Divorce Mediation & Why It Is The Best Option When Children Are Involved

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmDivorces are usually traumatic for the children and it can become difficult for them to recover from the event and move on. When they do move on, their most future decisions are tainted by the experience of their parents separating and they can feel responsible for the outcome. This is why a divorce should not be carried out or discussed in a negative manner. The fights, arguments and proceedings of a traditional divorce case are usually more than they can take and they tend to withdraw from everyone and become isolated. These children can later make bad relationship choices and suffer from trust issues all their lives.

In short, an ugly divorce can usually have a traumatic experience that never fades away. This is where mediation helps both partners as they seek it out in the best interest of their children. How does mediation work?  In mediation, a mediator usually acts as a neutral third party in presence of both parties, and listens to the stories of both partners, unraveling the anger from the words and tries to get to the bottom of the real story by picking out the common events in them.  The mediator then establishes a common ground upon which both parties can agree and brings them to a situation where they can both reach a compromise, allowing them to accept the situation and let go of the anger in order to make the proceeding as painless for their children as possible.

Usually the two parties leave the mediation process on friendly terms and agree to a situation or agreement which proves to be a win-win for both of them.  A mediator usually helps the two parties remember the good in the relationship, allowing each of the two to dissolve their negative emotions and come to terms with the situation.  The mediator allows you to figure out what is the best course of action for both you, your spouse and your children to make sure the separation is brought to conclusion in the best manner.

When both parents let go of the anger and are on friendly and talking terms with each other, they are able to explain to the children why this divorce is the best for all of them and how it is not going to change anything and only improve the situation for them.  Once all of the terms of divorce, including division of assets, spousal support, and child support are agreed upon, as well as the custody of the children if they are under age, the divorce mediator/divorce attorney in Orange County will proceed with legal formalities including the preparation of the final Judgment, and finalize the process.

How To Protect Your Kids When You Are A Victim Of Domestic Violence

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

restraining order attorney Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIf you are in an abusive relationship and have children, it is very important to distance yourself and them from your abusive partner. Distancing yourself through divorce may very well be your best option.  Even though the thought may have crossed your mind several times, it is likely time to take action. Get the courage to file for divorce, but before you do, take these steps to protect your kids and yourself:

1.     Report Abuse to the Police and Maintain Records

If your partner is violent, keep records of every incident involving him (or her) stored in a secret place. Abuse can be in the form of physical or emotional, so either record or take pictures to exhibit in court. Also, write down the time, date, and place with the description of the altercation between you and your partner. The records will come in handy when you are fighting for custody of your kids, especially if you did not previously report such incidents to the police.  Do not hesitate to call the police if you have been physically abused!

2.     Have a Safe Residence to Go To And Then File For a Restraining Order

After you have filed for divorce, you need a place where you can take your kids at least temporarily until you can take further legal action.  Consider filing a restraining order to protect you and your children, which can prevent your partner from going to your home and the children’s schools.  In a restraining order, you can request exclusive use, possession and control of the marital residence, with a kick-out order requiring your partner to vacate the marital residence.  Such orders are then enforceable by the police and the court.

3.     Seek Sole Custody of Your Children Under the Restraining Order

If your partner becomes too abusive towards you or your kids, don’t wait to file for custody; do it immediately under the request for a restraining order. The court can grant you with such restraining orders that can give you custody of your kids and orders your partner to stay away at the same time.

4.     Seek Control of Visitation Rights

If your partner has not abused the kids, he/she may be permitted to see them. However, if you are still concerned, you can ask the judge for supervised visits if they are appropriate under the circumstances of your case.  If you don’t want the kids to see their mom/dad at their residence, you can ask them to agree to meet them in public such as a restaurant, park, or even the police station.

5.     Get Legal Assistance

People struggling with emotional and physical abuse need to get out of the relationship fast.  Don’t wait to get legal help.  Seek legal assistance at the first signs of abuse. The safety of your child is what’s important here.  Consult a divorce firm to help you. If you don’t have enough money, you can always go to a shelter. The shelter will find you the legal help you need.

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.

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.

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.

Stepparent Adoption Means Terminating Another Parent’s Legal Rights

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIn situations where a stepparent acts as one of the child’s primary caregivers and the other biological parent is not involved in the child’s life, stepparent adoption may be in the best interests of the child. Adoption terminates one biological parent’s legal rights and allows the stepparent to take over those rights and responsibilities.

When to Consider Stepparent Adoption

Some scenarios where stepparent adoption may be the best choice include cases where the other biological parent has died; cases where the other parent is uninvolved in the child’s life, due to imprisonment or abandonment; and cases where the other parent voluntarily relinquishes his or her rights. It is not appropriate in situations where the other parent still plays a role in the child’s life.

