When A Parent’s Behavior Causes Parental Alienation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County child custody; The Maggio Law FirmChild custody battles are the worst and it gets even uglier when both parents start accusing each other of wrongdoings. There are many factors that are involved in deciding the custody of a child and the most important of them is the child’s preference. In states like California, a child’s preference decides who he or she will stay with. Parents understand this and therefore try to woo their child into staying with them. It sometimes results in talking bad about the other parent so that the child stays away from him/her, this is known as parental alienation. If you’re someone who is having a hard time going through a custody battle, keep the following things in mind so that you don’t get accused of parental alienation.

Deliberately keeping the child away from the other parent

If your spouse is deliberately keeping your child away from you, it is a clear case of parental alienation and can be used in court. If you feel that your spouse is interfering when you are trying to spend time with your child, it can also be considered as a form of parental alienation.

Teaching your child to stay away from you

Some parents go to the length of talking bad about one parent in front of the child. It creates a psychological pressure on the child and he/she stays away from the other parent. If you notice a change in behavior in your child when you meet him/her, it could be due to parental alienation. Not only is it a crime committed against the parent, the child is also put under psychological trauma. Later on, it gives rise to more serious problems.

Making you look bad in front of the kids

Your spouse may also try to make you look bad when your kids are around. It naturally creates a negative image of yourself in the child’s mind. It is a case of parental alienation and by making you look bad, your spouse wants to take custody of your children.

Parental alienation is wrong and can be used in a court during custody battles. Since California courts can give importance to a child’s preference, sometimes parents deliberately use parental alienation to win custody battles. If you feel you are a victim of parental alienation, hire an experienced Orange County divorce attorney and have the issue addressed.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated!  Click here to download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

4 Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmFor many couples, a custody battle is a big headache and they try to avoid it as much as possible. For this reason, many settle for joint custody arrangements. However, even joint custody arrangements can become maddening and exhausting, especially for couples who have had a strained relationship.

There are divorces where neither of the spouses wants to be fully responsible for the child. It usually happens when both parents are working and none have the entire day to look after children. For such parents, co-parenting is a great option but sometimes even that can become tough. If you are one such individual, then here are some tips that will help you with your co-parenting.

  1. Collaborate with your ex

The best way for parents to make co-parenting successful is to collaborate with each other and focus on the needs of the child. Having a bitter relationship with your ex can cost you a lot financially and emotionally. According to recent reports, children who witness bad divorces are more likely to be affected by anxiety and depression among other problems. Costs can also be shared equally and the burden of responsibility gets lessened.

  1. Create a plan

Creating a long-term plan always works when you don’t know how to go about co-parenting with your ex. Have a talk with your ex and let him/her know what you intend to do for the child in the next 10 years. Your plan should include basic requirements like education, school or college, nourishment, health and shelter. It should also include family time as it contributes to a child’s growth.

  1. Communicate effectively

Ineffective or low communication is probably the reason why you and your partner are not together anymore. Set aside your differences and talk to your ex about your child’s future. Communication often helps one understand the problems faced by the other person and how it can be solved.

  1. Share things equally

Co-parenting is all about sharing everything equally between two people. It includes responsibilities, costs, time and problems. Equal sharing takes a certain amount of load from each of the parents’ shoulder and allows them to focus on important things related to the child.

Co-parenting is never easy and for some it is challenging. However, effective communication and collaboration can have magical effects. Additionally, you should create a plan and work towards your child’s needs. Sharing everything, which is part of co-parenting, makes the job easier.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated!  Click the following link to download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

Tips To Have Healthy Communication with Your Former Spouse

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmDo you have children from your marriage to your former spouse!  If the answer is yes, then it is extremely important to maintain a civil and courthouse relationship with your former husband/wife. It is quite necessary that the parents hide their differences and work for their children’s welfare.  In case there is resentment within you or proper communication does not exist with your ex-spouse, you will not lose anything. Rather your kids can be impacted negatively.

There are several such studies that prove divorce does not damage the kids. Rather parents who are irrational after they part ways may damage their mental states. So, try not to be a parent like that. When you put efforts to creating a productive and dress relationship with the other parent, the healing process will be after getting both the involved parties and it will be easier for you and your children to move ahead in life. The following tips are useful to keep your negative emotions toward your former spouse at bay.

