Domestic Violence Restraining Orders

A domestic violence restraining order is a civil order that can be used to protect you from a significant other, ex significant other, or family member.  A temporary restraining order may be issued immediately to protect you and a more permanent order, up to five years, can be made at a hearing with a Judge.

Domestic violence is not always physical. It can include stalking,  harassment, threats of harm and emotional abuse.

The order will require the other party stay at least 100 yards away from you, your home, and your job.  It may also require the other party not contact you directly or indirectly at all. If the other party does try to contact you, physically or by any other means, they violate the order and will be subject to arrest.

When there are children of the relationship, you can also ask the judge to make orders for child support and visitation, or no visitation when the children are in danger.

You deserve to be free. Bound Woman

Phone down. Computer off. Breathe deep and relax.


One of the most frustrating situations for a divorce lawyer is a client that cannot stop sending angry texts and emails to their ex. Emotions are high and things need to be said but there is a time and a place and it is NOT 2:00 a.m. after three glasses of wine while you are missing your kids who are with dad for the weekend. It’s also not at the end of a long work day when you do a quick Facebook check and see your ex posted another one of those clever I’m-too-good-for-him photos.

It is not worth it.

You may think you are helping the situation or engaging in reasonable conversation but if your break-up is hostile, your correspondence is too. A few minor insults can be detrimental to a contested divorce. You can be the greatest person alive but you just gave your ex the evidence to show the court you are not.

Do yourself a favor and just STOP. Take a breath, call a friend, call your lawyer, but don’t make that call and don’t send that message.

Obviously there are plenty of estranged spouses that can communicate effectively and to them – more power to you. But to those of you that cannot, and you know who you are, listen to the pros and save yourself from future harm from your very own actions, no matter how innocent you believe them to be.


Q&A with the Attorney

Shannon Smile

1.) Will I be able to contact you directly?

Yes. It is my policy to respond to all client calls and emails within 24 hours.  Family Law is an emotionally charged area and I make it a priority to answer questions and concerns as quickly as possible.

2.) Do you have courtroom experience?

Yes. I  have appeared in Los Angeles (Stanley Mosk, Norwalk and Long Beach), Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino.

3.) What is your “philosophy” on divorce?

I believe issues should be settled by the parties, as much as possible. I do not think a Judge is always the most qualified person for making decisions for your family. When settlement is not possible, I believe in zealous representation and using the facts to show the Court why the client’s requests should be granted.

4.) Do you discourage communication between the spouses?

Sometimes.  If the parties can communicate peacefully then that is excellent. However, if they cannot, lawyers should be used as the intermediary.

5.) What are your fees per hour?

$200.00 per hour. We also offer reduced fees and payment plans for low income and unemployed individuals.

6.) Do you offer set-fee services?

Yes. Set-fees are an option and are determined on a case by case basis. Set-fees can range from $250 – $5,000 depending on the type of case and work involved.

6.) What is your retainer fee for hourly services?

$2,000 – $5,000 depending on the type of case and work involved.


Call (323) 834-2889 for a free telephone consultation and to ask any other questions you may have. 

Happily Ever After… and After

Happy Senior Couple Looking To Sea on A Tropical Beach

We spend our lives planning special events and surprises for the people we love.  We plan parties for the kids in our lives and romantic dates and proposals for our special partners. We plan extravagant celebrations of commitment and anniversaries of these very special days. We plan holidays and vacations specifically to relax and enjoy our friends and families. But there is one plan, perhaps the most important plan, that many people fail to execute – an Estate Plan.

No one wants to think about death and dying, but even more so, no one wants to think their loved ones will have to struggle after they are gone. An Estate Plan is the perfect plan for caring for your family when you are no longer there to plan for them. It’s not a plan for death, but a plan for the future, and the protection of the people most important to your very lively life.

A good Estate Planning Attorney can create your plan to fit the needs of your family, and a great Estate Planning Attorney can even make it fun.

I know a guy…


How to pick the right professional for you.
People in professional fields know people. If you know a lawyer, he/she knows at least one hundred other lawyers. Lawyers know accountants, accountants know financial planners, financial planners know lawyers, etc.

These days I believe many people take to the internet when looking for services. You will probably use yelp to find a plumber, or a caterer. It is less likely that people utilize the traditional method of “ask a friend.”

The problem is yelp does not know you. Your friends, your colleagues, your attorney even, they know you. They know if you require more attention than most, or if you prefer to be left alone. They know if your weekday schedule is packed but your weekends are free. They know if you’re drowning in wealth or living on a budget. Yelp, however, does not know these things about you.

I believe hiring a professional advisor, in any area, is less about hiring “the best” and more about hiring “the best for you.” I encourage friends and clients and friends of friends to meet with other experts before choosing who to make that check out to. It is important that the people advising you on your life know and understand you. Trust needs to be present. Compassion, when required. Needs should be known and expectations should be met.

I don’t mean to discount yelp, or any other review sites. The internet is an amazing tool for research and you should do your research. However, don’t forget to simply ask around. People love to help people, especially people in “helping professions.” You need a financial planner? I know a smart and savvy woman that can help. You need an accountant? I know one of the best, with more years of experience than I have been alive. You need a plumber? Well, I’m not sure I know a plumber – but I’ll be happy to ask around!

Estate Planning for The Young Professional

Most adults have an estate plan. When you have children, assets, property, anyone will tell you need to get an estate plan. Many young professionals, however, are never advised to consult with an attorney about their estate, or lack thereof.

I’ve spent the last couple weeks asking some of my young professional friends if they (a) have an estate plan, and if not (which was the case with most) (b) why not? The most common answer was, “I don’t have anything.” Well, I have to disagree.

Estate planning is more than just who gets your ipod if some unfortunate accident were to happen. An estate plan is your opportunity to create documentation to speak for you when you, for whatever reason, cannot speak for yourself.

For Example:

  • If you were incapable of making medical decisions for yourself, who would make those decisions? In most cases, it would be your parents. Do they know the care you would or would not want to receive? In this situation, the last thing I would want is for my parents to be forced to make these almost impossible decisions without any direction from me. A medical directive can provide your parents, or whoever the decision maker may be, with detailed instructions if you become incapacitated, so that they will not be forced to live with those decisions themselves.
  • Who will care for your pet? I don’t know about you, but my Sammie is spoiled rotten. I take comfort in knowing that if I, for any reason, cannot care for him, I have a guardian in place, as well as an alternate, and a financial cushion to ensure he remains just as spoiled in my absence.
  • What will happen to your savings? Whether you have $5,000 or $50,000 sitting in the bank, that is your hard-earned money and you deserve some say in who will inherit from you. Maybe you have a favorite charity? Maybe you want the funds divided among friends or colleagues?Maybe you have nieces or nephews that could use some motivation to pursue higher education? Whatever the result, it should be your decision.

I know that thinking about the possible scenario that you will not be here tomorrow is the last thing you want to do today. But as the saying goes, “enjoy each day as if it were your last,” and make sure your afterlife wishes are in writing. It is a lot easier to plan for these things before you NEED to plan these things and it would take a major burden off your family and friends if your wishes are clearly described in a valid legal document.Image

The POST Nuptial Agreement

business handshake on modern city

Many couples contemplate a Post Nuptial Agreement when they have accumulated a significant amount of property or money during the marriage, or to solidify the characterization of separate property or separate property income. This type of Agreement enables an already married couple to protect assets in case of divorce or death. Note that this is an “agreement” and both parties must agree to the terms.  Before drafting, the couple should have an idea of what terms will be addressed, such as real property and retirement benefits. The couple should have an open and honest discussion about the family’s finances and their expectations for the future. Finally, the couple should each seek out their own attorney. It is important that each party to this agreement receive independent legal advice and counsel.

For more information on Post Nuptial Agreements call Payne Law Group for a free consultation at (323) 834-2889.

Moving with the kids.

Moving with Kids

When a custodial parent wants to move away from the noncustodial parent, they may need permission from the Court if the noncustodial parent opposes the move. In this situation, the Court will look at the following factors before approving a move away order:

  • The age of the children at the time of the move.
  • The current custody and visitation arrangement.
  • The distance of the move and ability of visitation with the other parent.
  • The wishes of the children, if they are mature enough to hold an opinion.
  • The stability of the child’s environment and how it will be affected by a move.
  • The relationship of the children and the parents, and how this will be affected by a move.
  • The relationship of the parents and their ability to communicate and cooperate in the best interest of the children.
  • The reasons for the move. For example, if the custodial parent is trying to alienate the children from the other parent, the Court is not likely to grant an order allowing the move.

In summery, the requesting parent will need to show the Court that a move is in the best interest of the children, before the Court will make an order to allow it.

Preparing for Divorce


Deciding to end a marriage is not a decision to be taken lightly. As with any major decision, it is important to prepare for the process.

1) Make sure divorce is the answer.

Often couples make threats to terminate the marriage before weighing all other, less drastic options. Counseling can be beneficial for a couple, even if divorce is the outcome. Separation alone can lead to a new appreciation for each other, and the relationship. Once you are sure divorce is the best option, proceed down the list.

2) Separate

If you haven’t already, confirm with your spouse that the marriage is over. It is best to physically separate; however, financial hardships may make that impossible. In that case, make your intentions clear, as the “date of separation” is an important factor when dividing marital property.

3) Consult a Family Law Attorney

This is not to say you need to immediately retain an attorney, but you should seek a short consultation ion so you understand the process and the steps involved in obtaining a dissolution.  If possible, speak with more than one so that when/if you are ready to retain a lawyer, you know what type of person you want to represent you.

4) Save your pennies.

Divorce does not have to be the most expensive experience, but it can be. It can also take time. Make sure you have funds available for living expenses, etc. Also, make sure you keep an accounting of those funds: where the funds are from and what is being spent on what.  This will make preparing financial disclosures much easier when the time comes.

5) Copy all important documents.

If you manage the family funds this may be simple. If not, it is important that you review and copy all important documents or you may not even know the extent of your marital property. Important documents include tax returns, bank statements, loan documents, mortgage documents, titles, retirement accounts, credit reports, etc.

6) Inventory the family home.

Know what you have and what you want. There are even professional companies that can inventory for you which is ideal if you have a lot of artwork, or valuable furniture that was purchased during the marriage.

7) Open separate accounts.

After separation, it is import to open your own checking and savings accounts. It is not uncommon for couples to maintain one joint account for children’s expenses or family debts, but after separating, your income should be separate.

8) Change your mailing address.

If you are the one to leave the family home, make sure to change your address. If you are staying with friends and family, a PO Box works nicely as a permanent location until your divorce and living situation is finalized.

9) Review will and medical directives.

You probably do not want your ex making your emergency medical decisions during divorce proceedings. It’s important to update your beneficiaries.

10) Stay positive.

A divorce is just like people; they’re all different. You can only control so much of the process. You can, however, control your attitude and the energy you exert. Staying positive is the best way to reach a positive outcome, free of unnecessary conflict.

Limited-Scope Representation


Limited Scope Representation allows a client to use the lawyer’s services for some areas of a case and to represent themselves in others, as opposed to a lawyer taking a case, completely, from start to finish.  This option is popular with clients that only need some consultation or advice but feel comfortable with self-representation; or those that can draft their own documents, but want representation at hearings.  This is also a great option for those looking to keep legal fees minimal and predictable.

Call Payne Law Group at (310) 838-6788 for information on this type of representation and to discuss the availability of limited scope representation in your case.