Changing your name after a California divorce

In a change of pace from my last few posts about California residential Landlord-Tenant law, I’m going to talk about family law, specifically the question of how does one change their name back to their maiden name after a divorce. The “after a divorce” part is important. If you want to change your name generally (e.g. it’s hard to spell, hard to pronounce, etc.), you can, but the process is different. Changing your name after a divorce is, in my opinion, easier than just changing your name in general. There are two ways to do the “after a divorce” name change. The first is when you ask for the name change as part of the case itself. If you’re the one who filed the case, you’re the Petitioner and you can ask for your name to be changed as part of your petition (see box 11(b) on California Judicial Council form FL-100). If you’re not the party who filed, you’re the Respondent, but you can still ask for your name to be changed as part of your response (see box 11(b) on California Judicial Council form FL-120). If you’ve done either of these, the court can grant your name change back to your maiden name as part of the divorce decree or judgment. The divorce judgment is California Judicial Council form FL-180 and the name change is specifically in box 4(f). If you’ve done your name change as part of your case, what you need to d o to change your name with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the Social Security Administration, etc is get a certified copy of your...

California Landlord-Tenant: Lockout of Tenant (CA Civil Code section 789.3)

In this second post on California residential Landlord-Tenant law, I’m going to talk about the techniques some residential landlords go through to force tenants to move. To see my first post, click here. As I explained previously, there is no license or test to become a residential landlord. Many people just put an ad on Craigslist and things generally go fine… until a problem results. In general, for a landlord to get rid of a tenant, the landlord has to evict them through a court process called an Unlawful Detainer (UD) proceeding. A UD is not difficult and is, in many ways, a cookie-cutter or formulaic process. However, like any court process, it takes time and money that some landlords do not want to spend. One technique that sometimes occurs is the landlord resorts to brute force. For example: the landlord hires individuals to forcibly remove the tenant, the landlord changes the locks while the tenant is out and refuses to provide the new key, and/or the landlord turns off utilities in the hope that the tenant will simply move rather than live with no electricity or water. I would imagine a landlord could think these would be simple and cheap alternatives to a court proceeding, but unfortunately, tactics like these are all highly illegal. The California law in question is California Civil Code section 789.3(a) and 789.3(b). Civil code section 789.3(a) provides: A landlord shall not with intent to terminate the occupancy under any lease or other tenancy or estate at will, however created, of property used by a tenant as his residence willfully cause, directly or indirectly,...

California Landlord-Tenant: Entry to Premises by Landlord (CA Civil Code 1954)

The question sometimes arises whether a residential landlord in California can enter the property being rented by a tenant. Many residential landlords in California are individuals who don’t have to go through any licensing or exam before renting their property. They often don’t wonder about questions like this until a particular situation presents itself and they, for instance, need to get in to the property and wonder if they can. As with any landlord-tenant question in California, there are two preliminary questions that you need to ask: First, does the city or county in which the rental property is have any laws or ordinances that address this question. Most cities and counties in California do not have rent control ordinances and laws, but some do and they are all different. The only way to know whether your city or county has a rent control ordinance or law is to look and then, if you find one, to look at what the ordinance or law says. Second, is there a written lease in effect at the time that describes the landlord’s right to enter on to the property? Most residential leases I have seen in California do not, but every lease is different so the only way to know, is to check yours. Assuming then, that your residential lease doesn’t mention the landlord’s right to enter and there are no local laws or ordinances on the topic, the California state statute you’re going to want to look up is California Civil Code section 1954 which says the landlord can enter to: if there is an emergency, to make improvements or...

Post-Judgment Interest

One of the things most people are surprised to learn is that if they sue someone for money and win, the court does not actually help them collect their money. In general, the judge will sign an order stating that Person X (say, the plaintiff) is awarded $X and that’s it. It is up to Person X to actually go and collect that money somehow. This collection might be easy and quick or it could be difficult and very time-consuming. If your situation happens to fall in the latter camp, one protection you might have is post-judgment interest. The idea of post-judgment interest is that it is interest that accrues from the date the judgment is signed by the judge and filed by the court. The details of this arrangement (e.g. the precise interest, whether the interest is simple or compound, etc) will depend on what jurisdiction your case is in. In California, for example, post-judgment interest is 10% simple per year, as specified in California Code of Civil Procedure section 685.010(a). A common question California creditors ask is whether the attorney’s fees they incur while collecting on their debt can be added to the debt. California Code of Civil Procedure section 685.040, unfortunately, says no, unless otherwise provided for by law or as part of the underlying judgment. Other costs besides attorney’s fees, however, should be recoverable. As always, consult with an attorney to see precisely what applies in your situation. An exception to this may be when the debtor is the government. In that case, the interest rate may be capped at 7 percent under California Civil Code...