Ways to Protect Your Assets in a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange-County-divorce-mediators; California Divorce MediatorsYou would be well aware of the fact that once you separate from your spouse and start a new life from scratch, you will need substantial financial support to pay your bills and maintain your regular standard of living. It is, therefore advisable, to organize your finances and assets in such a way that your spouse cannot obtain an undue ownership of what is rightfully yours. By devising a solid plan before you go on to file a divorce, you can legally protect your assets and rest assured that you will not be left with an empty bank account when the final verdict is announced. Here are a few ways in which you can protect your property and assets in the event of a divorce or a legal separation.

Organize your separate property

It is important to create an inventory checklist of all the items that have been given to you separately, to ensure that they do not get mixed up with your marital or community property. It may include any specific possessions such as jewelry or family heirlooms that have been directly inherited by you. You can also take photographs of the items on your separate property list, to prevent your spouse from claiming them on the grounds of obscurity. After preparing the catalog of your valuables, you can move them to a safe place so that you do not miss out on them in case you have to leave your marital home. 

Gather proof of gifted or inherited possessions

It is a good idea to go up to the concerned people and request a written and signed proof to state that the items were solely given to you and not your spouse. The court of law demands evidential proof of every little thing that is brought forth to a trial. It will be easier and more convenient for you to prove your ownership of a separate property in front of a judge if you possess an attested statement to support your claim.

Sort out your rent and mortgage payments

The lending companies and landlords expect you to pay the monthly installments, regardless of what your present situation might be. If the situation arises you may have to move out of your marital residence before or after filing for a divorce. Although, you will still be obliged to make one-half of the mortgage or rent payments, this action of yours can be detrimental to your claim in the share of your home. It is therefore advised to have a peaceful and practical discussion with your spouse and reach a mutual agreement about who will be entitled to become the rightful owner of your marital home post-divorce.

If you are thinking of getting a divorce from your spouse, you should organize your finances right away, even before you file a petition in the court and proceed with divorce mediation.

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

How to Help Your Child Adjust to a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsA divorce can be a highly traumatizing and overwhelming situation for a child. Although a divorce is a stressful time for the partners getting separated, it is actually the children involved who suffer the deepest impact of a broken family. Given their tender age and still developing cognition, it is very perplexing for a child to understand the complexities of a divorce and visualize it for what is really is. Many a time, the children end up bashing themselves as a reason for the family to fall apart. As adults, it is our responsibly to support our children in these testing times and make them understand that a divorce is not the end of the world. Let us have a look at a few guidelines that will help your child adjust to the transition from a happy family to a family with a single parent.

Tell the truth

It is very important for your child to understand the situation in a mature and practical way. However, you must try to spare your child a comprehensive explanation of the intricacies of why your marriage didn’t work out. You can put it in a simple and straightforward manner by saying that ‘Mommy and Daddy are unhappy with the everyday fighting and do not wish to upset everyone anymore’ so that your child actually understands what you are trying to say.

Reassure your child

The most horrifying aspect of a divorce for a child is his insecurity of losing out on the love of their parents. As aforementioned, in most cases, the children end up blaming themselves for the situation. However, we as adults know how untrue this is. It is important to reassure your child that it is not their fault that your marriage didn’t work out and that both their father and mother will love them, regardless of the separation. Your child needs to know that although everything around them is changing drastically, the one thing that will stay constant is your compassion for them.

Ensure their routine

Most children thrive on the routine they have been following ever since they developed a sense of how things work in everyday life. Kids tend to feel more secure when they are aware of what to expect next. You can keep your child calm and help them adapt to the new life by sticking to their daily routine and giving them their regular playtime and nap time even in the new home.

And last but not the least, allowing your child to express their feeling openly in front of you, will help them deal with the pent up emotions that might otherwise be detrimental to their mental well-being.

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

Strategies for Dealing with an Angry Spouse in a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsWhat with the obvious anguish and stress of a shattered life, the involvement of a toxic spouse can make it even harder for you to deal with your divorce. The stubborn and aggressive attitude of a resentful partner can not only promote additional conflicts and disputes in your already damaged relationship but can also considerably prolong the litigation process due to frequent disagreements by him/her over trivial matters. However, there are several ways in which you can effectively deal with the undue outbursts and tantrums of your angry spouse and make the divorce process smoother for the both of you.

Control your own emotions

It is natural to respond negatively to volatile situations that target your self-esteem or reputation. However, you must understand that you will only make the situation worse by indulging in a similar behavior as your aggressive spouse. Since you are already seeking help for controlling the excessive negativity of your spouse, it is safe to say that you are the more sensible and reasonable of the two. It is, therefore advisable, to keep your calm and stay neutral, especially in situations where your spouse seems to be deliberately instigating a fight. 

Motivate your spouse with money

Although in a fit of rage, it is difficult to use one’s rationale and distinguish wrong from right, you can always try to speak with your angry partner about the financial repercussions of a prolonged and hostile divorce. Money is an effective approach to motivate your spouse to refrain from lashing out at every single issue and creating undue disagreements over things that really do not matter. Make him/her understand that by being a little reasonable, he/she can effectively save thousands over the litigation process. 

Consult a therapist

A professional therapist or divorce counselor can effectively help you identify ways of dealing with the actions of a manipulative and controlling spouse. By talking openly about your concerns and pent up feelings, you will be able to free yourself from the burden of unresolved emotions and become better equipped to handle the frustration of dealing with your aggressive spouse. A therapist can also assist you with ways and strategies of calmly and wittingly responding to the unreasonable actions of your difficult spouse and save the day.

Although dealing with an intimidating and difficult partner is not easy, with a few behavioral changes in yourself, you can effectively handle the constant tension in your relationship.

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

The Unexpected Death Of A Spouse During Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce; California Divorce MediatorsIf one party to divorce unexpectedly dies during proceedings, and by legitimate means, the other spouse may have all the assets in his or her favor. In such cases, if the deceased spouse has a previous marriage, and has children from that former marriage, then those children will not get anything at all. The result will be that a lot of people will become extremely disgruntled.

Complicated proceedings

It is thus recommended that couples on the cusp of divorce should consult a specialist estate planning attorney as quickly as possible. This must be done after the petition is filed. It should also be found out whether a divorce should be executed so that the loved ones get protected even if there is an untimely death.

Death at the time of divorce proceedings can be extremely complicated. The subject is a convoluted one and it is a lengthy process to solve every twists and turns. Usually, in Orange County, California, if one of the spouses in a divorce proceeding dies prior to their status being resolved, then the estate gets handed down as if there has been no petition filed.  In other words, the divorce case becomes moot and cannot be completed, because you cannot divorce a deceased person. In case a spouse dies after entry of their judgment and the dissolution of marital status, then there will be a termination of non-probate transfers. Life insurance, however, is not terminated.

Restraining orders

In California, automatic restraining orders are embedded with family law summons. This goes into effect immediately against the party who has filed the case after the petition is filed. The responding party gets restricted the moment the papers are served to them. Such automatic restraining orders prevent both the parties from taking any action during divorce proceedings which would alter the beneficiaries’ designation and the other specified actions. Any divorce will not lead to violation of such restraining orders and thus it remains a valid way to make sure that the individual you divorce from would not inherit any more wealth from you if you die during the process.

In case of a will, it is possible for you to revoke pour-over will. You can then create new will. It is possible to revoke RLT with notice to other spouse. You can also fund new RLT with your spouse’s consent. Do keep in mind that it is not possible to remove the spouse as a life insurance beneficiary sans a court order. In case you have listed the spouse as beneficiary on 401(k), then it is important that you should obtain from your spouse his or her informed consent.  However, you should always consult with a probate attorney to understand your complete rights and the law in the event of the death of your spouse before taking any action.

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

What is a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsMSA stands for Marital Settlement Agreement, and is the product of divorce settlement negotiations between the spouses.   If an agreement is done right, the agreements work excellently.

Successful MSA

Ensuring a successful MSA needs a few basic steps. You must find a third party who can be trusted. This party must also know the art of facilitating a negotiation. This role frequently falls to the mediator. However, if you want to make this process productive, it is important for you to know how the process works of negotiation works. The preparation should include the trying and identification of what matters the most in the larger scheme of things. This includes ensuring that the children do not get traumatized by the divorce, the matter of both spouses actively participating in raising children. It also includes one spouse wanting to know whether a secure financial future awaits and ensuring that both spouses remain as “friends”. You must have a complete knowledge of all rights and obligations enjoyed by you. This includes a part where the court has the discretion in making the orders.

You should carefully study the manner the children are cared for. Make all general, tentative and flexible plans for the future care of children. You can prepare by thoroughly identifying and then disclosing all debts and properties. Do take time to comprehend fully the present financial situation enjoyed by you. This includes both money flowing in and money flowing out. You should project the financial requirements when the divorce becomes final.

Important topics

In general, five particular topics come under discussion during the divorce mediation. They are then incorporated into Parenting and MSA plan. Such topics are frequently presented and then explained using P.E.A.C.E acronym: Parenting and Equitable Distribution followed by Alimony and Child Support. Last comes Everything Else. Do note that equitable distribution is a fair but may not be equal division of all assets, debts and marital property. The alimony is defined as money which is paid as fulfillment of duty to support a spouse post-divorce or separation.

