How to Avoid Paying Too Much Alimony

How to Avoid Paying Too Much Alimony

Alimony is often one of the most contentious issues in most divorces, because it can apply even in the absence of children. Often the real issue is not whether or not, but how much.

California Lemon Law Defenses

California Lemon Law Defenses

California lemon law claims are popular among automobile owners, and they are often successful. Not all such claims are meritorious, however, and many potential defenses can be considered

Business Disputes: Arbitration or Litigation?

Business Disputes: Arbitration or Litigation?

Arbitration, often referred to as “rent-a-judge,” is a popular alternative to business litigation – and for good reason. Arbitration may or may not turn out to be the best option for your particular dispute.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights

The subprime mortgage crisis that hit California in 2008 triggered numerous reforms in the housing market. Among the most important is the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.

Imputed Income in Child Support Orders

Imputed Income in Child Support Orders

In some cases, you may be assessed child support payments based not on your actual income, but on income that the court has imputed to you. This article explains how it works.

Four Key Components of Executive Agreements

Four Key Components of Executive Agreements

All employees should be aware of the employment agreements that they sign, but this is particularly true for those in high-level executive positions. We typically think that executives should have serious job security because their skills are in high demand, but this is not always true.

Executives can be subject to sudden employment changes because their company is purchased by another, they’re getting pressure from shareholders, or because the company feels that it needs to move in a new direction. In order to protect yourself from sudden termination, there are several key aspects of an employment agreement that all executives should be aware of.

Executive Termination in Rancho Cucamonga

Because job security for many executives is at the whims of shareholders, potential purchasers, or the market, many executives seek additional security in their compensation before signing an employment agreement. This allows them to receive a severance payment or payments after termination, often of a significant amount.

Severance payments are usually only allowed if the executive is not fired “for cause.” This means that defining “for cause” within your agreement is exceptionally important. You may want to limit it to intentionally wrongful conduct or criminal activity rather than something ambiguous such as poor performance.

Severance and Resignation

While executives may sometimes be forced out of a position, they also often choose to leave their job if they feel they are not given the resources or support necessary to do a good job. In order to ensure financial security even after resignation, many executive agreements allow executives to receive severance payments even after they resign if the resignation is for good cause.

Again, it will be important to carefully define what good cause means, and to ensure that the scope of good cause is not so narrow as to effectively prevent severance upon resignation.

Indemnify and Defend

Executives are often the visible face of a company. And when something goes wrong, they may be the first to be sued. In order to protect against unreasonable business expenses, most executive agreements provide that, in the event an executive is sued in his role as an executive (as opposed to in his personal capacity), the company will indemnify and defend him or her.

This means that the company will pay the executive’s attorneys fees throughout the litigation. The executive will typically only be required to pay those fees back if it is proven that he engaged in wrongful conduct.

Indemnification means that in the event an executive experiences a loss from the litigation, such as any damages that are awarded in the lawsuit, the company will reimburse the executive for those damages.

California Attorneys Making Sure Your Executive Agreement Is Comprehensive

If you are in the process of negotiating an executive agreement, it is extremely important to seek the assistance of an experienced employment attorney. Without legal advice, it can be easy to unwittingly sign an agreement that does not protect your interests.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our employment law attorneys frequently work with executives throughout California including Upland, Fontana, Ontario, Chino Hills, Claremont, and Racnho Cucamonga, to assist them in finalizing an employment agreement before entering a new job. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

Ninth Circuit Takes Position that Consumers May Bring Lawsuits Based on Risk of Identity Theft

Ninth Circuit Takes Position that Consumers May Bring Lawsuits Based on Risk of Identity Theft

The past twenty years have seen an immense change in how individuals conduct their banking. More and more consumers are choosing to avoid physical branches, paper checks, and in-person deposits and are instead opting to conduct most of their banking online.

While online banking creates incredible convenience for consumers, it has also created new types of risks, including the hacking of personal information and rise of identity theft. For those banks operating in California, a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should create an even more heightened awareness and concern about online banking risks.

Identity Theft in the Inland Empire

Many consumers have had the experience of getting an email notice or letter in the mail letting them know that their personal information has been compromised due to an online hack. While such news may be frustrating and alarming, it rarely led to litigation. A new decision may change that.

In In re Zappos, a group of customers filed a class action lawsuit against Zappos after the Zappos website experienced a security breach that exposed the personal information, including credit and debit card numbers, of more than 24 million Zappos customers.

The plaintiffs in the case alleged that they had been harmed because Zappos had not adequately protected their financial information. However, unlike in other cases, the plaintiffs did not allege that they had already had their information stolen and used by the hackers, they argued that the breach put them at risk of future identity theft.

The federal district court granted Zappos motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue Zappos because they could not show that they had already been harmed by the security breach. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed this finding, holding that customers (including bank customers) at risk of identity theft due to a security breach, have standing to sue the company that experienced the breach.

The court noted that plaintiffs have standing to sue when they face a substantial risk of future harm, even if that harm has not occurred yet. The fact that their personal information had been stolen meant that, at any moment, hackers could attempt to use that information to steal money from existing credit card or bank accounts or compromise other online accounts.

