce is the summons, petition, and in case you have children, the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

Unless you complete a Request to Waive Court Fees, you will need to pay the necessary fee. If the court decides to grant your request and that you are unable to pay the fee, you won’t have to pay to file the documents.

Once you give the documents to the clerk, they will stamp them, and you will receive copies.

Serving the Forms

You should serve your spouse with the documents immediately after you’ve prepared and filed them. It is imperative that everyone knows what’s going on, and the service of process is critical in the legal system. Your spouse has to have their opportunity to “appear” or, in some cases, argue their point of view.

The service of the process makes sure that no one, not even your spouse, is ever ambushed in the courtroom.

If your spouse hasn’t hired a lawyer, then you should serve the forms to them directly. If your spouse has retained a lawyer, you will need to serve the lawyer at the lawyer’s office.

Financial Disclosures

Once the divorce process begins, you will have to provide information about your financial status to the court and your spouse. You will need to complete the Declaration of Disclosure and either the Financial Statement or the Income and Expense Declaration.  You will also need to complete forms regarding assets and debts, and a proof of service.

The documents in question detail each spouse’s financial situation, from employment status to liabilities and assets to monthly expenses.

Obtaining a lawyer or an advisor with years of experience in family law will make the whole divorce process more pleasant for you. Divorce isn’t easy, but with professionals at your side, it will be bearable. Contact Platinum Paralegals for more information.

3 Facts About a Power of Attorney

In Los Angeles County, a power of attorney (POA) is a legal agreement that allows one person (the “Principal”) to grant another person (the “Agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) the authority to act on his behalf in legal matters under certain circumstances. The type and extent of the power of an Agent depend on the type of POA requested and executed by the Principal.

A power of attorney is among the most commonly executed real estate planning documents. In fact, it is so commonly used that people often miss to stop and think about the power behind a POA. If you are thinking about signing a POA, it is critical to understand all the essential facts about a power of attorney in California.

When you give someone power of attorney, it is entirely up to you to decide how much authority to give them and what decisions they will be able to make – and when they would be able to make them.

Types of Power of Attorney Agreements in Los Angeles County, California

Power of attorney can take three primary forms in Los Angeles County. They are the following:

Limited Power of Attorney

Limited power of attorney authorizes the attorney-in-fact to act on behalf of the Principal in one instance, on a single subject. It is a beneficial agreement for business transactions that happen in another country or state.

Let’s say you want to buy a new house in another state that’s on the other side of the country, and all you need to do to finish the deal is sign a few papers. You can quickly resolve this by giving a limited power of attorney to a person who lives in that state, which will authorize them to sign the papers and finish the deal. Once the deal is done, the authority you’ve granted them will automatically expire.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney allows the attorney-in-fact to make decisions on behalf of the Principal in specific precisely defined areas of his affairs. Unlike the limited power of attorney, durable power of attorney doesn’t automatically expire. It can last indefinitely, or until the Principal decides to revoke it.

This type of power of attorney is advantageous because it grants the attorney-in-fact to make critical decisions for the principal, but it also allows the principal to revoke the agreement if they happen to regain the capacity to make their own decisions.

Springing Power of Attorney

Springing power of attorney is similar to the durable power of attorney with one significant difference – the power is conditional. It doesn’t take effect unless certain circumstances take place. This agreement can be about anything. Most commonly, it authorizes the attorney-in-fact to make essential decisions on behalf of the Principal, only if the Principal becomes incapacitated.

People may authorize a power of attorney for various reasons, but it is most commonly used to grant the attorney-in-fact to make legal, financial, and medical decisions on the Principal’s behalf if the Principal becomes incapacitated.

It is crucial that you have complete trust in the person to whom you are granting the authority of making decisions on your behalf because any power of attorney is prone to abuse, no matter how limited it is.

Contact us for more information and legal advice.