Is The Alternative to Killing Each Other The Solution to a Family’s Problems?

Taking your divorce disputes in front of a judge is not always the best method of reaching a satisfactory solution. Consider the Collaborative Divorce approach instead.

by Sandra Joan Morris, Certified Family Law Specialist; Member, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek

Courts evolved long ago to provide an alternative to self-help and violent solutions to San Diego Divorce Attorney Sandra Joan Morris can help with your Collaborative Divorce 858-472-4022disagreements. Both sides submitted their positions, and a Solomon decided how to resolve the dispute. Determining a property boundary, or allocating fault and awarding funds might not go too badly, but dividing up a baby or deciding deeply personal issues, can. Resorting to litigation and court is a default position, the one last thing to try when all else fails, short of the self-help we call taking the law into your own hands. The question is, is court the best way to solve problems? It took me 44 years as a trial lawyer, but I have come to see that the alternative to settlement is litigation, not the other way around. And of the settlement methods I have used in the last two years, Collaborative Process has proven to be the most successful.

We have come to look at court suits and litigation as the inevitable recourse for a solution, forgetting that it requires turning over to a stranger who does not know you, your life, your family, or your history, the control of what will happen next.   That stranger may have little or no knowledge, experience or interest in your area of the law, or even in judging.   That stranger may have biases, implicit or explicit, that no one knows about, that will affect their own perception of what they see and hear.

There is the fantasy and misconception that somehow a judge will be able to determine the true facts and make the right decision based on the correct interpretation of the law. The reality is that there are no true facts as to events, there is only the perception of the facts. Over 2,000 innocent prisoners so far have been released from incarceration based on subsequently discovered scientific evidence, because witnesses misremembered, misidentified, didn’t see things correctly, and juries and judges erred. The Rashomon effect is described as the contradictory interpretations of the same event by different witnesses to it. It does not require that the witnesses have an evil intent or desire to lie. The case books are filled with cases that were judged incorrectly or in which the law changed unexpectedly.

Trial lawyers know that everything is perception, and they know that their job is to create in the judge a perception of a narrative that helps their client in court. It may not be true, but it will look and sound true.

This requires the parties in a litigated matter to state their case to the court in the way that is most helpful to themselves, and the least helpful to the other side. The judge then tries to figure out which person or witnesses sound the most like they are telling the truth. This is all done in a public forum for all the world to see and hear. In family court the process usually takes two to seven years, and a lot of money in fees, to conclude. Litigants on the opposite sides of a case do not like each other better after this process. It is asking a lot to expect that after it is over, the two parties will somehow be able to put the case behind them and go forward to co-parent children, or show up at family events at the same time, in a civil and respectful way.

There are better ways to solve problems than merely an alternative to violence. There are ways to reach creative solutions that work for the family going forward in a humane and respectful way. There are more economical ways to conserve resources for your families, rather than providing them for your lawyers’ families. I used to tell my litigation clients, you can send your children to college and settle this case, or you can send my children to college and litigate it. The better way to solve the problems is through a negotiated settlement. This can be facilitated by sitting down and talking, or having the assistance of a neutral mediator, or through the team approach of the Collaborative Process.

The least well known to most people, but the most effective, is the Collaborative Process. The reason why it is so effective is that all of the persons on the teams are trained the same way, and are dedicated to using their different skill sets to helping the parties reach their own informed settlement based on their respective needs and interests. The parties are in control of the outcome, and are assisted by the Collaborative teams to arrive at solutions.   It is a confidential, respectful process that empowers both parties. It rarely takes more than a year to complete, and the cost for the assistance of all of the team participants is far less than the fees and costs of the litigated case. The parties leave this process feeling intact, and with skills to assist them if they need to interact in the future to work through new issues that might arise.

Shawn Weber: Swimming With the Sharks or Dolphins?

What type of attorney do you want to help you navigate your divorce? Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Shawn Weber describes his view of attorney styles in an interview on “Real Talk San Diego” heard on ESPN Radio 1700 AM. See a video of the interview here.

