Don't Make A Move
Without Knowing
Your Options

Protect yourself and your family. Trust in the attorneys at CC LawGroup.

During this time of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, the well-being of our clients, friends, family, and the community is paramount

When Life’s Challenges Require A Legal Response

Planning the future following a major life change can be physically and emotionally difficult. Much can be required of a person at a time when they might not be ready or able to make clear decisions.

At CC LawGroup, A Professional Corporation, we provide sensitive and sensible legal assistance to clients in the East Bay and Tri Valley areas during times of need. We offer services in family law, probate and trust administration, and estate planning areas and can assist you with a wide variety of legal concerns.

Flexible Counsel For You And Your Family’s Unique Needs

At CC LawGroup, we can assist you with difficult matters concerning:

Family Law

Our firm assists couples seeking or going through a divorce and unmarried parents in resolving issues pertaining to child custody and support, property division, spousal support and payment of related attorney fees. We also draft prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements.

Probate and trust administration

Our firm has vast experience in handling the probate of a decedent’s will as well as administration of a trust including but not limited to changing of trustees, or distribution of trust assets upon the demise of the Settlor (Trustor). As a full-service practice, we can take on all aspects of your case, or just parts of it if you wish. We will sit down with you and determine the best path forward to offer you experienced service that’s within your budget.

Estate planning and administration

Our firm helps clients plan for the future through the drafting of wills and trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. We also represent families involved in the estate administration process.

Latest News

How to Keep Your Divorce on Track If Your Spouse Is a Narcissist

Imagine for a moment that you’re married. Your spouse was fascinating when you first met, with incredible stories and strong charisma. They seemed entirely focused on you at first, winning you over easily. 

However, sometime after you got married, things changed. They no longer use that charisma on you. Instead, they seem to thrive on putting you down. They don’t listen when you have problems or needs. If you criticize them or do anything they don’t like, they throw a tantrum, give you the silent treatment, or otherwise make your life difficult. Worst of all, they don’t see anything wrong with this behavior and are completely blindsided when you ask for a divorce.

Many people don’t need to imagine the situation above. It’s their daily life. If that’s the case for you, you may be married to a narcissist. The behavior described above is probably a significant part of why you decided to file for divorce in the first place.

Getting divorced is one of the best things you can do for yourself if your spouse is an unrepentant narcissist. However, many narcissists lash out during dissolution proceedings, which may complicate things. Here’s how to keep your divorce on schedule when divorcing a narcissist. 

Understanding Narcissism

The term narcissism is used to refer to a wide variety of behavior. Different people use it to refer to anyone, from someone who is a little self-centered to someone with severe narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). It is often people on the latter end of the spectrum who make divorces difficult. 

The Mayo Clinic lists some of the symptoms of NPD as:

  • A constant need for attention and admiration
  • A habit of criticizing others for perceived failures
  • An unwillingness to recognize others’ needs and feelings
  • A tendency to take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Strong negative reactions to perceived criticism
  • Difficulty managing their emotional responses to stress
  • A tendency to lash out if they feel like they have failed or if someone else has slighted them

While NPD can be treated with therapy, the person with the disorder must admit that they have a problem and want to get better. The nature of NPD makes this extremely difficult. Many people find it simpler to leave partners with NPD rather than wait for them to change.

How Narcissists Can Make Divorce Complicated

If your spouse displays the symptoms above, you probably expect them to react poorly to a divorce. If you file for a split, your spouse may feel like you are attacking them. Spousal narcissism may cause them to try to “punish” you or “win” the divorce by doing things like:

  • Refusing to engage with the process: Some narcissists will not respond to your communication about the divorce due to denial or petulance.
  • Disputing everything you do: Your spouse may file petty disputes to drag out the process.
  • Fighting for assets you want to keep: Some people with NPD see pursuing ownership of the family pet or a beloved heirloom as a fight to win the divorce.
  • Demanding full custody of your children: Similarly, if your partner believes it will hurt you, they may fight for complete control of your kids to prevent you from having access to them. 
  • Lying to their attorney, the judge, and your family and friends about the circumstances: If your spouse thinks they can get away with it, they may make false accusations of abuse to create bias against you.

Keeping Your Divorce on Schedule Despite Your Narcissistic Spouse

While the issues above can make resolving your divorce more difficult, nothing your spouse can do will prevent you from eventually getting the divorce you need. In the meantime, you can protect yourself from your spouse’s misbehavior and keep your divorce on track.

Keep Records

Save every communication your spouse sends you. Talk to them over text alone if possible. Many narcissists will boast about what they are doing to “win” the divorce. Presenting that in court can help unravel any lies about abuse they might have told to hurt you. It also provides valuable evidence if your partner tries to gaslight you about what you agreed to do about child custody or assets.

Hold Them Accountable

Avoid making informal agreements with a narcissist whenever possible. Instead, get them in writing, then hold your spouse to those terms and the penalties you set if they violate them. This includes everything from personal boundaries to agreements about your divorce settlement.

