Limited-Scope Representation

July 22nd, 2016 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Limited-scope representation is when you and a lawyer agree that the lawyer will handle some parts of your case and you will handle others. This is different from more traditional arrangements between lawyers and clients where a lawyer is hired to provide legal services on all aspects of a case, from start to finish. Limited-scope representation is sometimes called “unbundling” or “discrete task representation.”

Here are some examples of limited-scope arrangements:

  • You can just consult a lawyer and get legal information and advice about your case when you need it.
  • You can hire the lawyer to represent you on certain issues in your case (like child support or custody) while you do the rest yourself.
  • You can hire the lawyer to prepare the forms and other court documentats but file them yourself and represent yourself at the hearings.
  • You can hire the lawyer to coach you on how to represent yourself at the court hearings and help you prepare the evidence that you will present in court.
  • You can hire the lawyer to help you with the more complicated parts of your case, such as discovery and legal research while you do the simpler tasks yourself.

When you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer to handle your entire case, limited-scope representation can be a great way for you to have legal help with your case while keeping costs down. Courts approve of limited-scope representation because they want to encourage people to get as much legal assistance as they need to protect their rights. They know that you will do a better job of following proper court procedures and presenting the important information to them if you have the help of a lawyer during the more complicated parts of a case.

Limited-scope representation may be somewhat new in some counties, and some courts and lawyers may not be very familiar with it. But more and more lawyers are willing to take on limited-scope cases and more judges are becoming familiar with these arrangements.  When you do speak with a lawyer and you want limited representation, make sure that you are clear about what you want; that you do not want to hire the lawyer to handle the entire case.


When trying to decide if a limited-scope arrangement is right for you, you should:

  • Discuss your case with a lawyer in depth, including areas that you want to handle yourself. If you do not discuss the whole case with the lawyer, even the parts that you think are simple and want to handle yourself, you will not know if you have overlooked something that is legally important. Once you have had this discussion, you and the lawyer can agree on whether a limited-scope arrangement will work for you and your case and you can be comfortable that you have identified any hidden complications.
  • Decide if you are willing to take on full responsibility for those parts of the case you will handle on your own. Remember that the lawyer went to law school and probably has years of experience in this area.  That means that he or she will know things you do not about the legal process. If you instruct your lawyer not to take certain steps, either to save money or because you want to remain in control, you will have the full responsibility for the outcome in the parts of the case you do yourself, even with a lawyer coaching you.

Limited-scope representation vs. full representation
There are many benefits to limited-scope representation over full representation:

  • By only paying a lawyer to do those parts of your case that you cannot do yourself, you can save you money on legal fees.
  • The lawyer can use his or her time more efficiently by focusing that time on things you cannot effectively do yourself and leaving other more time-consuming tasks to you.
  • You can keep greater control of your case than if the lawyer handles the entire case.

But, there are many times when limited-scope may not be a good choice, like when:

  • Your case has a lot of technical issues or is very time-sensitive.
  • You do not have the time to put into educating yourself and effectively handling many of the tasks that you need to do.
  • There is a lot of stake in your case, so if you lose, you could lose your home, lose rights to see your children, or owe a lot of money.

Limited-scope representation vs. representing yourself
Limited-scope representation can often also be a better alternative than representing yourself:

  • Having a lawyer helping you with parts of your case can save you a lot of time and energy because the lawyer can educate you about the process and your specific issues. He or she can also help you find self-help books and other resources so you can handle the parts of the case when you are on your own.
  • A lawyer, by being more removed from your case than you are, can see things about your case that you cannot. A lawyer can help you focus on the legal issues and on what the court can do for you, and not let yourself be distracted by other issues and emotions.
  • A lawyer can identify potential problems or hidden complications early on, so you can avoid making a costly mistake.


You and the lawyer should have an in-depth discussion about all the aspects of your case, and agree on your respective responsibilities.

Some of the issues you need to work out with the lawyer are:

  • Who will decide on the strategy?
  • Who will gather what information?
  • Who will prepare the information for the court?
  • Who will draft documents for the court?
  • Who will appear at court proceedings and settlement conferences?
  • Who will negotiate with the other side?

