Pets and Divorce in California

Many people consider a dog or a cat to be a member of the family, so the custody of the beloved pet, emotional support or service animal can be one of the highest priorities in a California divorce. This article will summarize how the law treats the custody of pets.  

Where can I find the California law related to pet custody?

In 2019, a new California law changed the way pet custody is handled in California divorce cases. See California Family Code §2605.

Before this law was enacted, the courts treated animals as property to be awarded to one party or the other. Judges did not have a lot of guidance and had wide discretion on their decisions relating to animals. 

What are the legal standards for pet custody?

  • A judge can make temporary pet custody orders while the divorce is pending, which do not impact the final order
  • The judge has the power to award custody of the pet jointly to the spouses or to one spouse exclusively. The judge must consider which spouse has provided care for the pet, which includes food, medical, shelter and protection.
  • The judge can make a joint custody order where the pet “parents” will share time and medical decisions or the judge can award the pet to one of the spouses exclusively. 

How can you bolster your pet custody case?

Every case is unique, but some general principles in bolstering your pet custody case are the importance of caring for your pet and documenting your involvement. 

  • Keep a record of your care of the pet, including walking, feeding, grooming, and caring for your pet’s needs. 
  • If you have not been the primary caretaker of your pet, increase your involvement in meeting the pet’s daily needs. 
  • Consider what witnesses you may have to document your involvement with your pet. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Firm

Family law is a unique subset of the law, so you need an attorney who has experience to help you navigate the system. If you need help with a pet custody issue or any concern relating to divorce or family law, contact the Law Office of David Knecht.  We have extensive experience with family law and can help you succeed. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

Who Has a Better Chance of Getting Custody of the Kids in a California Divorce?

This article considers statistics relating to the physical custody of children and also the legal factors involved in these decisions.   

What are the statistics on physical custody?


These statistics are according to data published in 20202, which can be accessed here, 

  • Nearly 4 in 5 custodial parents were mothers. 
  • However, in more than half of the cases, the parties agree that the mother should have custody. 

Does this mean that there is a bias toward mother’s for physical custody? 

  • The legal standards, which will be described below, do not contain a gender bias. 
  • The statistics do not necessarily support the finding of a gender bias in the law because many of the parties surveyed had a parenting plan that was agreed upon by the parties and not based on a court award of custody. 


 What are the legal standards for determining physical custody?


Some of the factors that a judge may consider are listed on the self-help website of the California courts which can be accessed here. Factors that can be considered in determining the best interest of the child are the following:

  • Age and health of the child.
  • The emotional ties between the parents and the child.
  • The child’s ties to their school, home and community.
  • The ability of each parent to care for the child. 
  • Any history of family violence. 
  • Any regular and ongoing substance abuse by either parent. 

Contact an Experienced Divorce Firm

Each case is different, and whether you are a mother or father, the purpose of the family laws in California are to protect the best interest of your children. You need an attorney who understands family law and has the requisite experience to help you navigate the system. If you need help with any divorce issue or a other family law legal matter, contact the Law Office of David Knecht.  We have extensive experience with family law will listen to you and fight to achieve your goals. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

Divorce and Depression in California

Divorce can be traumatic and can lead to temporary depression or even clinical severe depression. This article will explain symptoms to look for indicating divorce-related depression and share suggestions on how to move forward and feel better with material sourced from

Divorce Can Be Traumatic, Seeking Help Is Vital

Some statistics put the seriousness of divorce into perspective: A 2015 study of over 13,000 deaths concluded that recent divorce increases the odds of death by suicide by 1.6 times.

If you are dealing with severe depression, whether related to divorce or otherwise, seek professional help. There are many mental health resources with information available.

Signs and Symptoms of Divorce-Related Depression

What are some of the signs of divorce-related depression?

  • Ignoring responsibilities
  • Avoiding family and friends
  • Performing poorly at work

What are some of the symptoms of divorce-related depression?

  • Crying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating

Suicidal thoughts (if you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

What are some suggestions for alleviating divorce-related depression?

