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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

Why You Need to Write a New Will During Your Divorce

When you file for divorce, you may assume it’s obvious that you no longer want to be legally and financially connected to your spouse. If you did, you wouldn’t be getting divorced.

This fact may be obvious to the average person, but it isn’t in the eyes of the law. Until your divorce is finalized, you are still considered legally married. 

Normally, this may feel like a mere technicality. During the mandatory six-month waiting period California requires, you can still live more or less like you’re single, even though you aren’t. However, as some families unfortunately discover, this technicality makes all the difference if something happens to you before your split is final. 

Your spouse is your legal next of kin, even if you’re in the midst of a divorce. Unless you have a will stating otherwise, they have the right to inherit most or all your property. If you have a will, filing for divorce does not revoke it. That’s why it’s critical to write a new will and estate plan as soon as possible after filing for divorce. 

What Is an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is a collection of documents stating your wishes if you are incapacitated. The most basic plan consists of a will explaining who should receive your assets after you’re gone. More complex plans may include Power of Attorney documents, Advance Medical Directives, and trusts to ensure your wishes are followed. 

These plans are intended to simplify matters for your heirs when you cannot make your own decisions. Critically, if you have a valid will when you pass, you are considered “testate,” and its terms will be followed during probate.

Many married couples develop estate plans together, but not all. If you do not have one in place when you pass, you are considered “intestate,” and your entire estate is handled according to California inheritance laws. 

Why You Need to Update Your Will and Estate Plan

If you have a significant amount of assets and do not currently have a will, writing one as soon as possible once you have filed or received divorce paperwork is critical. Until you do, your legal spouse remains your primary heir under California inheritance law, which means:

  • If you have no living descendants or other relatives, your spouse inherits everything you own.
  • If you have one living child or a surviving parent or sibling, your spouse receives all your community and quasi-community property and half your separate property. The remaining property goes to your child, parent, or sibling in that order. 
  • If you have multiple living descendants, community property and one-third of your separate property goes to your spouse, and the remainder is split evenly between descendants.

If you have a will, filing for divorce does not revoke it. Most married couples name each other as their sole heirs if one person should die first. This protects the surviving spouse from losing important assets because of the other person’s death. However, if you die with this type of will in place while getting a divorce, the probate court will still honor it. Your soon-to-be-ex could inherit everything you own.

Presumably, none of these situations are your preferred outcome. That’s why writing a new will is essential. 

How to Write a New Will and Estate Plan During or Post-Divorce

Writing a will and estate plan takes time, but it is worthwhile to ensure your wishes are recorded. It’s better to be safe than risk your not-quite-ex inheriting everything after an accident. 

The best way to draft a will and estate plan post-divorce is to work with an experienced attorney. Your lawyer will ensure that the documents reflect your preferences in legally appropriate language. They will also help you update all the relevant records, so nothing gets left behind. As they guide you through writing a new estate plan or updating an old one, they’ll instruct you to:

  • Name your chosen heirs. Presumably, your spouse is no longer on this list. You can identify anyone else you like, though, including your children, other family members, friends, and charities.
  • Consider your assets. No matter what, your spouse has a right to half of your community property until the divorce is finalized. However, all of your separate property and your half of the joint assets are yours to do with as you wish. Think about how you want your assets distributed among your heirs. Many high-net-worth individuals write a temporary will as a stopgap until their divorces are final, then revoke it and write a second, permanent will once asset division is complete and they know what property they truly own.
  • Update other documents. If you’ve set up trusts or life insurance policies that benefit your spouse, your attorney can help you change them once your divorce is final. Similarly, if you’ve granted your partner Power of Attorney, you’ll need to revoke that and grant it to someone you trust more.

Consult CC LawGroup for Help With Divorce and Estate Plans

When your marriage ends, it can be difficult to focus on anything else. However, spending a few hours revising your estate plan could save your family years of unnecessary conflict. Writing a new will can help you protect your assets and ensure they go to the people who matter most. That’s where the expert attorneys at CC LawGroup can help you. Our skilled lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients protect their families’ futures. We understand the complications involved in estate planning and divorce, so we are prepared to help you draft a new will reflecting your wishes and circumstances. Learn more about how we can help you by scheduling your consultation today.

