What Are Watts Charges In A California Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce lawyers in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmWatts charges, also known as Watts credits, is often used in California divorce proceedings. The term was derived from Marriage of the Watts, a 1985 case.

What are Watts Charges/Credits?

A Watts credit is basically a charge that one spouse can make against another for half of a community’s asset in use, post-separation. The Watts charge is basically calculated based on the value attributed to the actual use of the property. For example, if the community asset is a home that one of the spouses is living in, exclusively, then the other spouse can charge the spouse living in the house for one half of the value ascertained for the house. The value in this case would be the use value or the fair rental value of the house in question. Therefore, the Watts Charge will be one half of this fair rental value, and that is the sum that is going to be charged by the spouse.

Exceptions to Watts Charges

There are however some exceptions to the Watts Charge. The Watts Charge cannot be enforced if:

  • The fair rental value of the community asset was already taken into consideration while determining spousal support.
  • The community asset was given as a gift to the spouse
  • The spouses had earlier signed an agreement that negates the Watts Charge

How to prove Watts Charges

In order to prove Watts Charge, the spouses would require an admissible evidence of the value of the asset in use. For example, in the earlier used case of the house/residence, the spouse proving the Watts Charge will need to testify to the fair rental value, monthly, of the residence. Although the spouse can testify himself/ herself, it would be better to have an expert witness testify. This is so as the spouse may not have the subject matter expertise to share their opinion on this particular subject. The kind of expert required to testify, mainly depends on the kind of community asset in question. For example, a residence valuation will require a different expert from that of business equipment or of artifacts.

Watts credits is a complex issue and you should only apply for them when you are sure you qualify to do so. It is recommendable to seek legal counsel with a California divorce advocate and decide on the matter after a private consultation.

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 Is A Contempt Action In A Divorce Case And How Do I File It?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Best Orange County divorce attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmThe final decree of divorce announced by a court of law is legally binding on both the parties involved in the lawsuit. In other words, it is a legal obligation on both the spouses to fulfill the demands of all court orders regarding the various aspects of a divorce verdict such as child custody, visitation, support, property distribution, and the like. The idea is to respect the court’s decision and minimize any post-divorce conflicts and disputes between the exes.

What is a contempt of court in a divorce?

When a party violates a divorce order, the court can find that party in contempt of court and carry out legal ramifications in a quasi-criminal proceeding.  It is an effective way of enforcing court orders against your spouse.  If your ex-spouse refuses to comply with the instructions stipulated in the final decree of divorce, you have the right to file a motion for a contempt of court and inform the legal authorities about the violation of the settlement. 

How do I file for a contempt of court in a divorce?

Owing to the fact that the court of law is instinctively motivated to be in complete control over its decisions, a contempt case is typically met with stringent punitive actions. In case you wish to file a motion for a contempt of court against your ex-spouse, you can either go ahead with it yourself or take the help of a divorce attorney. The next step is to serve a copy of the motion of contempt to your ex-spouse. If you are handling the situation all by yourself, you can consult the court officials regarding the forms you will be required to fill out and send to your spouse, as a court notice. However, if an attorney is involved, he/she will take up the responsibility of serving your ex-partner with the notice. The basic content of the motion will comprise of the orders of the final decree that have been violated by the other spouse and why he or she must be held in contempt of court.

If you find that your ex-spouse has not been keeping up with the obligations mentioned in the final decree of divorce, you must immediately take legal counsel and go ahead to ensure adequate action against him/her.

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.  

Divorce Mediation vs. Collaborative Divorce: What’s the Difference?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediation lawyers; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce mediation and a collaborative divorce may sound similar but the mechanics of these two approaches can be quite different. If you are unsure on which one is better suited to your situation, here is a look at how they work and what to expect.

Alternative to court trial

While there are some ways in which collaborative divorces and divorce mediation are starkly different, there are a few basics which remains the same in both cases. For one thing, they offer an alternative to a long drawn out and often expensive and messy battle in divorce court. Both offer a greater measure of control to you and your ex and don’t leave things to the discretion of a third party – the judge and your attorneys. However, there are some differences that could make one preferable over the other for you.

