How Facebook Can Affect Your Divorce

Posted July 2, 2014 in Family Law, In the Community by Gretchen Boger.

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July 2, 2014
How Facebook Can Affect Your Divorce
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Last February 2013, a New York Father was awarded sole custody after a Mother utilized Facebook to “insult and demean” her ten year old child. The Court found that Father was “more able to provide a stable and nurturing environment” for the children, citing Mother’s “inappropriate use of the Internet and lack of remorse or insight into the appropriateness of such behavior.”

Social media can play a dangerous role during divorce proceedings. Facebook, which now has more than 800 million active users, has become an important and undeniable presence in today’s culture. Your profile shares and records everything from your personal information, to your new profile picture, and your mood. Your posts may be valuable evidence to your ex-spouse’s divorce attorney.

In recent years there has been an increase, especially in family law cases, of the amount of evidence collected from social media sites. Photographs, updates, and conversations you post online may be admitted into evidence. Further, it might not be a good idea to post about your divorce proceedings. If you do, choose your words carefully and express yourself diplomatically – on the same level as you would present yourself to your judge. This rule of thumb extends to iMessages, emails, Twitter, dating websites, your blog, etc.

Remember that anything online is extremely accessible. If you post anything that contradicts what you have stated in your pleadings, it can impeach your credibility and given the discretionary nature of family law cases, may negatively impact your case. For example, the following Facebook activity often makes its way into the family courtroom:

  • Posting pictures of an extravagant vacation – you at a resort indulging in the day spa can provide evidence of financial misconduct with regards to spousal support or child support.
  • Updating your status while inebriated – constant updates with slurred-speech or checking-in to five happy hours each week can suggest you have drug or alcohol dependency problems and sway the judge in awarding custody.
  • Bad mouthing your divorce proceedings – complaining about your judge or your ex-spouse’s nasty opposing counsel can appear as if you do not take the process seriously.

Even if you have de-friended people who know your ex and made your privacy settings air-tight, your ex may still be able to access your updates. Recently, Facebook was put in the spotlight over a controversial social experiment it conducted to determine whether emotions are contagious (conclusion: they are). Without first getting consent, Facebook manipulated 689,003 user’s News Feeds to display either positive or negative posts and then monitored the users’ reactions. People have had various reactions towards this experiment. Some feel violated for being used as a lab rat. This study is a reminder that regardless of your consent, you never know who has access to or has saved what you posted.

The bottom line: think before updating your Facebook status, especially during divorce proceedings. Online statements are similar to face-to-face conversations but they are much easier to document. Further, the court may consider your posts in your divorce proceedings.

If you have any questions or concerns about your or your spouse’s online presence and how it may affect your divorce, feel free to contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer a free consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Can Your Child Sue You For Child Support?

Posted March 12, 2014 in Family Law, In the Community by Rachel Leff-Kich.

No, your child cannot sue you for child support – not yet, anyway. Recently, 18-year-old Rachel Canning caused a national stir when she sued her parents in a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit: the New Jersey teenager filed a lawsuit against her parents requesting $654 in child support per week, thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and immediate reimbursement of her high school tuition.

Ms. Canning claimed her parents threw her out of their Lincoln Park home two days before her 18th birthday, whereas her parents insisted the teenager moved out voluntarily. Her father, Sean Canning, explained that his daughter left the family home because she didn’t want to do reasonable household chores, be respectful, or abide by their curfew. Mr. Canning stated that “the whole thing is just destroying our family. We love our daughter. She’s our pride and joy.” A retired Police Chief, Mr. Canning explained that he’s “a liberal, liberal parent… I was tougher on my cops at work than I’ve ever been at my home, that’s for sure.”

Last week, Morris County Court Judge Peter Bogaard ruled in favor of the Canning’s, reasoning that any other decision would set a bad precedent by setting limits on parenting. The court expressed concern that Ms. Canning’s rare case, if successful, could inspire similar suits in the future. Brian Schwartz, chairman of the New Jersey Bar Association’s Family Law Section states that “in my 20 years of practicing family law in New Jersey, I’ve never seen anything like this.” Adds Jeralyn Lawrence, the incoming Family Law Section chair: “This could open the floodgates of recalcitrant kids fighting with their parents, moving out, and then suing them to keep paying.”

To the relief (presumably) of all parties involved, Ms. Canning returned home to her parents and siblings this morning. During this afternoon’s press conference, Ms. Canning’s lawyer said the suit brought against her parents had been settled “amicably,” and that her return home was not contingent upon any financial or other considerations.

Notably, Ms. Canning was not seeking to be emancipated from her parents – her lawsuit was primarily financially driven. With emancipation, minors essentially function as adults in society. Generally, they can attend the schools of their choice, enter into legally binding contracts, purchase a home, keep any income earned from a job, and so on. In court filings, Ms. Canning insisted she was “old enough to do what she wanted” – but perhaps she realized that without anyone bankrolling her endeavors, her options to do whatever she wants at this stage in her life are fairly limited.