Stepparent adoption is ideal in cases where the stepparent already plays a parental role in the child’s life, and the adoption serves as a formalization of that bond.  In such cases, the legal benefits of stepparent adoption can be significant. For example, the adoptive parent gains the right to make legal decisions on behalf of the child as the biological parent would. Adoption also ensures that the stepchild is eligible for Social Security and life insurance benefits if the stepparent dies.

It is important to understand that the stepparent adoption is a permanent process that cannot be revoked later on. If the stepparent and biological parent divorce later, the adoption remains valid and the stepparent will retain their legal rights and responsibilities to the child.

Terminating the Other Parent’s Legal Rights

Stepparent adoption cannot occur without terminating the legal rights of the other biological parent. Filing a petition for freedom from parental custody is the first step in the process. If the other parent is still living but absent, every effort must be made to contact them so that they have the opportunity to contest the proposed adoption.

In some cases, the family may draft a post-adoption contract that allows the biological parent to continue to see the child on a limited basis after the adoption.

The Adoption Process

If the child is over the age of 12, the child’s preferences and consent are important to the process. In such cases, the child will must sign a consent form to allow the adoption to proceed.

Other aspects of the adoption process are designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child. For example, the family will work with Social Services and home visits may be required. The family may also need to appear in court in some cases.

If your family is interested in stepparent adoption, the first step is to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney who has experience in stepparent adoptions.

Looking At the Impact of Divorce Through the Eyes of Children

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmThere is an excellent documentary movie called Split (www.splitfilm.org) that was released in 2013, which looks at divorce from the vantage point of the children of divorce.  There is an excellent trailer at their website and the complete movie can be purchased on DVD.

Split offers a realistic and sometimes heartbreaking look at how children are often affected with the separation and divorce of their parents.  Although children can be resilient, divorce can have a life-long impact on children depending on how their parents handle their divorce.

The reality is that divorce is never easy on anyone, i.e. parents or children.  However, parents can do much to reduce the stress of divorce for children and shield them from the conflict and disputes.  For instance, parents should avoid arguing or verbally fighting with each other in front of their children.  Use emails or other online resources for communications regarding parenting (such as www.ourfamilywizard.com) when face-to-face communications are difficult.  Also, do not put the children in the middle.  Do not make them have to choose between which parent to live with or side with.  Work as a parental team as much as possible.  Your children should not know everything going on in your divorce.  They are your child, not your friend, so don’t treat them as some sort of sounding board because you think they are old enough to understand and you feel like you do not have anyone else to talk to.  Do the right thing, because it is not all about you or your spouse.  Your children should be your focus first and foremost and that in turn will make the divorce itself easier to resolve and also produce a good, functioning parenting relationship after your divorce is done.

For further information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce attorney Gerald Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm, please call (949) 553-0304 or visit www.maggiolawfirm.com.  The Maggio Law Firm is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law firm serving the Orange County and Riverside areas and neighboring counties, serving clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, prenuptial agreements, divorce mediation, and other family law issues.

Helpful Tips On How To Tell Your Kids That Mommy & Daddy Are Divorcing

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmIt goes without saying that divorce is one of the most difficult and stressful events that can happen in an adult’s life.  For children, divorce can be a much more confusing, emotional and uncertain time.

So having a strategy for how to tell your children that you and your spouse are divorcing is very important, as well as how to guide them through the divorce process without being emotionally damaged in the process.

What is most important for the sake of your children is to avoid conflict with your spouse as much as possible, particularly in front of them.  The more that you and your spouse can communicate and act objectively with regard to parenting and co-parenitng for the sake of your children, the better, even if you are experiencing emotional pain and anger yourself.

A divorcing parent must make every effort to support their children through the divorce even if they struggle to do so because they do not really know how to do so.  The key to this whole process is for your children to know that despite the pending divorce, they are not at fault and they are loved.  Where children of divorce often start having problems at school, with drug and alcohol abuse, and have behavioral problems is when the parents are fighting, do not work together, and put the children in the middle of their disputes.

Here are a few tips in how to tell your children that you and your spouse are going to divorce and how otherwise to discuss the divorce:

  1. Sit Down Together With Your Spouse

When the time comes to tell your children that divorce is going to happen, you should not be doing so without your spouse there with you.  Your children will feel better having you both together in that setting, and you and your spouse will be a united front.   Each spouse will also know exactly what was said and not have to wonder.  That will instill more trust in your children and your spouse will also trust you more as a result.

  1. Honesty Is Necessary

You do not have to get down to the “nitty gritty” details of what led to the divorce, but giving honest yet simple responses to their questions will go a long way in helping deal with their understanding of the situation.  Honesty will also help with trust.

