In this episode, Barry Rosenzweig explores the subject of family law with Jolene D. Vicchiollo of Baker Vicchiollo Law Firm. This is episode one of three episodes on this subject.
Barry Rosenzweig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Jolene D. Vicchiollo can be reached at email@example.com.
Divorce custody, paternity alimony. These are all emotionally charged and complicated concepts that arise in family law, which is the subject of today's show, part three of three episodes.Speaker 2:
Welcome to the barrylaw legal podcast. Barry Rosenzweig has been an attorney for over 25 years and is nationally known as a visionary in his profession, in each episode. Attorney Barry Rosenzweig interviews, lawyers, real estate agents, lenders, and other professionals that bring poularr legal related topics into focus for his listeners. So get ready for an educational and exciting episode. Now here's your host, Barry Rosenzweig. We're in the studio today, with Jo Vicello and we are going to be talking about family law. What do you like about family law?Speaker 1:
Why do you like being a family law attorney? It's never ever dull, ever, ever, right? There's always, it's so interesting and sometimes stories are in cases things happen. You think if I wrote a book and put this, nobody would believe it. Yeah. What I like about family law, is I like, and this sounds kind of hokey, but there is such a sense of satisfaction when you see your client coming in at the beginning and they're in trauma and grief and sadness and fearful and you walk them through the process, and at the end you can see a different person. I can think of a case, I had a woman in and this this case went to trial at least 10 or 12 years ago. She was this meek, meek little person and her husband was just a jerk and I'll use the vernacular. She was just beside herself and so we walked through the whole process and at the end she was a different person.Speaker 3:
She wasn't living with that demeaning person anymore. She knew that financially they had enough money that she would get a decent settlement and just to see the relief. So I really like helping people, walk through that process and to know this is a trauma in your life. We'll walk through it together, but you're going to be okay in the end. Right? It doesn't mean there's not grief and sadness and anger and that sort of thing. I like to see it from beginning to end, right. How the process gets taken out. Plus the interesting stuff.Speaker 1:
stuff is there, is there, um, either you recommend or a judge will recommended or mandated that they have to have either family counseling or marital counseling to try to reconcile or some people just want to reconcile, try marriage counseling and the time,Speaker 3:
right. Judges don't order and I don't think they have the authority to order marriage counseling, but they can order parties into anger management. Um, they can order them into therapy for themselves. They can order the kids to go to therapy. They can order a chemical health assessment if there are about chemical dependency. Um, so the court has authority to do those types of things. Um, they can, they can order family counseling to say, you know, the, the communication dynamics are so poor and we want you to go, you know, so they can do those type of things, do some things. People on their own decide, you know what this is. We we're going to try to reconcile and let's go through counseling and see what we can do. And sometimes that works. Sometimes it does. Yeah. And then they might come back with a postnup. Right. You know, just the here, right? Yeah. But yeah, that, that's not, I think I have a couple of cases on inactive status right now. Meaning they're trying to figure out, do we want to, you know, we started this process, we see what it might look like for us. Oh, we're having second thoughts here. You know, what about grandparent's rights? So there's a statute regarding grandparents' rights and it's just really specific. Um, you see it if grandparents you, I'll tell you what I see. Typically if grandparents want to have some type of visitation, cause it's not really parenting time with the grandkids, most judges will say you need to do that during your child's parenting time. So if it's dad's parents and they want to see the kid, the judge will say, okay, then when dad has his parenting time, you have to do that. Um, but sometimes in cases, um, a court will order. I had a case and it went to trial with, uh, with the grandma and she had spent, the kid had lived with her or the kid was eight and previously had lived with her for a period of time. And so that grandmothers site parenting time aside for mom and aside from dead and the judge did grant her one weekend a month that she had parenting time. But it's not, um, it's often difficult for grandparents cause they want to see their grandkids. And then, um, if there's, uh, if it's really tense between the parents, one parent might say, well, you're not seeing the grandkids. We see that on a fairly regular basis where, um, you know, to kind of punish Daddy, they're not going to let grandma and Grandpa's see the kid. Um, what is your thoughts and opinions and on the, uh, the biggest divorce him all the time coming up here with Jeff Bezos and his wife with Amazon. Can you even imagine right now you think there'd be confidential? You know, so we oftentimes if there for financial, we'll do what's called a protective order, a meeting that nobody gets to see these documents. Um, you know, like I had a case where, um, the husband had a ownership in a significant Minnesota business, right. And, uh, divorce