The Letter of The Law: July 2013

FAMILY LAW: The Benefits of Divorce Mediation

BUSINESS: What’s in a Name? A Guide to Changing the Name of Your Business

The Benefits of Divorce Mediation

By: Hoang-Anh Zapien

Not every divorce has to be a knock-down, drag-out fight. Contrary to popular belief, divorce can be a relatively amicable and straightforward process, depending on how the parties choose to handle it. Parties who find themselves in a long, contentious divorce battle often realize in the end that they expended more time, money and energy than necessary. For parties who desire a faster, less expensive and more amicable way of divorcing, mediation may be the option for you.

In mediation, both parties sit down with a neutral third party to try and reach an amicable agreement as to the division and allocation of assets, debts and liabilities, as well as any other issues relating to the divorce. Full disclosure is required by both parties and essential to the success of the mediation. The mediator has the responsibility of guiding the parties towards a middle ground, with the hopes of settling all issues relating to the divorce to obtain a full and final judgment. The benefits of mediation include:

Most couples do not realize the cost of litigating a divorce. The cost of a highly contentious divorce can be very expensive and financially burdensome on both parties.
Mediation is more cost effective and affordable because both parties are retaining one neutral mediator to try and resolve all issues for them.

The litigation process in court can be dragged out for several months or even years. Mediation allows the parties to resolve all issues within days or weeks, depending on how quickly the parties can come to a resolution.

Divorces litigated in court are public proceedings, whereas in mediation, all meetings and settlement negotiations take place in a private location.

When a divorce is litigated in court, both parties voluntarily hand over all control to the judge, who they entrust to make important life decisions on their behalf. Although judges are trained and competent in their profession, they are strangers and know little about the family dynamic other than what the parties or attorneys are able to tell them while in court. The parties are essentially leaving their fate in the hands of a stranger.

In mediation, the parties retain control over their own lives and they make decisions based on what they know is best for themselves and their children.

It is never too late to turn to mediation. Whether you are contemplating divorce, or are in the middle of a divorce, mediation can be utilized to work through any issues that are preventing the divorce from being finalized.

What’s in a Name? A Guide to Changing the Name of Your Business

By: Michelle A. Philo

As businesses change, there may come a time when it is necessary to change the name of the business. The addition of new partners, the dissolution of partnerships, or the need to update the company image may call for a change in the name of the business. The following is a checklist of things to keep in mind when changing your organization’s name. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but should assist you in getting organized and developing a strategy to have a smooth transition to a new business name.

State Registrations – If you are a registered business entity with the Secretary of State, you will need to file the notification of the name change with the Secretary of State in order to effectuate the change. If you are a corporation or limited liability company, this may mean a resolution by your shareholders, directors, or members approving the name change. It is important to obtain a certified copy of the name change of your organization because some entities (i.e. banks) may request it as a means to verify the name change.

Fictitious Business Name Statement – Consider filing a Fictitious Business Name Statement with your county recorder stating that your new business name is also doing business under your former business name. This may be helpful when you receive payment payable to your former business name.

Tax Entities – Notify the Internal Revenue Service and your state’s taxing agency regarding the name change of your business.

Licensing Agencies – Some businesses are required to maintain a license in order to conduct business. As an example, some businesses that require licenses are healthcare providers, contractors, and realtors. Notify the licensing agency of the new business name.

Other Government Agencies – Depending on your business, you may also need to notify the Board of Equalization, the Employment Development Department, or the Department of Industrial Relations.

Insurance – Notify any insurers you have regarding the change in your business name. Depending on the type of business, you may have insurance policies for workers compensation, disability, unemployment, general liability, and other related policies. Contact your carriers directly to inform them of your business’s name change.

Finances – Notify your banking institution. You may also need to order new company checks and have new checking cards issued with the new name. If you have one, notify your merchant card provider.

Business Property – If you rent property, notify the landlord of the name change. If you own property, notify the Tax Assessor. Notify your utility and communications providers. As an example, you will want your new business name to appear on any caller identification services.

Business Vendors – Notify your vendors of the new company name. To assist with a smooth transition, it is important to notify any shipping companies that you regularly use and the post office so you will continue to get shipments and mail under both the former and new business name.

Business Materials – Your business may have various printed materials including business cards, letterhead, handouts or brochures, and a return address stamp. You can choose to use your existing materials and update as you need to replenish new materials, or update these materials all at once with a purge of the former materials. In addition, you may have various internal documents such as your employee handbook, inter-office forms, training materials, and payroll.

Business Contacts – Update your email software to display your new email address. To assist your contacts, provide a notification of the new email and company name in your email signature line. Update all of your subscriptions, including professional organizations, with the new business name.

Website – You may need to obtain a new domain name. Be sure to maintain the former domain name and have all website traffic from the old site go directly to the new site. Update the website to reflect your new name.

Signs – Be sure your new business name is reflected in any exterior building signs and building directories.

Changing a business name can be overwhelming. Have patience and know that a name change is not an overnight process. In order to make the transition smooth and to minimize the impact on your business, start with a strategy and a checklist. Set a timeline as to when the changes will roll out. Set a goal as to when the name change should be substantially complete. With a little planning, the change of the name of your business will just be another day at the office.

Sacramento Partner Jill L. Barr Selected as 2013 Super Lawyer
Congratulations to Sacramento Partner, Jill L. Barr, for being selected again for inclusion in the 2013 Northern California Super Lawyers list. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from various practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis with no more than 5% of the attorneys in California being selected as Super Lawyers.

Kring & Chung Attorneys Selected for 2013 Rising Stars List
Congratulations to Kring & Chung Partners, Laura C. Hess and Shane Singh for being selected for the 2013 California Rising Stars list. Super Lawyers launched Rising Stars in 1998 to recognize the top up-and-coming attorneys in the state – those who are 40 years old or younger, or who have been practicing for 10 years or less. Today, Rising Stars honors attorneys in California and 35 other states across the country.

There are three components to the Rising Stars selection process: the general survey, the research process and the final selection process. Lawyers are instructed to nominate fellow lawyers they have personally observed in action. The attorney-led research team then reviews the credentials of the potential candidates. The lawyers are ranked by point totals and those with the highest point totals are named to the Rising Stars list. No more than 2.5 % of the lawyers in each state are named to the list.