Attorney C. Chan, Esq. Affordable Family Law,Strategy-Driven, 4.7/5 Ratings! Free Consultation, Butte county Family Law Attorney C. Chan 530.359-8810

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Who Has Not Used Facebook? Maybe we Hate It.

Despite the apparent popularity of Facebook, even attorneys and Judges have gotten in trouble from "friending" or sending "like" requests or whatever nonsense has transpired.

For the record, the attorney herein does not use Facebook and doesn't even know how to work it, and is not interested in learning how to use it. Further, it is understood that if everyone and their mother is advertising on the same exact platform, fine, you can go look at everyone's ads and argue about them.

10 SIGNS THAT FACEBOOK IS WRECKING YOUR LIFE    (here is a young person with a brain)

1. You spend more time communicating through Facebook than in person.
2. You are on Facebook more than 20 minutes a day. 20 minutes per day adds up to 5.069 days per year of your life that you have completely wasted.
3. Facebook is the first thing you do when you wake up. And then you’re back on 15 other times throughout the day.
4. You completely ignore your child because you are too busy writing a post about how your eggs tasted strange this morning.
5. You’ve finished your nice dinner at a nice restaurant with your spouse, and you realize at the end that you were just Facebooking the entire time.
6. You announce an important change or event in your life on Facebook. “Hey mom and dad, I’m engaged!”
7. You cut off a quality conversation with someone you just met in real life so that you can send them a friend request.
8. You have been the recipient of the real life words “Please get off of Facebook and spend time with me”
9. You reveal something very deep and personal on Facebook which you regret forever.
10. Every time you find yourself with your circle of friends in real life, you catch yourself just reading your Facebook updates rather than actually talking to them.

Posted in I Hate Facebook | 3 Comments

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Pro Se Litigant Killing Judge's Mother+ Husband Years Ago Still Creates Serious Caution for Judges

IIn the Northern District of Illinois, judges still remember pro se litigant Bart Ross.

Ross was a frequent filer in Chicago federal court, where, the Chicago Tribune says, his filings over a decade often compared doctors, judges and lawyers to Nazis and terrorists. In late 1994, Judge Joan Lefkow dismissed a medical-malpractice suit by Ross against the hospital where he’d been treated for cancer.

Five months later, Lefkow came home to discover her husband, 64-year-old Michael Lefkow, and her mother, 89-year-old Donna Grace Humphrey, shot dead. The case was solved about two weeks after the murders, when a West Allis, Wisconsin, police officer witnessed Ross committing suicide in his van. His suicide note took responsibility for the murders.

That’s one reason that the district takes security very seriously when it comes to pro se litigants, according to Chief Judge Ruben Castillo. Castillo spoke today as the moderator of an ABA Annual Meeting panel sponsored by the association’s Judicial Division, “The Unstable Pro Se Litigant: Strategies for Ethically Dealing with the Difficult Unrepresented Litigant.”

Not every unstable litigant—a person with a mental illness or a borderline personality disorder—is necessarily violent, said Eric Drogin, the first panelist to speak. Drogin is a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, where he’s part of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law. He also has a JD and is a past chair of the ABA’s Section of Science and Technology Law. He listed a variety of mental illness diagnoses and the likely behavior in court of people with those problems. Depressed people and people with substance dependence, he said, might not show up at all, or might be completely unprepared if they do.

But they can still pose serious problems, the panelists agreed. Drogin said filings from people with certain diagnoses “can be measured by the pound” or even the ton. Others may be antagonistic toward the bench, cry a lot or seek the spotlight inappropriately. “Litigation stress” can crank it up.

And those behaviors can pose serious problems for judges, who have to maintain order while respecting the litigant’s rights.

“One of the things we’re doing is trying so hard to make sure the person has access to the courts,” said U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall of the Northern District of Illinois. “And we also don’t want them to run roughshod over the court.”

Judge Frank J. Bailey of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Massachusetts said one reason these litigants can be difficult is that their cases are not about money to them, which makes their reactions harder to predict. Often, they resist settling because they lose their forum.

