Category Archives: Divorce

Property Division: Annulment vs Divorce

property division annulment vs divorce

California is considered a community property state, which means all properties and assets acquired after the marriage takes place are considered evenly shared between both parties. When the marriage is dissolved (referred to as a divorce or dissolution of marriage) those properties/assets are divided jointly.

Annulments are very different than a divorce. When a marriage is annulled, it is as if that marriage never took place at all. Once the annulment goes through, there is no legal record of the marriage, and neither party is beholden to any of the laws pertaining to a legal marriage or divorce. For the most part, properties, assets, financial holdings gained individually during the marriage, etc., return back to their pre-marital status.

We recommend reading our post, Annulment of Marriage, to learn more about the ins-and-outs of marriage vs. annulment. You may find that your marriage does not qualify for an annulment, in which case you’ll need to pursue a divorce, and property and assets may be divided after all.

The Basics When It Comes To Property Division

How Annulment Differs from Divorce (or a Dissolution of Marriage)

First and foremost, it’s important to know that annulment isn’t an option for all. The courts only grant an annulment if, there is evidence of fraud that led or induced an individual to get married in the first place:

  • Bigamy (one or the other is already legally married to someone else)
  • Incest (the individuals are too closely related by blood in accordance with the state’s laws)
  • One or both of the parties were married by force
  • There is a physical incapacity to consummate the marriage
  • One or both of the individuals are 17 years old or younger
  • One or both of the individuals are of unsound mind
  • Someone was intoxicated at the time
  • Domestic violence and/or substance abuse is discovered within 6 months of the marriage date

If you feel your marriage qualifies for annulment, we recommend consulting with an experienced divorce attorney in your area to make sure before moving forward.

Property Division in an Annulment

Assuming your marriage qualifies for an annulment, your assets, retirement plans, properties, etc., you held before you were married automatically return to their original owner/holder. Because most annulments take place within a relatively short time after the marriage, it is relatively easy for the divorce to facilitate their division between both parties.

If, however, you have been married for some time, and have acquired assets or properties together while you were married, things become more difficult. In this case, an experienced divorce attorney is your greatest asset when determining what belongs to who.

Also, the longer a marriage has gone on prior to an annulment, the more likely a court may order temporary alimony if one spouse was dependent on the other for income or financial support. Similarly, the court may order temporary child support for “step-children” to eliminate any chance that innocent parties are negatively impacted by the loss of financial stability. Even so, these orders are typically only temporary, granted for the length of time the court feels is required for the individual to get back on his/her feet and begin earning an income again.

Because the division of jointly held properties, financial assets, a jointly held business, and other assets is so complicated, it is generally recommended that both parties hire an attorney if there is any disagreement about property division.

Child Custody Issues are Handled Separately

If any children were conceived by you and your spouse, or your recently annulled marriage, your state’s child custody laws will dictate how legal and physical custody, visitation, and child support payments are handled. Whether or not your marriage was annulled will have zero effect on how child custody is handled because the law protects a child’s well being above all else.

If there is a question pertaining to the paternity of your child(ren), we recommend visiting our post, What You Need to Know About Paternity Law in California.

Have You Considered Mediation to Settle Your Annulment?

Have you considered mediation, rather than court-based annulment proceedings? Mediation via a professional law professional is a cost-effective – not to mention an emotion-effective – way to settle an annulment.

Mediation can save you thousands of dollars and can prevent things from becoming emotionally ugly. A mediator will explain the law surrounding asset and property distribution during annulment vs. divorce and can offer input as to how the court is most likely to decide things if you pursue your case in court. Mediators are completely neutral parties, which help to de-escalate high tension and emotions.

We’re Here For You

The compassionate team here in the Law Offices of Jerald A. Falzone is here to answer questions pertaining to property divisions in both annulments and divorce. We can serve as mediators or can represent you in court when you need strong and effective support. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.

Am I Entitled To My Spouse’s Business In A Divorce?

am i entitled to my spouses business in a divorce

California is considered a community property state, and a privately owned business is part of that property’s assets. If your spouse owns his/her own business – it may be considered part of the community property, or not, depending on the situation.

If you’re pursuing a divorce and your spouse owns a business, we highly recommend you consult with an experienced family law attorney, rather than relying on blogs or online sources for your answers. Every business is unique, and complex factors affect what – if any – share of the business you have an interest in, as well as whether or not your share of the business is worth fighting for.

Here are some general considerations for anyone facing a divorce where a spouse’s business is in the picture:

When did your spouse establish the business?

If the business was owned by your spouse prior to your marriage, you may not be entitled to an entire 50% interest. It may be that the court determines the entire business – or a larger portion of it – belongs to your spouse.

What funds were used to establish the business?

If the funds came from the two of you, that’s one thing – community property. However, if the initial funds came from elsewhere, or was money your spouse already had in savings before you were married (not considered community assets), then you may be entitled to less than you think when all of the financial analysis is complete.

Is there are prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place?

If you and your spouse drafted a prenuptial agreement to protect his/her business in the case of a divorce, you may not be entitled to any of it. However, these agreements are often contested during a divorce, especially if:

  • You weren’t represented by your own lawyer
  • You’ve determined your spouse hid assets or business interests from you when the agreement was drafted
  • The agreement was drafted the week or night before you were married, rather than in a more methodical, timely fashion
  • Your lawyer finds clear loopholes that slipped by the original lawyers

So, while the prenuptial agreement (prenup) may prevent the business – or a particular share of it – from ever becoming yours, it may also be that the loopholes or shortcomings of the prenup work in your favor.

Did the business’s equity or profitability grow during your marriage?

Even if your spouse protected his/her share in the business before you were married, any increase in the business’s overall value over the course of your marriage is considered community property. Therefore, you are entitled to 50% of that appreciation.

Did your spouse take a salary, or did s/he roll profit back into the business?

