Is Your Divorce Getting In The Way Of You Being A Good Parent?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmThe emotional turmoil and conflicts, arising from a divorce, might leave an individual drained out of any reasoning or rationale. However, if you are a couple with kids, and are deciding upon a legal separation, you might want to rethink your entire approach, during and after your divorce. You might not realize, but your kids have been exposed to a higher degree of trauma, than both of you together. Your kid is at a tender age, and still under the process of physical as well as mental development. It is your responsibility to distinguish your personal conflicts with your spouse, for the best interests of your child, and make your divorce a calm and conducive transition for him.

Despite the fact that most of the adults are well aware of their parental responsibilities, yet they end up making grave mistakes that leave their child scarred for life. We are listing a few heedless mistakes on your part, which might be getting in the way of you being a good parent, during and after your divorce. 

Making your child the messenger 

There are several parents out there who use their kids as a medium to communicate with their partner during and after a divorce. However, this is an extremely harmful practice that might expose your kid to undue distress, and have a detrimental effect on their mental health. There are hundreds of media nowadays that can be used to make a connection with your partner. You might want to spare your kid the horror of being involved in frivolous arguments and violent discussions.

Trying to criticize the acts of your ex 

You need to understand that your kid belongs to your ex as much as he belongs to you. Criticizing your ex, or calling them names, might end up harboring unwarranted confusions and negativity in the tender mind of your child. Let your child speak if he has something to say. There are a lot of individuals who are bent upon tarnishing the image of their spouse in the eyes of their kids. The act of disparaging your kid’s other parent will make him feel demeaned too.

And last but not the least, there are several of us who tend to share intricate details of the marital issues and conflicts with our older children, in a bid to get their approval. However, you need to acknowledge the fact, that a divorce was your decision, and your child does not have to witness the ugly truth about life just yet.

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.

4 Signs That Your Child Is Taking The Divorce Badly

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

family law attorney Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmEvery individual is born different and so are your children. There are several kids who end up responding more violently to emotional outbursts and traumas, as compared to the others. Similarly, there are different kinds of reactions to a divorce, which your child may exhibit, depending upon several factors such as his emotional vulnerability, upbringing and the level of exposure to the negative intricacies of your divorce. While several children grow up to have absolutely normal lives, after witnessing the divorce of a parent, many of them might end up getting scarred for life. 

While a general feeling of loneliness and a fear of abandonment is usually considered a normal response of a child to the separation of his parents, the existence of certain over the top violent reactions might indicate a deeper conflict. There are several indicators of a child’s behavior that may exhibit the fact that he is being adversely affected by a parental divorce. 

Extreme aggression 

While a little anger over their parent’s decision is considered normal, extreme bouts of aggression and violence might indicate that the child has been deeply injured, as a result of the separation. Such children might end up directing this anger towards themselves as well as the others. 

Frequent breaking of rules 

With their parents involved in their own issues and conflicts, the children end up becoming more brash and undisciplined in their everyday lives. The fact, that their own parents have broken the rules of marriage, might be the rationale behind them developing a disregard for rules and regulations at school and at home. 

Increasing isolation and sleep problems 

More often than not, the children of divorced parents develop sleeping and eating disorders, as a direct result of the negativity surrounding them. They might even become increasingly isolated and withdrawn from their friends and family, and take solace in their own company. Such children try to avoid all contacts with people who might bring up the topic of their parent’s divorce.

Alcohol or drug abuse 

At extreme levels of anxiety and mental anguish, some of the children might also end up becoming a slave to an addiction. Many teenage kids resort to drug or alcohol abuse, as a means to get distracted from the harsh and painful reality of their lives.

If your kids are exhibiting any of these signs and symptoms, they might be suffering from an extreme physiological damage, as a result of your divorce. It is now, that you might want to spend some quality time with your children and try to mend their skewed beliefs and notions about your separation.

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.  

