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.


Can I Sue My Ex for Defamation?

If you follow Hollywood news, you’ve probably heard a lot about the legal battle between Jonny Depp and Amber Heard. He is suing her for 50 million dollars for defamation for a 2018 op-ed piece in the Washington Post that alleged she was a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” She has counterclaimed for 100 million dollars, alleging that Depp and his former lawyer conspired to defame her by calling her allegations a hoax.

This article will provide an overview of defamation and California law to help explain how and when an ex can be sued for defamation. 


  •  What is defamation? 


  • Defamation is a broad term for statements that malign someone’s reputation. 
    • A statement made verbally is slander.  
    • A statement made in writing is libel.


  • What are the elements?


  • The statement must be false. A truthful statement, even if harmful, is not defamation. 
  • The statement must be presented as fact, not opinion, and be misleading intentionally, recklessly or negligently. 
  • It must be published, which means that someone besides you heard or read it. 
  • It must have actually hurt the reputation of the victim. 
  • It must have brought harm to the victim, such as a lost job or lost opportunity. 


  • Can statements made during my divorce trial or divorce settlement negotiations be defamation?


  • No, statements made during settlement negotiations would be made to your ex and their attorney, so they would almost never rise to the level of defamation. 
  • No, statements made during trial would not be defamatory because your purpose in going to trial is to tell the judge your side of the story. 


  •  Where can I find the laws relating to California defamation, i.e. libel and slander?


  • This is the link to the statute for slander:


Consult the Law Office of David Knecht

If you have questions about defamation and divorce or any family law question, 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.


Overview of a California Divorce

If you are considering divorce, you may want a general overview of how the process works. This article will summarize the basic steps, with information derived from the California Court’s.


You get a divorce by initiating a court case. 

  • You don’t have to have a reason for wanting to get divorced or prove that anyone is at fault. California is a no fault divorce state where you can base the divorce solely on irreconcilable differences. 
  • You can get a divorce even if the other person doesn’t want one. 
  • If you’ve been married less than five years and have no children, you may qualify for an easier process called a summary dissolution. More information can be found here:  


California residency is required for a California divorce. 

  • You must have lived in California for the past 6 months.
  • You must have lived in your current California county for the past 3 months. 


Filing Fee.

  • You will have to pay a filing fee to initiate the divorce. 




  • You have to inform your spouse that papers have been filed. The formal way to do this is by service of process. 


Waiting period


  • There is a six month waiting period for the divorce to be final. 


 Information Sharing


  • You will have to share information with your spouse


 Familial and Financial Issue Resolution

  • You will either need to resolve child custody issues and financial issues with your spouse by agreement between the parties or through a decision by the court, which will be an order



If you need help with a divorce in California, contact the  Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with family law in California including divorce, child custody, modifications and more. Contact us at 707-451-4502 for more information.  


Temporary Spousal Support in Solano County, California

An important issue in a divorce is temporary spousal or partner support. When one spouse files for divorce in California, either spouse/partner may request from the court an order for temporary spousal support.  This article will summarize important information published by the California Courts here,, which relates to temporary spousal support

  •  What is temporary spousal support?

Temporary spousal support is also commonly referred to as alimony. Before a divorce is final, upon the request of one of the parties, a judge may order that one spouse will pay money to the other spouse.

  •  What temporary spousal support formula is used in Solano County, California?

In Solano County, the courts use the “Santa Clara” formula, which comes from Rule 5.30, which can be found at the link below.  Some of the cities in Solano County include Benicia, Birds Landing, Dixon, Elmira, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Vacaville and Vallejo.

For more information about the rules applicable in Solano County, see this site:

  •  How does the Santa Clara formula work for calculating temporary spousal support?

The support is generally calculated by taking 40% of the net income of the payor, minus 50% of the net income of the payee, adjusted for tax consequences. If there is a child support, temporary spousal or partner support is calculated on net income not allocated to child support and/or child-related expenses.

Resources for more information:


If you are concerned about your ability to meet your daily expenses and need temporary spousal support or if you are the wage earner with questions about a potential request for temporary support, contact the  Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with divorce in California. Contact us at 707-451-4502 for more information.


