How To Protect Kids From The Negative Effects Of Custody Battles

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County child custody; The Maggio Law FirmOne of the toughest things to deal with in a divorce is a custody battle. It is hard for the non-custodial parents to stay separated from their children. But more than the parents, the main focus should be on the children. In a state that keeps a child’s preference first before anything else during a custody battle, it is nothing less than a crime to ignore the negative effects that can harm a child’s psychology. Children are sensitive and it is very important to understand how they feel and how they will react to a divorce between their parents.

Keep them away from arguments

As a parent, it is advised that you keep your arguments to yourself. Don’t go into an argument with your ex. spouse if your children are nearby. Your children are smarter than you think them to be and they pay a lot of attention to their surroundings. When they see you constantly arguing and bickering it burdens them with feelings of anxiety and fear. After a certain period of time, the fear converts into anger and they can become a threat to the society. The safety and comfort of your children should be the first thing on your parenting list and protecting them should be your first priority.

Don’t react emotionally all the time

When you react emotionally towards your ex. spouse, you are not only causing him/her harm but you’re also causing harm to your children. Your children grow up thinking you are a “bad” person and sharing the same roof will cause them trouble. Acting unreasonably emotional for no particular reason jeopardizes your position as the primary caretaker of your children. You must keep yourself safe before you can keep your children safe.

Interact with them

Act as if everything is normal and allow your children to adapt to the change. Interact with them as much as you can. Interaction plays an important role in parenting and positive interaction will definitely protect them from the negative effects of custody battle.


Protecting children from the negative effects of divorce is the most important factor during custody battles. Your behavior towards your ex-spouse is very important because your children are watching you and since they are very sensitive, it is crucial to maintain a positive behavior in their presence. Interact with your children and keep them engaged in different activities.

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.

Post-Divorce Parenting Tips For Fathers

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

fathers rights attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmPost-divorce parenting fears are not exclusive to mothers. During a custody battle, California courts can grant custody to the mother in some cases, but shared custody is much more common, depending on the circumstances.  Divorced fathers can nevertheless find it difficult to adjust to their new situation.

Here are some tips that will help post-divorced fathers get through the situation.

  1. Create a routine

The most important thing to do is to create a routine where a specific time is allotted for the kids. For the rest of the time, fathers need to keep themselves busy with either work or house chores. Fathers need to remember that their children too are going through the pangs of divorce. Having a routine will help them adjust to the situation in an orderly manner.

  1. Make your child your no. 1 priority

Fathers need to keep in mind that their children come first. Since post-divorce lives are different, it often becomes difficult to keep up with the child’s demand. However, you need the take the time out to listen to your kids whenever they need you. You child’s need should be your no.1 priority.

  1. Share a common ground with your child

As time passes by, teach your children to cope up with the situation. You have your own needs and your children has theirs. Share a common ground where both of you are comfortable doing things together. It could be a small hobby or it could be something related to academics.

  1. Plan activities

Find creative ways to spend time with your kids. It will help you keep your mind off problems and will help you focus on the bigger goals in life. There are fun ways in which you can spend quality time with your kids and such activities will help strengthen the relationship between the two of you.

  1. Don’t involve your child in your new love affair

It’s natural to fall in love again after your failed marriage but introducing your love interest to your kids might be a bit too much. At least, in the initial few months or years after a divorce when your kids are coping up with the situation, it’s wrong to have your kids meet someone who can very well become their mother.


Divorce is a tough thing for both parents to manage. While mothers have their own problems to deal with, fathers often find it difficult to deal with the situation. Maintain a healthy relationship with their kids is the key to fight post-divorce parenting fears.

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.

When Can A Custodial Parent Move A Child Out Of State?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDuring a divorce, parents need to take extra care when they are making custody arrangements for their children. The arrangements and custodial plan should include important aspects like the child’s health, education and welfare. It should also contain the physical presence of the child within a mentioned geographical location to protect the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights.

So, what happens when the custodial parent decides to move the child out-of-state for a period of time. According to the California law, a parent cannot do that unless he/she has obtained a court order to do so. If the custodial parent relocates a minor child without approval from the court, he/she may attract fine or even jail time.

So, when is it possible for the custodial parent to relocate children?

When the non-custodial parent consents to the relocation

If the non-custodial parent agrees to the relocation of the child in a written agreement, the custodial parent can move the child out-of-sate after a judge approves the agreement.

