How to Know If You’ve Selected the Wrong Divorce Lawyer

With over 1.35 million lawyers currently practicing in the United States, it is easy to say not EVERY lawyer is going to be a good one. How do you know if you are hiring the right person? How do you know if you’ve hired the wrong divorce lawyer? Over the years, our Vacaville lawyers have dealt with a number of good and bad lawyers. We can give you some clear signs of what makes a good lawyer, and what makes for a bad lawyer. Here are just a few of the things that show you that you’ve hired the wrong divorce lawyer.

Failure to Communicate
One of the most important things you need in a good lawyer is someone who will communicate with you. A good lawyer will tell you what is happening with your divorce case. While it is expected for a lawyer to be busy, they should have a good team in the office who will handle responding to your case. An attorney who takes days or never responds to emails, phone calls, and text messages is one that doesn’t value your time.

Lack of Interest
When you meet with the divorce lawyer, do they seem to take an interest in you? Do they seem to care about how difficult this time in your life actually is? One of the biggest issues people find with their divorce case is the fact that they have a lawyer that doesn’t seem to care about them. If the lawyer keeps pushing you to settle on something that seems unfair, or they just don’t want to fight for you, it’s time to look for a new divorce lawyer. Some other signs of a bad lawyer include:

  • Showing up late to court and appointments
  • Failure to file documents on time or filing the paperwork wrong
  • Ignoring phone calls
  • Making decisions without consulting you first

Expensive Fees and Hidden Fees
A good lawyer is always upfront with their costs. Some lawyers will find ways to nickel and dime their clients, and that is what you have to be worried about. Lawyer’s aren’t cheap, but if you are seeing a lot of charges or overbilling charges, contact the lawyer right away. Clearly something isn’t right with their billing and fee structure, and they were not up-front with you in the beginning.

Unethical Behavior
There are some lawyers out there that have poor communication, and overall just lack integrity. If you feel like you are working with someone who you feel is lying or engaging in practices that are not ethical, it’s time to move on. Breaking the law or lying is not acceptable from a divorce lawyer, do not work with them!

Lack of Empathy
Divorce cases are some of the toughest out there for emotions. A good divorce lawyer will show empathy for you and your situation. A divorce case needs to have a lawyer with experience in several divorce trials, with favorable outcomes for their clients. You need to be able to trust your lawyer to assist you with your case, and ensure they have your best interest in hand.

For more information about divorce lawyers in Vacaville, contact David Knecht Law today!

3 Most Important Things to Avoid Doing When Getting 2nd DUI

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a second DUI in California, hire an attorney immediately. Under California vehicle code section 23540, individuals with a second DUI will find themselves dealing with more jail time, expensive fines, and a DUI program including filing a SR-22.

Anyone with a previous DUI will now deal with stricter penalties including:

  • Increased jail time, including at least 96 hours in county jail
  • Larger fines of $390 or more in addition to court penalty assessments which can total upwards of $1950
  • Longer jail time or community labor requirements 

License Revocation 

Following a second DUI within a 10-year timeframe, your license can be revoked for at least a year. You can get a restricted license following the installation of an ignition interlock device. SB 1046 will explain in detail how the ignition interlock device and legal requirements one must follow. 

Mandatory DUI Program

A mandatory DUI program is the next thing you will be ordered to do when convicted of a second DUI. The mandatory DUI program ranges from 18-30 months. When you complete the program, you can receive your license again. 

AA Programs

Some judges will require that you attend AA programs. The goal of the program is to help you understand the seriousness of the DUI, and to help you make better decisions in the future. 

Why You Need a DUI Attorney 

Many people are not sure of the seriousness of the offense. In many situations, a DUI attorney is the only voice of reason. A good attorney can assist you with several things including

  • DUI Stop 
  • Sobriety checkpoint misconduct
  • Rising blood alcohol defense 

An attorney will investigate your case and determine if there are issues with the DUI. Certain elements of your behavior will impact the severity of your case as well. It is important to cooperate with officers when you are pulled over for a DUI. If you become combative with the officer, it will only cause additional charges and problems. Contact the Law Offices of David Knecht today to have your legal rights protected! 

