Blank Rome Matrimonial Recognitions Roundup

Below is a roundup of the recent awards, recognitions, and other important accomplishments of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law attorneys from around the country.


Stacy D. Phillips and Kristina Royce Named 2022 Top Family Lawyers by Daily Journal

March 2022 –Stacy D. Phillips and Kristina Royce, who also serves as co-chair of the firm’s Matrimonial and Family Law practice group, were named 2022 Top Family Lawyers by the Daily Journal. In this inaugural listing by the Daily Journal, Stacy and Kristina were two of 20 family law attorneys based in California recognized as leading attorneys on matrimonial and family law matters, including marriage, adoption, divorce proceedings, child custody arrangements, and family court proceedings and related negotiations.

Morgan Fraser Mouchette Interviewed by Shondaland on Discussing Privacy with Your Partner

March 2022 –Morgan Fraser Mouchette was interviewed for the article, “How to Have the Privacy Talk with Your Partner,” which was published in Shondaland on March 23, 2022. “People have different definitions of privacy and different expectations,” she said, “and making sure that you’re on the same page about what you expect from your partner in terms of how you’ll be treated and what you consider to be private is a conversation people usually don’t have until sometimes too late.”

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Partner Spotlight: New York

Stacy D. Phillips

This edition of Partner Spotlight highlights one of my New York colleagues and co-chair of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law group—Brett Ward. Brett concentrates his practice in all areas of matrimonial and family law, including divorce, paternity, custody, and child protective matters. He has extensive experience in negotiating prenuptial, separation, and settlement agreements. Brett has significant litigation and trial experience in New York’s Family and Supreme Courts and has also successfully appeared before the appellate courts. He also has experience with international custody and child support matters. Please enjoy learning more about him.

Brett S. Ward
New York

Brett Ward is a visionary leader who is motivated to help people navigate their way through the stormiest emotional and financial situations of their lives. He has spent his entire legal career in family law, where early on he was fascinated by how it takes not only legal analysis, but also support, sympathy, and empathy, to help clients solve difficult issues. Brett is adept at assessing a client’s situation and tailoring his approach to what they need—whether it be strength, compassion, or a calming force. He delivers results for clients by combating unreasonable positions from the opposing party through his willingness to take the case to trial where the evidence, and not rhetoric, controls the day. As co-chair of the firm’s Matrimonial & Family Law Practice group, the bedrock of Brett’s leadership philosophy is a willingness to listen and build consensus for the good of the entire group. He focuses on expanding the practice of the current partners as well as building a path for the next generation of attorney talent to ensure they have the support, opportunities, and skills to build their own successful practices for the department’s long-term success.

Divorcing in an Expensive Housing Market

Stacy D. Phillips

One of the economic aftershocks that stubbornly remains more than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began is the simultaneous spike in residential real estate prices and rents, and the plummeting inventory of available housing. In fact, between March 2020 and February 2022, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area’s median single-family home value spiked 31.4 percent to $936,546, according to Zillow.com’s median home value and market rent reports.

Whether the immediate causes of the expensive market for single-family homes are snarled supply chains, historically low interest rates, or a higher demand for larger houses with more space for an office as a by-product of more flexible remote work arrangements, the market has had a significant impact on clients in the divorces we handle. In some instances, I have witnessed house sellers receiving between 30 and 40 bids during their first (and only) weekend on the market, while in other cases I have engaged in heated court battles over how high or (how low!) to price houses in this difficult-to-gauge market.

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Develop Financial Intimacy in Your Relationship: Tips for Newly Engaged Couples

Kristina Royce

Valentine’s day has come and gone, and in its wake, newly engaged couples are preparing to embark on one of life’s great journeys—marriage. But having a successful marriage in 2022 involves more than falling in love and finding your soulmate. It requires familiarity with the innermost workings of your partnership, including your finances. While this may make your relationship feel more like a business arrangement, couples are wise to have their eyes wide open when it comes to money. There are tremendous financial consequences that can arise during a marriage, and establishing financial intimacy is key to a healthy relationship. Couples who are getting ready to wed will benefit from making this a priority. Keep in mind these key points if you’re looking to develop your financial intimacy.