If you didn’t benefit financially from the business via your spouse’s competitive salary, because s/he rolled any extra funds back into the business, you may be entitled to more than half of the business since 50% of re-invested funds were actually yours.

How involved were you in the business?

The more involved you were in the business – helping to set it up, participating in decision making, working there, etc., the more shares of the business you may be entitled to.

What is the business’s professionally assessed value?

While the questions listed above can paint a better picture as to whether you’re entitled to your spouse’s business in a divorce, there are additional considerations as well. One of these is the business’s value – and that is assessed professionally. Forensic accountants perform this type of work – assessing the business’s debt to asset ratio.

If your spouse’s business still has considerable debt, that decreases it’s overall “value,” and you may determine you are just fine with allowing him/her to keep the business.

Is your spouse willing to relinquish his/her share of other assets?

If it’s the financial portion of the business’s value that matters most to you, and you aren’t interested in the business itself – there are other ways to divvy up the assets. Sometimes, a business owner is willing to give up his/her share of other shared assets (the house, car(s), retirement account(s), other property, etc.), in which case you can forgo your share of the business and recoup the value by retaining a greater share of other joint assets.

If you’re on the same page about most of the divorce decisions, but things are getting sticky around the business, we recommend meeting with a mediator to see if you can come to a mutual decision without having to go to the more costly, time- and energy-consuming court process.

There Are 3 Ways Private Businesses Are Handled During Divorce

If the court determines that you are entitled to any portion of your spouse’s business, there are three ways to handle it:

1. You become business partners

Often the least desirable outcome, we have also seen cases where ex-spouses become business partners, and the business remains as is with both spouses at the helm. Obviously, this is not the best solution for most couples, particularly if you weren’t emotionally or professionally involved in the business and have your own work and/or source of income.

2. Your partner sells the business

Depending on the situation, you may determine that selling the business is the best solution – particularly if one or the other of you is unable to buy the business from the other spouse, or your spouse is unwilling to grant more of your other shared assets to you, selling the business and splitting the proceeds might be the best way. Keep in mind that this can significantly slow down divorce proceedings if the business doesn’t sell as soon as you’d like.

3. One of you buys the other one out

Once the business’s value is determined, one of you buys the other one out at 50% of the value. This can be a no-brainer solution if you aren’t interested in the business, and your spouse has the means to buy it via cash or a third-party loan.

Again, your best bet is to hire a lawyer to review your options before making any final decisions about whether you are or are not interested in a share of your spouse’s business.

We’re Here To Help You

My name is Gerald Falzone and I am an experienced Bay Area family law specialist. My goal is to help my clients navigate their divorce proceedings without unnecessary angst, animosity, or drama. Contact my office to schedule a consultation. (510) 521-9500.

The Risks & Consequences Of Hiding Assets In A Divorce

the risks consequences of hiding assets in a divorce

Even the most amicable divorces can tempt you to protect yourself financially, and this protection may come in the guise of hiding or diminishing certain assets to retain them for yourself. While understandably tempting, especially if you feel your ex-spouse will make out better than you, in the end, hiding assets in a divorce is illegal and puts you at risk for serious penalties.

If you’re thinking about getting divorced, be prepared to be 100% transparent about all of your personal assets and joint assets acquired since the day you were married. Instead of viewing it through the lens of “how can I get more,” or, “how can I make sure s/he gets less,” consider your assets already legally divided by the state, 50/50, and then list them as thoroughly and accurately as possible.

Hiding Assets Is A Big No-No

Here’s a quick and concise rundown of why you shouldn’t hide assets during your divorce. If you think it’s no big deal, think again. It is.

Hiding assets in a divorce is illegal

There is no state where hiding assets is legal during a divorce. Because California is a community property state, there are very few assets that are not split unless they were yours before you were married or you have a prenuptial agreement in place.

Examples of joint or shared assets include:

  • Properties, including rental properties
  • Vehicles acquired during the marriage (or that were paid off using joint funds after the marriage)
  • Income
  • Financial accounts of all types, including investments, retirement savings, and pensions
  • Any acquisitions worth money that was purchased during the marriage (including jewelry or gifts to one another)

There are exceptions to the community property rule. Examples of those include:

  • Properties or vehicles owned prior to the marriage
  • Possessions of value owned prior to the marriage
  • Family inheritances, even if they were bequeathed during the marriage
  • Student loans (those debts travel with the person who took the loan)

Your divorce lawyer will help you determine which assets/debts are held jointly, and which will be retained.

Be 100% transparent with assets and debts

As noted above, the state already considers your jointly-held assets as divided – 50% to you, and 50% to your spouse, once your communal debts have been paid. In the state of California, these assets are listed in two, separate legal forms.

The first form is FL100, which sets up the dissolution of your marriage and asks for a list of properties and assets (including debts) held both individually and jointly. If that form does not allow enough space, you’ll continue on form FL160, specifically designed to declare properties. The detailed forms required for a divorce are complicated and daunting, one of the primary reasons it’s best to work with a legal professional during the process, such as a paralegal, a mediator or a divorce lawyer.

You’ll provide detailed account information, including the name of the account holder (even if it’s one or the other of you), the date the account was opened (or the property was acquired), its value, etc. If any of this information is incorrect, or assets are left out, it’s viewed as an attempt to hide assets, and that comes with a steep penalty.

Once the terms of the divorce are established, assets are distributed by the judge. This distribution happens in completely equal shares, excluding assets that were family inheritances or that were owned/acquired prior to the marriage. If any assets are sold (such as a house, vehicle or toy), the amount leftover after debts are paid off is split evenly between both parties.

Penalty for hiding assets during your divorce

If you or your spouse hide or devalue assets, it will be discovered – either by your lawyer or by your ex-spouse’s lawyer. If something slides past the technological radar, and you make it into court with incorrect documentation, failure to disclose assets and their values can result in legal charges – such as perjury and being in contempt of court.

