Common Questions Asked About Child Support

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.If you are divorced or going through a divorce, the topic near at the top of the agenda is going to be child support, unless of course you don’t have children.  The issue of child support is complicated when some partners are unwilling to pay. In certain circumstances, the partner with primary custody of the children might not know their full rights concerning child support. Here is a list of answers to questions clarifying when the partner is entitled for child support:

1.     “I am pregnant and getting divorced, am I eligible for child support?”

It’s rare for pregnant women to separate from their spouse, but it does happen.  File for child support as soon after the child’s birth as possible.  Your spouse is also liable to pay one-half of the child’s medical expenses not covered or reimbursed by insurance.

2.     “I was married for a short time, but found out I was pregnant, now he’s says the baby isn’t his, but I know it is, so can I make him pay child support?

If a man is married and his wife has a child during marriage, he is legally presumed to be the father unless proven otherwise.  If your spouse declines to pay child support or tells you that the baby isn’t his, the only way for him to fight that legal presumption is to seek a genetic DNA test to prove parentage.  If the DNA matches with your child, the legal presumption is confirmed as fact.  However, if there is no DNA match, the husband has legal ground to fight against paying for child support.

3.     We share the custody of our kids and are separated, not divorced, but my partner’s name is not on the birth certificate nor is there a court order in place. Can I still file for child support?

If your partner and you have a mutual understanding to share custody of the kids, that’s great, but in order for your partner to pay child support, you need to file for it. The better option is to go to a divorce mediator to make a settlement agreement, which includes child support. The mediator can also tell you about the state’s laws regarding the payments.

How to Prepare Yourself Before Going For Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.Have you and your partner opted for divorce mediation? If so, a good choice to have made.  Divorce mediation is a great process to make your rightful claim on assets that you deserve, but only if you know what you are doing. You can’t go into a meeting with guns blazing thinking that everything is going to go in your favor. For one thing, your partner may raise some issues to weaken your claim and without any evidence supporting it, you may leave the mediation displeased.  Therefore, if you want to strengthen your position, prepare yourself before you head for your first mediation meeting. Here’s what you have to do:

1.     Get a Copy of All Your Financial Documents

The first step to successfully obtain what you want is to gather the following financial documents:

  • Brokerage & Bank Accounts
  • Vehicle Insurance and Loans
  • Time Shares
  • Business Documents (corporate tax returns and a current profit-loss statement)
  • Retirement Funds
  • Credit Card Balances
  • Mortgage and Home Equity Payments
  • Pending Debts
  • The last 3 years of Tax Returns

You can both gather these documents together or separately depending on your current financial situation.

2.     Arrange to Meet with the Mediator Separately

If you are doubtful about your partner’s intentions, contact the mediator to arrange a meeting alone to discuss issues. You can request to meet the mediator separately at any stage of the mediation process. The mediator is not going to leak the information to your partner, so you can express your concerns with ease, as long as both parties agree that the mediator can speak with the parties individually.

3.     Know Your Rights

For some, divorce mediation is new. They may not have any prior knowledge of what happens during the meetings. On the other hand, your partner who suggested it may already have vast knowledge of it. Therefore, talk to people who already have gone through this process, read books on it, talk to a mediator, and research online. In doing so, you will know what your options are and what you can do or not do during meetings.

4.     Learn to Negotiate, Not Argue

Even though your partner is the last person you may want to see, you need to attend the meetings with a clear and cool head. Learn to control your outbursts especially when your partner brings up an issue that you both bump heads on. Instead, look at the bigger picture, talk with your partner, and come up with solutions to solve it.

5.     Present a Budget

Alimony (spousal support) is an issue that people want solved quickly without any bad blood developing between them. In order to come to a joint decision, it’s recommended that both partners draw up a budget. The partner asking for the monthly income should list all the expenses that incur within a month whereas the other partner should list their expenses and how much they are able to pay, to get an idea of what support might be needed.

The Benefits of Co-Parenting Classes for Divorcing & Divorced Parents

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce lawyers Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmThe birth of your first child is a milestone for a couple. Life after a child completely changes. Your needs take a back seat and your child’s needs take center stage. Everything that you do or plan, you do it meticulously.  With your partner, you are in charge of making your child’s future bright.

This remains a parent’s top priority even when they are in the middle of divorce proceedings or are already divorced. To provide their child with a healthy environment to grow up in, parents can and should take co-parenting classes. Co-parenting classes show parents how to put their differences aside and together raise their children in an environment free of arguments. Enrolling in these classes will benefit you in the following ways:

1.     Helps Parents Resolve Conflicts

Co-parenting classes encourage parents to talk about their issues and resolve them. The classes will teach them about the negative impact they are having on their kids by arguing in front of them. Also, parents will learn to keep their issues at bay and not to confuse them with the needs of their kid(s).

2.     Helps Parents Control Their Anger

Even after parting ways, couples can often prefer to avoid contact with each other.  Just dropping their child off at your former partner’s residence can be infuriating.  If you feel this way towards your partner, you are not alone, but you do need to think about your kids. The co-parenting classes will teach you how to control your anger especially in the presence of your kids.

3.     Helps Parents Bridge the Communication Gap

Parents who want to play an important part in their kid’s life will continue to do so after parting ways. They will go to their child’s events, go for parent-teacher meetings, see them off to prom, and be a constant presence in their life. For this reason, bridging the communication gap between them is necessary. Through the co-parenting classes, parents will learn communication techniques. Learning these will enable them to be civil with each other during their child’s vital development years.

4.     Helps Parents Learn Problem-Solving Techniques

Sometimes, parents may need to come together to solve a problem involving their child. If both of them on purpose disagree with each other out of anger, the children will suffer the most. In life, parents have to make important decisions regarding their child’s future. The decisions they make will impact their children forever. That’s why it’s important that they don’t say anything just to disagree with their partner, but see their point of view as well. Co-parenting classes will do just that. The classes will strengthen their problem-solving skills and help them adopt a respectful approach towards their ex.

After or during a divorce, the primary aim for all parents is to provide their kids with a nurturing environment. Co-parenting classes helps divorced parents build a mutual understanding to work in unison to look after their children.

The Importance of the Date of Separation in Divorce Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDo you recall when you and your partner called it quits? For some people, their date of separation sticks out in their mind. Mainly because the decision to part ways resulted from a full-blown fight or your partner was unfaithful, or one of the parties moved out. Whatever your reason was to end things, you will always remember your separation date. Although you may not want to keep that memory intact, when it comes to filing for divorce, the date of separation is quite important to remember.

What Role does the Date of Separation Play?

Knowing the date of separation is important in order to:

  • Ensure a proper division of property for assets acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation
  • Determine the length of time that either party may be entitled to receive or pay spousal support to the other.

1.     Fair Division of Property & Debts

Equalization of property and debts depends on the date you separated from your partner. It can have a significant impact on the sum of money allotted to the partner during divorce settlements. There have been cases where the partner got more money due to the date they separated. The reverse for this is also true. The reason for getting more or less money is also due to the value of shares increasing or decreasing during the time of separation.

2.     Support Payments

The law states that the partner needs to start paying support to their ex on the date they separated. Therefore, knowing your separation date will help disputing couples settle many arguments. What happens when the disputing partners clash on what the exact date of separation is? Look at the next heading to find out.

Figuring Out the Exact Date of Separation

It is helpful for your partner and you need to sit down, with a divorce mediator or your lawyers, to come to an agreed-upon date of separation. The questions that may arise to solve this issue are:

  • Do you remember when you decided to separate?
  • When did you tell your family and friends that you both are not living together or sleeping in separate rooms?
  • When was the last time you had marital relations with your partner?

More questions to determine the date may be asked.  If there is a disagreement between the parties as to the date of separation, that issue would otherwise have to be resolved first in your divorce case in order to be able to determine property division and long-term spousal support issues.

Ways to tell Your Children that You are Getting a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce is difficult on both parents and children. Parents going through a divorce will find breaking the news of them parting ways to their children very difficult whereas kids will go through a multitude of emotions when their parents tell them of their decision. In order to make this easier on kids and parents, parents can choose to break the news in more subtle ways. Ways that will ensure that no one will get hurt in the process. Divorcing partners with kids should announce the news of their separation in the following ways:

1.    Do It Together

People choose to separate for many reasons such as losing the spark in their relationship, cheating, and various other reasons for dissolving the marriage. Those reasons can create a rift between parents leading to animosity in the house.

