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. 

 

Can I get Spousal Support (Alimony) in California?

One of the top concerns many have when contemplating a divorce is assets and money,  so spousal support is often a very important issue in many California divorces.  This article will explain some of the basic principles relating to spousal support with information taken, in part, from https://www.courts.ca.gov/1038.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en and https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/family-code/fam-sect-4320.html

  For questions about your specific situation, contact the Law Office of David Knecht,  (707) 451-4502.  

 

  • What is spousal support?

 

  • Spousal support, which is also known as alimony, is the payment from one spouse to the other.  It can be temporary or permanent.  These terms refer to when the support is ordered, not how long it lasts.  Temporary support is ordered while the divorce is pending.  Permanent spousal support is after the divorce judgment.  In California, either spouse may request spousal support. 

 

  • What is the purpose of spousal support?
  • Some people mistakenly believe that the purpose of spousal support is to punish the person who has to pay, but such is not the case in the no-fault state of California.  
  • The purpose of temporary support is to maintain the living standards of both parties until the divorce is final the assets and debts have been determined. 
  • Permanent support is not intended to be forever.  In California, the policy is that both parties become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time and spousal support bridges the gap until the supported spouse can get the employment or resources to meet their needs. 
  •  What is the presumption for marriages that lasted less than 10 years?
  • For marriages that lasted less than ten years, the duration of support will generally have a time limit.  The presumption is that spousal support/alimony will last for half the length of the marriage. For example, if the marriage was ten years, the spousal support would generally end by five years. 

 

  •  What about long-term marriages? 
  • For long-term marriages, those of more than ten-year duration, the presumption is that the court maintains jurisdiction over spousal support indefinitely.  

 

  •  What factors can be considered by the judge for spousal support? 
  • The judge can consider the totality of the circumstances which may include, but are not limited to the standard of living you had when married, marketable skills, the market for those skills, how much your earning capacity was limited during the marriage, the length of the marriage, childcare, age, health, hardships, etc.  This list could include anything that a judge determines is fair and just.  

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 Ways to Save Money on Your California Divorce

Many people considering divorce are fearful of the cost and how the expense of a divorce may negatively impact their future long-term.  This article will help provide suggestions on how to save money on a California divorce.     

  1. Prepare and Organize Your Information.  If you prepare and organize your information in advance of meeting with your attorney, your meeting with him or her will be more effective.  You can make a list of all your assets and liabilities.  You can do research online to assess the value of your home, vehicles, and other assets.  When you organize this information into a concise summary, you will be better prepared to have an efficient discussion.  
  2.  Give Consideration to Your Priorities, Questions and Concerns.  Many issues in divorce require careful thought and consideration so that you can establish your ideal outcome.  For example, what would be the best custody arrangement for your schedule?  Where would you like to live now and in the future?  What assets are important to you to keep and what do you not mind selling?  Your attorney will certainly be invested in helping you achieve your ideal outcome, but in order to do that he or she will need to work with you to find out what that target is. 
  3. Choose a Support Person.  Decide a support person who can be there for you when you need impartial advice, a shoulder to cry on, or just a listening ear.  This support person will be essential in helping you process the many emotions involved in a divorce.  This will save you money by helping you set reasonable goals, make good decisions, and keep the time you are paying your attorney focused.  
  4. Communicate in Writing When Possible.  One way to save cost in any legal case is to communicate in writing, when it makes sense.  If you need to send your attorney a quick thought or note, an email or text can be quicker and cheaper than a phone call. 
  5. Choose Your Attorney Carefully.  One of the most important ways to save money in a divorce is to hire an attorney who is experienced in family law.  Some people are tempted to hire a friend or family member who is a lawyer with the idea that they may get a better deal going with someone they know.  Unfortunately, when you hire someone who does not have experience, you may be spending more money because they may have to come up to speed on family law issues on your dime.  

Consult with the Law Office of David Knecht

If you want a lawyer who is effective, efficient and experienced, while still being cognizant of cost, please contact the attorneys at the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502.  

 

Can I “Kick Out” My Husband or Wife from the Home?

Unfortunately, some relationships involve violence or threatened violence, the question arises whether the victim can legally get the offending spouse “kicked out” of the home.  The answer is yes, under certain circumstances. This article will discuss the process in more detail. 

  1. Authority for the Court to Remove a Spouse from the Home. The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) and Family Code § 6340, 6321, and 6324 authorize a court to order the restrained party to move out of property and allow the protected party to use and possess the property under specific circumstances.  To read these code sections, click the following links:  
  1. What Facts Need to Be Presented in Hearing.  There are three facts that need to be presented at a hearing:
  2. That the person staying has a reason to be in the home, specifically, “Facts sufficient for the court to ascertain that the party who will stay in the dwelling has a right under color of law to possession of the premises.”
  3. That assault or threat of assault is involved, specifically, “That the party to be excluded has assaulted or threatens to assault the other party or any other person under the care, custody and control of the other party, or any minor child of the parties or of the other party.”
  4. Harm, specifically, “That the physical or emotional harm would otherwise result to the other party, to any person under the care, custody and control of the other party, or to any minor child of the parties or of the other party.”
  1.  Does the person staying have to be the owner of the home?   Not necessarily.  This question was presented in a case from the Court of Appeals in California, Nicole G. v. Braithwaite, which can be found here: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=17446401920668045282&q=braithwaite&hl=en&as_sdt=4,5

In this case, the Court ordered Braithwaite to move out of the property and granted Nicole’s domestic violence restraining order against Braithwaite.  In that case, the title to the home was still a civil case and a disputed issue between the parties, but the Court was able to exercise the power to order Braithwaite out and allow Nicole to take possession of the home temporarily to protect her. 

