Our Blog

Oct 2018
20th Oct 2018

Emergency Custody Explained



Most parents will do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of their child. For parents who believe that their child may be in danger, this can include filing for emergency custody. Here’s more information about emergency custody and how to file for it.

What Is Emergency Custody?

Although the state of California firmly believes that it benefits the child to have a continuous relationship with both parents, there are instances when that may not be in the child’s best interest. If you believe that your child is in danger, you can file for emergency custody.

Some examples of when you should file are if you suspect your:



    • former spouse is transferring anger or aggression to your child,

    • child might be at risk of observing or being a victim of domestic violence,

    • former spouse refuses to provide consent for your child to receive urgent medical treatment,

    • child might be at risk of observing or receiving abuse, or

    • former spouse may take your child and leave.




Should I Have a Lawyer?

If you want to file for emergency custody, you should absolutely have a lawyer. It is technically possible for non-legal people to file the required paperwork. However, because of the importance of the situation and necessary timeliness of paper filing, it is best to have a professional file your request for you.

How to File for Emergency Custody

When you decide that you want to file for emergency custody, contact your lawyer. Normally, the attorney who helped you with your divorce can also help you file your paperwork in this situation. It is particularly important for you to contact your attorney if you believe your child is in immediate danger. This way, your lawyer might be able to file your paperwork without giving any sort of notice to your former spouse.

After You File

After you file for emergency custody, the papers must be served to the other parent. Some attorneys will do this for you, or you may want to enlist the help of a professional process server. Once the papers have been delivered, the case will go to court where a judge will decide whether emergency custody should be granted.

Get Help

You want to ensure the safety of your child, but it’s more challenging when you’re co-parenting with a former spouse, especially one that may provide an unsafe environment. If you feel this way, Fenchel Family Law can help. We can help you file the necessary paperwork to help ensure your child’s safety. Give us a call at (415) 805-9069 or contact us online to learn how we can help.
Sep 2018
28th Sep 2018

Three Essential Freedom-Focused Steps to Overcoming Your Failed Marriage

All of my clients are planning for, going through, or dealing with the aftermath of a failed marriage.  And, there is one unifying problem that continues to hold them back from handling their divorce and moving on with their lives.


Here it is: Analysis Paralysis.


This is that inner narrative that we subscribe to that glues us to our current station in life.  It is the story we tell ourselves about change leading us to that which we fear most. It is our active and imaginative inner dialogue that keeps us put. It is our inner critic, the nagging voice in our heads that overanalyzes everything to the point of paralyzing ourselves from taking action and moving forward with what we know we must do.


When men and women become stuck in unhealthy family dynamics, analysis paralysis can keep them there.  They spin their wheels on these narratives of worst case scenarios and constantly talk themselves out of living the lives they deserve.


As long as you allow your inner voice to keep you glued to your failed marriage, you are unable to take care of that one person that you must have and hold until death do you part:  You.


The only way to overcome analysis paralysis is by finding somebody that will support you while also holding you accountable to making choices that will be in your own best interest. When you are in a tough spot, you require somebody with the critical skill-set to compliment your existing support system of friends and family:  Your family law attorney.


I practice family law because I am passionate about empowering my clients to navigate divorce towards a better future.


At Fenchel Family Law, we take in our clients’ narratives and the weight of their tough family situations. We apply their facts to California law and collaborate on a  plan to move their lives forward in a positive and productive manner.


We are there for our clients every step of the way: the bad times and the absolutely worst times.  We comfort our clients, nag our clients, fiercely defend our clients, cry with our clients, whip our clients into shape, and always root for our clients.  (You need an attorney that is going to tell it to you like it is and not always tell you what you want to hear.) At times, we add humor and comforting visuals to push our clients forward.  I am always working on ways to provide our clients with the support and empowerment they need.


All along the way, I observe our clients’  analysis paralysis set in. The “but I can’t”, the “but what if” and the “but you just don’t understand.”


When my clients balk and try to go back on the action plan that we crafted together, they start making excuses for why they can’t hold themselves accountable to set a boundary with their spouse to get to the next step:





  • “I am unable to go to therapy tomorrow because I am too busy with work.”




  • “I cannot tell my husband that I want a divorce.  He will get too mad, and when he gets mad, it is very scary.”




  • “I don’t want to file the paperwork to protect my kids because it will make my wife mad and she will take it out on the kids.”




I promise you, there are an infinite amount of stories that you can tell yourself to prevent yourself from taking that next step to start living the life you deserve.  Our brains play jedi mind tricks on us every day to manipulate us into standing still and even backtracking every time we almost convince ourselves to take an inch of progress.


So, how do we conquer our own analysis paralysis?  How do I empower my clients to divorce and take control over their lives?