It also makes judges very unhappy. Since your judge can make virtually any decision s/he wants within the boundaries of California divorce law, your dishonesty or hiding of assets will result in punitive damages. That could involve jail time in extreme cases – especially where the asset hiding was a ploy to reduce child support payments.

You may wind up having to pay your ex-spouses legal fees/charges, and it’s almost certain your ex-spouse will benefit from your dishonesty. Often, this means a larger portion of the assets (or the entire value of hidden assets) being granted to the ex-spouse.

Let Us Help You

Your divorce lawyer will help you remain in your own integrity, ethical and legally sound self as you move through your divorce, so you aren’t tempted. Contact The Law Offices of Gerald Falzone to schedule a free telephone consultation when you need sound advice about divorce or mediation proceedings. We’re here to help you get through it as gracefully and stress-free as possible.

The Effects Of Divorce On Work Performance

the effects of divorce on work performance

When most individuals consider the negative ramifications of a divorce, they think about the effects of a broken home and the impact divorce will have on their children and family. Thus, it can come as a shock when the divorce process insidiously interferes with other aspects of their life, such as work performance and earnings potential.

While your divorce may be unavoidable, we recommend reading, Keeping it Together at Work When Your Marriage is Falling Apart, for information on how to keep things as honest, clear and straightforward with your employer, co-workers, and yourself as your divorce moves forward.

The Financial Impact Of Divorce In The Workplace

The Harvard Business Review studied the various ways divorce impacts businesses and the employee workplace and found that divorces cost American businesses as much as $150 billion dollars on an annual basis.

This financial impact is unpleasant for employers, but it is even more devastating for those in the process of going through a divorce in terms of lost days at work and necessary time off for legal proceedings. Your divorce may also cost you more time off work to facilitate children’s sick days or to supplement their transportation to appointments and extracurricular events when it’s your turn to have custody.

Here are some surprising statistics about the financial impact of divorce in the workplace:

Divorce Affects Employee Productivity In Multiple Ways

There are multiple ways that divorce affects employee productivity, resulting in revenue losses for both the employee and the employer. Missed work is only one of the ways divorce impacts employees and the companies who employ them.

Additional financial losses stem from:

Lack of focus and reduced concentration

In terms of mental/emotional wellbeing, divorce is #2 on the list of the most significant life stressors, second only to the death of a spouse. As a result, the emotional impact it has in terms of both stress and grief results in the same outcome – one of which is a lack of focus and reduced concentration.

Tasks take longer to complete, or they may have to be completed by co-workers, managers, and/or higher-paid personnel. Forgetfulness may also result in missed meetings, forgetting to return important calls and other absent-minded mistakes that take a toll on professional relationships or your company’s reputation.

Increased errors and accidents

Not only do increased errors and accidents result in errors or accidents that are a nuisance to the workplace, divorce-related errors and accidents can also lead to costly litigation. In worst-case scenarios, an absent-minded error or accident may harm someone else or result in a work-related fatality.

If the stress of your divorce is causing you to make errors that you wouldn’t normally – it’s a sign that you need better support. Consider joining a support group or enlisting the help of a family therapist who can help you navigate the windy road ahead with a better sense of balance and wellbeing.

Distraction and poor decision-making

Similarly, those who are getting divorced are more likely to be distracted, which leads to poor or erroneous decision-making. In addition to errors or accidents, you may wind up with your first “write-ups” from HR, or you could lose your job if work productivity, absenteeism, or repeated mistakes jeopardize your employment.

An Amicable Divorce Is Your Best Bet

While it may seem like an impossibility, working towards an amicable and efficient divorce is the best way to minimize the effects of divorce on your work performance. Tips for an amicable or successful divorce include:

The simpler and streamlined your divorce process is, the less impact it will have on your work attendance and performance.

Is a DIY divorce taking its toll at your workplace? Contact us for friendly, professional, and expert legal advice.

5 Tips For Helping Children Cope With Divorce

5 tips for helping children cope with divorce

You may have heard that the divorce rate in the United States is about 50%.

Currently, the divorce rate hovers around 40 to 50%, though if you’re on your second or third marriage, the chance for divorce can be much higher.

No matter when you divorce, if you have kids with your partner, helping children cope with divorce can be difficult. Divorce itself can rock a child’s foundation and make them more susceptible to psychological issues in the future.

Children depend on their parents, but when they split up, they may be thrust into a world of independence. They may also feel their home life is no longer predictable or stable, two things that can shake children’s confidence and sense of self.

Additionally, many children may not be aware that divorce is permanent. Or, they may cling to the hope that one day the family will repair itself. While this does happen, this isn’t very likely.

Helping Children Cope With Divorce

As such, it is necessary that you and your ex-spouse work together to help your children through your separation and divorce.

Read on for more information and tips to help your children deal with their newfound reality.

Take Your Children To Therapy

If you’re able to afford it, take your children to therapy. This may even be a temporary thing.

It doesn’t matter what age your children are, taking them to therapy can be a healthy and productive way for them to process your divorce. There, they can vent their anger or frustrations to a third-party who will validate them and remain neutral.

If your child is very young, they can still benefit from therapy, especially if you take them to a psychologist who consistently sees young children. There are ways of helping young kids open up and process their emotions.

Reassure Them You Still Love Them

If your child suddenly sees one parent much less than they see the other, they may worry this is because the other parent no longer wishes to be in their life. They may also assume that one parent no longer loves them as much as they used to.

While you already know this isn’t true, a child may not be able to process this.

Discuss with your child that your separation has nothing to do with them or how much you or your ex love them. Reassure them that both of you love them the same as you always did, but that you will be living separately from now on.

Children should also know that this wasn’t their fault and there was nothing they could have done to prevent it from happening.

Set Up A Routine As Quickly As Possible

Children thrive on routines, and without one, they can feel lost or aimless.