Changing Spousal Support in California

With time, comes many changes, and this is often true of the circumstances in the years following a divorce. Many people find that their lives have changed significantly at some point after the divorce is final and they realize they need to change the spousal support order that is currently in place. This article will provide some basic information on how that is done and why it may be beneficial for you with information about changing spousal support in Caliofrnia summarized from

  • Can I change spousal support after the divorce is final?

Yes, you can change spousal support after the divorce is final if there has been a change in circumstances, but it is important to keep paying the full amount under your current order until you get the order changed, even if your situation has changed. Only the court can release you from your obligations, not the underlying circumstances. This is typically accomplished via a stipulation between the parties that is signed by the judge or a motion to the court requesting a modification of the spousal/partner support amount.

  • What is a change in circumstances to justify a change in spousal support?

A change in circumstances means that something significant has changed since the spousal or partner support order was made. This could be a variety of circumstances:

  1. perhaps the person paying has had a significant drop in income and can no longer afford the amount of support
  2. perhaps the person receiving the support has had a change where the support is no longer needed
  3. perhaps the person getting support is not making a good faith effort to become self-supporting
  •  Can the parties agree to a change in spousal support?

If the spouses or domestic partners can reach an agreement on the new amount of spousal or partner support, they can draft is up as an agreement/stipulation. It will then go to the judge for signature.

  •  Why is asking for a new court order right so important?

Spousal or partner support cannot be changed retroactively. This means if you wait, you will not be able to change the amount as to the date that your income went down. If you lost your job six months ago, but are only filing the paperwork now, the judge will not be able to go back to the date that you lost your job. The judge can only make the modification from the date that you filed the papers. Often people think that they might get a new job, or they may be too stressed or worried to prioritize changing the order, or they may have impediments like being in jail or out of state which may impede their ability to get the new order. While these are valid reasons for not requesting a new spousal support order, they will not be effective in changing the support modification to a retroactive date, so that is why it is very important to ask for a new court order right away.


If you need assistance changing a spousal support order or if you have any other family law related questions, contact the  Law Office of David Knecht. We have extensive experience with family law in California. Contact us at 707-451-4502 for more information.

Feeling Powerless in a California Divorce? How to Take the Power Back

If you are feeling powerless in your divorce, you are not alone. It is common to feel depression, anxiety and stress during a divorce. Some studies even show that a divorce can lower your lifespan, so if you feel sad or helpless, you are not alone. 

On the bright side, though, there is also research to indicate that quality of life post-divorce can be much better than it was during the marriage.

This article will highlight three ways to break the cycle  of feeling powerless and help you take the power back during your divorce. 

  •  Become informed. 

It’s axiomatic that knowledge is power, and this is certainly true when it comes to divorce. For many, the intimidation of the process can be daunting, but there are many online resources that can help. 

One we recommend that is unbiased and thorough is the website published by California Courts.  It can be accessed here.

This resource has self-help tools, information, forms and general guidance on divorce and California, and it’s a good place to start to get educated on what may lie ahead. 

  • Get organized. 

You can anticipate that assets and liabilities are going to be important in your divorce, so it’s important to get the information organized and easily accessible. Some things to consider might be:

  • What are the balances on your credit cards?
  • How much do you owe on your vehicle?
  • What is your mortgage payment?
  • How much student loan or other debt do you carry?
  • How much do you earn?

Getting information together will help you feel more in control and will make the process go more smoothly down the road. 

  •  Obtain Legal Advice. 

An attorney who is experienced in family law and empathetic to your concerns can help you feel more in control of your divorce. At the Law Office of David Knecht we have extensive experience with divorce in California. We will listen to your concerns and seek to understand how to customize the divorce to your needs. Contact us at 707-451-4502 for more information.  

Dividing Stock Options in a California Divorce

Stock options that are granted subject to employment can present a challenge when dividing assets in a divorce.  This can occur because the options may not have vested yet or the employment upon which the options were based may have occurred before the marriage as well as during the marriage.  This article will provide an overview of the logic relating to analyzing the value of the stocks and to whom that value should accrue.  However, this is a complex area of the law, and we recommend that you consult with attorneys who are familiar with the valuation and division of stock options.  At the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502, we have extensive experience in divorce in California and can help you with complex questions relating to valuation and division of assets in a California divorce.

Is the stock option community property or separate property?

Establishing whether a stock option is community or separate property is important.  Many facts can play into this analysis such as the date the options were issued, whether they have vested, and the requirements that were met or will be met to justify the stock award.

