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Taking on the change: Robert S. Kaufman's foray into Family Law

June 14, 2013 01:33pm  

Los Angeles, CA—When he started out as an attorney in 1963, 4, Robert S. Kaufman had no idea that he'd end up becoming a prominent divorce lawyer and develop a practice with an A list of clients from celebrities, to industry titans, both nationally and internationally.  In fact, he began doing divorce cases because of a change in the law.

“The kick start was a change in the law in California which did away with "Fault" in divorce cases,” Kaufman recalled in a recent interview with islaws.com.  “I was doing general litigation work dealing with mostly with the entertainment industry, and it was the celebrities in the industry and persons of prominence who started filing more "no fault divorces.”.  But they were not alone. Divorce filings across all demographic lines, increased in dramatic proportions. 

(More on News at isLAWS.com.

At the time when California became a no-fault divorce state, many attorneys thought that divorce law would become a dead end.  “As a result, I was given cases that no one else wanted to handle, because the lawyers I was working with did not want to do divorce work.”

Soon, though, things began to change.  “Divorce lawyers were not held in high regards"  “Over time, practicing Family Law received more respect, as it became more complex.  People like myself, who were trial lawyers, and also those who were general practitioners moved into the divorce field because there was a great deal of business to be had.”

Today, Kaufman says that while the practice of Family Law is very demanding and comes with significant stress, can be very satisfying because “it's a people practice, it deals with people whose financial lives and businesses, are at stake, and the best interest of whose children are always involved when custody or move away cases are a part of the case.  I enjoy the interaction between my clients and myself, and I look forward to the challenges and the problem solving, which is taking them through the dark process and to the light on the other side.”

While people may associate celebrities with messy divorces, Kaufman says that he believes that most cases should be settled without drawn-out expensive litigation. “That's one of the reasons people come to me,” he explains.  “I feel that cooperative lawyers and mediators can solve disputes without the necessity to litigate every issue.”

According to Kaufman, when a client comes into his office, the client is usually experiencing a great deal of stress.  The divorce is about to begin or has begun. “The stressors almost always are: denial, anger and fear of financial unknowns and a lack of understanding of the divorce process,” he says.  “In many cases, there is a failure by women who want to be on their own to start being on their own and thinking independently during the divorce process by understanding the financial aspects of their divorce, both the debts and the assets, the income and taxes that impact it, and also passive economic forces that effect the family business or the business that employs the husband.”

Women who are involved in divorce cases, says Kaufman, need to put their financial house in order. “There is a big need for women to focus on their financial security as a part of their divorce case, and they must learn about it and how to deal with it.  Most women have not done that, unless they are businesswomen.” 

While many of Kaufman's clients are celebrities and other wealthy individuals, he still says that, “if a case calls out to me, I will consider the representation on a pro bono basis.”  For example, Kaufman has represented financially troubled men and women, who are battling wealthy spouses who have physically, emotionally or financially abused them.  To help a client maneuver through that kind of case can be very satisfying.”

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