What to Know About Orange County Stepparent Adoptions

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County stepparent adoption attorney; The Maggio Law Firm

Step parent adoptions are quite common these days and not as complex as many people think.

The fact of the matter when it comes to step-parent adoptions is that they are a whole lot easier and faster than other forms of adoption. This is because many of the states tend to bypass the home-study requirements as well as the waiting or adjustment period.

“It’s best to check these issues out with a highly-skilled family law attorney because there are also some states that mandate the custodial parent has to be married to the step-parent at least one year before adoption is allowed to proceed,” indicated Gerald A. Maggio, of the Maggio Law Firm in Irvine, California. In these instances, only the step-parent is allowed to petition to adopt the children. The custodial parent is not a part of the process in terms of the application, etc.

To start a step-parent adoption the first thing that needs to be done is to find out the applicable laws in the state of residence. An expert family attorney that handles this kind of work will have that knowledge at their fingertips.

In the alternative, researching online will also answer some of the questions that might arise. “While this might be the route that makes the most sense in terms of finances, some states require the adopting parent have legal representation,” outlined Maggio. A skilled family attorney will also know where to source case law that will assist with the adoption process and help getting the adoption application approved.

Make sure the right court system is accessed to proceed with a step-parent adoption. Depending on the state, this could be probate court, family court or even juvenile court. The court is responsible for handing out the adoption information paperwork. If it happens to be pre-packaged then all the information should be available in the package. If not, the first thing to ask is if legal counsel is required.

Make sure all the proper forms are filled out prior to filing. A skilled family attorney will assist in completing the documentation. In fact this is the smartest thing to do since most of the legal forms are confusing to someone who isn’t an attorney.

“There are many other things that need to be done to finally complete a step-parent adoption and a good family attorney will outline what those steps are in order to make the whole procedure go smoothly,” explained Gerald A. Maggio, of The Maggio Law Firm in Irvine, California.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting Maggiolawfirm.com.

To Prenup or Not to Prenup – That Is the Question

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

Considering a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage and feel it shows a lack of trust? On the contrary, it’s a smart move.

These days, more and more Americans are opting to have a prenuptial agreement drafted prior to marriage. “Premarital agreements, also known as prenuptial agreements, are a smart move to protect your assets going into the marriage,” said Gerald A. Maggio, of the Maggio Law Firm in Irvine, California.

Once upon a time these agreements were regarded as a lack of trust in the other party, regarding the upcoming marriage. Nowadays, those about to be married, particularly those who are older or on second marriages, realize the value of having a premarital agreement in place should anything go sour later. In addition, prenups are for the protection of both spouses, not just the one with the most money.

Are prenups “unromantic?” “Perhaps in some respects they are, but not signing one in the State of California means the marriage would then be governed by a convoluted set of rules known as the California Family Code. What all this legal jargon boils down to is that either the people planning on getting married choose their own rules to live by, or live by the rules of the State. Most people prefer living by their own rules,” added Maggio.

Of interest is the fact that Jewish marriages have traditionally called for a prenup called a Ketubah. It is considered the whole foundation of marriage in the Jewish culture. The Catholic Church also has a similar idea, called a “Prenup Dialogue” as part of their marriage preparation courses called Pre-Cana. The bottom line here is that prenups prepare people for the marital journey ahead of them. “Talking about money ahead of time may save heartache later,” explained Maggio.

While it might cause a few moments of utter stress as the negotiations for a prenup get started, the whole process may result in a surprising turn of events. It may actually strengthen a relationship in that both sides need to be brutally honest and open about how they handle money and plan for the future. Knowing the rules going into the marriage is far better than being surprised later by rules no one was aware of and disagrees with as well. This only makes good common sense.

“When in doubt, make certain to have a consultation with an expert family law attorney who will outline what is required for a prenup in the State of California and how the prenup may be affected by California community property law,” suggested Gerald A. Maggio, of the Maggio Law Firm in Irvine, California.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting Maggiolawfirm.com.

Mediation Mandatory in Child Custody Disputes in California

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

In any child custody dispute in California, mediation is mandatory per California Family Code 3170.

Mediation is considered to be a form of alternative dispute resolution and it is this form of resolving differences of opinion that is used in California to settle child custody and visitation disputes. This lets the parents have the chance to try and get their differences sorted out without having to go to court and have the judge intervene in the affair.

