6 Reasons Why Couples Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmCouples in the process of getting divorced have to deal with a multitude of issues, with financial assets being one of them. The dispute over financial assets, apart from the custody of children, is the main reason why finalizing the end of a marriage takes a long time. Although no one likes the idea of a divorce, a newly-engaged couple should get a prenuptial agreement drawn up before tying the knot.

“Why get a prenuptial agreement, because we are so in love?”

In the United States, at least 50% of marriages end up in divorce. Being optimistic about your impending nuptials is great, but the “if” factor of things not turning out as planned is there. Why not talk with your partner and come to a mutual and logical understanding of why you both should consider signing the prenuptial agreement. Here are reasons why couples should get a prenup:

  1. Wealthy Partner- if one partner is wealthier than the other one, insisting on a prenup is your right, as marriages can be unpredictable and it will give you the peace of mind that your significant other is not after your money.
  2. Big Earner- You both work, but you earn more money than your partner. If the marriage collapses, one party would have to pay huge amounts in alimony. Signing a prenup can limit the amount of alimony a partner would have to pay.
  3. Second Marriage- If you remarry or have kids from your previous marriage, you want to ensure that, after your death, money is distributed evenly amongst all your immediate family members. Getting your partner to sign a prenup provides you with that assurance.
  4. Huge Debt- If you are being hitched to someone that you know has a huge debt or loan on their shoulders that they haven’t paid, you may want to persuade them to sign a prenuptial agreement. If you marry them without signing a prenup, you would be equal partners in paying the debt.
  5. Business Owner- If you are an owner of a successful business and you didn’t have your partner sign a prenup, the end of the marriage could mean that your partner could wind up owning a part of your business.
  6. Not Wealthy- A prenuptial agreement doesn’t just benefit the wealthy partner, but the partner not so well off can also benefit from it. In the instance that the marriage ends, a prenup signed before the marriage can protect the financially weaker partner, as the division of assets and spousal support were pre-determined.

Prenuptial agreement is a valuable piece of document to have before you say, “I do,” to each other. The agreement doesn’t mean that you forecast the doom of your marriage. Instead, it serves as a fair division of assets, if your marriage crumbles.

Couples deciding to walk down the aisle should contact us to get more information on prenuptial agreement laws in California.

What is the Difference Between “Temporary” & “Permanent” Spousal Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmCalifornia law makes a distinction between “short-term” and “long-term” marriages in determining the duration of spousal support payments and the jurisdiction of the court to award spousal support. For marriages less than 10 years in duration, California law and case law precedent maintains that the spouse obligated to pay spousal support is obligated to do so for one-half the length of the actual marriage.

However, for marriages 10 years or more, the court generally has continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support and the longer the marriage, generally the prospect of continuing spousal support for many years to come.

Temporary spousal support, also known as “pendite lite” spousal support, is generally an award of support while the divorce is still pending in the court. It is calculated using the same formula and computer programs as for child support.

Permanent spousal support, which is determined by the court at time of trial or agreed to by the parties, does not involve a formula or computer program.  Instead, it is a factual analysis of the factors of the marriage, including the marital standard of living and the following factors:

  • The extent to which each party’s earning capacity is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The contributions of the supported party to the paying party’s education, training, career position, or professional license;
  • The ability of the supporting party to pay spousal support;
  • The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The obligations and asset, including separate property, of each party;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children;
  •  The age and health of the parties;
  •  Any history of domestic violence between the parties;
  •  The immediate and specific tax consequences to each party;
  •  The balance of the hardships to each party;
  • The goal that the supported party become self-supporting within a reasonable period of time (usually one-half the length of the marriage);
  • Any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse; and
  •  Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.

In situations where neither party needs spousal support at the moment, the Court can reserve jurisdiction to order spousal support in the future if there were any change of circumstances, such as serious illness, disability, or loss of employment.

5 Ways to Minimize Involvement of Kids in Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmThe constant screaming and shouting at each other in front of your little ones will impact them negatively. Your children, no matter what their age, will not be keen on seeing their parents hurling insults at each other.

Children are affected by divorce and continuous bickering doesn’t help lessen their concern and worry. Some children cut themselves off from the world or rebel if the situation with their parents is not maturely handled.

