What Are The Common Reasons For Divorce In The U.S.?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm50% of all marriages ending in divorce in the United States is, unfortunately, a fact. Differences in income levels, personalities, education and physical appearances are just some of the many reasons why so many couples are getting divorced in the US and experts and therapists say that these reasons are very trivial especially after having spent so many years of their lives together.

Divorce statistics in the U.S. 

No doubt the rate of divorce has been at a stable if not slightly declining rate since the 1990’s especially after divorces could be settled out of court and child support and alimony was introduced by states in the U.S. Couples didn’t feel the need to stay married to each other with all the benefits being offered to them by the state governments.

Now, the average length of a happy marriage in the U.S. is claimed to be only a shocking 11 years. According to a recent and interesting study conducted by the American Law and Economics Review Board, a little more than two-thirds of divorces in the U.S. are filed by women. Even though the rate differs slightly from state to state, by the end of the 19th century, 70% of women in most states were the ones filing for a divorce.

Common reasons for divorce in the U.S. 

Marriage therapists and counselors in the U.S. say that shockingly enough the main reasons why many couples are getting divorced so fast is due to the simplest and most futile reasons. The most common ones are –

  1. Society – the number 1 reason for divorce in the United States is either one party getting married for the wrong reasons such as money or because they thought they had to get married before reaching a certain age.
  1. Lack of individuality – ‘couple dumb’ is a syndrome where either the man or the woman are incapable of doing anything interesting without the other person around. Having their own interests and the freedom to express themselves and involve themselves in their own hobbies, likes, interests, etc. is vital in order to maintain a sense of individuality and enjoy their own personalities.
  1. Financial dependency or difference in incomes – when one partner becomes financially dependent on the other is when problems start to arise as the other partner automatically begins to call all the shots when it comes to how and when to spend money. Major differences in incomes earned by husband and wife can also be grounds for calling it quits as whoever is earning more tends to stand on a pedestal in the relationship.

Other common reasons for divorce in the United States include either partner “changing” after marriage, unmet expectations, loss of intimacy, and forgetting your role in the relationship.   So what’s the most common trait of the most successful marriages?  It is having the least expectations of what their marriage and their spouse should be.

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 Expect During A Bench Trial For Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmJust a clutch of states across the nation put a divorce case on jury trial. Everywhere else, including California, a bench trial is the default – and only – option. So what’s the difference and what impact could it have on the outcome of your divorce?

Should you and your soon to be ex choose to have your divorce settled in court – often a last resort, having exhausted mediation or attempts to arrive at agreement with the help of your divorce attorneys; then a bench trial is likely what you will encounter.

Bench trial vs. Jury trial

By taking your divorce to court, you are leaving the final decision on what is deemed to be an equitable and fair verdict on the division of marital assets, alimony payments, and child custody, among other things, to the discretion of the court. In the case of a jury trial, a panel of individuals will decide the fate of your divorce. This option is available only in some states, so you will need to check with your divorce attorney first.  Again, California does NOT have jury trials in family law cases.  

In a bench trial, the judge assigned your case will review all facts and evidence presented before him or her, listen to the testimony and questioning conducted in the court, and ultimately arrive at a decision. This in effect, means the power is vested in the hands of one individual. You may strike it lucky and find that the judge sympathizes with your case, or is neutral. On the flip side, some judges may take a sterner view on certain issues like a history of substance abuse and this could color the outcome.

Not everything needs to go to trial

Remember, you do not need to leave everything to the courts to decide. You can work through smaller issues and even some of the bigger ones that you can agree on outside of court. It is only the areas that you reach a stalemate on, and find that mediation doesn’t help either, that you will need to have resolved in court.

What to expect during a trial

Once the case reaches the court, hearings are scheduled to decide on issues like temporary child custody and alimony payments, pending the actual trial. These hearings also provide a window for your attorney to approach the court for legal action or to instruct the other party for responses, if questions your spouse is bound to answer have not been responded to within the stipulated time.

Once a trial date is set, opening statements are made by the attorney for whoever filed for the divorce. This is followed by the opposition lawyer’s statement. Once each party has presented their case, and all evidence and cross examination is complete, closing arguments are made. The judge may then take some time, running to a few weeks or even a few months – depending on how complex your case is, to arrive at his or her 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.

What Are Court-Ordered Settlement Conferences?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Best Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmFor estranged couples that have decided to go the route of a court settled divorce, some states mandate a settlement conference before the case goes to trial. To understand the mechanics of such a conference and to see how it may actually be a blessing in disguise for some, read on.

Encouraging out-of-court settlements

In states like California, the legal system is designed to ensure that divorce attorneys do their best to help clients arrive at a settlement without going to court. The means you use to arrive at a settlement is left to you – some couples might opt to go the mediation route, others may choose a collaborative divorce process, and some may end up resolving their issues or coming to some form of settlement agreement during a court settlement conference.

Court-ordered settlement conferences

As a final measure in case all others discussions have failed, or if a couple has chosen not to go the divorce mediation or collaborative divorce route, some counties in states like California require that before a trial is scheduled, the couple must participate in a court mandated settlement conference. Unlike divorce mediation which is something you might choose to do or may opt not to do, a court mandated settlement conference is not optional.

In some other regions, while they are not mandatory, such court sponsored settlement conferences can be availed of with no charges to you. This is a voluntary process, but couples do opt for it to avoid the tedious and expensive process of a trial.

What to expect

In some places, the judge who is given your case will conduct the settlement conference in the presence of your divorce attorney, as well as your spouse and his or her attorney – this is what is referred to as a judicial settlement conference. A mediated settlement conference sees the involvement of a mediation specialist.

During such court sponsored settlement conferences, you may have the chance to interact with and get advice from experienced judges and family law attorneys. With their opinions and help, you may find you are able to arrive at a settlement that is acceptable to both you and your spouse. What’s best is this saves you not just money, but months of heartache from long drawn out legal proceedings in court.

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 You Should Include In Your Child Custody Agreement

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmFor a couple, a divorce can be a very painful process. More often than otherwise, the divorcing couple forgets that their separation can be a terrifying phase for their children. When they hear that their parents are splitting up, the first question they would ask you is, “Who am I going to live with?”

When your spouse and you decide to go your separate ways, one of the hardest things for you to come to terms with is the fact that there could long periods of time, months even, when you would not be able to spend time with your children. This is why it is important for you to create a fair and just custody agreement. You can either draft one on your own with help from your spouse or you could consult a legal professional or attorney.

What should you include in the agreement?

If you are drafting a child custody agreement yourself, you will need to know exactly where to start. Spend some time researching laws specific to your case. If you are a resident of Orange County, you should learn the custody and visitation laws of California. Here are some basic components that should be included in your child custody agreement:

  • A declaration of custody
  • A visitation schedule
  • Methods to review and modify the custody agreement if necessary
  • The division of authority and decision making abilities among the parents
  • A method to resolve disputes
  • Any additional details if needed

Types of custody

Before you create the agreement, your spouse and you should decide what type of custody each of you is going to have. There are two types of custody. They are:

  • Physical custody – This refers to the physical custody and care of the child
  • Legal custody – This refers to a parent’s ability and right to make major decisions for the child until he or she has grown into an adult

Your spouse and you should also decide how you are going to divide custody. Sole custody implies that only one parent has complete custody of the child. Joint custody means that both spouses share custody of the child. Also, make sure you include a child visitation schedule that includes holidays and vacations.

Be prepared to make changes to your custody agreement as your child grows older. Also include a strong method for dispute resolution because you certainly would not want to be bickering with your ex ten years down the line over your child. Once you have drafted the agreement and it has been approved of by your spouse, you can produce it to your attorney or the court directly during your hearing.

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 Can Cheating On Your Spouse Affect Alimony?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmPeople fall in love, get married, and start families every day. But, unfortunately, marriages fall apart more often than people would like. And one of the biggest reasons behind this is infidelity.

When adultery pushes a marriage to divorce, it becomes a painful experience for everyone involved. Some divorce cases have been known to turn rather nasty and go on for years before settlement.

If you are someone who is on the verge of filing for a divorce because your spouse was unfaithful, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before the papers are drawn. Adultery can affect your divorce and alimony and you need to be aware of how the possible impacts it could have.

How can adultery affect your divorce?

In most states in the United States, adultery can be used as substantial grounds for divorce. But if you live in Orange County, you should know that California is a no-fault divorce state. Here, you can only get a divorce for one of two reasons:

  • Irreconcilable differences between spouses
  • If your spouse has been inflicted with incurable insanity

Many states have deemed adultery as an illegal offense, but California has not, so there are no official state definitions of the act. The courts of California do not consider adultery while deciding the divorce.

How does adultery affect alimony?

During a divorce trial, judges do have some liberty in deciding if alimony has to be awarded, the amount of the alimony as well as the duration. To be entitled to alimony, the receiving spouse should produce evidence of requiring monetary support, and the paying spouse should be capable of paying the amount for that duration of time. Before it has been decided if alimony is necessary, the judge must consider all factors and come to a fair and reasonable decision.

In most cases, judges are not allowed to take marital misconduct into consideration when they are making a decision regarding alimony. The sole purpose of alimony is to ensure that neither of the spouses faces financial troubles once the marriage ends.

Alimony was never intended as a punishment to spouses for bad conduct during the marriage. Since California does not consider adultery as grounds for a divorce, the judges in Orange County and other cities will not base alimony on adultery.