When this conflict reaches a boiling point, going their separate ways is the best solution. However, breaking this news to the kids is the real challenge. To overcome the challenge, parents can do it together telling the kids a reason they both agree on.  Keep in mind that when telling the kids, speak in terms they can understand.

2.    Don’t Use Complex Language

Young children especially have a tough time understanding why their parents won’t be living together anymore. They will have many questions for you, which you should be prepared to answer. Before they ask, explain it to them earlier. The earlier you explain, the better they will be able to cope with the news, but how will you explain it?

Don’t beat around the bush. Start with sentences such as “Recently, mom and dad have done a lot of thinking,” then start explaining what those thoughts are. Gradually, tell them that they are not responsible for mommy and daddy parting ways.

3.    Tell Your Children that It’s Not Their Fault

Children often hold themselves responsible for their parents parting ways. Younger children may think they are at fault. As parents, you need to sit them down and reassure them that their decision for getting a divorce wasn’t because of them. During your conversation with your child, try never to blame the other partner directly.

4.    Act Civil with Each Other

Down the line, things might have changed between you and your partner. Now, those things may have become the reason to file for divorce as well. Never disclose the reasons in front of your children, but keep them between you two. The last thing children want to see are their parents throwing vile remarks at each other. To avoid creating such a situation in the first place, try to part ways amicably by choosing divorce mediation, a more peaceful way to end things on a good note.

What To Look For In Choosing A Family & Divorce Lawyer

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.You might find a number of ways of finding a divorce lawyer in California, but finding a competent lawyer whom you can trust with all legal matters, can be a little difficult. In order to find a family law and divorce attorney in Orange County that you feel comfortable with, you must know have some  understanding about the qualities of an experienced, competent divorce lawyer.

Here is a quick look at some of the many traits of a competent family lawyer to keep in mind in finding a competent family law attorney:

He Or She Should Be an Expert In Family Law

You can’t rely on a general lawyer for handling your divorce-related problems. You have to consider the attorney’s specialization when relying on online resources and referrals for attorney hint in California. Every lawyer with sound academic profile is not necessarily competent or fully versed in all areas of law. A family law and divorce attorney’s practice should be focused on those areas of law, and not be the “jack of all trades” so to speak.  Moreover, family law spans a broad spectrum of family-related legal practices. If you are looking for an attorney for child support, for instance, then make sure that the attorney offers the services you need.

Good Communication Skills

A divorce lawyer must have good communication skills. Family law services also include legal advisory and counseling services. You might need to seek an attorney for expert advice on matters related to divorce, child support, property distribution, alimony, etc. But if the lawyer does not have good communication skills and can’t make you understand his point, he or she can’t help you. So don’t completely rely on referrals and online resources for hiring a divorce attorney. Meet the attorney in person to make sure you are satisfied with his or her professional skills and can communicate with him or her comfortably.

Experience is a Must

An experienced attorney not only handles all the legal matters strategically but you can also count on him for legal advice and counseling. So experience is an important aspect you must consider when hiring a divorce attorney in California.  An attorney can’t learn practical aspects of family just by having a law degree alone.  Hands-on experience is very important to understand various aspects of divorce law and keep track of changing divorce laws. So make sure that the attorney you are choosing is experienced in handling divorce and child custody cases.

Your Satisfaction is Important

It is very important that you have a good connection with your attorney. Nothing is more important than your contentment and comfort. You might come across a number of lawyers with exceptionally good professional skills, but they treat people merely like files and don’t understand their emotional stress. Therefore, it is recommended to hire a lawyer who puts in efforts to help you cope with the mental and emotional trauma of divorce.

Testimonials and Clients’ Feedback

An easy way to make sure that the attorney you are choosing is reputed and offers reliable services, is looking at the clients’ feedback and testimonials.  An authentic and professional attorney has a large client base and their response reflects the quality of services the attorney offers.

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.