Define clear-cut boundaries and try to stick to them

You should communicate with one another properly and establish proper boundaries and scopes for the responsibilities you need to carry out in the lives of your kids.  Both of you need to understand that you should value your relationship with each other for your children’s sake and hold that relationship in high regard. When you define proper boundaries about your co-parenting relationships after the divorce to move forward, it will help in creating a positive atmosphere, which will help to alleviate the stress and tension of coping up with issues related to child custody and visitation

Consult a good therapist

Are you having a tough time while discussing crucial issues related to your kids? It is better to take guidance from a third and unbiased party in such scenarios. So do not hesitate to approach a therapist, a friend or a clergy who is close to both you and your spouse.  When your former spouse is not willing to be a part of it a therapy after the divorce, you should go ahead alone for it. The conflict between both of you can reduce when you learn new and important skills and know ways of responding to situations, which may trigger a conflict. You can learn how important it is when you do not engage in a conflict with your ex-spouse and how to control your emotions of you want to retaliate when provoked. It is important to forget your past so that things go smooth in the future.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated!  Click this link to download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the process.  

How to Help Your Kid through Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmAs thousands of couples decide to end their marriages every year, their kids are also affected in the process. But their reactions will depend to a large extent on their personality, the circumstances under which the parents decided to separate and their age. Kids often get affected when their parent’s divorce. Often, the first reaction these children go through is that of sorry, anger, frustration, sadness, and shock. However, these children can deal these feelings in a better way as they know how to cope up with stress. As an end result, many of them are more tolerant and flexible when they become young adults. At such trying times, the most crucial things both the parents can do are to help their children steer through it by taking the following steps:

Important steps

  • Try to minimize disruptions in the daily routines of their children.
  • Make sure that legal talks, heated arguments, and visible conflicts happen away from the kids.
  • Do not be negative in front of them. Conversation with close friends and private therapy sessions should not take place inside the house.
  • Both the parents should be involved in the lives of their kids. Indifference will hurt them more.

People going through divorce or separation require lots of emotional support from their families, clergy, professionals and friends. However, these adults should never seek support and help from their children though they may appear ready to do so.

Break the news gently

The moment you are completely sure of your divorce plans, you should speak to your children about the decision to separate. Yes, it will be not an easy task to break this news. In case it is possible, it is better if both the parents are present while the news is shared. Make sure that you adopt a neutral and unbiased tone and do not express your emotions of guilt, anger or disillusionment while telling them about your separation. Of possible rehearse how you are going to break the news from beforehand so that you go not lose your temper or become upset during the discussion.

You should discuss the matter in accordance with the temperament, maturity, and age of your kids. But one statement should be common. Whatever took place between both of you; your kids are not responsible for that. This is because a majority of the children feel that they should be blamed when things did not work out between their parents. So, it is extremely crucial that the parents reassure their kids about this.

Rather tell your children that at times the adults do not agree on things or their love for one another change and so they decide to live separately. But also tell them that children will tie the parents forever no matter what happens.

Getting divorced in California can be complicated.  Download our free eBook, 18 Important Things to Know About California Divorce to educate yourself on the Orange County divorce process in California.

The “Right of First Refusal” Concept In California Custody Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county child custody attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmThe “Right of First Refusal” concept in California divorces awards the holder the option to undertake responsibility of the child in the absence of the other spouse. What is means is that after a legal custody battle one parent can take care of the child during the time that has been allotted for the other parent. The right of first refusal allows parents to take responsibility of child care instead of awarding it to a third party.

The right of first refusal has two advantages. First, the child is not put into the hands of a third party. Second, the costs for paying the third-party care provider is also avoided.

When can the right be exercised

Parents who are unavailable to take care of their children for more than 12 hours must notify the other parent prior to the unavailability. It gives the other parent plenty of time to consider the decision. It the other parent refuses to be present at the mentioned time, it becomes the custodial parent’s duty to look for an alternative care for his/her child.

For the right of first refusal to become actionable, the determination of the period of time is very important. However, since there is no perfect time frame which decides the right, it depends from case to case. It’s a good idea to include a divorce lawyer during such matters.

One of the most important factor for exercising the right of first refusal is geography. For the right to take place, parents need to stay close to each other. If the distance is too long, the right may not be of too much help.

When can it be misused

There have been instances where the right of first refusal has been misused. If you have not enjoyed a good relationship with your spouse, then he/she may not agree to your offer. During tight knit custody battles, such rights can make a lot of difference in custody preferences.


A divorce affects children badly. It has negative psychological effects which can become physical if ignored. Custody battles are tough and the state of California has laws to make sure the child spends equal amount of time with each parent. The right of first refusal was created to provide temporary custody to the other parent in the absence of the first one. It helps avoid the involvement of third parties and keeps the matter between the two parents.

