Practice Areas

Family Law

The most common area of law is family law.  Family law litigation includes divorce, child custody, child support, child visitation, spousal support or alimony, and may have allegations of domestic violence or abuse.  No matter what areas of family law you may be dealing with, there is no doubt that you are experiencing the most fear, stress and anger you have ever experienced before.  It is the duty of your attorney to assist their client in relieving them of the fear, stress and anger following a marital separation.  

At the Law Office of Matthew B. Smith, we first educate our clients in order to relieve them of unnecessary fear of the unknown.  While we cannot guarantee results, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to explain the court procedure and likely result.  Unfortunately, not every case starts out as a winner and we can see that the client needs further education, counseling or psychological assistance.  We attend to our clients’ individual emotional needs before addressing their legal needs, which allows the attorney and staff to deal with the important family issues rather than matters steeped in fear and anger.  By taking this procedure, our clients avoid further destruction of the family unit and protect the children from harm caused by scared parents.

If necessary, we assist our clients in obtaining the outside help needed to obtain the goals they have set.  In most cases, two parents have grown apart and their different parenting skills and preconceived attitudes that no longer lend to co-parenting children.  In these cases, we prepare our clients for mediation.  There is no substitute to being well prepared for mediation.  For those individuals entering mediation for the first time with no preparation or knowledge of the process, there is only further stress and fear that becomes evident to the court appointment mediator. 

We understand that not everyone can afford an attorney to represent them in court; however, no one should ever go to court without consulting with an attorney.  Therefore, we offer several low-cost alternatives to full representation that nearly anyone can afford.  During our initial consultation, after evaluating your case, we can explore affordable options to full representation. 

In all long-term marriages and many short-term marriages, there are assets that must be divided between the parties.  In all case, however, both parties are responsible for preparing the statutorily required disclosures regarding their assets.  These documents require the parties to disclose community property assets and debts as well as separate property assets and debts.  These disclosures must be prepared with enough specificity that each party has full knowledge of the assets and debts the court must divide.  CAUTION!  If you fail to provide the necessary information that properly discloses the assets, the other may come back in the future to litigate an omitted asset.  Therefore, don’t simply wing it.  Pay special attention to properly making the disclosures necessary to obtain your judgment in your divorce.  

Civil Litigation

 Civil Litigation is a legal action that does not involve a criminal matter.  Any person may bring a civil lawsuit against another person or business.  In a criminal matter, only the government may bring suit against an individual or business.  Nevertheless, any civil legal matter can be complex and overwhelming.  If you are served with a lawsuit or you receive a lawsuit at your doorstep, call an attorney. 

At the Law Office of Matthew B. Smith, we have the experience and skill to resolve any civil lawsuit.  We utilize all methods of negotiations and courtroom advocacy to resolve the lawsuit in our client’s favor.  While we will seek to resolve the matter prior to trial, we have the skills and experience to advocate your case at trial.  The following are examples of civil issues we have experience in:

  • Contract:  Contracts are agreements made between people and/or entities.  They form the core of nearly every business relationship and may be in writing or oral.   If you are involved in a contract dispute, we will work with you to identify the key issues, the obligations of the parties, and work to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
  • Real Estate:  Matthew Smith is Real Estate broker and has extensive experience in resolving issues arising out commercial or residential real estate (i.e., landlord-tenant disputes, evictions, boundary-line disputes, distressed properties, property title issues and much more.
  • Debt Collection and Debtor Defense:  We represent both small business owners and individuals in money disputes.  We will personally meet each client and devise an economical strategy that will result in a positive resolution to your case.    

Estate Administration and Litigation

If you are the executor of a will or responsible for an estate, you have a duty to handle the affairs of the estate in a proper legal manner. Your responsibilities are more complex than you may realize and the law requires you to fulfill those duties with the highest level of care. We know what is expected of you and can help you conscientiously carry out your duties. If disputes arise, we can help resolve them. Call us to learn more about your duty to:

  • Notify the heirs
  • Inventory and appraise estate assets
  • Pay estate debts
  • Sell estate assets
  • Pay estate taxes
  • Distribute property and assets to heirs
  • Handle challenges to the estate

Some estates do not require a probate proceeding and can be handled in a more informal way. If you are an heir to an estate – or feel you have been improperly left out of a will, we can help resolve the problem, often without the expense of going to court over the dispute.

Guardianships 

A guardianship of the person is a legal action that protects children under the age of 18 years whose parents are no longer able to care for them.  Often we see guardianships established by grandparents when the parents are no longer available to care for their children due to incarceration or death; however, this legal proceeding is not limited or restricted to grandparents.  Indeed, other family or close friends may seek to establish a guardianship for the protection of minor children. 

A guardianship of the estate is also a legal action to protect children under the age of 18 year; however, under a guardianship of the estate, only money and assets are protected for the benefit of the children.  Guardianship of the estate are established when a minor child receives assets of significant value until the child turns 18 years of age.  Unfortunately, a guardianship of the estate is a very complicated and cumbersome process because the State of California requires the guardian of the estate to make accounting of the estate, which is NOT simply an exercise in bookkeeping. 

The Law Office of Matthew B. Smith has extensive experience in guardianship accountings and we can assist you in meeting your responsibilities to account as required by the code and we can show you how the costs of retaining an attorney is paid by the estate, not the guardian.

Conservatorship

A conservatorship of the person is a legal action to protect adults who, due to a lack of mental and/or physical capacity, no longer may care or protect themselves.  Conservatorships are often used to protect the elderly suffering from dementia, Alzheimer, of undue influence from a family member and provide for the ability of the conservator to properly care for adult.  With a properly executed conservatorship of the person, the conservator is provided with the authority to make health care and medical decisions on behalf the conservatee.

A conservatorship of the estate is also a legal action that protects the individual’s estate (money and property).  The conservatorship of the estate is very time consuming and expensive to estate because of required accounting requirements under the Probate Code.  These accounting requirements are extensive and complicated and should not be attempted without professional assistance.

A limited conservatorship is established for individuals with developmental disabilities and can be more complicated than a general conservatorship.  Under a limited conservatorship, the authority of the conservator is limited to particular powers plead.  If the requested powers are not plead with specificity and supported with particularity, the court will not authorize those powers.  Often the most important power needed is not properly plead in the Petition and the court must deny the request. 

The Law Office of Matthew B. Smith has extensive experience and knowledge of conservatorships.  Please call to schedule a consultation to determine if a conservatorship is required.  There are often alternatives to a conservatorship that are available.  But these alternative require an individual’s mental capacity; so please don’t wait too long to seek assistance.

Probate Administration

When a loved one has passed away, a void in the lives of the people touch by the decedent leaves sadness and confusion.  There is little an attorney can do to fill that void, but the decedent’s estate must be resolved.  Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of the deceased person.  If you are the executor of the will, or the person who will be in charge of transferring the deceased person’s estate, you have many legal duties that must be accomplished under the law.  Indeed, your responsibilities may be more complex than first realized. 

The Law Office of Matthew B. Smith knows what is expected of you and we will assist you in performing those duties according to the law.  If there are disputes that arise during the probate, we can help resolve those issues.

Contact Us TODAY Call 916.550.9855, 530.758.7800 or 707.425.1415