4 Tough Questions to Ask Yourself Before Divorcing

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmNo one would marry thinking that few years down the lane they would be so miserable or frustrated that they would be considering divorce as a choice. Rather, they enter marriage vows with enthusiasm and hope with determination to lead a lasting married life. However, marriage is not as easy as you may think if you are not prepared to sail across the rough patches.

Divorce is not an option for many until they have carefully considered many other choices and finally decided that splitting up is the only choice. If you are not sure whether you should go for it, here are some questions that you must ask yourself before making a decision.

Do I need to opt for divorce or do I prefer a better marriage with my spouse? 

You need to understand the difference between an unsalvageable marriage and an unhappy marriage. Many people often consider divorce even though they are going through ordinary experiences, however, what they are going through might be difficult and are in fact relationship challenges that cannot be resolved. If what you are looking forward to is a change, divorce is a drastic step.

Can I deal with the unpleasant consequences of divorce?

Divorce brings with it many changes and a lot of grief since it is the loss of your dream of a happy family. Disappointment, rejection, loneliness and hurts can grab the soul when you are in this highly vulnerable situation. You should have the support of your friends and family who can help you practically and emotionally when required. This over everything and get prepared for the real life situation.

Do I still love my partner?

Several people who tell that they need a divorce still have love and strong feelings for their partner. However, there is a lack of closeness and intimacy due to the on-going relationship struggle. Even if you find an ember or spark of love left, it is worthy to ask yourself, ‘is it possible to re-ignite it?’

Have I tried all that I can to improve my marriage?

Find out all the possibilities that can help you save your marriage and put in your efforts to work out through it. If your partner is also ready to take part in it, it would be great. Positive changes need efforts and commitment from your end.

Addressing these questions when you are contemplating a divorce can help you make the right decision.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

Who Pays Alimony in Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmEvery time you hear the word ‘alimony,’ you are probably thinking of a man writing out all of his monthly salaries off to his vengeful ex-wife. It is normally taken to be that way in popular culture. Movies and TV shows often use this as a device for easy comedy. The loser husband going broke every month while the woman in question has an easy life spending all that money. It works as a plot device, but in real life, this is not the case. In fact, in a lot of ways, it can be quite misleading. If you think that alimony is something the man pays his ex-wife by default, you may be wrong.

The standard of living (of the marriage) 

One of the key things that are used to measure what a marriage is worth and how alimony is calculated is the standard of living, in this case, of the marriage. It is also the key to finding out if there will be any alimony at all. Standard of living is an economics concept, and it is used to find out whether the couple would be able to live by themselves, in the same or similar economic standing as they were able to when they got married, after divorce. The law is simple so far. If one person makes all the income and the other is a stay-at-home spouse, then the person who is employed will have to share a part of their income with the non-earning member. If there is no sharing, the earning member will end up with a lot more disposable income than that of the non-earning member whose standard of living will drop drastically. The concept of alimony is designed to protect the standing of the non-earning member.

The courts decide what the alimony amount will be and for how long it will have to be paid. In many cases, it will extend until a specified period, within which the recipient can find their own employment and sustenance.

It is important to remember that apart from extraordinary cases where one member has a sudden spike in income, it is almost impossible to return to the same standard of living levels that the couple enjoyed as a family. That is simply because it is costlier to run two households than it is to run one. The concept of alimony is simply there to make this downgrade as soft as possible.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.   

Is Your Divorce Settlement Unfair?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce is probably the worst thing that a family can go through. At the end of it, there normally is no family left and people are rarely mutually happy about it. A lot of people not only fall out of love, they become bitter rivals and try to get the most out the divorce. ‘Winning the divorce’ becomes the primary concern to most people, it even trumps being rational or kind, in spite of the fact that there are no real winners in a divorce.

In this tug-of-war situation, one party is invariably going to feel like they have lost more than they should have or deserve. Here is what you can do in case you feel like the settlement has been unfair to you.

Even before you get into the settlement phase, remember that:

  • Never take your emotions in with you during negotiations or mediation. You have to be logical and make decisions based on how much you will need, what you will need and what you can stake your claims to as being yours.
  • Do not, under any circumstance use your children as pawns. Do not dangle visitation rights to get more money, do not use them to emotionally weaken your partner, and do not also show them as bargaining chips. Your children will resent both you and your partner forever.

If you have faced an unfair settlement…

You need to show the courts that your case has some elements of being ‘exceptional and compelling’, this could convince the court to reopen your case.

  • You will have to prove that the settlement is unjust, oppressive, and the terms are inequitable.
  • Bring along one or more of the following to the courts when going in for an application to reopen the case:
    • Proof of fraud or deceit by your partner, this will include hiding essential information that could have turned the case your way.
    • Duress and influence from your partner that forced you to accept the deal. It can include using the children to bargain.
    • If you were mistaken or made to believe otherwise on the matter of material facts used in the settlement.
    • A case of fundamental unfairness in the very nature of the settlement.