  • Seek professional counseling
  • Write in a journal
  • Exercise
  • Focus on eating healthy
  • Pamper yourself
  • Socialize
  • Try to sleep

Contact an Experienced Divorce Firm

You will have many feelings and thoughts to process during and after a divorce because change is never easy for anyone, but remember that you can get through it and find a new normal. Finding the right attorney that can help you may alleviate some of the stress of the divorce process. You will feel more confident with an experienced attorney by your side. For help with any issue relating to divorce or family law, contact the Law Office of David Knecht.  We have extensive experience with family law and can help you feel confident, understood and supported. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

How Should I Tell My School Aged Children About Divorce?

One of the most important and challenging conversations a parent can have with their children is telling them about a divorce. It’s a discussion that will likely always be remembered, so handling this topic is of utmost importance. This article summarizes content from and provides a checklist for parents to guide them in breaking the news to their children in a positive way. The full article can be found here


  • Begin by affirming your love for the children and assuring them that you will always be their parent. Tell them that you will always be there for them, but there will be some changes in the family. 

Acknowledge Problems but Don’t Detail Them.

  • Acknowledge that there were problems in the marriage and that you tried to fix them, but do not go into detail about what you think your spouse did wrong. Those are adult issues and too complex and heavy or children, and also you do not want to place your children in a situation where they feel they have to take sides. Be clear with the children that they were in no way at fault and consider apologizing to them for impacting their lives with this new change. 

Consider Your Words. 

  • Consider your children and carefully choose your words. For example, the word “divorce” can be extremely triggering to some children, so you may want to start by calling it a separation. For other children, they may want or need a more direct explanation from you. Make a decision ahead of the conversation about the words you will use. 

Convey Security and Confidence. 

  • Your children need to know that both you and then will be ok. Avoid expressing insecurity about what will happen or how you will get by financially. Try to express confidence and security to your children so that they will feel safe to weather the changes. If one parent is moving out, it is helpful if they already have those arrangements in place so that they can tell the children where they will be and confirm to them that they will still be available and accessible. 

Have the Conversation Together with Your CoParent. 

  • Although emotions may be running high with your coparent, it is often beneficial to work jointly to deliver the message to the children. This can provide confidence to the children that both parents love them and will work together. Emphasize that you will both try to do your best to make the changes as easy on the children as possible. 

Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer

Even if you are just contemplating a divorce, but not certain that you want to go forward, contacting an experienced divorce attorney can be helpful. You can make a plan and know your options. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience helping clients with a California divorce, and we are happy to answer your family law questions. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

3 Myths and Misconceptions about Postnuptial Agreements in California

If you are planning to get married, you may be getting advice from family or friends encouraging you to get a “prenup.” A prenuptial agreement is contract entered into prior to marriage that often contains provisions for property and debt division in the event of a divorce. This article addresses some of the common myths and misconceptions regarding prenup agreements.  

  A prenup dooms your marriage. 

  • Asking your loved one to sign a prenup is not very romantic, but often marriage involves challenges where thoughtful planning and communication can trump the romance and assumptions that come in the courtship stage, which is why loving relatives and friends urge couples to keep the romance alive later in the marriage by tackling tough topics before conflicts arise. 
  • Asking for a prenup is not bucking a trend, but rather following it. As reported on, 44% of singles think a prenup is a good idea and 15% of divorcing couples wish they had signed a prenup. 

Prenups are expensive to get or are just for rich people

  • Truth is, not matter how much or little money you have, everyone at some level cares about money because it is the way we survive. 
  • You may have student loans or credit card debts or may plan to incur those during the marriage. 
  • You may inherit money during the marriage. 
  • You may want a safety net against your future spouse’s unhealthy behaviors (money toward addictions, uncontrolled spending, etc. )

Prenups are unfair 

  • The most widely publicized prenup cases are often those that are unfair to one spouse, but the norm is to create a balanced and fair agreement that effectuates the goals of both spouses. 
  • Both parties should be represented each by their own lawyer to ensure fairness in the prenup process. 

Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer

Many couples want a simple prenup that doesn’t break the bank and others want a complex contract that deals with significant assets and future income. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of cost and complexity, here at the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience in prenuptial agreements in California and can help you successfully prepare a contract within your budget that meets your goals. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 


How Can Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Strengthen Marriages?