Mandatory mediation means that if you file for a Request for Order hearing requesting initial child custody and visitation orders or modification of existing custody/visitation orders, the court orders that the parties attend a mediation session at the courthouse on a date prior to the hearing date.

When it comes to mediation, there aren’t too many mysteries, as it’s a fairly straightforward process. Both sides get to discuss their problems and concerns, and the mediator helps them meet in the middle and find a resolution that works for both parties. Put another way, the whole purpose of mediation in a nutshell is to assist the parents embroiled in a child custody argument to resolve their disagreements and focus on creating a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the children.

Just because mediation is considered to be mandatory doesn’t always means that the process will work. Some of the cases that do come to mediation in California are far too complex or communications have totally broken down between the divorcing couple and they refuse to speak to one another.

There are other instances when even though a mediation agreement has been signed, the other party changes their mind. The agreement may be altered if a written cancellation request is given to the mediator. Rather than take any chances that things may go wrong at this stage, it’s wise to consult with an expert family attorney to find out what is required to cancel and what time constraints you may be under.

While mediators can do a lot of things, there are just as many things that they cannot do. It is for this reason that you should speak to a highly qualified attorney and find out the limits of mediation. If mediation doesn’t work, then there is always recourse to the courts. Just bear in mind that particular route does cost more and needs expert legal representation.

It is highly advised that you consult with a California child custody attorney to prepare you for your mediation, because each county handles custody mediations differently. In Orange County, for example, if nothing is agreed in mediation, that is the end of it and the parties continue to hearing.

In the Inland Empire, such as Riverside and San Bernardino County, even if the parties are unable to work out an agreement in mediation, the mediators there are empowered to make custody/visitation recommendations to the judge, based on only having met with the parties for one hour. The court can and often times does adopt those recommendations as a court order! So it is extremely important to take the mediation seriously and is also why having skilled legal counsel is highly advised.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.

Understanding California Community Property Law

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

The courts look at marriages like partnerships in the State of California, so when it comes to divorce, spouses are co-owners.

If you live in California and are contemplating or about to actually file for a divorce, you need to be aware that California is a community property state, one of only nine like it in the United States. Community property means that spouses are regarded as co-owners of property, like being in a partnership.

There are three categories that married spouses may fit into when facing a divorce in California, the first being community property; the second being separate property; and the third being quasi-community property. Why the different categories when a couple is getting divorced?

The category the property happens to fall into controls how it is divided when the divorce is final. For instance, California’s community property law says community property is considered to be “all” property, no matter where it is located, that was acquired by the married couple while they lived in California. If the property is located within California, the California law classifies such property as community property. If the property is located outside the State of California, it is called quasi-community property.

Generally speaking, the couple both own property that they bought between the time they were married and the day they separated. Each of them owns a one-half interest in that property. This is what is referred to as community property, with both people owning it at the same time.

On the other hand, separate property is property that either spouse owned “before” the marriage or after separation. Or, it might also be assets that were received during the marriage as a gift or an inheritance. An example of this might be if a relative gifted an ancestral home to the wife. That home is then hers and is considered to be separate property at divorce time.

On another note relating to separate property: if any money is earned from that property, it is considered separate. However, if income is generated by both spouses and it is not related to the separate property, it is community property and it doesn’t matter if the money is in separate bank accounts.

Things tend to get a bit complicated when it comes to the quasi-community property category. The law looks at that as all property, no matter where it is located, or if it was bought before or after the operative date of the community property code. Wait, it gets worse, as here are the various ways property may be acquired: by either partner while living someplace else, which would have been community property if the person who bought it had been living in California when it was purchased; or if the property was acquired by exchange, then it would have been community property if the person who exchanged it had been living in California when the property was exchanged.

Talk about confusing to say the least. So to simplify things a bit, typically quasi-community property means a property acquired by a couple when they lived in an equitable distribution state prior to living in California. Once they move to California, their quasi-community property is treated like community property.

There’s one other thing that divorcing California couples need to know and that is that there are instances where separate property may become community property during the course of the marriage. To say this would come as a really unpleasant surprise is an understatement.

If you are contemplating filing for a divorce in California, make sure you hire an expert divorce lawyer who will outline the details about community property and guide you through the tangled divorce process.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Irvine divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting Maggiolawfirm.com.

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