In such cases, you might be able to redo the negotiations, make sure you have a competent divorce lawyer in Orange County to help you get through it with relative ease.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Why You Should Never Opt For A Do-It-Yourself Divorce Settlement

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmDo you really want to involve a third person into your private life? All the information you’ll ever need is online, just do it yourself. How hard can it be? You might have had these questions asked either by someone, or even yourself at some point of time. While these statements may be inconsequential when you are painting your house, during a divorce, it can just be plain wrong, a mistake that you just do not want to commit. No divorce is a fun, walk in the park sort of situation. You are not discussing what to get for lunch, you are discussing the future of your broken family and your life depends on it.

Here are a few reasons why you should not DIY a settlement:

  • Division of property or assets is pretty much final- If you two have come to an agreement over how the assets are split, signed an agreement and the order is issued by the courts, it is final and binding. In most cases, such an agreement cannot be taken back. So get a professional on it, they have years of experience with these deals, let them work on it for you.
  • Depending on where you live, the law may be different- Googling tips and tricks is a good idea, but consider how wrong things can go if the information you download off the net is completely irrelevant? Divorce and family law can be vastly different between states, there are a number of amendments and you need to always be working with the latest updated regulations.
  • Your savings will be negligible- While it may seem like a good idea to go DIY and keep away from the fees that have to be paid to lawyers, that just may not be true. Without the guidance of a professional, you are more than likely to skip out a few crucial steps or even completely neglect certain nuances that are easily covered by a real lawyer. Even worse, if your spouse suddenly springs out with legal counsel, you are going to get your arms cut off.

There’s a reason why family law firms exist in places like Orange County, and that is to make sure divorce is as smooth as possible. Divorce is not something that was ever meant to be DIY, so don’t attempt to do it. Divorce and separation are painful enough, don’t add to it.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

Getting a Divorce: How Your Prenup Comes into Play

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

prenuptial agreements Orange CountyIt has happened. You were both hoping it would not come to this, but it has, and you and your spouse are getting a divorce. As you handle the many details that the divorce process involves, you remember that you had actually planned for this eventuality, you and your spouse had signed a prenuptial agreement. However, you might wonder, how exactly does the prenuptial agreement come into play during the proceedings?

The answer usually depends on the agreement itself. Here are the things you need to be aware of when you head into court with a prenup.

  1. The document needs to show ample proof that no financial assets or liabilities were concealed during the time of signing

Basically, your prenuptial agreement should not be fraudulent, and you need to be able to prove that. A major part of this is making sure that you declared everything you needed, to before signing the agreement, but it might also involve you gathering evidence to support this claim.

  1. The document needs to be in a legally viable format, and should have been filed properly

This is perhaps the most common reason for a prenup being invalidated in court. Your prenuptial agreement needs to be written out in a paper, preferably by a lawyer, with an equitable distribution of assets, signed by both parties involved under advisement from their legal counsel, and witnessed. If there is any issue in any stage of this process, if your prenup is an oral agreement that you and your spouse came to, for example, then there is a very good chance that the document would not hold up well during the divorce proceedings. If there are any doubts regarding the veracity of your prenuptial agreement, make sure you discuss this with your lawyer.

  1. The document needs to be signed by able individuals, and they cannot be coerced or forced

In case you believe you were not thinking clearly due to factors like coercion, manipulation, blackmail, drugs, illness, and so on, when you signed the prenuptial agreement, it might be cause enough for the agreement to be declared invalid. Disclose any doubts you might have had about your or your spouse’s ability to enter a legal, binding agreement with your lawyer before proceedings begin.

  1. The agreement must be conscionable

If you signed an agreement which stipulated that you would receive no spousal support under any circumstances where there is a huge disparity of income and wealth between the parties at the time that the agreement was entered into, then it might be in your best interest to have that prenuptial agreement invalidated.  Courts frown upon blatantly unfair or lop-sided agreements that favor one spouse to the vast detriment of the other.

There are many ways in which a prenuptial agreement can affect your divorce proceedings, and to have things go your way, you need to disclose everything about the agreement to your lawyer. Only full disclosure of your agreement, the contents and the circumstances under which it was signed, to your lawyer, can help you during your divorce proceedings.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Dealing with Teenage Issues After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmGetting a divorce is not something that just affects you and your soon-to-be-former spouse, it affects everyone in your household, especially children. The age of your child or children might require you to have different considerations when looking at divorce proceedings and custody arrangements. Depending on their age, children are also more or less likely to be directly involved in the proceedings, and their involvement must always be agreed upon by both parties involved.

Divorcing when you have children is tough in general, but it can get especially tricky when your children are teenagers.

  1. Keep communication channels open

As teenagers, your children are now at the stage where they know a lot more than maybe you might like them to, about divorce. By now, it is also likely that they have been exposed to divorce in other ways, such as divorces in the family or with their friends’ parents. This can be good because your child knows what a divorce is likely to mean for your family, but a lot of sensitivity and openness is still required. Keeping communication channels open means discussing your divorce openly with them and listening to their concerns if they have any. It also involves ensuring that they communicate with the other parent frequently as well.

  1. Maintain equitable schedules

When discussing schedules and custody involving teenagers, there are always three people involved in any discussion. You need to ensure that not only is the schedule you settle on is equitable to you and your former spouse, but more importantly, to your child. Teenagers often have independent schedules involving school, social obligations, work, and more, and their schedule should see as little disruption as possible after the divorce.

  1. Discuss rules and boundaries

One of the biggest problems that parents run into after divorce in terms of their teenagers is a discrepancy in discipline and rules. Having different curfews or rules about dating can cause significant strife with the teen involved. Therefore, parents should try and be united in terms of setting boundaries for their teens. While these do not have to be formalized in an agreement, both parents should still agree on them.

While discussing boundaries, counseling is something that may come up. If your child requires counseling, make sure that both you and your former spouse present a united front and take equal responsibility for any costs and obligations that come with the process.

  1. Discuss college

When you are divorcing, college plans need to be made for the teenagers. Who pays for college? Would college tuition be divided equally? Would the teenager involved has to provide for their own education in some way after they turn 18? All of these questions ought to be formally agreed upon, with dollar amounts, during divorce proceedings.

Divorce can be a difficult process, and even more so if you have teenagers. However, with proper management and communication, everyone involved can sail through the proceedings in an equitable and healthy way.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

How is Alimony Calculated?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWhen a couple files for a divorce and the proceedings have begun, the court may be inclined to award one of the former spouses alimony based on a decision it makes or an agreement that has been reached by the couple.

Alimony or spousal support can be described as a support system that limits the unfair economic effects that a divorce could have on the spouse who is unemployed or earns lesser among the two by paying a continuing income.

One justification for the alimony is that one of the spouses may have decided to step back from a career to support the family and will need time to hone their skills to be able to find a job to support themselves. Another reason behind alimony is to help the recipient continue living with the same standards as they had during the marriage.

How is alimony determined?

Alimony is very different from child support, which is mandated with specific monetary guidelines. Courts have much broader brackets to consider while determining whether alimony should be awarded and how much and for how long should the process run. Courts consider certain factors while deciding on alimony awards. They are:

  • The age, physical and emotional health, and financial status of the former spouses
  • The duration of time the recipient spouse would require to becoming self-sufficient
  • The length of the marriage
  • The spouses’ standard of living during the course of the marriage
  • The ability of the payer spouse to support both the recipient and themselves

With alimony awards, it could be hard to estimate if the payer spouse will follow orders. Unlike child support enforcement which is governed by a several legal mechanisms, alimony is not covered by such umbrellas.

But if the spouse doesn’t pay, the recipient could always go to court and file a contempt proceeding forcing the spouse to make payments. Since a court can award alimony, there are court mechanisms to enforce the alimony award, in case the alimony is withheld.

How long should a spouse be paid alimony?

Under California law, for a marriage under 10 years in duration, the spousal support will last for approximately one-half the duration of the marriage.  For a marriage over 10 years in duration, the court will have continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support with no specific termination date, but can be revisited as circumstances change over time.  If the decree does not mention when the alimony is to end, the payments should continue until the court decides. In most cases, the payments end when the recipient remarries.

Different states have slightly different rules regarding spousal support. If you want to learn more about alimony in Orange County, consult a divorce attorney.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

Do Divorce Support Groups Really Help?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmA divorce can shake anyone’s world. For most people, the end of a marriage is a harrowing experience that can be difficult to recover from. When you are facing a divorce, you will be overcome with feelings of confusion, anger, and grief. At the same time, you have to deal with the financial, legal, and familial aspects of the separation.

While you struggle during this difficult time, other people may not be able to fully understand what you are going through. The problem is, it is at times like these that you need their support the most.

No doubt, a divorce is isolating. You need to reach out to people who can help. Family members and friends will support you. But sometimes, you need someone who is or has been in your shoes. A divorce support group gives you that chance to interact with people who have gone through situations similar to yours. The first step to recovery is to locate the right support group for you.

How can you find the right divorce support group?

