Family law can be an extraordinarily complex and emotionally charged area of law. From custody battles to property distribution, there are so many components that formulate a divorce case. Unfortunately, there are also many misconceptions about divorce, especially regarding the division of assets.
According to Holly J. Moore, Southern California-based divorce attorney and founder of Moore Family Law Group, one of the biggest misconceptions about divorce is that a couple’s assets will be split equally.
“Most people believe that you just split everything 50/50,” Holly explains. “They say, ‘Why do you even need a lawyer? You can just split it in half.’ They don’t realize that their assets can be protected.”
Holly has been practicing family law for the past 15 years and deals primarily with divorce and custody cases. Her niche is high-end clientele; she typically works with the family breadwinner. While she acknowledges that divorce can be emotionally charged, she always encourages her clients to think of their case the same way they would an investment.
“All investments have risk, but there are certain data points that indicate you’re going to get a return on these efforts, and you’re not going to get a return on those efforts,” she says. “If the clients looked at divorce like an investment, everything would go much smoother.”
Holly believes that divorce should be handled with care and precision. Her goal as an attorney is to finalize the divorce with as minor damage as humanly possible — which is her motivation behind providing clients with strategic, creative, and intelligent solutions. There’s one litigation strategy that she favors over the rest.
“My favorite case is a high earner that comes to us with a spouse capable of working but refuses to work,” she says. “This strategy was born from all my stay-at-home moms who wouldn’t take my advice and do something great with their life.”
At the beginning of her career, Holly encountered many stay-at-home moms who were paralyzed with fear because their physical, financial, and emotional security was in the hands of their spouse, the breadwinner. She tried to help these women become independent, even going as far as assisting them in creating business plans. However, she quickly learned that some people refuse to work.
“A lot of them were smart and capable and could do a lot, but they would rather complain about their spouse not doing enough instead of taking matters into their own hands and making their way in life,” she says.
While she’s inclined to give these types of clients — or the spouses of her clients — the benefit of the doubt, she firmly believes that breadwinners and providers of the family should not be taken advantage of during and after their marriage. The best way to protect these clients is to determine their spouse’s capability and earning potential.
“We bring in an expert to identify that person’s earning capacity instead of what they’re actually making,” she explains. “We conduct an evaluation and come to find out a person is actually capable of making $100,000 a year, and right now, they’re making zero.”
The court then calculates alimony and child support, factoring in the spouse’s earning potential. Whether the spouse decides to get a job and achieve their potential is up to them, but in many cases, they’re forced to since alimony will significantly decrease after the court learns their earning capability.
Often, this strategy can make Holly seem like the “bad guy,” but in reality, she’s just pushing them to live to their full potential. Holly admits that clients’ spouses usually say things like, “I hate Holly; she’s such a shark. But you know what? It is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
As a mom and a career woman, Holly is passionate about empowering and encouraging women to use their talents and intelligence. She believes that through this strategy, everyone wins in the end — even if it is done through a bit of brute force.
“They went and did what they’re capable of doing, and they felt so much better about themselves,” she says. “Instead of sitting at home every day, upset, frustrated, and scared, they were out in the world, using their skills and gifts, and feeling their own sense of worth.”
When asked if her clients’ spouses ever return as a client, Holly responds, “They don’t come back to me, but they refer a lot of cases to me. It’s the best compliment in the world.”
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