Listen to the full interview featuring Shawn’s insights on Alternative Dispute Resolution and divorce mediation including Collaborative Divorce in the Soundcloud podcast here.

Seven Steps to Divorce Your Finances from Your Ex

Don't forget to tie up financial matters after you divorce. Our checklist will help.
Don't forget to tie up financial matters after you divorce. Our checklist will help.

Don’t forget to tie up financial matters after you divorce. Our checklist will help.

by Ginita Wall, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)

Even in the best of circumstances, a divorce is a long, arduous, and emotional task. As soon as you finalize the divorce, you might just want to curl up in bed for a few weeks and watch every single thing on Netflix. Not so fast! Now that you and your ex have uncoupled your married lives, it’s time to uncouple your financial ones at well. As you begin to walk your own path, you must ensure that you are now solely in control of your finances, including your bills, insurance policies, and estate planning documents. Pause that Netflix show, you have some financial divorcing to do!

Ginita Wall Divorce Financial advice San Diego 858-472-4022

Ginita Wall

  1. Separate Your Bank Accounts and Open Your Own

If you and your spouse held joint bank accounts, it is time to close those suckers out and open your own accounts. This will allow you to control your own money and will help you both avoid inequities in spending within the shared account.

  1. Re-Route Direct Deposits and Direct Bill Pay

Now that you have your very own checking and/or savings accounts (I recommend both), you need to make sure that your automated deposits and bill pay go to the right place. You are going to be mighty unhappy if your next paycheck tries to go into the joint account you just closed, and your electric company won’t appreciate trying to pull your monthly payment from a non-existent account. Make a list of all the automatic payments that go into and out of your joint accounts and then make sure to re-route the ones you are responsible for.

  1. Deactivate Joint Credit Cards

It might be tempting to put some last-minute charges on a shared credit card, but it is best to resist. Instead, open new credit cards in your own name first and then work with your spouse to close down all your shared cards. You two will need to work together if your shared cards have a balance. Most credit card companies allow you to transfer part or all of a card’s balance to a new account, and many actually offer special promotions with low or zero introductory interest rates on transferred balances. As with your online accounts, make sure you re-route any automatic payments from your old credit cards to your new ones.

  1. Remove Your Ex from Your Insurance Policies

Unless your divorce agreement provides otherwise, it’s time to boot your ex off of your health insurance policy, car insurance policy, and renter’s insurance. Make sure to let him or her know what you are doing so he isn’t surprised to learn he doesn’t have insurance after a car accident. If you are on your ex-spouse’s insurance policies, don’t bet on him paying your premiums unless that was part of your settlement. Time to start shopping for your own insurance policies. (Learn about how to Maintain Your Health Insurance After Divorce).

  1. Make Sure Your Ex Isn’t Your Beneficiary

During the good days of your marriage, you probably made your ex-spouse the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, your retirement accounts, the trust that holds your inheritance, and perhaps your entire personal estate. Unless you two somehow managed to stay best friends, chances are you don’t want him to benefit financially from your demise. Schedule some time in the near future to remove him as your beneficiary from these documents. (Learn more about Estate Planning for Women).

  1. Remove Your Ex From the Title of Your Assets

Is your spouse listed on your car title or the deed to your house or other property? If you received these items as part of the divorce settlement, you’ll want to make sure that yours is the only name on those important documents. Transfer your vehicle title to your name and record an Interspousal Transfer Deed to remove your spouse from the house deed once all other ownership arrangements have been made (for example, you’ve paid him to buy him out his share of the home).

  1. Create a New Will

One of the most important things you need to do now is make sure that your financial legacy goes to the right people in your life. If your ex-spouse is the prime beneficiary of your will or is listed as your agent in your durable power of attorney, you’ll likely want to update both of these documents. This might mean giving your estate planning attorney a call or filling out new online templates.

Yes, tying up all of these loose ends is a lot of work, but it is also worth the hassle. Financially divorcing your spouse after your official divorce will put you on more solid financial ground and give you a clear path ahead as you begin to rebuild.

