California Child Custody Cases Redefining Who is the Parent

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

A recent California child custody case shows how the state is redefining who it deems a child’s parent. Typically, the courts have given custody to a child’s biological or adoptive parents. But since 2002, groundbreaking child custody cases have looked at who the child considers the parent and who is carrying out the parenting duties. The main objective is that the courts want a person who is financially supporting the children and providing for their wellbeing. As a progressive state, California child custody cases involve not only straight couples but gay couples who also provide a strong foundation for children in the middle of a divorce.

“The state has a great interest in having those who want the benefits of parenthood to take on the responsibilities and obligations that go with parenthood,” said Pacific McGeorge School of Law Professor Larry Levine in Sacramento.

In the latest case of assigning the parent child custody, a woman who did not adopt her ex-girlfriend’s kids was ruled as their parent because she provided for them monetarily, tended to them when they were sick and even volunteered at their school. Plus, she could not adopt the children as she was in the Air Force and did not want to violate the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that was only recently lifted. Because she was carrying out the parental responsibilities and rights, she was now deemed their parent.

Child custody decisions are, therefore, looking more at who is truly functioning as the parent. Adults who do not have blood ties or adopted a child used to be classified as “legal strangers”, but if they are carrying out the role of a parent, courts will want to keep what is in the best interest of the child. A child-centered approach versus a child as property mentality is what the courts are shifting too. Who do the children rely on? Who do they think their parents are?

This can have a big impact on not only child custody, but matters of child support. The state wants to side with whom will provide the best health, education, and home environment for the child if both parties cannot agree on joint custody. The courts really take each decision on a case by case basis, as no two scenarios are exactly the same. The biggest constant is that they will rule in the best interests of the children. An experienced child custody lawyer can help the individual who seeks child custody to create an agreement that upholds what is best for the children and takes into consideration all the actions they carry out for the children.

Gerald Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. The Maggio Law Firm specializes in divorce and family law.  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

Resolve to Divorce Amicably in 2012 and Try Mediation

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

In the New Year, couples who are getting divorced and can amicably do so can utilize mediation to make the dissolution process far less contentious. This process is far more attractive than a long, drawn-out courtroom battle. Mediation not only cuts out unneeded stress, but it saves money and time. For many, it is more of a team concept of both spouses, a mediator, and a few sessions to iron out the specifics of the divorce.

A mediator will provide guidance to reach a resolution on the issues that still need to be worked out. They bring critical negotiation skills to listen to each party’s interests and concerns, and then help to find a common resolution that each person can agree to. The mediator is a neutral party, and oftentimes an attorney, so they will be able to provide you with a background of what is legally permissible. When an impasse is reached or negativity stalls progress, the mediator knows how to get the conversation back on track. For some couples this means not doing the mediation all in one day. But in two to three sessions, you can resolve all the big priorities of the dissolution.

It is important for you to know what your future needs are so that child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts are done to help you find as stable of a future as possible. What many people like about mediation is that it allows you to express your values and opinions. A litigated divorce, in contrast, follows a more strict formula and what some call a “one size fits all” approach. Mediation is more sensible for two adults who can be in the same room together and hash out the details. You can take into account the budgets you live with everyday and the future needs you and the kids will have. Mediators also know how to look for tax savings and alternative settlement options to increase the chances of financial stability post-divorce.

Couples who have been through a mediated divorce say that it is far better to have the two people who intimately know their finances and assets decide how to dissolve the marriage versus a judge or pair of attorneys. At the end of the mediation process, a final divorce settlement will be created and approved by the courts. Months down the road, you will thank yourself for doing mediation. The money you saved can go towards the kids, a savings or emergency fund, or establishing yourself in a new home.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange County divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit or call (949) 553-0304.

No Legal Advice Intended: This website includes information about legal issues and legal developments. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems. Full disclaimer.