Why Joint Custody Can Be The Better Option

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody mediators Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsWhen a couple decides to get a divorce and share a child together, they need to look into the best interests of the child and what’s best for the child over their needs and desires. It is important for the child to have both of his parents – his mother and father involved in his life for a healthy and all round upbringing and stable mental and emotional development.

Why is joint or shared custody the preferred form of custody?

Joint or shared custody is always the preferred option when deciding custodial rights over the child. In joint or shared custody, both parents play a significant role in the upbringing of the child and bear the burden of raising the child together. The child spends 50 percent of his time with one parent and the other 50 percent of the time with the other parent and gets the best of both parents.

Shared custody is preferred also because it offers the parents some flexibility in terms of time and sharing the child’s responsibilities. So if one parent is busy with work or other commitments and cannot tend to the child on a particular day the other parent can always step in and relieve the other parent of the burden and take over the responsibility of the child. Shared custody gives both parents and the child flexibility with schedules and is better for the emotional and mental upbringing of the child. The child will have a better overall development and will be able to maintain relationships with peers better.

Divided custody – why should it be opted as the last resort?

Divided custody is one of the biggest mistakes that divorcing parents can make for their child. The parents see the custody of the child as a competition and become rivals with each other fighting over who should get the child. Each parent wants to prove that they are the better parent instead of focusing their primary concerns on the intellectual, mental and emotional well-being of the child. The child has to have two separate lives, go to two different schools, have two different sets of friends and this takes a huge toll on him physically, mentally and emotionally which could have a negative impact on his relationships and friendships.

Each parent tries to take credit for the child’s successes and tries to blame the other for the child’s mistakes. The child is forced to choose which parent he likes better and cannot have a healthy relationship with both parents like in the case of joint custody. The parents must learn to do what’s best for the child and not themselves and look at custody as a cooperation between both parents, not a competition.  This is why joint custody of children is preferred over divided custody.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Does Adultery Have An Effect on California Divorce Cases?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediator; California Divorce MediatorsThe institution of marriage is one based on trust and loyalty. When these emotions are diluted with adultery, you find the marriage ending in divorce. It is a painful experience for the parties involved and can get quite messy if not dealt with properly. You can avoid the name-calling and finger-pointing if you are aware of legal procedures involving divorce because of adultery.

In the U.S., you have a divorce procedure called ‘no-fault divorce’. The proceedings do not require the spouse filing the divorce to testify why the other spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. Adultery is illegal in many states but it isn’t so in California. Thus, the legal definition of adultery is still up for interpretation. However, there is a general agreement that adultery occurs when one partner engages in a sexual relationship outside marriage.

When you are filing for divorce, you need not mention why the marriage failed or who was responsible. You only have to state that the marriage is broken beyond repair and separation is your best solution. If the reason for divorce is adultery, it is better to consult a family law attorney who can help you settle other matters involved in the divorce.

Alimony or spousal support is an important consideration in a divorce, especially if you are the dependent. An alimony order can be issued while the divorce is still being processed. The spouse receiving it can also request for temporary alimony which will be in place till the matter settles. The final order will nullify the temporary order.

You have to understand the granting of alimony is at the discretion of the judge. The judge will be the one to decide if alimony is necessary or there is enough evidence to support awarding the alimony. The total duration of the marriage is also a factor in determining the amount you receive. The shorter your marriage, lower the alimony. In addition, the judge has to weigh in on the needs of the receiving spouse and the capability of the paying spouse for alimony to be granted. The ruling should be fair so there isn’t a huge difference in each spouse’s standard of living.

Alimony isn’t punishment or compensation. It is meant to provide monetary stability for the dependent spouse even after a divorce.

It is best to resolve your marital differences amicably, especially if there are children or other dependents involved. This will ensure your relationship does not affect them negatively and you are able to move on without any bitterness towards one another.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

How To Avoid The Mistakes Most Divorced Parents Make

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody mediation Orange County; California Divorce MediationWhen parents get divorced, they sometimes forget that they’re divorcing a spouse, and that their child is not divorcing a parent.

Unless there’re serious circumstances that make your ex-spouse an unfit parent as deemed by the state, you and your former spouse are sharing a child, and you have to be careful with that relationship.

Here’re a couple of  mistakes that most divorced parents make when handling co-parenting—and these are mistakes you don’t want to make.

1) Parents interrogate their kids about the time spent with the other parent.

Now, it is understandable that parents want to make sure that their kids are okay, and part of that is finding out how their time with their other parent went.