Collaborative Divorce featured Thursday, Aug 18 on Real Talk San Diego Radio

San Diego based family law attorney Shawn Weber, member of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, will talk about Collaborative Divorce and other family law issues during his upcoming appearance on the ESPN 1700 AM Radio program “Real Talk San Diego” with hosts Ryan White and Karen Kaseno on Thursday, August 18, at 1 p.m.

Shawn will discuss the advantage of a Collaborative Divorce over a litigated divorce, and the reasons your family will benefit, especially if you have minor children. Shawn Weber flyer

You can listen online on the Real Talk San Diego website.

Desensitizing, Brutalizing, And Degrading: Is This the Effect of Divorce Court?

Learn about your Divorce Options at a free workshop on March 4 at 10:30 a.m. in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego. RSVP at 858-472-2022.

by Mark Hill, Certified Financial Planner, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
and Ryan Fentin-Thompson, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
Pacific Divorce Management

Divorce can be a dehumanizing experience, especially for children. Avoiding a court battle can help relieve some of the negative effects of divorce on the family.

Divorce can be a dehumanizing experience, especially for children. Avoiding a court battle can help relieve some of the negative effects of divorce on the family.

Oftentimes, a couple going through divorce is portrayed as angry, revengeful and resentful towards one another. While these feelings may be present we have found that the more prevalent sentiment for both parties is a feeling of sadness and sorrow. Despite any current animosity that may be felt towards one another, no one enters into marriage expecting to divorce, so there will always be some sense of loss.

From the outsider’s perspective, one might assume the hostility between the couple stems from the decision to divorce; however, more often, it is the process of divorce which produces these feelings. The litigation system drives people from sad to furious, furious to enraged, enraged to resentful. Open court is usually the worst place to negotiate the end of an intimate relationship. Not only is this a public forum but also it tends to place the focus on winning and losing which usually does not benefit the whole family.

mark-hill-photo-02One example I saw in my own practice was in a highly contested divorce where both husband and wife wanted to keep the family home. Since they could not reach agreement, the judge ordered the house sold, which had the result of taking the children away from their friends and requiring them to change schools based upon their parents’ new residency.

Even the best judges seldom have time to do more than render strictly legal based decisions which lack the creativity which families always need when facing divorce. I was struck by a recent TV commercial related to our current presidential election using the tagline “Our children are watching,” and thought how it also relates to divorce. Offspring of divorcing couples always learn a lot about relationships from how their parents behave throughout the process. My experience is that choosing the adversarial approach seldom improves such behavior.

It can be dehumanizing for the professionals involved as well. Most people go into this field from a desire to help families work through what is usually an incredibly difficult life event. Too often, we find the system forcing decisions that we know will not fit the needs of our clients. It undermines what motivates us to do this work and can distance us from our own sense of humanity and compassion. We in the field have all experienced cases where outcomes fall well short of what our hopes and expectations were at the point at which we were retained. Recent research has suggested divorce professionals pay an ongoing price for this, described as “vicarious trauma.”

Alternative dispute resolution allows many of the shortcomings of a traditional divorce to be addressed. Professionals are required to look for creative solutions that benefit the entire family rather than trying to advance the cause of one side. The clients are engaged and required to take responsibility for the decisions that are reached. In the case of Collaborative Divorce they do so with the resources of legal, financial, and mental health professionals together with them at the table. We have found that this provides the best opportunity for outcomes that avoid much of the negativity usually associated with divorce.

 

 

 

Four Tips For Healing After Divorce

by Julia M. Garwood, Certified Family Law Specialist
Garwood Family Law and Mediation

Allow yourself time to grieve and reflect after a divorce. San Diego mental health professionals in the Collaborative Family Law Group can help.

Allow yourself time to grieve and reflect after a divorce.

The divorce process can be grueling and cumbersome. The best way to allow yourself to heal is by starting fresh in order to move on and start the healing process. The following are just a few tips that can help you overcome divorce.

Julia Garwood, Family Law attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, San Diego, Collaboartive Family Law Group of San Diego

1. Visualize what you want in your life.

When you have been in a long term relationship you may have put everyone else before yourself. It is time to change that! Put yourself first. Think about what it is you enjoy the most or what your interests are. Set new goals or simply work on old ones that you had set on the back burner. It is time to make those goals a reality. Decide what steps you need to take in order to achieve a goal and visualize yourself achieving that goal.

