How Mediation Helps With Divorce And Children

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce-mediation-attorney-Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce mediation is you and your spouse deciding on the best way to end your relationship mutually. Whenever couples decide to get divorced, there are two main ways that the goal of separation can be achieved. One is through mediation and the other is through litigation. Most couples are generally advised to go for divorce mediation in Orange County because this process is all about power to you. Here, there are no lawyers pushing you to go the limits to win your case, or Judges giving judgments that you are uncomfortable about, or an audience that is hearing you and your spouse battle your family issues out in the court.

Divorce mediation is a much calmer dispute resolution and conclusion reaching method. Mediation involves you, your spouse, and the mediator. There is no public gathering to hear your issues. It is a controlled environment where the mediator will give you and your partner the necessary impetus to talk about the issues and reach an amicable resolution.

Mediation is usually preferred by people because of the compromise mentality that it inculcates as opposed to the win-at-all-costs mentality in the court of law. By encouraging couples to talk their difference out, divorce mediators makes sure that you devise a comprehensive conclusion agreement so as to avoid any discrepancies or hiccups along the road in the future.

Mediation as a means to go through divorce is also important because of its relative benefits to the children who are going through the divorce settlement. These children are seeing their parents – who they’ve grown accustomed to living together – part ways, and with it, transforming their lives. Such a spectacle is a devastating loss for the children. They will have the feelings of grief and fear during such a process but divorce mediation is a process that can reduce, if not eliminate, such feelings.

Mediation is a process based on mutual agreement and hence there has to be a relative ease of communication between the couples. Such a relative ease in communication means the children won’t have to face the negativity of their parents battling it out. Also. parents who are going through divorce mediation as opposed to litigation are likely to communicate with their children regarding divorce effectively.

Even those parents that use litigation after mediation saw that their children were better equipped to handle the situation, because they had seen their parents trying to settle the differences between them peacefully in cooperation. Regardless of the process, the trauma of having to lose your parents and being able to enjoy the company of only one of them at a time is likely to be painful as well. Mediation, because of its swifter pace, will keep your children from the trauma of having to go through a divorce longer.

What Is Legal Separation And Annulment? (PODCAST)

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Legal separation Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWelcome to The Maggio Law Firm’s PODCAST about what Legal Separation is, whether you should file for Legal Separation instead of Divorce, and an explanation about what an Annulment is.


West Hollywood: First city in the U.S. to Adopt Domestic Partnership Ordinance

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Domestic partnerships Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmThe City of West Hollywood has had its fair share of memorable moments over the past several decades. Not the least of which was becoming the first city in the nation to create a memorable legal landmark by passing a domestic partnership ordinance.

It was 1985 and Ordinance No. 22, adopted on February 21, was a bold action considered to be well ahead of its time largely because it was the only way to offer same-sex couples legal recognition. Today, the domestic partnership program offers committed straight and same-sex couples equal opportunities in the eyes of the law.

1985 was also a banner year for the City of West Hollywood in another way. The City worked long and hard to lobby for change to California state law to include domestic partnerships in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) benefit plans statewide.

Domestic partnerships in California allow two unmarried adults to enter into a legal partnership: a domestic partnership and states that they are one another’s sole partner, completely responsible for the other’s well being. The domestic partnership agreements are not just for couples living in West Hollywood. Anyone may register and many do as they view it as a serious sign of their commitment to one another.

Couples registering as domestic partners have been able to take advantage of the single-minded commitment to equality demonstrated by West Hollywood. Not only did the city give birth to the first domestic partnership registry, pass a resolution in support of marriage equality for straight and same-sex couples inside and outside its city limits, they also expanded their program to give the nod to other partnerships registered in other jurisdictions, and began requiring that franchises, contractors and vendors wanting contracts with the city must provide partnership benefits to their workers.

The California Supreme Court issued a ruling on Proposition 8 that stated barring gay marriages violated the state’s constitution. In June 2008, West Hollywood started issuing marriage licenses and holding civil ceremonies for same-sex couples. In November 2008, issuing marriage license was halted. The question was sent back to the Supreme Court in 2013 in the form of an appeal in Hollingsworth v. Perry. The Court neatly sidestepped the core issue, opening the door for the resumption of same-sex marriages in West Hollywood.

Domestic partnerships have a long and interesting history; a history that gay and straight couples should appreciate when declaring their commitment to one another. Evidently many do appreciate the ability to partake in the benefits of equality in a domestic partnership arrangement, as the 10,000th domestic partnership agreement was registered in West Hollywood in October 2014.

For those wishing more information about domestic partnership agreements in West Hollywood,

California Divorce Filing Requirements (PODCAST)

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.

Welcome to The Maggio Law Firm’s PODCAST about what to know concerning the divorce filing requirements for California divorce cases.


When a Billion Dollar Divorce Settlement is Not Enough

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top-Orange-County-divorce-attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmIt was considered to be the divorce of the century, involving Oklahoma oil magnate, Harold Hamm, and his ex-wife, Sue Ann Hamm (Arnall), once a lawyer for her husband’s company prior to her marriage to him. Sue Ann Hamm was awarded assets and cash totalling over a billion dollars. However, by her estimation, the award was not an equitable one, considering Harold Hamm’s $18 billion increased income over their 26-year marriage.

The main issue is when the active portion (increases) of the income began – before or during their marriage. Arnall asserts they happened during the marriage. Hamm suggests they happened before the marriage. Arnall, also an economist by training, intends to appeal, a process that may take up to two years to be resolved. Hamm ended up keeping close to 94 percent of the estimated $18 billion in income derived from Continental shares. The trial judge referred to the shares as separate property. When the divorce trial was in progress Hamm’s Continental was valued at about $18 billion. Since that time period, share prices have fallen due to plummeting oil prices globally.

The complicating factor in this expensive and high profile divorce is that the Hamms did not have a prenuptial agreement. No matter what the law of the resident state suggests, not having a prenuptial agreement makes things far more difficult to resolve for both parties. In Oklahoma for instance, the law states that enhanced premarital property value be divided equitably in the face of a divorce if the enhanced value was the result of either spouses skills and/or efforts during their marriage.

No matter what he said/she said, this settlement was far more protracted than it needed to be. In the presence of a prenuptial agreement, unless it was signed under duress or false information was given which did not allow for an informed decision, this divorce settlement and award may have gone in an entirely different direction. Now, the process of extended litigation is painful and expensive, no matter how much money is at stake.

The trouble with the legal system when it comes to divorces is that it is set up to be an adversarial process in which someone wins and someone loses and both pay a hefty fee to hash things out. It ostensibly addresses a wrong done against a spouse. Nowadays, despite prenuptial agreements and mediation, this mindset still prevails. Couples who are able to set aside their issues and work toward a common goal by attempting mediation often fare better when the process is concluded. However, it is far better to have a prenuptial agreement.

What the Separation of Parents Means to a Child

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce-lawyers-Orange-County; The Maggio Law FirmChildren are the responsibility of their parents. Parents manage children through their thick and thin to make sure the child stays in his/her best possible condition. What happens to the children when you want to get a divorce? All parents should consider their children and their thought process when thinking of divorce.

A litigated divorce may let you get the verdict of win on certain things but it’s most likely you’ll end up losing many things such as causing grief and trauma to your child who will see his/her parents lock horns with one and other.

Did you know that every year a million children in the United States witness their parents getting divorced? Divorce can be painful for even the grown up adults who are going through it, so it isn’t hard to imagine what divorce means for a child. Witnessing their parents going through a divorce can be an overwhelming, traumatic, and mentally challenging experience for any child.

The mental state of a child through and after the divorce of their parents is dependent on how the parents, teachers, friends, family, and other support groups deal with the child. If the support isn’t given to them at right time, children can start to go into a shell of their own and can even develop several personality disorders.

These are a few points that will help you understand what your child goes through when his parents are getting divorced:

  • They think continually on what they can do to change their parents’ minds
  • They take the blame of the divorce on themselves somehow concluding that they are the reason for the separation
  • Loss of expectations that they had from a joint family
  • Tears, grief, and sometimes violence
  • A feeling of insecurity regarding the love of their parents

Even in the most amicable conducted divorces like those that are gotten through Orange County divorce mediation will still have a negative effect on the children. Whatever the way of divorce, whenever the child will be told about the separation of their parents, the feelings of grief, shock, and disbelief will always come to the fore. At times you may think that the behavior of the child shows that he or she has accepted the decision to divorce it is important to note that a child can accept the decision but never the idea of separation of their parents.

Loss is a part of life and no one should be forced into living in a relation they don’t feel right about, but having said that, it’s important that both parents work to provide the children with the best support mechanisms to get them out of the grief phase quicker than normal. A good way to start this is by talking to them and encouraging them to let their emotions out.

California Residency Requirements (PODCAST)

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Attorneys Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.

Welcome to The Maggio Law Firm’s PODCAST about the residency requirements for California divorce and legal separation cases.


Parenting During the Holidays for Couples Going through a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

top-Orange-County-divorce-attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce is never easy for your children.  Put yourself in the shoes of your children and think. Since the birth of your children, there has always been a set way of doing things. Family vacations, birthday parties and other ceremonies were planned as a family, and now the culture and the way of doing things will change drastically. The parents they grew to love as a couple are going to be taking care of themselves individually.

It is evident that even after divorce, active parenting needs to be done to help your children feel at home in their life with as little change as possible.  A good divorce attorney will work to ensure that you and your spouse to sit down and talk about the children’s activity calendars and your own, and help you devise an effective parenting plan. Take a look at a few aspects that will help you in devising an effective parenting plan.


