How to Beat the Mind Games Narcissists Play in a California Divorce

If you married a narcissist, you might think that a divorce would release you from the trap of all the mind games, but your divorce litigation might be the perfect playground for a narcissist to get under your skin. This article will summarize five strategies to successfully navigate the challenges of divorcing a narcissist.


  • Narcissists often distort the facts and events and distort their own behavior. 
  • Combat this tactic with evidence. Save videos, texts, emails and other hard evidence that corroborate your version of the facts. 


  • A common tactic used by narcissists is to blame others for their own faults or for things that are beyond anyone’s control. 
  • Combat this tactic by ignoring the noise. The battlegrounds of a divorce are typically children and money, and the ex-spouse’s blame for issues relating to the marriage are largely irrelevant and a tactic to try to get you to react in a way that takes away your peace or logic to fight the important battles. For this reason, an effective way to beat this game is often to tune it out. 


  • If you have lived with a narcissist for very long, you are probably used to their victim mentality. They try to get sympathy or support from others by portraying themselves as innocent. 
  • Combat this tactic by being confident in your own self and standing your ground with friends and family. Think through a clear, strong and short message about why you are getting a divorce and how your position is fair and stick with that short and to the point story. Do not allow the narcissist to draw you into a spiral of guilt in your own mind, or a dithering story to others. 


  • A narcissist will often try to introduce a third party into the situation to gain support. This could be a family member, friend, religious leader or even one of your children. 
  • Combat this tactic by gently but firmly asking the third party to stay out of the divorce. Effective communication is key to helping others understand why their input is not helpful and can actually be harmful to the resolution of your divorce. 


  • Hoovering is deliberately manipulative behavior intended to pull a person back into a cycle of abuse. This can play out with affirmations of love, excessive flattery (often known as love bombing), and promises to change. 
  • Combat this tactic by becoming whole in yourself so that you do not need the narcissist’s false love. Get therapy, focus on a new hobby, dedicate more time to friends and family, or set goals for exercise. Do whatever helps you become a satisfied and complete person who is not susceptible to fake overtures of affection.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we understand that divorcing a narcissist can be extremely challenging emotionally and complex legally, but we will help you fight these tactics and successfully navigate the challenges of your California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

 Psychological Evaluation in a California Divorce, Part 1

If a divorce involves children, then a court or a parent may request a Child Custody Evaluation, which is also known as a 730 Evaluation. A custody evaluation can consist of interviews with the parent and the children, psychological testing of the parents of the children, interviews with interested third parties such a teachers or babysitters, and a review of relevant documents, such as court records or criminal history.  The evaluator makes recommendations to the court about what is in the best interest of the children based on the totality of the data collected and reviewed. 

There are a variety of psychological tests that can be administered, but the MMPI-2 is commonly used in California.  This article will focus on the psychological testing portion, in particular the commonly used test, the MMPI-2. It is a true/false paper test that is used to assess a parent’s mental fitness and ability to parent effectively.  

Thus, this article gives information on some of the factors that are tested, but for most people, the best practice is to answer all questions as honestly as possible and not try to “beat the test,” since the test is trying to measure for people who are gaming it. This article is a very generalized summary of a complex test, so the information is not legal advice and should be used only for general educational purposes and not as a guide on how to take the test. 

What is the MMPI-2?

  • MMPI-2 stands for Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. 
  • It is a 500+ questionnaire of true and false questions that individuals answer for themselves, and the responses help mental health professionals evaluate symptoms of mental illness or personality disorders. 

Answer all of the questions. 

  • If you do not answer all of the questions, this is a red flag for this type of test. If you fail to answer a substantial number, then the test may not even be valid. 

 Do not be surprised to see health related questions. 

  • This test is not used exclusively for divorce, and it is also commonly used for personal injury or disability claims. For that reason, there are a number of health-related questions that may seem irrelevant to a divorce but be sure to answer them. 

 Do not try to trick the test by answering all false or all true. 

  • For other types of tests, a strategy might be to answer all the questions as true of all the questions as false. This strategy will not work for the MMPI-2, and answering all the questions one way is a big red flag for this test that you are trying to game the system. 

 Be consistent throughout the test in your answers. 

  • The test measures consistency, so do not be surprised to see the same or similar questions early in the test and later on. The purpose of this is to see whether you are consistent in your answers. Be aware that inconsistency may be measured as dishonesty. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we are very familiar with the custody evaluation process and the psychological testing aspect of the 730 Evaluation. We have extensive experience in family law. We can help you feel confident in achieving your goals in a California divorce. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts

A Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) can be a useful estate planning tool. The decision to transfer assets to this time of trust is a complex one. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of what a MAPT is and why you might consider one, to help provide a foundation for further discussion with your estate planning attorney or financial advisor. This article summarizes a recent Yahoo Finance article on this topic


What is a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust?