2. Open yourself up to new experiences.

Being independent can be a scary thought after committing yourself to someone and doing everything together as a couple. You are an independent man or woman. Let that inspire you.

You would be surprised at the amazing experiences that may come from saying “yes”. Open yourself up to a new hobby, a date with someone who may not be your type, a new cuisine, or even moving to a new neighborhood. The bottom line is allowing yourself to experience new things.

3. Allow yourself to grieve.

There is no handbook on how to approach life after a divorce. Everyone deals with it in their own way. Focus on yourself and make your well-being a priority. Your healing is the first step in rebuilding your life.

Too often, we deny ourselves the time to grieve. We allow everything to come in the way and bury the pain. Confront it. It is okay to be upset or hurt. It is part of the process.

Allow yourself the time to have those nights where you might just curl up with a pint of ice cream and cry. You are only human. These emotions are normal. Soon you will see the need to cry will fade away.

4. Reach out to other people.

You are not alone. There are others around you that can help. It may be a parent, a friend or even a co-worker. It does not mean you are weak. It shows you have the strength to acknowledge that you need help in order to heal and overcome divorce.

July 2 Workshop Helps Couples Make Good Divorce Decisions

Experts offer guidance and answer questions at free workshop

(SAN DIEGO) – No two divorces are alike, but this much is true: divorce is stressful even under the best of circumstances. It can be especially hard if you have children or economic difficulties.

The good news: It is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce.

Figuring out a way to get divorced without hurting your children or destroying family relationships may seem impossible. The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego can explains how to make it happen through its “Divorce Options” workshops.

The next Divorce Options in San Diego takes place on Saturday, July 2 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Community Center, 11885 Cypress Canyon Road (corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and Cypress Canyon, two miles east of Interstate 15).

Workshops take place the first Saturday of every month.

No matter what your personal situation, workshop leaders can help you navigate this difficult time in your life.

For additional information or to RSVP, call Divorce Options at (858) 472-4022 or email at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the workshop will cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Divorce Options provides unbiased information about self-representation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigated divorce. The workshop deals with the legal, financial, family and personal issues of divorce in an informational and compassionate small group setting. There is NO solicitation of business.

The Divorce Options program welcomes anyone thinking about divorce or other relationship transitions including co-habitating couples with children or LGBT couples looking for a process aware and respectful of their unique needs. Divorce Options offers useful information adaptable to a wide variety of family circumstances.

“We could not be more pleased by the response to our workshops,” said Dan Martin, family law attorney and Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member. “The Divorce Options program gives us an opportunity to help people become more knowledgeable about the resources they can draw on to plan an effective transition that respects the needs and interests of all family members. Taking time to become more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future,” said Martin.

Topics include:

  • Litigation, mediation and collaboration – the risks and the benefits of each process
  • Legal, financial, psychological and social issues of divorce
  • How to talk about divorce with your children
  • Guidance from divorce experts

By learning about divorce and the different process options available you can maximize your ability to make good decisions during the difficult and challenging time. Divorce Options is a workshop designed to help couples take the next step, no matter where they are in the process. It identifies strategies to help you stay out of court, and helps you identify the social, emotional, legal, and financial issues that are most pressing for you.

About the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

CFLG San Diego’s members work together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family. Its goal is to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful, collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need for families to resort to litigation.

CFLG is online at www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com, and LinkedIn.

Collaborators Support Kids’ Turn San Diego

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego support Kids' Turn San Diego, which gives children a safe place to talk about their experiences and feelings when experiencing separation from parents due to military deployments, divorce, and other challenges.

Both groups share commitment to children navigating family separations

Contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR / 619-997-2495 or gayle@falconvalleygroup.com

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego support Kids' Turn San Diego, which gives children a safe place to talk about their experiences and feelings when experiencing separation from parents due to military deployments, divorce, and other challenges.

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego support Kids’ Turn San Diego, which gives children a safe place to talk about their experiences and feelings when experiencing separation from parents due to military deployments, divorce, and other challenges.