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.  

3 Ways That Parental Alienation Affects Children During Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

best divorce lawyers in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmParental alienation occurs when a child becomes attached to one parent while rejecting the other. It usually happens when one parent purposefully encourages the child to alienate the other parent. The targeted parent may not be at fault and some parents try this as a means for winning custody battles. During a divorce, there are different emotions that come into the picture and anger and frustration are some of them. Some parents might vent out their anger by using his/her children against the other parent.

“Programming” the child to hate the other parent

Parental alienation usually involves the “programming” of the child to hate the other parent. It is a method of destroying the relationship between the child and the other parent. It is not only wrong to do so but also harmful for the child. The child develops a hatred towards the other parent and in future that hatred can manifest to something worse. It has been found that such “programmed” children are at risk of mental trauma and problems and treating them at a later stage can be difficult. The mental pressure faced by these children are symptoms of bigger mental problems.

It is a form of abuse

Research conducted on parental alienation has revealed that it is a type of abuse. It has been found that children of divorced couples are more prone to stress and anxiety than other children. One of the main causes has been attributed to parental alienation. In children, parental alienation leads to serious mental conditions and has long-term negative effects. Some of the symptoms exhibited by children who are victims of parental alienation are  lack of trust, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. It also harms the other parent and often leads to substance abuse and other addictions.

Post-traumatic stress following parental alienation

Children who are caught between spousal wars are likely to get post-traumatic stress especially when they constantly hear something negative about the other parent. Children have a fundamental right of being with whichever parent they wish to be with. Snatching that right not only creates post-traumatic stress but it also violates ethical standards. Children who are taught to hate the other parent are constantly in a conflict with themselves. They have trouble differentiating between what is right and what is not. The doubt leads to reduced self-confidence and causes post-traumatic stress.

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.  

Credit Scores Can Be Affected By Child Support Payments

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law Firm, Inc.During divorce, there are many factors that can negatively affect an individual. Child support payments are serious matters and default payments can even land an individual in jail. But there is another problem that arises due to untimely child support payments. Credit scores are also affected. Timely payments can strengthen the credit score and irregular payments can have the opposite effect.

Child support payments are seen with the same importance as mortgage or vehicles by credit companies. Child support reports default payments to credit companies. The credit companies keep a track of individuals with defaults. Default payments have an effect on loans or interest rates.

Individuals who wish to know how the child support system works should consider looking at the specific rules and regulations in the respective states.  In some states, child support dues are reported only after a certain time whereas in other states the dues are reported as and when the default takes place.

How do late payments affect credit scores?

There are many reasons why parents miss out on child support payments. They could be between jobs or their income has been reduced or there could be some other reason. One of the things the parents can do during such situations is, inform the court and put a temporary pause on the child support obligation. In cases where the petitions are not filed or the parent fails to take the necessary steps, the missing payments start showing up on the credit scores. Parents who stop receiving child support can sue the other parent and if the former wins then the credit score becomes worse. Child support obligations are very important and its relation with the credit score can be a complex matter.

In any case, it better to hire a lawyer before things go out of hand. An attorney who is experienced in the field of child support obligations and credit scores can provide a better understanding on the matter.


Credit scores are important for getting loans or good interest rates and should therefore never have a negative result. Failure to pay for child support can negatively effect credit scores depending on how jurisdictions report such failures to pay. But there are ways to prevent negative scores and parents can follow necessary steps to ensure they don’t end up with a bad score.

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.  

Kids and How To Date Responsibly After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce attorney; The Maggio Law FirmThere are several instances when a child does not take it well when their dad or mom starts dating someone after a divorce. The million dollar question is how does a parent handle the kid(s) in such a situation.

Your kid(s) could be upset for an end number of complex reasons. They could be apprehensive that a new stepparent may make things quite complicated and take all their parent’s attention. The matter of territory also plays a big part in how they feel about it. They have started thinking that you are their mother/father, it is only their house and the new person is not their dad or mom. Such emotions could be overwhelming as well as scary for them.

Speak to your kids about what impact does your dating have on them. Find out what are those aspects which are upsetting them. Such an understanding can be useful for you to make this new experience simpler on them. In case you find that your child is worried that your dating will limit your time together, you should make sure that you spend some exclusive one-on-one time with them. If they do not like to see you around with a man/woman apart from their father/mother, explain to them that you are trying to make new friends just like they would do in a completely new situation.