In making decisions about these issues, remember that the lawyer has the education and experience to work on the more technical parts of your case, guide you throughout the court process, and spot important legal issues that you may not see on your own.

You and the limited-scope lawyer will be working as a team, but it is your case. If you and the lawyer cannot agree on who should take on which parts of the case, or on decisions that need to be made in your case, you should listen to what the lawyer says.  If the lawyer feels strongly that the course you want to take is not in your best interests, listen carefully to the reasons why he or she is recommending you do something differently.

But, in the end, it is your case, your decision and your responsibility. You have the right to disregard the lawyer’s advice, but if the case does not turn out the way you hoped, you have to be willing to accept the responsibility for your decision.

The lawyer will likely tell you where to look to find tools to help you assist in your own representation.


There are special forms and service contracts that you and your limited-scope lawyer have to use when you agree to limited-scope representation.

Lawyer contract
First, make sure your contract with the limited-scope lawyer is very clear, and that every detail you discussed in terms of handling the case is in writing. If anything changes, you can always agree to increase or change the scope of representation between the 2 of you at a later time.

Your contract should be very clear on what the lawyer will and will not be doing, as well as what you, the client, will be doing. The contract should also clearly specify how you will be charged and your fee arrangement. The clearer you are, the more likely you are to avoid any misunderstandings.

Before you sign, make sure you understand everything in the agreement and the risks of limited-scope representation.

Court forms
A special notice has to be filed in your court case to inform the court and the other side of the limited-scope representation if the lawyer is going to appear in the case for you.

In family law cases, the lawyer will need to file the Notice of Limited Scope Representation (Form FL-950).

In a civil case, the lawyer will need to file the Notice of Limited Scope Representation (Form MC-955).

When the lawyer has finished with the part of the case agreed to, make sure to sign and file the Substitution of Attorney-Civil (Form MC-050).

from California Courts

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Common Substances of Abuse

July 15th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Family Law - (0 Comments)


On average between 2009 and 2013, an estimated 7.5 percent of Californians were considered to be abusing or dependent on alcohol, which was around 2.3 million individuals over the age of 12. This was slightly higher than the national average of 6.7 percent of Americans with past-year dependence or abuse issues related to alcohol. In 2012, over 161,000 people in California were admitted to state-run or licensed treatment facilities for an issue with substance abuse. Of these people, close to 20,000 were admitted for an alcohol abuse or dependency, and another almost 18,000 were admitted for alcohol abuse with a secondary drug abuse or dependency issue as well.

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking more than five drinks in a sitting, usually within two hours. It is considered a potentially harmful manner of drinking. When this pattern is repeated regularly, it can possibly increase the chances of developing a tolerance to and then a dependence on alcohol. Binge drinking rates for Californians, in the month prior to a national survey, were just over 15 percent; however, certain counties did report rates at or above 20 percent, including Santa Cruz, Humboldt/Del Norte, San Francisco, El Dorado, and San Luis Obispo. Santa Clara was the only California County reporting low binge drinking rates.

Over 90,000 people in California sought emergency department treatment for an alcohol-related issue in 2009, and more than 30,000 were hospitalized for problems related to alcohol. In 2009, approximately 1,184 Californians were killed in a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol.


Stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine, pose a large health threat in the state of California. In 2012, amphetamine and methamphetamine drug abuse accounted for about 30 percent of all primary treatment admissions for substance abuse, with 43,105 individuals admitted to treatment. Deaths related to methamphetamine abuse jumped 82 percent, according to data from the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office, from 2008 to 2012. Emergency department (ED) visits involving methamphetamine abuse were particularly common in 2011 in San Francisco, as 139.5 visits per every 100,000 residents were recorded, which is much higher than the national rate of 33 ED visits per 100,000 people.

Methamphetamine, or meth as it is commonly called, is a drug that increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure while keeping users awake and alert for long periods of time. Meth also creates a surge of dopamine in the brain, which gives users an intense “high.”

