5 Common Questions of Parents in a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmWhen parents go through a divorce, their primary concern is their children. While assets and finances may matter, the fact of the matter is that your children are the greatest asset of all. Here are a few questions related to children that parents can typically ask a divorce attorney in a divorce.

1.     How can we create the schedule for the child in co-parenting?

A parenting schedule is an important document to have after a divorce since first up, it helps decrease conflict between the two spouses with everything pre-planned and secondly, it keeps you away from your ex spouse. When you are making a schedule, there are few things that need to take into account, such as;

  • Your work schedule
  • The work schedule of your spouse
  • Whether either of you travels
  • The distance between the two houses where you and your spouse live

It is important to ensure that the work schedule isn’t rigid. The child needs to have some sort of freedom and most importantly, the freedom to meet any of the parents whenever he or she wants. Your divorce attorney will help you develop your parenting plan.

2.     Which kind of parenting is right for me?

There are two kinds of parenting, co-parenting and parallel parenting. You need to make the choice of which one is right for you and your spouse. The first one is best for people who are on good terms with one another, while the other one is best for spouses that aren’t comfortable dealing with one another.

3.     How can I handle not having my children with me every day?

Yes, this is a challenge, and it is a change that you would never have welcomed, but it is nothing out of the ordinary and simply a repercussion of the decision you have taken. The fact that you will not be with your child can hurt, but you should rest assured that you and the other spouse are both equally committed to the betterment of the child. You will be able to meet the child on your turn and contact them regularly, lessening the impact of the lack of presence.

4.     What if I can’t stand my spouse and they can’t stand me either?

The problem with parenting is that it can’t be conducted in a vacuum so to speak.  Most spouses don’t want to see one another after a divorce. Yet for parenting purposes, they have to. If you hate one another, you can’t eliminate the possibility of conversing, but what you can do is minimize it by crafting well drafted parenting plans and making use of parallel parenting.

5.     How do I break the news to my child?

This is something that has no right or wrong answer. Different children react differently to divorce. Yet, typically, you must be compassionate, true and sensitive with the child when breaking the news. They may react adversely, but you need to be the calming presence, allaying their 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.

How Children Are Affected By Their Divorced Parents

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

family law attorney Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce can have a profound effect on children.  How their parents handle the divorce and both parent and co-parent can have a big impact on how well (or not) such children live through the experience and the aftermath of divorce.  Here are some points for such divorcing parents to consider when it comes to how to act regarding their children and what to avoid:

Children benefit when their divorced parents:

  • Have similar rules and disciplinary actions.
  • Prevent conflict and never result to any physical/emotional/verbal abuse of any kind.
  • Allow contact with grandparents and other extended family to avoid a further sense of loss.
  • Have a healthy and respectful method of communication.
  • Speak kindly about one another in the presence of the children.
  • Allow flexibility with visitation and give adequate notice when the children want to participate in family celebrations, events and special occasions.
  • Always keep the children’s routine and activities in mind when planning vacations, etc.
  • Provide an itinerary of travel dates, destination and lines of communication available for all parties while on vacation.

Children are harmed when their divorced parents:

  • Deny access to the children for anything other than for the safety or well-being of the children.
  • Use physical/emotional/verbal abuse of any kind.
  • Don’t keep their promises to them.
  • Make the children choose between their parents.
  • Degrade the other parent in the children’s presence or to the children.
  • Ask their children about the other parent’s activities, relationships, etc.
  • Involve the children in problems they are having with the other parent.
  • Have the children act as spies, messengers or mediators.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.

Some Fallacies About Child Custody Dispelled

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmWhen you go through a divorce, the most important thing that most spouses worry about is the custody of their child. Children are thought to be the most important assets in a divorce case. However, the fact that it is such a popular aspect in a divorce case has meant it has gained popularity. Much of which has resulted in a number of false fallacies developing that are harming the process and the way parents are fighting their divorce case.

Hence, to make sure you don’t fall for the fallacies that have developed in an Orange County divorce, here is low down on some of those fallacies and the truth about them.

