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. 

 

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.  https://www.apa.org/topics/divorce-child-custody/healthy

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.  https://neuro.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/22282874

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. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-00701-003

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.  

 

 

 

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 “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.