Message from the Editor

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Message from the Editor

Dawn Gray

One of the things that makes being Editor of the Family Law News so interesting is how much I learn from the articles. That is especially true for this issue; I learned something new from every article and I know you will as well. We are fortunate to have two articles from Mark Sullivan, a nationally-recognized expert on military divorce issues. In his first article, he details the questions to ask a client with military support issues, suggests what documents to request both from the client and in discovery, and provides information about military support regulations. In his second article, Sullivan discusses the recent Supreme Court decision in Howell v. Howell, which overturned case law permitting the court to compensate the former spouse of a military member when his or her share of retirement benefits is lost due to the member spouse’s election of disability benefits and the resulting waiver of longevity benefits. He provides excellent advice on how to protect nonmember spouses going forward.

Pension issues are further highlighted in George McCauslan’s article involving pension survivor rights under Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. He explains this often-undetected issue, how it can result in the non-employee spouse’s loss of a full half-interest in community retirement benefits and offers four approaches to ensuring that the parties deal with the issue in their judgments and QDROs.

Can we ever be reminded enough about the requirements for requesting statements of decision? In his article, Stephen Hamilton reviews those requirements, as well as the Rules of Court and cases impacting them. Marie Ebersbacher contributes a discussion of the benefits of having your forensic and their forensic meet and exchange facts before trial. She suggests that doing so eliminates the potential for your expert to be surprised at trial by unknown facts and also saves the client money by allowing for factual agreements supporting the expert’s opinion.

Do you know all of the potential pitfalls to including arbitration clauses in your attorney fee agreements? I don’t either, but you will be much more informed after reading Daniel J. Horwitz’s article in this issue. On a related topic, Scott Leuders contributes a discussion of mandatory fee arbitration for attorney-mediators. If we are acting as mediators, are our fees subject to mandatory fee arbitration? He concludes in the article that they are, which is mandatory if requested by the client.

Batterer’s treatment programs are the subject of an article by Warrant R. Shiell and Alice LaViolette. Courts are authorized to order a party attend them by Family Code §6342, but the Penal Code imposes stringent requirements on them. This excellent article discusses these requirements and treatment program components, as well as how to document compliance.

Finally, this issue includes a discussion of post-adoption contact agreements in John Nieman’s excellent article. It can be in a child’s best interests to have continued contact with birth family members after adoption, and California law provides for agreements to do so. This article discusses their history, requirements, purposes and limitations. A sincere thanks to Mr. Nieman as well as all of the contributors to this issue. They have generously shared their knowledge, experience and insights through these terrific articles. It is my privilege to share them with you.

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