How to Start Over After a Painful Divorce 

Going through a divorce is an emotionally grueling process. If you do not have the right people on your side to help support you on your new path, it can be even harder to move into this new phase of your life. Here are some things you can do to start over after a divorce:

  • Take time to grieve. You need to take some time to cry and grieve for the end of your marriage. If you do not grieve and you only hang onto anger and resentment, the internal turmoil you have will worsen. 
  • Learn who you are. The other thing you need to do is start learning who you are. You need to start finding things that are important to you, and what you enjoy doing. Take some time to try new hobbies and find out what causes you to be happy. You need to re-establish your identity as a separate person and no longer as “we”. 
  • Get a therapist. It is important to hire a therapist to speak with on a regular basis. Therapy will help you to process your feelings, and they can help you manage some of the harder days such as holidays, birthdays, and vacations. Therapists and coaches are trained and qualified to make your new life easier, and they want the best for you. 
  • Trust yourself. You have talent. You have worth. Trust yourself to make the right decisions. As you start relying on yourself, you can start gaining confidence in new talents and skills. Try doing some projects around the home on your own or tackling new things that you used to hire people to do. As you continue to learn new things and trust yourself, you will start to feel accomplished in your life. 
  • Become social. Even if you are an introvert, you will want to teach yourself to become social. Join a gym and start going to classes. Not only will it help to improve your health and manage stress, you might end up meeting some new friends. Other things you can try doing is to go out with friends or co-workers. Church and support groups are other great ways to start getting out of your house and experiencing life with others. 
  • Change up your lifestyle. If you have been doing certain things the way your spouse liked it, and not necessarily the way you like it, change things up! You need to find yourself in everything like redecorating in a way you appreciate or changing in your car for something you enjoy driving or enjoying. Even small things like rearranging furniture can help you to establish a new identity. 

The divorce process is life-altering, and one of the hardest challenges you will ever face. Contact your divorce attorney in Vacaville to help you navigate the divorce process and ensure your legal rights are protected. 

3 Things Stupid People Do After Getting a DUI

Following the arrest for a DUI, many people tend to make mistakes that can cost them more money, or possibly end up serving jail time for their mistakes. If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to contact an experienced attorney right away to understand the legal process and the next steps to take. Here are three things stupid people do after they get a DUI.

 

Arguing Instead of Writing Down the Story

One critical error that occurs following a DUI is failing to write down your recount of the arrest. Here are some of the things you MUST note and have on record to help you through this process:

  • When and where were you stopped for a DUI?
  • What was the reason for the officer stopping you?
  • Did you receive a breath test? What did the machine look like?
  • Did you tell the officer about anything you had to drink?
  • Did the officer perform additional tests such as eye tracking, one leg stand, and walk and turn?

Writing down your account of the event will help your attorney as they gather more information to focus on pleading your case. Far too often people spend their time yelling and screaming about their innocence that they fail to see what needs to be done to move forward from this point.

*Important Tip – Make your social media accounts private so the courts cannot use the information you have posted online. Let’s say you posted photos of you partying and drinking on the night in question, it’s not hard for the prosecution to slap you with a penalty and prison time when the evidence is there to support the officer. 

 

Failure to Hire Representation

DUI cases are extremely serious. Whether this is your first case or multiple offenses, you need to have an attorney on your side to help you navigate life post-DUI. Using a court appointed attorney can be tricky as they might not have the experience you need, and you may end up waiting around in prison for months to get a trial date.

DUIs are extremely complex and they do require a great deal of time, research, skill, and experience in a specific manner. A skilled DUI attorney will focus on using their abilities to provide you with a favorable outcome in the court system.