  1. Avoid The Blame Game

Do not be critical of your spouse when speaking with them at the beginning of or at any point during the divorce.  That will not accomplish anything other than insecurity in your children.  Perhaps your marriage did not work out, but that does not mean that you and your spouse do not still have a responsibility to act maturely and as a co-parenting team for the sake of your children.  Today’s children are very smart and intuitive and they know more than you think they do.  So do the right thing for them and make sure that they feel like you are taking their best interests to heart.

  1. Listen to Your Children

Much more than half of effective communications is listening to what the other party is saying.  Communicating with your children is no different.   Really listen and consider the concerns expressed by your children and do not take what they say lightly.  They may be young, but their feelings and concerns about the divorce have as much validity as yours.

Following these simple tips will help reduce the level of stress associated with the divorce on your children.  Be proud of how you handled your divorce!

For further information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce attorney Gerald Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm, please call (949) 553-0304 or visit www.maggiolawfirm.com.  The Maggio Law Firm is an experienced Orange County divorce and family law firm serving the Orange County and Riverside areas and neighboring counties, serving clients with legal issues including divorce, legal separation, prenuptial agreements, divorce mediation, and other family law issues.

How Do California Family Courts Determine Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

California has a child support formula that is used in all cases to determine the proper amount of “guideline” child support. Generally, the courts and all attorneys in California use one of 2 recognized computer programs based on the child support guideline formula:  either “Dissomaster” or “X-spouse.”

The factors considered in making child support orders are primarily the gross income of the parties and the amount of time each parent spends with the minor child. However, other factors that can be considered include any itemized deductions the parties can claim on their taxes, medical insurance premiums paid each month, and any mandatory retirement payments and union dues for individuals whose employment requires them to be part of a union and to contribute to a deferred compensation retirement plan (i.e. a pension).

In addition to the basic monthly child support, the court will generally also order that the parents equally share the costs of childcare expenses necessary for the custodial parent or both parents to work, as well as any medical, dental, and vision expenses for the minor child not covered or reimbursed by medical/dental/vision insurance.

Child support can also include expenses for the special needs of a child, such as tutors or other services, as well as the transportation costs for visitation of a parent.

Finally, the Court generally orders that both parents keep their child medically insured with medical insurance if it is available at no cost or at reasonable cost to both parents.

Child Support is generally paid until the minor child reaches the age of 18, or age 19 if they are still a full-time high school student at age 18, unless the minor child dies or becomes emanicipated prior to becoming an adult.

Child Support orders can be modified if there is:

  • A significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income;
  • A change in custody or the amount of time the child spends with each parent; or
  • Any other change that would affect the child support guideline calculations.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact The Maggio Law Firm at (949) 553-0304 or at www.maggiolawfirm.com.

What Is a “Legal Separation” and Should I File for It Instead of Divorce? What About An Annulment?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

what is legal separation, orange county divorce attorney, maggio family lawLegal separation is much like filing for divorce, in that you can obtain many of the same orders regarding custody, division of property, and support.  However, there is one key difference:  at the end of a legal separation case, you are still legally married to your spouse.

In situations where a party wants to obtain orders for child custody, visitation, and/or other issues but has not lived in the same county for the past 3 months or in California for the past 6 months to meet the time requirements for filing for divorce, that party can file for Legal Separation and amend his or her Petition to a divorce after 6 months have passed.

Legal Separation is also appropriate for some parties for religious and/or insurance coverage issues. Medical insurance companies who had previously insured a spouse under the other spouse’s medical insurance during the marriage generally terminate such coverage options when a divorce is finalized. Therefore, for spouses who would have difficulty in obtaining their own medical insurance coverage after termination of their marriage due to pre-existing medical conditions, a legal separation can make sense because it enables such medical insurance coverage to continue. The Court can make orders relating to child custody, visitation, child and spousal support and divide property in a legal separation case, but the parties otherwise remain married to each other.

Unless your circumstances fit one of those circumstances above, you should consider divorce instead of legal separation because you will still be married at the end of a legal separation case and if you later decide to divorce, you will have to file a new case for divorce.

What About An Annulment?  In order to qualify for an annulment instead of obtaining a divorce, the party seeking an annulment must be able to prove that the parties’ marriage was “void” (i.e. an incestuous marriage or where one of the parties was still legally married to another individual at the same time) or “voidable (where the party seeking annulment was under 18 years of age at the time of marriage or that the marriage was entered into based upon fraudulent representations, force, or mental and/or physical incapacity). It is generally substantially more difficult to obtain an annulment than a divorce.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact The Maggio Law Firm at 949-553-0304 and at www.maggiolawfirm.com.