This was enough to show a substantial risk of harm and allow the plaintiffs to proceed. This should get the attention of other businesses involved in ecommerce, online banking, or other activities where customers are likely to input sensitive personal information. Even if that information isn’t ultimately stolen, simply creating the possibility of identity theft may be enough for customers to bring suit.

California Attorneys Helping You Evaluate Your Online Practices

If you work for a bank, investment company, or other entity that relies heavily on online business transactions, maintaining your online security practices should be of the utmost importance.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our banking attorneys frequently work with clients to evaluate their current practices, identify risks or areas where improvement may be necessary, and create a plan to address these issues. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

Stepparent Adoption in California

Stepparent Adoption in California

While the majority of adoptions that occur in the United States involve a couple adopting a child as their own, stepparent adoption is an increasingly popular form of adoption.  After a couple with children from a previous relationship marry, the non-biological parent of that child may feel increasingly interested in adopting that child as his or her own.

Stepparent adoption can also act to formalize the familial bonds that develop after remarriage, and give a child the comfort of knowing that he or she is part of a new secure family structure. However, the path to stepparent adoption is not easy and requires several key steps to occur.

Proving Your Own Fitness to Parent in Rancho Cucamonga

The first step in the stepparent adoption process is convincing state authorities that you are qualified to be the legal guardian of your stepchild. This requires first filing for adoption with the California courts. In this filing, you will be required to provide information about yourself, the child, and your relationship with each other.

After receiving the adoption request, the California courts will coordinate with California social services to investigate whether you would be an appropriate legal guardian for the child. While public policy in California promotes adoption, the state must be sure that children are being placed into a safe home environment. This means that you and your stepchild will likely be interviewed to help determine if adoption is appropriate.

Terminating the Parental Rights of Another

Becoming a legal guardian as a stepparent necessarily means that the parental rights of one of the child’s biological parents must also be terminated, assuming both parents are still living. Children cannot have more than two parents at one time.  

Termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary means that the other biological parent agrees, in writing, to give up his or her parental rights. This may happen when the parent is unable or uninterested in providing for the child.

Where the other parent will not voluntarily terminate rights, the stepparent will have to go through termination proceedings. These proceedings can be long, difficult, and require a showing that the biological parent is unfit to be a parent – whether because of abandonment, neglect, or other reasons.

The Final Hearing

After the investigation is completed and any necessary steps are taken to terminate the rights of a biological parent, the final step in the stepparent adoption process is to conduct a hearing before a California judge. The judge will determine whether stepparent adoption seems to be in the best interest of the child. If so, the judge will finalize the adoption and confirm the new family relationship.

California Attorneys Formalizing Your Parental Relationship

Stepparent adoption is frequently the last step in the long process of developing a loving and safe relationship with your stepchild. The emotional bond between a stepparent and stepchild may be complete long before the adoption process is finished.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our family law attorneys frequently work with stepparents to take the important step of becoming a legal guardian to their stepchild. We help you to complete the legal forms that merely reflect the relationship that has already been formed. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

Child Support and College

Child Support and College

In today’s day and age, the obligations that parents have to their children often go far beyond food, clothing, and shelter.  Succeeding in today’s competitive economy also requires children to have access to high-quality education, the ability to participate in extracurriculars, and the opportunity to attend college.

While most parents think of child support as applying only to children when they are young, moms and dads are increasingly expected to not only support their kids in their younger years, but also to help foot the bill when the time comes for them to attend a college or university.

Child Support Requirements in Rancho Cucamonga

In California, the obligation to pay child support for a child ends when the child turns 18 – 19 if they are in high school.  There is no requirement that divorced parents continue to provide support to a child after they are legally an adult, unless the child is disabled.

This means that absent a specific court order or agreement between the parties, California courts typically will not require a parent to contribute to the college education of their child, even if one parent has decided to do so. The decision to contribute is considered to be a voluntary one.

What to Do If You Anticipate Your Child Going to College

Increasingly, most parents expect that their children will eventually attend college. Among those fortunate enough to be able to do so, the expectation is also that the parents will pay the tuition bill.  Where one divorcing parent intends to contribute to a child’s higher education and wants the other parent to assist, the easiest way to do so is to reach an agreement to this effect during the divorce process.

When going through a divorce, parties will have the ability to put together a marital settlement agreement. In this settlement agreement they can set forth the terms of their divorce, including how custody is to be arranged and how property will be divided. Parents can also decide, if they wish, to make provisions for how future college expenses will be handled.

For example, the parents may agree to how the college expenses will be divided, by percentage, no matter where the child ends up going. Or the spouses may agree to contribute a certain amount of money toward college while requiring the child to take out loans for the remainder. Almost any type of arrangement is possible as long as the parties agree.

California Attorneys Anticipating Future Child Support Expenses

If you anticipate that your child will go to college and want to make sure that the expenses of a college education are adequately covered in your divorce, the best thing to do is to propose an agreement during your divorce to this effect. The agreement may be as detailed as you would like, but should consider all possible higher education scenarios.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our family law attorneys can assist you in developing a strategy to tackle these types of questions head on, and can help you draft an agreement that will memorialize arrangements for the future in writing. If you’re looking for assistance through the divorce process, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.