(SAN DIEGO) – More than 30 years of research continues to reveal negative effects of traditional divorce on children. Many of the 1.5 million children in the U.S. whose parents divorce every year feel as if their worlds are falling apart. Divorcing parents are usually very concerned about the welfare of their children during this troublesome process. Some parents are so worried that they remain in unhappy marriages, believing it will protect their offspring from the trauma of divorce.

Among the many positive aspects of Collaborative Divorce for families is lessening the potentially harmful effects of divorce on children. The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego shares this mission with Kids’ Turn San Diego, a nonprofit organization assisting children and families through separation due to divorce or military transitions.

The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego has signed on as a sponsor for the third year for the Kids’ Turn San Diego Fourth Annual “Night at the Padres” Event on June 4, 2016, with proceeds benefiting its programs bringing peace to children experiencing these difficult family issues.

“The Collaborative method of divorce came about when attorneys, financial advisors and mental health professionals saw the need to better protect the integrity of family relationships, especially where children are involved,” said Myra Fleischer, family law attorney and Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego president. “Collaborative Divorce offers a healthy way to help children through divorce.

“Kids have a safe place to talk about their experiences and feelings at Kids’ Turn San Diego. They meet other children dealing with similar challenges in their lives, so they don’t feel so alone. Caring adults offer effective coping strategies to help the children navigate these major family changes in a positive way,” said Fleischer. “We applaud the group’s work. It is important to us to support these efforts.”

Cindy Grossmont, LCSW, Kids’ Turn San Diego Executive Director, said, “We thank the professionals of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego for their ongoing support. We know the members share our mission and we value our partnership to help children make their way toward a healthier, happier future.”

To support Kids’ Turn San Diego through “Night at the Padres,” by purchasing tickets or making a donation, visit the donation page here.

About Kids’ Turn San Diego

Kids’ Turn San Diego is a caring nonprofit organization for children and parents experiencing family separations or military transitions. We offer specially designed programs facilitated by trained and experienced mental health professionals and credentialed teachers for never married, separated and divorced families, step-parents and children and families experiencing military related transitions. Visit http://www.kidsturnsd.org/ to learn more.

About The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego members work together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family. Its goal is to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful, collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need for families to resort to litigation.

CFLGSD is online at www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com.

 

Get Answers at Divorce Options Workshop Saturday, May 7

Find answers to your difficult questions at this free workshop

(SAN DIEGO) – San Diegans who are struggling with the difficult choices of a divorce have found the place to get their answers: the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego Divorce Options workshops.

The next Divorce Options in San Diego takes place on Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Community Center, 11885 Cypress Canyon Road (corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and Cypress Canyon, two miles east of Interstate 15).

Workshops take place the first Saturday of every month. Seminar leaders help people in a diverse range of situations and are able to take any questions. Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. It can be especially hard if you have children or economic difficulties. Divorce affects people from all walks of life, and no two situations are alike.It is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce.

For additional information or to RSVP, call Divorce Options at (858) 472-4022 or email at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the workshop will cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Divorce Options provides unbiased information about self-representation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigated divorce. The workshop deals with the legal, financial, family and personal issues of divorce in an informational and compassionate small group setting. There is NO solicitation of business.

Family with dogThe Divorce Options program welcomes anyone thinking about divorce or other relationship transitions including co-habitating couples with children or LGBT couples looking for a process aware and respectful of their unique needs. Divorce Options offers useful information adaptable to a wide variety of family circumstances.

“We could not be more pleased by the response to our workshops,” said Dan Martin, family law attorney and Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member. “The Divorce Options program gives us an opportunity to help people become more knowledgeable about the resources they can draw on to plan an effective transition that respects the needs and interests of all family members. Taking time to become more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future,” said Martin.