Meth is often “cooked” in illicit laboratories or trafficked across the border, particularly from neighboring Mexico in the form of powder or Mexican “ice” crystal form. Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are thought to be heavily invested in the Northern California region, both in producing large quantities of the drug locally and in moving it in and out of Mexico and across into the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the United States.

There were four times as many meth seizures at the California-Mexico border and San Diego airport and seaport in 2014 as there were in 2008. Authorities seized close to 15,000 pounds of meth – a record amount. In Los Angeles County in the first six months of 2013, meth was the most commonly analyzed drug by the National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS), as one out of every three drugs seized and analyzed contained methamphetamine. In Los Angeles County, meth was also the number one illicit drug mentioned in calls to poison control centers between January and June of 2013 as well.

Meth was commonly made in labs, or super labs in rural California up until the passage of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 that became effective in 2006. Local production dropped, and today, it is estimated that 90 percent of the methamphetamine in America comes from outside the country.


In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use, and the law was implemented in 2004. The decriminalization of marijuana may lead to increased availability, usage, and potentially negative consequences from its regular use or abuse. Marijuana, like alcohol and other drugs, can alter senses and perceptions, slow reaction times, and decrease coordination.

Fatal car crashes involving marijuana and drivers under the influence increased in California from 2007 to 2010. The presence of cannabinoids detected in the blood of drivers involved in lethal motor vehicle accidents increased 196 percent from before marijuana was legalized to afterwards.

Marijuana is widely used across a variety of ages and ethnicities, as well as across both genders. An estimated 5 percent of Californians on average in 2012 had used marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana is a depressant drug that calms down some of the functions of the central nervous system, numbing pain and making people feel mellow and good. It is regularly abused, and chronic use can lead to addiction.

In California in 2012, marijuana was the second most cited drug (not counting alcohol) in treatment admissions for substance abuse and dependency, as 33,266 individuals were admitted to a public or licensed treatment program. Marijuana abuse is common in younger adults and adolescents. In Los Angeles County, in the first half of 2013, close to 60 percent of all treatment admissions listing marijuana as the primary substance of abuse were under age 18.

Marijuana comes from the Cannabis sativa plant and is grown locally in illegal grow operations within California as well as trafficked into the area. The Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDTA) encompasses cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, and it is considered one of the biggest national producers of marijuana in the United States. Indoor cannabis cultivation operations often attempt to hide under medical marijuana production laws.

Heroin and prescription drugs

Heroin is an illegal drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant. When abused (smoked, snorted, or injected most commonly), it produces a rapid euphoria that is very short-lived. In 2012, heroin accounted for 28,705 substance abuse treatment admissions in California.

The Central Valley California HIDTA, which includes Sacramento, Fresno, San Joaquin, Madera, Merced, and Shasta Counties, is experiencing a jump in heroin treatment admissions, as numbers rose 63 percent from 2012 to 2014. Heroin abuse may fluctuate as law enforcement cracks down on drug trafficking efforts as well as those surrounding another type of opioid drug: prescription painkillers. Heroin abusers today may bounce between both opioid drugs and may have even gotten their start with prescription narcotics.

In California’s Ventura County, between 2009 and 2012, heroin deaths doubled, up to 43 overdose fatalities, but dropped in 2013 as prescription opioid deaths spiked to 69. Previously perceived as being contained to urban and low-income neighborhoods, heroin is now primarily abused by financially stable individuals between ages 18 and 25.Both heroin and prescription painkillers affect the brain in virtually the same way, and users today may view them as interchangeable.

In San Diego County, for the first six months of 2013, heroin overdoses rose, and treatment admissions for heroin abuse also increased to more than 2,000 admissions. Almost 20 percent of substance abuse treatment admissions in the first half of 2013 in Los Angeles County could be attributed to heroin, which did decrease slightly from the same time the previous year.

Heroin was third (not considering alcohol) in type of drugs listed as the primary drug of abuse for substance abuse treatment in the state of California in 2011, with rates just over 20 percent of all treatment admissions. There were also 9,202 individuals admitted to substance abuse treatment for abuse or dependency on prescription opioids in 2012 in California.


