How Do California Family Courts Determine Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

California has a child support formula that is used in all cases to determine the proper amount of “guideline” child support. Generally, the courts and all attorneys in California use one of 2 recognized computer programs based on the child support guideline formula:  either “Dissomaster” or “X-spouse.”

The factors considered in making child support orders are primarily the gross income of the parties and the amount of time each parent spends with the minor child. However, other factors that can be considered include any itemized deductions the parties can claim on their taxes, medical insurance premiums paid each month, and any mandatory retirement payments and union dues for individuals whose employment requires them to be part of a union and to contribute to a deferred compensation retirement plan (i.e. a pension).

In addition to the basic monthly child support, the court will generally also order that the parents equally share the costs of childcare expenses necessary for the custodial parent or both parents to work, as well as any medical, dental, and vision expenses for the minor child not covered or reimbursed by medical/dental/vision insurance.

Child support can also include expenses for the special needs of a child, such as tutors or other services, as well as the transportation costs for visitation of a parent.

Finally, the Court generally orders that both parents keep their child medically insured with medical insurance if it is available at no cost or at reasonable cost to both parents.

Child Support is generally paid until the minor child reaches the age of 18, or age 19 if they are still a full-time high school student at age 18, unless the minor child dies or becomes emanicipated prior to becoming an adult.

Child Support orders can be modified if there is:

  • A significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income;
  • A change in custody or the amount of time the child spends with each parent; or
  • Any other change that would affect the child support guideline calculations.

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

What Is a “Legal Separation” and Should I File for It Instead of Divorce? What About An Annulment?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

what is legal separation, orange county divorce attorney, maggio family lawLegal separation is much like filing for divorce, in that you can obtain many of the same orders regarding custody, division of property, and support.  However, there is one key difference:  at the end of a legal separation case, you are still legally married to your spouse.

In situations where a party wants to obtain orders for child custody, visitation, and/or other issues but has not lived in the same county for the past 3 months or in California for the past 6 months to meet the time requirements for filing for divorce, that party can file for Legal Separation and amend his or her Petition to a divorce after 6 months have passed.

Legal Separation is also appropriate for some parties for religious and/or insurance coverage issues. Medical insurance companies who had previously insured a spouse under the other spouse’s medical insurance during the marriage generally terminate such coverage options when a divorce is finalized. Therefore, for spouses who would have difficulty in obtaining their own medical insurance coverage after termination of their marriage due to pre-existing medical conditions, a legal separation can make sense because it enables such medical insurance coverage to continue. The Court can make orders relating to child custody, visitation, child and spousal support and divide property in a legal separation case, but the parties otherwise remain married to each other.

Unless your circumstances fit one of those circumstances above, you should consider divorce instead of legal separation because you will still be married at the end of a legal separation case and if you later decide to divorce, you will have to file a new case for divorce.

What About An Annulment?  In order to qualify for an annulment instead of obtaining a divorce, the party seeking an annulment must be able to prove that the parties’ marriage was “void” (i.e. an incestuous marriage or where one of the parties was still legally married to another individual at the same time) or “voidable (where the party seeking annulment was under 18 years of age at the time of marriage or that the marriage was entered into based upon fraudulent representations, force, or mental and/or physical incapacity). It is generally substantially more difficult to obtain an annulment than a divorce.

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

What Role Does Social Media Play as Evidence in Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County Divorce Attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce attorney Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.

Co-parenting Dynamics Should Be Reviewed to Ensure Kids Are at the Forefront

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

Co-parenting can be a daunting endeavor. For new divorcees, managing a full-time career, expenses, and kids’ schedules can stress even the most optimistic, upbeat person. In 2012,

vow to focus on the kids and living a healthy lifestyle rather than hating the other co-parent.
The fact stands that your ex does not live up to your expectations, and probably never will, or your marriage would have lasted.

When you can lighten up your hatred toward the ex, you can be happier when you drop them off on the ex’s parenting week or weekend or during special occasions. Treat the ex almost like a business colleague so you can keep focused on the kids’ development and your sanity. A child’s self esteem grows when they can have quality time with both parents, and does not have to be a messenger between his or her parent.

Tara Fass, a family therapist, says, “To cultivate resilience in your children, try to turn down the anger on your anxiety, disappointment and rage. How you co-parent today affects generations to come and your lineage forever. The choice is yours.”

Inevitably as the kids grow and dynamics change, the parenting agreement might need to be modified. When there are valid reasons to update the agreement – extracurricular activities the child is involved in, work schedules, summer vacation – a family law attorney can help the parents revise the agreement. It is best if both parents can work out the revisions versus having to go back to a judge to decide what is fair. As Fass states, “…dissolving couples who require a judge’s assistance to co-parent are adults viewed as children in a tantrum-like frame of mind and emotion.”

Children greatly benefit from structure, smooth transitions between households, and an environment where a parent listens and truly cares about their child growing up as normal as possible. Co-parents will have their own personalities but “As long as you are both using good judgment and are acting in safe/healthy ways, then some parenting differences will actually create benefits for your child,” noted the We Can Parent Together website. “Problems with co-parenting during the infant, toddler, preschool, and elementary school years have been related to a wide variety of child problems, including problems with social adaptation, poorer preschool and school achievement, anxiety, and aggressiveness,” said the authors of “When People Parent Together”.

For many child therapists, divorce is not problematic in and of itself. It only becomes a strain on the child’s development when conflict, inadequate parenting, and unstable routines create an unhealthy childhood. If the co-parenting agreement is creating more problems than resolving them, seek the guidance of an expert family law attorney. Taking action early on will have great benefits for everyone in the family for the long term.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.

