How Is Legal Separation Different From A Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorney Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsLegal separation is the formal process of confirming an actual separation of the parties, as opposed to filing for divorce.  Parties that chose legal separation do so for religious reasons, do not believe in divorce, or have concerns about medical insurance coverage, among other reasons.  If the parties proceed all the way to a final judgment in a legal separation case, they can obtain the same orders that they would have in a divorce case.  The biggest difference is that in the end, the parties are technically still married after a legal separation case and cannot get legally remarried.

Agreement for separation

An agreement on separation includes terms that are quite similar to those if the concerned couple was getting a divorce. This means there will be a distribution of their marital property, agreement on child visitation and custody if applicable. Not only this, the couple opting for a legal separation will also have to come to a decision on dividing any debts that were incurred by them after they got married.

Ideally, the above-mentioned terms should be binding in case the couple wants to get divorced. Moreover, both parties should hire their individual attorneys for negotiating all the details of the agreement on their legal separation. In case the spouses eventually make up their mind to go one step ahead and file for a divorce, it has been observed that the judge usually keeps the same terms as both the parties agreed to them earlier.

Differences between a legal separation and a divorce

Check out some of the following key differences between a divorce and a legal separation.


While the spouse continues with the legal married name in the case of a separation, a wife may revert back to her maiden name after the divorce comes throughout the divorce be.

Child support

The conditions related to child support are ascertained when the legal separation takes place. When a couple decides to go for a divorce after being legally separated, ideally, the same terms are followed that were mentioned in the document for legal separation.

Marital status

A couple is still married even though there is a legal separation going on. But when the divorce is finalized, the marriage ends.

Child visits

Visitation rights of the child are decided when the legal separation takes place. If a divorce comes through after the legal separation, most of the times, the same terms are followed as mentioned in the document of their legal separation.


The terms for alimony are ascertained during the legal separation. The conditions are typically kept same if the divorce gets finalized in the future.

Split of marital property

The couple agrees to the terms while going for a legal separation. When they do decide to finally divorce, the sane conditions that are mentioned in the document for legal separation are followed.

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 Unequal Division Of A Business During Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation orange county; California Divorce MediatorsA divorce can be a complicated process when assets and properties are involved. Through mediation a part of the problem can be solved but since it is a question of finances, couples tend to be skeptical. In case of business, things become even more complicated because unlike other assets, a business has the opportunity to become more valuable. The one who owns the business can claim the business as his/her own as part of the separate property but when it is owned by both, the division becomes difficult.

The establishment time of the business

If the business was established before the marriage, it is most likely that it will have a separate part to it. If you can show that there is a separate part and that it belongs to you, then the court will award it to you. But if you fail to show any such evidence which indicates that part of the business belongs to you, the court is liable to divide it based on the laws governing the division of assets.

Family business

For people who run a business that has been passed down to them from his/her family, the question of division is an important one. They, obviously would not want to part with the business due to emotional attachments. Again, if the business was solely passed to you and no one else and if such a fact can be supported by documents, then the business belongs to you as a separate property. However, if the business was passed on to both you and your spouse, it become a marital property and is subject to division.

Separate property funds

One of the most important things governing your business is property funds. A business could have started when you got married but that does not make it a marital property. If the business is built on property funds that was allocated by you, it can very well fall under separate property. A California court will look into many factors once it establishes where the property funds came from. Things like profitability and value will play a big role in determining how the business will be divided.


Divorces can be scary when the division of property is in question. It becomes worse when property is a business. A California court will look into different factors like who primarily owns the business, whether it was passed down from a family or not and who is responsible for the property funds. After looking into each and every factor it will decide how the business should get divided.

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

What Happens To Family-Owned Businesses In A Divorce?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation orange county; California Divorce MediatorsDividing family owned businesses can be very tough if you and your spouse are not on the same page. And by being of the same page it means understanding how importance the family owned business is. You might be the owner of a business that was passed down to you by your family and suddenly your divorce splits it into two. Your partner may not be interested in the business but despite that gets a half of the business. It can be very disappointing.

Businesses can be viewed as property

During a divorce, businesses are viewed as properties. Two important factors that play a major role in determining this are classification and worth of your business. Your business can be classified as either a community property or a separate property or even both. How much your business is worth depends on the amount of money generated by your business and the net worth of your business.

Equal division of business

If you own a business then you know how much time, effort, and money you have spent to establish your business. Now, imagine if everything that you built were divided in half and one half was given to your wife? Heart-breaking, isn’t it? Well in California this is exactly what happens to your property during a divorce. California, being a community property states, require that every property belonging to the marital “community” be divided in half. This includes family owned businesses as well.

The best solution to save your business from splitting in two would be signing a prenuptial agreement or some other exit strategy cleverly developed by an experienced lawyer. Another option would be to work with your partner in the same business. Both solutions are tough because you need an amicable relationship with your spouse and if you have that why would you be heading towards a divorce then?

Protecting the business

The first way to protect your business is to talk with your partner and agree on some mutual understanding. While talking, you need to keep your personal squabble out of it.

You must get your business valued if you are getting a divorce. If you both are joint owners, doing this is not a problem but if you’re not then things can get complicated.

If you both work in the same business, you can expect both of your roles and responsibilities to change. This reduces conflict of ideas and save the business from utter devastation.

