Shielding Your Child From Emotional Trauma During Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody mediation Orange County; California Divorce MediationParents are terrified of how divorce affects children. This is most acute during the process of divorce. In fact, the fear of something bad happening to the children is the reason most unhappy marriages persist longer than they should. It can be constant struggle to consider what is best for the kids. Both parents seek the optimal way to guide them through the navigation. For both the parents and the children, the whole process may appear like an unending struggle. However, there are ways to minimize the negative impacts a divorce could have on the kids. It is important to make the transition much more positive. 

Amicable alternatives

Selection of mediation or opting for a collaborative approach will result in decreased contentiousness. It will probably make the process quicker. It means that the children will not be exposed to more uncertainty and acrimony.  This is because the standard litigation system can only be described as adversarial. You will fight your spouse from the beginning. It is an excellent idea to hire a better lawyer so that you know your rights. However, when you opt to mediate with your ex, then it results in better co-parenting. A mutually agreed plan can be developed- and not left to the courts to make a decision.

The litigation system cannot be a good avenue to take revenge or punish your ex. If you want to litigate when there is no need to, expect some heavy expenses. Your children will also be much worse off. Be parents first and the mediation process will help children to enjoy a smoother and quicker transition to new reality.

Protect children from painful experiences

Children can find it extremely difficult to adjust to two separate homes. When the children are staying with you, help them by having fun and doing activities they love to do. Do not push for details on their ex and dwelling on divorce. Most importantly, your children should not see you two having a fight. Do not use them as kind of messengers between you and your ex. Do not speak badly about the other parent. If you do, your children will suffer from stress and the circumstances will not be beneficial to the relationship or the well-being of your child.

It is also an excellent idea to seek the help of a good therapist for the children. It can make a big difference in dealing with anger and resentment issues.

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

All You Need to Know About California Child Custody Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsThe Orange County Family Law local rules as well as the broader California laws require a mandatory child custody mediation to be set before a court hearing at which a court order or modification to an earlier court order pertaining to child custody and visitation take place.

Moreover, if a parent fails to turn up for a child custody mediation session without having valid reasons for his or her absence once or repeatedly, he or she may be prevented from being heard further on the issues of child custody and visitation. If it goes to the hearing stage, it may become extremely difficult for the absentee parent to explain their stand.

Custody issues are often the hardest to settle and can’t be settled under premarital agreement settlements since the right of a child belongs exclusively to the child themselves and their best interests would be held paramount by all courts.

Although a mediator can’t be decisions like a judge or an arbitrator, they can definitely propel the discussion between the two parties forward and create a peaceful environment under which discussions can be held, even for such spouses who have come out of an acrimonious relationship and don’t see eye to eye. A mediator plays a vital role and his intervention is often the only reason why a discussion goes forward.

How to prepare for child custody mediation 

In order to prepare for child custody mediation, try to gather as much evidence or relevant information about your child that would help you while presenting your side of the argument or making your proposals.

One important step is to understand your custody rights and obligations from an experienced and licensed attorney. You can also prepare and present a list of daily schedules for yourself and your child that would convey how emotionally and personally invested you are in the growth and welfare of your child.  You should also present your child custody and visitation proposal during the mediation process after taking advice from your attorney.

You will also need to come to an agreement with the other parent for deciding the scheduled visits and where to drop and pick up the child from and also special occasions or moments in the child’s life when they would expect both their parents to gather.

You may also do well to get an understanding of some commonly used legal phraseology or jargon that may be thrown around during the mediation discussions. Consult your attorney and prepare yourself accordingly.

In order to prepare for the child custody meetings, be honest and think, if you are really capable of taking care of your child. At all points, their interests will be to be kept in mind. Be compassionate towards the other party and you may be able to reach a mediation agreement regarding to your child easily.

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

How To Increase Visitation in Custody Cases

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County child custody attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsDivorces can be hard for some parents especially when kids are involved. It becomes even more hard when the affected parent is the non-custodial parent. Staying away from the children can be mentally and physically daunting. Every parent wants to spend as much time as he/she can with their children. The custodial plan is made to ensure that the non-custodial parent gets to spend quality time with the kids.