If the mediation or collaboration doesn’t work

In the event a divorce mediation doesn’t work out, you simply take your case to court to work it out before a judge. Your attorney presents your case and is already well-versed with the details so will be better equipped to represent you. However, if a collaborative divorce process falls through, your attorney is bound by a ‘no-court’ agreement. This is a document signed by you and your attorney and your spouse and theirs, stipulating that if the case heads to court, they must necessarily withdraw as your attorney. You will then both need to hire new lawyers who will want to do their own research ground up, resulting in some additional expenses and time.

Who’s involved?

In the case of a divorce mediation, an independent neutral third party is brought in to mediate. The operative being ‘neutral’. In other words, neither of your divorce attorneys can mediate. Instead, you and your spouse meet with the mediator (and attorneys when required), to work through your differences in a neutral environment. A mediator does not push you towards a settlement or agreement, but simply helps diffuse the situation and encourages conversation and conflict resolution so critical things like custody, alimony and division of assets can be worked out.

In the case of a collaborative divorce, both spouses and their respective divorce attorneys work together to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution through four-way meetings. The benefit here is you have legal counsel to support you throughout. It is a more effective and less expensive alternative to litigation but gives room for lawyers to negotiate and present arguments for you.

Confidentiality issues

In many states, the discussions during divorce mediation are protected by mediation confidentiality laws. Collaborative divorce discussion are typically not. You can however, overcome this hurdle by getting everyone to sign confidentiality agreements before you begin the collaborative process.

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 Things That Can Cause Divorce Mediation To Fail

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmWhen couples decide to split, the decision they take can often have far-reaching effects. Hence, it is important that people choose the right method to get divorced. The easiest and most popular method of getting divorced is through divorce mediation. This is a method where the spouses are empowered to come to terms with one another and resolve the divorce issue themselves.

Despite it being a fast, empowered, stress free and conflict free way of getting divorced, sometimes, even divorce mediation can fail. This blog outlines the 3 reasons why it can fail, so that you can avoid them and make your divorce mediation a success.

Expectations Not Matching Reality

People to people contact, the internet and other online resources have a number of different advantages, but one disadvantage of the process can be the spreading of misinformation. Some of the spouses that come for Orange County divorce mediation have a belief that everything that their spouse has is theirs. When spouses have such unrealistic expectations, it is hard to negotiate with them because they want the other spouse to merely accept what is being offered or risk losing all of it in a litigated divorce.

Despite the fact that their belief is wrong, these spouses and their sky high expectations can decrease the chances of a meaningful conversation and a resolution.

Engaging in Good Faith Negotiation

The key to success in Orange County divorce mediation is having good faith during negotiations. This is not a game of chess or a game of hearts where you keep your cards and your moves close to your chest. For mediation to work, the spouses need to trust one another and should outline all of their options on the table. Inability to do so can result in a breakdown of negotiations.

A good faith negotiation is where both of the spouses feel willing to negotiate and provide true, relevant information beforehand. Lying, keeping information and assets hidden can be taken in bad faith and might ultimately lead to a failure of the mediation process.

Trying to Use Mediation as a Way of Mending Broken Bridges

There are some spouses who enter mediation, not with the goal of having a peaceful resolution to their divorce process, but instead to salvage their marriage. These spouses believe that unlike a litigated divorce, the pace of this divorce can be dictated. Hence, they try and slow the pace down only to buy time to salvage a relation.

This is often the wrong approach to take, since once another spouse has decided to take such a big step of ending the relation, there is a minute chance if any, of them going back on their word and the only thing delaying mediation achieves, is getting the two embroiled in a bitter litigated divorce.

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.  

Divorce Mediation Becoming Popular in California & the U.S.

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmAlthough the rate of divorce has actually declined in recent years, there is still a tremendous amount of pressure on the family law court system which often has more cases to handle than judicial officers available to handle them.  In addition to that, most divorce cases that end up in court aren’t always the most straightforward ones which mean that they will take up a large portion of the courts time further delaying the new up and coming cases.

A New Way

The fact that people are having to wait for their cases to be heard and because the court procedure of getting a divorce can often lead to parties contesting against one another leading to bitterness, more and more people in California and elsewhere are looking towards a different way to get divorced, one that offers them more comfort and functionality than the court system.