Most people don’t get divorced if they still get along and have no disputes. Most divorcing couples have trouble seeing eye to eye on at least some matters, such as finances or child-rearing. Even if a divorce is relatively amicable, ending a marriage provides plenty of opportunities for new disagreements to arise. 

The common assumption is that the only way to resolve serious disputes during a divorce is to take the matter to court. However, even complex disagreements in high-net-worth divorces can often be resolved outside of court if you are prepared to negotiate. Knowing some tactics for reaching satisfying compromises can simplify the divorce process significantly. 

Benefits of Handling Divorce Disputes Outside of Court

California family courts are notorious for having months-long case backlogs. There aren’t enough courts and judges to handle every case entering the system promptly. For this reason, most family law attorneys recommend resolving matters outside the courtroom if possible. Mediation or attorney-guided collaborative divorce can help spouses develop a divorce settlement without waiting months or longer to have their dispute heard by a judge. 

Handling your dispute outside of the courtroom also has benefits such as:

  • Cost: The delays caused by taking your split to court can significantly increase the cost compared to reaching a settlement on your own. 
  • Control: When a judge hears your case, they have the final say in resolving the matter. Anything you cannot settle on your own will be dictated by the judge’s decree, which may leave no one happy. In contrast, collaborating with your spouse can help you achieve a satisfying settlement by granting you more control over the process.
  • Flexibility: Judges are bound by California laws on matters like child custody, spousal support, and asset division. However, if you settle outside of court, you can agree to handle these matters any way you want, as long as both spouses consent. 

Even if your disputes are complex, it may be worth attempting to resolve them yourself to see if you can achieve a settlement without the cost, delays, and stress involved in court. 

Strategies for Finding Satisfying Compromises in Divorce Disputes

Developing a divorce settlement is all about compromise. You and your spouse will work together to draft terms with which you can live. But how are you supposed to do that if you don’t particularly like your partner anymore?

The trick is to treat the process like any other negotiation. It is not a battle – it’s a collaboration. The following divorce settlement strategies can help you collaborate and find better compromises without the need for judicial interference.

Brainstorm Solutions

Whether or not you and your spouse get along, brainstorming solutions can be a great way to find solutions. You can use mediation sessions to brainstorm ideas with the mediator’s support to ensure the process remains civil. This casual, low-pressure process can help you find solutions you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

If you don’t feel comfortable brainstorming solutions with your spouse, you can also do this on your own. Take some time with your attorney or a close friend to develop a list of possible compromises that account for your own and your spouse’s preferences. The goal is to think outside the box and find alternatives for your situation. 

Present Multiple Options

Whether or not you choose to brainstorm possibilities, it’s an excellent idea to prepare multiple possible compromises before attending mediation. This accomplishes several things:

  • Preparing these options for your spouse helps you clarify what you want from the mediation and what you’d be willing to accept. 
  • If your spouse doesn’t like one option, you can move on to the next to keep the process moving. 
  • When given multiple options during negotiation, people are more likely to choose from among them rather than present an additional, unrelated proposal, allowing you to guide the process.
  • Every option provides a basis for further negotiation, so even if none are perfect, it’s more likely that one will be close enough to act as the basis for your final agreement.

Prioritize Quid Pro Quo Exchanges

Divorce is not supposed to be a battle. Ideally, it will be a collaboration between two parties. One way to foster this sense of cooperation is to prioritize quid pro quo exchanges or contingent concessions. 

This means making a concession to the other person in exchange for something you want. It may look like granting your spouse full ownership of a shared vehicle in exchange for keeping the pets or giving them a retirement account in exchange for an investment account. 

When you focus on this kind of balanced quid pro quo, you ensure that the overall process remains equitable, even if you and your spouse struggle to see eye to eye on complex matters.

Develop Flowcharts

During the negotiation process, it can be easy to lose track of what matters have been settled and what agreements are contingent on other issues. If you’re a visual thinker, it may be worthwhile to grab a pen and paper or a whiteboard and flowchart different issues. Seeing everything laid out in front of you can make it easier for you, your spouse, and your mediator to keep track of all the problems involved in a complex divorce and ensure that a fair compromise is reached.

Skilled Legal Representation During Divorce Mediation

Mediation can be a powerful tool for resolving complex divorce disputes, but sometimes it’s not enough. Working with a skilled attorney can make handling divorce disputes outside of court significantly easier. At CC LawGroup, we have decades of experience with strategies for finding satisfying compromises during complex divorces. We are available to represent you during mediation or in family court. Schedule your consultation today to learn how we can help your negotiations go more smoothly during divorce mediation.