1. Communicate Openly and Honestly

Financial intimacy requires an in-depth understanding of your unique financial circumstances as a couple. It is impossible without one relationship pillar: communication. Initiating open lines of communication early on in your relationship can help build a strong foundation of trust for the future, but it’s never too late. The more you know, the more prepared you are in marriage to handle any challenges or changes that can come down the line. Discuss your assets, expenses, financial goals and wealth-building strategies. Be aware of who has access to certain records, accounts and financial documents in the marriage, and whether that access is equal. By doing so, even if you were to wind up divorcing your spouse, you are less likely to feel blindsided by the financial implications.

“Develop Financial Intimacy in Your Relationship: Tips for Newly Engaged Couples,” by Kristina Royce, was published in Worth on February 15, 2022.

You can read the full article on our website

Partner Spotlights: Giving Back to Our Communities

This edition of Partner Spotlights highlights the importance of making a difference in our communities. Personally, I have enjoyed serving as the Founder and Chair of the Blank Rome Adopt-A-Center Program (which was formerly the Phillips Lerner Adopt-A-Center Program) for more than two decades. I also have the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors, as Board Secretary, and Executive Committee of Public Counsel, the nation’s largest provider of pro bono legal services, utilizing an innovative legal model to promote justice, hope, and opportunity in lower-income and communities of color in Los Angeles and across the nation. If you would like to make a donation to Public Counsel, that would be greatly appreciated: justgiving.com/fundraising/stacy-d-phillips.

I also encourage each of you to find ways in 2022 to help those in need in your communities, whether it be through donating to a worthy cause, volunteering your time, raising awareness of a local need, or even making a simple gesture of kindness for a neighbor. Please enjoy learning about how my colleagues Ashley Silberfeld and Morgan Fraser Mouchette have worked this past year to make an impact in their communities.

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Healing After Divorce

Stacy D. Phillips

As we head into a new year, there once again is renewed hope that we are finally ready to heal our collective wounds from this pandemic that has overstayed its time with us. For the recently separated or divorced, those newly empty seats that were seen around the table at the holidays resonated, making this time of year especially difficult. Like any other stressful experience, many have “white knuckled” their way through a divorce and have not been able to process their feelings of anger, sadness, frustration, and angst in a healthy way.

For the recently separated or divorced who have children, the holidays were an especially emotional time. We had grown accustomed to full family gatherings. Now, the children may have shuttled between two gatherings on the same night or perhaps split Christmas Eve/Day or the days of Channukah. As parents, we have our own emotions to contend with but also need to be attuned to our children who may be sad and act out because of a separation or divorce.

For those who were particularly impacted by psychological battles with their ex-spouse, I offer a short list of tips that I first identified in my book, Divorce: It’s All About Control—How to Win the Emotional, Psychological, and Legal Wars, which can help minimize the residue from divorce and allow you to begin the healing process.

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Mastering the Art of the Holiday Pivot

Lois Liberman

It may feel like Scrooge had something to do with the Omicron variant, as many of us are finding long-awaited vacation plans and holiday gatherings scuttled—due to a positive test result, exposure to someone with COVID- 19, or the sudden onset of symptoms. The current reality this holiday season is that you will need to be prepared to pivot on the fly. Some tips and best practices are below.

Wishing everyone (minimally stressful) warm and happy holidays!

MASTERING THE ART OF THE HOLIDAY PIVOT

  • EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. Even the boosted are getting sick, so try to manage expectations for you and your kids.
  • SET CO-PARENTING CONTINGENCY PLANS WITH YOUR EX. Have 2–3 scenarios mapped out for vacation division (travel insurance, agreed upon make-up time, and how potential quarantine obligations will be handled).
  • LIMIT THE NUMBER OF FRIENDS AND RELATIVES THAT YOU’LL ENCOUNTER. Take into consideration each person’s health and risk tolerance before trips or in-person celebrations.
  • TEST AND TRACE. Keep tabs, take at-home tests in advance of and the day after each social gathering and ask your co-parent to do the same.