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

Can Adultery Affect Alimony Under California Law?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Spousal support Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsCalifornia has a no-fault divorce law 

California was the first state in the 1970s to implement the concept of no-fault. This means that you can file for a divorce in two possible cases. Either, you state that your marriage has irretrievably broken down or your spousal partner is incurably insane. You won’t need to specify the exact details or prove them in court. Both partners also don’t need to arrive at a consensus regarding the common grounds for divorce. It is enough that one partner wants to end it.

Infidelity or adultery hasn’t been defined by law but most agree that when one partner has a sexual liaison with his/her lover without the consent of his spouse, he has committed a grave indiscretion. However, it can’t be a ground for divorce alone.

However, infidelity can have some impact on the alimony that the dependent or the poorer spouse can demand. Since California is a community property state, whatever property is acquired by the couple during the period of marriage, will be equally distributed among the partners. Both have equal rights, except on properties acquired through inheritance or received as a gift.

Hence, if the wronged partner can prove that the cheating partner has spent a certain portion of the joint income on his/her lover, a judge can accept the submission and order him/her to reimburse the amount that was spent on the other person, to his spouse.

Infidelity is not a punishable offense in California 

California courts can’t order a partner to pay a certain sum of money as compensation to the wronged partner because of his/her misconduct because that would mean that the court is punishing him/her for the “offense”. The soul ground for the alimony or the spousal support would be the financial need of the wronged or financially weaker partner. The court would try to ascertain that the spouse gets enough support so as to reasonably maintain his/her lifestyle that they had during the marriage. They may also look at the ability of the spouse to support themselves and their employability. The ability of the paying spouse to support would also be analyzed and brought under the scanner.

However, if the receiving spouse starts dating or cohabiting another person before the divorce is finalized, then according to Section 4343 of the California Family Code, the court may reduce or altogether withdraw the alimony as it sees that the financial dependency has decreased.

Frequent adultery or cheating may, however, have an impact on the custody rights of a person and may be a ground that leads him to lose his rights to keep his/her child.

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

Some Benefits Of Divorce After Long-Term Marriage

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsFor one of the spouses in a long-term marriage, there can be benefits of divorcing after such long-term marriage versus divorcing after a short marriage over the other spouse.

You stay in California and you want to get divorced. But you have not completed 10 years of marriage. Well, maybe you should before you think about a divorce, unless of course you need that divorce urgently. If you do plan on hanging around for a little while and if you are eligible then there are lots of benefits. According to the 10-year rule in California there are many benefits which you can get if your marriage lasted for a decade. The rule has been misinterpreted by many as a means of making money after divorce but it is not so. The rule makes sure that the under-earning spouse in the relationship is not completely ignored.


The alimony depends a lot of the duration of marriage. If you earn lower than your spouse, then the court will let you enjoy spousal benefits from your partner, provided the income gap is big. The longer your marriage, the more chances that spousal support becomes permanent. If you have been out of job for a long time, then the court will order for a rehabilitative alimony so that you can find yourself a job. Courts want the under-earning spouse to improve his/her earning to a level where he/she can sustain himself/herself.

Marital home

The court assumes that couples who have been married for a long time don’t have to pay mortgage. If you are one of them then you have a lot to cheer. Paying off the mortgage means having an asset that is free of liens. But if you still have mortgage then it must be cleared off by the spouse who will keep the house. The house will be refinanced such that there is sufficient amount to pay off the lien and provide the other partner with half of the house value.  Sometimes, when the income of one spouse drops down to practically nothing after selling the house, the court may directly award it to the other spouse.

Social security

In some case, you might receive benefits from the Social Security Administration after your divorce after a long marriage. But it depends a lot on your spouse and how much he/she will earn on retirement. Sometimes, you will receive the benefits during your retirement age.  If you are eligible then you might receive half of it. But these benefits are only applicable if you choose to stay unmarried 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

The Impact Of Divorce On Teenagers

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody attorneys in Orange CountyDivorce is difficult time for everyone. The couple go through a series of emotional and psychological changes and adjust to the new life. But apart from the parents, the effect of divorce on children is equally painful. Sometimes it can get out of control as children behave differently in different situations.

Being a teenager can be tough. They are neither kids nor adults and sometimes they act differently because of this. And when the parents get divorced, the effect is unique for each teenager.

Adjustment problems

Research has shown that in the first two years after divorce, teenagers have a hard time coping up with the truth. Adjustment becomes difficult and they show varied behaviors. But as time passes, the situation becomes better. They accept the fact that their parents won’t be together anymore and start adjusting to the new life. Most of the teenagers won’t face any negative effects when they grow up.

