Cooper-Gordon LLP Summer 2009 Newsletter

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Avery and Frieda continue to be extremely busy in their practices, despite the downturn in the economy. Cases become more difficult to settle and no one is happy with the results after a court trial, because, regardless of the Parties' financial situation, there is no extra money to go around. So, more than ever, it is important to try to mediate or collaborate on your Family Law and Probate matters, or at least try to negotiate a settlement that will be reasonable under the circumstances, if not desirable.

While these issues are already difficult and complicated enough to resolve, in today's economic climate, many couples going through the legal separation or divorce process are finding that the issue of property division is further complicated due to the fact that the community estate is "upside down". This is a situation in which the total debts of the community estate exceed the total value of the assets of the community estate. Thus, even if the Parties were to liquidate all of the community assets, they would not be able to satisfy all of the community debts. To resolve this increasingly common problem in today's times, Parties and/or the attorneys have been forced to find creative solutions to resolving the problem of the upside down community estate.

There are various options available to those Parties who are seeking settlement of the issue of property division which are not otherwise available to those Parties who are allowing the courts to decide the issue. This is due to the fact that pursuant to California Family Code Section 2550, Parties are permitted to stipulate to an unequal division of the community estate. Without the agreement of the Parties to an unequal division of community estate, the courts are bound by California Family Code Section 2550 to divide the community estate of the parties equally.

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