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 Forbes.com, 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. 

CONSULT THE LAW OFFICE OF DAVID KNECHT

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. 

CONSULT THE LAW OFFICE OF DAVID KNECHT

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.

CONSULT THE LAW OFFICE OF DAVID KNECHT

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 https://selfhelp.courts.ca.gov/divorce/property-debtsproperty 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.

 

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. 

 

 Service

 

  • 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

 

CONTACT THE LAW OFFICE OF DAVID KNECHT FOR HELP WITH A CALIFORNIA DIVORCE

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.  

 

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.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23284588/ 

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. https://www.connectedwomen.co/magazine/the-brighter-side-of-single-mom-life-why-more-women-are-living-happily-ever-after-divorce/

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. https://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-divorce.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en

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.  

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 https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/07/kelly-clarkson-request-legally-single-brandon-blackstock-divorce-no-intention-settling)

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. 

 

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.  

 

 

 

5 Secrets for Coping with Divorce Stress and Depression

If you are struggling coping with divorce stress or depression, you are not alone.  In fact, a study cited in the Journal of Family Therapy reports that despite the increased frequency of divorce in our society, a divorce event can result in emotional and economic hardship for many and a greatly increased depressive effect.  https://www.jstor.org/stable/352399

This article will suggest a few strategies to help you be successful in managing the changing life circumstances associated with divorce and help you maintain a positive mental and emotional outlook:

  • Take each day at a time.  

During the divorce process, you can experience a sense of uncertainty or fear about the unknown.  You may no be sure what things or going to change or whether you will like your “new normal.”  One strategy for managing these concerns is to focus on the short-term rather than the long term:  making lists, setting daily goals, and keeping your focus on being successful each day will help you stay positive during this transition. 

 

  • Confide in a friend.

 

An interesting 2012 study found that friendships with individuals and couples tend to shift during divorce.  See https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10502556.2012.682894

This study found that friendships with couples tended to distance during divorce and friendships with individuals often strengthened.  The implications of this for you may be that you could benefit from strengthening bonds with friends who will be sympathetic and loyal to you.  You will need someone you trust to vent to and confide in, and a friend who can provide supportive and positive feedback will help keep you mentally strong. 

 

  • Let go of the past, release yourself from guilt. 

 

At the end of a relationship, many are drawn in to examining the beginning of the marriage, considering what “red flags” they may have ignored or what went wrong in the process that led up to the marriage.  While self-reflection can be healing at the right time and the right circumstances, some may caught in a downward spiral of “would have’s” and “should have’s” about a past that cannot be changed.  A helpful technique can be to let go of the past, release yourself from the guilt, and focus on the future rather than dwell on mistakes of the past. 

  •  Take time for self-care

For some, self-care is keeping the routine at the gym, for others it’s the solace of comfort food and a good movie.  Regardless of where or how you find solace, it’s important to make time to focus on yourself.  Some people become so concerned about their children or others who might be impacted by the divorce that they neglect to put time and effort into making themselves happy.  

  • Find the right lawyer for you. 

An experienced and compassionate attorney will help make the divorce process easier for you.  Find an attorney who fits your needs.  As a client, you are in the driver’s seat on who to hire and how to guide them to effectively communicate and work for you, so do not be afraid to find a person who fits your needs and to help them know the best way to work for your good. 

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 help ease the burden of stress or depression from you by guiding you through the legal process and supporting your goals.