Consult with the Law Office of David Knecht

If you have questions about removing a spouse from a home or any questions relating to divorce or family law, please contact the attorneys at the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502.  We have extensive experience in family law and can be a knowledgeable advocate for you.  

 

Can I Force My Ex to Sell the House in California?

The question of whether you can force your spouse to sell the home in a divorce seems like a simple one, but the answer can sometimes involve complex analysis.  It is an issue that often arises because the home is one of the largest investments many married couples make. 

This article will provide some helpful background information to assist you in understanding potential issues, but we recommend seeking legal guidance on your specific situation, given the complexity of the issues and the significant value the home for many families.   

  1. California Family Code §2550.  California Family Code §2550 governs the division of property in a California Divorce.  The full text can be found here:  https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=FAM&sectionNum=2550.
  2. How does this law apply in practice?  This law provides that family court judges must divide the community estate equally, but this doesn’t speak to one specific asset, such as the house.  It refers to the whole of the community property estate, which will include other assets, such as money in the bank, vehicles, etc., and also debts, such as credit card debt, student loans, etc. 
  3.  What is the bottom line?  When Section 2550 applies the home, the bottom line is that one party may be awarded the home, but only when there is equality in the totality of the division of assets such that the other party’s right to reimbursement or an equalization payment is honored.  It is also true that a judge can order the sale of the home as per the authority provided by this law.   
    • What is partition and how is it used in a divorce to force the sale of the home
  4. Where is the law governing partition?  You can find California Code, Code of Civil Procedure §872.210 here: https://codes.findlaw.com/ca/code-of-civil-procedure/ccp-sect-872-210.html
  5.  Can Partition be Used in Divorce?  No, unless there are special circumstances involved, a partition action is specifically excluded for divorce proceedings:  “an action between spouses or putative spouses for partition of their community or quasi-community property or their quasi-marital interest in property may not be commenced or maintained under this title.”

Consult with the Law Office of David Knecht

If you have questions about how your home will be divided in a divorce or any other family law question,  please contact the attorneys at the Law Office of David Knecht, at 707-451-4502.  We have extensive experience in family law and can be a knowledgeable advocate for you.  

 

Resources to Help in Divorce in California

Many parents are looking for online resources to help themselves or their children cope with the changes in the family that happen with divorce.  The California Courts in collaboration with other have created a website with information to help parents, kids and teens deal with divorce.  This article will summarize some of the helpful sections, and the full site can be found here:  www.familieschange.ca.gov

 

  •  Dealing with Change.  

 

If you are looking for information about parenting responsibilities, children’s rights and responsibilities, what changes to expect, parenting strategies, keeping the kids out of the conflict or even abuse in the home, this section will provide helpful resources.  Go to www.familieschange.cal. gov/en/parents/dealing-change

 

 

  •  Feelings and Emotions.  

 

This section provides resources to help your children process the gamut of feelings and emotions during and after divorce or separation.  It describes how your children may feel, gives suggestions on how to create an environment that allows children to experience and express emotions, gives guidance on identifying feelings, and suggestions for problem solving and dealing with behavioral changes in children.  Go to www.familieschange.ca.gov/en/parents/feelings-and-emotions

 

 

  •  Telling the Children

 

One of most difficult aspects of divorce or separation can be telling the children about the impending changes.  This is a crucial step that will influence how your children will feel about the situation.  The site recommends planning out the discussion with your ex-spouse so that if possible, you can agree on how to deliver the news, anticipate questions, address concerns, and make the discussion as calm and positive as possible.  This section has detailed information on questions such as how to explain why parents separate, how to keep lines of communication open and how to talk to teachers, coaches and extended family.   Go to www.familieschange.ca.gov/en/parents/telling-children

 

 

  • Child Support

 

Child Support is one of the first things parents should think about when they separate.  It is the amount of money that a court orders a parent or both parents to pay each month to help pay for the support of the child (or children) and their living expenses.  California’s child support law is based on the principle that even though parents may separate or divorce, children are entitled to the financial support of both parents.  This section has information on child support responsibilities, guidance on how to figure out what a parent should expect to pay or receive, information on how to calculate other types of expenses and also additional resources.  

Go to www.familieschange.ca.gov/en/parents/child-support

 

 

  •  Other Resources

 

There are many resources available to help California families through separation and divorce.  Some of these are listed on the Families Change site at www.familieschange.ca.gov/en/parents/resources.

 

 

  • Talk to an Attorney

 

If you want to talk to a knowledgeable and professional attorney about your questions relating to separation, divorce, child support, or any other family law issue, the attorneys at the Law Office of David Knecht, have extensive experience in family law.  Contact us at 707-451-4502 for more information.