  • It is a trust that you might set up if you believe you or your spouse may need long term care at some point in the future.
  • In order for Medicaid to pay for your care, you have to qualify, which in general requires certain requirements for income and assets.
  • Transferring assets to a MAPT may allow you to preserve your savings and qualify for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. 


 How does a Medicaid Trust work? 

  • A Medicaid Trust is an irrevocable trust. 
  • This means that once you transfer assets in, you cannot transfer them back out. 
  • You can transfer assets such as a qualified retirement account, vehicles, personal assets, certain life insurance policies and even your home. 
  • A trustee is named to manage trust assets and the trust can have on eor more beneficiaries. 
  • The purpose of transferring the assets is to help you to avoid the spend-down requirements to qualify for coverage.


What are some concerns to keep in mind when considering a Medicaid Trust?


  • Medicaid has a look-back period. 
  • If you transfer withing the look-back period, the purpose of the trust may be frustrated.
  • Because the trust is irrevocable, you need to be very certain that the transfer of assets is the right decision for you. 
  • Establishing the trust takes some amount of cost and time and another estate planning tool may be better suited to accomplish your financial planning goals.  

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Firm

If you have questions about planning for long-term care of any estate planning issue, we are here to help. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience with estate planning and look forward to exploring all your options with you to create the best plan for you and your loved ones.  Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

Will Terminating an Irrevocable Trust Affect my Taxes?

A common question relating to trusts is whether terminating the trust will affect taxes.  The termination of irrevocable trusts can be a complex legal topic.

When does an irrevocable trust automatically terminate in California?

  • There are some circumstances where the trust terminates by law:
  • The term of the trust expires.
  • The purpose of the trust is fulfilled.
  • The purpose of the trust becomes unlawful or is impossible to fulfill. 

When can an irrevocable trust be dissolved?

  • When all beneficiaries consent to termination. 
  • If continuing the trust is necessary to carry out a material purpose of the trust, it can’t be terminated unless a court determines that the reason for doing so outweighs the interest in accomplishing the purpose of the trust. 
  • When the Fair market value of the principal of the trust has become so low in relation to cost of administration that continuation under the existing terms defeats accomplishment of its purposes.  
  • For other reasons beyond the scope of this article. 

What are the potential tax consequences of terminating an irrevocable trust?

  • When trust assets are liquidated and distributed those transactions may trigger taxes. 
  • If the trust is a grantor trust, then the person who created the trust is considered the owner of the assets and is responsible for taxes. 
  • If the trust is a non-grantor trust, it gets taxes as a separate entity, and the trust itself and beneficiaries are the ones who will pay the tax bill on distributions. 

What are some general principles for trusts and income taxes, capital gains and estate taxes?

  • An irrevocable trust may hold assets such as stocks or bank accounts that generate income and these gains are taxed as ordinary income. This tax applies to the profits, not the principal. 
  • Assets in the trust that increase in value are subject to capital gains taxes when the profits are distributed, and the beneficiaries will pay the tax rate that equates with their income level. 
  • When assets are transferred to an irrevocable trust, they lower the person’s estate tax liability when they die, but keep in mind that this is something most people do not need to consider since only large estates are subject to the federal estate tax in 2023. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

This article contains general information about the tax consequences of terminating an irrevocable trust, but consulting a professional about the specific tax liabilities and strategies involved is highly recommended. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we can help you understand the tax consequences of the various tools available for estate planning, and we can customize a plan that is perfect for your goals and your family. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

Will My Roth IRA Heirs Have to Take Annual Distributions?

A Roth IRA is one of the many estate planning tools because of some of the tax advantages that apply. This article summarizes information about how Roth IRA’s can be a powerful investment tool both while you are alive and as a mechanism to transfer assets after you pass on. 

What is a Roth IRA?

  • A Roth IRA is an Individual Retirement Account to which you contribute after-tax dollars. While there are no current-year tax benefits, your contributions and earnings can grow tax-free, and you can withdraw them tax-free and penalty free after age 59½ and once the account has been open for five years. 

Why is a Roth IRA beneficial for heirs?

  • Many are happy to find out that heirs get to inherit your Roth IRA tax-free. This is quite the advantage compared to a traditional IRA or 401(k) where withdrawals made by heirs are taxed. In other words, you get to pass your Roth IRA benefits directly down to your heirs. 

Are there specific benefits for a spouse beneficiary of a Roth IRA?