As parents, you have the responsibility to help your kids get through this tough time of seeing their parents take up different directions in their life. As parents, it is your duty to minimize their involvement in the divorce proceedings, and here is how you should do it:

1.      Minimize their Involvement, but Not Completely

Children should be left out of divorce proceedings, and that much is true. However, children should not be completely left out in the dark. They don’t need to see or hear about the ugly things their parents said to each other, but if an issue concerning them comes up, it may be appropriate to keep them in the loop about it.

2.      Leave Out the Fights

If you and your partner have decided to get a divorce due to a serious issue between the two of you, don’t tell your kids about it. Some parents would like the kids to side with them completely so they share all the nitty- gritty details of why the marriage ended. However, in doing so, it is not fair to the other partner, as they still want to maintain a level of self-respect in front of their children.  They will eventually know the real reason behind the divorce as they get older, just not now.

3.      Children are Not Pawns

Your significant other’s main weakness is his or her kids, which is something you can easily exploit for your own gains. Why use your kids for your own good though? You want to hurt your partner, that’s why? No, your children are not pawns so leave them out of it. Don’t manipulate them and certainly don’t fill their minds about how bad their mother or father is.

4.      Don’t Neglect Your Child Custody Agreement

After the divorce, the parents may share joint custody. Days would be allocated to each parent when they can take their kids. However, there may be some days where they can’t take the kids due to some reason. If something like this occurs, don’t leave it up to the other partner to explain why you can’t take them, instead explain them yourself. Also, don’t make it a routine to not follow through with your child custody agreement.

5.      Don’t Use Your Children as a Communication Tool

You may not ever want to talk to your ex, but at times, during or after the divorce, you will not have a choice in that matter. If you want to talk to your ex, be mature about it and call him or her up instead of conveying your message through your kids.

What Is The Purpose of Court-Mandated Mediation Before My “Request for Order” Hearing for Custody & Visitation?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

top family law attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmThe State of California mandates that all custody court proceedings filed in the state must first attend court-ordered mediation prior to the date of the scheduled hearing.  The purpose of such court-ordered mediation is, in reality, intended to reduce the congestion of cases in court by making an effort to assist parents in working out custody and visitation issues with the assistance of a neutral third party.

The court mediators are generally trained professionals who have at least a Master’s Degree and have extensive experience in psychology and marital/family counseling, and are trained in conflict resolution.

In custody mediation, the mediator meets with the parties at the mediation department at the family law court either together and/or individually. If there has been domestic violence between the parties, the mediation is usually held in separate sessions with each parent for safety reasons and to avoid any appearance of intimidation.

The mediator works to assist the parties in focusing on parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of their children and can put together a partial or full parenting agreement schedule (including legal custody, parenting plans, holiday and vacation schedules, transportation or other issues) depending on what the parties are able to agree upon in mediation.

Parents can sometimes resolve all of their parenting issues in mediation, sometimes only a partial agreement can be reached, and otherwise no agreement is reached. Mediators only draft agreements that are acceptable to both parties. If the mediation agreement is still agreeable to both parties at the time of the Request for Order hearing, it can be adopted and incorporated into a court order.

Only the parties attend mediation, with no attorneys, spouses or other family members present, although a second session can sometimes be requested so that the mediator can speak with the parties’ children, if it is believed that such feedback would be helpful in assisting the parties to develop parenting plans.

Stepparent Adoption Means Terminating Another Parent’s Legal Rights

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIn situations where a stepparent acts as one of the child’s primary caregivers and the other biological parent is not involved in the child’s life, stepparent adoption may be in the best interests of the child. Adoption terminates one biological parent’s legal rights and allows the stepparent to take over those rights and responsibilities.

When to Consider Stepparent Adoption

Some scenarios where stepparent adoption may be the best choice include cases where the other biological parent has died; cases where the other parent is uninvolved in the child’s life, due to imprisonment or abandonment; and cases where the other parent voluntarily relinquishes his or her rights. It is not appropriate in situations where the other parent still plays a role in the child’s life.

Stepparent adoption is ideal in cases where the stepparent already plays a parental role in the child’s life, and the adoption serves as a formalization of that bond.  In such cases, the legal benefits of stepparent adoption can be significant. For example, the adoptive parent gains the right to make legal decisions on behalf of the child as the biological parent would. Adoption also ensures that the stepchild is eligible for Social Security and life insurance benefits if the stepparent dies.