Plan for the Worst

No matter how your spouse behaved before you married, they are no longer that person. Do not expect them to start acting responsibly and politely, especially if you’re in the midst of a divorce. 

Instead, prepare yourself for them to behave poorly. They will do their best to make you look like the “bad guy” in your split, so it’s your responsibility not to rise to the bait. Remain calm during any communication so they can’t point to a moment of temper as a sign that you’re a terrible person. 

Protect Your Property

Similarly, many people with NPD may try to hurt you financially and prevent you from getting your fair share of marital assets. Having a financial cushion that your spouse can’t access before filing for divorce is worthwhile. Similarly, consider moving beloved keepsakes or pets somewhere your spouse cannot harm them.

Get Professional Legal Counsel for Spousal Narcissism 

Finally, do not try to divorce a narcissist without help. People with NPD are often very good at manipulating people who do not know them well. It is in your best interest to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to protect yourself and your future from anything your partner may do to try to harm you. At CC LawGroup, we are dedicated to helping our clients resolve divorces quickly and effectively, regardless of the circumstances. Learn more about how we can streamline the divorce process despite spousal narcissism by scheduling your consultation.

Alimony, called spousal support by the California court system, is a payment one spouse is ordered to pay another during or after a divorce or legal separation. It is invaluable for people who have sacrificed opportunities to support their partners during their marriage. However, the system can be confusing, no matter which side of an alimony order you’re on. 

One of the most common questions people have about it is simple: “Are alimony orders permanent?” After all, spousal support can seriously impact your finances, whether you’re paying or receiving it. Understanding what to expect is essential, so you know how to budget going forward. 

So, what’s the answer? Unfortunately, the answer is that there is no single answer. Some spousal support orders are “indefinite,” or essentially permanent, while others are not. Here’s what you need to know about alimony orders in California, how to tell what kind of order you have and what you can do to modify or end an order after it’s issued. 

How Alimony Is Awarded in California

Spousal support is sometimes awarded when a couple gets divorced or legally separated. It is typically part of a settlement agreement, where both spouses agree on the terms of the order, but it may sometimes be ordered by a judge if the couple takes the matter to court. 

The goal of a support order is to grant a lower-earning spouse additional resources after their finances are separated. In many marriages, one partner will pass on career or educational opportunities to care for the other person. This may include working lower-paying jobs while the other person pursues higher education or staying at home to care for children and the household while the other person works. In these situations, the lower-income partner’s income potential is reduced because of the sacrifices they made for their marriage. Alimony acknowledges these sacrifices requiring the higher-income spouse to help them cover their costs. 

California does not have a specific calculation used to determine alimony. Instead, judges are instructed that they may “order a party to pay for the support of the other party an amount, for a period of time, that the court determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage.” What is found to be “just and fair” can vary significantly depending on other circumstances. Judges consider details like:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The income of both parties
  • The marketable skills and employability of the lower-income spouse
  • The ability of the higher-income partner to pay 
  • The needs of both parties according to the standard of living set in their marriage
  • The age and health of both parties
  • Any history of domestic violence within the marriage

With these factors taken into consideration, a judge may order payments if they believe it is necessary and will not pose an undue burden on the paying party. 

When Spousal Support May Be Indefinite

Three primary types of alimony may be ordered or named in a divorce settlement: 

  • Temporary: A short-term order issued before a divorce or separation is finalized that requires the higher-income spouse to support the other person until the final decree is issued.
  • Rehabilitative: A medium-term order, often of five years or less, intended to help the recipient cover their costs until they can provide for themselves.
  • Permanent: An indefinite order that may last for the life of the paying party or until the death or remarriage of the recipient.

Temporary orders are the most common, followed by rehabilitative orders. Judges often hesitate to award permanent alimony because it could negatively affect the paying party if their finances change. In most cases, permanent orders are reserved for marriages of long duration, usually defined as 10 years, but may be less if the judge determines other factors affect the case. 

Even in long-lasting marriages, permanent support is not guaranteed. Judges are more likely to award indefinite support if the receiving spouse is in poor health, nearing retirement, or has already retired. This is because these conditions make it less likely that the recipient will ever be able to become self-supporting.

Can You Modify or Terminate Spousal Support in California?

Even indefinite alimony orders are not necessarily permanent. Ex-spouses can petition to modify or terminate a support order if there has been a substantial, unanticipated change to their financial circumstances. These orders are not intended to be punitive, so the California court system permits ending orders early or reducing the ordered payments if financial assistance is no longer necessary or the paying party can no longer afford it. 

For example, if you lose your job or become disabled, you may no longer be able to pay the same amount in support. On the other hand, if your spouse remarries or gets a new, high-paying job, the support may not be necessary to help them maintain their standard of living. In both cases, the court may choose to terminate even permanent orders. 

Note that these changes must be unanticipated. If you quit your job on purpose, your newly reduced income will not qualify you to terminate the order. This is intended to protect alimony recipients from losing their support because of the actions of a vindictive partner. 

Contact Us for Skilled Assistance in Spousal Support Matters

Spousal support is one of the most complex matters involved in a divorce. If you are concerned about how spousal support will impact your finances, or if you need to modify your order after an unexpected financial change, reach out to the skilled attorneys at CC LawGroup. We have decades of experience helping clients with alimony disputes in Newark, Fremont, and the San Jose metropolitan area. Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling your consultation today. 

If your marriage no longer feels right, it may be time to end it. However, many people struggle to decide how they want to do that. While divorce is treated like the default, it isn’t the best or only choice. In certain circumstances, a legal separation may be a better option. 

However, it is not always obvious clear how divorces and separations differ. Below, we compare legal separation vs. divorce, explain how they work, and explore ways to determine which solution best suits your needs. 

What Happens During Divorce 

Divorce is often treated as the de facto solution when couples separate because it is permanent and complete. When you get divorced, your relationship with your spouse is completely and permanently severed, and you are once again considered legally single. 

In the course of your divorce, the assets you share with your spouse are divided according to California’s community property laws or your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You may request or be ordered to pay spousal support. If you have children, you will also determine how custody will be awarded and how much child support will be ordered. 

These issues can be resolved by cooperating directly with your spouse, through mediation, or by court orders issued by a judge. Regardless of how the final divorce decree is reached, once it has been issued, you are no longer married in the eyes of the law. You can get remarried, file your taxes as a single person, and go about your life.

Benefits of Divorces

The permanency of divorce is its biggest benefit. At the end of the process, you and your spouse will be legally independent of each other. The only connections you will retain are any support or custody orders. 

If you’re confident that you want your marriage to end and don’t have moral or religious objections to divorce, this is often the best solution. Divorces are also the best way to end abusive relationships because they end all connections between spouses and prevent the abuser from pressuring the victim to simply reverse a separation. 

What Happens During a Legal Separation

Legal separations are similar to divorces, with one critical caveat: they do not end your marriage. The purpose of a separation is to untangle your financial and legal connections from your spouse. However, you will still be legally married once the separation is finalized.

For example, you will still go through the process of dividing your property, awarding spousal support, and determining child custody. You will no longer be responsible for your spouse’s debts, and any property you acquire will be yours alone. 

However, you may be required to file taxes as a head of household instead of legally single. In addition, you will not be free to remarry. In exchange for these limits, a legal separation is flexible: you may either reverse it and return to your married state or request that the separation be converted into a divorce. 

Benefits of Legal Separations

The fact that separations do not end marriages is both their biggest benefit and their primary drawback. Many couples are hesitant to commit to the permanence of divorces but want to spend significant time apart. Others have religious objections to getting divorced but no longer trust or tolerate each other. 

In both of these circumstances, being legally separated may be the best option. It allows couples to handle the most complex aspects of the divorce process without permanently ending the marriage. If they change their minds, they can either have the separation dismissed or converted into a complete divorce. Furthermore, since separations don’t end a marriage, they are often acceptable alternatives for religious people. 

How to Choose Between a Legal Separation and a Divorce

The primary difference between divorces and separations is whether you are still married in the eyes of the law. When you’re trying to decide between the two, you’re really asking yourself whether you want to permanently end the relationship.

If you’re conflicted about that, you are not alone. Many people struggle with ending marriages. You can ask yourself the following questions to make your choice easier:

  • Are you sure you want your marriage to end? If you know you want to end your relationship for good, the finality of divorce may be the best option.
  • Are you worried about changing your mind? If you have doubts about whether you want to permanently end things with your spouse, you can consider a legal separation. Regardless of whether you decide to get back together or end things permanently in the future, your separation will allow you to live independently in the meantime. 
  • Do you object to divorces on principle? If your moral or religious principles oppose divorce, then a legal separation is less problematic. You will remain legally married, but you will have the freedom to live separately from the partner you no longer want to share your life with.
  • Do you believe your spouse may endanger you? If your spouse abuses you, a divorce may be the best option. It is in your best interest to sever all legal connections with them to protect yourself. 

Empathetic Legal Counsel for Legal Separations and Divorces

No matter how you decide to end your marriage, working with a compassionate family law attorney is in your best interest. At CC Law Group, our attorneys are dedicated to providing empathetic representation in a wide variety of family law matters. We know the stress you’re under and are here to help. Whether you know you want a divorce or you’re pursuing a legal separation, we will work to accomplish your goals efficiently and effectively. Schedule your consultation with our East Bay law firm to learn how we can help you. 

Sensible Solutions, At A Value That’s Hard To Beat

Whether you are going through a divorce, dealing with the aftermath of a broken marriage or planning for a future after your death or incapacity, we have the legal experience and tools to assist you in meeting your personal and financial needs.

We also understand the importance of avoiding costly litigation when it’s unnecessary for your case. We always try to resolve your legal challenges as effectively as possible outside of the courtroom, yet are still prepared to take your case to trial when it’s best for you or your family.