Cocaine is a stimulant drug that can be snorted, smoked, or injected. It is found in rock (“crack”) form, or powder form. Cocaine abuse and treatment admissions seem to be declining across California. In the San Francisco Bay area from fiscal year 2011-2012 to fiscal year 2012-2013, cocaine treatment admissions dropped across all five counties. In Los Angeles County, cocaine treatment admissions totaled 13 percent in 2009, yet in the first half of 2013, only made up 6.8 percent of total substance abuse treatment admissions.

In San Diego County, cocaine abuse and related consequences have been fairly stable in recent years, with a slight increase in male arrestees testing positive for the drug, however. Six percent of males arrested in 2012 tested positive for cocaine, which rose to 8 percent in 2013. In contrast, female arrestees testing positive for cocaine dropped from 7 percent to 5 percent for the same time.


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Addiction and Substance Abuse

July 8th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Family Law - (0 Comments)

California is one of the nation’s biggest states by area, very densely populated, and home to culturally and socioeconomically diverse population. California ranges from coastal beaches to snow-capped mountains to rural deserts, and it spans a large part of the western coast of the United States.

California residents battle addiction and substance abuse at rates higher than Americans in general, as 10.43 percent of Californians reported past-month illicit drug use in 2010, compared to the national average of 8.82 percent. Substance abuse and mental health issues are often considered together as they commonly co-occur. About half of drug abusers nationally also suffer from a mental health disorder, for instance. Both issues may fall under the behavioral health treatment umbrella of services. One out of every six residents in California is considered to have a mental health need while one out of every 20 individuals suffer from a serious mental illness that interferes with daily life functioning. Just as California residents are diverse, so is the treatment for addiction and mental health within the state.

About half of drug abusers nationally also suffer from a mental health disorder

Underage Substance Abuse and Treatment

D rug usage rates for individuals in California rank higher in several categories than most of the United States. For instance, California was in the top 10 of all states for any illicit drug usage among adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, as well as for both marijuana and cocaine abuse for the same demographic in 2010.

Underage alcohol abuse is an issue in California also, and over 5,000 youths between ages 12 and 20 were admitted for the treatment of alcohol abuse or dependency in 2012, which was 14 percent of the total alcohol-related treatment admissions in the state. About 53 percent of high school students in California admitted to drinking alcohol at least once in 2013, while more than 35 percent drank before age 13, and almost 30 percent of students between 9th and 12th grades reported drinking in the month prior to the survey. Drinking or abusing drugs while underage can significantly increase the odds for drug or alcohol abuse, dependency, and addiction problems. Underage drinking also raises crime rates and can be a contributing factor in injuries, episodes of violence, car crashes, mental health issues, and high-risk sexual behaviors.

..over 5,000 youths between ages 12 and 20 were admitted for the treatment of alcohol abuse or dependency…

Throughout California, there are 48 juvenile drug courts designed to get kids into treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration when substance abuse presents legal troubles. The process usually involves an initial intervention, and then the child, and sometimes the entire family, will enter into an approved treatment plan. The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) provides more than $7 million each year for the Adolescent Treatment Program (ATP), which funds residential treatment, usually in group home settings; transition services to help ease adolescents back into their homes and lives; prevention programs; and outpatient substance abuse programs. These public programs can be found by contacting the local county alcohol and drug office. Private facilities also provide substance abuse treatment for minors and may offer more comprehensive and specific services.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Rates in California

Alcohol seems to remain the most commonly abused substance in the state of California, as about 51 percent of Californians reported past-month alcohol use at the time of 2009 survey, which was similar to national averages of 52 percent. Heroin, stimulants, and marijuana may be the most problematic illicit drugs in the Pacific region of the United States, which includes the state of California as well as Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. While marijuana seizures at the border of Mexico and California, often referred to as part of the Southwest Border, decreased between 2001 and 2011, cocaine and methamphetamine traffic and seizures seemed to increase during that 10-year time span.

