By Antonie Boessenkool, California Business Journal.
Attorney Elisabeth Camaur represents celebrities, wealthy business owners and powerful executives in high-conflict divorce, child custody and prenuptial agreement cases. No matter their backgrounds, she gives them the empowering advice: “View this problem as an opportunity.”
“When you go through divorce, it can be a horribly uncertain and stressful time of limbo,” Camaur says. “Your highest priorities in life are at risk: your children, your home, your income, your retirement, your business. Having the right attorney has a crucial impact on the outcome.
“I’m a strong believer that our biggest problems can be our best opportunities if we approach them the right way,” says Camaur, Founder of Camaur Crampton Family Law. “That means looking forward at your own goals in life — not focusing on the blame and the regret. Litigants who focus in the rear-view mirror and their anger with the other side end up giving away their power.”
As stated on its website, www.Divorce.Legal, Camaur Crampton Family Law empowers people during family-law crises through strong representation and strategizing for their goals. The firm represents Orange County’s elite and high-powered professionals with all aspects of divorce, prenuptial agreements and child custody.
Camaur has practiced family law for over 25 years. She’s a certified family law specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization, giving her the expertise to understand all aspects of divorces, child custody cases and prenuptial agreements. “When I meet with clients, they are understandably shaken, disoriented and emotional – and many times — angry,” Camaur says.
“Some clients haven’t yet made the decision about divorce and are consulting as a precautionary measure. They ask me if I think they should move forward with a divorce. I can’t answer that. I am not here to promote divorce. Instead, I ask them to imagine their child 30 years down the road in the same type of relationship. What advice would you give your child? That is usually the answer. We are role models of a marital relationship for our children. Most wouldn’t want to be a role model of a toxic relationship.”
“And, if they decide that divorce is the best road, we are the firm to handle that problem for them so they can move forward with their next stage in life. There are so many great opportunities.“ Camaur has had clients come through divorce with impressive strides: starting new businesses, changing careers, moving to a new place where they’d long dreamed of living or learning to be more involved parents to their children.
Camaur graduated from Georgetown University in 1990 and then moved to California for law school. After graduating from Pepperdine University Law School in 1993, she worked in a large firm but “it wasn’t the right fit.” So she took the bar in Virginia and joined her father at his general law practice in Northern Virginia, handling a vast variety of cases from personal injury, real estate, corporate and estate planning to criminal defense.
It was the clients with personal problems who gravitated to Camaur, so in 1994 she moved back to California and opened her practice, eventually narrowing her area of focus to family law. “Family law involves just about every other area of the law. During a divorce we deal with dividing real property, corporate issues for business owners, tax issues, and even criminal law when there is domestic violence. My background experience prepared me to handle the aspects of the most complicated family law cases.”
Family law can be extremely complex – especially in California, where married couples have “fiduciary duties” to each other — the legal duty of extremely high trust. Family Code Section 721 states that married Californian’s have the same rights and duties of nonmarital business partners under the Corporations Code.
Those duties include a duty of disclosure. And, when going through a divorce, each person is mandated to fully, honestly disclose their income, expenses, assets and debts.
“It’s a legal duty that isn’t exactly advertised when you get married,” Camaur says, “but the consequences of breaching these duties can be severe. In one case, the wife won the lottery and failed to disclose the lottery winnings during the divorce. The husband found out after the divorce was finished and brought the issue back to Court, which found that the wife had intentionally omitted the lottery winnings from her disclosures and awarded husband 100% of the wife’s lottery winnings.
“That’s how seriously the courts take these disclosures,” she says. The outcome of the lottery case was codified and is now a state law under the Family Code.
Additionally, people seeking divorce need to be aware of the automatic restraining orders that are placed on both parties at the outset of the case, including that neither person can take their children out of state without a written agreement or court order. “You could be on an Amber Alert.” Camaur warns. “The list of these restraining orders is on Page 2 of the Summons and many people never take the time to read them or understand their impact.”
Many of Camaur’s clients have prenuptial agreements, which not only set out an agreement in case of divorce, but are also an important estate planning tool. If a client has a blended family or substantial assets from before marriage, the typical living trust may not protect their estate from probate if there are community property challenges. However, if the couple also has a prenuptial agreement addressing these issues, many times that agreement can protect the estate and avoid probate.
Camaur Crampton Family Law also tactically navigates clients in child custody cases including suggesting tools like high conflict co-parenting classes. “Parents in the middle of a child custody battle rarely consider the fact that the child custody allegations are public record in divorce cases,” Camaur says. “And, when their children are older, the children can easily access the court file and read what the parents have alleged about each other. Children grow up quickly. Do you really want your 18-year-old reading this in 10 years? Many times, there are alternative options to obtain the custody orders you want without having to air all of the dirty laundry publicly, but you need to be very strategic.”
She advises parents to put their children’s needs first, cautioning them that in-fighting and bad-mouthing causes anxiety for children caught in the middle. ”
“These are really important issues which have a tremendous impact on their legal arguments, but more importantly, their children’s emotional and mental health. While divorce is difficult for the parents, the uncertainty is ten times worse for the children. You only get one shot to raise your children. There is no do-over. And, the 21st Century approach to child custody in California is to promote frequent and continuing contact with both parents unless it is detrimental to the children’s best interests.”
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