With you and your ex living in the same house, they likely fell into a routine. You’ll have to create a new routine that will involve them seeing both you and your ex.

If your child is old enough, speak to them about what they would like for their routine to look like. While your child cannot make all the decisions themselves, you should take their input into account.

Establish a new routine so that your child knows what to look forward to and when.

Listen To Your Children

Encourage your kids to speak about their emotions. While you may assume the divorce mostly affects the two of you, remember that it will also affect your children, even if they don’t seem to show it.

Don’t tell them what will happen and then not allow them their own space to discuss it with you. While speaking to a third-party or therapist is very helpful, listening to them speak to you is also paramount.

You want your child to feel heard during this process, especially as it usually involves big changes for everyone in your immediate family.

Ask them how they feel about their parents splitting up, and let them know it is okay to not know how to feel or to even feel a little angry.

Some children may not express any emotions. They may do this to placate you and your ex. Even if your child says nothing about your divorce, do not think this is because it doesn’t affect them. It does, so allow them to show it.

Don’t Fight With Your Ex If You Can Help It

You and your ex divorced for a reason. You may hate them because of the things they’ve done in the marriage or find them insufferable, but unless you have concerns about them parenting or providing a safe place for your kids, they should still see your kids when they can.

As such, you should encourage them to have a relationship with your children, and that means being civil to one another. Try not to bad mouth them in front of your children or let your kids in on the intricacies of why you broke up.

When your kids are adults, they may become privy to some of these issues, but as long as they’re in your care, it isn’t their business. It shouldn’t color how they see your ex-spouse.

Need A Lawyer?

Helping children cope with divorce can be very difficult, especially if the divorce is also rough on you and your ex. But, if you make them a priority, your family will make it through to the other side.

Do you need a divorce lawyer with a strong experience in family law? Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’ll help you take care of the legal stuff while you focus on your family.

How To Tell Your Spouse “I Want A Divorce”

how to tell your spouse i want a divorce

Every year, more than 800,000 couples throughout the U.S. decide that they want to get a divorce.

Deciding to get a divorce is never easy, nor is it easy to tell your spouse that that’s what you want.

Have you been putting off having this conversation for weeks, months, or even years? It’s a hard conversation to have. The sooner you do it, though, the sooner you can move forward with your life.

If you’re ready to tell your spouse, “I want a divorce” but aren’t sure how to go about it, keep reading.

Listed below are some tips that can make the conversation a little easier.

Be Honest With Yourself

Before you sit down and tell your spouse that you want a divorce, it’s important to know that this is truly what you want.

Once you throw out the “D” word, your relationship to your spouse will change. Don’t say it unless you really mean it.

Knowing whether or not a divorce is right for you is tricky, to say the least.

Be brutally honest with yourself about your desire for a divorce. You may also need to enlist the help of a therapist or counselor to help you figure out whether you want to proceed or not.

Consider Your Spouse’s Current State

Think about your spouse and how they’re feeling at the moment.

Do they seem blissfully ignorant and unaware that you’re unhappy? Or, is it clear that they’re unhappy, too?

Knowing where your spouse stands can help you decide the best way to broach the subject of a divorce.

Choose The Right Time And Place

No matter what your spouse’s current state is, there is definitely such a thing as a good time and place to talk about your desire for a divorce.

Do not bring it up ten minutes before you have to leave for work or while you’re out grocery shopping. Plan ahead for the conversation.

It may seem impossible, but you should try to choose a time and place when your spouse will be most receptive to your comments.

At the very least, plan to discuss it when you both are least likely to be stressed and will have the time to talk things out.

Choose Your Words Carefully

There’s also a right and wrong way to tell your spouse that you want a divorce. 

No matter how fed up you are with the marriage, there’s no need to be cruel. Remember, too, that the words you use will have an effect on the way they react.

If you choose the right words and avoid placing blame on them for your problems, you’re more likely to have a productive conversation. This isn’t always the case, of course, but choosing the right words can definitely help.

Work with a counselor if necessary to figure out what you’re going to say beforehand.

Be Firm Yet Gentle

It’s not just about the words you say. It’s also about the way you say them. Make sure that your tone is firm, yet gentle.

Be clear about what you want. Don’t hedge or try and sugarcoat things. At the same time, though, there’s no need to be overly blunt or aggressive.

You may want to practice expressing your desire for a divorce before you sit down and have the conversation. That way, you can make sure you’re using an appropriate tone. 

Prepare For Their Reaction

In addition to preparing your remarks, you also need to prepare for your spouse’s reaction to those remarks.

Do you think they’ll take it well and agree with you and your concerns? Will they cry or get angry?

No one knows with total certainty how they’re going to handle those situations. It’s a good idea to consider several different possible reactions so you can be prepared no matter how your spouse responds.

Take Safety Precautions If Necessary

Is there a possibility your spouse will become violent when you tell them that you want a divorce? If so, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe.

Consider having the discussion in a public place where your spouse is less likely to make a scene.

If you prefer to talk in private, at least make sure that someone knows where you are and when you’re going to have the conversation. That way, they can come and check on you or be waiting on standby just in case. 

It might be a good idea to have your cell phone handy with 911 pre-dialed before you begin the conversation.

Don’t Discuss The Details Yet

Immediately after you announce that you want a divorce is not the proper time to go over custody issues or other details.

There will be plenty of time for that, and it’s best if you can have those discussions after you’ve officially filed for divorce and have a divorce lawyer or mediator present.

If you discuss details now, when emotions are running high, you’re more likely to act rashly and may say or do things that you regret later on.

Don’t Involve Your Kids

Finally, don’t get your kids involved.

They shouldn’t be present during the discussion and you should do your best to keep them out of the conversation. This is an issue between yourself and your spouse.

Your kids will have to know about the divorce eventually, but they don’t need to be present at this time.