What is the date of separation?


The date of separation is important in assessing stock options.  The date of separation is defined as the date that a complete and final break in the marriage relationship has occurred, evidence by both the following:  1) the spouse has expressed to the other spouse his or her intent to end the marriage, and 2) the conduct of the spouse is consistent with his or her intent to end the marriage.

Are the stock options vested or unvested? 


A vested option can be exercised by an employee.  An unvested option can be exercised at some point in the future usually based on certain requirements (such as remaining employed).  An option that has vested during the marriage is more clear cut, but that doesn’t mean that an option that hasn’t vested before the date of separation has no value to the nonemployee spouse.  California courts have held that even though unvested options may have no marketable value at the time of divorce, they can still be an asset subject to division in the divorce.

What are the formulas used by courts in these cases?

There are multiple formulas that a court can use, and the court has broad discretion to apply the formula that will achieve the most equitable result. Although the formulas vary, the basic idea is that the longer the time between the date of separation and the date the options vest, the smaller the overall percentage of options that will be considered community property.  For example, consider a divorce where the options vest just a day after the separation.  Now consider a divorce where the options vest years after the separation.  In general, equity would suggest that the nonemployee spouse should be entitled to a greater share of the stock options that vest just a day after separation than those that are years away from having market value.

You can a couple cases that are examples of these formulas here:

What is the best way to position yourself in a divorce relating to stock options?

Even though nonvested stock options may have no present market value, you may want to retain an interest in the shares and potential profits.  This area of family law can be very complex, and possibly the best way to position yourself well relating to stock options is to obtain advice from an experienced divorce attorney who can analyze and comment on your specific situation.


At the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502, we have extensive experience in divorce in California and can help you with complex questions relating to valuation and division of assets in a California divorce.

Bifurcating a Divorce in California

Bifurcation means that both parties can be legally declared as a single person while their other issues are being worked out.  For example, Kelly Clarkson recently filed a motion for bifurcation.  According to an article published in Vanity Fair, her filing stated:  “Irreconcilable differences have existed and continue to exist…I have been attempting to reach a global settlement on this matter…since I filed in divorce in June 2020…and I deserve the opportunity to build a new life.  Therefore, I am asking that my request to bifurcate and terminate marital status be granted.”   (See

This article will explain what bifurcation is, how it works, and why it might be something you want to discuss with your attorney:

  1. Can bifurcation shorten the California six month waiting period for divorce?

No, bifurcation is not a way to avoid the waiting period requirement.  However, a motion can be filed immediately after the waiting period has elapsed. 


  • How does bifurcation effect child custody, visitation, and financial issues?


Bifurcation does not affect things such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony or other issues that may be difficult to resolve in the divorce.  The bifurcation will deal only with the issue of marital status and the other issues must be addressed later. 


  • Why does bifurcation make sense for some couples? 


A very common reason for bifurcation is that one person wants to marry again, so they need their legal status to be single.  There may be other reasons for bifurcation.  For some, there is an emotional release to changing the legal status.  For others, a bifurcation may facilitate advantages for tax purposes, so that the parties may file as single.

2. What issues might want to be considered relating to bifurcation?

Medical insurance is an issue that needs to be considered in bifurcation.  Will the spouse that maintains the insurance continue to cover the other spouse, and if not, then the spouse who requests the bifurcation may need to pay for insurance that is comparable or cover the medical bills.  Pension plans and death benefits need to be considered as well as tax consequences.

3. Where can I find an attorney who can help me decide whether bifurcation is right for me?

An experienced attorney can help make the divorce process easier for you and help you make important decisions on issues such as bifurcation. At the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502, we have extensive experience in divorce in California and can help you decide whether bifurcation is the right decision for you. 


Tips for Having a Healthy Divorce

Nobody plans on getting a divorce, and divorce can be traumatic for the couple involved, their children and even extended family and friends.  This article will summarize tips from an article published by the American Psychological Association for how to have a healthy divorce.

Cooperation, Communication and Mediation (Often, but Not Always)

For many divorces, a good starting point is cooperation, communication and a hope of resolution through mediation.  This is not the pattern for all divorces, as each situation is unique.  For some divorces, a more aggressive and hostile approach may be the right strategy.  There is no “one size fits all” divorce, and it is important to coordinate with your attorney on the strategy that works for you.  However, often at least an initial effort toward finding solutions that are palatable for everyone involved can be the method for a divorce that is effective and affordable.  