California Child Custody Cases Redefining Who is the Parent

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

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

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

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

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

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

Gerald Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. The Maggio Law Firm specializes in divorce and family law.  For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.

Parenthood Rises Even as Marriage Decreases for the Millennial Generation

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law Firm

The concepts of marriage and parenthood are vastly changing as the Millennial Generation comes of age. The Pew Research Center published a report earlier in the year showing that Millennials – people born between 1977 and 1998 – want parenthood over marriage. The survey showed 52 percent believe that being a good parent is one of their biggest goals. Marriage was only a big goal for 30 percent of people.

As these attitudes have shifted, marriage has become less of a focus. Out of wedlock babies have increased, though. Being a good parent, to Millennials, does not necessarily mean that marriage is a must. Many couples are choosing to delay marriage, live together, and break away from the social norms of their parents.

Even though marriage is delayed or not a preference, when a couple has a child it can make them refocus their priorities. Some decide to create a cohabitation agreement to help spell out their responsibilities and rights as parents and a couple. This can help protect each person and set up a framework should something happen to one of the parents. A modern-day cohabitation agreement includes:

  • each person’s parental rights and duties
  • financial obligations
  • property rights
  • health care directives
  • estate planning and inheritance wishes
  • how long the agreement is good for and/or how it can be revised

For some Millennials, this is a good warm-up to getting married. The agreement helps safeguard each person yet also sets out how each person will be looked after. As a couple establishes more assets, property, and moves up in the work world, it can be a critical document to help them create a prenuptial agreement once it is time to get married.

Sometimes, though, the cohabitation and relationship does not work out, even if there is a child that both parents mutually love and want to care for. In these instances, the cohabitation agreement can provide a path for the main caregiver to receive child support. It will also help to modify each parent’s duties and set up a visitation agreement that both parties can agree to. For couples that can amicably agree on the parenting agreement, litigation is not necessary. A family law attorney can assist in creating a plan that the courts will approve for child custody and the visitation schedule.

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County family law attorney, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange County family law attorney, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com or call (949) 553-0304.

Parenting Can Be More Rewarding After a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law Firm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerald A. Maggio is an Orange County divorce attorney, in Irvine, California. To learn more about Orange County divorce lawyer, Gerald A. Maggio, visit Maggiolawfirm.com or call (949) 553-0304.

California Move Away Cases Call For Legal Expertise

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmIrvine, Calif. – Divorces can cause individuals to want to take their kids out of state. Some individuals want to move as far away as possible from the ex. Others have job offers that they do not want to turn down in this economy. And some want to move back to their home state to reconnect with their network of long-term friends and family members.

A parent must get the approval of the court that decided the custody matters before they can take the child to another state. Otherwise, if a parent has not received permission, they can be in contempt of court. Courts want to uphold what is best for the child, and visitation rights can become extremely complicated when one parent is out of state.

It is critical to get legal counsel so you know what your options are if your ex is moving out of state and wants to take the kids. “Move away cases are very complex and courts want to ensure that the move is not for vindictive or bad faith reasons that could negatively affect the child,” said Irvine divorce attorney Gerald Maggio.

California case law will see a move as a possible big detriment to the child, and potentially alter who the courts pick to have child custody. The courts want evidence and oftentimes a child custody evaluation to determine the necessity of moving the kids. Getting legal expertise early on can help prevent a worse outcome in a move-away proceeding.

The Maggio Law Firm is known for their expert legal representation in contentious child custody cases. Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio has many years of experience protecting children and his client’s rights. He is constantly aware of the changing California divorce laws and will skillfully create a strategy that is in your best interests.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.

Past Due California Child Support Reaches Near-Record Levels

Posted by: Gerald Maggio

Top Orange County divorce lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmIrvine, Calif. – An astounding $19.2 billion is owed in past due child support in California, according to the state’s child support services department. California has a formula that accounts for what a parent can afford and even a debt compromise program for parents who owe monies due to welfare payments. California’s interest rate on child support owed, currently at 10 percent, is sometimes blamed for the high back pay due; but ultimately a parent must pay for the livelihood of their child.

Hefty fines and even jail time can be the consequence of not paying child support. If a parent has a valid reason why their child support should be modified, they should get legal counsel to show proof of the change in circumstances. Job layoffs, a big cut in pay, or disasters and emergencies can greatly affect a parent’s ability to pay.

“An individual must show the change has substantially affected their income, is permanent, and was not a voluntary change,” says Irvine child support attorney Gerald Maggio, of the Maggio Law Firm. “Many people wait until they are already behind to get a modification, but the minute a big change has occurred you should be getting legal counsel.”

Support orders should be reviewed every three years to account for any financial changes of the parents or needs for the child. An experienced Orange County child support attorney will ensure the accuracy of filing the modification, and sometimes even an extension is needed for a child’s schooling or medical situation. It’s important to know that child support cannot be modified retroactively, so if a parent waits too long to modify, the back pay will still be due at the different amount.

The Maggio Law Firm has a successful track record of enforcing child support orders and modifying it for clients when a big life change occurs. They are accomplished in child custody, division of property, spousal support, and many California divorce matters. Maggio is known for aggressively pursing his client’s and their child’s rights with empathy, skill, and efficiency.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with Orange County divorce lawyer Gerald Maggio, contact The Maggio Law Firm by calling (949) 553-0304 or visiting www.maggiolawfirm.com.