This rule applies whether your kids are adults or are young and still living at home.

What To Do After Saying, “I Want A Divorce”

After you have the hard conversation and told your partner, “I want a divorce,” it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’re going to proceed.

It’s good to have already hired a lawyer, too.

If you live in or around the Bay Area, contact the Law Offices of Gerard a Falzone today.

We make it easy for you to set up a free phone consultation so we can learn more about your case and help you figure out the best course of action. 

How To Stop A Divorce After Filing Papers

how to stop a divorce after filing papers

Divorce can be a long and emotional process for both parties involved. A lot of decisions need to be made during the process, and it isn’t unheard of for some couples to start rethinking divorce after they’ve started the process.

You may think you’re ready to sign the paperwork, but now you’re starting to think that divorce isn’t right for both of you.

Believe it or not, it’s relatively simple to stop divorce after filing.

If you’re having second thoughts about legally ending your marriage, you don’t have to go through with the divorce. Read on to learn what you have to do to stop your divorce after you’ve filed. 

Stop A Divorce After Filing

It’s important to note that both parties have to be in agreement to stop divorce after filing. If you still want to stay married and your spouse doesn’t, you can’t force them to end the divorce.

If you’ve both come to the decision to stop divorce proceedings, you can follow these steps.

Visit The Courthouse

Once you decide that you no longer want to go through your divorce you need to find some time to visit the courthouse where you filed your original petition for divorce.

Once you’re at the courthouse, explain that you want to stop the divorce process and want the correct paperwork. 

Some websites will tell you to just get the forms online. We advise against this unless you download them directly from a government website in your jurisdiction.  

Different jurisdictions have different forms of paperwork and requirements to stop a divorce. If you download something online you may not have what you need. 

Complete The Document

The paperwork you originally used to file for divorce may have been long and complicated, but the opposite is usually true for people that are trying to stop their divorce.

In most states, you’ll just have a simple single page document to fill out. The form asks you to state that you’re voluntarily dismissing or withdrawing your case.

Unlike divorce in certain states, you don’t need to give an explanation about why you want to end the divorce process.

Get Plenty Of Copies

Once you’ve completed the paperwork, make copies of everything. After you’ve made your copy you can visit a court clerk to stamp everything as filed. 

You’re going to want to have several copies for personal and legal purposes. Make sure that you have an official copy, along with your spouse and your lawyer.

Start The Serving Process

Your state may require you to formally serve your spouse with a copy of the dismissal paperwork. This can vary from state to state or even county to county, so be sure to check with your lawyer beforehand. 

In places where a formal serving isn’t required, you may just be able to give them a copy yourself by hand or by mail. 

Once you’ve completed the process, you may have to file proof with the court to prove that you’ve served your spouse. It’s a good idea to check with your lawyer about this. 

Tips For The Process To Stop A Divorce After Filing

The legal act of stopping the divorce process is simple, but navigating the emotional and social repercussions can be difficult for both you and your spouse. 

Deciding to end a marriage isn’t easy, and making the decision to continue to stay married can be even harder. Dealing with this time is tough, and we have some tips that can help make the process easier.

Keep Your Lawyer In The Loop

You may have decided to not go through the divorce, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop talking to your lawyer. If anything, they should be one of the first people you call after you make your decision.

You’ll want to make sure that you’ve done everything you need to do to formally end the marriage. A lawyer is a great way to ensure that you’re staying on track of everything. 

Also, be sure to go to them with any other legal questions you may have. They can give you insight into the best way to handle rights to marital property, custody, and other things that may have been affected because of the divorce.

Be Aware Of Your Options

You may not be ready to divorce, but that doesn’t mean that you’re ready to jump back into married life again. It’s okay for both spouses to take their time to reacclimate themselves to marriage.

Some couples that decide to stop the divorce still decide to stay legally separated. They may be on the fence about ending things entirely but still need time to themselves.

Also, you can choose to be discreet about your decision to end the divorce. Some couples choose to not share the news with close family members or friends because they’re still working on things with their partner.

Know You Can Change Your Mind 

You may decide to stop the divorce process now, but that doesn’t mean that you can never start it again.

Some people are hesitant to approach the topic of divorce once they’ve already legally stopped the process. You’re allowed to make decisions for yourself and your family that could involve legally ending your marriage.

Don’t be afraid to get individual counseling or couples counseling after you choose to end the divorce process. Getting insight from a therapist can help you both see what the next best steps to take are in your relationship.

Get The Legal Counsel You Need

It is possible, and easy, to stop a divorce after filing. Once you have the proper paperwork in order you can end the divorce process almost as easily as you started it.

Do you have any questions about stopping a divorce? Are you curious about other facets of family law? Contact us today so we can get you the answers you need.

In the meantime, explore our blog and learn a little more about family law.

The 10 Most Common Reasons For Divorce

the 10 most common reasons for divorce

“How did we end up here?” It’s a question that many who are facing divorce are asking themselves right now. And the reasons for divorce are unique to each relationship.

Truly, a divorce is rarely caused by one single reason. Marriages are each unique and complicated, with many factors determining how they end up. But there are many reasons for divorce that occur far more often than others. You’ll find these listed below.

Identifying The Many Reasons For Divorce

Whether you’re trying to save your marriage or preparing for divorce mediation, read on to learn more.

Disconnection

Time changes all things. Consider the difference ten years can make in your life. 

Your spouse’s job becomes a career. You have kids and parental duties to focus on.

Through the changes and struggles of life, many spouses focus more on these issues and less on each other. After years of this, they drift further and further apart.

They talk less and go on fewer dates. They never vacation alone anymore. Even before becoming legally separated, they have become disconnected from each other socially and emotionally.

As this internal separation continues, they start to feel separate. They develop identities that no longer include connection to their spouse. They opt for divorce because, on the inside, they’ve divorced their spouse already.