I ask them the hard questions, which forces them to recognize the power of living their lives for themselves and their future.  And, as we step forward down the path together, hand in hand, I constantly remind them how far they have come. When they create roadblocks of excuses, we go over the path to relief that California law provides, and we go over the plan we have crafted to get them through it.


Many men and women are stuck in failed marriages.  Some are able to quiet their paralyzing narratives and successfully get out of these marriages with the help of a good family law attorney, powerful therapist, and  strong support network. Some are not because they allow themselves to become paralyzed by their overanalyzed inner critic. It is as simple as that.


At the end of the day, you are not a victim of your circumstances.  If you don’t like the situation you are in, you have the power to change it .


Every day in life we make choices:





  • Press snooze, or wake up at 6 am and go for a run.




  • Dedicate an hour of our day to self-improvement, or stay at work an extra hour to get one more task off our plate.




  • Stay put in a failed marriage, or meet with a family law attorney to create a plan to break the cycle and start living the life we deserve.




The more you choose to invest in yourself, the more you train your mindset to focus forward on the light at the end of the tunnel, rather than the fear holding you back from moving on.


My clients have already decided to hire Fenchel Family Law and are already on the path.  My team will be with them every step of the way, guiding them toward the future that they deserve.  But the key is to silence that pesky analysis paralysis. We all have sob stories. We all have narratives we tell ourselves to justify why certain parts of our lives suck, and why it is not our fault.  How long are we going to let those voices get in our way? What would your life look like next week, if you started making choices to put yourself first today? What could it look like next month? What should it look like five years from now?


If you, or a loved one is stuck in a failed marriage, here are three steps to start conquering that analysis paralysis:


1. Give yourself some credit.


We are all too hard on ourselves.  We constantly berate ourselves for not being good enough.  It leads us to convince ourselves to stay put. We convince ourselves that we do not deserve to be treated with respect, that we would never find a life partner that would treat us better than the one we have, and that being alone is simply not an option.  STOP THINKING THIS WAY. You are good enough and you do deserve to be treated with respect.


If you are unable to give yourself some credit and recognize that you deserve more, please immediately set up an appointment with a therapist.  Do not wait. Do this today. Right now. Every single day you wait, you become more stuck to the status quo. Your life is passing you by due to your own inaction.


2. Calendar at least one hour of your day to self-care.


This hour can be in the form of therapy, yoga, or even reading at your favorite park.  The more time you start taking for yourself, the more you can actively change your mindset to focus on meeting your own personal needs.   While divorce may be the only outcome that will lead you to the life you deserve, the only way to truly achieve that life in the long-term is by learning how to care for that one person that is always going to be by your side no matter what.  Yup, you got it: You.


3. Make an appointment with a family law attorney to help you craft a plan to live the life that you deserve.


The right family law attorney will start holding you accountable to make the changes required to handle your divorce and move on.  She will sit with you, take in your entire tale of woe, and answer all the questions that are swirling in your head - all the what if’s and but’s that are preventing you from making progress toward having the life that you deserve.


She will also go over what you can expect your life to look like in the coming years.  This will include going over your marital finances so that you have a clear understanding as to what you can expect to pay/be paid in support, and planning out your financial future together.   This will help you visualize where you will live (staying in the family residence or moving out and securing a new home), and a budget for food, clothes, and other monthly expenses.


She will go over with you what assets will likely remain yours, and what assets will likely be deemed community assets and be equally divided by agreement or a court order.  She will walk you through the California laws that she will use to secure payment of your attorneys’ fees from your spouse if your spouse makes a lot more money than you. If you make a lot more money than your spouse, she will go over the California laws that may protect you from paying fees if your spouse behaves unreasonably and frustrates settlement.


By the end of the meeting, you will have an action plan with clear deadlines.  Your family law attorney will hold you accountable to the timeline of the action plan.  She will give you the legal services to assist you in accessing the financial resources you require to start living the life you deserve.  If you have children, she will assist you in crafting a parenting plan, which provides for your children’s best interests.


You may be pushing back in your head and convincing yourself that you do not need a family law attorney because your friends and family members are there for you.  If they truly have your best interests at heart, they will be crucial for you to have as emotional support throughout this transition. But often times the advice that they give is not based on fact or law,but rather their own fears and analysis paralysis.


I know it is easier said than done, but I challenge you to stop justifying staying in a bad marriage by repeating these narratives, and instead make that appointment with a family law attorney and seek that advice from the only person that you are literally paying to tell you exactly like it is and help you navigate your way to the life that you deserve.  If you need help finding a family law attorney, please call Fenchel Family Law. If we speak on the phone and determine that we are not a good fit for you, we are always willing to provide you with referrals of other family law attorneys that may be a better fit for your case.


Please give us a call so that we can help you.

20th Sep 2018

Child Custody: What Exactly Are the Child’s Best Interests?