1.     The Gender Of The Parent Is An Important Consideration

This is one of the biggest and most widespread fallacy about the Orange County family law courts. People believe that the judges in the case tend to consider the sex of the parent as an important factor in deciding who to grant custody to. This however is far from the truth. Whether it is a woman or a man, the law is equal for all and that includes cases of child custody in divorce. The only important consideration for the court is the best interest of the child. Whether it’s with the father or the mother, that is what will dictate the decision.

2.     A Teenager Can Choose Their Parent

Again, it is common knowledge among people that when you go to an Orange County divorce with a teenage child, the courts will give them the authority to choose the parents they want to live with. This in fact is nothing more than a fallacy. The family laws has no provision or precedent where the judges go ahead and give the child irrespective of their age the final decisive authority in a case. While a teenager may be able to advise the court as to his or her preferred parents, this is in fact solely in the domain of the judge to decide.

3.     Parental Alienation Cannot Be Proved

In an Orange County divorce case, there are often instances where one of the parent is guilty of alienating the child from the other parent. It is often thought that parental alienation cannot be proven. This, however, is far from the truth. While it can be said that lack of documentation makes the parental alienation hard to prove, it can still be proven with the correct argument and evidence. In case you have documented the other parent’s parental alienation, it can be easily proved and used against the other parent in matters of child custody.

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 Ways To Schedule Vacations With Kids After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmLike holiday schedules, planning for vacations with children after separation/divorce can be a daunting task.  Not only do parties have to consider where to vacation, they have to consider what their children may want to do and also be reasonable with the other parent who will want to take their own vacation with the children on another occasion.  Here are some things to keep in mind when scheduling a vacation:

  1. Each parent should give the other parent as much advanced notice as possible of any vacation plans.  Give written notice and include your destination, dates, and phone numbers of where you and your child can be reached at all times.
  2. Allow your children to call the other parent whenever they wish.  This will help with their sense of continuity and security when they are further away from the other parent than normal.
  3. If the child is in town during a lengthy vacation time, be flexible by allowing the other parent weekend or mid-week contact with them.
  4. Keep your child’s extracurricular activities in mind when planning vacations.
  5. Keep your child’s age in mind.  Adolescents or teenagers might want to have a say in their vacation time and may want to make plans with friends or schedule their own activities.
  6. Both parents must have the child’s school and extracurricular activity schedules available to make plans accordingly.  Some parents simply continue the normal schedules during the child’s vacation, while others plan a different schedule that will work better for the child during their vacations.

In addition, there are ways to share the children’s school vacation time, as such:

  1. While the child is off-track, parents can alternate weeks of custodial responsibility with the exchange occurring the same night every week.
  2. While the child is on summer vacation, the parents reverse the custodial plan so that the child resides primarily in the home of the parent they had less time with during the school year.
  3. For the majority of the child’s summer vacation the normal routine is followed, except the parents agree on a set period of uninterrupted time with the child so that they can each take a vacation with the 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.

Advice On How To Schedule The Holidays With The Kids

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmWhen parents are separated and/or divorced, the holidays can be very stressful times for both the parties and for their children.  Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing an effective, less stressful holiday schedule:

  1. As always, remember that this is about what is best for your children.  Holidays especially will be a time of heightened emotions for everyone, so be mindful of keeping your own feelings under control and be there for your child.
  2. Remember that children will want to celebrate holidays and special days with both of their parents.  No matter what your relationship is with the other parent, your children need the help and cooperation of both parents to help make this happen for them.
  3. It is crucial for children to develop holiday traditions with both parents and extended families.  You want them to be able to look back and remember special times with each of you.
  4. Both parents must have the child’s school schedule available when planning holidays.
  5. Set a time for a phone call with the parent that is not with the child on the specific holiday.
  6. Keep travel plans in mind for holiday traditions and family gatherings.  If long blocks of time due to travel are necessary, it may be best to alternate years so that the children can fully participate with and appreciate the time with their extended family members.
  7. Be flexible when it comes to holiday activities that your children may want to participate in, such as shopping, gift wrapping, parties, baking, decorating, etc.  There may be certain traditions that they wish to keep, regardless of scheduling conflicts.
  8. Keep your children’s ages in mind.  Although infants and toddlers are unaware of their surroundings, their presence at family gatherings during holidays may be important to the adults in both extended families.  School age children are very mindful of holidays and want to have special time with both families, whereas teenagers may not be as excited about family gatherings and activities.
  9. Your children’s safety and joy during the holidays should always take precedence.
  10. You might choose to vary your method for each holiday, as one method might work well for one holiday, but not another.

In addition, here are 4 different options for sharing holidays that you and the other parent can consider in scheduling holidays:

  1. Divide:  Let the child spend time with both parents on the holiday or holiday weekend.
  2. Alternate:  The children spend certain holidays with one parent in even years, and the other parent in odd years.
  3. Substitute:  One parent always has a certain holiday in exchange for another holiday.
  4. Regular Schedule:  Regardless of the holiday, you follow your regular schedule and the children spend it with the parent they would normally be with.

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 Different Kinds of Visitation Orders

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

family law lawyers in orange county; The Maggio Law FirmCustody and visitation orders are made by courts based on what the court believes is in the “best interest of the child.”  That is the primary consideration that the court has to make based on the evidence presented.  Custody has to do with both decision-making authority of the parents as well as the physical custody designation.  In some instances, judges may give parents joint legal custody, but not joint physical custody.  This means that both parents share the responsibility of making important decisions in the child’s life, but the child lives with one parent significantly more than the other parent, who has “visitation time” with the child.

  • Types of Visitation Orders

Standard Visitation is when a parent who has the child less than 50% the time has specific dates and times they are allowed to spend time with the child.  Having detailed visitation plans normally helps all parties involved by preventing conflicts and/or confusion.

Supervised Visitation is put in place when there are concerns for the child’s safety and well-being while they are with a particular parent.  It requires that when that parent is visiting with the child, that parent must be supervised by the other parent, another agreed upon adult, or a professional agency.  This type of visitation may also be put in place when the child and a parent have not spent much time together and are becoming more familiar with each other. 

No Visitation is ordered if the visiting parent would be emotionally and/or physically harmful to the child, even under another adult’s supervision.  Hence, in these cases it is in the best interest of the child to have no contact with that parent whatsoever.

  • How Custody and Visitation are Decided 

Custody and visitation decisions are always based on the best interests of the child involved.  The court makes these decisions based on factors such as, but not limited to, the age and health of the child, any history of substance abuse or family violence, the parents ability to care for the child, emotional bonds between the parents and child, and the child’s ties to their home, school and community.

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.

10 Suggestions On How To Develop A Parenting Plan

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmFor parties with children going through a separation whether they are married or not, there are many things to keep in mind when preparing a parenting plan for their children.  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Be detail-oriented when preparing your parenting plan.  Make sure you are specific about the dates, times, locations and arrangements for which parent will be providing transportation for all of the exchanges.  Children handle things better if they are able to trust and rely on a specific and consistent plan.  A specific plan can also help to avoid arguments between the parents.
  2. The child’s relationship with each parent and their siblings.  If a parent has been out of their life for a long period of time, visits should start slowly and supervised until the child feels comfortable with that parent.
  3. The child’s age, developmental stage and any specific needs.The child’s temperament and how they deal with change.
  4. Parents’ work schedules and where they reside.
  5. Consider that the child will also want time with their friends and extended family members.  
  6. The location of your child’s school, sports, hobbies, tutors, doctor and dentist.  Who is going to be responsible for transporting the child to these events?  
  7. Make the child’s schedule and transitions as consistent and smooth as possible.  Avoid conflict at this already heightened time of anxiety.
  8. Help your child keep their school work, sports equipment, etc. organized between transitions.  
  9. Allow the child to contact the other parent whenever they feel the desire.  If there is a high level of conflict between the parents, a more detailed parenting plan can help.