Physical Neglect

In the same way spouses loose touch with each other emotionally/socially, they can start neglecting each other physically. Even before the sex stops, the level of physical touching decreases. As partners focus more on kids and work, there is less holding of hands, hugging, and kissing between them.

This problem can grow into a decrease in sex. Like marriage itself, sexuality must be nurtured by both partners or it weakens. 

A sexually receptive partner helps a man feel and act more romantically toward his spouse. And romantic attention helps a woman feel sexually receptive.

But when one of these is neglected, often so is the other. It becomes a downward spiral which robs both partners of sexual/romantic feelings toward each other. When it evolves further, it becomes hurt, then resentment, then spite, then rage…many reasons for divorce.

Getting Married For The Wrong Reasons

Many divorced couples got along well while dating. But they weren’t prepared to spend life with the same person after everything else in their life, including both partners, changed. Often, they had a skewed idea about what marriage is in the first place.

Many see marriage as an extension of dating. They feel pressured to marry as if it’s a necessary step if they want to continue dating a person. In reality, marriage and dating are meant to be very different things.

Dating means seeing someone for now, but maybe not later. Like a job they hold or the house they live in, it is subject to change.

But marriage means spending an entire lifetime with someone, even when everything else changes. In ten years, your job, car, and the house may all be different than they are now.

You and your spouse will be different than you were. You may have kids that you didn’t before.

But unlike all these things, marriage is not meant to be subject to change. Many don’t see this distinction and aren’t prepared for the reality and commitment of a lasting marriage. 

Different Expectations

Many expect their spouse to change certain behaviors and they never do. Others expect them to stay the same and they don’t.

Unmet expectations become resentment. But, quite often, they’re unmet because they were unrealistic or unclear in the first place.

If you wanted to adopt kids, did you tell your spouse before getting married? Many spouses are angered over outrageous expectations they never cleared with their spouse before it became relevant.

One spouse wants to retire in the country next year and the other wants to spend the next 3 years abroad, seeing the world. Neither tells the other until the time comes to make the decision.

A spouse who plans their future alone will most likely spend it alone, or disappointed and resentful.

Incompatibility Of Financial Management

For a marriage to survive, both partners must have shared goals for their future together. By default, this means they must be united in their financial goals/management strategies.

If they aren’t, they make true the saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Here are some examples of what that looks like.

One spouse makes the money, the other spends it all, and then some. One spouse saves up for a house, the other uses the savings to buy a new car.

This is a no-brainer, people. No relationship of any kind can survive this way. 

The Blame Game

This goes along with getting married for the wrong reason. People get married assuming it means they’ll live “happily ever after.” So when automatic happiness doesn’t happen, they assume it must be their spouse’s fault.

“They should work harder, take me out more, appreciate me more, etc.” Often, this spite is reciprocated by the other spouse. Once one becomes convinced that all their unhappiness is their spouse’s fault, they file for divorce to cut the problem off at the source.

Inadequate Conflict Resolution

Problems like the one above stem from improper conflict resolution. A wife is mad her husband isn’t meeting her needs. Instead of discussing it with him, she expects him to read her mind or figure out the problem himself. When he doesn’t, she gets even more resentful.

Or maybe she brings it up and he blows up in a defensive rage. Or they both bicker about little issues while avoiding the real root cause of their frustration.

In such cases, the problems they’re arguing aren’t the real problems. The real problems are maturity and communication. Personal insecurities and immaturity lead one to get defensive.

They could work through their conflict together to protect their marriage. Instead, they make the argument worse to protect their own ego.

Unless BOTH spouses yield for the good of the relationship, the marriage is doomed.

Codependency

Codependent relationships are lopsided and unstable. If a spouse is incomplete by their self, they can’t actually contribute anything to the marriage. They will always feel incomplete until they form an identity of their own.

And the other spouse is no better off, either. Being married to an incomplete person is an incomplete marriage thus it is one of the many reasons for divorce.

If your spouse only exists as a part of you, it’s like being married to yourself. In other words, it’s not that different from being alone.

Infidelity

While marriage can survive infidelity, it’s a very difficult comeback. Sometimes, it’s the “wake-up call” that brings attention to existing marital issues and inspires both partners to address them. Other times, it’s the final push that sends a marriage over the edge toward divorce.

Infidelity is often a result of emotional disconnection, sexual neglect, or other marital problems.

If the marriage is already struggling, the cheated-on spouse may consider the affair “the last straw” and file for divorce.

Abuse

Sadly, physical abuse is a very real problem in marriage and other relationships. 25% of women will be violently abused by a partner in their lifetime.

Abuse should never be tolerated. If the abusive spouse will not change the abused should definitely get out of the relationship.

But physical and emotional abuse isn’t the only abuse that ends relationships. Many marriages never recover from the impact of substance abuse or other addictive behaviors of a spouse.

Top 10 Reasons For Divorce

We hope these common reasons for divorce have given you a clearer understanding of why divorce happens. Remember these if you’re making efforts to reconcile or preparing for divorce mediation.

The 10 Most Common Divorce Mediation Questions And Their Answers

the 10 most common divorce mediation questions and their answers

Every human that has gone through this is emotionally wrapped around these issues and feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. But Huffington Post says, when you are going through this, prepare to “engage your brain” and not your emotions. Divorce mediation alleviates many of those burdens.

If you’ve reached the point of ending a marriage through legal means, then it’s time to put your rational hat on, as that will make the process easier, and less expensive.

Any lawyer will tell you, it’s only logical.

You’ve Got Questions!

Here are answers to the top 10 most common divorce mediation questions that will have you grabbing for that hat, and breathing a sigh of relief.

What is divorce mediation?

Simply put, divorce mediation is the process used by two spouses in divorce to avoid a costly and lengthy divorce trial. All of the issues from property matters to custody sharing that would get negotiated in a divorce suit would be negotiated in the mediation process, without the traditional costly legal expenses of divorce court.

