Who asks for a divorce more often, men or women?

Researchers have a gold mine of data when it comes to studying divorce and divorce trends. Two recent studies looked at who initiates divorce more often, men or women.

Surprise – both studies, one conducted by Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld and another produced by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for

Myra Chack Fleischer

Health Statistics (NCHS) found the vast majority of divorces in the U.S. were initiated by women. And the disparity is much greater than anyone anticipated.

According to the NCHS, about 80 percent of all divorces are legally filed by women. In the study done by sociologist Rosenfeld, a survey using data from 2009-2015 found 70 percent of marriages were initiated by women. In both studies, this applied to heterosexual marriages of all age ranges. It didn’t matter whether the couple was in their early 20s or in their 90s.

The important question to ask: why is this so? Can anything be done to affect it? Collaborative Family Law Group member Myra Chack Fleischer examines the issue in a recent column for Communities Digital News. Read more here. How does this match with your own experience among family, friends, or in your own circumstances?

Law Week 2017 Special: Divorce Options Workshop Free June 3

TGet your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, June 3 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

Special for Law Week: Workshop is free for the last time in 2017 – RSVP today

San Diegans facing difficult decisions about divorce can now take advantage of a valuable workshop offering information about their alternatives to a stressful, adversarial divorce.

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the next “Divorce Options” workshop session takes place on Saturday, June 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Diego, California, 92130. The building is next to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the intersection of Route 56 and Interstate 5. See a map here.

In honor of San Diego Law Week 2017, this workship will be offered to the public at no cost. For the remainder of 2017, workshop attendance will cost $25.

TGet your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, June 3 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, June 3 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

Workshops are held on the first Saturday of each month. Facilitators cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. If you have children, it’s even more difficult. Most people have a lot of questions, but aren’t sure where to get answers.

Our workshops let people know it is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce. Presenters offer 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.

Our goal is helping people avoid crowded family courts, save the time, cost, and emotional stress involved in litigation, and emerge with healthy family relationships moving forward.

The Divorce Options program is useful to 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.

Becoming more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future.

For additional information or to RSVP for the Law Week Divorce Options Workshop ONLY, call Divorce Options at (858) 472-4022 or email at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

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.

RSVP Now For Divorce Options Workshop Saturday, May 6

Popular new location for workshop in Carmel Valley offers convenient freeway access for discussion about your no-court alternatives

San Diegans facing difficult decisions about divorce can now take advantage of valuable free workshops in a convenient new location, where they can learn about their alternatives to a stressful, adversarial divorce.

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the next “Divorce Options” workshop session takes place on Saturday, May 6, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Diego, California, 92130. The building is next to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the intersection of Route 56 and Interstate 5. See a map here.

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.

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.

Workshops are held on the first Saturday of each month. Facilitators cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Divorce is difficult and stressful even under the best of circumstances. If you have children, it’s even more difficult. Most people have a lot of questions, but aren’t sure where to get answers.

Our workshops let people know it is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce. Presenters offer 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.

Our goal is helping people avoid crowded family courts, save the time, cost, and emotional stress involved in litigation, and emerge with healthy family relationships moving forward.

The Divorce Options program is useful to 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.

Becoming more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future.

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

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.

Justin Reckers named President of Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

Justin Reckers, Wellspring Divorce Advisors, urges caution before using a DIY divorce tool.

Media contact: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, Fellow PRSA
619-997-2495 or gayle@falconvalleygroup.com

(SAN DIEGO) – Financial professional Justin Reckers, CFP, CDFA, has been named President of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego for the 2017 term. Reckers

Justin Reckers, Wellspring Divorce Advisors, urges caution before using a DIY divorce tool.

Justin Reckers, 2017 Board President

is the Chief Executive Officer of WellSpring Divorce Advisors, and the lead Financial Advisor at Fonte Financial Advisors, a Member of Advisory Services Network.

Founded in 2010, members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego work together to learn, practice, and promote the practice of Collaborative Divorce 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, health and financial security of families and eliminate the need for families to resort to litigation.

Reckers is a graduate of The Ohio State University, a Certified Financial Planner™ and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™. He is a former board member of The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, Collaborative Practice California and the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego. Reckers is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Pacific South Coast Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“It is my goal to guide people through what can be the most emotionally and financially devastating period in their life,” said Reckers. “Those of us who believe in Collaborative Divorce believe it is the best way for families to achieve a private, respectful divorce that preserves healthy family relationships and financial security for the entire family.”

“From my vantage as a financial professional, we help clients understand both the short and long term financial consequences of their divorce settlement options and gather information to make a fully informed decision. Financial professionals are part of a team that includes attorneys and divorce coaches, working together to help build creative settlement options and assist clients to transition successfully into their new financial reality with a game plan for success,” said Reckers.

“My goals for the coming year are twofold. First, increase public awareness of the existence and benefits of the Collaborative Divorce process; and second, to expand our successful ‘Divorce Options’ educational workshops throughout San Diego County. The workshops help individuals and couples learn about the different methods of getting divorced so they make an informed choice for their family,” Reckers said.

Serving with Reckers on the 2017 board of directors are Lynn Waldman, President-Elect; Ginita Wall, Treasurer; Meredith Lewis, Secretary; and Frank Nageotte and Anna Addleman, at-large members.

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. Follow us on Facebook for the latest divorce news.

Divorce Options Workshop moves to Carmel Valley on February 4

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.

Workshop location moves to new location in February for your convenince

(SAN DIEGO) – If your marriage is ending and you plan to file for divorce, get the information you need to make important decisions at the free “Divorce Options” workshop in San Diego offered by the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego.

The next “Divorce Options” workshop takes place on Saturday, February 4, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 11622 El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Diego, California, 92130. The building is next to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse at the intersection of Route 56 and Interstate 5. See a map here.

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

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

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

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.

The Divorce Options program helps San Diegans 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.

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.

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.

Three Divorces In One

by Traci Hoppes, Family Law Attorney
Law & Mediation Firm of Klueck & Hoppes

BrokenHearts640

Family law attorneys are hired to help people obtain a legal divorce. However, most divorce clients are really going through three different “divorces” at the same time:

Traci Hoppes

1.  Emotional Divorce

The emotional divorce begins with the decision to separate and ends when both spouses accept the fact that the relationship is over. Psychologists who have studied divorce believe that ending a relationship means going through a grieving process similar to grieving the death of a loved one. Borrowing from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s studies of the grief process, psychologists have identified certain emotional stages that everyone grieving the loss of a relationship goes through:

  • denial and shock
  • bargaining
  • anger
  • acceptance

An awareness of where you and your spouse each are in the emotional divorce is essential. An out-of-control emotional divorce can cause a lot of problems with the process.

There are so many financial implications to divorce including the date of separation. It is best to work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professional on your side.

2.  Financial Divorce

In the financial divorce, the property and debts accumulated during the relationship get divided up. The income used to support one household will have to somehow stretch to pay for two.

Ideally, the couple will find a way to divide things up that works for both of them without spending a ton of money on lawyers’ fees and court costs. But, this will require cooperation. If the couple is unable to cooperate, they will find it hard to make the financial decisions needed to complete the divorce process.

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.

3.  Legal Divorce

The legal divorce can be the simplest of the three divorces, or it can be the most difficult. There are waiting periods and other formalities to be observed. Certain documents need to be completed and filed with the court, and eventually a judge will sign the divorce judgment.

As long as legal requirements are followed, and especially if the case is uncontested with no disagreements that the court needs to resolve, getting a divorce does not need to be all that complicated or expensive. But if the couple gets stuck in emotional or financial conflict, the legal divorce can become a long and expensive battle.

A Better Way…

If a couple wants to settle things but is having trouble doing so on their own, Collaborative Divorce offers tools to help a couple communicate at a time when things between them may be at an all-time low. With the help of trained professionals, the couple can assess where they stand in the process for each of the three divorces, identify the decisions that need to be made together, and then make those decisions in a way that takes into account what needs to happen and is best for both of them.

Free Labor Day Weekend Workshop on Divorce Sept. 3

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free workshop on Saturday, April 1 in Carmel Valley. RSVP today.

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, September 3, 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.

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free Scripps Ranch workshop on Saturday, September 3. RSVP today.

Get your questions about divorce answered at a free Scripps Ranch workshop on Saturday, September 3. RSVP today.

The Divorce Options program helps San Diegans 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.

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.

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.

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.

Date of Separation and the Collaborative Divorce Process

There are so many financial implications to divorce including the date of separation. It is best to work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professional on your side.
There are so many financial implications to divorce including the date of separation. It is best to work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professional on your side.

There are so many financial implications to divorce including the date of separation. It is best to work with expert divorce attorneys and financial professional on your side.

by Frann Setzer, Esq.
MBA/Certified Family Law Specialist
The Law Office of Frann Setzer, APLC

In some dissolutions, the date that parties separate is a crucial issue. This is because by law, the marital ‘community’ ends on the day when parties separate. The end of the marital community means that income earned or possibly property purchased after that date might belong to only one person. The date that parties separate also determines the length of the marriage, which potentially affects the length of spousal support or whether or not spousal support can be terminated.

Attorney Frann Setzer

Family law attorney Frann Setzer

While each situation is different, the date of separation can be a very contentious issue in a divorce.

For example, let’s say that Ms. Smith is the primary wage earner for her family. She believes she and her husband separated in January 2015, when she packed most of her belongings and began to spend many nights at her friend’s house and on the sofa at her office. Ms. Smith did return to the marital home for dinner at least twice a month. The couple also decided not to tell very many people about their impending divorce. Mr. Smith works, but earns approximately 20% of Ms. Smith’s income. He believes that the parties separated in August 2015, when Ms. Smith finally rented an apartment.

In March 2015, Ms. Smith received approximately $500,000 in commissions from work that she did from January 2015 until March 2015. Since Ms. Smith believes the date of separation was January 2015, she also believes that the $500,000 is her separate property.

Conversely, given his belief that they separated in August 2015, Mr. Smith believes the $500,000 is community, making him entitled to $250,000. To complicate matters further, in March 2015, the parties would have been married for 10 years. Under California law, a marriage of 10 years or longer is considered ‘long term,’ which could greatly affect spousal support.

The facts of this particular situation are such that, a court could find for either party in terms of a date of separation. It could be January or August. One person ‘wins’ and one person ‘loses.’

Does this sound complicated? The above situation occurs more often than you might think. Many people do not wish to be a part of the adversarial world of litigation, where the outcome is all or nothing and where they risk making enemies of each other.

Enter the Collaborative Divorce process, where clients can meet with their attorneys, divorce coaches and their financial neutral and craft a solution to a very complicated situation that works for them. Their attorneys advise them of the law, their coaches get them to examine their true goals and the financial neutral can examine their needs. A global solution can be reached that takes into account property as well as support. Complexity is not the issue, the willingness of the parties to listen to each other and reach an equitable solution is the definitive factor.

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.