When parents divorce, the judge must take into account the child’s best interests when determining custody arrangements. It’s completely at the judge’s discretion to weigh the facts of the case and determine what will be best for the child. However, the judge must follow certain guidelines. Here’s more about what constitutes “the child’s best interests” and how child custody is determined in California.

“The Child’s Best Interests”

Although this phrase may sound very vague, it actually means something quite specific to judges. In California, the child’s best interests include:

  1. the health, safety, and welfare of the child; and

  2. the idea that the child will benefit from having a continued relationship with both parents.


When judges decide on a child custody arrangement, they consider these two items primarily. Then, they look at other factors to guide them to make their ruling.

Health, Safety, and Welfare of the Child

When the judge is assessing the health, safety, and welfare of the child, he or she is trying to keep the child from unsafe situations. Some situations where a judge might decide a parent is unsafe are if a parent has been accused of:

  • drug or alcohol abuse,

  • physical or sexual abuse (of an adult or child),

  • child endangerment, or

  • murder or another dangerous act


Even if you have been accused of any of these above listed activities, it is still possible for you to have a relationship with your child. Depending on what you have been accused of, you might be able to plead your case by writing a declaration to the judge explaining your situation.

Continued Relationship with Both Parents

One of the judge’s main goals in determining child custody is for the child to have a continued relationship with both parents. This means that when the judge is deciding custody, a preference might be given toward a parent who has a better attitude. The judge wants to find someone who will continue to encourage the child to spend time with the other parent. Similarly, the judge wants to reward parents who show a willingness to positively co-parent.

Other Factors

There are other factors that do end up influencing the judge’s final custody decision. For example, if you have an older, mature child, the judge might ask your child if he or she has a preference for living with one parent over the other. Also, the judge will do the best job to minimize the changes in your child’s life from your divorce. This can mean preference for the parent who is the primary caregiver.

Let Fenchel Family Law Help

If you are contemplating a divorce or need help modifying your child custody arrangement, Fenchel Family Law can assist you. We know that your child is important to you, and we’re committed to helping you get the custody arrangement you deserve. Give us a call today at (415) 805-9069 or contact us online.
Jul 2018
20th Jul 2018

When and How Can I Modify Child Support Payments?



Child support orders are meant to provide the receiving party with a predictable source of income to help provide for the needs of the child. Once an order is in place, it won’t be modified automatically. Either party, however, can request to have the order modified if there is a sufficient reason. Whether you are paying child support or receiving it, you will want to know when and how you can seek a modification.

Common Reasons Why Child Support is Modified

When a modification request is put in, the courts will decide whether or not to make the changes. In most cases, they will require a valid reason to change the order. This is typically referred to as a “change in circumstances” that justifies the adjustment. Some of the most common examples of valid changes in circumstances include:

  • Income Change – If the income of one or both parents changes significantly, it can be used as a reason to modify the support order.

  • Incarceration – If the paying parent is incarcerated, they can petition to have the child support modified since they can’t pay. If the receiving parent is incarcerated, the paying parent can petition to stop making payments (and likely get custody of the child).

  • Additional Children – If the paying parent has another child that will adjust the calculations, this often results in a reduction of total support paid each month.

  • Change in Child’s Needs – If the child’s needs change, the child support amounts may also need to be adjusted. Changes may include medical conditions that require medication, the child gets old enough to no longer need daycare, and other similar things.


How to Modify the Child Support Order

In order to have your child support modified, you will have to petition the courts to make the change. In some fairly rare cases, both parties will agree to the modification ahead of time. When this is the case, the courts will typically just require you to submit all the necessary information, and they will enter the order. More commonly, however, the two parties will need to appear in front of a judge and argue your position.

When seeking the modification, you will need to present a significant amount of information including your income and expense reports (including unemployment and other payments), child care expenses, medical insurance expenses, any disability information, other custody or support orders, and more.

Contact Us Today

As with any family law related issue, you don’t want to face a child support modification situation on your own. Whether you would like to seek a modification, or the other parent has already put in the request, please contact us to schedule a consultation and get the representation you need right away.
Jun 2018
20th Jun 2018

What Can I Do if the Other Parent is Alienating Our Child From Me?



You’ve already been through the divorce process, which was emotionally trying enough. Now you’re starting to feel like your former spouse is trying to turn your child away from you and impede your relationship. It may be blatant, it may be more sinister and subtle.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon situation post-divorce. Although you may be the one feeling the immediate effects of the alienation, children are the ones that suffer the most in this situation. Parental alienation is considered a form of child abuse, and the courts take these cases seriously.

Parental Alienation

Parental alienation is when your former spouse tries to drive a wedge between you and your child. Although some former spouses may not even realize that what they are doing could be considered parental alienation, many do. Here are some examples of red flags you need to look out for:

  1. Your child tells you that your former spouse has been saying negative or false things about you. Make sure that you don’t respond to this false, hateful speech with negative words of your own.

  2. Your child undermines your authority and treats you as if you’re not equal to your former spouse. Whenever your child challenges your authority or acts like you’re not the adult in the situation, this could potentially be a sign of parental alienation.

  3. Your former spouse allows your child to make adult decisions on his or her own, like whether or not your child wants to see the other parent, what time to go to bed, when to do homework, etc. Allowing your child to make these adult decisions provides more freedom at one house and can create a sense of resentment about spending time at the other house.

  4. Your former spouse suggests your child think of his or her new boyfriend or girlfriend as another parent. Your former spouse’s new partner should not be as important to a child as a parent, and no one should ever give your child the impression that you (and your relationship with your child) can be replaced.

  5. Your former spouse makes abuse claims against you. This can be an attempt to reduce the amount of time that you spend with your child by either having your custody or visitation reduced or completely revoked.


What You Can Do

When your child tells you that your former spouse says false or disparaging things about you, get a notebook and keep good notes. Although it can be difficult to prove parental alienation, keeping a journal of events and reports from your child can be helpful. Remember, judges take these charges seriously, so write down anything that you think might possibly be parental alienation. This may sound silly, but we have found that our clients that follow our advice and keep a journal significantly increase their chances of increasing their timeshare in court and successfully defending themselves against their spouse’s false allegations.

Also, as tempting as it might be to respond to your former spouse’s claims, resist. Your best bet is to give your child a big hug and tell your child how much you love spending time together.

Finally, hire a qualified family law firm. If you’re in California and you believe that your former spouse is trying to alienate you from your child, our experienced legal team can help. At Fenchel Family Law, we’re particularly passionate about helping California fathers continue to be a part of their child’s life. To find out more about how we can help you, contact us or give us a call today at (415) 805-9069.
May 2018
23rd May 2018

Getting Their Ducks in a Row: 8 Ways You Can Effectively Help Someone Get Ready for Their Divorce


Someone has just told you that they’re planning to get a divorce. The stress is evident in their voice as they admit to feeling overwhelmed and say that they “don’t even know where to begin.”


Perhaps the person is your friend or family member, or maybe a colleague or client. In any case, there are practical and personal ways that you can help them get ready for divorce.


Some strategies are more appropriate for attorneys than friends and family (or vice-versa) but all of them can give the person the information and support they need to navigate the ups and downs of the divorce process without losing sight of their goals.


1. Be objective when you listen and speak


Being objective is difficult when someone you know and care about is facing a highly personal and emotional situation like a divorce. If you are close to their spouse too, it can be even more challenging. You want to help the person in any way you can, but are wary of being dragged into the conflict. That’s understandable.


When they approach you for advice and/or to vent, focus on helping them make important choices with more logic than emotion. Empathize with them and listen as they express their anger, worry, and fear, but take care to avoid disparaging their soon-to-be-ex. Objective communication is key.


While this advice applies primarily to friends and family, even experienced attorneys and advisors can have trouble being objective. You may be an empaths who often internalizes the emotions of others and has trouble distinguishing your own emotions from the other person’s. Maybe your client tells you things that trigger memories of your own divorce or relationship breakdown. The key to this situation is focusing on the client’s legal concerns and evaluating the issues within a vacuum. Concentrate on providing them with the unbiased, objective insights and advice they need to make important decisions about their future.


2. Recommend that they obtain good legal counsel


Preparing for divorce means having a good divorce attorney with experience in the type of situation your friend or family member is facing, such as a high net-worth divorce or a divorce involving children. It doesn’t matter whether they’ve been married for 20 months or 20 years— they need a committed advocate who will help them make the right decisions regarding their future.


3. Help them understand their rights


You must emphasize to them that it is imperative that they understand their rights before making any decision that may impact their future.  Even if they claim that the divorce is completely amicable and they agree with their spouse on important matters such as child custody, support, and property division, they don’t know what they don’t know. They may be making decisions now that will have a negative impact on their future financial well-being or relationship with their children.  They won’t realize this until later -- when it is too late.  No matter what they may tell you, they are likely going through an internal crisis, and require at least an hour consult with a family law attorney prior to reaching an agreements.  Remind them that failure to seek the advice of counsel will never excuse them from any agreement they reach.  Better to be safe than sorry, so to speak.


4. Assist them with their financial homework


Anyone who is about to get divorced needs to compile a detailed and accurate list of all assets and liabilities accumulated during the marriage. They also need to have a solid understanding of all sources of family income and what the family’s monthly expenses are. While financial advisors are usually best suited to assist, friends and family members who feel comfortable doing so can help the person assemble key documents such as:


• Bank statements


• Tax returns


• Credit card bills


• Brokerage statements


5. Identify valuable assets


Many couples accumulate valuable assets over the course of their marriage. Examples include (but are not limited to):


• Luxury automobiles


• Jewelry


• Original artwork


• High-priced antiques


While some families don’t have much of anything to disclose, higher net worth spouses should be directed to list such property, take photos or video footage, and locate bills of sale to determine any possible capital gains if the items are sold. If the person is a friend or family member, you can help them identify and itemize such property.


6. Identify separate property


California is a community property state, so all assets acquired during the marriage are considered community property, or belonging equally to both parties. If either spouse owns separate property, it needs to be properly identified as such to avoid being subject to division in divorce.


In divorce terms, separate property consists of assets that the person


• Brought into the marriage and maintained separately


• Received as a gift


• Received as an inheritance for them exclusively


• Was awarded in a personal injury lawsuit


Friends, family members, and professional advisors can advise the person to itemize all property that is legally separate and produce evidence of ownership, such as a bill of sale, copy of a will, or a statement from the giver that a particular item was a gift.


7. Offer assistance with the children


If your friend or loved one has children, you can offer to look after the kids for an afternoon or even overnight. This brief respite can help them rejuvenate, focus on the matters at hand and prepare for divorce. It may also be easier for the person to have difficult but necessary conversations with their spouse if there’s no chance of the children overhearing and becoming upset.


8. Offer to help them move


If your friend or family member has decided to move out of the marital home, offer to accompany them on apartment viewings or help them move once they find a place they like. This type of practical support will spare them the time and stress of having to relocate on their own and make it easier for them to focus on other divorce preparations.


Divorce has been ranked as one of life’s most stressful events, but the right support can make it easier to get ready for the negotiations, agreements, and changes that accompany the dissolution of a marriage. At Fenchel Family Law, we often partner with our clients’ attorneys, financial advisors, friends, and family members to empower our clients to develop proactive strategies to start over and start living life on their own terms.  We are passionate about steering our clients toward the life they deserve.  We do this by fighting for their financial freedom and parenting rights.  We believe that no divorce should prevent a parent from having a relationship with his/her child, and no divorce should cause the financial ruin of a family.  If you have a loved one going through a divorce, we would love to have the opportunity to change their mindset and empower them to realize the power they have to divorce on their own terms in a manner that is best for their children. Please have them call Fenchel Family Law at 415-805-9069.

20th May 2018

How to Support the Children Through a Divorce



Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life, but if you’re a parent, it’s also a difficult time for your children. Throughout the process, you want to be there for them, to support and reassure them. However, this can be difficult for a divorcing parent. Here’s a quick list of five ways to effectively support children through a divorce.

  1. Encourage honesty.


Divorces are difficult for everyone involved. Just as you may visit a therapist who encourages you to speak openly and honestly without judgement, you should encourage your children to do the same with you. Let them say exactly what is on their mind.

It’s very important that while you encourage honest conversation, you also listen.

  1. Listen.


One of the best things you can do as a parent is listen to your children. Make sure that you listen with open ears and an open mind. Try to fully understand what they’re saying. Making them feel heard and seen is what’s important.

Be prepared for situations where your children may say things that are hurtful or hostile towards you. Do your best to curb the knee-jerk response of rebuttal or justification. Remember, this is not about you explaining yourself or justifying your actions. It’s about you listening to your children and hearing their thoughts and concerns.

  1. Make sure you and your former spouse both get to spend quality time with them.


During this difficult time, it’s important for your children to get to spend quality time with both parents. Create a custody arrangement that is fair to both parents and stick to it. Also, if your children have school programs, activities, or sporting events, make sure that your former spouse is notified. It’s just as important for you to be at these events as it is for your former spouse to be there.

  1. Stay positive.


When you are speaking to your children, try to stay upbeat and positive about the situation. Do your best to not speak negatively about your former spouse. The last thing your children want during this difficult time is negativity aimed towards their other parent. Parents should be unified and respectful of each other, even if they are divorced spouses.

  1. Seek professional help.


If your children are having a difficult time adjusting to this important life change, don’t be afraid to seek help. Therapists help us process our thoughts and feelings in a constructive way. They give us important tools for coping and accepting unpleasant changes. Remember, if you feel like you are unable to help your children cope appropriately with your divorce, get professional help.

We Are Here to Help

If you are in the San Francisco area and contemplating a divorce, contact Fenchel Family Law. We’re ready to answer any questions that you may have about California family law, and our dedicated family law team is ready to help you get the solution you seek. Contact us or give us a call today at (415) 805-9069!   
16th May 2018

How to Support the Children Through a Divorce



Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life, but if you’re a parent, it’s also a difficult time for your children. Throughout the process, you want to be there for them, to support and reassure them. However, this can be difficult for a divorcing parent. Here’s a quick list of five ways to effectively support children through a divorce.

1. Encourage honesty.

Divorces are difficult for everyone involved. Just as you may visit a therapist who encourages you to speak openly and honestly without judgment, you should encourage your children to do the same with you. Let them say exactly what is on their mind.

It’s very important that while you encourage honest conversation, you also listen.

2. Listen.

One of the best things you can do as a parent is listen to your children. Make sure that you listen with open ears and an open mind. Try to fully understand what they’re saying. Making them feel heard and seen is what’s important.

Be prepared for situations where your children may say things that are hurtful or hostile towards you. Do your best to curb the knee-jerk response of rebuttal or justification. Remember, this is not about you explaining yourself or justifying your actions. It’s about you listening to your children and hearing their thoughts and concerns.

3. Make sure you and your former spouse both get to spend quality time with them.

During this difficult time, it’s important for your children to get to spend quality time with both parents. Create a custody arrangement that is fair to both parents and stick to it. Also, if your children have school programs, activities, or sporting events, make sure that your former spouse is notified. It’s just as important for you to be at these events as it is for your former spouse to be there.

4. Stay positive.

When you are speaking to your children, try to stay upbeat and positive about the situation. Do your best to not speak negatively about your former spouse. The last thing your children want during this difficult time is negativity aimed towards their other parent. Parents should be unified and respectful of each other, even if they are divorced spouses.

5. Seek professional help.

If your children are having a difficult time adjusting to this important life change, don’t be afraid to seek help. Therapists help us process our thoughts and feelings in a constructive way. They give us important tools for coping and accepting unpleasant changes. Remember, if you feel like you are unable to help your children cope appropriately with your divorce, get professional help.

We Are Here to Help

If you are in the San Francisco area and contemplating a divorce, contact Fenchel Family Law. We’re ready to answer any questions that you may have about California family law, and our dedicated family law team is ready to help you get the solution you seek. Contact us or give us a call today at (415) 805-9069!  
Apr 2018
20th Apr 2018

Understanding the Process Behind California Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases



California courts take great measures to ensure the safety and well-being of domestic violence victims. One of those measures is the implementation of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS), a system that allows legal professionals (i.e. judges, police officers, and courthouse staff) access to FBI and state Criminal Justice Information.

Why is this beneficial? Because now law enforcement can access orders immediately and be privy to any and all terms, conditions, or extenuating circumstances as noted by the ordering judge. This eliminates any confusion brought on by multiple orders and enables legal officials to best serve victims of domestic violence.

Filing for a Protection Order

The state of California issues protection orders for victims of domestic violence. If you are a victim, and you have a protective order against the perpetrator, legal professionals would be able to see their records and personal information on the CLETS system.

You will qualify for a Domestic Violence Protective Order if you have any of the following relationships with your abuser:

  • Married

  • Registered Domestic Partners

  • Divorced or separated

  • Dating or used to date

  • Live together or used to live together (i.e., more than just roommates)

  • Co-parents

  • Close in relation, such as parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, or in-laws


To obtain a protective order against your abuser in California you’ll need to go through a series of steps. Contrary to popular belief, you can file for an order of protection even if you haven’t been physically abused. California recognizes intimidation and the threat of abuse as a volatile act that can lead to actual, physical abuse and can offer protection from it if you are fearful for your safety. To begin you’ll need to take the following steps:

  1. Go to your local courthouse and fill out the necessary forms for protection. You may also include your children in this request.

  2. Submit your forms to the clerk’s office. Once the forms are filed the judge will have one business day to rule on your request.

  3. If the judge grants your request, the clerk’s office will file it for you and it will be valid for 3 weeks until you are summoned to come to court for your permanent hearing. During this time you will need to have the other party served. Anyone over the age of 18 can execute service, though many times law enforcement may do it for you.

  4. Once served you’ll need to fill out a “proof of service” document and take it to the courthouse. At this time you’ll be given the time and date for your final hearing.


What Does the Protective Order Do for Me?

Once your order has been issued it will prevent your abuser from coming within a certain distance of you, your home, your place of business, your school or children’s school. It can also deny your abuser the right to contact you via cell phone, internet, or mail. If your abuser lives with you, the protective order may demand that they move out of the home, but continue to pay for certain items like rent, car notes, or utilities.

You’re Not Alone. Contact Us!

Taking the first step in reclaiming your life and separating yourself from your abuser can be frightening. It opens up a world of paperwork, court dates, and wounds from re-telling your story over and over. But this is all temporary. Everyone deserves to live a life free from abuse and fear.

If you or your children have been abused or have suffered the threat of abuse, we can help. The Fenchel Family Law firm is here to hold your hand through every step of the protective order process to ensure you are granted the protection and peace of mind you deserve. To talk to us about obtaining an order of protection—or about any other California family law matter—give us a call at 415-805-9069. We’re here for you.
11th Apr 2018

How do I calculate timeshare? And the related question, why do I need to?

California's child support calculation statute relies on income and timeshare to determine the appropriate amount of child support owed by the noncustodial parent (the one who has less than 50% timeshare; or, where both parties have an equal timeshare, the parent who makes more money). If you've ever been in court and heard the judge or an attorney talk about "the h factor", this is just another term for timeshare. The phrase “h factor” derives from the portion of the statute that lists the various factors the court is to use when calculating child support.  Timeshare is at subsection h.

Now, you *can* just estimate your timeshare but unless you do that for a living your estimate is probably off. Sometimes it's very off. Many times, even attorneys who practice family law for a living will estimate timeshare incorrectly if they don't sit down and actually do it the long way.

Find whatever court order sets out your timeshare with the children. Do you have it? Good. Now, do you have the same schedule every week? Does it change between the school year and the summer? Or do you have a schedule that alternates weeks? Do you have a copy of your holiday and vacation schedule? If not, you'll need that too.

If your schedule is the same every week (and either you don't have a vacation and holiday schedule or it's the exact same for each parent) calculate how many hours you have the children each week. For example, if you have the children from Monday at 9 a.m. through Wednesday at 9 a.m. and again Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., you would calculate your timeshare as follows: Monday through Wednesday is 48 hours. You have them 9 hours on Saturday. 48 + 9 is 57. Since your schedule is the same every week and there are 52 weeks in a year you take 57 x 52 = 2,964.  Then divide that sum by the total number of hours in the year (8,760). The resulting figure is your timeshare percentage. How this is affected by your holiday / vacation schedule is addressed below.  If you don't have such a schedule or it's pretty much the same for both parents, you have now calculated your timeshare and you are done. If not, keep reading.

If your schedule changes based on when the children are in and out of school, your calculation will be a bit more complicated. First, figure out how many hours per week they are with you during the school year.  Then do the same for summer. Then, figure out how many days in total you get on top of that schedule for holidays.  There are generally 37 weeks of school, 3-4 weeks of break (Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Break), and 39-40 weeks of summer vacation.  The resulting sum is how many hours over the course of the entire year the children are with you. Again, divide by 8,760. 

If you have different timeshares for different children, you calculate each child’s timeshare separately. This usually happens in one of two different situations. Either there has been a rift in the parent-child relationship or there is a large difference in ages between the children. For example, a 17 year old whose parents are just now separating is probably not going to split their time between two houses. Most of the time they will stay in whatever house they have lived in the longest with whatever parent happens to keep that house. An older teenager is probably going to pick their own timeshare and although you will still have to pay child support based on the amount of time that the older teenager wants to visit.  Once you have figured out the correct timeshare for each child the court will either manually enter your different timeshares with each child or they will use the average of the timeshares. Manually entering each timeshare is most accurate.

If you have a vacation or holiday schedule with your children that does not give equal time to the other parent, determine how many total days the holiday schedule gives you.  Deduct that many days from your calculation of year-round timeshare.  For example, using the same schedule as above if you also had three weeks of vacation with the children every year you would multiply your weekly timeshare by 49 (52 weeks in a year minus your three weeks of vacation) then add 3 solid weeks of time with the children (3 weeks x 7 days a week x 24 hours a day).  

If your holiday schedule just gives you an extra day here and there, it's safe to estimate that your holiday schedule will probably only add between 1 and 2% to your total timeshare. 
Mar 2018
20th Mar 2018

4 Common Mistakes Fathers Make in Child Custody Cases

One of the most difficult parts of a divorce or breakup is figuring out how to split time with the children. Furthering that difficulty is the assumption that the mother will automatically have the lion’s share of time with the children, leaving dad with every other weekend or limited time per month. While sometimes work schedules, distance of new homes, and children’s preference interfere with parents enjoying even amounts time with the children, oftentimes it is mistakes made from the moment the split occurs that results in dad getting the short end of the stick.

California law states that its stance as it pertains to child custody is that “frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage” is in the best interest of the child.

So what are dads doing that causes them to lose primary physical custody of their children? Let’s explore:

1) Assuming You’ll Lose

You can’t win something when you go in thinking you’re going to lose. The common misconception is that fathers are less likely to win primary physical custody, so they rarely fight for it to begin with. In fact, if your child’s mother is seeking sole custody, the law is more likely to swing in your favor. Judges frown heavily upon parents who seek to alienate the other parent completely, and are more favorable to parents who seek what's in the best interest of child—which is usually splitting the amount of time with both parents.

2) Being Passive

In most cases, women are the first to file, which can reap a variety of positive legal benefits. It is always better to avoid being on the defensive side. Being on the defense often means you’ve positioned yourself to have to prove to a family court judge why you’re a better fit. Filing first puts you in the plaintiff’s chair, showing a proactive approach.