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

How to Protect Your Business in a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation orange county; California Divorce MediatorsDespite your efforts to devote several hours a day in building your empire, you might end up witnessing your enterprise crumbling down to pieces as an aftermath of a divorce. If you have an angry and resentful partner, the chances of losing out on your well-established business becomes even higher. However, if you are well aware of your rights and know how to get them enforced, you can ensure that your spouse does not end up taking a massive bite of what is rightfully yours. Here are a few ways in which you can protect your business from becoming a controversial issue in a divorce lawsuit.

Sign up a premarital agreement

The best way to protect your business from an unwarranted division is to get your spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement that would stipulate the instructions for the evaluation and distribution of your business finances in the event of a divorce. However, if your spouse refuses to agree upon a prenup, you must at least take the assistance of an appraiser to determine the initial value of your business at the beginning of your marriage and make it easier to identify any appreciation or depreciation in due course of time. 

Avoid involving your spouse as an employee

Although for several reasons such as tax benefits, most of the business owners end up appointing their spouses as employees in their company, it is advisable to refrain from this habit. The reason is that if you decide to separate from your spouse, he or she might end up making a claim to a portion of your business assets on the pretext that they too have actively contributed towards its growth and profits. However, if you already have your spouse working for your business, you must make it a point to fire them right away and save yourself from undue claims. 

Trade off other assets

For the division of property in the event of a divorce, the court adds up the total assets of a couple and carries out an equitable distribution between both the parties. It is always advisable to try and retain complete ownership of your business by paying the buyout price in the form of other marital assets such as your family home, car or retirement accounts.

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

Dealing with a Business in Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation orange county; California Divorce MediatorsThe process of divorce is not only the separation of two individuals but it also contains the separation of a whole host of other things such as children, assets, properties, and also businesses. What if you have a business that belongs to you and your partner? Rest assured that your divorce is going to have an effect on your partner as well as your business. At this point in time, if you have a carefully crafted prenuptial agreement, you are likely to have matters in black and white. However, if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, your Orange County divorce in terms of your business can get complicated.

This is where divorce mediation comes in. Mediation can alleviate a whole host of risks that are likely to be involved in the handling and potential division of a community property business.

Situations of Complication

Before we outline the benefits that mediation is going to provide you. Let’s take a look at situations where complications can occur in a business due to divorce:

  • When both of the spouses have been involved in the operation and the owning of the business during the time the marriage lasted.
  • When one spouse has been the owner and operator of the business while both the spouses have been married to each other.
  • When one of the spouses has inherited the business or has been operating and owning the business before the marriage and does so during the marriage (this is only applicable to case complications if there has been a change in the value of the business).
  • In situations where there is no need for spousal and child support to be paid, instead there needs to only be finding out of the self employed spouse’s income.

The Mediation Solution

There are lots of things that divorce mediation can do to make divorce transition easy for you, your business, and your business partner. A few examples of it are:

  • The use of mediation will make sure you have to ample time to spare and spend in the running of your business. The flexibility of divorce mediation allows you to manage your business and mediation side by side with neither overlapping the other.
  • There is nothing that can hurt you and yours more than emotional distress. The best business decisions are done with a clear head. Divorce mediation is a conversational process to a divorce allowing for amicable relations between the former spouses to prosper and a healthy understanding to develop.
  • The lower costs of divorce mediation are also an advantage to lessen the complications to a business that might occur from it. Litigation is likely to cost a considerable amount of money, and unless you have unlimited resources in your business, that decision may ultimately hurt your business. The best way to avoid it is by pursuing divorce mediation services.

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 Divorce Mediation for Business Owners

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation orange county; California Divorce MediatorsIt is said that entrepreneurs have a high divorce rate.  If this is true, it is because building a business can require years of dedication, effort and singular focus.

And this is one reason that anyone who owns a business should consider divorce mediation before litigated divorce.

As Crain’s Chicago Business noted in a recent article, divorce has taken down many businesses, and it is often because lawyers have more financial incentive to draw the process out and create more conflict than to swiftly and levelheadedly resolve all of the issues.

In the article, Steve Thorne, an accountant with Deloitte Tax, exhorts divorcing couples to work together on the financial and practical issues.  For example, business valuations can be expensive, so Thorne advises that couples agree on a single valuation company and divide the cost rather than paying for separate valuations (which can cost tens of thousands of dollars).

Many business owners think that mediation simply isn’t an option, because of the complexity of the financial and legal issues at hand.  And it is true that for some issues, a lawyer will be necessary to draw up a particular legal agreement as it relates to the business.

But a trained divorce mediator, working in conjunction with accountants and other professionals, can create agreements between the divorcing spouses on all of the issues, so that the use of a lawyer can be targeted, limited, and cost effective.

Divorcing spouses who intend to continue running the business together can benefit greatly from mediation.  A successful, low-drama mediation can be a cornerstone for the kind of collaboration that will be needed to work together on the business.

But perhaps the most important benefit of divorce mediation, when it comes to the health of the business itself, is that it resolves the divorce with less money and time spent.  As Thorne indicates, litigated divorces can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years to complete.  That is a lot of time and money to take away from a business intended to support you and your loved ones for years to come.

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