California divorce mediation has thus started to become a popular method for spouses to use and end their relations. There are many reasons for the growing popularity of mediation over divorce litigation. One of them is the pace of their proceedings. Most people who come to court are looking for a speedy remedy. Imagine you hate your spouse for their extramarital affair but the delay in your case coming in front of the judge means you’ll have to stay with him/her to maintain the strength in your case.

Greater Comfort and Peace

The comfort argument is often used to describe divorce mediation and in reality that is one of the reason why it is growing in popularity. Divorce is a personal matter arising out of issues between two parties and more often than not they would like to keep that private. The stigma attached to divorce is enough to deal with and no spouse would want themselves to have to deal with people in and around them talking about the personal issues that led to their divorce.

In courts that is hard to manage, but as far a mediation is concerned your mediator will make sure to keep your reasons for divorce private. Since mediation is a process that is decided between the two spouses with no authority interfering in their decision making. The two spouses tend to stay away from bitterness and instead use mutual collaboration to solve their issues. This helps ensure that the process is done smoothly, without many fights or arguments with the divorce mediator making sure the atmosphere is kept peaceful.

Divorce Can Increase Heart Attack Risk in Women

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmResearchers have found that divorce can adversely impact the heart health of women.

Substantial research has already shown the negative effects of divorce on physical well-being, but a recent Duke University study reveals that multiple divorces can increase the risk of heart attacks.

The findings indicate women who divorced at least once were 24 percent more likely to have a heart attack compared to women who stayed married. Divorcing twice or more raised the chance of a heart attack to 77 percent, while remarrying caused it to go up to 35 percent.

Men’s heart attack risk went up only if they divorced at least twice, while it remained the same if they remarried.

The study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, tracked the marital status of around 15,000 adults who married at least once over 18 years. Results remained the same even after researchers took into account age, socioeconomic status and physiological factors, among others.

The study did not examine how exactly divorce leads to more heart attacks or why there is a difference between risk levels for men and women. However, theories point to the emotional trauma of a dramatic life event or changes in behavior — such as smoking or altered eating habits — as possible causes that can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to poor heart health.

For more information, see the following articles:

How to Propose Divorce Mediation to Your Spouse

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; The Maggio Law FirmPeople who are undergoing a divorce or have gone through one will know that the stakes are always high when it comes to an Orange county divorce. Increasingly for most people turning these stakes into an amicable solution that can result in an easy, amicable, and low cost divorce is possible because of mediation.

Marriages though need two spouses to make and similar is divorce. The choice of how you’ll end your relation is one that depends on both of the spouses.  If you are willing to end it by going through Orange County divorce mediation, you will need to propose it your spouse first.

How you propose Orange County divorce mediation to your spouses will determine if you end up having a low cost, stress free divorce or a high cost, bitter divorce.

Proposing Divorce Mediation to Your Spouse

If both of you are on talking terms there is no one better to propose mediation than you. Mediation can be a tricky one for spouses to understand the first time and you’ll need to allay the fears and apprehensions of your spouse.

But if you and your spouse are not on amicable terms and are not communicating with each other properly, it might be a good idea to use a neutral third party that is well respected by your spouse to propose it to him or her. If your spouse seems a little interested but not entirely sure, schedule a meeting with an Orange County mediator for them to talk and clear their minds.

Here are a few tips for spouse looking to propose mediation.

  • Give reasons to support mediation that work best for both of the spouses such as its fairness and low cost.
  • Before you set out to tell the mediation tale to your spouse, make sure you have thoroughly researched and read about it. You should know how it works and its costs etc. to truly be able to convince your spouse.
  • Give them choices for mediators and let them pick the best one. This will let them feel in charge and more ready to accept the process.
  • Keep it subtle. Overselling is never good, neither in the commercial world nor with your spouse. Keep your description of the process brief, focusing only on the major talking points at best. If you try to oversell you spouse might have suspicions you want this to gain an advantage.
  • Whatever you do, try not to be forceful about the matter. Stay clear of threats and ultimatums. Your spouse needs to make the decision with her own free that is the only way mediation will prove a success.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Be simple and effective with your words. Make them realize the importance of the process for the children involved in the marriage.