If the other parent does not consent to the relocation, a co-parenting lawyer or mediator can be hired to handle the situation. And in cases where mediation fails, the custodial parent must file a petition in the court to move the child out-of-state.

When the court agrees to the custodial parent’s decision

California courts will usually compare the pros and cons of moving the child to a different location. It will look at factors like safety, health and development. If the court feels that the relocation will be beneficial for the child, it can agree to the custodial parent’s demand. However, it will also consider the non-custodial parent’s rights and decide if the relocation will have any negative effect on the parent.

In some cases, the court has the right to agree to the custodial parent’s demands unless there is gross violation of the custodial plan. In such cases, the court won’t consider the non-custodial pleas and will allow the custodial parent to relocate.


A custodial parent’s wish to move his/her children out-of-state depends on many factors. The non-custodial parent needs to agree to the relocation and must provide his/her consent on the agreement form before any change can take place. The court’s decision depends heavily on the child’s condition if the relocation takes place. Additionally, the court has the power to agree to the custodial parent and allow the parent and child to relocate despite what the non-custodial might feel.  The laws in California relating to “move-away” cases are complex and it is advisable to seek the advice of a family law attorney before considering a move with your 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.

What To Do When Served With A Divorce Petition

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmThe divorce petition is a legal document in a divorce that has been filed by the spouse who wants the divorce. The petition is an indication that one spouse is ready to dissolve the marriage and is waiting for his/her partner’s reply. It also signifies the start of a divorce proceeding.

If you have received one such petition from the court, then it is your duty to reply back. The court will usually give you a period of around 20 days in which time you have to decide what you wish to do. You can hire a divorce lawyer and file the paperwork with the court. Or you may also choose to avoid the petition in which case the court will move ahead with the proceeding with or without you. Hire an experienced divorce lawyer to have a better understanding of the way petitions work in the legal system.

How to file an answer

If you’re the respondent and you wish you reply to the petition, you must fill out an answer form for the respondent and send it to the court. You must also provide financial statements and work out a parenting plan if you and your spouse have kids.

If you don’t answer

If you choose to ignore the petition, then the proceeding will take place as usual. But remember that when you don’t say anything, the court assumes that you have agreed to the arrangements. A “default” will be entered in your place and your right to argue will also end. However, if you show sound reasons that what you did is justified, then the court might give you another chance.

If you don’t reply to the divorce petition in California, your divorce can still proceed by default judgment based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.


A divorce petition which has been sent by your spouse to you is a legal document asking you for a divorce. There are respondent forms available through which you can agree to the divorce. Alternatively, you may choose to refrain from an answer. However, it won’t stop you from getting divorced.  Whatever you may choose to do, hire a good divorce lawyer first who can give you an informed decision about how you need to answer the petition.

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 Retirement And Pension Benefits Are Divided After A Military Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmFor military service members, the pension is part of the many retirement benefits they receive after their service. For non-military divorces, retirement benefits and pension plans are also treated as property and get divided accordingly. Except for few changes, it’s not much different for military personnel either. In a court of law, a service member’s retirement and pension benefits are treated as valuable assets during a dissolution of marriage.

Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act was passed in 1982 by Congress and allows courts to treat retired pay in the same way as other properties. It means that retired pays can be divided as marital property or can be kept as a separate property, depending on the law. It is hard to say how California courts treat retired pays because mostly it depends on the amount and the divorce case. It differs from case to case.

Minimum 10 years of marriage

It was popularly believed that retired pay can only be divided after the marriage lasted for at least 10 years. In different cases involving military personnel, California courts have awarded a portion of the retirement benefit to the other spouse even though the marriage lasted for less than a year. However, this holds true for benefits and not direct payments. For direct payments, a marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years before the spouse becomes eligible.

Military benefits for former spouse

Former spouses of military personnel are entitled to military benefits as long as he/she meets the criteria. The benefits are statutory entitlements and therefore cannot be subjected to any change or negotiation. The benefits include commissary, medical and military exchanges and in cases where the marriage lasted for at least 20 years, the spouse is entitled to retain all military benefits. The spouse will also receive every benefit if the military personnel served for at least 20 years and if the marriage and military service overlapped for 20 years.

The benefits change according to the duration of marriage and military service.


Divorces for military personnel are no different than divorces for other citizens and division of pension and retirement plans are also based on the same laws. However, the duration of marriage and credible military service matter a lot and influences the amount of benefits a spouse will receive after the dissolution of marriage.

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 Do California Courts Handle Move-Away Custody Cases?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmA “move-away case” involves the custodial parent moving far away from the non-custodial parents which disrupts the custodial agreements established by the court. The distance does not matter as long as the agreement is interrupted.

Move-away cases are hard to deal with because it can be an unfair effect on custodial rights for the non-custodial parent. The request to move away from the other parent can have negative impact on the child as well. Unless there are clear violations by the non-custodial parents, move-away requests by the custodial parent can be dicey situations.

Custody relocation laws

Currently, in California, there are no laws that prohibit parents with sole custody from relocating to a different location. However, custody plans can have specific orders that prevent custodial parents from changing geographical location without the knowledge of the other parent. Parents who wish to relocate with their children should file for a move-away petition with the court. In cases where the judge feels that the child’s life will remained unchanged even after the relocation, a positive judgment will be passed.

On the other hand, a non-custodial parent can relocate any time he/she feels like but without the child. Also, in some cases, non-custodial parents are prohibited from taking their children across the state border without the consent of a judge.

In most cases, when relocation becomes necessary for either of the parent, new custodial plans need to be worked out. The new plans should include provisions for both parents to relocate without changing too much of the custodial agreement.


Mediation works best in cases where parents fail to reach an agreement. Move-away cases require mediation because both parents need to be on the same page before new plans can be made. Divorce mediation is important for both parents as it helps improve understanding between them and provides the best solution.

In cases where the mediation does not work, the court orders for a second hearing. It will go through the case and decide what’s best for the child. If the court feels that relocating won’t affect the child’s health or mental condition, it will award the custodial parent the upper hand.


Move-away issues can be tricky if they are not dealt with proper care. For parents who wish to relocate, new custodial plans must be created by the parties or otherwise by the court. Mediation can play an important role and can help parents decide 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.  

Top Parenting Tips Regarding Teens After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmParenting can be tough especially after divorce. And if teenagers are involved, the task can become much worse. The problem with handling teenagers is that you don’t know how they will react. Since they are leaving their childhood behind and heading towards adulthood, it becomes difficult to understand their behavior. Teenagers who witness their parent’s divorce show a variety of different emotions and it is tough to identify a particular pattern with everyone.

Parenting plans are very important and every experienced divorce lawyer will suggest you to take your time while drawing the best plan for your child. Keeping the following factors in mind while creating the parenting plan will make your teenage children transition from the effects of divorce.

Treat teens as adults

First of all, never treat your teenage children like kids. They hate that! They want to become adults and more than often they’ll show signs of being one. Talk to them directly and give an explanation why you and your spouse are getting a divorce. They may not show an interest but deep inside, they really want to know what’s going on.

Give them space

It is true for both divorcees and their children. Each need their own space and time to cope with the situation. While making plans, make sure you’re not spending too much time with your teenage children. Showing excess interest can often have negative results.

Make room for activities

One of the most important things that should be included in child plans is activities and if you can, try getting involved in them as a family. Take a keen interest in your child’s sports activities, academics and any other thing that your child might be actively involved in.

Don’t discuss issues related to divorce in their presence

Avoiding fighting over issues related to your divorce in front of your kids. Teenagers are prone to psychological stress and trauma if they see their parents fighting. Make it a point to discuss with your ex. things that you want to avoid talking about in front of your children.


Making plans for children is an important aspect of every divorce. In situations where the children are teenagers, more time and care should be taken to make the plan. Parenting plans for teenagers should include a balance of activities that will keep everyone engaged as a family. Also, avoid talking about things that might indirectly hurt them or negatively affect their psyche.

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.  

The Concept of ‘Jackson Credit’ for Child Support in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmThere have been instances in California divorces where one parent has ended up giving 100% of his/her time for child support despite being granted equal child support in the court. Usually, the parent who takes care of the child for the majority of time should pay less but in some cases, the reverse has taken place.  The ‘Jackson credit’ became applicable after the famous Jackson vs. Jackson case.

The Jackson vs. Jackson case

In the Jackson vs. Jackson case, the mother charged the father with child support defaults while the child has been living with the father for 100% of the time. Initially, the trial court supported the mother saying the father attempted to change court orders for child care support. However, when the father appealed, the court said that even though the law does not allow an individual parent to make changes in child care support rules, the father fulfilled his obligations for child support.

What is a Jackson Credit?