It is important to understand that the stepparent adoption is a permanent process that cannot be revoked later on. If the stepparent and biological parent divorce later, the adoption remains valid and the stepparent will retain their legal rights and responsibilities to the child.

Terminating the Other Parent’s Legal Rights

Stepparent adoption cannot occur without terminating the legal rights of the other biological parent. Filing a petition for freedom from parental custody is the first step in the process. If the other parent is still living but absent, every effort must be made to contact them so that they have the opportunity to contest the proposed adoption.

In some cases, the family may draft a post-adoption contract that allows the biological parent to continue to see the child on a limited basis after the adoption.

The Adoption Process

If the child is over the age of 12, the child’s preferences and consent are important to the process. In such cases, the child will must sign a consent form to allow the adoption to proceed.

Other aspects of the adoption process are designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child. For example, the family will work with Social Services and home visits may be required. The family may also need to appear in court in some cases.

If your family is interested in stepparent adoption, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney who has experience in stepparent adoptions.

What To Expect From Your First Meeting With A Divorce Attorney

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmIn choosing the divorce attorney who will represent you in your divorce case, it is always advisable to first interview several divorce and family lawyers either/or by phone or in person.  You should choose the attorney that you feel most comfortable to talk with and that you feel will have your best interests in mind, because you and that attorney will be working together quite frequently.  

If a divorce attorney that you meet with seems impatient and pushes the consultation to be over quickly and does not seem to be listening to you, then perhaps that attorney is not the best choice for you.  A good divorce attorney is one that truly takes the time to listen to you and what you have to say first.

Some attorneys offer free consultations, either an hour or 30 minutes, while others might charge for their time.  It is important for you to understand that this alone is not how you should base consulting with a particular attorney. Use your judgment as to whether you believe that a particular attorney is worth meeting with even if they charge some sort of consultation fee.  If you decide to retain that attorney, request that the consultation fee be waived since you are becoming a client.

You should be prepared to ask questions about your case and what to expect, such as what the retainer fee will be, the attorney’s billing rate, court filing fees, and other costs.   Be prepared with some written questions and issues to discuss at your first meeting, but be reasonable in the amount of questions you have, because the primary intent of the first meeting is to get a feeling about the attorney and if you will feel comfortable working with that attorney.

Moreover, be focused about the issues of your marriage, and try to avoid rambling about the end of your marriage, although the attorney might indicate that he or she wants to understand the big picture of what caused the demise of your marriage.   Whenever the attorney asks you specific questions, try to provide specific answers, because the attorney is trying to understand what will need to be done in your divorce case.  The attorney will also of course need to know the basic information about your marriage, such as the date of marriage, the date of separation and the names and birth dates of the children, among other information.

The lawyer will need to determine the financial circumstances of both parties of the marriage, including incomes of the parties, and the debts and obligations of the parties.  Those circumstances will help determine the possible need for child and spousal support, whether a spouse is underemployed, and possible options regarding child custody.

Hopefully by the end of the first meeting, you have a good sense of what the attorney is like and can offer you in your case, and also that the attorney has been able to give you an idea of what you can expect in your divorce case.

Benefits of Having an Orange County Family Lawyer

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Family lawyers in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmFamily lawyers are professionals with adequate knowledge and years of experience who can help you in situations like divorce, child custody, property distribution, alimony etc. though you might also opt for out-of-court settlement, but in case you and your partner are not in good terms with each other and the only option left is divorce, it is advisable to seek help from a reputable and experienced family lawyer in California.

There are countless benefits of hiring a family lawyer. From document preparation to post-divorce legal matters, you can count on these professionals for everything. Here is a quick list of some of the many benefits of hiring a competent and reliable family lawyer:

Legal Representation

From preparing documents to representation in court trials, you can count on divorce attorneys for every divorce/separation-related concern. However, when hiring a divorce lawyer for legal representation, you have two options: either hire them for full representation or go for limited legal representation.  In case of full representation, attorneys charge according to the time spent on your case.  In cases of limited scope representation, attorneys can offer flat fees, but limited divorce services do not include counseling and post-divorce legal matters such as custody, property distribution, etc.