There are several organizations and clubs in and around your city that are actively involved in helping people who are going through divorces. Check online for support groups close to you. Newspapers can also be a good source of information on these groups. Speak to your friends and family members and find out if they know of any support groups.

You could also reach out to doctors, therapists, or local mental health clinics in your area. They could easily direct you to groups that could help you. Your lawyer might also know of some of these groups and would be more than willing to help.

If you are comfortable with the idea, you could also ask for tips on social media pages. Reach out to friends who have been in similar situations as yours. They might have attended some of these sessions themselves.

How do divorce support groups help?

One of the worst feelings you experience after getting a divorce is loneliness. These support groups help you avoid loneliness as you get to interact with people who have gone through similar instances. Sometimes, it is easier to speak to someone who is not intimately involved with your situation.

People in these support groups are usually going through various stages of divorce, so if your separation has just begun, you can speak to them and learn how they are coping. Your group will have a facilitator whom you can reach out to if need be.

If you live in Orange County, California, you could contact groups and workshops like ‘A New Beginning’ and ‘Free to Love Again’ for help during this difficult phase.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.

What To Know About Modifying Your Life Insurance After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmMarital assets and child custody as well as alimony related issues are usually top of mind for most couples going through a divorce. However, life insurance can be just as important and ignoring existing policies during this time could cause some regret going forward. Here’s what you should know about modifying life insurance plans held by you or your spouse after divorce.

Changing the beneficiaries of the policy

Typically, most couples will name their spouse as the beneficiary for the life insurance policy, with all payouts going to their partner in the event of their death. After a divorce, you will generally not want to give your ex-spouse to be a beneficiary.  In such a case, consider changing who the beneficiary is. Your will may also need to be modified accordingly.

Protecting your kids’ interests

If you have children, you may still wish to have the life insurance benefit go to your spouse, with the express purpose of the money being used for your children. Something to this effect will need to be mentioned to ensure that if your spouse remarries, the funds don’t go to their new partner instead of your kids.

Using insurance to protect child support or alimony

For someone who is dependent on their spouse for their income, having an insurance policy to back them up is a good idea. If you do not have a job and rely entirely on support received from your spouse, or count on the money they will give you to supplement your own income to run your home and look after your child after divorce, then a life insurance policy becomes your contingency plan. If you do not already have such a policy, be sure to negotiate for one during the divorce settlement. If you already have one, check to see it will cover for the new scenario where you need to run a home independent of your spouse. Even if it means you end up paying the premiums yourself, it may be well worth it. If you are not making the payments, be sure to check that the payments are being done on time so the policy does not lapse at any time even after the divorce is finalized.

Get policy ownership changed to your name

If you are dependent spouse, be sure to have the life insurance policy ownership switched to your name. If you do not, your spouse, can, at any time, change the beneficiary listed on the policy and you may wind up with nothing to your name.

Besides this, there are some policies that have a cash value associated with them. If this is the case with your life insurance policy, then include the policy and the cash associated with it in your list of marital assets to be split between you and your spouse.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Don’t Rush Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmA divorce can be an extremely trying time of your life, but unfortunately for most, the process of getting the divorce finalized can be a long drawn out one. With life on hold until the divorce comes through, it can be tempting to try and rush things to close out on an agreement quickly. But there are some compelling reasons why you should let things run their course.

It isn’t a sprint

Remember, divorce isn’t a race to the finish. You will need to approach it with a view to getting certain issues resolved and finding long term solutions to areas you and your soon-to-be ex might disagree on. Give each issue its due, ensure you build a strong case for yourself and understand the process properly.

If you try to move things along too quickly at first you may find yourself frustrated when the law doesn’t keep pace. Each stage of the divorce has its set duration and you will need to give it this window to be settled. You might also end up running out of steam when things reach the pointy end and you really need to push hard during final negotiations.

Why you shouldn’t rush things

If you hurry through the process of the divorce, you may end up missing out on discussing some key areas that could be important as time goes on. For instance, while working through the division of marital assets, you may rush through to close out things as quickly and painlessly as possible but may end up missing less obvious things like insurance policies or other yet to mature assets where your spouse is the nominee.

You may also do yourself a disservice by not making the strongest case possible and end up having to compromise. In the case of a divorce that is to be settled in court, you could even cost yourself in monetary terms. This is especially true if your spouse and their divorce attorneys have taken care to leave no stone unturned in building a strong case.

If you were the cause for the split, then a sense of guilt could just as easily nudge you towards trying to gain quick closure. The trouble is, you could end up paying for your mistakes for the rest of your life. It is good to try and take a balanced view of things and be fair to yourself too.

Surround yourself with a strong team, including a good divorce attorney and a sound financial advisor. Take your time and let the procedure run its course, taking care to see it doesn’t drag out unduly and you should be fine.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

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