Emotional and psychological effects

Children have pure emotions and they show what they feel. But in teenagers, it may not always be the same. Witnessing a divorce can be tough for them. They sometimes show an outburst of emotions or don’t show anything at all. As kids, they’ve looked up to their parents as role models and the behavior of parents affects them. If parents use criticism to deal with a certain problem during a divorce, then automatically teenagers feel that criticism is a tool to handle such situations. Similarly, other emotions like anger and fear become a common part of their daily routine to deal with problems.

Feeling distress during a hostile environment is not exclusive to teenagers. It is what each of us do when put in similar situations. When teens witness, their family falling apart, they too feel distressed. Psychological studies show that blood pressure and heart rate increases in children who witness adults fighting. Over time the psychology changes and can result in negative results.

Effect on academic performance

Teens undergoing psychological and emotional changes have a hard time concentrating on their academic performance. So, naturally, their grades go down. This is very evident in intelligent children who have fared better than their peers in school. The drop in grades is due to emotional problems and not due to emotions. Even teachers find it hard to teach teens undergoing emotional issues. With more and more parents getting divorced each year, the number of such teens are increasing.

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

The Benefits Of Seeking Counseling Before Filing For Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce can be very traumatic for you and your spouse, both on the emotional and financial front. If you feel that not everything is bad between you and your spouse, it’s probably a good idea to seek counseling before filing for a divorce.

Divorce therapy is sought by many couples heading for divorce and has helped many save their marriage. It is provided on individual basis. If you are going through a divorce right now then it is natural that you will experience a range of emotions like guilt, grief and anxiety.

How marriage counseling works

California has many professional divorce counselors and they provide a range of service for their clients. They even help choosing the right one for you. If you are selecting a counselor, then there are certain factors that you need to consider. Choose someone who holds a proper license and who has had experience in dealing with such issues. Read testimonials from clients and ask your friends and family to help you.

Benefits of marital counseling

  1. A marital counseling will help you resolve conflicts between you and your spouse in a healthy way. You will learn to communicate effectively with your spouse and it will also help you listen to his/her side of the story.
  2. You will start understanding the problems of your spouse and vice versa.
  3. You will learn to be assertive while not being offensive towards your spouse. Both of you must to be able to talk about your issues without the fear of hurting the other person. You will slowly realize that not every problem can be resolved through fights and sudden outbursts of emotions.
  4. You will build the ability to work through problem and unresolved issues in your marriage. Marriage counseling provides an environment where you can express yourself without expressing anger or unhappiness. In time, you might realize that your spouse is understanding and is also willing to do the same thing as you. It might also be the reverse where your spouse is not willing to work out anything. If that is the case, then there is not much that you can do but at least you will know that you’ve tried.
  5. You will start seeing your spouse in a new light. This will help you understand him/her and the reasons for getting a divorce. If your spouse is willing to undergo the same thing, then chances are high that your marriage can be saved.

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

The Impact of Wills & Death in California Divorces

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Riverside divorce attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce affects many different avenues in an individual’s life. Relationship is one area that affected a lot but apart from that some of the important areas that face an impact are property, finances, children, and jobs. There is one other important factor that gets affected from a divorce and that is your will. What will happen to your will when you get a divorce especially when you have named your spouse as the heir of your property? Or even worse, god forbid if you die during a divorce proceeding, what will happen to your will then? There are many questions that can arise in respect to your will and it is very important that such questions be addressed.

Divorce and will

California law prevents former spouses from benefitting from an inaccurate will. The California court of law will cross out the name of your spouse and consider the names of other people in the will. In certain cases, it is presumed that your spouse is deceased and acts accordingly. If the will is not handled by the court, there is no guarantee that such laws will be applied. But if the will is overlooked by the court, which in most cases is what happens, then the laws stay.

Getting divorced after making a will

In California, the law mentions that if after a will is executed the testator’s marriage is annulled or dissolved, the annulment or dissolution revokes … any appointment of property made to the former spouse by the will. It means that if your will mentions your spouse getting a certain amount of money or property even after your divorce, he/she is entitle to it. But if no such thing is exclusively mentioned then under no circumstances will your spouse receive anything from you. It is also true for any gifts that your spouse might have expected to get from you.

Death or Separation during divorce

If, during your divorce proceeding, you or your spouse die then the will stays as is. If the will mentions you or your partner receiving certain gifts, then you will receive them despite what your spouse would have wanted. The laws for separation is the same as those for marriage. Your spouse can still be revoked from the will if you stay separately and file for a divorce.

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