If you are a resident of Orange County and are considering filing for a divorce after your spouse cheated on you, it is recommended that you speak with a family law attorney before your divorce proceedings are set in motion.

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 You Can Make Your Divorce Easier Using Mindfulness Meditation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmCouples decide to go their separate ways for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the decision can be mutual, but no matter the decision or the reason, it is not a cause for celebration. Everything around you changes because the life you had built, the family you had nurtured has come undone.

During and after the divorce, you have to learn to adjust to a whole new life without your spouse. Your children also suffer with you now that their parents are living apart. You have to start afresh after a great deal of hurt and painful memories. Divorce has been the leading cause of depression and anxiety among adults in the United States.

If you are battling a divorce, you need to realize that you are not alone. You have support groups and therapy sessions to help people cope with difficult divorces. If those do not interest you, you could turn to mindfulness meditation.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be described as being open to all your experiences, the good or bad, without attaching yourself to them. Being mindful helps you learn how to be present instead of running away from what is happening. This process helps you open your mind and observe yourself in entirety.

Mindfulness meditation

The practice of mindfulness meditation can be traced back to Buddhist origins. It is widely practiced and has been proven to help reduce emotional pain, depression, and stress. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation also helps decrease pain intensity.

How can mindfulness meditation help with a divorce?

When you are fighting through a divorce, any source of relief is welcomed. Meditation has proven to be an excellent method to relieve stress. With all those negative thoughts and emotions swirling around in your mind will only bog you down. Over time, it can be overwhelming for both your mind and body.

Being mindful of your situation as you fight through your divorce will help you be present in what can be described as one of the most unpleasant experiences of your life. But this will help you analyze your situation and learn from it. Instead of harboring bitter and hateful feelings, you will learn to let things go as you immerse yourself in the dreadful situation. Your body will feel more relaxed and you will slowly begin to gain more control over yourself and feel lesser negative about the situation.

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.

Child Custody in Domestic Violence Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmThe definition of domestic abuse is not limited to physical harm; it consists of sexual assault, harassment, threats, stalking, and physical injury. Violence can continue and, in many cases, increase upon separation. Domestic violence allegations play a significant role in child custody hearings. The “moral presumption” in such cases does not allow the abuser to become the primary guardian of the child/children. However, the legal presumption is open to examining the case put forth by both parents.

The top priority of California’s legislature in custody cases is the health, safety, and welfare of the children. When deciding custody the court examines evidence which substantiates the incidence of abuse in the relationship, such as police records, reports from child protective services, or other court orders. If the allegations are proven to be true, then the abusive parent is not awarded either sole or joint custody by means of a “rebuttal presumption” applied by the court pursuant to Family Code section 3044.

The presumption can be overturned if the abusive parent (perpetrator) has successfully completed a batterer’s program, is on probation or parole, has not committed further acts of violence, or proves the children are best-taken care of under them. The victim of abuse can seek a temporary restraining order citing domestic abuse affecting the partner’s custody and visitation rights.

When the children have been subjected to extreme neglect or cruelty, the court has the right to terminate the physical and legal custody of the abusive parent. In such cases, the judgment is permanent and cannot be overturned. The parent loses all rights to their children.

Fabrications are quite common in domestic violence and child custody cases. In the latter, a parent may allege abuse to tip the scales in their favor and gain guardianship of the child. If the accused parent does not contest these allegations then the court will deem them true. It becomes even more difficult if the accused has a history of domestic violence. Therefore, the accused may lose joint child custody or any kind of contact with the children.

Child custody battles take a toll on the parents as well as children involved in them. Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or a concerned parent fighting for the welfare of your children, it is paramount to consider legal aid from a qualified family law attorney. Similarly, if you are at the receiving end of a false accusation of violence which can affect your custody case negatively, you need strong legal assistance to prove your innocence.

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.

Basic Steps in Filing a Divorce Petition

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmAlthough different states might have slight variations in the divorce legislation, the basic structure for filing a divorce remains largely the same. Below are the key steps involved in fling a divorce petition:

Filing the petition

You first need to file a ‘Petition for Dissolution of Marriage’ when seeking a divorce. The person filing the Petition is called the Plaintiff or Petitioner while the spouse is termed as the Defendant or Respondent. In the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, you state basic facts related to you and your spouse as well as the children (if any). This document is considered to be public record.

The respondent is then served with the original letter of complaint or petition. Typically, the petition is served by somebody from the local sheriff’s office. After the respondent received the petition, he/she is given 30 days to hire a lawyer and send a response to the original divorce petition. During this period, either of the involved parties might request for restraining or temporary or protective orders relating to alimony and child support.

Temporary divorce orders

The court has the authority to issue temporary orders which state certain actions that need to be taken immediately and continued till the last divorce hearing. For example, this might include spousal support, child custody and child support.

Such orders are legally binding. In the failure to follow them, the person might find himself/herself in contempt of court.

Financial investigations, settlement and negotiations

Financial investigations involve determining the marital estate’s value. This is also termed as “discovery”. Different discovery procedures in divorce cases include subpoenas, depositions, financial documents review and interrogatories. Visitation and custody are other issues that are addressed in negotiations.

When the parties fail to reach a settlement, the lawyers might consider submitting the controversial issues to the judge in a pretrial conference.

Divorce court

In case mediation does not work out and there are still unresolved issues, then a trial date is set with the court. Both parties get an opportunity to present their cases in front of a judge during the trial. It is important to have a discussion with the attorney regarding proper courtroom behavior. This will help you make a good impression when arguing your case before a judge.

After examining the available evidence, the judge will take a decision based on his perception of the case and pass appropriate divorce settlement.

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.

Can The Child Decide Who He or She Wants to Stay with Post-Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce is sadly sometimes the only option available to couples whose marriages have faded over the years to the point of no return. Couples find it easier and much less stress to stay apart or away from each other and lead their lives separately. But what happens to the children?

Why is it important to let children have a say in who will have custody of them post-divorce

Adults may find it easier to cope with divorce as they understand the differences and disagreements that make it impossible for them to live together. But if they have young kids or children who do not seem to be able to understand or grasp the reality of why their parents are suddenly separating it can be extremely scary, stressful and saddening for the kids. Not only do they have to cope with not seeing their parents together anymore for reasons which are probably hidden from them to protect them, but they are also forced to make the very difficult decision of which parent to live with.

Now courts and legal attorneys in the United States have started listening to the children’s wishes more and not just what the parents want and what suits them and their lifestyles. Any child, in order to grow up to be a normal adult and have a normal life, needs the love and affection of not just one but both his parents and courts are now understanding the importance of this and are taking the child’s thoughts and feelings into consideration too while deciding which parent will have custody over them.

What factors determine child custody post-divorce

The main factor that divorce lawyers and courts look into before deciding which parent will have custody of the child is who is in a better financial position to look after the child’s financial needs like medical, housing and schooling and all round maintenance and care of the child.

But before deciding this, a mediator or counselor is usually appointed by the court of law, preferably one who specializes in child psychology and psychiatry, to have a personal, one-on-one session with the child and discuss their feelings, emotions, and thoughts and find out which parent they would be more comfortable living with and who they would prefer to be with.

Sometimes it’s not just about which parent is financially more capable of looking after the child, which is in most cases the father, but it is also about which parent the child is more emotionally attached to, which in most cases is the mother.

Joint custody

Now shared or joint custody is becoming more and more popular with divorced couples so this allows the child to see both his parents at regular or periodic intervals and has both his mother and father in his life. This is only when the divorce is amicable and the parents both want what’s best for their child.

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.

A Guide to Avoiding the Top 4 Divorce Settlement Mistakes

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce is emotionally devastating. High level of stress is of no help when you need to negotiate the terms of settlement. Small mistakes may cost you a lot financially. These decisions cannot be revised at a later time. You only get one chance to get it right, and with stakes this high, mistakes are very common.

Four common mistakes made during a divorce settlement and avoiding them: 

  1. Undervaluing marital assets: You may feel that it is pointless to look into every investment and assets accumulated over the years of being together. Divorce is often the last straw that breaks a relationship. There is no clean break and it isn’t an impasse. It a harsh reality that emotionally wrecks you and leaves you broke if you aren’t careful. It is not unheard of that a spouse hides a few investments or undervalues a certain asset to reduce the alimony. Therefore, it becomes very important to value all assets before you go in for settlement. Audit each partner’s financial situation to get a clear perspective of where each stands. The review must include bank statements, tax audits and investment accounts. While valuing the assets do not overlook the liquidity of an asset.
  1. An emotional foul play: Emotions can mangle the entire settlement proceedings. Remember that you came to conclusion of separating because of emotions in the first place. Do not let them get in the way. An emotional play will not leave you with the best financial stand. Emotions make it easy to manipulate a situation. For example, think of the family pet. If the husband is more emotionally attached to the pet, the wife may try swindling him for a greater sum holding the pet as bait.
  1. Unrealistic financial plan: Prior to establishing a financial settlement sum, each spouse should look into their current financial stand and estimate their living expenses post-divorce. The cost should include insurance, rent, health care, and cost of grocery, schooling cost, transportation, income tax and utilities.
  1. Overlooking credit and debt issues: As mentioned above, it is common for a spouse to hide their assets from each other. To clear the air, the spouse must procure a copy of credit report during the early divorce proceedings. The statement will present a clear picture of any credit or debt issues. Joint debt must be cleared before the settlement process to increase the credit rating.

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.

 
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.