The Process of Seeking Full Custody Of Your Child

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

best divorce lawyers in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWhat does Full Custody Mean?

Full custody is also known as sole custody in the legal arena. While both these things mean the same, it is misleading to go with the literal meanings of the words. Full custody basically means that a large amount of control and care of the child is the prerogative of one parent.

In Orange County divorce and child custody cases, full custody does not mean that the other parent is barred from meeting the child. It simply means that the other parent’s visitations and other meetings with the child will be considerably less than the time the full custody parent gets to spend. When a parent wants full custody, they are usually talking about both physical and legal custody, as opposed to just asking for a greater share in the time spent with the child.

Full Custody before Judgment

If you want to get full custody of your child before the final decision, this will require a best interest analysis of the child. All child custody cases are based on the rule of deciding the cases on the best interest of the child. The best interest analysis looks at aspects such as the child’s safety, education, health and wellbeing.

To get full custody before the court’s proper judgment, a parent has to submit a request for order. The order is basically used to put the issue of child custody and visitation before the court. This is an order before judgment and hence any order passed by the judge now is deemed as temporary and not permanent.

Full custody order in favor of a particular parent requires a showing to the court that the other parent is not capable of caring for the child on regular basis, and therefore she is the only one who is capable enough to look after the well-being of the child.

The reasons to convince the court of the other parent’s inability can be a recent case of domestic violence. A recent criminal activity record of the other parent will also have an adverse effect on child custody issues.

Full Custody after Judgment

The process of getting custody after judgment is similar to the method of getting it before the judgment. The only difference being that for the courts to change the custody order, there has to be a substantial change of circumstances that are material. If you do have custody and you are only asking for an increase in custody time, in such a case, showing material change in circumstances may not be required per se.

This blog was written to cater to the frequent questions that people having child custody issues tend to ask.  If you are a mother or a father wanting full custody, we hope this article at least gave you an idea of the procedure that you’ll need to follow to obtain child custody.

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 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.

What Message is Your Child Getting? Nonverbal Communication and Passive-Aggressive Parenting

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Child custody Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmMost parents who choose divorce mediation already understand that it is not the divorce itself, but the conflict surrounding divorce, that causes lasting trauma to children.

But even parents who are making an effort to choose their words carefully when they talk about the other parent may not realize that another message is coming across.

That’s because 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal, according to a widely-accepted psychological study.  When interpreting feelings and attitudes, people (including children) only take seven percent of their information from the words that are spoken.  38 percent of the information is taken from tone of voice, and 55 percent of the information is taken from facial expressions and body language.

That means that a simple “Your mother will be here in an hour,” said with a sigh, a head shake, or in a tightly controlled tone of voice will likely cause your child to feel the underlying conflict. And according to researchers, an ongoing sense of conflict and tension can affect your child’s ability to solve problems and relate to others, in addition to causing emotional distress.

Parents worried about this can work with a family therapist on this issue.  Even one parent who pays attention to nonverbal communication cues can help reduce the sense of conflict that their child feels, which will pay off both in the present and future of the child’s life.

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.