You should make all attempts to ensure that you are maintaining the same routine with your child so that the new dating does not have any impact in their day-to-day life. However, it is not mandatory that they should meet every guy/girl you are going out on a date. The reason being it may be both confusing and overwhelming for them. You should wait for a while till the time you are sure that the said relationship is getting to the next level and then introduce him or her to your kids.

A little patience can solve lots of problems

You need to be patient since it could take time for your children to adjust to the new person in your life. There are many children who keep hoping and wishing that both the parents will eventually be together. However, ultimately, most of the times they want their mother and father be happy in each other’s company. It may also help when you seek out for professional help such as other divorced parents or a good marriage counselor.

Your divorce could be tough on your child

When you get a divorce from your spouse, it can be tough for the parents as well as for their children. Children may demonstrate emotions like anger, anxiety, and sadness as a means of responding to the loss of a usual two-parent family. Such emotions may lead your child exhibiting social withdrawal, symptoms, aggressiveness, facing difficulties in school, behaviors or any other types of social problems. Thus parents can try to deal with such behaviors in their kids by being frank with their off-springs and discussing these issues frankly.

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.  

Overview of Stepparent Rights

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Best Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmModern families are different because it is common for divorcees to remarry and combine their two families. Usually, step and biological parents will share the responsibilities while raising kids. However, step and biological parents have different rights, under California law.

During marriage

Unless a stepparent adopts the children legally or if the stepparent has right to custody, stepparents have limited rights. Usually, biological parents retain legal custody and rights of their children. Although stepparents can be involved in the decision processes, according to California law, biological parents have the last word.

Visitation after divorce

In the best interest of the children involved in the divorce, courts in California can somewill grant the stepparent visitation rights. However, the right to visitation can never conflict the right to visitation or custody given to the biological parent.

Courts believe that if too many people have visitation rights, it can negatively impact children. However, if there are no biological parents who have visitation rights or joint custody, a step parent who has strong relationships with the children can prove that visitation is best for them.

Custody after divorce

Under some circumstances, the step parent can obtain custody of the children after a divorce. If the step parent legally adopts the child/children, then the step parent will retain the right to physical and legal custody of the child/children. The step parent will have this right even if he/she isn’t with the biological parent.

However, if the biological parent emotionally and physically abuses their children or if the biological parent consumes alcohol and drugs, and the other biological parent is unavailable, the step parent may gain custody.

Legal guardianship

If the biological parents are unable to look after their children after the court took away their parental rights or because they passed away, the step parent can apply for legal guardianship, under California law.

The court will ultimately determine what type of custody and visitation agreement works in favor of the children, not the biological or step parents. However, step parents can make arrangements with biological parents, if they want to remain involved in the lives of their step children.

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.  

Why You Should Put Your Kids First During Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmMany parents have a belief that their kids are emotionally more pliant and flexible as compare to them and they can cope up with the aftereffects of their parents’ divorce. The divorce experience of any child will shape up based on how well their parents look after them even after the divorce is finalized so that they feel loved and secure.

Here are some of the top reasons why your children should be given first priority during your divorce:

Your divorce can mean a big change in the lives of your children

Such changes include getting involved in the conflict between you and their other parent, an absence of emotional security, economic difficulty, and change of residence and so on.

A divorce can make a child feel that he or she has now lost their family which has been the center of their world till now.

When children grow up in a family where conflicts and stress factors are low, they feel secure and their family acts as a shield of security for them. This feeling of security and belongingness enable a child to face the world with confidence and widen their outlooks as they know that they have a secure home to return to. When this intact family does not exist anymore after their parent’s divorce, it is as shocking as a death in the family for a child. Thus there should be a proper grieving period and they should be given the time and the opportunity to substitute it with a fresh kind of a security.

The risks of sociological, educational and psychological problems of a child may go up after their parent’s divorce

All aspects of a kid’s life get impacted when his or her parents decide to divorce; they may even have a change in relationship with their close friends. Additionally, their capability to concentrate and focus in school may also get negatively impacted. As such, there is a great deal of likelihood for such a child to feel depressed and anxious.

Kids may go through emotional trauma and pain after their parents’ divorce

Irrespective of how much effort a parent puts in and how good they are in their parenting skills, children may still feel lost and sad after the divorce or while the divorce is going on, the divorce of their parents will always hurt children. It is not true that children are always happy when their parents are happy.

There are some parents who are under a misconception that their kids spend energy and time thinking about their happiness.  However, children are always more concerned about their own happiness, especially during such trying times.

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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