If you hire a lawyer for a custody or divorce suit, you are going to be paying for every single piece of paper your divorce lawyer touches in your case and billed for every email of complaint you send to them, and more. You’ll be paying a mediator an hourly rate and will meet with them a few times. Even the cost of mediation can be mediated.

So if your lawyer charges $300 an hour, they may bill you one-tenth of an hour for every email you send them. Thirty-dollar emails to complain about someone aren’t in every person’s family budget. That doesn’t happen in divorce mediation.

How does mediation work?

Once two parties have agreed they are going to divorce, they may then discuss the “how” of it. In many cases, one party will suggest mediation right off the bat. At this point, a mediator is hired, and you would hire your mediator in the same way you would hire any other legal party in your case. Review, research, rate, and then hire. Ask as many divorce mediation questions that you can before you sign a retainer obligation, with anybody.

The mediator will then meet with you both. Most of your mediation questions will be answered in that first meeting. Everybody’s expectations and potential outlooks will be discussed, as will your responsibilities. In mediation, you hash out everything you would in divorce court, in a less formal and more comfortable way.

This will include parenting plans, real estate arrangements, support matters, and everything else you can think of that you would settle in divorce court. Generally, a timeline is established, after which time an agreement is made which is then taken to the court to be made official.

How long does mediation take?

You’ll have an idea of when this is going to end and what your possible outcomes will look like early in the process. This is something you do not get when you launch a full-scale divorce suit that will end up in a trial. Mediate reports that in 2005, the average mediation process was settled in 90 days.

In a divorce trial, you begin the process wondering what you and your children’s future will look like and you may not have those answers for years. Even the best divorce lawyer in the world can only tell you what to expect in divorce court, but that nothing is a guarantee and you and your children’s futures are in the hands of someone else now.

Is mediation the answer for everybody?

The simple answer is no. Mediation is about a group of people getting together to solve a problem, and all parties need to be solutions-oriented when they go into it. The same is expected of them in divorce court, but in a more formal fashion, and that formality takes time and costs money.

When a marriage is ending due to power imbalances, vengeful parties, or an unwillingness to even end the marriage on one side, mediation is going to be problematic.

However, California is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, and that means if one party wants a divorce it is going to happen, even if one party is rigid on the topic.

Domestic abuse is often cited as a reason to forego mediation. Divorce can also be very vengeful. On top of the emotional grips of a broken heart, there are children and a legal matter now on the table. The concept of “winning” too often overlooks the concept of a sound exit plan. Sometimes people don’t want to get divorced due to any or all of these issues. In these cases, mediation is not the best plan.

Will my vengeful spouse change through mediation?

This is situation specific. Often times the harsh realities of legal bills and judges lend to a change of heart for vengeful parties. In many cases a vengeful party will opt to sue for divorce and serve the other party with glee, claiming, “I can’t wait until a judge sees what you’ve done!”

Truth be told, that may not happen for as long as 18 months, or even longer. They may change their minds when a lawyer charging them $500 an hour tells them that revenge will be a dish served very, very cold, and an expensive one at that.

Custody plans that you want when Suzy is 9 may need to be completely different when she turns 11 and has a social life. Without divorce mediation, the reality is that you may never see the light of a courtroom until then. At the same time, in a divorce trial, you run the risk of a judge determining the future of your child.

If you want control of the process, divorce mediation is a good choice, but only if it is safe to do so and the mediation process is agreed upon and welcomed by both parties.

Is mediation expensive?

Ending a marriage and determining the future of minor children is a legal process and legal matters always come with a cost. In mediation, you control that cost. Divorce mediation is not nearly as expensive as a divorce case or custody suit that is going to trial. Having a separation agreement before mediation can lessen the costs of mediation even more.

A trial alone in divorce court could cost you thousands a day. A mediator will charge you hourly, and you only pay for your time with them. It could cost between five and 10 thousand dollars. Comparably, Straight.com notes that one divorce hearing alone could cost that much, with a five-day court hearing costing $50,000 in some cases.

In some divorce matters, one party winds up paying the costs of the other party. So your already heaping costs have the potential to double. This could happen in mediation as well, but not nearly at the expensive rate of a $50,000 (or more) divorce court process.

Is your revenge, bitterness, or heartbreak really worth a five-figure invoice? That’s college tuition for many kids today, or a few nice beach vacations to get your mind off of this major change in your life and create lifelong memories for the time you have with your kids.

Is mediation public?

No. This is another advantage of divorce mediation. You meet with your mediator as often as established and finalize an agreement both parties are happy with. None of that is public record. In the end, you take that agreement to court to make it an official order, and that is the only public record on your divorce.
The exception to this may be when a divorce mediation is court-ordered. In that event, all matters prior to mediation will be public record.

Do I still need a lawyer?

Ending a marriage is a legal process. You will be signing binding legal documents at the end that determines your future, and the future of your children if you have any. That will then go to court where it becomes a court order. You never want to go to court without legal advice, even if it’s just a matter of having an agreement made formal. It is an additional expense, but when you consider that this is the rest of your life, it’s one well worth it.

If mediation is becoming a high-conflict situation, being represented by someone more rational about the situation than you are is always beneficial. Many couples today have both lawyers and mediators, and the process is still less expensive.

A lawyer that isn’t dealing with heartbreak on top of legal fights and is fighting for your rights could even make the mediation process go smoother and sometimes even faster. It’s all situation specific, every case will be different.

Is mediation legally binding?

Once your matter goes before a judge and the seal has been set on your mediation agreement, this is a contract that is legally binding.

So for example, if you run into problems with custody sharing, real estate conflicts, or things of this nature after your entire divorce is finalized, any enforcement agencies you work with to resolve those conflicts will refer to this order as law. The mediation agreement is a more informal and less expensive process, but it is a serious one, and legally binding once the process is complete.