 

Failure to Request a Hearing

Another issue we have seen is people fail to request a DMV hearing. The DMV hearing is designed to help you keep your driver’s license. You typically only have 10 days after your arrest to request the DMV hearing and start the process of improving your driving record and hopefully preventing your license from being suspended.

A DUI case is one of the most stressful events you can encounter. It is natural to worry about what will happen, but it is important to have trust in the skilled attorney you have hired. If you need a Vacaville DUI attorney, contact our office. We have handled hundreds of DUI cases with successful outcomes for our clients.

5 Character Traits All Good Family Attorneys Possess

With over 1.34 million attorneys practicing in the United States today, how can you be sure you have selected the best person for your case? Is it the intelligence of the attorney, their experience, or their personality? While there are core elements every attorney must have, there are some elements that people might overlook that could truly help them identify the good attorneys from the lackluster ones. Here are five traits that a good family attorney will possess.

 

Compassion and Understanding

Going into any family law case is going to be emotional, so you need a person that understands this mentality. The goal of a good family law attorney is to aid in resolving the problem effectively and in the best interest for their client and family. At David Knecht Law, we often deal with cases that are sensitive in nature, and we always approach each case with compassion for the situation and understanding the best way we can handle the case. We want to gain your perspective and help you to see the full picture of how the legal matters will play out.

 

Excellent Listening Skills

Another key element to being a good family attorney is to learn to listen. Effective communication is vital to a client/attorney relationship. We not only listen to our clients, we listen to everything pertaining to your case and strategizing how we can work in your best interest.

 

Integrity and Assertiveness

As an attorney, having integrity is vital. The legal world can become quite confusing and manipulative without the right person. Integrity is something we take seriously in our practice and are assertive in the courtroom to ensure the other party is approaching the case with integrity. Good attorneys are upfront with you about your case, and where your case may have some areas of weakness, and strength.

 

Patience and Perseverance

One of the most common questions people want to know is “How long will my divorce take?” Unfortunately determining how long a case will take is all up to the nature of the case. Does the other party want to move things along swiftly and amicably? If so, your ability for the divorce to be over quickly won’t take long. However, there are so many issues in family law cases that it can often end up being years before a case is completed. Going through a divorce is going to be emotional, you need an attorney that is patient and able to remain calm and professional throughout the case.

 

Experience and Skills

A good attorney is one that will be able to bring their skills into the courtroom. Review case results to find out what type of track record the attorney has, and if they have dealt with cases similar to yours in the past.

If you need a family law attorney in Vacaville, CA, contact the law offices of David Knecht today. Our experienced team is here to help you navigate your family law case with confidence and security.

 

Divorce Mediation Tips

Many divorce cases are settled at the mediation phase.  This article will provide suggested tips to help you prepare for a successful mediation.

  1. Know the state of your finances.

Prior to attending the mediation you would be well advised to thoroughly review and understand the financial situation you had during the marriage and to predict your financial needs after the divorce if final.  This step is essential to help you achieve your financial goals for the mediation.

  1. If you have children, think through the best parenting plan for them and you.

Attending the mediation with a bit of an open mind to different parenting plan possibilities is a good idea, but it is also important to know what you believe would be ideal for you and your children.  Give some thought to their schedules, their preferences, their after-school activities, their religious worship preferences (if any), the kids’ relationship with grandparents and other extended family, etc.

  1. Let go of vengeance and think about what you want and need.

There is an old saying that you shouldn’t cut off your nose to spite your face. This applies in negotiations as well.  Some negotiators get caught up in wanting to appear firm, or say no, or generally shut down what the other party wants just for the sake of making that party dissatisfied.  This can be a self-defeating negotiating strategy.  One that is more commonly successful is to approach the problem by thinking of what you want and how to get it, rather than trying to punish the other party by depriving them of what they want.  Remember a win-win is better than a lose-lose.

  1. Consider your chances at trial.

In order to evaluate whether a mediation solution is acceptable, you need to have an idea of what the consequences will be if you don’t agree in mediation.  Talk to your attorney and find out the range of results at trial.  No attorney has a crystal ball, so they can’t tell you what will happen, but they can give you an idea of what the results have been in similar cases.  Understanding the consequences of not settling will help you make a more informed decision about whether the settlement proposed is right for you.

  1. Use your knowledge about your ex-spouse to your advantage.

Nobody knows your ex as well as you do.  If you can think about what will persuade him/her, then you can use that knowledge to your advantage.  Before you go into the mediation, think about the “cards” in your hand, and decide how to play those cards.  Help your attorney understand what your ex’s hot buttons will be. 

A mediation can be many things:  for some, it is a grueling experience, for others it is a short pain on the path to closure and healing.  Regardless of the type of mediation you can expect, preparation and mindfulness in preparing for the mediation will generally improve the outcome.

 

 

DUI: What to Expect When You’re Caught Under the Influence

California has two relevant laws regarding drunk driving. The first law makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. The second makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08%. Notice the important distinction here?

Driving under the influence of alcohol, as defined in the first law, has nothing to do with any measurement of blood alcohol, but only with an objective assessment of your sobriety. Imagine, for instance, someone particularly susceptible to the effects of alcohol drinks just one drink then proceeds to drive. If they were stopped by the police and the breathalyzer returned a blood alcohol reading of only 0.03%, they could still be charged under this law if something about the person’s driving gave the police probable cause to pull them over to begin with.

Conversely, under the second law, the impairment or otherwise of the person’s actual driving ability by the effects of alcohol are irrelevant to the reading itself. Another person might have been driving perfectly well, but was submitted to a breathalyzer test in a sobriety checkpoint, which returned a reading of 0.12%. This person, too, would be charged.

In practice, these two laws function as one. A person can be convicted of both offenses—sections a) and b) of Vehicle Code section 23152—but can only be punished for one, and the punishments are the same.

At the time of the incident, however, when a person has been detained under suspicion of drunk driving, there will be certain procedures that you can expect the police to follow.

Your encounter with the police will most likely begin with some questions. You should remember that you are not obliged to answer any questions that may incriminate you. This is your Fifth Amendment right. And while you will be (or should be) advised of this in the Miranda warning, it still applies at all times.

The same applies to field sobriety tests where the officer will instruct you to attempt physical tasks, such as walking in a straight line and so forth. Your participation in these tests is voluntary. The detaining officer should, but frequently will not, advise you of that fact.

At this point you should be given your choice of submitting either a breath test or a blood test. You can refuse this, too, but by carrying a drivers’ license, you gave your implied consent to giving a chemical test when required—meaning you can be tested by force.

The most important thing is to be aware of your rights at all times. When you are placed under arrest, do not say anything until you have your lawyer present. Visit our website at http://www.davidknechtlaw.com/ to find out why your first call should be to David Knecht.

Prenuptial Agreements in California Part 2:  Waivers of Spousal Support

Prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements in California are governed by California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.  This an agreement made by a couple prior to marriage that will automatically be effective upon marriage. This article is Part 2 and focuses on the rules relating to alimony, also known as spousal support.

Do we need to involve attorneys?

Yes, if you want it to be enforceable later.  The rule is that the person against whom enforcement of the spousal support provision is sought must have been represented by independent counsel at the time the agreement containing the provision was signed.

Can we put in any terms we want as long as we agree, and attorneys are involved?

No, when it comes to spousal support, the court will not enforce a provision that is unconscionable even if the person who agreed to that unconscionable provision was represented by independent counsel.   

Is there a waiting period?

Yes, the party waiving spousal support needs to have seven days between the prenup is presented and signed and be advised to seek independent counsel.

How does a court decide what is unconscionable?

The court will look at the assets and earning power of each spouse and may determine that a waiver of spousal support is unconscionable if one spouse has significantly less than the other. Also, if the court determines that it would be unfair to enforce the waiver based on what the person would have received in spousal support if the prenup hadn’t been signed.

What other factors will be considered to invalidate the prenup?

The prenup cannot have been executed under duress, fraud or undue influence.

What are some other things to watch out for?

It is important for the spouse waiving the support to have actual or constructive knowledge of the assets and obligations of the other party or to voluntarily waive such knowledge.  Because of this, if the parties want an enforceable prenup, both need to be full and accurate in their disclosure of assets and debts and should not attempt to lie or trick the other person

If you are looking for a local, Dixon attorney to assist with a divorce or family case, please give us a call.

 

Prenuptial Agreements in California Part 1:  Cans/Cant’s

Prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements in California are governed by California’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.  This an agreement made by a couple prior to marriage that will automatically be effective upon marriage. This article will examine what can be accomplished and what is unenforceable in a premarital agreement.

 

Can I punish my spouse financially if he/she cheats?

 

Some couples may want to include a financial punishment for the other spouse who cheats, and this is commonly referred to as an infidelity clause.  California is a no-fault divorce state, so “fault” such as infidelity will not be a relevant consideration to a California court. As such, California courts will not enforce a financial punishment against a spouse for cheating.  

 

Can we negotiate child support or child custody in the prenup?

 

No, a court is going to look at the best interest of the child standard for child support and custody, and visitation rights so a premarital agreement will not be binding with respect to those issues.  

 

What are some topics where a prenup can be helpful?

 

  • Each spouse’s rights to property.  
  • The right to manage or control property, such as buying, selling, using, etc.
  • What is going to happen to property in the event of death, divorce, etc.
  • Spousal support in the event of divorce (special rules apply)

 

Is there an alternative to a prenup?

An irrevocable trust is an estate planning mechanism that can be used to protect property.  A revocable trust permits the grantor to place the assets under the control of a trustee, then who administers the assets for the benefit of beneficiaries named by the grantor.

Unfortunately, an irrevocable trust has a number of disadvantages, so it may not be the right mechanism for you.  The grantor loses ownership of the trust property, so you generally won’t be allowed to change your mind and take the property back.  Additionally, there are taxation issues involved with an irrevocable trust that may not be advantageous. Consult with a Vallejo attorney to see whether an irrevocable trust is right for you.

 

How is a prenup changed?

After marriage, a premarital agreement can be changed only by a written agreement signed by both the parties, so consider carefully the terms you are including.

 

 

3 Important Tips on How to Divide Your Assets in Divorce

Your attorney can help you with a plan for dividing property and debt, but here are three important steps to help you on the path to a successful division of assets and debts:

  1. Write down all property and all debts.

Making a list is the first step of dividing everything fairly. Here’s a list to get you started thinking through your own finances:

  • Real property – your home, land, investment properties
  • Other property – Furniture, jewelry, cash, technology, automobiles, recreational vehicles
  • Wage earnings
  • Investments – stocks in an individual account, Roth IRA, 401K
  • Health Saving Accounts
  • Pensions
  • Mortgage
  • Student Loans
  • Credit Card Debt
  • Automobile Loan
  • Loans from family members
  1. Label each as community property or separate property
  • Community property – assets, income, or debts earned or acquired during the marriage.
  • Separate property – property owned before the marriage, property inherited or gifted to one part during the marriage, money from the rent or sale of a separate property, money earned while legally or physically separated from the spouse, and items given from one spouse to the other with the intention of designating it as separate property.
  • Common question: What do we do with an asset that can’t be divided physically? For example, do we have to sell the house in order to divide the money?  The answer is that each spouse has to get assets equivalent in value, so in lieu of selling the house, one spouse may keep the house and the other would get the value of half of that asset.
  1. Place a value on each asset and debt.

In preparing for a divorce, it may be helpful to see if you and your spouse have the same estimation of the value of assets and debts or if there is a large disparity. For your list, make an estimate of the value of each item.

  • Be aware that some items may have more value than you realize. For example, a pension plan can be very valuable and special rules apply to pension plans. In this situation, consulting with an attorney on the value and division of the pension plan can be important.