What Role Does Social Media Play as Evidence in Divorce?

Posted by: maggio

By:  Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

What happens when a spouse reads a “tweet” you sent about your latest date or your spouse sees photos of you on a vacation she didn’t know you were taking on your Facebook page? Is Social media acceptable as evidence in a family law case? Family law is determined by state law which means each state has its own unique requirements for property division, custody and support. All states now have some form of no-fault divorce though. In a no-fault divorce it doesn’t matter if a spouse had an affair or if a spouse was otherwise to blame for the dissolution of the marriage. The idea of no-fault divorce is to save couple from gathering evidence of wrong-doing and from blaming each other in order to get more property or something other advantage out of the divorce.

In custody disputes though, a parent whose behavior could be construed as harmful to the children, or as irresponsible for a parent, etc. evidence of drug use, drinking, or otherwise inappropriate behavior may be used against a parent in a custody case. State laws vary on what may or may not be considered in a court’s custody determination and in some states, adult behavior which does not occur in the presence of the children and does not impair a parent’s ability to parent may not be a factor. Judges have a great deal of discretion though so every case is different, even different cases in one state may have different outcomes based on each judge’s discretion.

Facebook and Twitter can be used against you.  Social media sometimes offers clues to the opposing side about the truth of matters.  A person who is claiming he cannot afford to pay child support and then posts pictures of his latest cruise to the Bahamas may have some explaining to do. An individual who claims she cannot find a job and then “tweets” about her new consulting business could be caught in a contempt situation. We live in a new world where people are constantly talking about their own day-to-day activities as well as those of the people around them. Even a careful individual who does not post photos on Facebook might end up on Facebook if a friend (or even a friend of a friend) posts a photo and tags a person in it.

Is social media admissible in court? This is a growing area of law and is not entirely clear in every state or in every situation. Tweets and Facebook pages must be verified as true and verified as coming from a reliable source. Like information in Wikipedia, not everything you see or read on the internet is true, so verifying the truth of anything in social media can be difficult from an evidentiary standpoint. It has created new questions and new challenges for attorneys and for the courts. Perhaps the best advice if you are going through a divorce is to steer clear of social media until your divorce is finalized. An experienced family law attorney can help you understand your specific rights and responsibilities with regard to social media and divorce under your specific state’s laws.

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

Custodial Parents Need to Take Quick Action on Overdue California Child Support

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

There are more than 60,000 cases of past due child support in Orange County, which is equal to more than 50 percent of child support cases being overdue, according to the California Department of Child Support Services. Divorced parents should know that child support laws still apply even when one of the parents moves out of the state. Federal laws mandate cooperation between the states, so it is only a matter of time before these issues will catch up with a person who is trying to evade paying court-ordered child support.

Some parents battle with the scenario of their ex always paying late or never the full amount.

What is sad is that some exes do this to spite their ex-wife or ex-husband, but it really hurts the child. In turn, millions of kids are not receiving the support that helps them live a happier, healthier life. Before things get out of hand, there are enforcement methods to make every effort to get an ex to pay. Custodial parents should not just give up, and child support attorneys can help to make sure your child support order is followed. Courts can also require an obligor to pay one year of child support up front. Your ex must show proof of the deposit. This child support “security deposit” will get put into an interest-bearing account and withdrawals can only happen with court authorization.

One of the easiest ways to ensure child support is paid for is through wage assignment. The employer of the obligor can be served an earnings assignment order, which means that the child support will be automatically deducted from the ex’s earnings. These orders also show that the ex must notify you about a change of employment, and the new employer’s contact info, within 10 days of being on a new job.

A judgment lien can also get assessed on your ex’s real property if they owe past due child support. The lien is recorded with an Abstract of Support Judgment. Then, when the debtor tries to sell the property or get a loan from the asset with the lien, he or she will be forced to pay it off. Most lenders and purchasers of this property will be unable to proceed when there is a lien on the property, so this effective enforcement method should be reviewed.

A custodial parent can also enforce child support payments through a writ of execution. A county sheriff, marshal, or registered process server will serve the obligor with the writ of execution. This will seize the funds, real or tangible personal property, or sell the real or tangible personal property and deliver to proceeds to the custodial parent.

Custodial parents should know that timely action is needed to get the child support you are due. Contempt proceedings can be held to enforce the child support order or judgment. Every month where your ex has not paid in full can be punished as separate count. And they can be responsible for paying the custodial parent’s legal costs due to the enforcement proceedings.

Renee Cary writes for Irvine divorce attorney, Gerald Maggio of The Maggio Law Firm. To learn more about Irvine divorce lawyer, Gerald Maggio visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

California Child Custody Cases Redefining Who is the Parent

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

A recent California child custody case shows how the state is redefining who it deems a child’s parent. Typically, the courts have given custody to a child’s biological or adoptive parents. But since 2002, groundbreaking child custody cases have looked at who the child considers the parent and who is carrying out the parenting duties. The main objective is that the courts want a person who is financially supporting the children and providing for their wellbeing. As a progressive state, California child custody cases involve not only straight couples but gay couples who also provide a strong foundation for children in the middle of a divorce.

“The state has a great interest in having those who want the benefits of parenthood to take on the responsibilities and obligations that go with parenthood,” said Pacific McGeorge School of Law Professor Larry Levine in Sacramento.

In the latest case of assigning the parent child custody, a woman who did not adopt her ex-girlfriend’s kids was ruled as their parent because she provided for them monetarily, tended to them when they were sick and even volunteered at their school. Plus, she could not adopt the children as she was in the Air Force and did not want to violate the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that was only recently lifted. Because she was carrying out the parental responsibilities and rights, she was now deemed their parent.

Child custody decisions are, therefore, looking more at who is truly functioning as the parent. Adults who do not have blood ties or adopted a child used to be classified as “legal strangers”, but if they are carrying out the role of a parent, courts will want to keep what is in the best interest of the child. A child-centered approach versus a child as property mentality is what the courts are shifting too. Who do the children rely on? Who do they think their parents are?

This can have a big impact on not only child custody, but matters of child support. The state wants to side with whom will provide the best health, education, and home environment for the child if both parties cannot agree on joint custody. The courts really take each decision on a case by case basis, as no two scenarios are exactly the same. The biggest constant is that they will rule in the best interests of the children. An experienced child custody lawyer can help the individual who seeks child custody to create an agreement that upholds what is best for the children and takes into consideration all the actions they carry out for the children.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. The Maggio Law Firm specializes in divorce and family law. To learn more about Orange County divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

Parenting Can Be More Rewarding After a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Parenting can vastly change after divorce proceedings. When both parents are given equal parenting time, it creates an on/off parenting schedule that defines when the child will be in your household. At the beginning of the new schedule, some parents feel loneliness or anger because they were used to the children being around. But as the weeks go by, if individuals can focus on how the new schedule bonds them to their kids in new ways, they can feel a sense of empowerment.

“Being the one to cook the meals, prepare the lunches, help with the homework, buy the birthday presents for your children’s friends, make play dates, drop them off at school, take them to the doctor – without an outlet or someone else to fall back on if you’re tired – is part of building a deeper connection with your children,” said Jonathan Weiler and Anne J. Menkens in a recent article about the benefits gained in a child-parent relationship after divorce. “…A newfound sense of capability might make you less overwhelmed by the challenges of dealing with your kids, thereby freeing you up to enjoy the experience more.”

As a single parent, chances are that you will be more heavily involved than before in your children’s health and education decisions as well as social activities. The custody and parenting agreement will define the mutual decisions you and your ex have for these aspects of your child’s life. As time goes on, the decisions and child support might need to be modified. Getting legal advice to see about these possibilities or making a move to change them is highly advised.

Throughout it all, it is recommended to focus on the best interests of the child. Child advocates say to never make your kids messengers to the other spouse. Do not put a child in the center of dispute you have with the ex. Do not say negative things about your ex in front of the child.

“Kids are impressionable and you can make your child hate your ex-spouse if you want to, but it won’t bring you closer to your child,” said Weiler and Menkens. “If, on the other hand, if you know your ex-spouse is a good parent (even if a bad spouse) and that your child loves him or her, try praising that parent. Building your child’s esteem for her other parent will be one of the best gifts you can give to your child.”

In California, Irvine child custody attorney Gerald Maggio is skilled in helping a parent achieve the best child custody outcome and has resources in the area for parents to work on their parenting skills. The Maggio Law Firm is experienced in maintaining and preserving the crucial parent-child relationship. They are well versed in child support and modifications, divorce, and alternative conflict resolution.

For more information:
The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.
www.maggiolawfirm.com

Orange County Office
8105 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 600
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 553-0304
(949) 553-0346 Fax

Riverside Office
3750 University Avenue, Suite 670
Riverside, CA 92501

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange
County divorce attorney
, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange County divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

Parenting Time Plays Big Role in Child’s Behavior

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Parenting time is one of the hardest agreements to agree on during a divorce. Many parents feel they are the best parent for the child and deserve to spend holidays, vacations and quality time with each other. But in family law, the courts look to the best interests of the child, not the parent. Each parent must step away from focusing on himself or herself to determine what the child deserves.

The court will approve a parenting agreement that lets the child equitably have a relationship with each parent, unless there is concern for the child’s safety and wellbeing. But oftentimes long after the agreement is approved and the child has been shuttled between both parents, a conflict arises. How each parent treats the other parent can play a huge role on how the child perceives the split parenting time.

“Somehow, children get the message that going to the other parent’s house after a separation or divorce is optional,” says Esq. Bill Eddy of the High Conflict Institute. “If you give them a choice and imply it will be a negative experience, any healthy child is going to want to avoid it. Since children have so few options in their lives, if you give them an option to avoid something negative, they will avoid it.”

Eddy recommends focusing on how you speak to your child to make the transition from one parent to another. Instead of “You have to go” or “Your dad or the court is forcing you to go”, say “I expect you to go see your dad”. Expect is a much more positive word than the perception of conflict that a child will create if they hear the word force. It’s much like forcing your child to eat broccoli or brush his teeth; kids do not want to be pushed into anything.

“When given a choice, many children who live in two households would rather stay where they are at the moment,” said Eddy. “It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to see their Mom or Dad, it just means that they don’t want to stop what they’re doing, get up, pack up, and go somewhere else. Once they get to the other house, they act just the same way. Don’t take it personally: most of the time children just prefer where they are and what they’re doing. They live in the present.”

Equally as important is how each parent converses with each other. Arguments and fights can cause confusion, resistance, and abnormal behaviors from a child. Kids mimic their parents, often without knowing why, so many family therapists recommend treating your ex as if it is a business partnership. The goal of the “business” should be your child’s wellbeing. Speak to your ex like you would a colleague with neutral, respectful, diplomatic language. Children who can have a regular schedule with each parent and similar rules at each household will greatly benefit mentally and socially from a consistent routine. Everything doesn’t have to be the same at each household, but parents should work to agree on important things like homework, bedtime, activities, and big decisions involving medical and education needs.

In California, Riverside family law attorney Gerald Maggio helps individuals create a parenting agreement that the courts will approve and benefits the child. The Maggio Law Firm is experienced in joint custody matters, child support, and can help modify the parenting agreement should a change be needed years after a divorce.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange
County divorce attorney
, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange County divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

Role Model Dads Facing Divorce Have Every Right to Parenting Time Comments Attorney

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Irvine, Calif. – The recent child custody battle between NBA Star Dwayne Wade and his ex-wife shows fathers who are doing the right thing – standing up for their kids and their rights as a father – can end up with a positive outcome.

Dwayne Wade was granted with sole custody of his three-year-old and eight-year-old son. Most states recognize the value a father has in his child’s life and there are many resources to assist dads who are dealing with a difficult divorce.

Good legal counsel is recommended to protect a father’s rights in a child custody case. If a father and the soon-to-be ex-wife can create a custody agreement through mediation, the divorce proceedings will go much smoother. But if there is no ability to agree, an experienced child custody attorney is crucial.

When sole custody is granted, a dad will have the child most of the time and the mother will have a set number of visits. If joint custody is granted, the child will get equal time with each parent. Parenting agreements will go over the schedules to give each child ample time to be with their dad and mom.

Dads will want to show the strong bond the child has with them, and any evidence of the big role they play in a child’s development is helpful to the court. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, 24 million children live without their biological father and are more apt to “engage in risky behaviors, suffer from emotional and behavioral issues, drop out of school, and live in poverty.”

The role a father has in their child’s life is immense. As the National Fatherhood Initiative’s president Roland Warren says, “If you take the time to love, laugh, look, listen, and leave a legacy, you will connect with your kids and be the dad they need and want you to be.”

An experienced attorney will help a dad ensure the parenting agreement is realistic and keeps the child needs as priority number one. “It is so important to maintain the child-parent relationship to keep building a strong bond in the future,” said Irvine child custody attorney Gerald Maggio.