Many people are reluctant to broach the topic of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to their fiancée or spouse with the concern that it may be seen as a hostile or distrusting gesture, but in an article published at, the author (who is a wealth advisor and divorced parent herself) asserts that these types of agreements can actually strengthen marriage and can avoid disastrous consequences in divorce

Why talk about prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements before things go sour?

  • Life is unpredictable and marriage is difficult
  • Talking about challenging topics while the marriage is still good is better than waiting until the typically adversarial construct of a divorce
  • Money and communication are the two top reasons why people get divorced,

What is a prenup or postnup and why do you need one?

  • A prenup is a contract entered prior to marriage
  • A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenup except that it is executed after a couple is already married. 
  • It commonly addresses spousal support and provisions of assets in a divorce
  • It’s not just for the rich and famous. Everyone has something worth protecting.
  • It can address property, debt, future inheritances and earnings. 
  • Information or documents that show assets and debts.

What are topics to consider in a prenup/postnup?

  • Division of assets and debts
  • Amount and duration of maintenance/alimony upon divorce
  • Ownership and use of property 
  • Trusts or wills

Can a prenup or postnup determine child custody or support?

  • No, parental responsibilities and child support are based on the best interest of the children, so they cannot be negotiated in advance of a marriage or divorce.

Contact an Experienced Family Lawyer

An experienced family lawyer can help you with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that can save time and anxiety in the future. At the Law Office of David Knecht we have extensive experience with family law in California and can help you successfully prepare these agreements. We look forward to assisting you.  Contact us at 707-451-4502. 


Preparation for Mediation in a Divorce Case

This article follows our previous introduction to mediation. This is part 2, which will provide information on how to prepare for mediation in a divorce case, with information derived from the California Court website.


Choosing the mediator

  • Selecting the mediator is an important decision in preparing for a successful mediation, and the right mediator is a very personal decision.
  • For some parties, an excellent mediator might be a former judge to provide experience and information on legal issues. 
  • For other parties, an excellent mediator might be one with the right temperament to fit the parties. Some mediators are more sensitive and collaborative and others tend to be more formal and commanding. 
  • The differences in mediators are as numerous as the differences in attorneys, judges and experts, so no two are alike, and you want to find one that you believe best fits your personality and the opposing party.


Understanding the process

  • Mediation can take different forms. In some cases, the mediator meets with each party separately. In other instances, the mediator might lead a discussion of both parties and counsel. In some instances attorneys will be present an in other instances, unrepresented parties seek to use the mediator without retaining and attorney. 


  • Find out ahead the time constraints of the parties and the mediator, so that you can properly pace yourself during the process. 

Ask yourself difficult and probing questions prior to the mediation


  • Seek to see the strengths and weaknesses of your own case. Be realistic in assessing your position. 


  • Try to understand.  Strive to analyze the arguments of the other party and contemplate how to address them. Are there solutions you can think of where all parties win?


  • Learn from the past but focus on the future. You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it. What do you know about your former spouse that will influence your decisions? How can you predict their behavior to foresee problems and challenges that may arise and how can those be addressed ahead of time in the mediation process?
  • Let go of emotion. This is one of the most difficult steps of mediation. A court case can never resolve the anger and hurt that is involved in most divorces, so expecting vindication is a barrier to an effective settlement. To the extent that you can view the case logically and impartially, this will help you understand and accept a result that may be in your best interest. 


Mediation can be an emotional and challenging process, but it is an extremely important step in the divorce process where the right attorney can add tremendous value. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have years of experience with divorce and specifically with divorce mediation. Call us today at 707-451-4502. 


What is Mediation for a Divorce Case?

This article will provide introductory information about the purpose of mediation, how it works and what to do to prepare for a divorce mediation with information derived from the California Court website.

What is divorce mediation?

  • It is a flexible dispute resolution process with an independent third party who helps to facilitate communication and solution-finding between parties to resolve their own dispute outside of the court system. 

Does the mediator take sides?

  • The mediator is intended to be a neutral party who does not take sides, make decisions, offer legal advice or reveal confidential information. 
  • However, an effective mediator may offer an opinion or share references to legal authority that may be on point for the question at hand. A mediator may provide context with information on how issues have been previously decided by the court.  

