Thank you for visiting the Family Law Lawyer Tech & Practice blog. My name is John Harding. I am a family law lawyer practicing in northern California. Long ago I realized that I could practice law more effectively and more efficiently (i.e., better and easier) by availing myself of the technological tools that are out there. I also learned that a successful law practice requires successful marketing. Hardware and software working together make me a better lawyer, and make my life easier. Marketing helps to bring in the business necessary for professional survival. By this blog I hope to share the tips, tricks, and technology that I have learned about so that others may benefit!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Destination Divorce

I have just read a fascinating article at Quartz (qz.com) regarding the destination divorce.  Here is the set up from the article.

Before no-fault divorce, getting a divorce was much more burdensome. "In general, before no-fault, you could only sue for divorce if you could prove you had the grounds acceptable in your state—like having a spouse who had committed adultery or abandonment, abused you, been incarcerated, or in some cases, proved unable to have “intimate relations.”"

The burdens were significant, tittilating, time consuming, and expensive. People began looking for easier alternatives, and found them by hitting the road:
You could travel to a place with more expansive divorce options. In the 1800s, people went to Indiana to divorce. In the early 1900s, Nevada was the hot spot for untying the knot. Between 1940 and 1960, at least 500,000 US citizens traveled to Mexico for a “quickie” divorce—including Marilyn Monroe, and also Johnny Carson, who divorced his first wife, Jody Wolcott, in 1963.  
Because of the proliferation of no-fault, destination divorce is less popular now, but it does still exist. As the article details:
The destination divorce remains an important option emotionally, insists Jim Halfens, CEO of the DivorceHotel, a Dutch company offering three-day divorce packages at six hotels in the Netherlands and the Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa in Saratoga Springs, New York. “We take you out of the zone where you’re living so we can isolate you from all the influences—the mother-in-law, the new girlfriend, the new boyfriend. Everyone is advising you because they love you and want the best for you, but they’re blind to the fact that they’re not impartial.” 
Meddlesome input aside, working out the details of who gets what and where the children will sleep is better done at a relaxing hotel than in a lawyer’s office, Halfens says, because the legal environment encourages defensiveness and even aggression. Away from all that, aided by a skilled mediator, you can make decisions rationally and fairly. 
At the Georgian-style Gideon Putnam in New York, you and your once-beloved each stay in a private room, and a mediator works with you to draw up a fair, sane separation agreement. If you feel yourself coming undone, you can take a break to soak in Saratoga’s healing springs, or get a massage. Before traveling, clients have gone through an intake process with DivorceHotel mediator and US manager Michele Martin, who assesses their ability to cooperate, does some preliminary mediation work, and offers guidance on financial and/or psychological work they might need to do first. Neither children nor other family members or friends are invited. 
DivorceHotel has arranged more than 100 destination divorces for its European clients, and about a dozen US divorces at the Gideon Putnam. In New York, the cost ranges from about $7,500-$12,000, including pre-trip mediation, an hour consultation with a lawyer for each spouse, lodging, onsite mediation, a lawyer to draft the final agreement, and follow-up support.“The feedback has been very positive,” Martin says. “All these couples have had children, and it’s so great to see them laughing together and getting along, having that good co-parenting relationship. Some say they get along better than they have in years.”
Not everything is as simple as we would like it to be.  The article also explains the pitfalls:
It’s important to remember that the legality of divorcing somewhere other than your home state varies. While the US generally recognizes foreign divorces, it doesn’t have to. (US states now have residency requirements making even the Nevada quickie divorce largely a thing of the past.) Any number of procedural details abroad might render your divorce invalid, such as the fact that neither of you actually live on a sunny Caribbean island. Your destination country may not have jurisdiction over certain aspects of your settlement, such as child support, custody or financial details, and your state court may or may not enforce your terms, an issue that matters if you ever want to sue your ex in the future. My mother said that when she and my father appealed to the Ohio court years later for help administering an aspect of their child-support agreement, the judge responded along the lines of, “If our court wasn’t good enough for your divorce then, we’re not good enough to help you now. Go ask the Dominican Republic.”
Fascinating stuff. Please click here to read the original article in it entirety.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Legal Fees Could Always Be More Expensive

I am just back from Seville, Spain where I had the privilege of speaking to the European Chapter of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. I love these international meetings because I get to meet so many fascinating people, and learn so much about family law as it is practiced around the world.

I don't think anyone would argue that legal fees are not expensive. However, for US legal consumers it could be worse.  One new bit of law practice knowledge that I took away from my trip to Spain is the concept of value added tax (VAT). Akin to what we would call sales tax in the US, it is a component of legal service pricing throughout Europe, and it is not cheap. The default rate is 20%, although it can range as low as 5% and as high as 28%.

You think consumers have something to complain about now.  Just be thankful we don't have the VAT to deal with!

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law.  

#IAML #VAT #valueaddedtax #legalfees #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Law Library App

There is a promising new law library out there for mobile devices.

The PushLegal app includes more than 30 mobile deskbooks, covering the most frequently referenced federal, Texas, California, Florida, Delaware, and New York statutes. The whole library is available in one app, but to help you find information faster, you select the titles you use most to display on your “virtual bookshelf.”

To review a statute, select the appropriate book title and then drill down to the statute you need, or use the handy search tool to look for information by code or keyword. PushLegal’s unique format is optimized for research on mobile devices, making it easy and fast to scan and read the text in detail on the small screen. Each statute is accompanied with leading cases selected by PushLegal’s advisory team of top attorneys and respected educators. Plus, with PushLegal’s exclusive Google Scholar search algorithm (patent pending) you can always find even more recent and relevant annotations.

Subscriptions runs as low as $0.99 per month. Get more information by clicking here.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law
#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Hardinglaw.com Website


Here is why...

Roughly five years ago Harding & Associates Family Law launched an updated website. It was innovative for its time, and immediately garnered national attention for its design and content. It brought color, style, and impact to the traditional, boring, old school resume style websites that were the default for family law firms. In fact the layout and style became a template for family law lawyers and law firms around the country. We won't name names but if you were to look at certain law firms in say Colorado, California, New Jersey (as well as a few dentists, accountants...) you would see websites patterned after ours.

Time passes. Websites grow stale. That's how we were beginning to feel about ours. It needed to be more mobile friendly. The content needed to be updated. The design needed to take advantage of the newest programming options. We got in touch with our friend Rodney Warner at Connective Web Design. We spent the money, we invested the time, and now we are launching a new and improved hardinglaw website. It is bold, it is flashy, it is exciting, it is informative, and it is useful. It is also cutting edge. Of course it will also be copied and modeled just like the last one. But that's okay. As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Too Cool Keyboard for Handhelds

Want the latest, greatest keyboard for your smartphone or tablet. You have to check out the TextBlade.

This teeny tiny gem incorporates intuitive text identification so that its multiple letter keys can anticipate what words you are typing and then finish them for you. Rows of 70+ plastic legacy keys have been simplified, and replaced by 8 ultra smart keys, powered by software intelligence.TextBlade blends the best of mechanical key feel, with the magic of touchscreens, to create a better experience, unlike anything before it. The rechargeable battery holds power for three days.  The ergonomic angling of the keyboard makes for The more comfortable and efficient typing.

TextBlade retails for $99, but if you do a lot of typing on smaller devices and want to get away from screenboard typing this nifty device could be just right!

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Solid Portable Printer

I practice out of more than one office.  My home base is in Pleasanton.  My satellite office is in Walnut Creek.  Our Walnut Creek office is within a Pacific Workplaces executive suite. I pay a small monthly fee then I rent a day office by the hour whenever I need it.  It is an affordable alternative to renting full-time space that would only get used a few hours a month.

The day office that I use is clean, nicely furnished, and big enough to not be embarrassing.  However, it is spartan. Simple furniture and a phone. I move in by bringing my laptop so that I can log in remotely to the Pleasanton office.  If any particular meeting is going to require the signing of documents I try to have them done well in advance.

Pacific Workplaces offers an industrial size copier/printer that I can connect my computer to.  Given that the machine is in a different area of the floor that is not always convenient. Instead I bring my own 3-in-1 machine with me, and set it up on  the credenza in the day office.

I recently got to go shopping for a new mobile printer, and found one that I am pretty happy with. The HP OfficeJet 150 is a color printer, scanner, and copy machine.

The best thing about it is its smallish size. At 14 inches by 7 inches by 4 inches it really isn't much bigger than a loaf of bread so it is easy to throw into a brief bag. The 150 has made my office portable. I could see having it with me as part of my trial kit, using it at depos, and at other off-site events. It has a battery (should I ever find myself without a plug). It has Bluetooth wireless. The 150 is a portable printer.


It allows you to scan to your PC, a memory stick, or a memory card. With a 50 page paper tray I have yet to run out of paper. It is an ink jet, but that is not a problem for me.  The print (black and white and color) is crisp and vivid.You may have to shop around a bit but you can find an internet price hovering around $250. That makes the 150 kind of affordable, and a fair enough price for what you get.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #portableprinter #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

New Pebble Smartwatch Out

The new Pebble Time lineup
Pebble is one of the pioneers of the smartwatch world, having launched its first product in 2012. The latest offering from Pebble, the Pebble Time is out. It has some nice new features as the startup gears up for its impending battle with Apple.

The PT will have a color screen (a first for Pebble). The watch will be 20% thinner than Pebble's first model, and the PT will also claim a 7 day battery life. It will have a microphone for voice replies and notes. It will be compatible with the more than 6000 Pebble apps out there.

Here is what is interesting, the first release of the new PT is via a Kickstarter campaign. For $159 you can be one of the first to get a PT on your wrist when they start shipping in May. Click here for more info.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyers