What are my options if I believe that community property has been incorrectly valued in a divorce judgment?
Property valuation can be the most significant issue in a dissolution of marriage action. Valuation and characterization will be based on evidence, the issue on appeal will be presented to the trial-court to support the valuation or characterization decision.
I was one of the earliest voices against California characterizing goodwill in an individual as a quantifiable and divisible asset, and I was pleased to see the majority adopt this view in Marriage of McTiernan & Dubrow (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 1090, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 287. I would like the courts to use McTiernan to roll back findings of goodwill as a quantifiable asset in solo and small professional practices.
If you have received a favorable or unfavorable property characterization or valuation decision in the trial court, you will be best represented by an appellate attorney experienced with cases related to property issues. You are welcome to contact my law office to speak with me or to make an appointment regarding you or your client’s matter.
Is personal goodwill—professional or celebrity goodwill—a quantifiable asset?
Personal goodwill refers to defining an individual’s extraordinary talents as an asset. Though several cases have addressed personal goodwill, sometimes called profession or celebrity goodwill, it continues to be an evolving issue in family law. This issue of whether personal goodwill should be a quantifiable asset—valued and distributed upon dissolution of marriage—has interested me for close to twenty-five years.
I first wrote about the issue in the early 1990’s, arguing that personal goodwill should not be a quantifiable asset. Thereafter, I was invited by the American Bar Association to speak on the issuefor a panel about representing celebrity clients. I have also written a number of articles on the issue, including “Personal Values,” Los Angeles Lawyer, June 2005; “Fiction and Imagination: Celebrity and Personal Good Will,” American Journal of Family Law, Volume 19, Number 3, Fall 2005, page 172, and “Celebrity Goodwill: Characterization and Value,” chapter 43, §§43.01 and 43.02 (Valuing Professional Practices and Licenses (3d ed.)), edited by Ron Brown, 2010-2 Supplement (Aspen Publishers, Wolters Kluwer); note: §§43.03 and 43.04 addressed valuation and presented a different view on celebrity goodwill, authored by Michael Miskei, CPA and Alfred Warsavsky, CPA/ABV, CVA).
In “Personal Values” (Los Angeles Lawyer), I argued that California should follow the well-reasoned lead of sister states to discard the concept of personal goodwill as a divisible, community asset. “Fiction and Imagination” (American Journal of Family Law) made a similar point, focusing on celebrity goodwill. I was gratified when Marriage of McTiernan (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 1090, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 287 signaled a change In California's approach to personal goodwill. See also: valuation disputes.
If you have received a favorable or unfavorable judgment or order regarding good will specifically or property generally, you will be best represented by an appellate attorney experienced in family law. You are welcome to contact my law office to speak with me or to make an appointment to see me regarding you or your client’s matter.
Marital Fiduciary Duty
While preparing for trial, I found out that my spouse had undisclosed assets that may be community assets. Did my spouse have an obligation to tell me about these assets?
Yes, your spouse should have disclosed these assets—during marriage. A fiduciary duty exists between marital partners to manage the community assets in the best interests of both parties and to be candid about the existence and value of the assets. I have represented clients in several marital fiduciary-duty cases, some involving the failure to disclose assets, the failure to disclose investments with known assets, or the failure to disclose investment opportunities.
If you have received a favorable or unfavorable decision involving the marital fiduciary duty, you will be best represented by an appellate attorney who has experience with this duty. You are welcome to contact my law office to speak with me or to make an appointment regarding you or your client’s matter.