Wide Range of Services

Family lawyers offer a wide range of advisory and representation services. Take a quick look at some of the scenarios which call for hiring a family lawyer in Orange County.

Separation or Mediation- Hire a family lawyer if you are considering a separation or if you have been presented with a divorce suit.

Spousal Support Agreement- You can hire an attorney if you want to make sure that you get the best alimony agreement in both cases where you are entitled to receive or obliged to give alimony.

Child Support- Rely on a child custody lawyer if you want to receive child support and want to find out if you are entitled to it or not.

Child Support Expenses- If you want to know whether you have to pay child support under any special circumstances and so on, you can count on family lawyers. You can also hire a family lawyer if you want to challenge the custody of your children on any basis.

Advisory Services and Counseling

Divorce attorneys, with years of experience and professional knowledge, make sure that all your legal matters are being handled in accordance with state laws. There are certain restraining orders that you need to follow during the procedure of divorce. Divorce attorneys can guide you about all these laws and regulations and makes sure you are following them. You can also count on them for counseling and expert advice.

Important Information Regarding California Divorce Law

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.Whether you are opting for full legal representation or self-representation for divorce, you must have a good understanding about the basics of divorce law in California. There are certain rules and restraining orders that you have to follow during the divorce procedure. Violating these rules might cause you to pay stiff legal penalties. Moreover, learning about California divorce law can help you choose the right legal alternative and divorce attorney.

Here are some quick and important facts about California divorce law that can help you understand the legal requirements and implications of divorce in California:

Residency

If you are filing for divorce in California, you must have lived in the state of California for the last six months and for the last 3 months in the county where you are filing the case. If both spouses have California residency but have been living in two different counties for the last 3 months, they can file for divorce in either of the two counties.  For example, if you have lived in Orange County for the past 3 months, you can file your divorce case with the Orange County Family Law Court.

Summary Dissolution

Summary dissolution is a joint filing process which requires less paperwork and in which both spouses mutually agree to an out-of-court settlement. You can only opt for summary dissolution if you and your spouse have mutually decided to divide your assets and debts uniformly between each other and the following conditions are also met:

  • You must have been married for less than five (5) years (from date of marriage to date of separation).
  • Combined joint debt or loan amount must not exceed $6,000 (excluding car loans).
  • The total worth of community property should be less than $40,000 (excluding vehicles).
  • The total worth of separate property should be less than $40,000 (excluding vehicles).
  • Neither of the spouses can own land or a home.
  • Couples applying for summary dissolution must not have any children (biological or adopted) from the relationship.
  • Neither party shall ever receive spousal support from the other party.

Property Distribution

California is a community property state.  Regardless of the employment or financial state of spouses, California divorce law ensures uniform distribution of assets and valuables between spouses. Property owned by spouses is either community property or separate property. Community property is the assets and debts acquired during the marriage (in and out of the state). This property is divided equally between the spouses. Separate property, on the other hand, is the property acquired by either of the spouses before getting married or by inheritance or gift, and this property is not divided during the divorce.

Child Custody

Depending on the best interests of the children of the marriage, court may reward joint or sole custody. Following are some of the factors that can influence the decision of the court:

  • Wishes of the child
  • Financial stability of parents
  • Frequent and continuing contact of the child with both parents
  • Child’s safety
  • Parents’ health records
  • The history of drug use or alcohol abuse
  • History of domestic violence

Alimony

The court may also reward alimony (spousal support) to a spouse. The amount and period of alimony can depend on the length of marriage, the marital standard of living of the couple during the marriage, and other factors under California Family Code section 4320.  It is advisable to speak with a divorce attorney to fully understand how the family court determines alimony.

Just keep the above-mentioned facts about California divorce law in mind when filing for divorce. This can help you deal with all the legal proceedings in accordance with California state law.

Getting What You Want With the Help of OC Family Lawyers

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmSometimes the only way out of a traumatic marriage is divorce. You have to take the big step for the sake of your mental peace and better future of your children. But filing for divorce and dealing with all the legal matters on your own is not easy. You might need someone for professional help and expert advice on divorce-related concerns. Here is where a family law lawyer in Orange County can step in and help you, making sure that you and your partner get the best deal.