3) Violating Visitation or Custody Orders

Because of their sensitive nature, family law matters have a tendency to be drawn out. Because of this, family law judges will often order temporary custody orders until a final ruling can be made. It is imperative that you follow these orders. Even if the mother is given custody and you are given visitation, it is in your and your children’s best interest that you follow the judge’s orders. Let your attorney work for you to get unfair rulings reconsidered.

4) Being an Uncooperative Co-Parent

After a breakup or during divorce it is HARD to play nice with your child’s other parent. Feelings of anger, sadness, and resentment are still fresh and wounds are still raw. But no matter how high your emotions are running it is important that you keep a level head about what custody arrangement is best for your children. If it all possible, try and come to an agreement with your former partner. Judges look better on couples who can set their own feelings aside and put those of the children ahead of everything.

Get an Experienced San Francisco Family Law Attorney

As with all legal matters, the best way to approach your custody case is with an experienced family law attorney by your side who focuses on the field. We understand that any good parent wants to be an essential part of their children's lives, and fathers are no exception. No matter what stage of your child custody case you are in, we can help. Fenchel Family Law has years of experience negotiating California family law cases and we are here to help you. Give us a call today at 415-805-9069.
15th Mar 2018

Fenchel Family Law Attorney Named to the 2018 California Super Lawyers List

We are pleased to announce that Valerie Fenchel, Owner and Managing Attorney of Fenchel Family Law, has been chosen as a Northern California Super Lawyer “Rising Star” for 2018. This is an exclusive list, recognizing no more than five percent of attorneys in the state.
8th Mar 2018

Is Parental Interference Undermining Your Rights?

San Francisco CA divorce attorneysCustody battles might formally end after a ruling is handed down, but conflict is often far from over when it comes to divorce and custody arrangements. We at Fenchel Family Law see it time after time: feuding parents continue their efforts to undermine one another, often engaging in what is known as parental interference.
Feb 2018
14th Feb 2018

Fundamentals of Spousal Support in California

San Francisco CA family law attorneysSpousal support, which is also referred to as alimony, often plays an important role during divorce proceedings and the resulting arrangements. Spousal support is defined as the legal obligation that an individual has to support his/her ex-spouse financially during and after the divorce, and specific arrangements are usually influenced by a large number of factors.
8th Feb 2018

Ask A California Family Law Attorney: What are the Benefits of Mediation?

San Francisco CA family law attorneysAs many can attest, the battles and feuds that break out during divorce proceedings, child custody disputes, and other matters involving family law are often bitter and explosive affairs. These are the types of issues that truly bring out the worst in 07individuals, many of whom will do anything to hurt the other party even if it impacts their own interests. Not only that, but drawn out proceedings quickly become expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally-draining affairs.
Jan 2018
11th Jan 2018

Why Moving Out During Your Divorce Is A Bad Idea

San Francisco CA divorce attorneysDivorce is certainly a challenging and trying time, and the lengthy nature of the divorce process itself only makes things worse. If you’re sharing a roof with your soon to be ex-spouses, things get difficult and awkward quickly, which will give you the urge to get away and move out.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the divorce process in California, giving into that urge can prove to be a major mistake. We at Fenchel Family Law always suggest that you wait until your divorce is finalized to avoid potential problems, especially those involving child custody battles and financial arrangements between you two.
4th Jan 2018

Understanding the Differences Between Divorce and Annulment in California

San Francisco CA divorce attorneysAt Fenchel Family Law, people often ask us whether they should seek a divorce or explore the possibility of getting an annulment. The thing is, these two options are very different from one another, and in many cases getting an annulment isn’t really an option.

The reason for this is simple. A divorce is a legal termination of an existing marriage or union. A petition for divorce can be filed for a variety of reasons that make reconciliation a challenging task, and a spouse/domestic partner does not need to have a specific reason to pursue a divorce.
Dec 2017
15th Dec 2017

Co-Parenting Fundamentals: Fostering A Healthy Relationship With an Ex

At Fenchel Family Law, we are never surprised to find out that ex-spouses often hold deep contempt and spite towards each other, even years later. In our expert opinion, this is especially lamentable in cases where there are children and custody arrangements at play, as the need to work with one another is inevitable.

San Fransisco CA family law attorneys
7th Dec 2017

What Places You At Risk of Losing Child Custody in California?

San Fransisco CA child custody attorneysFamily law in California is a tangled mess of complex codes and regulations, something that is especially apparent to those who are locked in a legal battle involving child custody and child support. While most people can’t be expected to know California family law like the back of their hand, it is in your best interest to familiarize yourself with a few key areas, especially when talking about child custody.
Nov 2017
20th Nov 2017

California Child Support FAQ

California Child Support: 3 Frequently Asked Questions

Child support laws in California are complex, and we at Fenchel Family Law are frequently asked a variety of questions about this topic. While every case is different, there are a few set of questions that always crop up, and we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the answers to those questions via a blog post.