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Planning for Marriage,
Divorce or Death

Guidance

Family transitions are financially and emotionally significant. Compassionate and expert guidance is vital for you to understand your issues, prepare a strategy and execute a plan that supports you and your family.

Expertise

OVER 30 YEARS EXPERIENCE IN THE S.F. BAY AREA

Conveniently located office in Mill Valley
100 Shoreline Highway, Suite 100B
Mill Valley, California 94941-3680

Whether you are…

Beginning or ending a marriage

 

Starting or changing a co-parenting relationship

 

Planning for your passing

 
…a knowledgeable attorney with deep experience in life and the law can help create and maintain a happier, more secure future for you and your loved ones.    
David J. Holcomb has over 30 years’ experience as both a successful divorced dad, and as a litigation attorney, transactional real estate and business attorney, mediator and attorney specializing in family transitions.

DIVORCE:

We can help you through even the most difficult transition, with heart and skill appropriate to your unique situation.     We start every engagement with a FREE 20-minute phone call. If appropriate, we follow up with a low-cost in-depth consultation to evaluate the facts of your case, inform you as to your rights, and consider different approaches to determine which will best achieve your goals.     

Whether choosing mediation or litigation, or some combination (as is most often an effective approach), we understand your desire to get a good result while also being mindful of cost efficiency and minimizing conflict and turmoil.   Our experience shows that the best approach to resolving conflict most often is to be prepared for court, while actively negotiating for resolution.

Choosing a lawyer with a high level of litigation skill and experience has proven to be most effective in encouraging resolution without resorting to courts and judges.    We are proud of our record of settling complicated cases, with difficult issues, through a course of negotiation while fully preparing for trial. Being prepared for battle is the best way to avoid the fight.    We will be prepared to fight and win if needed, and so most likely will not need to. If advocacy of your cause before a judge is necessary, David J. Holcomb will effectively represent you with his extensive courtroom experience as both a divorce litigator and a civil trial attorney.

COMPLEX BUSINESS AND PROPERTY ISSUES
We specialize in cases that involve a family owned business, or substantial real estate or investments.    Our specialized knowledge of business and real estate, partnerships, retirement accounts, stock options, and the tech economy means we can help you determine the separate and community components of property and investments, then value and divide the community property portion.    We regularly work with experts in the fields of residential and business appraisal, and forensic accounting to make sure assets are fully and properly identified, valued and divided.
HOUSE BUY-OUT
We often help clients find a path to buying out the other spouse in order to remain in the family home, most typically with young children.    The applicable rules, practical challenges and necessary strategies to achieve this much desired outcome require great expertise. We are proud of our track record in achieving this for many clients.
CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION
Often the most precious part of a divorce is the children.    We know that you deeply care about your children’s well-being and maintaining healthy and safe parenting relationships.   We are passionate about reducing the impact of your divorce on your children by helping you minimizing conflict and turmoil with new understanding, clear agreements and boundaries and new protocols for your parenting.
CHILD SUPPORT
Both parents have a duty to provide for the financial support of their minor children.   This is sometimes as simple as plugging incomes into a support calculator. However, many cases involve issues needing careful legal guidance, for example, a spouse who is refusing to work, deliberately under earning, hiding income or concealing it in a business with bookkeeping tricks or by overstating “expenses”.   We use litigation tools to dig out information, and then develop a winning case so that children are supported properly.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT
This very complicated topic is present in almost every case we see and impacts men as often as women, depending on who has historically been the higher earner, who has greater separate wealth (assets accrued before marriage of by gift or inheritance) or whether someone is disabled from working or unable to work because of very young children.   Your individual case will need to be fully evaluated, and we help you understand and make good decisions, including possibly waiving this claim in exchange for other benefits.

Our short explanation of California law on spousal support is this:  If you need it, and they can afford it, you will get spousal support.     

How much depends on many factors unique to your situation that only an experienced attorney can evaluate.

For how long depends on many factors, but please BE AWARE:    Whether your marriage lasts significantly more or less than 10 YEARS is very important!

Call or email today to schedule your

FREE 20-minute phone consultation.    

wecanhelp@dhfamilylaw.com

510-735-4375

CAN YOU AFFORD AN ATTORNEY?

Often our clients have little financial control in their marriage, because the other spouse has much greater assets, or is a much higher earner, or the client has been out of the work force for some time.   Nowadays these situations apply as often to men as women. They come to our office initially believing they cannot afford an attorney. Perhaps they have been emotionally abused into thinking they don’t deserve to have an advocate on their side, or that attorneys only “waste” money.   This topic deserves to be discussed confidentially by phone or in person with an experienced professional.

There is good news!  The California Family Code provides unique protections for lower earners so that in most cases we can empower you to see how you can and will be able to afford an attorney on your side.

MEDIATION:

What is Mediation?

Mediation may be thought of as “assisted negotiation.”

Negotiation may be thought of as “communications for agreement.”

Therefore, mediation is “assisted communications for agreement.”

Central to mediation is the concept of informed consent.  Through open communication in a negotiation process, you can make informed decisions on what you will and will not agree to, with resolution and finality the goal, not obtaining the biggest “win” for yourself, or proving a principle.

What Mediation is NOT:

It is not a competition to “win over” the mediator to your view with your charm, facts or arguments, so that he/she will convince the other side to go along with you.

It is not a shared lawyer to advise both sides for the cost of one. The mediator is neutral. Independent legal advice from your own attorney is necessary if you want to hear how your own best interests can be argued and advocated. The mediator represents neither of you for this.

It is not based on a crystal ball prediction of what would happen in court.   The mediator might give some possible or likely outcomes in court, but we never know for sure what a judge would do without spending the money to bring all the facts and witnesses to court. Your result will be what you agree is acceptable to resolve your case. Period.

It is not any assurance of an “equal” or “fair” deal for both sides. The mediator is engaged to help you find any agreement that both sides can live with, which is often appears to be lop-sided in retrospect.

WHO IS NOT RIGHT FOR MEDIATION?

Many people strongly prefer the mediation approach, and a large percentage of all cases are resolved this way.   Unfortunately though, some divorcing couples are simply not right for mediation, and are advised to get a lawyer on their side to protect them.    This is needed if there is physical or emotional abuse, and may be needed if one partner must dominate or control the other partner.

If you are excessively fearful that your former partner will grossly manipulate, coerce or bully you into giving them what they want, and that your needs will not be heard or respected, then your case is not right for mediation.

If you think mediation is a good way to get what you want, and you will to insist on everything going your way (no compromise), without listening to and respecting your partner’s needs, you should reconsider this, or forego mediation.

If you believe the mediator will take your side, or that you can win over the mediator to be more sympathetic for you than your partner, you should reconsider this, or forego mediation.

If your partner is resisting your divorce decision and not cooperating with your requests to physically separate, the mediation process will likely be used for more avoidance and delay, rather than constructive steps to resolution.

If your partner is dependent on alcohol or other substances or has a pattern of avoidance or projection of blame, they will probably not be able to engage constructively with a cooperative mediation process and will likely use it for more avoidance and projection of blame. 

If you do not trust that your partner will voluntarily disclose to you accurate financial information, and might even actively conceal income or assets, then mediation may not be right for you.

If there are real issues concerning the safety of you or your children, due to the past violent actions or threats of your former partner, you should disclose this to the mediator, and immediately seek separate legal assistance and protection.

Key Qualities of the Mediation Process

EFFICIENT

The mediation process consistently resolves disputes for a fraction of the cost of court litigation.

CIVIL

Mutual respect can be maintained despite strong feelings and differences of opinions, by using the mediator to facilitate communication and avoiding the emotional cost of court battles.

VOLUNTARY

You can call for a break, or decide to seek independent legal advice, or simply leave a mediation session, or terminate the mediation process at any time for any reason, or no reason.

CONTROLLED

Each participant has complete decision-making power and a virtual veto over each and every provision of any mediated agreement. Nothing can be imposed on you.

COLLABORATIVE

As no participant in mediation can impose anything on anyone, everyone is motivated to work together to solve the issues and reach the best agreements.

CONFIDENTIAL

Mediation is generally confidential, as you desire and agree, be that by statute, contract, rules of evidence and/or privilege. Mediation discussions and all materials developed for a mediation are generally not admissible in any subsequent court or other contested proceeding, except for a finalized and signed mediated agreement. Your mediator is obligated to describe the extent of mediation confidentiality and exceptions to that confidentiality. The extent of confidentiality for any “caucus meetings” (meetings between the mediator and individual parties) should also be defined.

INFORMED

The mediation process offers a full opportunity to obtain and incorporate legal and other expert information and advice from independent professionals.   You can choose to get such advice, or choose not to.   Either of you might choose to have your own attorney consult with you, or you can waive that choice.   Either of you might consult with an expert in finance, tax, or business or you might agree to retain a joint expert, for example to value your real estate. But this expert advice (and expense) is not required in mediation, and does not decide the result. The participants have all the decision-making power.  The mediator does not act as an attorney for either party, or for both.   So your mediator will encourage you to obtain legal counsel to advise you, if you feel you want it, and will recommend that you have any mediated agreement involving legal issues reviewed by independent legal counsel prior to signing. Whether legal advice is sought or not is ultimately a decision you must make.

IMPARTIAL, NEUTRAL, BALANCED AND SAFE

The mediator has an equal and balanced responsibility to assist each mediating party to find their own resolution.    The mediator will not let any personal bias or preference cause him or her to favor the interests of any one party over another, nor should the mediator favor a particular result in the mediation.  But this does not mean the settlement you agree on will be necessarily equal or balanced on each side.   The end result is entirely up to your mutual decision.   You can ask for input on whether your settlement seems balanced, and you can also agree to a result that is not equally balanced, i.e. a result for you that is much more (or less) than what a court might order.  Your mediator’s job is simply to help you resolve your issues in a way that you can both accept, not to satisfy anyone’s notion of ultimate “fairness”.     Settlements often feel unbalanced, and later you might even question their “fairness”.   This is because mediation is designed to help you get your issues resolved efficiently, by making an agreement that is fair enough that you can peacefully accept it, in order to conclude your divorce, and move on with your life.

Of course, the mediator will disclose to you any substantive bias on issues in discussion, so that you will be aware, for example, if the mediator strongly believes that very young children should spend more of their time with their mother, or conversely, if he/she believes that a 50/50 custody share is best in all cases.

The mediator’s role is to help you reach agreements, while ensuring those agreements are both freely made, and fully informed, and not as a result of any kind of coercion or intimidation.

SELF-RESPONSIBLE AND SATISFYING

Based upon having actively participated in voluntarily resolving issues, participant satisfaction and the likelihood of compliance are found to be elevated through mediation, compared to court options.

Divorce in California – Who Gets the House?

The family home is not only the most valuable asset in most divorces, it’s also the most emotional, especially when there are young children. California law treats the marital home as either community property to be divided 50-50 or as the separate property of one...

Will I Need to Go Back to Work After My Divorce?

There was a time not too long ago when a parent that stayed home with children would routinely be awarded “alimony for life” if the couple divorced. The expectation was that this parent would continue to stay home and raise the children, and the parent that worked...

Child Support Laws in California

Child support payments are ordered to ensure that both parents are contributing to the costs of raising a child. The payments are usually made by the parent that spends less time with the children, but can also be ordered when there is equal parenting time, but...

How is Property Divided in a California Divorce?

One of the most challenging issues facing a divorcing couple is how to divide the property of the marriage. Some couples can agree on how all the assets should be divided, and there is no law that prohibits them from making their own choice. It’s when couples can’t...

Dividing a Family Business in a California Divorce

It’s a rare post-divorce couple that can continue to run a business together, causing divorcing couples with family businesses to be quite contentious. Family businesses are difficult to value and rarely have “market value” when sold to a third party. When a couple...

About Me

David J. Holcomb has over 30 years’ experience as both a successful divorced dad, and as a litigation attorney, transactional real estate and business attorney, mediator and attorney specializing in family transitions.    

For over 15 years, he has specialized in divorce and estate planning for clients with significant income and assets.  

At work he’s known for his skillful negotiating, easy demeanor, broad compassion, effectiveness, and ability to turn conflict into fair resolution.  In his spare time he loves to adventure with his children and his beloved community.

Testimonials

A most capable attorney in a high conflict divorce

“David saved the divorce from being a complete washout not only for me, but for my family.

Before I met David… I was homeless, stripped of custody.. and facing the likelihood of having to pay child support. I [wanted] a ruthless attorney with a thirst for annihilation….

David was clearly a different breed. He [helped] me stay focused on our human decency, on our children’s best interest, and on the all important financial bottom line…

The outcome? In less than a year David and I got all terms resolved favorably, with everything, including legal AND physical custody, being split 50/50 and zero support due either party. …David’s sense of my family’s ability to surmount obstacles, with deft application of legal skills, was inspiring. I wish more divorcing families had the benefit of counsel such as his.”

Excellent mediator, handled our divorce with ease

“David helped us with our divorce mediation, and saved us a lot of money and headache. By mediating rather than using separate attorneys we made a much better deal and avoided a lot of fighting. David is very fair, calm, and grounded. I have recommended him to a few people in my social circles already.”

Easy to work with

“David has helped me with a couple of real estate issues over the past few years. He is easy to work with and seems to quickly understand the issues and what needs to be done. He was great at discussing the issues with me and delineating the pros and cons of different options. He was very responsive to the time constraints and had a sensitivity to the whole process that made everything much easier. I would definitely recommend him is you are looking for a competent sensitive lawyer.”

Get The Support You Need Today!