Topics include:

  • Litigation, mediation and collaboration – the risks and the benefits of each process
  • Legal, financial, psychological and social issues of divorce
  • How to talk about divorce with your children
  • Guidance from divorce experts

New Technology Opens California Court System Access to All

Screen shot of the innovative California Courts app.

by Susan L Rapp, CFL-S

California courts, including Superior Courts handling divorce, support, and child custody matters, have been severely impacted by state budget cuts. This has resulted in a reduction

Susan Rapp, CLS-F, Family Law Attorney

Susan Rapp, CLS-F, Family Law Attorney

in family court personnel, reduced hours for filings, lengthy waits for divorce judgments to be processed, and delays in child support wage assignments being issued. Family law litigants are sometimes required to have a hearing without a court reporter or to provide a reporter at their own expense. Delays in obtaining hearing dates compound a divorcing couple’s financial and/or emotional distress particularly if there are pressing issues that cannot be resolved without court intervention.

It is often stated justice delayed is justice denied. While I lament the impact the budget cuts are having on our California judicial system, I am heartened by the judicial system’s significant, but not yet universal, adoption of the internet as a resource for litigants, attorneys, the courts, and the general public.

Computers were just replacing typewriters when I first began practicing law. There was no internet. Legal research required access to a well-equipped law library. Reported appellate cases, statutory provisions, and law review articles were found in printed volumes you hoped would be on the shelf when needed.

Given what we had to work with then, it is exciting to see a wide range of information, pleadings, and documents related to the courts and judicial process readily and inexpensively accessible using various websites and apps. Let me share a few of my favorites.

Screen shot of the Judicial Council of California website self-help section.

Screen shot of the Judicial Council of California website self-help section.

Judicial Council of California Website

The Judicial Council of California is the policy making body of the California courts. Its website has an excellent “self-help” section containing a vast amount of information. Specific pleadings that need to be completed and filed with the court regarding a particular legal matter are identified. The mandatory and discretionary Judicial Council pleading forms for family law cases (as well as civil and probate) are available in auto-fill format at the website. These forms can be printed for signing and filing once completed. The site even has videos designed to walk a litigant through completing certain form pleadings. The site is particularly valuable to litigants who cannot afford an attorney or choose to be self-represented.

Every county in California including San Diego County has a comprehensive courts website.

Every county in California including San Diego County has a comprehensive courts website.

San Diego County Superior Court Website

The Superior Court of every county in California has a website accessible by entering “[County name] Superior Court website” into the Google search box. Our San Diego Superior Court family court website includes links to the state and local rules of court, courtroom judicial assignments and telephone numbers to court clerks and various administrative offices, hearing calendars, a video designed to familiarize parents with the Family Court Services mediation process that is required when there are child custody or visitation issues, Judicial Council pleadings forms, and an index of cases filed in the San Diego Superior Court during the last several decades. The websites of the Superior Court of various other counties contain detailed information regarding the nature, date and outcome of court proceedings occurring in a particular case, and a link for ordering conformed copies of pleadings and orders in the court file.

Screen shot of the innovative California Courts app.

Screen shot of the innovative California Courts app.

California Courts App

The “California Courts” app is available through the iTunes store for $2.99. This app pulls information into a single location from a number of different websites. This app is particularly useful to practicing attorneys but is also a great resource for anyone wanting to become more familiar with the workings and work product of the California judicial system.

The app provides quick access to all published opinions of the California Supreme Court and the California Courts of Appeal. You can use this app to access information at the State Bar of California website pertaining to attorneys, including information related to when a particular attorney became licensed, law school attended, and whether the attorney has been the subject of any disciplinary proceedings. You can search for attorneys within a particular county designated by the State Bar of California as certified specialists in a particular area, such as family law.

Besides assisting those involved in legal proceedings to maneuver through the court system, the low-or-no cost and ease of access to information available to everyone via the internet bodes well for our democracy. The vast amount of information allows citizens to become educated about the law, their legal rights and the recourse available through the courts when those rights are infringed.

I would love to see civics and government teachers and their students become familiar with and take advantage of the educational resources available through websites and apps like those mentioned. I am hopeful adequate funding will soon be restored to the California courts to ensure litigants have their day in court in a timely, efficient, and effective manner, so that our judicial system, designed to enforce the rule of law upon which our system is premised, will continue to receive the respect it justly deserves.