Make sure that your child’s safety and well-being is your top priority.  If you have any concerns about child abuse, mental or emotional disorders, substance abuse, domestic violence, or anything else that could harm your child physically, emotionally, or mentally, seek professional help.

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.

Issues To Resolve During A Divorce Involving Children with Special Needs

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmHaving a child who has special needs can take its toll on a marriage. If you find yourself facing divorce and have a child or children who have special needs, there are some areas you will need to focus on working out during the divorce, besides the standard divisions of assets.

Articulating what you both think your child’s abilities and needs are

The best place to start is to be clear that you both agree on what the child can and cannot do for themselves and the degree of assistance or care they will need. This will cover the additional help needed at home, school or with counselors.

Choosing who the child will live with

Deciding on who gets custody of the child, and whether it will be sole custody or joint custody, are hard decisions to make even with kids who don’t have special needs. When you factor in the unique needs of a special needs child, this decision becomes even more critical to the well being of the child. it will be important to put your child first when you decide on where he or she will stay. For a child with autism for instance, pulling them out of a familiar environment will make an already difficult situation harder. Try and work it out so that the parent who will be responsible for the child stays on in the family home. Don’t shift neighborhoods if you can avoid it, so they continue going to the same school and are not uprooted from a familiar social circle.

Working out a plan for adulthood

With special needs kids, the need for parental support may last well into their adult years. Provisions must be made for the emotional and financial well being of the child and decisions made on what happens once the child becomes an adult. Insurance plans may also be needed to offer them additional protection in the event of the death of the primary caregiving parent.

Alimony, child support, and public benefits

While working out alimony and child support, keep in mind that your child may need financial support even as an adult, in some cases this is a lifelong need. You will also have costs related to additional care, counseling or special medical treatment. However, you may also be eligible for public benefits.

Estate planning

Work through what happens in the event you or your ex pass away.  How will the estate be handled? Will there be someone appointed to oversee managing the estate? Work out these details to ensure you secure future for your child who may need to live off their inheritance from you and your ex. Detail what happens should either of you remarry and have kids.

Wherever possible try and consult with a divorce attorney familiar with special needs cases. They will be able to guide you on the role of Medicaid or SSI, special needs trusts and other benefits that apply to your situation, to ensure the best outcome for you, your spouse and your special needs 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.

Questions to Ask Your Lawyer Before Your Child Custody Hearing

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmWhen parents in a custody case cannot negotiate a custody agreement and parenting schedule, that is when parties often end up in court.  This blog outlines a few questions that you should ask your lawyer before the child custody hearing begins.

How are sole custody and joint custody different from one another?

This is a common question that nearly all clients will at some point ask their Orange County family law attorney. It is best that you do so before the custody hearing begin to ensure you go into the hearing with a clear head. As far as the difference goes, a sole custody is when one parent gets complete physical custody of the child as well as getting complete authority over the decision making of the child.

In joint custody both of these aspects will be divided. The physical custody will be divided and the important decisions will be taken by the spouses in consultation.

Is my going to court important?

The way case of child custody is approached is different from other issues of a divorce such as assets etc. Typically in these cases courts require the parents to go through mediation and then come to the court. However, coming to court is important since it highlights that you interested in the future of the child and you will need to do all you can to prove to the courts that you are good parent.

Can the order passed be changed later?

The child custody order that has been passed is important. But in no way is it the final authority until a formal judgment has been entered, at which point modification of custody will generally require a showing of a “substantial change of circumstances.” There are a number of situations where you can through your Orange County family lawyer file a request in court for the modification of the child support order. This can be done if circumstances have changed or new evidence have come to light which makes the other parent continuing as parent a violation of the rule of best interest of the child.

Are you experienced enough to handle this issue?

