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The Importance Of Family Law Attorney
In Family Law Cases

The Importance Of Family Law Attorneys In Family Law Cases

The public was quite interested in the recent case, Howard (Ghent) v Howard, in which Terence Howard sought to overturn a stipulated judgment in which he agreed to pay his ex-wife, Michelle Ghent, exorbitant sums of money as and for spousal support – or, to quote his attorneys, as “hush money.”

The case had a few moving parts, and I offer my compliments to Mr. Howard’s attorney.  However, Ms. Ghent made the mistake of hiring a well-known business litigation attorney to defend her in Family Court… and apparently

he was strikingly unfamiliar with the Family Code, with those California Rules of Court which apply to Family Court proceedings, and with Los Angeles County’s Local Rules regarding Family Court proceedings.

This case was initiated by Mr. Howard’s attorneys filing a REQUEST FOR ORDER to vacate the previous judgment, on the grounds of duress/coercion.  For some reason unknown to any Family Law attorney with whom I have spoken, Ms. Ghent’s attorney failed to file a RESPONSIVE DECLARATION TO REQUEST FOR ORDER, which is a mandatory pleading in Family Court proceedings.

Ms. Ghent’s case was further eviscerated by a well-conceived motion in limine filed by Mr. Howard’s counsel.  This motion in limine prevented Ms. Ghent from introducing any evidence she had previously withheld in the discovery process.  This reveals that Ms. Ghent’s attorney was blissfully (at the time) unaware of the affirmative duty to disclose inherent in Family Court proceedings,  and the fundamental prejudice Family Courts have against attorneys who encourage and enable their clients to “hide the ball.”

In his ruling on the REQUEST FOR ORDER, The Hon. Thomas Trent Lewis, Judge Presiding, stated that Mr. Howard had met his burden to prove that he was under duress at the time he signed the marital settlement agreement.  Given that opposing party had never filed any opposition, Judge Lewis rightly prevented them from raising any affirmative defenses – they were limited to trying to attack Mr. Howard’s private investigator’s work and conclusions.  And, yet again, we observed Ms. Ghent’s attorney making a critical mistake.  Mr. Howard’s expert on the social media angle was Mr. Ian Tausig, a Certified Social Media Intelligence Analyst.  Ms. Ghent’s rebuttal expert was a former hardware expert, who was working for Robbins Brothers, the jewelers, at the time he testified.

The moral of the story? Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.  And don’t bring a business litigation lawyer to a family law case.

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I am a client of Carla Harley and I have nothing but great things to say about this woman. She would rearrange her schedule so we could meet always told me exactly what i needed to do, and helped me keep a level head as I went through my divorce. She works quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly could not of gotten through my divorce without her and her great staff if you need a trustworthy lawyers then look no further

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Hartley Lamas representing me in my divorce process. I was referred by a colleague who she represented in the past and was very impressed with her professionalism. I can say that I now share the same experience with my colleague. It was my first time seeking legal counsel but Carla was very personable and hold my hands with the right advice. I expressed to her what I wanted and she explained the process to me at great length. Yes, divorce...

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Case closed! Carla Hartley and her firm are a true blessing to family law. Carla and her team since the very beginning approached my case diligently and swiftly. This was my second time having to hire a family law attorney and the first attorney left me wondering if they could have tried harder. This was never a concern of mine during or after working with Carla Hartley and her firm. It was refreshing to feel as if it wasn't just...

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