records are public information, you know, so most people, all right, so going onto your local corner, look up your neighbor or, um, I don't think, are those granted very well if you agree to it. So like in that case, the two attorneys and the two parties stipulated to a protective order saying that all financial information, because we needed to determine what's the marital value of the business, right? Because it was an asset husband was going to receive. So wife needed to have an offset for another marital, but they don't want their documents and wafer greet. She didn't want everything all over. Um, so we signed a protective order, which kept that out of, uh, the, you know, the public eyes, they can't see it in those documents can be released. Some things can be filed confidentially. Um, so that's another way to do that. But I would bet there's going to be all kinds of, you know, stipulations related to settlement and documents and you know, that kind of stuff,Speaker 1:
you know, to go on and think about this then about businesses. A lot of spouses own business together. Yes. Sometimes one spouse owns it all together. One spouse owns it with a partner or two or you know, what happens in those situations is, I mean, and I think with the Amazon situation is a big part of the fight, if you know, is gonna be about voting shares. Right. Who has control, right? So how do you, how does that work with businessesSpeaker 3:
records and someone who owns damn as I know, but no, it's really so, um, when you are a part of a divorce, his assets and liabilities, I think we only got to the first part, the um, uh, custody and parent time. And then we talked about child support and spousal, but the third part of a divorce or is the division of assets and liabilities. So what you do is you identify every asset. It could be a 401k, it could be a cabin, it could be a boat, it could be a business. And so what happens is we have easy methods for some things to figure out a value of an asset. What's, what's your most recent 401k statement? Here's the value. Very easy. How much money do you have in your bank account? That's easy. A little bit more difficult as what's the value of a home, you know, unless the parties agreed, then we have appraisals done and say, okay, if there's a dispute about the value of the home, um, I think at the top of the list, our businesses. So I on a regular basis higher, they're a business evaluator. Um, there's one in particular that I'd like to use in Mendota heights and they do a business valuation. They can be pricey, 10 to 15 grand, but they go in and they'll take it,Speaker 1:
the wireless, I mean, if it's a small, small business, no.Speaker 3:
If it's a small business, and I, I've also hired this firm to say, look, this is the nature. If I give you last year's profit and loss, is it worth it to do a business valuation? They'll say no. Or you know, that sort of thing because he probably could give you some kind of a yeah. And the, the, this far from that, I heard they're all CPA's. Right? Okay. And that, and their work is valuing businesses and they do some non-marital tracing. Um, so what you're looking for in a business valuation is we need to assign a value to this asset. So how do we do that? Some, it's not worth the money. Some zero. Like if the person, it's the person, it's the blue sky value, right. That, that without will get, Yup. Same thing. Right. So, um, you just don't really spend a lot of time on it or, or all they have is their computer. Right? Right. But then you have, you have an engineering firm or I've had medical practices valued or dental practices or you know, those types of things. And that's when we hire a, uh, uh, business valuator to do the business value spouse. Is that just like any other asset for a spouse then? Yes, for both spouses, regardless if they're an owner of that are not on paper. Right, right. Because they have a marital interest in it. So if it was started, so if you had a business that was started during the marriage and continued through the marriage, part of it is non-marital and part of it is marital and that business valuator figures that out. Um, if it was, if there's a partnership and it was started during the marriage, the business, it's all marital, but then what is, um, spouses, what's the value of his or her share? So are they a 50% owner? The business is worth, you know, a hundred grand, 50%. It's $50,000 is and that 50,000 goes on the balance sheet and then, you know, to figure it out. So it's just like any other asset, you just have to assign a value to other partners. Sometimes I'm, it depends usually if there's loans, right? So usually they'll launch are taking into consideration and figuring out the value. Um, most typically the person who worked in the business as a ward of the business. Right. And so there's really, they just continue running the business as it was. Um, and um, you know, going from there, but then they have to basically buy out the spouse's share of that. So it's not shares like, you know, we think of, but just the marital interest, we had people who, I mean, I'm sure they have, but um, called, I mean a lot of police involvement with domestic abuse. I don't live together well. We, we have cases where, um, where there is domestic abuse and that, that's a little bit more, um, sad, right? Because there, there is violence and, and you don't want the kids to be involved. But I think there's more crazy behavior. Like what people will do, um, to kind of get the other spouse like the, you know, the, the, the behaviors that they'll sabotage their own financial wellbeing. So to get, um, I have a case where, um, my client flipped houses, right? That was her job. Um, and it was time to sell the house in the divorce had started and husband because it was marital wouldn't sell it. Do you get, um, cases that other attorneys have worked on and they either fire them or maybe after the divorce is over to do post decree work? I mean do, right. I'll pick up cases where someone else has a different attorney and there, there might be there they weren't a good match. So either the client fires the attorney or the attorney withdraws and says, I don't want to work on it. So then they have, um, coming to another attorney and that happens. That happens now and again. And I think that that's okay because just because you have your first attorney, you might not be a good match. Right? So if you need to find someone that you can work well with and that you trust and so on, and sometimes you have a client who just needs more handholding and uh, his or her first attorney isn't that type of attorney, so they'll just want to find someone who's different. Um, um, and then oftentimes we'll have cases that it's five years after the divorce and they don't want to go back to their first attorney for whatever reason. So then we'll, we'll pick those cases up. We also will pick up from collaborative cases if there are things that happen post decree, um, if and they want to go to court, they can't go back to their collaborative attorney because the collaborative print doesn't go to court. So then we'll get hired to work on those cases as well. So yeah. So we'll, we'll see that, um, red flags for me are, um, you would be attorney number five. Like I think I'll pass. You know, that leads me into the question. What kind of clients come in or potential clients, let's say, cases you won't take based upon what they're telling you or what you perceive. Right. When people are dishonest or they'll say, you know, like, I'll be shocked sometimes. Well, I don't want her to know about that. And I'm like, yeah, right. Exactly that. I'm like, no, I'm not. I'm not. You have to be forthright. You have to be honest. You have to have everything disclosed. And if someone's SPACs that they're not going to do there, they're going to be trouble. Like, I'm not touching that with a 10 foot pole. Right. I'm not going to, you know, trade your professional reputation for someone who's trying to, you know, is got some issues. Domestic abusers. I mean, it depends because I've had clients who've been accused of domestic abuse because the other spouse was trying to get an upper hand in the custody battle. So that's different because they're kind of unjustly accused of domestic abuse. But you know, if there are people who are, um, I think mostly just if they're dishonest, I don't, I don't want to work with people who are dishonest or are you able to withdraw from a case if you a, if they're not paying you and if you feel that it's not ethical for you to keep representing them. Right? So we try in our firm to really work with clients about their bill and know what the expectations are. Um, and at the pretrial we'll sell it, send a letter to a client saying, look, we're now moving towards trial phase. This is a routine letter, but are you going to make the financial commitment that trial takes? Um, because believe it or a lot frequently family law attorneys get stiffed, right? They don't get to see because you're, you can't withdraw because you're going to prejudice your client. So we try and put things in place to be just a smart business owner about making sure that funds are secure. And then that gives them the chance to say, um, you know what, this is, I can't afford it. And so then we'll withdraw. Um, most people are pretty good about getting things figured out and we do try and work with parties to, cause we know it's expensive, we want to be mindful of that. Um, but if we withdraw, we had a case and I was with an associated and the client was just awful to her. She would call her up screaming and swearing at her and I just said, withdraw you, you have no obligation to continue with a client who is, you know, being very, yes. Just withdraw. And she felt the associate fell bad. I don't, you know, but you, you have to, you know, if or if clients aren't forthright, then I put that right in my retainer agreement. It's not this blunt, but it basically says, if you lie to me, I'm quitting. Right. Because I'm not, you know, I'm not going to represent to the court something. And then the court's going to think, am I Dishona so that's just to have to go to the court to withdraw. Nope. Well you don't know. No, it's Alec in criminal cases. You can, I can withdraw anytime. I can't. I can't withdraw to close to try. Yes. Right. You can't prejudice your client, so you have to be mindful of or a hearing. Um, but, but you can withdraw. Great. Yeah. Okay. Well George has been very interesting. I've learned a lot about family law. I really appreciate you coming in today and learning about it and hopefully everybody gets a, uh, good, good benefit from hearing about it and what to expect. Great. Thanks so much for having me. It was very enjoyable. Join us for our next episode where we'll explore another corner of the legal world.Speaker 2:
This is Ben the berry long legal podcast. Tune in again as Barry interviews lawyers, real estate agents, lenders, and other professionals that bring popular legal related topics into focus for his listeners. Very Rosenswag can be reached at (952) 920-1001 in Minnesota and (480) 227-2203 in Arizona. He can also be reached by email at Gerry at [inaudible] dot com or online at www dot [inaudible] dot com.