Articles Posted in Divorce

Published on:

contested divorce californiaThings can get complicated in a contested divorce. If you are ready to seek a divorce from your spouse or domestic partner, and anticipate their reluctance to proceed quickly and fairly through the divorce process, you may be headed for a thorny experience. Things can get sticky in these situations, requiring the help of a local Santa Rosa divorce attorney.

Putting Together the Initial Divorce Petition

As you and your attorney draft the divorce petition, you will go over relevant documents to make decisions relating to the division of marital assets and debt, issues related to child custody, child support, and spousal support. For example, if minor children are involved a form FL-105 (UCCJEA) must be filed, but those are items your attorney will take care of in addition to providing guidance as to the legal expectations of a fair settlement.

If You can Not Locate Your Spouse/Domestic Partner

In the event you do not know where your spouse/partner is, you will be forced to go through a process to notify them of your plans. A notice must be posted in local newspapers for several months before you can proceed any further.

The Papers Have Been Served, but are Contested

Your spouse or domestic partner has the legal right to challenge the request. If your spouse or partner agrees to parts of the document, but not others, they can simply write up their position, clearly stating what they support and what they contest. The Response form must be returned within  30 days of getting the Petition. From here, there are a couple of options:

  • Seek mediation as a way to come to an equitable agreement that both parties can accept;
  • Proceed to court and let a judge decide.

Contested Divorce and The Discovery Process

During the discovery process, both parties may request documentation and details related to assets, debt, income, and any other pertinent information. This may occur through depositions, written interrogatories, or requests for documents. There will be deadlines to respond to these requests, and, if there is foot dragging and/or deadlines are missed, your attorney can help to move things along. Meanwhile, the court may order temporary child support and/or spousal support until the divorce is finalized.

The Trial

Both sides will be able to call character witnesses or other experts, and will be allowed to cross-examine opposing witnesses. Both parties may restate their case in a closing argument.  At that point, it is all in the hands of the judge. Continue reading →

Published on:

divorce papersIf you have been thinking about leaving your spouse, one of the very first things that needs to happen is that your spouse must be served with divorce papers indicating your legal intent to divorce. These documents must be served within a specific time requirement of action in order to give the respondent adequate time to make a response, if so desired. What does this mean, and how long does it take? These, and all of your divorce questions, can be answered by an experienced family law attorney.

Divorce Papers – What Documents are Served?

There are three documents that will be served:

  • A family law summons;
  • The actual petition for divorce;
  • A response form.

Who Serves the Divorce Papers?

While many individuals rely on a professional process server to serve the divorce papers or the county sheriff to serve a summons, the law requires only that the server be 18 years of age or older and not be a party to the divorce action. That means friends, co-workers, and adult family members could all serve the divorce papers to your spouse.

How are Divorce Papers Served?

These documents may be served in one of several ways.  The most common means are outlined below:

Personal service:

When a server hand-delivers the divorce papers to a respondent, it can take place in any location including the respondent’s home, place of work, in a restaurant, or simply on a street corner. A server may schedule delivery of the papers, or may simply serve divorce papers spring them on an unsuspecting individual. As soon as the divorce papers are received, they are officially considered to have been served. For this reason, personal service is widely viewed as the best choice in serving process, since receipt is easily confirmed by the server.

Mail service:

A server may send the documents to a respondent’s home, P.O. Box, or work address. In this case, the server must document the service with a proof of service form indicating when and to whom the papers were mailed, and the location from which they were mailed. This proof will be provided to the petitioner, who then must file it with the court. The respondent is considered to have been served five days after the documents have been mailed.

Service by Publication

In some situations, a spouse may not be able to be easily located. Then the court may allow for an ex parte application of the order.  In this case, the summons must be published weekly for four consecutive weeks in an approved newspaper. In this instance, the service is complete after 28 days. Continue reading →

Published on:

Financial Impact of DivorceThe emotional and logistical implications of divorce are unquestionably hefty issues of concern whenever a couple parts ways. Equally stressful can be the financial impact of divorce. Knowing the financial facts and understanding financial obligations is central to a fair negotiation in divorce court. Sharing the facts with an experienced Santa Rosa divorce attorney can ensure a minimum of disruption to your fiscal situation.