  • Write Things Down. 


Emotions will often run very high during a divorce with various triggers that elicit anger, frustration, defeat, fear and a myriad of other negative emotions.  One strategy may be to put your thoughts and emotions onto paper.  For some people, making lists or writing down goals can help overcome the powerlessness that results from negative emotions by channeling the energy into productive planning and/or processing.  


  • Give Yourself Compassion.


Although it seems somewhat obvious to give yourself a break, the practice of self-compassion can actually reap amazing benefits during a divorce.  In a 2012 study, the participants going through a divorce were asked to rate their self-compassion, which included self-kindness, an awareness of one’s place in humanity and emotional equanimity.  Participants who exercised self-compassion reaped the benefit of less emotional turbulence during the divorce process and even nine months down the road from the divorce event.  The conclusion of the study was that self-compassion is a modifiable variable that can improve the lives of divorcing adults.  So, be kind to yourself, understand that you are an important part of the network of humanity and realize your potential for emotional calm.

Resolve to Make the Divorce Experience as Positive as Possible for Children

While some people still hold to the idea that divorce will have a lasting negative impact, more recent research indicates that “outcomes for children and adolescents following divorce were complexly determined, varied considerably, and could be best understood within a framework of familial and external factors increasing risk and fostering resilience.

This research indicates that your children are not automatically going to be negatively impacted by your divorce and you may be able to minimize or eliminate long-term challenges resulting from the divorce.  Some methods that are associated with positive outcomes include good communication with the children, avoiding pitting the children against one parent, avoiding sudden changes to allow children to process and deal with change, and providing counseling and other mental health support to children during the difficult times. 

Find the Right Attorney

An experienced attorney can help make the divorce process easier for you and help you make important decisions. At the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502, we have extensive experience in divorce in California.  Call us today. 

Basic Information About Divorce in California

If you are considering divorce, you may be wondering about residency requirements, grounds for divorce, and what the main steps are in the divorce process.  This article will provide an overview of the basics divorce process to help you think about how you are going to handle your divorce case.  There are three main ways to end a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California: divorce, legal separation, and annulment. After you decide how you want to end your marriage or domestic partnership, you need to plan your case ahead of time. Planning before you start and talking to a lawyer can save you time and money as you go through the court process.  At the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502, we can help you plan your divorce from the beginning, or we can assist in a divorce that has already been initiated.  We are experienced divorce lawyers here to help you succeed.  

  1.  What are the residency requirements for divorce in California? 
  • You or your spouse must have been a resident in the state of California for at least six months and a resident in the county where the divorce is going to be filed for at least three months prior to filing for divorce, unless the case involves same-sex marriages.
  • With same-sex marriage, a judgment for divorce, nullity, or legal separation is possible even if neither person is a resident of California at the time the proceedings if 1)  the marriage was entered in California and 2) neither spouse lives in a state that will dissolve the marriage (in a state that doesn’t recognize the marriage).  
  • See California Family Code 2320 at this link:


  •  What are the grounds for divorce or legal separation in California?


  • Most common:  Irreconcilable differences
    • It is not necessary for both spouses or domestic partners to agree to end the marriage. Either spouse or partner can decide to end the marriage.  The other person can’t stop a divorce.  California is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that the person who wants the divorce does not have to prove that the other person did anything wrong.  They just have to state that there were “irreconcilable differences,” which means that they do not get along. 
  • Also grounds for divorce:  Permanent legal incapacity to make decisions. 
  • See California Family Code 2310 at this link.


  •  What are the basic steps in a California divorce?
  • You meet the residency requirements.
  • You state the grounds for divorce.  
  • Divorce paperwork needs to be filed and served to your spouse. 
  • Your spouse will have an opportunity to tell their side of the story, if they contest the information in your paperwork.  This can happen through written paperwork and proceedings either live proceedings or virtual. 
  • If your spouse does not respond within a certain time frame, the divorce can proceed as uncontested. 
  • Issues involving property, children and financial support will be resolved either through settlement or court hearings. 

Consult with the Law Office of David Knecht

At the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502, we have extensive experience in divorce in California.  We can explain the divorce process to you and advocate for the property division, financial support and custody arrangements that would work best for you.