What are the biggest benefits of mediation?

Mediation sends the message that you are willing to conduct a legal matter in a rational and concessional way. In addition to the costs savings, the courts love it when they see a mediation matter come to the table. The court system today is clogged, and family law is always an emotionally wrenching situation.

Judges don’t want to see people arguing over 70 pages of nasty text messages, and they don’t want to spend all night the night before reading that nonsense either. They want to see clean facts aligned with the law, and parties that are conducting themselves reasonably and in line with the best interests of all involved, particularly the children.

When you bring a mediation matter before a judge, you are alleviating the court system of further stress, and no judge will ever hold that against you.

Should You Go To Divorce Mediation?

Only you can answer that question on divorce mediation. When you are undergoing this legal matter, however, it never hurts to investigate the process. Keep the emotions out of it, and you will find that when it comes to weighing the benefits and risks, divorce mediation is quicker, less expensive, and more beneficial for all parties.

Wouldn’t you rather take your kids to the ocean for the first time than paying legal bills? Get more of your divorce mediation questions answered in a free consultation with California attorney Gerard A. Falzone.

Divorce Mediation vs Divorce: Which Is Best For You And Your Ex?

divorce mediation vs divorce which is best for you and your ex

When starting a marriage and family, nobody expects things to end in divorce. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life. Between 40 and 50 percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce. If you are apart of that statistic you now need to debate, divorce mediation vs divorce.

The practice of family law has come a long way. Couples that wish to end their marriage amicably can do so through the process of mediation. This process has become quite popular over the last decade.

Of course, mediation isn’t for everyone. Some situations require litigation.

Divorce Mediation vs Divorce

If you and your spouse are facing divorce, you should understand your options before moving forward. Let’s discuss the difference between divorce mediation vs divorce.

What is Divorce Mediation?

During any divorce, some level of negotiation is necessary. Depending on the situation, this could involve property ownership, distribution of assets, and child custody.

The goal of mediation is to negotiate the sensitive elements of a divorce outside of court. Couples do this by hiring a mediator to guide them through the process.

The mediator acts as a neutral third party and helps you and your spouse come to an amicable resolution. Their role isn’t to make these decisions for you, but to help you and your spouse determine what’s best for you and your children.

At the end of mediation, you and your spouse will have come to an agreement regarding the details of your divorce and can then finalize the paperwork. This is often done with attorneys present as well.

Let’s break down some of the details of the process.

The Mediation Process

Once you’ve hired a divorce mediator, you’ll schedule your first meeting. Keep in mind the process will likely take several sessions.

At the initial meeting, you and your spouse will each get to speak openly about the situation. This gives the mediator a better sense of where each party stands.

The mediator will then ask any questions they have if anything is unclear. They’ll make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to information pertaining to the divorce.

You’ll then discuss the areas in which you and your spouse agree and disagree. This will give the mediator a sense of what needs to get resolved through negotiation.

There’s a good chance you’ll need to gather some information after the initial meeting. This could include property or asset information.

Coming to an Agreement

The second stage involves negotiating terms in order to come to a resolution both you and your spouse agree on. The mediator may choose to tackle the easier issues first and move on to more complex matters down the road.

During this stage, conflict may arise between you and your spouse. This is when your mediator will step in and help you brainstorm ideas in an effort to come to a resolution.

The mediator will also push you to be open with each other and express your opinions and emotions. They’ll help you understand the value of listening to your spouse’s option, even if you don’t agree with it.

Your mediator will also help you come to a compromise that benefits both parties. Once you’ve reached an agreement on each element of the divorce, you can start wrapping things up.

Benefits of Mediation

One of the most beneficial elements of divorce mediation is that it’s much less stressful on the children. It promotes a more peaceful resolution in which parents have a chance to think about their children’s best interests.

Mediation is also much more cost effective than traditional divorce. You avoid having to pay an attorney for lengthy litigation.

You’ll also end your divorce on relatively good terms. This is beneficial if you have to continue working with your spouse to parent your children.

Traditional Divorce

During the traditional divorce process, each party hires their own attorney. The attorneys will negotiate on behalf of their clients to try to get the outcome they desire.

When the attorneys can’t reach an agreement, the process moves to the courtroom and litigation begins. Each attorney will prepare their case to present in front of a judge.

This may even involve bringing in witnesses and other experts. In some cases, the children may even have to get involved and become a part of the court proceedings.

A family law judge will hear the arguments and decide on the outcome. They’ll dictate all the details, including child custody, support, the division of assets, and parenting requirements.

When Is Traditional Divorce The Best Option?

Although divorce mediation allows the parties to come to a peaceful agreement, sometimes it simply won’t work.

In some instances, one spouse is intent on intimidating and bullying the other. They feel that if they do this enough, they’ll get whatever outcome they desire. In these situations, the party that’s getting bullied may need an attorney to help them stand up for their rights.

Sometimes emotion gets in the way and makes mediation impossible. One spouse may either lash out at the other or refuse to communicate at all. Many times this happens when adultery has taken place and the victimized spouse is either hurt or angry.

If one spouse is attempting to hide assets or cover up information, litigation is required. In these situations, one party may be so determined to be the victor, they’ll do anything to keep the marital assets.

Another common reason for a traditional divorce is when one party either leaves or makes themselves difficult to contact. This could be intentional or because of other personal issues such as a drug or alcohol problem. In these cases, a court will need to intervene.

Divorce Mediation vs Divorce, Which Will You Choose?

Divorce is a stressful and emotional process, regardless of how you go about it. However, if you and your spouse feel you can come to a peaceful resolution, consider mediation.

When this isn’t an option, a traditional divorce proceeding may be necessary. Knowing the difference between divorce mediation vs divorce will help you decide what’s best for you.

We provide a wide range of family law services in Alameda and surrounding areas. Contact us today.