Is Your Child Suffering From Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmIt is the children who often suffer the most in the event of a divorce of their parents. However, their torment reaches unprecedented levels, if one or both of the parents are unwilling to create a positive and congenial environment for their kids, post-divorce. There are a huge number of reported cases, in which the battle for child custody ended up taking an ugly shape. Many a times, one of the parents has been reported to brainwash the kid, and manipulate him in such a way, that he develops harsh feelings and a sense of loathing for the target parent. Such an act leads to a psychological disorder referred to as the parental alienation syndrome in the child. The root cause of such manipulative programming of the child’ psyche originates from the fact, that one or both of the parents are unable to distinguish their personal conflicts from the well being of the child.

What are the symptoms of parental alienation syndrome?

We are listing a few symptoms that might exhibit a manifestation of the parental alienation syndrome in your child, post a divorce or a legal separation.

  • The child has developed skewed notions about the target parent, and views the alienating parent as the only one having honest and positive attributes. The child starts to distinguish between the two parents as good and bad, and tends to develop feelings of hatred and disdain for the target parent.
  • Such a child doesn’t acknowledge the fact that he is being coached or manipulated by his alienating parent. Instead, he tries to project the feeling of abhorrence for the target parent, as his personal choice.
  • The child’s distorted notions often end up extending to the target parent’s family as well. He might begin refusing any kind of contact with the relatives of the target parent, even if they are congenial and warm towards him, irrespective of the separation.
  • More often than not, the ideas of loath and disrespect stem from baseless accusations. The child develops feelings of contempt and fear, as a result of a mere conditioning of their psyche, which are rarely based on any authentic personal experiences.
  • And most importantly, the loving and conducive relationship that the child shared with the target parent, prior to the alienation, has vanished into thin air without any possible rationale. The child may gradually drift away, and break all contacts with their once loved target parent.

In a nutshell, parental alienation is that harmful act that can possibly damage the psychological health of your child for the rest of his life, and must be refrained from at all costs.

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.  

Dealing with Visitation After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

family law lawyers in orange county; The Maggio Law FirmA divorce is a devastating time for both the parties involved. But, it can be even more agonizing and perplexing for the children, who find it difficult to assimilate the reality that they no more get to stay with both parents together. However, visitation is a process that maintains the much needed connectivity between the family, during and after a divorce. Despite the fact that most visitations end up becoming the source of a conflict between the parents, it is utmost essential to understand and acknowledge the fact that their children belong to both of them. They need to accept the reality and work towards making the visitation process, a positive and healthy experience for their children. We are listing a few guidelines to make your visitation process a smooth and calming experience for everyone involved.

Be positive 

The first and foremost thing is, to remain optimistic and cheery, when going to meet your kids, post a divorce. The idea is to steer clear of any negativity that you have developed for your spouse, and concentrate more on the well being on your child.

 Be punctual

Your children need to know that they are important to you, and that you will be there for them, whenever they need. It is utmost essential to be on time for your visit, since this shows how much you value the meetings with your child. Structure your visits keeping your children as the focus point and indulge in spending quality time with them.

Allow your kid to call up the other parent

You need to accept and acknowledge the fact that your spouse has an equal right to your kid, as you. Allow your child to make phone calls to the other parent, when he is with you. It is important to exhibit to your child that you are willing to go that extra mile, just for the sake of fostering the relationship between a parent and his child.

Stay away from any arguments

There might several instances during your drop off or pick up times, wherein you felt tempted to bring out the differences with your spouse, and spark off an argument. However, it is imperative to understand that visitation is a time that is specifically designed for the benefit of your kids, and not to resolve your personal issues. Seeing their parents argue can have a detrimental effect on the psyche of your child, and should be avoided at all cost.

You need to keep in mind that by working together with your spouse in dealing with the visitation process in a positive manner, you can actually save your child from getting scarred for life.

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.  

Same-Sex Couples & Child Custody Issues

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Gay marriage domestic partnership attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmSame sex parents who are headed towards a divorce or separation have the same problems, issues, and concerns as heterosexual parents.  Avoiding a custody battle that can get very complicated not only for the couple but for the children as well is advisable.  A joint decision needs to be reached on matters such as legal custody (decision making for the child), physical custody (who the child lives with), visitation rights (how often the noncustodial parent visits), and child support.

If both of you are legal parents

Same sex couples can be legal parents if –

  • Both jointly adopted the child.
  • The child was born into a marriage or civil union or registered domestic partnership.
  • The non-biological or non-adoptive parent adopts the child.

In a situation where both parents have equal legal rights, child-related issues are handled as it would be for ‘straight’ divorces. A judge would decide the outcome of the issues related to the custody of the child based on a number of factors.

If only one of you is the legal parent

If only one parent is the legal parent then the second parent’s rights, in all probability, will not get enough recognition by the court. The first parent or the legal parent gets the right to decide on most of the issues related to their child or children.

The sole parent has the right and power to curtail visitation rights of the second parent. The legal parent, by default, becomes the legal and physical custodian of the child or children involved. The second parent, in all likelihood, will have to pay child support as demanded by the legal parent.

The second parent can always file for partial custody and more lenient visitation rights. It should always be kept in mind, that where the law does not give equal preference to both the parents, it is always a very good idea to go for mediation and not go through the court system.

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.

What To Know About Custody and Parenting Time

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmSeparating or divorcing parents need to decide on the custody of their children and parenting time (also known as ‘visitation’). The parents need to decide where their children are going to stay, how much time they are going to spend with each parent and how they will be cared for.

In order to decide the things mentioned above, the parents need to come up with a parenting plan. If the parents are able to decide on a plan on their own it is better for everyone. If not, the parents can always seek the help of a court.

The State of California allows parents to either have joint custody or any one parent to have sole custody of their child. There are different kinds of child custody and visitation orders.

The different types of custody orders are –

  • Legal custody – It decides which parent takes important decisions regarding the education, welfare and healthcare of the child.
  • Physical custody – It decides who the child is going to live with.

Sometimes, when a child ends up spending more time with one parent, the parent is called the ‘primary custodial parent’. Parents can be given joint legal custody but not joint physical custody.

The parent who does not get to spend much time with the child gets visitation rights. The different types of visitation rights or parenting time are given below.

  • Scheduled visitation – Visitation according to a schedule helps prevent conflicts and confusion between the parents. It is a detailed parenting plan with dates and times of when the child will spend time with each parent. It includes vacations, holidays and special occasions.
  • Supervised visitation – It usually needs to be done when the safety and security of the child with the parent is a concern. An adult or a professional agency supervises such a visitation. It is also done when the child and the parent are not familiar with each other.
  • Reasonable visitation – These visitation orders are open ended. The parents work out the visitation schedules and rights between them. The rules and regulations are all flexible.
  • No visitation – When it is best that the parent does not come anywhere near the child, the parent does not get any visitation rights whatsoever.

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.  

What You Should Include In Your Child Custody Agreement

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmFor a couple, a divorce can be a very painful process. More often than otherwise, the divorcing couple forgets that their separation can be a terrifying phase for their children. When they hear that their parents are splitting up, the first question they would ask you is, “Who am I going to live with?”

When your spouse and you decide to go your separate ways, one of the hardest things for you to come to terms with is the fact that there could long periods of time, months even, when you would not be able to spend time with your children. This is why it is important for you to create a fair and just custody agreement. You can either draft one on your own with help from your spouse or you could consult a legal professional or attorney.

What should you include in the agreement?

If you are drafting a child custody agreement yourself, you will need to know exactly where to start. Spend some time researching laws specific to your case. If you are a resident of Orange County, you should learn the custody and visitation laws of California. Here are some basic components that should be included in your child custody agreement:

  • A declaration of custody
  • A visitation schedule
  • Methods to review and modify the custody agreement if necessary
  • The division of authority and decision making abilities among the parents
  • A method to resolve disputes
  • Any additional details if needed

Types of custody

Before you create the agreement, your spouse and you should decide what type of custody each of you is going to have. There are two types of custody. They are:

  • Physical custody – This refers to the physical custody and care of the child
  • Legal custody – This refers to a parent’s ability and right to make major decisions for the child until he or she has grown into an adult

Your spouse and you should also decide how you are going to divide custody. Sole custody implies that only one parent has complete custody of the child. Joint custody means that both spouses share custody of the child. Also, make sure you include a child visitation schedule that includes holidays and vacations.

Be prepared to make changes to your custody agreement as your child grows older. Also include a strong method for dispute resolution because you certainly would not want to be bickering with your ex ten years down the line over your child. Once you have drafted the agreement and it has been approved of by your spouse, you can produce it to your attorney or the court directly during your hearing.

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.

Child Custody in Domestic Violence Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmThe definition of domestic abuse is not limited to physical harm; it consists of sexual assault, harassment, threats, stalking, and physical injury. Violence can continue and, in many cases, increase upon separation. Domestic violence allegations play a significant role in child custody hearings. The “moral presumption” in such cases does not allow the abuser to become the primary guardian of the child/children. However, the legal presumption is open to examining the case put forth by both parents.

The top priority of California’s legislature in custody cases is the health, safety, and welfare of the children. When deciding custody the court examines evidence which substantiates the incidence of abuse in the relationship, such as police records, reports from child protective services, or other court orders. If the allegations are proven to be true, then the abusive parent is not awarded either sole or joint custody by means of a “rebuttal presumption” applied by the court pursuant to Family Code section 3044.

The presumption can be overturned if the abusive parent (perpetrator) has successfully completed a batterer’s program, is on probation or parole, has not committed further acts of violence, or proves the children are best-taken care of under them. The victim of abuse can seek a temporary restraining order citing domestic abuse affecting the partner’s custody and visitation rights.

When the children have been subjected to extreme neglect or cruelty, the court has the right to terminate the physical and legal custody of the abusive parent. In such cases, the judgment is permanent and cannot be overturned. The parent loses all rights to their children.

Fabrications are quite common in domestic violence and child custody cases. In the latter, a parent may allege abuse to tip the scales in their favor and gain guardianship of the child. If the accused parent does not contest these allegations then the court will deem them true. It becomes even more difficult if the accused has a history of domestic violence. Therefore, the accused may lose joint child custody or any kind of contact with the children.

Child custody battles take a toll on the parents as well as children involved in them. Whether you are a victim of domestic violence or a concerned parent fighting for the welfare of your children, it is paramount to consider legal aid from a qualified family law attorney. Similarly, if you are at the receiving end of a false accusation of violence which can affect your custody case negatively, you need strong legal assistance to prove your innocence.

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.

Can The Child Decide Who He or She Wants to Stay with Post-Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce is sadly sometimes the only option available to couples whose marriages have faded over the years to the point of no return. Couples find it easier and much less stress to stay apart or away from each other and lead their lives separately. But what happens to the children?

Why is it important to let children have a say in who will have custody of them post-divorce

Adults may find it easier to cope with divorce as they understand the differences and disagreements that make it impossible for them to live together. But if they have young kids or children who do not seem to be able to understand or grasp the reality of why their parents are suddenly separating it can be extremely scary, stressful and saddening for the kids. Not only do they have to cope with not seeing their parents together anymore for reasons which are probably hidden from them to protect them, but they are also forced to make the very difficult decision of which parent to live with.

Now courts and legal attorneys in the United States have started listening to the children’s wishes more and not just what the parents want and what suits them and their lifestyles. Any child, in order to grow up to be a normal adult and have a normal life, needs the love and affection of not just one but both his parents and courts are now understanding the importance of this and are taking the child’s thoughts and feelings into consideration too while deciding which parent will have custody over them.

What factors determine child custody post-divorce

The main factor that divorce lawyers and courts look into before deciding which parent will have custody of the child is who is in a better financial position to look after the child’s financial needs like medical, housing and schooling and all round maintenance and care of the child.

But before deciding this, a mediator or counselor is usually appointed by the court of law, preferably one who specializes in child psychology and psychiatry, to have a personal, one-on-one session with the child and discuss their feelings, emotions, and thoughts and find out which parent they would be more comfortable living with and who they would prefer to be with.

Sometimes it’s not just about which parent is financially more capable of looking after the child, which is in most cases the father, but it is also about which parent the child is more emotionally attached to, which in most cases is the mother.

Joint custody

Now shared or joint custody is becoming more and more popular with divorced couples so this allows the child to see both his parents at regular or periodic intervals and has both his mother and father in his life. This is only when the divorce is amicable and the parents both want what’s best for their 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.

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.

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.