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

Having More Than 2 Legal Parents: How California is Different

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsCalifornia is the only state which legally recognizes the right of a child to have more than two parents.

This holds a lot of implications.

Let us say A and B were in a happy marriage, and together, they had a daughter, whom they named C. But A and B began drifting apart and decide to call things off. Following their divorce, the court awards custody of C to A.

A decides to test the waters again, and marries D this time.

To C, B remains a legal parent. In short, she now has three parents – A, B and D. All three have equal claim to her.

When C grows up, she will have a claim to B’s fortune if the latter dies without leaving a will.

Another scenario is when A and B cannot have a child together. They go in for the IVF method, and the embryo is implanted into the womb of a surrogate mother, say S. While A and B are the biological parents, S is the natural mother, according to California law. So all three – A, B and S – are parents of the child.

A near-combination of these two instances occurred recently when Hollywood actor Jason Patric (you might recognize him as the male lead in Speed 2: Cruise Control) was named parent of his biological son, who was conceived through IVF.

Patric was involved with Danielle Schreiber in the late 2000s, but the two called it off in 2008. However, Schreiber desperately wanted to be a mother, and Patric convinced her that she should choose his sperm.

Their son, Gus, was born through In-Vitro Fertilization in 2012.

A family court awarded Patric custody of Gus for six months in a year, with Schreiber having custody for the remaining six months.

Schreiber is unmarried at present, but should she choose to marry someone other than Patric, Gus would have three legal parents.

What this means for you

If you are considering using the services of a surrogate mom, make sure the contract is iron-clad. If not, the surrogate mother could very well claim parentage over your child, citing her rights as the natural mother.

If you are trying to have a child through IVF, have an attorney review the contract that you sign with the clinic. In case of any mix-up, i.e. they use someone else’s sperm or eggs, you don’t want to lose your child to a stranger.

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

How To Focus On Your Kids In A Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsWhen you are getting a divorce, your children are your most important worry. But, do not be sad, as studies prove that children can cope up with the divorce of their parents and even come out okay. Now, this may not always be the case. There are several kids who get emotionally wounded when their parent’s divorce. The wounds can stay on for the rest of their lives. Here are some of the steps you can take to make them feel secure and to convince them that they are not responsible for your divorce.

Reaffirm with your spouse that the emotional well-being of your child is a mutual priority

While you and your spouse may cease being together, that does not mean that you will not remain parents for your child. So, keep reciting this thought to yourself whenever you are mad at your former wife or husband. This thought should be also articulated to your ex whenever you interact.

While the divorce negotiations are on, try not arguing with your ex. While this action will need a lot of maturity and self-restraint, it should be attempted for the best interests of your kids. If it is essential, you can attend counseling together.

Demonstrate your maturity to your child or children all through the divorce proceeding

Steps like trying to go for litigation that may create animosity with your ex should be avoided as far as possible. Rather, you can opt for meditation to get your peace of mind. Try resolving your financial issues faster and then just move on.

Both the parents should remain involved in their child’s life for the latter’s best interest

To achieve this status quo, parents can opt for shared custody. Alternatively, it can also mean that the children stay with only one parent but meet the other one frequently. Such an initiative will increase the possibilities of your children’s emotional well-being remaining intact. Keep reiterating to yourself that the children require both their mother and father. It is irrelevant whether you can excel as an excellent single parent or not. It is important that your child does not feel abandoned due to the actions of one of the parents.

Overnight visitation arrangement can be stressful for your kids

It may not be easy for your children to constantly move from one home to the next. All children require additional support during these times. The children should have the liberty to be open about the distress they are going through from their other parent and get empathy from the parent they are living with.

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

Grounds On Which Child Custody Orders Can Be Modified

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsOne of the most important things that parents have trouble dealing with during a divorce is child custody. Custody plans are made based on the current situation of the parent. It includes things like visitation time and agreements based on the child’s preference.

However, situations can change any time and then it becomes difficult for parents to stick to the original custody plan. At times like these the custody plan is subject to modification provided the court allows it.

Below is a list of the grounds based on which child custody plans can be modified.

Relocation

Relocation can happen for either of the parent at any point of time. Relocation is one of the major grounds on which custody plans can change. But that depends on the state. In California, there are travel restrictions for parents but if the relocation is unavoidable, the court allows the parent to change the custodial plan.

Relocation does not mean that the custody of the child will get transferred from one parent to the other. The court makes sure that the child stays in touch with both parents.

Unhealthy environment

A change in custody pans is often requested when one parent feels that the other is not providing a good environment for the children. However, the parent making the claims must provide proof and substantial evidence that the environment provided by the other parent is indeed bad.

An unhealthy environment means a parent who moves frequently, does not hold a steady job, has too many relationship and is misbehaves with the children.

Child’s preferences

California courts always take the child’s preference into consideration before passing a judgment. In fact, it is the single most important factor that determines a custody battle and custodial plan. When a custodial plan is changed, the court looks at the situation of the child and determines if changing the situation will have any effect or not.

Conclusion

Creating and maintaining a child custody plan is an important job for divorced parents as their children are at the center of it. A child custody plan can be changed anytime depending upon the situation of the parents and the children. A California court always takes the child’s preference into account and decides whether the situation will be beneficial for the child or not. A parent’s relocation and an unhealthy environment are the top reasons for the change in child custody plans.

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