A Jackson Credit is granted to noncustodial parents who prove that during custodial support, they paid their share of the custodial support. Courts allow child care support credits to parents who take care of the child and provide child care support as well. It saves one parent from substantial financial damage that can be incurred during child care support.

When can a Jackson Credit be claimed?

During arrears calculation, a non-custodial parent can claim a Jackson Credit for the time he/she spent with the child when he/she was not supposed to. Parents who can provide evidence that the child was under his/her care 100% of the time are eligible for Jackson Credits. In many cases, parents who have failed to show proper evidence have been barred from receiving a Jackson credit. Knowing how the credit system works can help save unnecessary financial loss. It is, therefore, important to talk to an attorney first before proceeding with the Jackson Credit.

The Jackson credit is applicable for parents who have paid for child care despite giving 100% of their time for child care. The credit system has been established to help parents save themselves from financial losses. The Jackson credit was created after a famous case that involved a mother demanding child care support from a father even when the father has been taking care of the child the entire time. If you are faced with a similar situation, it is vital that you speak to an experienced lawyer.

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.  

Handling Personal Debt During A Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDuring a divorce, marital debts get divided just like marital assets. It is important to understand what your debts are and which ones are marital and which ones are personal. Usually, in places where your name or signature is present as the holder of that particular loan or mortgage will be your personal debt. And in places where you and your spouse are the joint owners, those loans or debts will fall under marital debts.

Work out which debts you need to clear first

To handle personal debts, the first thing that you need to know is which debts are important and need to cleared first. Make a priority list and put all your personal debts on that list. The top 2 or 3 debts should be cleared first before everything else. To prioritize the debts, realize which ones are high in amount and can cost you more financial damage than the others.

Create a plan for clearing out debts

Once you have created your list, create a plan to decide how and when you should clear the debts. Calculate how much money you own and compare it with how much money you have. You also need to keep some part of it as savings. Additionally, you can use budget planners to calculate what you can afford to repay.

Creating and following a course of action will help you reach your goals in the shortest amount of time possible. It will also help you save some amount of money every year.

Take legal action if you’re not supposed to pay the debt

Divorces can be complicated and if you’ve shared a strained relationship with your spouse during your marriage then get ready to pay more debts. But if you have even the slightest understanding of divorce proceedings, then you will know that your spouse does not have the right to make you pay for debts that you shouldn’t be paying. Hire an experienced divorce lawyer and take legal action if you must against your spouse.


Divorces can be complex if you don’t have much idea about finances and debt allocations after divorce. First understand which are your personal debts. Then prioritize them based on the amount you need to pay for each. Create a plan and start clearing it little by little. Additionally, hire a lawyer if you find yourself in legal difficulties or if your spouse puts false debt charges on you.

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.  

Five Traits To Look For In A Divorce Lawyer

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County Divorce Lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmA divorce lawyer plays the most important role in a divorce proceeding. A good lawyer can save you from financial ruin and help you go through a smooth divorce without any hiccups. That is why it is important to choose a good and experienced lawyer. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds because there are different factors you need to consider before you can choose the perfect one.

  1. Experience 

The most important thing you would want your lawyer to have is experience. Choosing the wrong lawyer could be a big blunder on your part. Lawyers who have a high record of success are more likely to give you better advice than those that don’t.

  1. Reputation and respect as a lawyer

With high success rate comes reputation and respect. Lawyers who are well known in the society have a higher chance of delivering sound advice than those who are not that reputed. Also, one has to earn a good reputation and in the circle of lawyers that means a lot.

  1. Trustworthy and transparent

It is easy for lawyers to swindle you of your money if you have no idea the way divorce proceedings work. A good lawyer is transparent in his work and will gain your trust before proceeding with the divorce paperwork. It can be tough to put your trust in one individual and that is why you must consider the first two factors.

  1. Good communication skills

Lawyers who don’t have a clear understand of divorce cases or those who have communication problems are bound to cause you more harm than good. It is important that during conversations, the lawyer clearly understands your needs. A lawyer’s job is to provide information to his clients and that can only happen through proper communication.

  1. Affordable

It is not surprising for lawyers to charge a bomb when it comes to defending divorce cases. The price is usually on the higher side for experienced and reputed lawyers. Price should only be considered if you are tight on budget. If not, then hire the best lawyer possible.


A smooth divorce proceeding requires a good lawyer and good lawyers should be chosen based on experience and reputation. Their work should be transparent and they should provide the best advice through good communication. Good lawyers are expensive but it should not be a problem if you’re good on the financial front.

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.