The Maggio Law Firm champions a dad’s rights with compassion, experience, and tenacity. Their lead attorney Gerald Maggio will go after the best possible custody arrangement for your situation.

To learn more about the Maggio Law Firm visit http://www.maggiolawfirm.com/.

Divorcees Should Focus on the Kids and Not on Their Hatred to Each Other

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Divorces typically are all about the two adults who can no longer get along and who deserves what assets, property, and privileges. Even though each spouse might equally love the children, oftentimes divorce can bring out the worst behaviors in a parent. Before, during, and after the divorce proceedings it is critical to focus on a healthy and nurturing environment for the kids; otherwise, the negativity can have big consequences on their livelihood.

“Children tend not to tell you when they are angry, resentful, confused, hurt or depressed,” said author Rosaling Sedacca in her book How Do I Tell the Kids…about the Divorce? “Instead kids reflect their problems through their behavior – acting out or perhaps turning inward in ways that you have not experienced prior to the divorce. Take time to see the world through your children’s eyes and you will be better able to meet their needs, understand their confusion or aggression and find appropriate ways to dissolve tension through your conversation and caring behaviors.”

Parental behavior that involves negatively talking about one parent, missing or cutting into the other’s parenting time, or concealing the truth can wreak havoc on a child’s emotional wellbeing and alter their perceptions of how they should act. Children who watch parents say cruel things, lie, and seek revenge can end up being rude, hostile, dishonest, and hold grudges or worse.

Many child psychologists promote that parents must set aside whatever ill will they have towards their ex to effectively be a good parent. Yes, this will involve a daily focus to accept the child custody and shared parenting time. Halting the negative words and interacting proactively with your ex will show that people can be their own individuals and be courteous yet have their boundaries.

Divorce law and child custody agreements are all about the best interests of the children, so the earlier an individual focuses on this fact and has a good child custody attorney by their side will bring about faster and fair results. From visitation and shared parenting rights, to adequate child support and enforcement, a skilled child custody attorney will address all the factors needed for the children.

A schedule must be created so that each child will get to enjoy a normal schedule with each parent as well as specific holidays, vacations, birthdays, and special cultural and religious days. Patience, tolerance and communication are critical to make the schedule work and ensure that the kids are benefitting from it. The agreement will also detail decisions regarding medical, education, religious, and any other special considerations for the children.

In California, Riverside child custody attorney Gerald Maggio helps individuals define a reasonable parenting agreement that will help the child and parents create a healthy, supportive environment. The Maggio Law Firm is experienced in child custody, child support and all divorce matters and strives for the best outcome to maintain and preserve the parent-child relationship.

For more information:

The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.

www.maggiolawfirm.com

Orange County Office

8105 Irvine Center Drive, Suite 600

Irvine, CA 92618

(949) 553-0304

(949) 553-0346 Fax

Riverside Office

3750 University Avenue, Suite 670

Riverside, CA 92501

Grandparent Rights are Relevant in California Child Custody Cases

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Grandparents are entitled to have quality time with their grandchildren, even if their son or daughter is getting a divorce.

Grandparent rights are not to intrude on the parents rights, as they still have authority over their kids’ lives. If a spouse is trying to prevent or ignores a request for grandparent to be involved, grandparents should seek legal counsel to understand and fight for their options. Oftentimes, a child custody attorney can push to include grandparent visitation rights in the overall child custody agreement.

Unfortunately, in some circumstances the birth parents are unfit to take care of their children, thus leaving grandparents to raise the kids. Parents who are incarcerated, have mental health problems, abuse drugs or alcohol, deceased, or have abused, neglected or abandoned a child will not be given the right to take care of their child. Throughout California, close to seven percent of all children are living with their grandparents.

Grandparents as caregivers are divided into two categories. Custodial grandparents have legal custody and provide daily care, security, and decision making for the kids. Usually the child’s birth parents are so unfit to take care of the children that this is the best way for the child to succeed. A court must grant guardianship to the grandparent.

This process starts with a petition the grandparent will file in court for Guardian Ad Litem. All individuals must receive notice of this petition, so that if one parent is willing to renew their care for the child, they have the opportunity to do so. The only way to go around this is if the guardian can prove that the parent is unfit and contests the guardianship. Grandparent guardianship can be terminated when a parent shows the court they are ready, willing and able to care for the child again and files appropriate motions to do so.