  • Yes, spouses who inherit a Roth IRA have several advantageous options. 
    • If they are the sole beneficiary, they can be the account owner and avoid required minimum distributions (RMD’s) during their lifetime. 
    • If they are not the sole beneficiary, they can roll over their portion of the assets into an inherited or beneficiary IRA and stretch RMD’s out over their life expectancy. 
    • Roth distributions are tax free if the account has been open for at least five years.

 Will my non-spouse IRA heirs have to take RMD’s?

  • This question was asked and answered on, and the answer was “A non-spousal beneficiary must begin taking RMDs on the basis of his/her life expectancy by Dec. 31 of the year after the owner’s death.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

There are many estate planning tools such as the Roth IRA to effectuate beneficial growth and tax treatment in life and for the heirs after your death. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience helping clients with estate planning and can help you make a plan that is just right for you and your loved ones. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

Decanting a Trust in California

If you are interested in a trust as an estate planning tool, you may have heard the word “decanting” and wondered what it means and why you might need it as a strategy

What does decanting mean?

  • The word “decanting” traces its roots to winery, where a person would decant a wine by pouring it from it’s bottle into another container.
  • Similarly, a 2019 California law allows you to change the terms of an irrevocable trust by “pouring” trust assets from an old trust instrument into a new trust.  
  • This helps you to leave behind the unwanted terms of the old trust, just as you would leave behind the impurities in the wine. 

What law changed the rules for trust decanting? 

  • The California Uniform Trust Decanting Act became effective January 1, 2019. 
  • Before this change, modifying an irrevocable trust was difficult, but now decanting provides an easier way to modify an irrevocable trust. 

How is decanting accomplished?

  • In general, you must still notify trust beneficiaries of the proposed changes and allow them the opportunity to object to the changes. 
  • You must also stay within the limits of which the trust terms can be changed, which depend on the Trustee’s authority in the original trust. 
  • For example, you might want to eliminate beneficiaries, but you wouldn’t be allowed to use this rule to increase Trustee compensation. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

There are pros and cons to decanting, and it needs to be accomplished properly. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we make it our business to stay current on regulatory changes that impact estate planning. We will customize a plan to help you find creative solutions to meet your estate planning goals, and we will work with you to keep your plan up-to-date and responsive to regulatory changes. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

Navigating Divorce During the Holidays: How to Help Your Kids

Whether you are in the middle or a divorce or whether it is now final, the holidays can be a difficult time for the children, and statistics have shown that divorce can be challenging for children emotionally.

This article will share strategies for how a parent can support children emotionally during the holidays to create new happy memories and traditions.

Be more generous and compromising than usual. 

  • We celebrate good will during the holidays, and this provides an opportunity for you to be more compromising with your ex than usual. 
  • Try to be flexible in scheduling so that the children can have contact with both parents. 
  • Avoid putting children in a bind where they feel they have to be loyal to one parent or the other. 
  • Cultivate a mindset of positivity during this time, so that actions from the other parent do not ruin your own mood, so that you can create positivity for your children.
  • Be positive about the other parent’s gifts and events.   

Plan ahead. 

  • Planning in advance is key to creating a positive holiday experience. 
  • Schedule in advance so that you can prepare your children with proper expectations. 
  • Work with the other parent on the gifts so that there are not duplicates. 
  • Avoid competing for gifts by perhaps coordinating with the other parent on a potential budget if the other parent is open to that idea. 

Communicate with your children. 

  • Communication is key with children of all ages. 
  • Discuss with your children some of their hopes or goals for the holidays. 
  • Include your children in the planning. 
  • Brainstorm ideas with your children on how to think of others during the holiday season. 
  • Perhaps even help your children plan a gift for the other parent. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

At the Law Office of David Knecht, we understand the challenges that divorced families face, and we can help you with any aspect of your family law case. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

Divorce and Holidays: How to Help Yourself Enjoy the Season

The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration, but they can be a challenging trigger if you are going through a divorce. There is no time of year where self-care is more important than the holiday season, and if you have children, see our companion article to this one about helping your children successfully navigate the holidays as well.

This article will suggest ideas originally shared in a post on to help you take back the power and enjoy the season in spite of the challenges you face, and the memories that may be painful

Recognize your emotions and talk them out. 

  • Accept your feelings and do not feel like you have to bear them alone. Find a family member, friend or therapist to listen to you and provide support. 

Make a plan and do not isolate yourself. 

  • If you do not have your children, find something to do that will make you happy. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, support a charity, or donate your time or money to a cause. Devoting yourself to others and being busy in something bigger than yourself will help you heal. 