One of the important parts of custodial plans is the parenting schedule. Sometimes, the time is so short, it really becomes difficult for the non-custodial parent to have quality time with his/her child. There are ways to change the custodial plan and increase parenting time.

Court Order

Courts can order a change in the visitation hours if it finds that the non-custodial parent deserves to spend more time with his/her children. A court will decide whether spending more time with the non-custodial parent is in the child’s best interests.

Violation of parental plan

If the custodial parent is deliberately trying to limit your visitation time or preventing you from seeing your children, you can use the evidence to increase your visitation hours. In some rare cases, it even leads to a change in custody.

Both of you are equally responsible for paying child care and if the case arises where you are paying more than you should, then naturally your visitation hours should also increase. You can build a case claiming that since you are paying the entire child support by yourself, you are eligible to be the custodial parent. But it may not work every time since there are many reasons why the custodial parent pays less than he/she should.

The custodial parent is the primary caretaker of the child and should provide basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. If in case, the custodial parent is unable to provide any of the basic needs, the custody of the child can be changed. Or the non-custodial parent can be granted more time that he/she can spend with the child.

Conclusion

Visiting hours helps non-custodial parents spend quality time with their children. However, the time can be increased if there is evidence that the given time is not enough for the non-custodial parent.

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

Tips On Co-Parenting After A Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation lawyers Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsIt is not easy to be a co-parent, especially after you have split from your spouse and your relationship with your former partner is strained. You may have apprehensions about the parenting abilities of your ex-spouse, worried about your child support or stressed about some issues. You could also be tired of the ongoing conflict and feel that all that animosity between you and ex-partner will never disappear.

However, when you co-parent in an amicable manner with your former spouse, you can provide security, the close relationship with your kids with both their parents and stability that they require. It is for the well-being of your children that there will be a possibility to overcome the challenges associated with co-parenting and build up a cordial and working association with your ex-spouse. These tips will help you to resolve conflicts on contentious issues, be consistent and remain calm so that the joint custody works well and your children feel secure and happy.

Tip 1: Keep your anger and animosity aside

If you want to enjoy a fruitful co-parenting experience, you need to have a check on your emotions. This means that you should keep your hurt, resentment, and anger at bay for fulfilling the needs of your kids. It is true that keeping such emotions at a distance could be the toughest part to work towards a good working relationship with your former husband but nevertheless, it is an extremely important one. Being successful as co-parents are opposed how you or your ex-spouse may feel about one another. Rather it is all about the future well-being, stability, and happiness of your kid. Avoid putting your kids in between. It is highly possible that you may not lose all the bitterness or anger about your divorce ever. However, the best technique will be to compartmentalize your emotions and keep telling yourself that these are your concerns but not your kid’s; you should ensure that the issues you have with your ex-are kept away from the kids.

Tip 2: Try To improve your communication with your ex

Meaningful, consistent and peaceful communication with your former partner is a must for making your co-parenting click, although they may not appear to be possible. However, everything starts with your mindset. You need to remind yourself that the peaceful communication between both of you can be highly needed for the well-being of your child. Prior to getting in touch with your ex, introspect how your discussion could affect your kid and make a resolution to conduct yourself in a dignified manner. The key point of every talk that you have with your ex should revolve around your kid. You need to also note in this context that meeting your former spouse physically may not be essential always. You can speak to him or her over the phone, exchange messages, emails or texts on a majority of the occasions.

Tip 3: You need to co-parent as a single team

Being a good parent also involves having frequent decisions with your ex-irrespective of what you feel about one another. When you communicate and cooperate with one another without bickering or hurting one another, making decisions become much easier and simpler on everyone. When both of you work together as a team, decision-making with respect to your child becomes quite easy.

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 Kid through Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsAs 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.

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

Mediation For Younger Couples Compared To Gray Couples

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce is a time of great hardship and both individuals have a hard time dealing with the reality. However, for some it is easier to accept the fact more than others. For young couples, who haven’t stayed married for a longer time, dealing with divorce is relatively easier than for gray couples. For gray couples, a divorce is more than just a physical separation from their partner. It is a new way of life and for some it can be very tough. Also, there is the question of property and asset separation which is more likely to be much more difficult for gray couples than for young couples.

