Attorneys and judges are only human. They make mistakes.

Your case may be one of dozens that come before the court on a given day. Does the judge seem remote, jaded or impatient? You might be too, if you had to watch an endless parade of human greed, squalor, and misery every day. Attorneys must deal with mountains of paperwork on each case they handle. It shouldn’t be too surprising if some details are neglected or mishandled. Commissioner Vogl observes that this is especially common in cases involving divorce and real estate. Attorneys are often unprepared because they don’t understand the intricacies of the real estate field. And, as Vogl notes, “Preparation is everything.”

Sign up for our newsletter today and get exclusive coParenting content.

As an example, Vogl says, “When we talk about the mixing of community property assets and [other assets], you need to know: What was the value back then? What was the mortgage back then? What payments were made? What is the value of the money that went in? And, what are all the numbers now? And that proportion has to be worked out.”

Making such calculations may be beyond the abilities of most attorneys who were trained in law, not real estate finance. The easy thing to do then is to throw it back into the judge’s lap. As Vogl says, “Lawyers come into court and say, ‘Okay, here’s all we know… You do it, your honor!”

In such cases, Vogl didn’t hesitate to throw it back, delaying a decision until the parties could come in with workable numbers. “I’ve had two witnesses where they couldn’t even agree on the square footage of the house,” he marvels. Needless to say, such disputes consume valuable time. As he observes, “Doing it right the first time is so important.”


About Laurel Starks

Laurel Starks is a divorce real estate specialist. Trained in both mediation and collaborative divorce methods, she speaks frequently on real estate and divorce issues to legal and alternative disputes resolution groups.

A former host of the talk radio program Real Estate Matters, Starks also serves as an expert witness in real estate matters related to divorce cases, including the mishandling of procedural aspects therein. She handles the sale of real property in family law cases, and is one of the top producing realtors in the nation. She was nominated in 2016 for the coveted Innovator of the Year by Inman News, the real estate industry’s leading news source. Laurel lives with her husband and two sons in Southern California.

Starks is the author of The House Matters in Divorce: Untangling the Legal, Financial and Emotional Ties Before You Sign on the Dotted Line, published by Unhooked Books.

From “The House Matters In Divorce,” by Laurel Starks. View this book at this link: