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. 

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.

Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders

Upon filing a Petition for Dissolution, the Petitioner is restrained from certain activities, and upon service of the Petition, the Respondent is restrained as well. These orders remain in place until entry of a final judgment under Family Code Section 233(a).

There are four standard orders under Family Code Section 2040(a)(1)-(4). These include removing minor children from the state without consent of the other party; restraint on transfer and disposal of real and personal property; restraint from changing or altering insurance or other coverage held for the benefit of the parties or minor children; and restraints on transfer of property without written consent or court order.

There are some exceptions and violations a party should be aware of when involved in a dissolution. For more information call Payne Law Group for a free consultation at (323) 834-2889.

Uncontested Dissolution


When both parties in a divorce are able to agree on all matters, such as, the division of real and personal property, child custody and visitation, child support, and spousal support, the parties may present their agreement to the court as an uncontested matter.  By proceeding in this matter is likely to save the parties money and expedite the dissolution process.  For more information on Uncontested Divorce and settlement agreements contact Payne Law Group at (323) 834-2889 for a free consultation.