What if I have concerns about the process? 

  • If you have any concerns about the mediation process, you should raise those and make sure they are resolved to your satisfaction prior to proceeding. 
  • Some common concerns can include practical considerations like the billing rate of the mediator and your responsibility to pay, or legal concerns such as whether  a judge can make negative inferences against you if you do not settle or whether the information shared in mediation is confidential.
  • It is the mediator’s job to resolve any concerns that you may have prior to the process, and you should not be afraid to ask questions throughout the mediation process. 

 What are some best practices to ensure a successful mediation? 

  • Ask the mediator how to best utilize their services. The mediator often has experience and can guide you as to how to maximize their time and experience. 
  • Come ready to participate fully, honestly and courteously. 
  • Be willing to understand the other party’s arguments. This does not mean you need to agree with them, but understanding your opponent is a good step in finding out of the box solutions. 
  • Assess litigation costs and prospects realistically to yourself. You typically will not get everything you want in a mediation, so assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your case will help you focus on the wins that are most important to you. 


There are many divorce lawyers, but not all family law attorneys have extensive experience. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have years of experience with divorce and other family law issues. Additionally, we have a commitment to customize our approach to your specific needs and seek to understand your goals and help you achieve them. Call us at 707-451-4502. 


What are the Main Steps of a California Divorce?

This article will provide an overview of the divorce process with a summary of the information provided by the California Courts.

Getting a divorce in California takes at least six months. There are four main steps to getting divorced and they are the same whether you are married or in a domestic partnership. If you want a legal separation, the steps are the same, but there isn’t a required six month waiting period.

Start the divorce case.

  • One spouse files the papers and lets the other person know that the case has been started by serving the papers on that person.
  • Then the other spouse has a chance to file a response.

Share financial information.

  • The party that filed the papers must share financial information and the other party must also, if they are participating in the divorce process.
  • The documents are shared with the other party and then you file a form so that the judge knows you met this requirement.

Make decisions.  

  • You will need to decide how to divide property and debts, whether spousal support will be paid, and how to care for and support children (if appliable).
  • You can work together with your spouse to come to an agreement on these issues or you can ask the court to decide.

 Finalize the divorce. 

  • This last step involves filing a set of final paperwork. The court will review the forms to make sure that nothing is missing and there are not mistakes and the judge will sign the final form.
  • Visit this site for more information about finalizing a California divorce.


If you need help with a divorce, contact the Law Office of David Knecht. Call us at 707-451-4502. We have extensive experience in family law and can help you feel confident and comfortable navigating a California divorce.

Property and Debt Division in a California Divorce

In a California divorce, even if the parties agree, a judge has to approve the division of property and debts through an order. You don’t necessarily have to go to court because a judge could approve an agreement between you and your spouse. If the parties don’t agree, the judge can make a determination for you at a hearing or a trial. Information in this article will help you better understand and debt division in a California divorce with information sourced from online resources provided atx. 


  • What is property? 


  • Property has a formal definition, but in general it is anything that you can own, buy or sell. This includes real estate, bank accounts, life insurance, retirement and more. 



  • What are the categories of property and debts?


  • Community property is generally what you own together during your marriage and the debts that you owe together during your marriage. 


  • Separate property is generally what you each owned individually before you were married or after you separated and any gifts or inheritance or any debts you incurred before or after your marriage. 



  • Why is the date of separation important for categorizing assets and debts?


  • The date of separation is important because generally, from that day forward, what you or your spouse earned or loans that you take out are no longer community property. 



  •  What are the rules for the date of separation?


  • The separation date is the day that one of you let the other one know (by actions or words) that they wanted to end the marriage, provided that after that day, your or their actions were consistent with wanting the marriage to be over. 



  •  How can I tell if something is community property?
  • Generally, community property is anything you earned while married, anything you bought while married and debt that you incurred while married. 


Consult the Law Office of David Knecht

Property and debt division is one of the most important aspects of a divorce for most people. The information in this article is very general, but an experienced family law attorney can help you make your case to get the property to which you are entitled and fight to prevent your being saddled with debt that isn’t yours. Please contact us at the  Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with divorce and family law issues and can answer your questions. Call us at 707-451-4502.