About 3 percent of the California resident population over age 12 was considered to have drug dependency or abuse issues in 2013, which was very close to the averages for the nation overall. Within California, alcohol, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, and marijuana are the substances most commonly abused.

from  Fortress Treatment

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How-to Guide to Changing Your Name AND Gender

Important! You do not need a court ordered gender change to change your California driver’s license, social security card, or U.S. passport. You also no longer need a court order to have a new birth certificate issued reflecting a change of gender (for California birth records). You may want to get a court ordered gender change to amend your birth certificate if you were born outside of California.  You DO need a court order for a change of name. If you need to change your name AND gender, you can follow the instructions below, or you can instead change your gender with the State Registrar (without a court order) and separately get a court order for a name change only.

Generally, to get a court order changing your name AND gender, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out your court forms
    • Petition for Change of Name and Gender (Form NCC-200) and Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Form NC-110),
    • Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (Form NC-220), and
    • Civil Case Cover Sheet (Form CM-010).

    Some courts also require you to fill out local forms to ask for a name change, like a criminal background information form. Ask your local court clerk if there are local forms you have to fill out. Some courts also have forms on their websites.  Make sure to keep copies of any local forms you fill out.

  2. Have your doctor fill out an affidavit telling the court that you have undergone clinically appropriate treatment for change of gender
    Your doctor can use the Declaration of Physician — Attachment to Petition (Form NC-210) or write out his or her own declaration. It is very important it be done by a licensed physician; it cannot be done by a nurse. If your doctor uses his or her own letter, make sure it contains all the required information.
  3. Have your forms reviewed
    If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with name and gender change cases, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.
  4. Make 1 copy of all your forms
  5. File your forms with the court clerk
    File all the forms and copies in the superior court in the county where you live. The clerk will stamp your forms “Filed,” keep the original, and return the copies to you. The clerk will give you a date for your court hearing and will write it on the Order to Show Cause, along with information on the time and department number for your hearing.
    You will have to pay a filing fee. Find out how much the filing fee is for a first petition (sometimes called a “first appearance” or “first papers”). If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.
  6. Go to your court hearing
    Go to court on your court date and take a copy of the papers you filed, along with the Decree Changing Name and Gender (Form NC-230) for the judge to sign.
  7. Get your Decree Changing Name and Gender from the court
    If the judge approves your request for a change of name and gender, the judge will sign the Decree Changing Name and Gender (Form NC-230). Once you get your signed decree, get a certified copy from the court clerk. You will need this to change all your legal documents, including your birth certificate and other government-issued identification like your driver’s license.

from California Courts



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June 24th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Family Law - (0 Comments)

Emancipation is a legal way for children to become adults before they are 18. Once a child is emancipated, his or her parents do not have custody or control of him or her anymore. Emancipation is usually forever. But the court can cancel the emancipation if the minor asking for the emancipation lies to the court or is no longer able to support himself or herself.

If you are emancipated, you can do some things without your parent’s permission, like:

  • Get medical care;
  • Apply for a work permit;
  • Sign up for school or college; and
  • Live where you want to.

If you are emancipated, you will give up the right to be supported by your parents.

Even if you are emancipated:

  • You must go to school;
  • You cannot get married without your parent’s permission; and
  • You will go to juvenile court if you break the law.

Note: If you have a legal guardian, all of the information in this section about parents applies to your legal guardian and your case, too.

There are 3 ways to get emancipated:

  1. Get married
    You will need permission from your parents and the court.
  2. Join the armed forces
    You need permission from your parents, and the armed forces must accept you.
  3. Get a declaration of emancipation from a judge
    To get a declaration of emancipation, you have to prove ALL of these things:

    • You are at least 14 years old.
    • You do not want to live with your parents. Your parents do not mind if you move out.
    • You can handle your own money.
    • You have a legal way to make money.
    • Emancipation would be good for you.

If you do not want to live with your parents, you do not necessarily have to get emancipated. You can:

  • Get counseling or mediation with your parents;
  • Go to live with another adult (like an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend);
  • Get help from public or private agencies; or
  • Make an agreement with your parents to live somewhere else.

from California Courts

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