However, asking hundreds of questions about time spent with the other parent can make your child feel like she or he is somehow at fault, and needs to protect the other parent. It makes kids feel insecure, and that is the last thing they need to feel in the aftermath of the divorce.

If you want to find out what your child did with your former spouse, then ask your former spouse. If that doesn’t work, ask your child gently about how their day went, but nothing more. Listen keenly for any information that is given freely. However, don’t give your child the third degree.

2) Parents use their children to communicate with each other.

For some strange reason, some parents communicate with each other through their kids. This is a horrible thing to do because it places the onus of their communication, and consequently their relationship, on the child.  If you find yourself giving your child messages for your former spouse, stop. Even if it is unpleasant to speak with your former spouse, do it, and don’t involve your child.

3) Parents talk to their kids about their relationship with their spouse.

If you need to take through your feelings about your relationship with your former spouse, never do it with your children.  Confide in a friend, a therapist, or even a complete stranger, but never your kid.  Talking to your child about this will put them square in the middle of the relationship between you and your spouse.

Remember, the most important thing about having kids is ensuring that they have a good childhood. Don’t ruin that because you made a mistake in terms of dealing with your former spouse after your divorce.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Major Reasons Why Couples Split Up

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsDivorces can be sought for a myriad number of reasons. No divorcing couples ever have the same reasons for seeking a separation. No one ever gets married thinking that they will get divorced. But situations and circumstances may become such that the couple are better off divorced. Divorce laws in California state that everyone has the right to seek a divorce.

Some of the reasons why couples decide to split up have been briefly discussed here.

Infidelity or adultery – Infidelity and lies are perhaps the most common reasons for a divorce. No one ever wants to be cheated. If the trust on which a marriage is based breaks down, the marriage itself breaks down.

Lack of communication – Communication is very important for a marriage to work. Always talk to each other and share your problems. Sometimes people feel neglected in a marriage if there is not enough communication. Also, listen to your spouse.

Bond between the couple has disappeared – It is possible that, over time, the two parties in a marriage have drifted apart. You do not share each other’s interests and feel neglected by the other or you do not socialize together.

Sexual incompatibility – Over time two partners can lose sexual interest in each other. Or they may not experience compatibility anymore. When the sexual flame dies out, the marriage also dies out.  The marriage becomes less intimate.

Financial troubles – The issue of finances is very sensitive. If your spouse fails to provide financial stability or is always spending money unreasonably, remaining married to him or her does not make any sense. It only creates tensions in the relationship and finally takes a toll on the marriage.

Domestic abuse – It is a very serious issue. It can be in the form of physical, verbal or emotional abuse. Screaming at your spouse, using offensive and foul language, hitting them, all fall under domestic abuse. Your spouse may always be threatening you.

Emotional abuse is generally experienced in the form of an extremely controlling partner. Your partner never lets you do things your way and is always dictating you around.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

The 5 Emotional Stages of Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation lawyers; California Divorce MediatorsMost of you might be aware of the five stages of grief that have been often cited in psychological studies as the basis of all human response to anguish. Those of you, going through the distressful times of a divorce or a legal separation, might benefit from having a sound understanding of what emotional turbulence you are about to witness. 

1. Denial

The denial stage is the starting point of the emotional roller coaster, which you will experience throughout and after your divorce proceedings. It is a stage wherein you would be aware of the issues at hand, but end up dispensing them as irrelevant to your life. It is a coping mechanism of your brain that protects you from getting overwhelmed at the very beginning of an emotional disaster. However, you must understand that living in a perpetual denial of the situation, is extremely harmful for your psyche, and that you must, at one point, acknowledge your grief.

2. Anger

When you move on from denial and enter into the anger stage, you tend to be emotionally vocal about your feelings of contempt and disdain for your spouse. It is period of conflict, wherein you end up blaming your partner for everything that goes downhill in your life. The anger stage is quite healthy from a psychological point of view, owing to the fact that it helps you release you pent up emotions.

3. Bargaining

Next in line is the bargaining stage, wherein you realize that you cannot cope up with the emotional trauma of your present life, and want to go back to your initial days with your spouse. In a last ditch attempt to make up with your partner, you tend to rethink your decision of taking a divorce, multiple times.

4. Depression

If you are one of those thousand who decide to go ahead with your divorce, post the bargaining stage, you might find yourself in a perpetual sea of sadness, all the time. You might end up feeling debilitated and devoid of any hope and happiness in life. It is extremely important at this stage, to surround yourselves with people you love, get therapy and indulge in your passions, to distract yourself from the anguish of the inevitable.