If a litigant seems to need attention, Bailey said, he’ll offer limited opportunities to get it by scheduling hearings that can go long or sending the case to mediation. Castillo added that it’s good to mention summary judgment early on, so attention-seekers realize there may not be a television-style trial.

But the judges agreed that keeping control of the courtroom is vital, and they advised using a firm “judge voice.” They also agreed that it’s vital to identify problem litigants early—perhaps by the volume, frequency or nature of their filings—and plan accordingly. If someone seems dangerous, they said, plan to have security present or reduce their opportunities to show up to court.

Attorney Jadd Masso, a litigator and partner at the firm Strasburger in Dallas who specializes in defending problem cases, said defense lawyers should pick their battles carefully. In one case his firm handled, a litigant who was unruly during a deposition was arrested and brought to court in shackles. That spawned a civil rights case and years of further litigation, including a trip to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans.

A pro se litigant “is sort of a frightened animal,” he said. “You don’t really know [whether they’re harmless], so you have to treat them with kid gloves and be polite and professional and keep it focused on the law.”

• See what people are saying about the events on social media, and follow along with our full coverage of the 2015 ABA Annual Meeting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What is "Discovery" and Do I Need to Do It in My Case?

 THE exchange of  information in a divorce, related to the respective economic, financial, and personal situations  -- including the extent of the property ownership, debt, and income, is part of the discovery process in litigation. Even if a case is not going to trial, the parties are entitled to know the extent of the assets, debts, property, financial transactions, etc.  

The exchange of this information is known as the "discovery" process generally, and there are very specific rules that apply to specific applications.  If assets are hidden or never disclosed, if debts are amassed and never disclosed, if someone won a lotto and never disclosed it, or any type of financial gain or big loss that was kept hidden, the other spouse should know about it.

In California, there has been ongoing case law dealing with financial issues where one spouse basically gets left out of the loop and doesn't know the full scope of what was going on (non disclosure)...

 and when that kept happening, the Courts finally realized that "non disclosure" was the center of many cases going to appeal.  

New laws were passed to change the Family Code so that declarations of disclosure are done properly to help each litigant know their financial picture.  

For example, if a wife did not realize to what extent her husband had in terms of a trust funded by community assets, or stock purchased with community earnings (earned during marriage, and not from separate property) or a business that was set up with community earnings, and operated online such as an adult x rated venue, which takes in money online from credit cards--you get the picture.  Or maybe the husband was paying support to an unknown child father outside of wedlock for 10 years.

Depending on the case, many scenarios can have mixed facts, and not all cases will be alike. In fact, it takes years of working in Family Law to really see how bad things can get, especially if one party files bankruptcy and the other one does not.  Fortunately, the bankruptcy rules help the spouse who has been shafted, for the most part, especially if fees relate to spousal support.

Document Production

In "document production" both spouses make available all documents that relate to the divorce, the marriage, their separate property, incomes, etc. Any party has a right to see most documents that even arguably relate to the divorce and related issues that will require resolution -- including division of property, finances, and debt; child custody and visitation; payment and receipt of child support; and payment and receipt of spousal support (alimony).

Interrogatories and Requests for Admissions

Interrogatories are questions requiring a spouse's version of the facts and support for his or her demands. These questions can be pre-printed "form" interrogatories, or specific questions asked just for your case called "special" interrogatories. 

Questions can range from the broad ("Describe your current relationship with your children") to the specific ("Is it your position that respondent's taxable income for 2004 was $45,000?"). 

If the questions asked are not fair questions or are difficult to understand, your attorney will help you decide which questions should be answered and which should be objected to.

"Requests for admission" are not often used in divorce cases, but they can be very powerful tools. Requests for admission ask a party to admit or deny certain facts pertaining to the divorce and related issues, and they carry with them penalties for not answering, for answering falsely, or even for answering late.


Depositions are sworn statements, when a person will answer questions from an attorney, and a court reporter will make a transcript of all that is said. Depositions can range in length from an hour to a week or more. Although all attorneys have their own strategies for depositions, there are basically two reasons to use them: to see what the other side has, and to do a "practice trial," that is, to see how a witness will appear and conduct themselves before a judge or jury.