When parents get divorced, their children often face the most upheaval. Ending a marriage is never easy on the spouses, but at least they understand and have some say in the process. Children face more stress because they have little to no input on the matter and may not even know what is happening. 

That’s why it is so important for parents to learn how to protect their kids during a divorce. With the right approach, you can make your split less painful for your children, help them process the changes they experience, and make it easier for them to move on. 

The Effects of Divorce on Children

Being a child or teenager is more stressful than most adults remember. Most kids have little agency or control over their surroundings and daily experiences. They are at the mercy of the adults around them, particularly their parents. When these adults can give a child the attention and care they need, the child feels secure and can grow and explore. However, when adults are distracted, the child can feel insecure in their place in the family. 

In addition, children are psychologically built to thrive on structure. Even in situations where all adults give them attention, care, and guidance, big changes can cause significant stress. 

This is why divorces are hard on children. Even the most dedicated parents often have less time to spend with their kids during and after a divorce. Furthermore, the change from a two-parent household to one or more single-parent households is drastic. 

This stress and change can cause a variety of issues in kids. Common issues include:

  • New difficulty in school, such as fights with peers or dropping grades
  • Behavioral regression, such as tantrums, bed-wetting, or emotional outbursts
  • Mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression

However, with appropriate care, parents can minimize many of these issues and help their children adjust to their new lives with minimal disruption.

Protecting Your Kids From Divorce Trauma

Every child is different. Issues that may not cause noticeable anxiety for one kid may cause another serious stress. While there’s no single rule that will work for every child, there are some guidelines you can follow to protect your children from the worst strains of your split. 

1. Communicate What to Expect 

Children are more perceptive and more anxious than most adults realize. Trying to hide the fact of your divorce, or failing to keep them informed about the things that affect them, can leave them feeling uncertain and scared. Sit down with your kids regularly to give them information like:

  • Which parent will be leaving the home

However, this does not mean you should tell your kids every detail of your divorce. They don’t need to know the details of why you’re getting divorced; they just need to know what to expect. 

2. Minimize Fights

Parental conflict is another factor that can make it much harder for your children to adjust to a divorce. If you and your spouse frequently fight in front of them, they may feel like they have to choose sides or mediate your arguments. That is emotionally damaging and can cause your child to act out or seek out unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Instead, avoid fighting in front of your kids. If you disagree with your spouse while your children are present, try to model healthy conflict-resolution skills. Avoid shouting at each other, and excuse yourself from the room if you feel overwhelmed. Focus on “I” statements instead of “you” statements. Try phrasing things like “I feel disrespected when the kitchen is this dirty” instead of “You never clean the kitchen even though you know I hate mess.”

This prevents your children from feeling caught in the middle of your arguments and teaches them healthy ways to handle strong emotions at the same time.

3. Prioritize Routines and Familiarity

Kids thrive on routine. When a major change like a divorce happens in their lives, structures and familiar routines are more important than ever. Try to keep as many aspects of their lives consistent during the divorce, and warn them before things need to change. 

For example, maintaining the evening routines in both parents’ households can be invaluable for helping your kids feel secure. When your children know that things like bedtime are the same no matter where they are, they can process other changes with less fear.

4. Remember Your Children’s Feelings

For many children, their parents’ divorce is one of the worst things they have ever experienced. It’s natural for your kids to be upset, frightened, angry, or sad about it. As a parent, you are responsible for helping your children understand and process these emotions.

The best way to do this is to acknowledge their emotions when they are expressed. If your kids start having tantrums or other emotional outbursts after learning about your split, they are likely expressing their feelings about the divorce in the only way they know. You can sit down with them, ask them about their feelings, then help them find healthier ways to express them, like sports, art, or writing.

Help Your Kids Through Your Divorce With Empathetic Legal Counsel

Considering your children’s needs during your divorce is one of the biggest gifts you can give them. At CC LawGroup, we understand that divorces impact your entire family. We strive to help parents streamline their divorces while protecting their kids from unnecessary uncertainty and emotional pain. Learn more about how we can assist you by scheduling your consultation with our Bay Area law firm today.

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.