Mediation is commonly used in divorce cases to ensure that the whole thing goes smoothly. But mediators might use different approach for young and gray couples because the issues are different.

Mediation for young couples

Lawyers who mediate young couples will often focus on the importance of marriage rather than a divorce. Often, mediators will offer couples to go for a separation instead. Since, the marriage period is small, a separation might help them understand what it means to stay apart from each other. Also, mediators will discuss the pros and cons of getting a divorce at an early stage. If the mediator becomes convinced that reconciliation is not possible, then he will focus on the advantages of getting a divorce. It is expected that younger couples won’t have children or much property and therefore, the divorce becomes much easier.

Mediation for gray couples

Gray couples have spent a longer time in marriage and their decision to divorce must be a strong one. However, mediators will often ask couples to reconsider the case and look for options to avoid a divorce. Most gray couples will have children and their assets and properties will also be huge. On top of that there will be the issue of taxes. So, overall, things like child custody, property division, alimony, tax and debt will play a major part in the divorce.

Conclusion

Mediation is important for every couple planning to get a divorce. However, not every couple will require the same type of mediation. For younger couples, the approach will be slightly different than it will be for gray couples. Things like huge assets, child custody, tax and debt won’t be a big issue for young couples as it will be for gray couples. Mediators must consider every factor before mediating.

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

Common Misconceptions About Divorce Mediation in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediationDivorce mediation is an attractive process for California couples that seek to resolve their disputes amicably without the need to have a public battle in court. However, there are still a lot of things that people do not know about divorce mediation and common misconceptions that exist about the topic.

Mediation is the best option

The whole point of an amicable settlement without the divorce going to court sounds attractive to most people, but divorce mediation is not always the best option for couples. This is especially true for couples in which one partner has a history of emotional abuse, and for couples that need to untangle and split a complex web of possessions between each other.

Pets cannot be a part of the mediation process

This is completely untrue as the California government recently passed a law concerning the division of pets in a divorce. The mediator can advise the couple on who is most likely to receive ownership of the pet or how they can work out a pet-sharing deal. This prevents people from stealing pets from their former partners and allows couples to settle the dispute amicably.

Mediation does not require individual lawyers

The mediator is typically a neutral party whose job it is to guide both parties in the divorce. However, it can be a complex process, and not seeking an attorney can be a very foolish thing to do unless you have complete knowledge of the law. You should definitely have an attorney who looks over the final mediation document before it becomes official. Both the parties are advised to have independent attorneys to safeguard their interests.

Mediation is not better than litigation for children

Most people assume that divorce is always going to be bad for their children no matter what. They assume that litigation and mediation are the same, but this could not be farther from the truth. By its very nature, litigation is an adversarial process that promotes a climate of tension, ill will, and stressful court appearances. On the other hand, mediation promotes a culture of cooperation and a desire to settle disputes amicably without excessive volatility. Mediators are trained to be concerned about the emotional and psychological well-being of the children involved, and it can be considered to be a first step to the future where the parents will no longer be together.

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

Child Custody In Paternity Cases: What You Need to Know

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsAs a Californian, you’re probably aware of the fact that our state is quite progressive. As a result, progressive policies are bound to affect every area of a Californian’s life and that includes family law.  In this blog, we are dealing with a very specific topic under family law – parentage.

California uses the term “parentage” interchangeably with terms such as “parental relationship” and “paternity”. Typically, paternity is established by the child’s parents or the courts. What that means is if a child is born in a marriage, the mother’s husband is automatically presumed to be the father under the law.

If a couple have had a child together but are not married, the law does not automatically assume that the father is the biological parent of the child, which may require a genetic DNA test to establish as well as a Declaration of Paternity signed by the father to establish parentage and then custody.

Establishing paternity 

To establish parentage or paternity, a court order must be obtained or a Declaration of Paternity must be signed to legally indicate who the child’s parents are. For instance, if a child is born out of wedlock, he/she is considered to not have a father unless parentage is legally established. This applies even when the father has evidence to show that he is the biological father.

The establishing of parentage is extremely important as it has a major impact on matters such as child support, visitation rights, and custody during divorce procedures.

If an individual refuses to establish paternity, the court will order them to undergo genetic testing.

Once parentage is established, the concerned man/woman will have to take up the role of a parent. He/she will have to pay child support, 50% of child care costs, and uninsured health care expenses. The same goes for individuals who are legally established as parents.

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

5 Ways In Which Co-Parenting Can Be Effective

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediators in Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsCo-parenting is usually seen as a responsibility shared by divorced couples, but there is more to co-parenting than a simple responsibility. Co-parenting can also involve someone else other than the parents. When a parent and another person take care of the child, it is also known as co-parenting.

  1. Do what is best for the child

When it comes to child custody or any other laws where children are involved, the California court always rules in favor of the children. If you are at a crossroad where you need to take important decisions regarding your children remember to do what is best for the children. Because it is the children that you will be ultimately worried about.

  1. Don’t talk bad about your ex in front of the children

It’s natural to talk bad about your ex in front of your children especially when you have gone through a bad marriage. But always remember that in doing so it is your children who will get affected. Your ex will remain an important part of the responsibility towards your children. When you criticize your ex, a certain negativity develops in your children which can be dangerous in the long run.

  1. Never tell your ex you are the better parent

At times, you will feel the urge to show your children that you are better than your ex but it’s a good idea to stay away from that notion. Saying that the other parent is bad won’t make you look like the best parent in the world. Moreover, such things don’t work in a court of law in California.

  1. Establish rules and family values

Family rules and values are central to every parenting. Teaching your children the importance of family life can be a great way to keep things organized in life. Moreover, it will also help you and your ex maintain an amicable relationship. As a parent your main aim is to create a healthy environment for your children where they can grow and learn life’s important lessons. So what better place than their own home.

  1. Make plans for in-law and family visits

After getting a divorce, having the support of your in-law and family members is very important even though you may not want to see them. It’s good because the children should not feel alienated after you get your divorce.

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

Choosing Between Mediation vs Litigation vs Collaborative Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce is never easy, no matter how amicable it is. There are numerous assets and properties that need to be divided, not to mention custody of children and other aspects. In California, a person that files for divorce has 3 ways to proceed – mediation, litigation and a collaborative divorce. There is no universal best choice among the 3 and each method is suitable for certain circumstances.

Mediation

Mediation is the process where a divorcing couple sits with an impartial and neutral mediator to decide on the division of assets and properties. While both parties have to hire their own lawyers before a settlement is agreed, the mediator does not have to be a lawyer. Mediation allows for spouses to split rather peacefully and consequently benefit the children. Cost is reduced along with complete confidentiality of all matters discussed. Mediation is best for amicable divorces where the spouses aim to remain in touch and maintain a good relationship.

Litigation

Litigation is the most common and oldest divorce format used. This is because in over 80% of divorce cases, the decision is made by one of the parties and is not mutual. In this case, mediation and collaborative divorce might not work as both parties are working against each other. Despite common believes, litigation often ends with an out-of-court settlement. The couple works with lawyers to come to an agreement regarding custody, division of assets, along with alimony payments and liabilities. Once a settlement is formed both parties sign it and a judge also signs off on it.

If a litigated divorce does go to court, all final decisions are made by the judge including decisions regarding assets and custody. It is recommended in most cases to keep the divorce out of the court as it could have a negative impact on the children and lead to more animosity among the parties. Litigation is the most public and the slowest of all 3 options.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, the decision to get a divorce is often mutual and there is no animosity. Both parties hire an attorney and decide on the terms of the divorce. Unlike litigation, the attorneys in a collaborative divorce try to help couples come to a mutual agreement. Collaborative divorcees can also hire financial planners that will help plan their lives through the divorce and after. Therapists and coaches may also sit with the spouses to helps them resolve issues. In a collaborative divorce, there is no chance of going to court. In fact, documents are signed before the proceedings stating that the attorneys must withdraw if court is threatened or the settlement fails.

Both mediation and collaborative divorce are only recommended when both parties are on equal footing and have a mutual understanding. Spouses that doubt their partner’s declarations or do not understand the various assets on hand (such as finances) should choose litigation. The same applies when substance abuse, physical or mental abuse is involved.

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