If you have any questions about your family law issues, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Having a knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable for your situation. Lonich & Patton’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer a free half-hour consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Sources: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/03/05/new-jersey-teen-sues-parents-for-support-claiming-was-kicked-out-home/; http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-rachel-canning-goes-back-to-family-20140312,0,1541517.story#axzz2vmlZmHUm

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The “Dirty DUI” Case

Posted March 4, 2014 in Family Law, In the Community by Gina Policastri.

The last of the participants in a widespread police corruption scandal was sentenced last week, finally concluding the saga that has been dubbed the “Dirty DUI” case. For those who haven’t been following the case, former Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy, Stephen Tanabe, along with multiple other former police colleagues, aided a private investigator in arresting unsuspecting men outside bars for drunken driving. The private investigator’s attractive female employees had lured the men into drinking and driving in a plot to help their wives gain an advantage in their divorce and custody battles.

These elaborate stings were known as “dirty DUIs” and caused significant damage – both personally and financially – for all parties involved. Last week, Tanabe was ordered by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer to spend 15 months in prison for his role in the scandal, which was notably lighter than the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s guidelines of 21-27 months for the crimes. However, Judge Breyer didn’t elaborate on his reasoning, only stating that the case was unique in his 15 years on the bench.

Another individual implicated in the ring was Mary Nolan, a former San Ramon family law attorney who represented the ex-wives of two men who were arrested for the DUI sting operation.  Nolan hired the same private investigator working with Tanabe to wiretap the cars of people she was opposing in divorce and child custody cases. After setting up the spouses of her clients for DUI arrests, Nolan would then use the evidence gathered as leverage in family court. Though prosecutors were initially seeking a 33-month prison sentence, Nolan was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison for evading taxes and for illegally eavesdropping on a client’s spouse.  Nolan was also required to relinquish her law license and pay nearly $500,000 in back taxes.

Family law cases are oftentimes emotionally charged and can lead parties to take desperate measures. A knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney can help you legally navigate the system and guide you through this trying time. If you have questions about divorce planning, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer a free consultation.

Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results.  While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice.  Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Sources: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Ex-Contra-Costa-Co-Deputy-Sentenced-in-Dirty-DUI-Case-246253961.html; http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Ex-Deputy-Sheriff-Stephen-Tanabe-sentenced-in-DUI-5249741.php; http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_25053072/dirty-dui-attorney-gets-two-years-prison-her

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Los Gatos Art and Wine Festival Raffle Winners

Posted September 7, 2011 in Estate Planning, In the Community by Jennifer Mispagel.

Congratulations to our raffle winners from the Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes:

  • Grand Prize Winner of the Lonich & Patton Estate Plan is Todd G.
  • First Prize Winner of the Tax Planning Consultation with Chan CPA & Company is Regina R.
  • Second Prize Winner of the Fitness Package with Mint Condition Fitness is Darrell P.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by the Lonich & Patton booth at the Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes a few weeks ago.  We had a wonderful time visiting with you and enjoyed participating in the community event.  We hope to see everyone again next year.

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Meet our Estate Planning Attorneys at the L&P booth at the Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes

Posted August 10, 2011 in In the Community by Lonich and Patton.

Join Michael Lonich, Managing Partner, and Jennifer Mispagel, Associate Attorney, at the Los Gatos Fiesta de Artes.  Michael and Jennifer will be hosting a booth and providing information on the services that Lonich & Patton offer.  The L&P booth will also be raffling off such prizes as a comprehensive estate plan prepared by the L&P Estate Planning Group; a tax management consultation with Chan CPA & Company, Inc.; and a fitness package from Mint Condition Fitness.

Chan CPA & Company, Inc. provides Silicon Valley high growth companies a broad range of accounting, taxation, financial, and business expertise. The group includes California-licensed CPA’s and attorneys from a broad spectrum of key functions and roles such as: CFO, marketing and business development, tax and financial accounting, and management consulting.

With an average of 25 years of experience, their staff comes from Big 4 and leading regional accounting firms and top tier universities.  Chan CPA & Company, Inc. has worked with start-up companies ranging from networking to software to e-commerce. Many of their client start-ups have been successfully sold to Fortune 500 companies.

The tax management consultation includes a one-hour tax planning consultation for 2011 with principal, 2011 tax projection, and related Estimated Vouchers/or W-4 calculator Projection and $300.00 credit for the 2012 Entity or Individual Tax Return.

For more information, please visit http://www.chancpa.com or email at clientservices@chancpa.com


Mint Condition Fitness is located in the Vasona Station Shopping Center in Los Gatos. Opened in 2010 by Colin Triplett (Class of 2004), their mission has been to help others to lose weight and feel great, using safe and sustainable solutions. They work hard to provide their clients with everything they need to achieve their goals, including fitness coaching, nutritional counseling, and lifestyle recommendations.

This fitness package allows you to get a taste of what we do by taking you through our trial membership. The following sessions are included: one health and fitness evaluation and two fitness coaching sessions.

For more information, please visit www.mintcondition-fitness.com or e-mail at info@mintcondition-fitness.com.

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