Your attorney will tell you what he or she wants from you if you are deposed, but there are two general things to remember. First, never guess. The purpose of a deposition is to give facts, not to speculate as to what might have happened or what the right answer might be. Even if it makes you self-conscious to say it, sometimes "I don't know" is the right answer. Second, it is human nature to want to explain things so that your listener understands, but you should resist the impulse. It is your opponent's job to get the answers. It is your job to answer only the question asked, not to offer additional information.

Things to Remember About Discovery

  • Keep in mind that it is very likely that anything and everything will come out at some point in the discovery process. In divorce cases, this is especially true if the case becomes contentious and emotions run high.

  • It is imperative that you be honest with your divorce attorney about the facts and documents that may come out.  He or she can't do the best job if you don't disclose everything.

  • Be honest. Nothing will make your position in a divorce case worse than lying in discovery and getting caught (i.e. about hidden assets, etc.), and it is likely that you will get caught if you are purposefully dishonest.

- See more at:

Friday, March 20, 2015

What is Non Disclosure and Can I Get Into Trouble for It?

The simple answer is Yes, one can get into big legal issues,  because "non disclosure" is a huge litigation topic in divorces.

When one spouse (usually the high wage earner) tries to or has already hidden a lot of the financial transactions that have occurred so  the other spouse has no idea that it happened; if one does not know about it, one normally does not try to "divide" it because one doesn't know anything about its existence.

If the spouse that never divulged the asset never lists the asset or assets, and the other spouse finds out afterward, the Family Law Code has specific laws for how long a person has to try and fix the error.  Waiting too long may possibly cause a complete loss.  This is why it is important to understand one's rights in divorce, and attorney has seen many litigants try to save $1,000 in fees by not using any discovery,  but end up losing far more than that when it was too late to fix or change what happened.

Many of the forms used in divorces are set up so that the disclosure of financial related items are set forth for division. for example, Judicial Council Form FL-140 [declaration of disclosure]  
and then FL-145 [form interrogatories].....

These  basic inquiries and answers may lead to the discovery of assets that one spouse knows nothing about at all.  While this will not happen in all cases, it has become fairly common for attorney to see pro se litigants who are unaware that the pensions (which may be split in divorce) are not set up in the same format, and may depend upon the employer, longevity, type of plan and much some cases, an actuarial accounting should be performed. Pension plans may need to be joined. There can be quite a bit of variance in exactly what needs to be done, as it depends on the plan and how it is set up.


Methods of concealing assets are as varied as the personalities of the individuals involved. In their attempts to veil assets, spouses may often involve relatives or acquaintances who may or may not be aware of their complicity in the diversion of personal assets. It is not unusual to discover the placing of personal possessions or investment certificates into safety deposit boxes in the name of a family member or friend.
Paying down mortgages and credit card balances is yet another method of hiding funds in plain sight. Repayments of phony debts to friends or relatives can appear to be legitimate use of resources. Expenses for paramours such as gifts, travel, rent or tuition for college or classes may be disguised as valid outlays of funds. Assets may be transferred into the name of another family member, friend or corporate entity.
Custodial accounts established under a child's social security number as well as transfer of assets into pension, profit-sharing, 401(k), and Keogh plans are all strategies for cloaking liquid assets from the opposing party's view. Employees can work in collusion with their employers to delay business contracts, raises or bonuses until after the divorce.
The transfer of large sums of money to trusts is one way individuals may attempt to disguise assets. Another is to gift money to individuals with the anticipation of having the money returned at a later date. These patently deceptive strategies may be fraudulent as well.
Spouses who own businesses may use the corporate entity to conceal assets. Skimming cash from the business, paying salary to nonexistent employees and then voiding the checks after the divorce, and paying salaries or fees to relatives or close friends for services that may never have actually been rendered then receiving the money back after the divorce is final are all strategies used by business owners to veil cash.
The value of a business prior to a divorce can be lowered artificially by delaying the signing of lucrative long-term business contracts until after a divorce settlement is reached. Unreported income on tax returns and financial statements can reduce the perceived value of a business to the detriment of the other party in the divorce.

