Collaborative Ar t
How an expertise in poisoning
led Alexandra Kwoka to family law
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED AND EDITED BY ERIK LUNDEGAARD
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FRANK ROGOZIENSKI
Q: You’re a family law lawyer but you went
out and got an LL.M. in tax law. Is this to
supplement your regular practice? Or did
you want to do something that isn’t as
emotionally charged as family law?
A: Both. When [your clients are] high net-worth individuals, having an understanding
of how the tax code affects partnerships
and businesses sometimes makes it easier
to be innovative in solutions. Alimony is
a tax deduction for high-income earners.
Also, I personally find financial statements,
and reviewing them, and looking at issues
that are finance-related, an interesting part
of my practice.
Q: On your site you promote ADR and
volunteer family law settlement. Can you
talk a little about that?
A: I’m a big believer in alternate dispute
resolution in divorce cases. We’re a
community property state, and the creation
of community property stops at the date
of separation. So unlike a business, which
may have growing revenues, or may have
expansions—so business partners are
fighting over future income streams—in
collaborative divorce you try to get people
to recognize that the community property
has stopped as of a certain date. Certainly
some assets could appreciate or depreciate.
But if another patent, for example, is
created after date of separation, a novel
one that wasn’t in progress during the
marriage, it’s going to be the product of the
person who invented it. So there’s no sense
to spend all of your resources fighting over
a limited number of assets.
Q: And you’re a board member of Kids’
Turn San Diego.
A: Kids’ Turn San Diego is pretty unique.
It parallels meetings. The parents are
meeting, either together with counselors,
or, if there are restraining orders—let’s
assume it’s a very high-conflict case
and there’s been abuse—they meet in
separate groups. At the same time, kids
meet in sessions that are conducted
usually by trained marriage-and-family therapists or educators. It’s a
four-session program that helps kids
learn from other kids’ experiences that
they’re not going through it alone. It
also [teaches them] how to set some
boundaries, so if the parents say, “Take