The second category of grandparents, known more as caregivers, helps with daily care but does not have legal custody of the grandkids even though they are living with them. The kid’s parent can live in the home, but the grandparent is in charge of giving an emotionally and financially stable home environment. These types of grandparents assist kids when the parents are out of town, deployed with the military, or absent for longer periods of time. Power of Attorney documents should be drafted and notarized so that the grandparent will be allowed to get the child medical care, make certain education and school decisions, and apply for California assistance programs.

In Orange County, Irvine child custody attorney Gerald Maggio has helped uphold the best interests of children and the rights of grandparents for visitation and guardianship. The Maggio Law Firm is experienced in all child custody matters and will strive to achieve fast and fair results through understanding, tenacity, and professionalism.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange
County divorce attorney
, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange Country divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

Child Custody is Decided Through Several Methods

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Before understanding how child custody is decided, it is important to know the types of child custody there are.

Types of custody include the following:

  • Legal Custody
  • Sole Custody
  • Physical Custody
  • Joint Custody

Legal custody means a parent has the right to make decisions on the how to bring up the child In sole custody, the legal and physical custody goes to one parent. Physical custody means a parent has the right to have the child live with him or her. Lastly, joint custody establishes that both parents share legal and physical custody of a child.

A judge looks at each case and awards child custody to whomever he or she thinks would be in the best interest of the children. The factors that determine the judge’s decision are the age of the child or children, gender, what the current living situation is, any health factors and the relationship with each parent.

But even before a judge hears the case, child custody can be agreed mutually before hand, either by an agreement made by the parents, or by going through mediation and drafting up a formal agreement. A licensed mediator is a third party that helps couples resolve most of the issues before it moves further ahead in the court system.

If, however, the parties do not come to a decision about child custody and visitation rights, the court will more than likely order a formal evaluation on the case, which involves psychological assessments and an in-depth interview process of everyone involved in the child’s immediate family. The interviewer is likely to be a licensed board psychologist because of the involvement of using psychological testing in the evaluations.

The judge might even consider taking testimony from older siblings or teenagers to find out which parent they would prefer to stay with and have custody. In any case, placing the child in the most stable environment is what takes priority to help maintain the child’s routine and lifestyle. This is why approximately 67 percent of the children of divorce tend to stay in the marital home.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange
County divorce attorney
, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange Country divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com.

The Maggio Law Firm Encourages Unmarried Mothers to Consult a Family Law Attorney

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Unmarried mothers face a number of legal issues that must be dealt with to secure the health and happiness of their child. A family law attorney can help unmarried mothers navigate these difficult legal issues and secure adequate child support.

Unfortunately, many unmarried women find themselves alone after they become pregnant and the father of their child leaves. This abandonment can be emotionally taxing for a young woman by itself, and there are a number of legal issues at stake that must be handled as well. Not only must the child’s paternity be confirmed, child support must be secured from the baby’s father, and a child custody arrangement must be worked out between the parents.

Once an unmarried woman becomes pregnant, determining the paternity of the child is essential in pursing child support. With married parents, paternity is established automatically. However, if parents are unmarried, paternity establishment is not automatic.  Both parents should start the process as soon as possible, so that the child will not have to suffer. Once the child is born, unmarried parents can establish paternity by signing the voluntary Declaration of Paternity. If the father contests the paternity, a paternity test can be administered.

Once paternity is established, a family law attorney can then work to get an order of child support from the father, and the California Department of Child Support Services can assist unwed mothers with child support collection and enforcement. Securing child support is an essential step for unwed mothers, as it offers the financial support necessary to make sure that the child is properly taken care of.

Child custody arrangements between unmarried couples can be quite complex and difficult to navigate. An experienced family law attorney can help unmarried mothers construct a child custody arrangement that will work for both parents and will serve the best interests of the child. When establishing custody, the courts will take a number of factors into consideration including:

  • The child’s health, safety and welfare
  • The stability of each parent’s home environment
  • The history of physical abuse
  • The parents’ criminal history, as it may restrict custody or visitation orders
  • Whether or not siblings are involved
  • The wishes of the child, if he or she is old enough to make them known

A family law attorney can provide assistance in working through all of these issues. Just because a young woman is not married when she becomes pregnant doesn’t mean that the mother, and child, do not have legal rights.

To learn more about the Maggio Law Firm visit http://www.maggiolawfirm.com/.