Attorney has also seen cases where spouses believed that they had funds set aside for themselves and found out later that the other spouse had liquidated their accounts without them knowing it. Also in bankruptcy, various plans/pensions can be treated differently depending on the type and category and if there are no exemptions for it, one's funds can be at risk of loss. Filing bankruptcy usually requires pre-planning so that no errant steps are taken, but legal choices can help avoid loss without being illegal. Tax refunds are often lost due to no knowledge of exemptions/or timing issues.

When non disclosure takes place, and the spouse who was unaware of it discovers it, this can create additional litigation because it often takes litigation in order to have the spouse (who didn't know about the assets)-- rectify the situation. For divorces that involve higher stakes, such as valuation of a professional business, or a large business which the other spouse knows very little about-- these can be problematic due to the nature of business records.

Or, it is possible that one spouse is consistently hiding income and cash and claiming only 1/10th of what is really coming in.  These are difficult situations but not impossible. Diligence, time and dedication to uncovering the facts is required and when facts are shown proving that one spouse has used fabrication, the court can punish the offending party. Especially in spousal support, most courts heavily frown on fabrication of income, and in bankruptcy, legal fees used to obtain spousal support are not dischargeable, and child support is usually never dischargeable.

If you have a divorce case and believe that the other spouse has hidden assets or misrepresented where the money actually went, you should consult several attorneys. There may be a difference of opinion on how to approach the issues.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bankruptcy and Divorce-- Beware Pitfalls and Know Your Rights First

Disadvantages of Filing for Divorce and Bankruptcy at the Same Time

When you file for bankruptcy, almost all property you own becomes property of the bankruptcy estate.
 If you are in the middle of a divorce, the family court judge  usually can’t divide and distribute your assets until
your bankruptcy is completed.
As a result, filing for bankruptcy during an ongoing divorce can drag it out unnecessarily.
Similarly, unresolved alimony or child support issues can lead to delays in the processing
 of your bankruptcy case. However, in most cases, child support and alimony are handled even during
bankruptcy. If relief from stay is required, consult your attorney first. Do not secretly file bankruptcy
and not tell your attorney as this can lead to severe legal consequences!!!!

Should You File for Bankruptcy or Divorce First?

The answer depends on your individual circumstances. Filing a joint bankruptcy before divorce can
 allow you to reduce court costs and attorney fees, simplify your divorce by discharging joint debts,
and protect more of your property if your state allows you to double your bankruptcy exemptions...
It is best to consult both family law attorney who knows bankruptcy or consult both bankruptcy and
family law attorneys.

Filing bankruptcy Jointly?

In certain situations, it can also make sense to file for divorce first and then file for bankruptcy individually.

 If you maintain a single household and your joint income is too high to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy
together, you may be able to qualify individually after setting up  separate households following the divorce.

Also, if your divorce will include alimony or child support considerations, it can be helpful to have
those amounts finalized before filing for bankruptcy. If a settlement MSA/judgment has already been
finalized and entered, the Bankruptcy Code is very specific on what can and what cannot be
discharged. Spousal support, child support and certain debts are treated differently for example. Some
attorney fees are also treated differently upon offer of proof.  For example, attorney gets paid even after
client's ex husband files bankruptcy.

Attorney is familiar with issues within divorce and bankruptcy, and has seen cases in bankruptcy filed by one spouse, without telling the other spouse. Clients seeking spousal support who are in bankruptcy can get their legal fees which were used to obtain spousal support, paid in bankruptcy if in a chapter 13; otherwise, such fees are not dischargeable in bankruptcy and must be paid, and most courts will fashion an order for same, or counsel will arrange for payments since the debt cannot be retired in reality. A lien can arise for this if required, under certain circumstances.

At our Chico, California  office you can get the effective representation that you need and the affordable fees you deserve. Family law and divorce attorney
 specializes in resolution of all aspects of family law as amicably as possible in your particular
 Experienced . Whether you have been charged with a crime, are considering divorce.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Our Past Client on National Geographic 'Filthy Riches' 2014

One of our past clients Al De Silva, a burl hunter and wood veneer guy, is one of several unusual businesses shown on National Geographic 'Filthy Riches'...Al and his friend Mr. Dahl are shown scouting  burlwood in Utah.... We have seen Al use a chainsaw on burls so large, you almost need a crane to move them. It is a known fact that Al is in litigation in Butte County over the veneer business dispute that arose several years ago. And yes, Al does resemble Tommy Lee Jones the actor.

The show has different men in rural areas in various parts of the USA doing things like digging for giant worms used for fishing, hunting for a quota of certain plant species, capturing eels on a beautiful river, and generally, some pretty macho type of labor that doesn't involve a 9-5 desk job but can be pretty gritty.
(this one shows Al driving the truck with burl pulling truck-- you gotta see it!)

Note: This past client has a very expensive lawsuit against the people that sold his machinery and ousted him from the Oroville location he had for wood burl veneer. Litigation is ongoing.His attorney is in real property litigation.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bullying in Schools

Below is an overview of legal issues and laws pertaining to school safety that parents, guardians, and educators should be aware of.
Bullying in Schools
Bullying in schools is a growing and serious problem that occurs on school campuses across the nation. Bullying not only comprises the overall learning goals of educational environments, it threatens a student's right to attend classes on school campuses that are safe.
Both state and federal governments have recognized a student's need for school safety. Several states have passed anti-bullying laws, including California, Arkansas, and Colorado, aimed at making schools safe for learning. In addition, the federal government has laws in place, such as the First Amendment, Establishment Clause, and others aimed at making sure school districts provide equal protection of federal and state constitutional rights to all citizens, including students.
While parents of children who are bullied or harassed may file lawsuits against a school or school district for failing to stop the harmful behavior, students who bully are often suspended or expelled if a school determines his or her behavior violates student conduct codes and other laws. Schools can help minimize potential violations by enforcing codes of conduct that typically address various types of behavior.
Premises Liability at Schools
There are a growing number of lawsuits arising out of some school's failure to keep students safe while on school property. Under the theory of "premises liability", occupiers and owners of land (including schools) are legally required to keep premises safe for those who are legally allowed to be there. The law generally requires owners and occupiers of land to exercise a "reasonable amount of care" in providing a safe environment on their premises. However, because schools are typically utilized by young children, the law requires a greater amount of care to be taken in situations where students are present.
Parents of children who are injured may file a claim against a school or school district for contributing to a student's harm or failing to keep premises safe at school. This may include common situations where a child falls or injures themselves in some way due to a school's negligence, but may also include situations where a child is bullied, harassed, or becomes ill and the school fails to come to the aid of the student, or control the situation.
First Amendment Concerns
The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that students attending public schools do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate". (Tinker vs. Des Moines School Dist. 393 U.S. 503 upholding the right of students to wear black armbands in school in protest of the Vietnam War). Even so, while students are afforded First Amendment freedoms, their rights may be restricted. There have been a variety of free speech lawsuits involving public schools over the years. The Court has ruled that certain types of speech, including the wearing of certain clothing and religious symbols (for example, t-shirts with suggestive language or a necklace with the symbol of a cross) and participation in groups or associations must be applied in a manner that attempts to balance a student's free speech rights and a school's need to provide a safe learning environment.
Student Codes of Conduct/Discipline Policies
Most schools have some sort of student codes of conduct and other discipline policies which generally outline a student's rights and responsibilities within the student body. These policies also typically include types of behavior that are acceptable or inappropriate on school campuses (or even beyond school doors). Parents (or guardians) should read through these policies with their child to ensure awareness of important safety and discipline guidelines.
School-Related Product Safety
Because students often need various school-related items, it is important to know whether certain items or products pose any harmful risks. For example, over the years there have been important recalls on school-related items, such as BPA-lined plastic containers, clothing with drawstrings, non-insulated lunch boxes, and so on. To find information on these and other products, click here for a listing of U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. You also may wish to visit the CPSC website directly to find the information you may be looking for.
School safety is an important issue. Not only is it important for students to feel safe and secure in their school surroundings, it is important for their learning growth as well. If you are a parent, guardian, or educator who has school safety concerns, you may wish to contact your school's district and ask whether there are existing safety guidelines and policies in place. Otherwise, you may wish to contact an attorney to learn more about a particular law in question.