These lawyers are professionals that specialize in family law and can help divorce, mediation, custody and post-divorce matters. Here is how hiring a top family law attorney in “The O.C.”, California can ease your life:

Calculated Decisions

In emotional scenarios like divorce and child custody, where you are already emotionally burdened, it is advisable to hire a family law attorney in Orange County in order to help understand all the legal processes and their consequences in a better way and get done with court trials as painlessly and quickly as possible.

Strategic Approach

A lawyer has adequate legal knowledge and years of experience to decide which legal approach would work in your best interest. He or she can give you expert tips and guide you to cope with the difficult situation in a strategic manner so you get the best deal in the end. Whether it’s property distribution or child custody, you can count on the knowledge and experience of professional family lawyers.  A family lawyer can help keep the emotions out of the proceedings so that both partners, whose emotions are usually very close to the surface, do not end up making a mess of the situation.

Fair Compensation

Attorneys make sure that you are getting what you deserve from your spouse. You can also count on them for counseling, in case your spouse is threatening or pressurizing you. The court may also reward alimony to spouses. The amount and period of alimony solely depends on the standard of living of the couple during the marriage. Family lawyers make sure that you are getting fair compensation. A family attorney can help you get fair compensation for child support, in case your spouse wants you to take care of children.

Expert Advice

Divorce attorneys, with years of experience and professional knowledge, make sure that all your legal matters are being handled in accordance with state laws. They make sure that you are following all the restraining orders during the procedure of divorce. Divorce attorneys can guide you about all these laws and regulations and makes sure you are following them. From counseling to full legal representation in court you can rely on family lawyers for every concern. They deal with hundreds of divorce and child custody cases every day and can easily understand your situation.

Steps for Selecting a Divorce Lawyer in Orange County, California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Lawyers Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWatching your family falling apart right in front of your eyes is not at all a pleasant experience. The emotional trauma coupled with the mental stress of dealing with legal implications of divorce can really be nerve wrecking. However, you can do a few things to ease the procedure of divorce filing and asset distribution and one of such alternatives is finding a reliable and competent divorce attorney in California.

Though you can find a number of divorce attorneys in Orange Country, California, it is very important to find an experienced and certified attorney whom you can trust with all the legal implications.

Follow these steps to find a trustworthy divorce attorney in Orange Country, California:

Know Your Options

The type of legal representation you need depends on your case and your priorities. Opting for the right divorce handling option can considerably ease the procedure. You have the following divorce handling options in Orange Country, California:

Hire a Divorce Attorney for Full Representation-This is probably the most suitable of handling divorce –related issues. Hiring a professional divorce attorney for full legal representation means handing over all the legal matters of divorce to your attorney.

Hire a Divorce Attorney for Limited Representation- If you have limited income and cannot afford the hefty fees of divorce attorneys, you can also hire attorneys for limited legal representation. Hiring a professional divorce attorney for limited legal representation means handing over certain legal matters of divorce to your attorney. Usually limited legal representation services don’t include counseling services.

Hire a Mediator- If you are in good terms with your spouse, and he/she agrees for out-of-court settlement, go for a negotiated resolution. You can seek the help of a professional mediator in Orange Country to finalize all the legal matters in accordance with the state law.

Considerations

There are a few considerations you must keep in mind when looking for a divorce attorney in Orange Country, California:

Internet Search- In case you are counting on online resources for searching a divorce attorney, make sure you are relying on authentic websites. Narrow down search results to find the best attorney in town. Look at the clients’ reviews and testimonials to judge the credibility of attorneys.

Referrals- This is probably the safest and the most reliable option to find a trusted divorce attorney in California. Ask your friends, family members and acquaintances for referrals.

Courthouses- Courthouses can also provide you with a list of authentic and low-cost divorce attorneys in California. t is relatively a safer and more convenient option than relying on online resources for attorney hunt.

Consultation- While you can hire the first divorce attorney that seems suitable and trustworthy, it is advisable to consult at least 3-4 attorneys to find the best one for you.

Though it is not advisable to handle all legal matters on your own, if you think you are capable of dealing with long court trials and have adequate legal knowledge about divorce and child custody, you can also act as your own attorney. However, it is recommended to seek professional help for divorce and custody in California.