5. Acceptance 

The ultimate culmination of all that emotional turmoil and drama is the feeling of acceptance, which finally dawns upon you. You finally see that light at the end of the tunnel, and are ready to accept the harsh reality of life. The acceptance stage often marks the end of your grieving, and gives you hope for a better tomorrow.

You might feel exhausted by the time you finally accept your fate and decide to move on. However, it is utmost important to understand that a divorce is not the end of your life. Instead, it marks the beginning of a better one.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Things to Know About Divorcing In Your Senior Years

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsIn recent years, the rate of divorces of people aged above 50 has doubled. Because of the age of people involved in a divorce, the separation is called ‘gray divorce’. Senior people heading for a divorce no longer raise eyebrows.

Here is some valuable information about late life or gray divorces:


Alimony or spousal support is always guaranteed when a long term marriage breaks up. Unlike younger divorcing couples, the lower earning spouse in a gray divorce will generally be awarded alimony for life. In gray divorces, the parties might both be retired and have an equal income from retirement accounts and investments.

Retirement earnings

Retirement money is going to get divided between the two separating spouses. No matter what the type of divorce is (legal separation, uncontested, no fault, contested), the retirement assets and funds will be divided evenly.

Some spouses may get offered more than their share of the pension from their separating spouse. In such an instance the question of paying alimony disappears. But accepting more pension and no alimony is not a good idea in some instances. Retirement earnings from your spouse can potentially become a taxable income.

Child custody, support and visitation

In a gray divorce, the children are, in most cases, mature adults. As a result, child custody, child support and visitation rights do not need to be considered. But the divorced parents may continue providing financial support to their adult children. Although the financial support is not a part of the divorce agreement.

Division of property

Women generally do not want to give up their marital home. But it is advisable that they do so because financially it makes more sense that way. If you keep the house, your husband will get something that will allow him to pay you less alimony or a smaller share of the pension. Either way you will be at a loss. Keeping a house will mean paying property taxes, maintenance expenditures and other costs that will eat into your financial resources.

Prenuptial agreement

Family law experts believe that it is best to sign a prenuptial agreement. Without one, a gray divorce can cause the depletion of all your retirement savings.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Property Rights for Unmarried Couples

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsIt is easier for unmarried couples to separate or breakup mutually rather than go through a divorce. If both the parties can agree on the division of their assets, there is no need to approach a court of law. At most, you may need to employ the professional help of a legal mediator.

If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement and have to go through a divorce procedure, here are some of the legal rules pertaining to property division that you need to be aware of:

  • Divorce laws governing married couples are not applicable to unmarried couples who are separating – Only those couples recognized under a legal marriage or registered as domestic partners get to divide their property following the family law available to married couples.
  • Each unmarried partner has right to their own property – If the unmarried partners have not signed a deed establishing joint ownership of the house or do not have joint accounts in the banks, each partner is the owner of their own property. All debts and assets remain with the original owner unless the partners have signed any agreement.
  • Partners have signed a written agreement – If written agreements have been signed, the partners will get shares as stated in the agreement even if they approach a court for a separation.
  • If everything is jointly owned – If the unmarried couple jointly own any property or assets or debts, everything gets divided 50 -50. An exception can be made if an agreement stating otherwise has been signed.

If a situation arises where you have to approach the court for a settlement on matters related to property, it would be considered similar to the dissolution of a business. The ordinary business section of the state’s civil court will settle the matter.

To avoid such confusing and difficult situations related to unmarried separation, unmarried partners are encouraged to prepare and sign a written ‘living together agreement’. The agreement should cover matters related to property, house, and other assets.

Written agreements are legally enforceable in all courts of law. A written document can, in most instances, do away with the need of going to the court. It makes the separation a lot less difficult.     

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Legal Rights of Unmarried Couples Living Together

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

mediator divorce orange county; California Divorce MediatorsMore and more couples are living together in long term committed relationships without getting married. Such partnerships or relationships fall under the category of cohabitation. The legal rights of unmarried couples living together are very different from those of married couples.

Given below are the rights of cohabiting couples:

Rules related to finances

In the eyes of the law, two unmarried people are two separate individuals. So bank accounts, savings, and investments will not be jointly owned. It would remain in the ownership of the named individual. Anything held jointly will be divided equally unless there is a legally recognized agreement signed by the couple.