Property and Debt – Financial Impact of Divorce

California is a community property state. That means that anything, including property, assets, and debts, that has been acquired over the course of the marriage is jointly owned, and must be equally divided in the course of a divorce. Excepted from the equal split are those things obtained prior to the marriage, after a permanent separation, or through inheritance or gift.  Determining the characterization of property or debt during a divorce depends on three factors:

  • Where did it originate?
  • Was the character of the item changed in any way by either of the divorcing parties?
  • Are any applicable statutory presumptions applicable?

When it comes to debt, it is critical that you are aware of all debt that has been incurred over the course of the marriage. Ordering a credit report is a good way to see exactly what is owed and to whom. Financial advisors recommend trying to pay off any existing debt, if possible, and to refrain from growing the debt. Canceling credit cards is not a bad idea.

When deliberating as to the property and debt sharing, one partner may agree to take on a bill in exchange for a greater share of the assets.

Financial Impact of Divorce – Tax Deliberations

Taxes can add or reduce your net worth by thousands of dollars, so it is important to weigh the options carefully. Issues to consider include:

  • Dependent exemptions for minor children;
  • Head of Household claims;
  • Deductions for attorney’s fees;
  • Rules for deducting maintenance payments;
  • Rules regarding child-support.

Retirement Savings – Financial Impact of Divorce

Generally speaking, retirement plans are to be shared by both spouses. It is important to familiarize yourself with penalties for early withdrawal. Beyond that, your financial comfort in later years may be at risk if continuing contributions are not made. Putting together a plan for your silver years is as important as the asset division at the time of the divorce. Continue reading →

Published on:

california divorceMost people cannot imagine that the joy and expectation they experience on their wedding day will one day turn into a dismal California divorce proceedings. Nevertheless, 50% of marriages nationwide, and 60% of marriages in California wind up in divorce court. If you find yourself looking at divorce, a local attorney can help you through the process. Meanwhile, you probably have all kinds of questions swirling around in your head:

What are the Differences Between Legal Separation and Divorce?

Legal separation is an option sometimes chosen for couples who have certain key concerns about divorce, such as

  • Religious objections to divorce;
  • Concerns about obtaining health insurance coverage in the event of a divorce.

A legal separation allows couples to address issues relating to the division of assets and debt, child custody, support, and visitation, and so forth, but does not officially terminate the marriage.

What Grounds for California Divorce are Allowed?

California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that grounds for divorce are generally irreconcilable differences.

California Divorce Residency Requirements

In order to get a California divorce, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for six months and a resident of the county in which your are filing for three months prior to filing.

How can I Protect Myself From Financial Ruin at the Hands of an Angry Spouse?

The court expects parties in a divorce to manage financial matters and property considerations properly. When divorce proceedings are initiated, the court will issue ATROs, which are legal prohibitions on certain activities related to financial and parenting matters. Included in the list of banned activities are the following:

  • Removing minor children from the state without written permission from the other parent or obtaining a court order;
  • Altering insurance provisions, including cancelling policies, cashing in policies, borrowing against policies, or changing beneficiaries;
  • Selling or transferring assets or using shared assets to secure a loan;
  • Concealing assets from the court.

What About My Inheritance?  Is My Spouse Entitled to a Share?

Generally speaking, gifts and inheritance are considered separate property, just like property obtained prior to the marriage. The exception, of course, would be when the inheritance was directed to both parties, or when prior understandings have been drafted that put the inheritance into question.

How Long Will a California Divorce Take?

As soon as the California divorce petition is served, the time clock begins. You can count on an uncontested divorce taking six months and one day from that point. Even though the divorce may not be finalized before this timeframe, the legal proceedings may be concluded much sooner. However, in the case of a contested divorce, the battle may proceed for months or even years beyond the mandatory six months. Continue reading →

Published on:

divorce ratesThere are many studies examining the factors impacting divorce rates. Researchers can tell you, for example, that you age at the time of marriage, location, and even your parents’ marriage can all impact your chances of divorce. They can tell you that couples with lower incomes have higher divorce rates than those with more money. So, how do those facts relate to education levels and specific professions? Not surprisingly, jobs that require no education beyond a high school diploma correlate to more than double the divorce rate as jobs that require at least a four-year degree. So which jobs are connected to the highest and lowest divorce rates?

High Divorce Rates

The profession linked to the highest divorce rate is gaming managers, with a rate of nearly 53%, closely followed by bartenders and flight attendants. Other occupations in the top 10 include employees in the gaming field, machine workers, switchboard operators, telemarketers, and textile workers. The median salary for most of these occupations is right around $35,000. Let’s contrast that with the median income of professions least likely to experience divorce.

Low Divorce Rates

The profession with the lowest divorce rate is actuaries. They divorce at a rate of just 17%.  Divorcing at a rate of nearly 19 % are scientists, followed by clergy at nearly 20%. Included on the list of professions with the lowest divorce rates are software developers, physical therapists, optometrists, chemical engineers, and doctors, who wrap up the top-10 most marriage-friendly professions with a divorce rate of 21.8%. The median income for these professions is $75,000.

What Does it Mean?

What conclusions can be drawn from this information? Should singles who hope to marry avoid bartenders and aim instead for insurance actuaries? Surely your chosen profession cannot be a direct cause for divorce, can it? Researchers are quick to point out that while a correlation between particular occupations and divorce rates is unquestionable, there is absolutely no research proving that a given profession causes divorce. Interestingly, the nature of the occupation seems to be less of a factor than the actual income associated with it.

Other Divorce Rates Factors of Note

Another fact that stood out in the research links job instability to divorce. When workers face lay-offs, or shrinking opportunity, it can lead to increased credit card debt, higher health care costs, and all of the associated stresses of financial insecurity. The compounding emotional costs can be onerous. Continue reading →

Published on:

infidelityThe infidelity statistics in this country are astounding. If you are married to someone who does not know the meaning of fidelity, you are not alone. If you are married to a serial cheater, you have probably considered divorce. Should you get to the point that the relationship is just not worth it anymore, an experienced divorce attorney can help.

Infidelity by the Numbers

More people surveyed reported infidelity than many of us would imagine. Consider the 2017 statistics:

  • One or both partners report to infidelity in over 30% of marriages;
  • Nearly ¼ of men admit to infidelity;
  • Women confess to cheating at a rate of 14%;
  • More than one-third of cheaters say the affair was with someone at work;
  • Almost one-fifth of cheaters say it happened with an in-law;
  • Over one-third of cheating occurs on business trips;
  • One in 10 affairs start with an online experience;
  • Women report revenge as a motive for affairs 14% of the time.
  • After cheating once, cheaters are 350% more likely to indulge again than those who have never cheated;
  • Affairs most often occur two years into a marriage.

How to Get Out of the Marriage

Experts have several suggestions as to how to proceed once you have made up your mind to leave your cheating spouse. Consider the following:

  • Make a confidential appointment with a divorce attorney, and keep it to yourself. If your spouse suspects that you are considering divorce, it may prompt some scurrying to hide evidence of the affair or of assets. Keep your plans close to the vest.
  • Do not fool yourself into believing your spouse will be fair and rational in this process. Protect yourself, your assets, your children, and everything else. Assume the worst. It will will be much better to be pleasantly surprised than to be devastatingly betrayed.
  • Move your half of any liquid assets into your own private account. California is a community property state, meaning that you are entitled to your half. Cheaters generally have secret money hidden somewhere, so do some sleuthing or hire someone to do it for you.
  • Do not allow yourself to be manipulated. If you have decided to split, you have some good reasons, right? There is no point in complaining about how hurt you are and giving your spouse the chance to make promises that will not be kept. Your spouse does not care about you, clearly.  Do not present any opportunities for your soon-to-be ex to exploit any feelings you may have.
  • Believe in yourself and stay focused on getting the life you deserve. You did not come to this decision easily, did you? Things will be tough, but never forget that you deserve a satisfying life. Fight for it.

Continue reading →

Published on:

divorce courtNobody loves divorce court, despite the fact that roughly half of couples will spend some time there. If you are on your way to see the judge, you may not know what to expect or how to prepare for the big day. Your divorce attorney can give you an idea of the physical structure of the room and the basics of what to anticipate. Here are some other things to keep in mind.

Promptness Counts in Divorce Court

It should go without saying, but by all means, be on time to court. In fact, be early.  If you are late or do not show up at all, it gives the court a bad impression. Beyond that, you are giving your ex the opportunity to put his or her version of things into the court record without any opportunity to refute it. This is a big day: Be on time.

What to Say in Divorce Court

You will be asked questions. When that happens, answer them with as little fanfare as possible.  Stick to the facts directly related to the actual question, not the back-story or related events. You do not want to waste the judge’s time and wear his or her patience. Whatever you do, do not speak out of turn or interrupt. Treat everyone in the room, including your ex, with respect.  Listen carefully, and provide considered responses.

What Not to Say in Divorce Court

It should be obvious, but bears pointing out: Do not use expletives or colorful language that is offensive. Avoid any displays of agitation or skepticism, from eye rolling to facial expressions revealing disgust. No pounding the table, gasps, sighs, or headshakes. You want to maintain a respectful demeanor from beginning to end.

What to Wear to Divorce Court

When you are headed to court to end your marriage, you will not have control of the proceedings or what your soon-to-be ex has to say. What you will have control of  is yourself. So, putting some thought into what to wear and the image you wish to present is worth considering.  Choosing precisely the right attire for court can be tricky. Here are some basic tips to consider while eyeing your own wardrobe:

  • Whatever your station in life, pull yourself together into a neat, clean package. Demonstrate self-respect, organization, and stability.
  • Choose classic, yet elegant styles. It demonstrates that you are used to quality and that you are upstanding and respectable.
  • Avoid anything that is ostentatious or suggestive. You do not want to look like a gold-digger.

Here is is how a few celebrities addressed the issue of what to wear in court:

  • In her divorce from Matthew Mellon, Tamara Mellon chose a grey pencil skirt and cardigan to project a look of confidence and control.
  • Nigella Lawson, in her divorce from Charles Saatchi, showed up to court in a black tailored suit, demonstrating that she was well put together and self-assured.
  • Natasha Ramlogan always wore modest black dresses and heels for court appearances, creating a look of simple feminine elegance.

Continue reading →

Published on:

spousal support for menSpousal support for men. Courts often award spousal support to lesser earning spouses following a divorce. While nearly half a million people in this country receive this maintenance support, only 3% of recipients are male. Why is that?

Why is Spousal Support for Men so Rare?

It seems crazy that such a small percentage of men receive spousal support when roughly 40% of females are the primary breadwinners in American homes. Family law attorneys speculate on key reasons for this imbalance:

  • Men consider it emasculating to require support, so they do not ask for it;
  • Men sometimes want a clean break with no attachments;
  • Some men wish to keep the peace to make co-parenting smoother;
  • Women fight bitterly to keep their hands on their earnings;
  • Judges in parts of the country have a difficult time accepting gender equality.

One San Francisco Bay area legal mind agrees, saying he encounters stereotypes regarding gender roles all the time. A recent divorcee compared palimony to hitting a girl – something no self-respecting man would ever do.

Are Gender Roles Shifting?

As much as gender roles have shifted in modern times, many men find the idea of receiving an allowance from their former spouse humiliating, and they are just not inclined to go through the battle to get it. Meanwhile, women’s attitudes toward paying their ex-husbands reinforce the idea that any man who can not support himself is a real loser. Forget the fact that stay-at-home dads gave up careers and educational opportunities while they ran the kids to soccer games and piano lessons for years. As enlightened as couples might have been when they made those parenting agreements earlier on, suddenly the old stereotypes crop up again when it comes to palimony.  

So, when higher-earning men face divorce, they go into it accepting the fact that alimony may likely be a part of the package. Higher earning women are much less inclined to be willing to let go of their earnings without a fight.

Spousal Support for Men Justified?

Regardless of gender, there are cases in which spousal support is clearly justified. Both partners presumably brought some level of value to the partnership, often at great financial cost to one person. Support is the logical outcome after a divorce.

Spousal Support for Men – California Law

In California, the court has many factors to consider when awarding spousal support, but gender is not one of them. More relevant to maintenance payments are the following issues:

  • Earning capacity of both parties;
  • Education and marketable skills of each party;
  • Earning levels of one party that were diminished due to domestic responsibilities;
  • The degree to which one party supported another in obtaining education or career opportunities;
  • Financial needs required to maintain the standard of living to which the couple has become accustomed;
  • Length of marriage;
  • Ability to pursue gainful employment in light of childcare responsibilities;
  • Age of each person;
  • Health of each party.

Continue reading →

Published on:

divorce attorneyIs there a divorce attorney in your future? If so, there is no doubt a number of emotions swirling through you right now. Whether you are initiating the proceedings or you are reacting to the demands of your spouse who’s hired a divorce attorney , the coming months will hold many challenges. Now, more than ever, it is essential that you keep a clear head and proceed with decorum and grace. And certainly, find a divorce attorney who connects with you.

Hiring a Divorce Attorney – Think Before You Act

Yes, you’re upset. Sure, you have valid reasons for feeling that way. Keep the end goal in mind as you maneuver through the coming days, weeks, and months. Ultimately, you want to get through this unscathed and emotionally healthy, so avoid some of the common pitfalls that befall vulnerable individuals facing stressful situations:

  • Avoid name-calling and derogatory remarks, particularly if you have children. Chances are that type of behavior will come back to bite you.
  • Be sensible with your social media accounts. Do not post nasty messages about your ex, ridiculous partying pics, or threats to “get even.”
  • Do not move out if you want custody of the kids. It could diminish your chances.
  • Do not rack up a bunch of debt on credit cards just to stick it to your ex. Judges see through that kind of childish behavior.
  • Start cataloging your possessions. California is a community property state. Anything accumulated during the course of the marriage will be evenly split.
  • Document concerns if you want to fight for custody. It could be a tough battle.
  • Be prepared for claims against you by being totally open with your attorney.
  • Make sure items of personal value to you are safe. You do not want an angry spouse destroying your heirlooms in an effort to get under your skin. By the same token, do not be a knucklehead yourself. Preserve items that are particularly meaningful to your spouse.
  • Make copies of important documents, account numbers, and tax information.
  • Focus on moving forward, not on injuring your ex;

After the Divorce

You might feel empty, bludgeoned, or angry after it is all over. Follow these tips to get emotionally and physically healthy after a divorce:

  • Give yourself time to mourn. You have lost something and it is ok to feel bad.
  • Work through emotions before you start a new relationship.
  • Focus on your own good qualities. You have a lot to offer.
  • Figure out what you like to do for fun, and do it.
  • Shake it up. Get out of old routines and create new ones.
  • Explore your town as a single person. Being alone does not have to mean being lonely.
  • Move forward. Your life is different, and so are you. Embrace it with gusto.

Continue reading →

Published on:

same-sex divorceSame-sex divorce. The convoluted history of same-sex marriage in California involves years of legal battles, which ultimately gave same-sex couples the definitive right to marriage. It follows, then, that same-sex divorce has become a part of the California legal scene. That being said, are divorces among same-sex couples more complicated than those between traditional couples? In some instances, the intricacies of the problem can, indeed, seem overwhelming. That is when a local divorce attorney can be a great asset.

Requirements for Every Divorce

When anyone wishes to dissolve a marriage in California, there are some basic requirements, regardless of the specifics of the case. For example, residency requirements must be met. Those requirements include:

  • At least one person must have lived in California for a minimum of six months prior to filing;
  • At least one of the spouses must have resided in the same county for three months or more prior to filing.

What if neither partner is a resident? They can simply file for a legal separation, and amend that when residency is established. If there are no children or significant assets involved, some couples may qualify for a summary dissolution.

Beyond residency, in most divorces there is some amount of wrangling over child custody, visitation, and support; asset and debt division; and payment costs associated with the divorce itself. These issues can be more complex for same-sex couples.

Same-Sex Divorce and Child Custody

Frequently, children in same-sex unions are connected biologically to only one parent. When the court is asked to make decisions related to custody and visitation, that biological information must be considered, along with caregiver roles and other issues related to the best interests of the child.

Same-Sex Divorce and Asset Division

When a couple divorces, assets accumulated during the course of the marriage are equally divided. In the case of same-sex couples, marriage has only been a legal option for a limited time period. What if they have been together for years prior to getting married? Should asset division include items accrued during those years? Arguably, because marriage was prohibited during those years, they worked as a couple to build a life together.

Same-Sex Divorce for Out of State Couples

Many same-sex couples who were married in California may now live elsewhere. If they live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage and will not dissolve one, individuals may still dissolve the marriage by filing in the California County in which the marriage occurred.  However, if neither partner resides in California, there may be jurisdiction issues when it comes to deciding issues related to property division, assets and debts, and children. Continue reading →

Contact Information