Blank Rome Matrimonial Recognitions Roundup

Stacy D. Phillips

An ongoing feature here is a roundup of the recent awards, recognitions, and other important accomplishments of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law attorneys from around the country.

Michelle M. Gervais Named to Tampa Style’s 2021 Attorneys of the Year

September 2021 – Michelle M. Gervais was named to Tampa Style’s 2021 Attorneys of the Year list. According to the magazine, the Attorneys of the Year, who were nominated by Tampa Style’s readers, “exemplify a standard of excellence in their profession and have garnered the respect and esteem of their colleagues.” This year’s honorees were profiled in Tampa Style’s September 2021 special issue. Michelle’s Attorney of the Year profile designated her as “The Fixer.”

Marilyn B. Chinitz Interviewed by The New York Times on the Recent Rise in Divorce Filings

September 2021 – Marilyn B. Chinitz was interviewed by The New York Times on how the return to normalcy, or at least semi-normalcy, could mean that couples are finally completing divorces they were forced to delay. Defending a divorced client now “is a lot more complicated and detailed than it used to be,” Chinitz explained. “I’ve had to work through the kind of custody issues that did not exist before COVID-19 struck,” she said. “I mean, who could have ever thought back then that we would be hearing plaintiffs and defendants arguing over whether or not the nanny should be vaccinated, or a request that only people wearing masks could play with their children. And then there’s ‘I do not want my child to be educated remotely — I want him or her in school.’”

Jacqueline Combs Speaks on UCLA Extension Course Panel

August 2021 – Jacqueline Combs served as a panelist for the University of California, Los Angeles (“UCLA”) UCLA Extension course “Women, Wealth and Wisdom: Legal Updates,” which was held on August 25, 2021. Jacqueline and her fellow panelists shared their experiences with and knowledge of important legal topics such as family law, including planning for marriage, divorce, minor children, and pets.

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Partner Spotlight: Los Angeles

Stacy D. Phillips

This edition of Partner Spotlight highlights one of my Los Angeles colleagues and co-chair of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law Group—Kristina Royce. Kristina has dedicated her practice to advising distinguished individuals involved in high-stakes, complex financial and custody matters. Her work has involved valuations, tracings and cash flow analyses, move-aways, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, and mediation. She is well-known for winning difficult cases, finding solutions to complex matters, and for her steadfast discretion. Please enjoy learning more about her.

Kristina Royce, Los Angeles

Kristina Royce is a natural leader who enjoys the challenge of putting together the pieces of tremendously complex financial puzzles as she negotiates sophisticated solutions to meet her clients’ goals. She followed in her father’s footsteps to become an attorney and fell into family law by accident, but it has been the perfect fit for her skillset. Early in her career, Kristina was mentored by attorney Glenn Buzard as she developed an acumen for complex financial settlements, learned how to question and cross examine accountants and tax experts, and honed her leadership skills. Kristina, Glenn, and three other attorneys joined Blank Rome together in 2019 from one of Los Angeles’ most prominent family law firms, Buter, Buzard, Fishbein & Royce LLP.

Now serving as co-chair of Blank Rome’s Matrimonial & Family Law Practice Group, Kristina imparts to her team the important lessons and advantages of understanding the financial consequences of divorce. Her clients include high-net-worth celebrities, actors, musicians, doctors, lawyers, private equity managers, and other business owners with unique financial circumstances that require a deep understanding of royalties, residual income, and valuations. While Kristina is a fierce advocate for her clients in both settlement negotiations and in the courtroom, she has also recently become involved in serving as a mediator, bringing her strong financial background to designing unique financial solutions that meet the goals of both parties.