Unlike spousal maintenance, the partners are not entitled to any kind of financial support. But if there is a child from this relationship, the partner is entitled to child support.

Rules related to child issues

If unmarried couples living together separate, there will be different laws for the custody of the children resulting from this cohabitation. Both parents have equal rights over their children. But it needs to be decided who the children are going to stay with and what the visitation rights would be.

The unmarried couple may voluntarily sign a written agreement or notarized separation agreement stating the rights regarding the custody of the children, visitation and other rights. The agreement will then become the basis of all decisions made regarding the custody of children.

Rules related to property

If an unmarried couple owns a house together, the property will get divided equally between the two partners on separation. One person usually buys out the other’s share of the property. If there is an outstanding mortgage, the partner pays for that too. If this is not possible, the property is sold and then the share of each person is calculated.

If the property is in the name of an individual, the person in whose name the property is retains full ownership. A complication may arise if the person who is not a registered owner has made financial contributions towards the property. If that partner has made payments towards the mortgage, paid for repairs and other improvements, that partner can claim part ownership in the property. You will then have to approach a court of law.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Can The Divorce Mediator File Your Divorce Papers?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsAbout 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States file for divorce. The divorce rates for the subsequent marriages that follow are even higher. The allowance for no fault divorces has pushed the numbers up significantly. With this increasing number of failing marriages, more and more couples have started to seek peaceful methods to resolve their otherwise distressing problems.

Divorce mediation comes to the rescue

The most popular among them being divorce mediation. Simply put, divorce mediation is you and your soon to be ex-spouse deciding the terms of your divorce and what’s best for you and your children, if you have any. In mediation, you and your spouse hire a neutral third party, the mediator, and they help you work through your differences so that you can end your marriage quietly and cost effectively. Unlike trials, there is minimal visit to the court and it is easy on your pockets. The amount of time and money you would otherwise spend in the court is almost reduced by half.

An unsurprisingly increasing number of couples have resorted to divorce mediators and are beginning to show faith in the results these wonder workers can craft out of even the most difficult divorces. This leads to the question all such couples want to know the answer to; can a mediator file divorce papers?

The important question

The answer is to the question of whether the divorce mediator can file the divorce documents with the court is generally “yes.”  The mediator can file the divorce papers (draft and file the necessary court documents and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders “QDROs”), but that is when it is most helpful if the mediator is also a divorce and family law attorney who is very familiar with the forms and information needed and the procedures involved.  The mediator can assist the parties in filing the papers with the court, including dissolution of marriage action, disclosure documents, and preparing the agreement, judgment, and final papers to be filed with the court.

The process is quicker and the information shared is kept confidential. While making compromises is inevitable in divorces, doing it through mediation will preserve your dignity and leave you satisfied and probably help you end your separation on good terms.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

What Information Will My Divorce Mediator Need From Me?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorney in orange county; California Divorce MediationYou’ve decided that divorce mediation is the way to go. It’s cost effective and the chances are that there will be an amicable settlement of your dispute. The divorce mediator is going to help you come to an agreement that you can both be satisfied with. But for the mediator to do so, you will have to provide him or her with all the required information. Your mediator needs to know the background of the divorce, the financial assets involved, and whether or not any children are involved. Leaving aside any special information the mediator might ask for, the information that you must provide the mediator with include:

  • The background of your divorce. The reasons that are causing the divorce. For example, infidelity, unacceptable behavior, lack of equality and so on.
  • The major assets involved. For example, savings, houses, pensions and the likes.
  • Both of your incomes and expenditures.
  • Which one of you is opting for the divorce and if or not, both of you agree that getting a divorce is necessary.
  • If you have children, and if they are dependent, i.e. under-18, educating full time, or has special needs.

Providing more information will only make it better and easier for the mediator to comprehend the situation and provide you with an acceptable solution. Your mediator can also request your spouse to provide details of important information that you may not be able to provide. However, this could cause an increase in the time and cost. You should also inform your mediator about the major objectives on your mind. For example, custody of the child, or that you at least contact them regularly, division of the home, asset division, whether there are any payable maintenance and so on.

Providing financial documents 

You will also need to provide the mediator with financial information and documentation, such as bank statements, pay stubs, corporate records, etc.

Quite understandably, while you might be a little hesitant at first, to provide all the information that your mediator might ask of you, it will only make the process easier for him or her, and as a result, for you. Also, you can ask your mediator to keep the information confidential if you wish to do so.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation