|Katherine:||Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today on This Needs To Be Said. We are with our friends from Family Law Matters, Gina Famularo. How are you?|
|Gina Famularo:||I am wonderful. How are you?|
|Katherine:||I am wonderful as well. And I’ve enjoyed speaking with everyone that you’ve allowed me to speak to from your practice, and I say that to each one of them, but I wanted to let you know that as well, because it’s been educational and it’s great to get to know different people. So I want to tell you, thank you for sharing everyone with me and the This Needs To Be Said audience. And you talk with us compassionately about the tough things. So thank you.|
|Gina Famularo:||Thank you for having me.|
|Katherine:||Now today, we’re going to talk about divorce, and you’re going to walk us through when to know it’s the thing for us to do or even to begin looking into. So I’m going to begin the conversation. Are you ready?|
|Gina Famularo:||I am ready, Katherine,|
|Katherine:||You’re always ready, Gina. Thank you so much.|
So, we’re going to talk about the seven most common questions in divorce or, I think you were telling me there’s more than seven, but we’re going to get started with this conversation. So I won’t limit it to the seven most common because, see I’m not the expert and you all are. So if we exceed in this conversation, those seven we’re going to go for it, but audience, know that there are more than just seven. So Gina, I’m going to turn it over to you and I’ve got my pen and paper out and I’m ready to listen.
|Gina Famularo:||Sure. The first question people come in and ask me seems to be, “Should I file for divorce?” And that is a tough question to ask a divorce attorney because many of them, they want your money. But here is how you, if you’re listening, knows that you’re ready to file for divorce.|
There is no hope whatsoever in your marriage, not even the slightest hope that it’s possible that if somebody does something or changes in some way, that the marriage can be saved. What I like to tell people is that I’m an undertaker. So when the marriage is dead, I will bury it. And so my first advice to anybody that walks through the door is, “Do not come in the door. Do not open your paycheck.” Or I’m sorry, “Do not open up your checkbook until you know that no matter what, you’re not going back.”
|Katherine:||Now why that’s specific advice? It may seem like common sense, but why that specific advice?|
|Gina Famularo:||Well because, sometimes people walk in here and they’re having trouble in their marriage. Maybe they want to teach their spouse a lesson. Maybe they want to give them a wake-up call. Maybe they know that there’s problems in the marriage, but they still love the person. And what they need to understand is, when they walk in this door, we’re going to make things worse. We are going to end the relationship. That is our job. So, unless their goal is aligned with ours, which is to terminate the relationship completely, they should not be even considering divorce.|
The next question people ask me is, “What sort of things do they need to consider before they file?” For instance, “Should they file first?” And that depends. Most of the time it doesn’t matter. Most of the time, again, you don’t file unless you’re sure, unless there’s some sort of a danger. For instance, somebody hurting your children, somebody’s going to kidnap your children, there are safety issues or there’s money issues. For instance, people are hiding or transferring money and the spouse is going to be left out with no money. So, a common situation would be a housewife walks in, she’s got a couple kids, husband is cheating, moved out of the house. He’s given her some money to support her and the kids, but if he turns off the faucet, she’s essentially penniless. Someone like that really needs to consider filing because it’s the only way she can ensure that that money will continue.
Another common question is, “How long does my divorce take?” Now, there is something called a waiting period and that lasts six months. And people confuse that with the length of a divorce. A waiting period simply means that once the other party is served, you have six months before you’re eligible to remarry. A divorce can be done in a day, and as you know, Katherine, we actually have a Divorce in a Day program. Or divorce could take longer. It could take up to a couple years or more depending on how much the parties are litigating.
There’s two ways to solve a divorce. The first way would be to agree on everything and of course that’s the cheapest, easiest, quickest way to do it. Or the parties can litigate every single issue. In order for divorce to be completed, the parties would have to agree on all the issues surrounding the divorce. Those include things such as custody of the children, where are they going to live, who are they going to visit with and when. Child support, how much is going to be paid by who? Spousal support, how much for how long? Division of the assets such as the houses, retirement. And then division of the debts. Once all those issues are solved and we know who’s going to do what, when and how, then the divorce can be entered and the case is over.
Another common question is, “How do they divide savings?” My typical advice is, if the parties have savings jointly held, that each party should take out half right at the beginning of the divorce. Because otherwise what happens sometimes is one party will take it all and then the other party has no money for food or for attorneys or for gas. If it’s, let’s say it’s the housewife, she has no paycheck coming in. There’s 20,000 in savings. The working husband takes it all and now she’s essentially penniless with no way to support herself. So, most attorneys would tell their clients to divide the money immediately to allow them to get by.
Another common question that housewives typically ask is, “I have no job. I have no money. Am I going to lose custody of the children?” Absolutely not. Money cannot be used to determine who’s the better parent. In order to determine custody, what the court looks at are such things as, “Who is the caretaker of the children? Who is the primary parent?” we call it. “Who’s the one that takes them to the doctor? Who’s the one that takes them to the dentist, to cook some food? Does the laundry for the children, takes them to school, helps them with the homework.” That’s where the bond would be the strongest and that would be the person that would get custody. And what I tell people in this situation is, that’s the whole purpose of child support. So you can continue to care for your children and you have the money to do so.
Another very, very common question, Katherine, is, “Does it matter that my spouse cheated on me?” And this is very distasteful to people because you’d think it would matter. But the law in California is, we call it a “no fault state.” What that means is it doesn’t matter what either party did. I like to say it doesn’t matter if dad is Adolph Hitler and mom is Mother Theresa, the outcome as to property and support money would always be the same. The only time actions matter in a divorce is if is affecting the wellbeing of the children. Abuse, neglect, things like that, the court’s going to look at and they’re going to change their orders based upon who’s doing what. But as far as cheating, wife could have cheated on you, she could be a stay at home mom, cheated with your best friend. If you’re dad, you’re going to be paying support even though her morals may not be in line with your own.
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|Katherine:||Wow. Okay. I won’t interrupt. Wow. Okay. Well I’m going to… You breathed a little bit there.|
So, you’re explaining no fault states. So it doesn’t matter, I come in, I tell you, “He cheated on me. He did things I don’t agree with,” and that’s not enough. That’s not the grounds that’s going to automatically get me custody of the children or alimony, is what you’re saying. So because it could be either way, right? Okay wow.
|Gina Famularo:||Correct. Unfortunately no. And then one-|
|Gina Famularo:||last common question, Katherine, that people ask is, “What do I do about my money?” I got credit cards with my wife, I’ve got my check going into a joint account. Should I do anything before I file?”|
And my response is always, “If you have assets or money together, separate them.” It makes things so much easier. If you’re the man and you’ve got a paycheck stub, you’re going to have to pay your wife money. There’s no question. But at least you can tell how much you’re giving her as opposed to someone taking it. And if you’ve got credit cards with somebody, the last thing you want is that other party to run them up and then ruin your credit. So as early as possible, you should be separating all your finances.
|Katherine:||Gina, again, this is a tough topic. Every time I say this to you all, I’m saying it for the benefit of the audience because we get it. We’re sitting here just talking. You’re just giving information that you’ve seen as the common questions that come up in your practice or in your line of work. So audience, we’re not talking about it as if it isn’t hard to go through, but we’re trying to help you. It’s like we’re planning the fire drill. If it’s ever a fire, you may never need it. That’s great. But it’s better to know what to do in the case of a fire and never need the information, than to have a fire and you have no information, no idea what to do. That’s a bad place to be. Another time that you don’t want to be stressed out is when you have to bury a loved one.|
So plan ahead, and just know what your options are. And Gina, what you’re saying is, if I’m not absolutely sure this is what I want to do, if I’m just doing this to scare him, if I’m just doing this to make a point, if I want to let him know, “I will leave you, don’t take me for a joke,” this is not what you do.
|Katherine:||Going to file for divorce isn’t what you do. Maybe, and I’m not advocating for this, but maybe you may need to be quiet, you know, have the silent treatment, something that is a little less impactful. Because you said something at the very beginning of this interview today. You said, “It gets worse when you come to see me.” And I have to let people know that you are an attorney. You are a family attorney. So all issues with families, you help to resolve them when they need to come to you. And this interview is about knowing when you need to come and see someone like Gina.|
|Gina Famularo:||And Katherine-|
|Katherine:||I want to pause for a second. Go ahead.|
|Gina Famularo:||In closing, I just want to say something that my pastor said at the last Sunday worship, which is “If you’re having a hard time, if you’re having a hard marriage, push. P-U-S-H. Pray Until Something Happens.|
|Katherine:||Mm-hmm. Yeah, see how you feel about it. And there are several different things. In business, I know that there are some places, some other places don’t follow this practice, but this is one that I do like and wish more businesses would follow. You can’t sign a contract with us until you have had this waiting period, whether it’s seven or 14 days. You make this decision, you need to come back in 72 hours and we’ll talk about it again and see if you feel the same way. So, put that idea in your mind of, “Is this really that bad?” Because there are times that you fall out with a person and in that moment it’s so heated and you’re so disgusted and you’re so put out and put off and, “I don’t want to do this with you anymore.” Whatever it is you’re saying in that moment, do you feel that way an hour from now, a couple of days from now? However long your periods should be before you go and make this decision.|
And when we’re mad, oh I know when I’m upset, any decision you ask me I’m ready to commit to it.
“We’re going to do this Gina, I’m doing this.”
“You sure? Okay, well tell me next week how you feel.”
“You probably won’t hear from me next week because I don’t feel that way anymore.” You know?
So really think about what you’re doing because you’re not just changing your life. When you join with another person, you’re joining families, cultures, backgrounds, thoughts, secrets, weaknesses. This person probably knows your deepest, darkest secrets, but they’ve hurt you. Is this hurt in the space of not being repairable? And that’s when you want to come and talk with Gina. But even then Gina, I’m suspicious that if they come and do a consultation because they think this is it, you would talk with them and say similar to what I’m saying. “Are you sure? These are the things you need to think about.”
If I elaborate more, if someone comes to you and says, “Okay, I’m not listening to this list that y’all gave me. I’m calling Gina and I want to get divorced,” and they say, “I want to have a consultation with you,” and you say what? You and your team?
|Gina Famularo:||Yes, I tell them, “Be sure, pray about it. Make sure that you know.” My advice is, “If your spouse is bleeding on the street, are you willing to step over their dying body?” That’s the type of person that needs divorce. I know it’s extreme, but it gets the message across.|
|Katherine:||Yes, it did. Just now. It did. I’m thinking you have to be pretty cold to be able to do that.|
|Gina Famularo:||You do. You do, because otherwise all you’re doing is throwing a hand grenade on a relationship that God put together, that may be able to be repaired.|
|Katherine:||And life is not free of having to solve problems. So-|
|Katherine:||Yeah. So there’s so many other supports you can get.|
And Gina, what’s amazing about what you do, and I know I’ve said it before, is while your business is people solving family problems in the way that you all prescribed, you don’t recommend that you make this… Like when I come to you, I need to be sure. It’s not the answer, it’s not the answer automatically. And that’s what you all keep saying.
|Gina Famularo:||No it,|
|Katherine:||Can I ask you a question-|
|Katherine:||… that you didn’t see coming?|
|Katherine:||How do you stay in business telling us all to think better and make sure that this is a decision we want to make?|
|Gina Famularo:||I wish that we were struggling, Katherine. But unfortunately there’s many relationships that need to be severed. Because of abuse, because of substance abuse issues or physical abuse issues, or affairs or sin. And people are looking for people of integrity to help, and that’s where we come in.|
|Katherine:||Well, we are getting to the end of our time and you just answered my question thoroughly, that not everyone should stay together. And that is what I was wondering. I’m like, okay, so you don’t believe that every relationship can be repaired?|
|Gina Famularo:||Every relationship cannot be repaired. I can attest to that firsthand, having seen some unspeakable things. But also, God gave us free will. And if you have a spouse that doesn’t love you and wants to leave, even if my client wants to stay in the marriage, they don’t have that option because the other side has ended it.|
|Katherine:||Well, Gina, we do have to go. Tell us how to get in touch with you outside of This Needs To Be Said.|
|Gina Famularo:||Absolutely. You can find us online at www.mycustodydivorce.com. Or you can call us at (951) 587-0505. That’s (951) 587-0505. We’d be honored to talk to you.|
|Katherine:||Thank you so much. And until next time, have a super day.|
|Gina Famularo:||God bless. Bye-bye.|
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