Holidays are the most emotionally charged part of a parenting plan. Most parents have the habit of spending holidays with their children and a change in that order can prove to be very difficult for the parent and the child to swallow. In such a case, flexibility helps. The only alternative to dividing the holiday time of the child among each other is trying to spend the holidays together.

In our long list of clients, we still have parents that get on well enough to enjoy the holiday season together to give the child as much of a sense of yesteryear  as he/she can be given. It is, however, not necessary. The necessary aspect in this is that whatever plan you formulate, there should always be a backup plan, to avoid undue complexities and disappointments.

Family Vacations

Most families have a healthy tradition of going out for family vacations, and we hope you continue this tradition even after divorce. After divorce though, you and your ex will need to discuss about the concept of notice. Notice is the length of time you’ll want to know before your spouse takes the kid out of town for a family vacation.

When talking about the family vacations part of your family plan, the parents should have a discussion and decide the amount of time each parent gets to spend with the children. Since both of you will want to travel and enjoy with the children, this is very important to avoid conflict down the road. On a more practical side, think about your child’s travel documents such as his/her passport and other things. Who has them and who is going to have the responsibility of making sure they are up to date and renewed?  These are all considerations that you must take into account.

A Guide To Derivative Social Security Benefits And Child Support In California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmDerivative Social Security benefits and its impact on child support is important irrespective of whether the parents are going through a divorce or not. This topic is one that is intriguing and yet not completely comprehended by married or unmarried parents.

This blog is going to focus on disabled and noncustodial parents and what sort of impact social security benefits will have on child support obligations. When someone is suffering from a disability, he or she receives social security disability benefits, and if that person is a parent, there is often another derivative benefit paid for any minor children that they have.

Did you know? Over 2 billion dollars each month are distributed as derivative minor benefit to disabled parents with minor children who number around 4 million.

The Case Of Disabled Parent Who Isn’t The Custodial Parents And Is Obliged To Pay Child Support

Social security benefits are considered as income for child support and thus the disabled parent may have an obligation to pay the child support to the other parent who has custody. The less time the disabled parent has with the child, the more the amount of child support. Such an amount can create a financial difficulty for the parent.

There is good news though, derivative social security benefits can sometimes be paid by the Social Security Administration to the custodial parent directly. This does have a proper process that the disabled parent has to follow. To get this solution, the disabled parent has to notify the custodial parent that he or she receives social security benefits. Then the custodial parent will apply for the derivative social security benefits directly through the Social Security department.

What happens through this is that the amount for Social Security benefits is then credited towards the child support to some extent relieving the disabled parent of that financial burden.

The Case Of A Disabled Parent When The Custodial Parent Refuses To Apply For Derivative Social Security Benefit

It seems unimaginable how someone can refuse to receive something that they are entitled to and yet there are several cases where this is commonly seen. Whether it is because of California divorce or some prevailing bitterness between the parents, sometimes parents with high emotions can see the derivative socials security benefit as an advantage to the non custodial parent and thus refuse to do anything that helps the other.

Orange County family law has anticipated such a problem and has given us a solution to it.  Family Code 4504(a) states that the custodial parent must contact the Social Security administration within 30 days of receiving a notification from the non-custodial parent. The act is meant to reduce illogical fights and excuses of non-cooperation from the custodial parent.

3 Steps To Reduce A Spousal Support Order

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce-attorneys-Orange-County; The Maggio Law FirmSpousal support is often one thing most spouses that pay them hate. While most of these accusations are probably from a rant of an angry spouse fed up of paying spousal support to his or her spouse, there are ways to reduce the amount of spousal support you have to pay over time.

Step 1: Analyzing and Understanding the Order

You should plan and prepare for your modification request beforehand, as simply coming up with a modification request and hoping for the best will likely not accomplish what you are seeking to do.  Your modification request should have good cause if you want it to be entertained and applied.

Not all spousal support orders are the same in California. The first step to reducing the alimony is analyzing your order carefully. When analyzing your order, you can ask question such as:

* Does the order identify a certain standard of living?

* Is the order expanding the reasons for modification?

All these factors have to be considered before you can think of filing a modification request.

Step 2: Look For A Change Of Circumstances Since The Last Spousal Support Order

This is one of the most important steps in reducing spousal support. The court will only make a downward modification of the spousal support order if it sees that there has been a change of circumstances since the last order.

A change of circumstances has many examples such as a reduction in your income, the supported spouse has obtained a job or a better job, or the supported spouse is cohabitating with someone else.  All these situations are an example of the changes that can be shown to the court to justify the court to grant a downward modification in the previous spousal support order.

Step 3: Gathering the Necessary Evidence to Reduce Spousal Support

The first and the second steps are important but can’t make an impact unless they are coupled with the third one. You should use the first and second only after you have gathered evidence for each in the third step. This means that for a claim of downward modification due to a decrease in your income, you should be prepared with proof concerning any change of circumstances.