Our Blog

May 2018
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.
3rd Nov 2017

How Is Child Custody and Visitation Determined in California?

child custody attorneysDivorce proceedings and other family disputes are difficult affairs, and emotions can get the best of anyone, especially when it comes to child custody and visitation arrangements. Although it can be tempting to jump headfirst into fighting for your custody and visitation rights, these are delicate legal affairs that require a deliberate and careful approach. This is why we recommend that any parent who is facing child custody and visitation issues in California consult with a skilled legal professional before anything else.
Oct 2017
17th Oct 2017

Collaborative Practice/Interview with Karen Fenchel


  1. What motivated you to become involved in collaborative law?


family law attorneysI have been trained as a mediator since 1995.  I find that agreements are much more durable when negotiated by the parties rather than imposed on them by a judge.  I enjoy helping people in a confidential process that they control.

In mediation there are times when one or both of the parties feel uncomfortable and vulnerable.  In such a case one or both parties would be best served by the added support of their own legal advisor at their side. 
Aug 2017
19th Aug 2017

6 Tips to Cut Your Divorce Attorney Fees in Half

Your first meeting with your divorce attorney will be an eye opener.  The relentless personal narrative of worst case scenarios that has been going through your head for the past days, months, and years, will be tailored down to a strategy of do’s and don’ts.  You will get a sense of how your relationship will move forward with your children, and a ballpark of the amount of money you will walk away with to start your new life.
Jul 2017
25th Jul 2017

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.