This is an important question to ask their family lawyer that is going to represent you in the child custody hearing. As mentioned above, this kind of a case works in a different way to other divorce related issues and the techniques used to win this case are different. The more experienced the lawyer in the field, the better the chance you have of getting the child custody you want.

Tips On How To Prepare for A Child Custody Evaluation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmIn family law and divorce cases where parents cannot work out a custody arrangement, and in situations where custody is hotly-contested, one option in addition to the testimony of the parents and third party witnesses is what is known in California as a “730 child custody evaluation.”

What is a 730 child custody evaluation?  Essentially, it is a court-ordered child custody evaluation under California Evidence Code section 730 wherein a private forensic child custody evaluator conducts a detailed psychological evaluation of the parents and interviews with collateral third party witnesses (including teachers, physicians, therapists, family members, friends, etc.) which assists the court in determining the best interests of children with regard to disputed custody and visitation issues.  These evaluators are forensic psychologists generally chosen from a list of approved evaluators that each county in California has.  Although such evaluations are court-ordered, the court will not order one unless one of the parties have requested one, because such evaluations cost several thousand dollars and must be paid by one or both of the parties.

At the conclusion of 730 child custody evaluation, the evaluator prepares a very detailed report with his or her summations of the results of the psychological evaluation and interviews, and then generally provides recommendations regarding the contested custody and visitation issues.  Family law judges give considerable weight to the 730 evaluations, but they have the ultimate discretion to adopt some, all, or none of the recommendations.  The 730 reports are confidential and cannot be copied, so generally parties have to review them with their family law attorney in their office.

Given the seriousness of such evaluations, it is important that parties be prepared for the child custody evaluation ahead of time, which is the job of their family law attorney.  Such preparation will help alleviate some of the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty involved in the evaluation process.  Here are some tips on how to prepare for a 730 child custody evaluation:

  • Know that parties cannot outsmart the psychological testing, so they should not bother trying.  It is better to be honest, because the testing can pick up on misrepresentations and defensiveness, etc.
  • Nothing is black and white in life.  That goes for parenting, which means that one party’s parenting is not all perfect, while the other’s parenting is all bad.  So be prepared to provide the evaluator with what you believe the other parent’s faults are, but do not exaggerate those faults.  Moreover, be sure to point out what you believe the other parent’s good traits and what that parent does well in parenting.  When you find fault in everything that the other parent does, the evaluator is generally going to look to the parent pointing the finger at the other parent with a very skeptical eye.
  • To further clarify what you believe that the other parent’s faults are, be specific with actual instances and examples of events that have occurred, rather than state generalities.  For instance, if your concern is a lack of supervision or allegations of neglect, be prepared with details of dates of the incidents and what occurred.
  • If you are the party facing allegations made by the other party, treat your responses the same way, i.e. with specific facts and details on how the allegations made are false.  Be clear, be specific, and be to-to-point.
  • Always think about the questions that the evaluator might ask you in terms of what is in the best interests of the children, not what you want.  For example, rather than simply stating that the children should be with you because you are the better parent, state the reasons why you really believe that the children are better served with what you are seeking in terms of custody.
  • Whenever you refer to the children, always refer to them as “our children, not “my children.”  The children have 2 parents, not one.
  • At some point during the evaluation, you and your children will meet with the evaluator, where the evaluator will observe the interactions between you and the children.  Remain relaxed despite the ackwardness of the situation, and be responsive to what your children are wanting and saying during that time.  It’s about them, not you.
  • For better or worse, you and the other parent must learn to co-parent the children until they are adults.  You do not want to be the parent that is considered to be difficult and unwilling to co-parent.  You also do not want to be considered the parent who tries to frustrate the other parent’s relationship with the children.  If you have tried to facilitate a good parent-child relationship between the other parent and the children by encouraging it, tell the evaluator how you have done so.

It is highly advisable to talk with your family law attorney prior to the start of the 730 child custody evaluation for further advise.  That attorney will likely know the evaluator from prior cases and likely had some hand in the selection of that evaluator in your case, so he or she will have additional advice and information.

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.