Realistic Expectations You Should Have In Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce-mediation-attorney-Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmDivorce is the end of a relationship between two parties. People that come in for divorce have their own expectations from what divorce really is and how it is going to go along, etc. In situations like this when both the parties are unaware of the trials and tribulations that lie ahead in your divorce, it is important to not get one’s expectations too high. When it comes to Orange County divorce mediation, it is important that the parties have realistic expectations from the process to avoid ending up with disappointment. Here is list of a few realistic expectations you should have from your divorce mediation.

The Outcome and the Result Can Never Be Predicted

It might seem surprising to have this expectation in divorce mediation but it is important even in mediation. While divorce mediation involves the couple talking to each other to end the disagreements, spouses may have a set expectation of result and what they’ll get from the process before they even become a part of it. It is important for spouses to go into divorce mediation without a rigid expectation of an outcome. This might make them inflexible and ultimately harm the purpose of mediation.

You Can Expect Privacy and Confidentiality

One of the most realistic expectations to have from your divorce mediation is to expect a safe, comfort zone being provided to you. All your talks, thoughts and confidential point of views are treated as completely confidential in mediation. This means that you can expect to be at ease in your divorce mediation sessions and be open and candid on issues that you want to without fearing a breach of confidential information.

Have Realistic Hopes and Expectations Regarding Child Custody

When it comes to child custody cases, the general expectation that people tend to have is to expect a “Kramer vs. Kramer)-type divorce case. In terms of divorce mediation, both the spouses are expected to talk in the presence of a mediator. It is seen more often than not that cases that involve child custody in Orange County divorce mediation lead to fruitful and mutually agreeable decisions reached between the two parties since it involves the welfare of their own children.

How to Make the Most of Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce lawyer; The Maggio Law FirmRelationships and families are made with the aim of lasting a lifetime with all the essence of joy and heartfelt love. Yet, there are cases where unfortunately the circumstances demand that the couples break up their marriage and with it their families. Divorce is one of the hardest times a person can face whether it is the spouse or parent or even the child. There are many ways for couples to end their marriage and get a divorce. One of the better ways is mediation.

Mediation is when couples solve the divorce and its details in between themselves through communication with the help of a mediator. Any process of getting divorced is bound to have a its pros and cons. Here we give you a few pointers on how you can make the most of Orange County divorce mediation.

Timing Should Be Spot On

Timing of divorce is one of the most important aspects. Subsequently, it plays an important role in divorce mediation processes. While the time of the divorce is you and your partner’s prerogative, it is important that the time of mediation is earlier than your divorce. The further away the date of divorce and divorce mediation, the greater chance you have of being able to make the most out of your divorce. With more time, the communications are likely to be deeper and the resolution would be reached quicker. This can save you on a lot of time in addition to significant sum of legal fees.

Know What You Want To Achieve

The people that take most time on the road in one single trip are usually those that are unsure of their location. If you know the place you want to go tend to go straight for it instead of beating about the bush. The same applies in the case of divorce mediation. One of the most important ways you can extract the best out of divorce mediation is to go in it with a clear goal. When you know what you want to achieve, your divorce mediation is likely to stay focused and clear in its approach towards a resolution.

Think Ahead, Think Long Term

Emotions and feelings are closely attached with the word divorce. It is almost impossible to show a lack of emotion when one’s relationship is ending. While it is important to not bottle your emotions down and risk them boiling over at a critical moment. In divorce mediation, sometimes you need to set your emotions aside and think about the long term. Mediation is all about the communications between the spouses. To make the most of that, you need to set aside whatever emotion of hate or sadness you have towards your spouse, look towards the future, and think of the closure the resolution of this issue will give you.

What documents do I need for divorce mediation?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

top family law attorneys in Orange County; The Maggio Law FirmYou may have heard that you need to prepare a mountain of paperwork in order to begin your divorce.  This probably sounds like an overwhelming task.

The good news is that divorce mediation simplifies the paperwork process.  Instead of having two attorneys who want to examine every possible document from the marriage for litigation purposes, a divorce mediator asks a series of questions to determine exactly which documents are needed to fulfill court requirements and to sort out the issues.

To begin mediation, you do not need any documents at all.  During the first session, the mediator will find out from both parties what kinds of financial and legal issues are at stake.  Then, the mediator will provide each party with a simple checklist of documents that are needed.

If you want to get a head start on gathering these documents, you can start with the last three years of tax returns as well as recent statements from bank accounts, credit cards, loans and retirement accounts.

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.