Understanding Supervised Visitation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange CountyThe State of California stipulates that all child custody related arrangements with reference to parental divorce cases would incorporate the best interest of the child. As per the specific situation, the court of law will decide a settlement which would imply that either both or one of the parents will be granted the shared or single custody of the child respectively. In addition to the child custody, the judge may decide the visitation arrangements for the child which would order the child to have contact with one parent only in the presence of neutral third party. The aforementioned arrangement is termed as supervised visitation. In such a settlement, the court has the right to specify the duration and time of visitation. In some cases, the judge might further allot the third party supervision to specific persons and list out the places where the visitation can take place.

When does a court grant supervised visitation?

There are several cases wherein a court will require the parent to carry out supervised visitation with their child, such as:

  • In cases where a parent would like to address some specific issues with the child
  • In order to recreate a bonding with a long absent parent
  • To facilitate an introduction between the parent and child in cases wherein there was a nonexistent relationship between the two.
  • In cases wherein there is a history of domestic violence or physical abuse
  • In cases where there is a threat of parental abduction

Who is a supervised visitation provider?

A supervised visitation provider can be anyone ranging from a neutral family member, a friend or even a professional. It is the provider’s duty to oversee all the visitations cautiously and ensure that all the separate parties involved in the process are kept safe and free of any harm. The provider is obliged to stay around during all the visits and also keep a close track of what is being discussed and how the child is responding to it. Since it is his job to ensure everything goes on smoothly for the child, the provider is supposed to report the parent’s misbehavior or child abuse to the court. He further has the right to interrupt or even put an end to the visit if required.

The supervised visitation providers may be broadly classified into two categories, namely non-professional and professional providers. While non-professional providers are somewhat related to your family or friend circle and are not paid, the professional providers charge a fee for their services.

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 Impact Of Domestic Violence On Child Custody Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Domestic violence Orange County attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmThe child custody and visitation laws are separately dealt with in divorce lawsuits involving child abuse or domestic violence. It is the duty of the judge to establish whether there is a genuine case of any kind of physical or mental abuse or not. If yes, the court of law must follow specific rules and guidelines to reach a final verdict in terms of custody and visitation rights of the parents involved.

What is regarded as domestic violence by the State of California? 

Many times, the victims of domestic abuse end up thinking that they have not been subjected to any violence unless it is causing any physical harm to them. However, the State of California defines the conditions wherein an act would be considered domestic violence by the court of law such as:

  • Subjecting the victim to intentional bodily harm or injury
  • Sexual assault
  • Scaring the victim to have a constant fear of being physically harmed by the perpetrator
  • Other actions that might drive a court to issue a restraining order against the acting individual such as physical assault, harassment, stalking or unwanted phone calls

How the court of law decides custody and visitation in cases of domestic violence?

While deciding upon the child custody and visitation rights of a parent, the court is obliged to ensure the best interests of the child at all costs. In the event of a domestic violence being involved in a divorce lawsuit, the judge has the right to limit or block contacts of the child with the abusive parent. Evidence of domestic violence reported by law enforcement, social welfare agencies, child protective services and medical facilities would be acceptable as substantial proof of abuse and will be held against the defendant.

Since the court is obliged to ensure the child’s best interests at all times, exposing him to any kind of domestic violence will be against the policy of his protection. In such cases, the judge might either order supervised visitation for the abusive parent or completely bar overnight visits. In case a protective order has been issued, the judge might stipulate pre determined conditions for the visitation or even entirely deny it.  In cases involving extreme abuse, the court may go to the lengths of ordering a permanent and complete termination of the parental rights of the abusive individual.

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.  

Steps Involved In Child Custody Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmWhen you get divorced and need to sort out custody for your children, child custody mediation is usually the least stressful way to handle custody agreements. Unless your ex-spouse is an unfit parent for your children, try as much as you can to settle custody through mediation rather than dragging your family, and your children, through the heart wrenching agony of a bitter custody trial.

If you’re unsure of what mediation might look like, day-to-day, read on to find out.

When you decide on mediation, you, your attorney, your ex-spouse, and their attorney decide to come to a custody agreement in the presence of a divorce mediator instead of a judge.

When preparing for mediation proceedings, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney, write out detailed schedules for your child, draft a custody agreement and visitation proposal, and make sure that you have all the documents you need concerning your child. Your attorney will be able to advice you regarding those documents.

Mediation processes usually follow a set of steps that are fairly standard—you meet with the mediator, figure out the issues that require mediation, discuss a custody agreement draft with your ex-spouse while making required changes throughout the process, and then sign the agreement.

When in mediation, you should discuss the following issues:

  • Figure out regular custody and visitation—are you going to share custody or not? Will the child remain with one parent most of the time? What does visitation look like?
  • Once you arrive at a custody situation, start defining the parameters and the boundaries of the time you have with your kids. Where will your kids spend specific holidays or school vacations? Can one parent take the child on long vacations? Under what circumstances can changes be made to the current visitation schedule? Also, this is the time to figure out how you can go about changing the custody agreement on a permanent basis if required.
  • The other important issue you need to discuss concerns the raising of your children. Discuss things like schools, activities, religious training, medical care, dental and vision care, sports, etc. Figure out who wants to be involved where, and make it happen. Also figure out how you’ll split costs for things like college or private school, or even emergency medical care if required.
  • If you run into problems or disagree with each other, listen to the mediator and try and arrive at an amicable solution. Compromise, because the other party will compromise as well, and ultimately, this will benefit your children.

Once the agreement is drafted and signed, you can and should expect your ex-spouse to honor it.

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.

So What Happens After Court-Ordered Custody Mediation?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmIt is believed that court-ordered child custody mediation at the court helps warring parents reach an agreement regarding issues of child custody and visitation rights. The mediator, keeping the best interests of the child in mind, helps you to come up with a parenting plan on the various issues.

Full agreement – If complete agreement has been reached on all issues, both the parents will have to sign a written agreement prepared by the mediator. When it gets approved by the court, it becomes an official court order.

Partial agreement- If the parties are only able to agree on some but not all of the issues, the mediator can draft up an agreement on those issues and list out the issues that still remain to be decided by the court.

No agreement – If the parties involved (the parents) are not able to find the middle ground, the mediator’s work is essentially done in Orange County custody cases.  That is because Orange County is not a “reporting” county.  However, in “reporting” counties like Riverside County and San Bernardino counties, the mediator can make custody recommendations and proposed custody orders for the court to consider at the hearing.  So in those counties, if you do not agree to the recommendations made by the mediator, you will have to give your reasons to the judge during a court hearing. The judge will be interested to know the specific reasons.

Court hearing – A court hearing will be necessary if the recommendations are not acceptable (in reporting counties) or the parents have not been able to resolve their disputes or if one of the parents changed their mind after first coming to an agreement in court.  If all issues have been resolved, a court hearing is not required as long as the mediation agreement is incorporated into a written Stipulation & Order that is signed by both parties and then filed with the court.

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.  

Understanding Orange County Mandatory Custody Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmIn Orange County, court-ordered custody mediation at the courthouse needs to be carried out when the parents are in dispute regarding issues of visitation and custody before the matter can proceed to a hearing. It generally occurs when one parent wants a change in the custody or visitation order and the other parent does not agree.

Mediation is done to help negotiate between the parents. A mental health professional acts as a mediator who assists in the negotiations to help the parents reach an agreement.

Preparing for court-ordered custody mediation at the court is important and its is necessary to know a few things before the session.

Appointments – The Family Court Services will set you a date and time for when you will have to meet your mediator. You will be guided through the parent orientation program which offers suggestions and advice regarding co-parenting.

If one party misses the scheduled appointment and the other party is present, then the counseling will take place as scheduled. Because the time period between the counseling and the court hearing is so short, it becomes very difficult to reschedule an appointment. If both parties do not attend the mediation, the session will get canceled but will need to be rescheduled before the parties can appear in front of the judge at the hearing. Valid reasons for missing the appointment will have to be provided.

Confidentiality – All communications related to Court-ordered custody mediation kept strictly confidential by all parties involved. Also, no party can communicate with the mediator without the presence or knowledge of the other parties any time before or after the appointment.

Form filling – A completed copy of the ‘Family Court Services Parenting Plan Questionnaire’ has to be submitted to the mediator either the day before or on the same day of the counseling. There is no more information that needs to be provided unless asked for by the mediator.

Interviews – Both parents are interviewed at the same time during the mediation. Telephone interviews may be done in some cases where one of the parents is not available locally.

Other situations – Certain situations may arise where the presence of a support person during counseling is required. This happens if there is a Restraining Order against a parent.

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 Effect of Religion on Child Custody Issues

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

Considering the fact that the number of inter religion marriages is on the rise, the process of divorce has become a tad too difficult to manage. One of the chief concerns in the separation or divorce of parents of different faiths, is to decide the religion the child will follow. Despite the fact that the issue has been discussed at length in several courtrooms across the country, the ultimate result has hardly been anything, remotely agreed upon. More often than not, the courts have decided upon such child custody issues, using different standards and guidelines for different cases involved.

The best interest of the child vs. parental rights

The primary approach of the courts towards resolving religion related disputes is to obtain a balance between two engaging concerns. The first concern is the protection and enforcement of the parent’s first amendment rights, which allow him to follow a faith of his choice, and also raise his children as per his religious orientation. The second issue is that the court needs to conserve the best interest of the child, when deciding upon the child custody and visitation settlements.

In case, one of the parents reprimands the other parent on the pretext that the latter’s religious acts are not in line with the best interest of the child, the court is faced with the onerous task of deciding, whether it should infringe upon the first amendment rights of the latter or not.

Many a times, the court of law determines custody and visitation related arrangements, which can include considering the personal choice of the child involved. More often than not, in divorce or separation cases, involving children of 14 years and above, the judges reach a final custody and visitation related verdict by keeping the wishes of the child as the deciding factor. Similarly, in cases related to making a decision regarding the religion to be practiced by a child, the court usually asks the child itself, to decide as to which faith it wishes to follow. 

The enforcement of the parents’ first amendment rights

The court of  law has the right to decide whether the parents’ first amendment and parenting rights will be taken into account or not. In many cases, the court will not allow the enforcement of first amendment rights, if the religious practices of the parent concerned are likely to cause harm to the child. Furthermore, if a custodial parent disapproves of the religious practices of the other parent, the court will usually give a verdict in congruence with the custodial parent’s wishes.

Although, the different states have different set of laws that govern their divorce litigation, the basis of all trials is the fact that for all custody related issues, the child’s best interest has to be kept above all other considerations.

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 Child Custody For Fathers

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

family law lawyers in orange county; The Maggio Law FirmThe basis for deciding upon a child custody settlement is the idea that the judgment should be made, keeping the best interests of the child at the center of it. However, there are several real world issues that come into picture when it is the father who desires a full custody of the child. As per the state laws, it is absolutely essential to determine the factors that might influence the well being of the child. However more often than not, there are several third party organizations that end up influencing the decision of the court of law in the favor of the mother. Many times, attorneys of the female partner battle for full custody on the pretext that a child always needs his mother more than the father. However, what the courts have to consider above all else is what the best interests of the child is.

What exactly is meant by a child’s best interests?

There have been thousands of custody battles going on in the courts for several years on end, where the basic question that perplexes both the parties involved is, the parameter for evaluating the best interests of a child. Most of the state laws stipulate that the court needs to determine the needs of the child, as primary to making a judgment. However many a times, a court might even go against the wishes of a child, if it notices that his wishes might not actually be in his best interest.

In such cases, the court overrules the child’s wishes and proceeds with other factors that might help determine the most appropriate decision for settling the child custody. The court can take the help of psychotherapists in determining the child’s wishes and whether those wishes are actually in their best interest or not.

What are the criteria for deciding upon the custody of the child? 

The basic criteria for determining the best interest of a child in a court of law includes determining the child’s needs and requirements, and whether he needs to stay in touch with both the parents or not. The judge also needs to consider if the child has had a violent past experience with either of the parents.

Although, the courts make custody decisions based on a set of defined rules and guidelines, it is important to understand the intricacies of the legal proceedings. Therefore, it is best advised to take the help of a family law attorney, who would be able to better deal with your child custody battle.

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 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.  

 
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