 Put your legal process aside, if possible

  • The legal battles of a divorce can be a heavy weight, so if possible lay this burden down for the holidays and pick it back up again in January.


 Focus on health. 

  • Taking care of your body will help you take care of your soul. Eat good foods, take a walk, dance around the living room. Avoid drowning your sorrows in alcohol, drugs or other behaviors that might temporarily numb your pain, but ultimately not give you lasting satisfaction.

 Consider your purpose

  • The holidays are a good time to reflect on family and friends and to ponder what your purpose is in life. Take time to think long term and set goals and hopes for your post-divorce life. 

Contact an Experienced Estate Divorce Attorney

Self-care is essential during the divorce litigation and after the divorce is final. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we understand the stress and concern that a divorce can bring to the parties and the families, and we want to help you successfully navigate this challenging time in your life. We have helped thousands of clients, and we want to be here for you. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

California Divorce: Next Chapters in Kevin Costner Divorce Case

If divorce is in your present or near future, the legal challenges that have arisen in the divorce between Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner may provide helpful insight into issues that you may face in your own divorce.  This article will provide highlights from this Hollywood divorce that give insight into discovery issues, child support arguments, tactics and testimony for evidentiary hearings on child support matters. 

Kevin and Christine have discovery issues.

  • As reported by, discovery propounded by Christine demanded information from Costner on “expenses paid by you, or any person at your request or on your behalf, relating to any extramarital romantic relationships.” 
  • Kevin objected that the discovery was “propounded only for the purpose of harassment, is overbroad as to time period and subject matter, burdensome, oppressive and impermissibly compound.”
  • Kevin objected on the basis of relevance, with the reasoning that there was no community property.
  • After making the objections, Kevin’s legal team responded that he had no responsive documents for “extramarital romantic relationships” in which he engaged, because he engaged in none. 

Christine and Kevin had a child support hearing. 

  • Christine sought $161,592 in child support, but she did not prevail and after a two-day hearing, Kevin was ordered to pay $63,209 per month. 
  • Kevin offered $75,000 a month prior to the hearing, but Christine declined and wanted the judge to decide.  

Both Kevin and Christine testified at the evidentiary hearing about child support.

  • Christine’s attorney argued that the lifestyle the three children have grown accustomed to “is in their DNA at this point.”
  • Christine explained how a decrease in financial status would affect their kids because the ocean is their home and the surf garage at Kevin’s home is 50 steps from “toes in the water.”
  • Kevin testified that while he would not want to live in the $40,000 a month property that Christine is currently rented, he explained that it was not because it wasn’t comparable to his home, but because he raised three children in his home and “their hands are in the stone.”

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

Divorce can be challenging for the parties and children involved, but having an experienced divorce attorney by your side can help reduce your anxieties and give you confidence that you will not be taken advantage of by the person you once trusted, your former spouse. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we are here to help you! We understand the mental and financial challenges that you will face, and we will use our extensive experience with family law to help support you and walk you through the legal challenges. Contact us today at 707-451-4502. 

California Divorce and AB-957

AB-957 is a bill, which the California Senate and Assembly approved, and as of the writing of this article, September 13, 2023, it is awaiting Governor Gavin Newsome’s signature.

Where can you see the text of the bill?

What does the bill change?

  • The law has been that the court makes a determination in the best interest in the child, which includes considering the health, safety and welfare of the child. 
  • The bill adds that the health, safety and welfare of the child includes, among other factors, a parent’s affirmation of the child’s gender identify or gender expression. 
  • The bill also states that affirmation includes a range of actions and will be unique for each child, but in every case must promote the child’s overall health and well-being. 

 Does this require the court to award custody to the gender affirming parent?

  • According to Scott Alman, who is a family law professor at the University of Southern California, the bill “does not announce any bright line rules forbidding the judge to award custody to a denying parent or mandating that the judge award a child to an affirming parent.” 
  • In Altman’s opinion, as quoted by the article, while the bill sends signals that affirming is generally better than denying a child’s gender identity, it does not mark a dramatic legal shift because courts have long been tasked with resolving custody disputes involving LGBTQ+ children, and judges already consider multiple factors. 

How impactful will this bill be on custody disputes in the future?

  • As this change is new, it is unclear how extensive, if any, the impact will be in custody cases in California.
  • The arguments for and against are explained in detail and can be viewed by clicking “Assembly Floor Analysis”.

Contact an Experienced California Divorce Attorney

If you are anticipating custody issues in your divorce, contact us at the Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with family law and can help you navigate the legal system. We will craft compelling arguments in favor of the plan that you think is best for your children and assist you in strategizing how to achieve your divorce goals. Contact us today at 707-451-4502.