5 Ways To Avoid A Divorce As Told By A Divorce Attorney

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce proceedings can be very difficult and lengthy. It is advised to look for ways to save your marriage rather than go for a divorce. Take it from a divorce attorney and divorce mediator like me.  Here are 5 tips that you can follow to avoid a divorce:

  1. Don’t focus too much on property and assets

A recent study showed that couples who don’t rely on property and assets too much have a better marriage than their counterparts. Couples who focus too much on assets often lose focus of more important things that make the marriage work. Materialistic couples often exhibit signs of poor communication, low conflict resolution and low response to each other.

  1. Communicate with each other more often

Poor communication is a major cause of divorce. Couples who don’t interact properly often have a hard time understanding each other’s problem. The communication gap widens when couples don’t make any effort to have a conversation with each other. The distance destroys the unity and it leads to divorce.

  1. Spend some time apart

Too much closeness can be a bad thing sometimes. Take some time out for yourself and stay apart. Go for a vacation with friends or spend time with your own family. Distance plays a major role in keeping things interesting in a marriage. But don’t spend too much time apart. It can have the reverse consequence. Staying apart will give you more time to focus and yourself and less time to think about other problems.

  1. Be flexible and stay positive

Relationships don’t work based on one person’s likes and dislikes. It is a team effort and both of you must understand each other’s needs and preferences. It is very important to stay flexible in a relationship and realize that your partner’s problems are equally important.

It is also vital to stay positive about the relationship. There will be times when everything looks boring and different problems will arise but it is important to have a positive attitude. You need to focus on the bigger picture and concentrate on what’s really needed to save the relationship.

  1. Try to solve problems together

Whenever you face a problem try finding a solution as a team. Don’t dump the problem on your spouse while you sit back and enjoy. Whether the marriage will be successful or not depends on both of you and it is up to you to make things work.

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

Handling Defaulting on Debts During a Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediator; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce can become a complicated subject, especially when debt becomes a part of it. If you are a married person, then you know what that means. There have been cases where one person walked away without paying a single cent while the other went bankrupt. It could be a nightmare for the one paying the debts.

How you handle debts after your split can have a major impact on your credit.

Debt on property

In states like California, both you and your spouse are liable for the debts incurred after you got married. It does not matter in whose name the account is. Both of you are responsible for the property purchased and the debt as to be shared. In other states, the debt is paid off by one person only. It might not sound fair but that is the law in those states.

Debt on credit accounts

The same goes for credit accounts as well. Since the credit was shared by you and your spouse, the debt too must be shared. Even if the divorce rules say that your spouse is responsible for paying the debt, you will still be a part of it. You miss the payments, and you become a defaulter. If you become a defaulter, then your credit score drops, making it harder to get credit in the future.

Handling joint debts

After you get divorced, make sure you close all joint accounts that are in your and your spouse’s name. Remove your spouse’s name from the authorized user list. Try getting the account converted into individual accounts if you can.

Try paying off as many debts as possible before the actual divorce. It will keep you prepared for any extra charges that might incur during your divorce proceedings.

Minimizing damage

When you close accounts, make sure that the credit accounts are in your name. Doing so will give you control over your money and you would not have to worry about any unknown debts.

It’s common among couples that one person borrows while the other spends. If you are one of them and you are on the spending side, then talk with your partner and work out a common ground. Understand that if your credit score is low, future lenders would not lend you money. Before you get divorced, try clearing as much debt as you can together.

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

The “Right of First Refusal” Concept in California Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County child custody; California Divorce MediatorsThe “Right of First Refusal” concept in California divorce and custody cases awards one parent the first option to undertake the responsibility of the child in the absence of the other parent. What this means is that after a legal custody battle, one parent can take care of the child during the time that has been allotted for the other parent. The right of first refusal allows parents to take responsibility for child care instead of awarding it to a third party.

The right of first refusal has two advantages. First, the child is not put into the hands of a third party. Second, the costs for paying the third-party care provider is also avoided.

When can the right be exercised

Parents who are unavailable to take care of their children for more than 12 hours must notify the other parent prior to the unavailability. It gives the other parent plenty of time to consider the decision. If the other parent refuses to be present at the mentioned time, it becomes the custodial parent’s duty to look for an alternative care for his/her child.

For the right of first refusal to become actionable, deciding the period of time is very important. However, since there is no perfect timeframe which decides the right, it depends on case to case. It’s a good idea to include a divorce lawyer during such matters.

One of the most important factors for exercising the right of first refusal is geography. For the right to take place, parents need to stay close to each other. If the distance is too long, the right may not be of too much help.

When can it be misused

There have been instances where the right of first refusal has been misused. If you have not enjoyed a good relationship with your spouse, then he/she may not agree to your offer. During tight-knit custody battles, such rights can make a lot of difference in custody preferences.

A divorce affects children badly. It has negative psychological effects which can become physical if ignored. Custody battles are tough and the state of California has laws to make sure the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. The right of first refusal was created to provide temporary custody to the other parent in the absence of the first one. It helps avoid the involvement of third parties and keeps the matter between the two parents.

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

Legal Separation Or Divorce? Which One Is Better For Children

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsFor couples who don’t want to live under the same roof anymore, the question of whether to get a divorce or not arises. An alternative to divorce is legal separation where the couples are still legally married but choose to live separately. In both cases, couples who have children often find it to be a confusing decision. Both options have their pros and cons and it is up to you to decide what you want to do.

But the question here really isn’t about the advantages and disadvantages of legal separation and divorce. It is more about your duty as a parent. Consider the following factors and then decide.

Providing for your children

The first question that you need to ask yourself is “am I independent enough to take care of my children?” This question should be asked in respect to both finances and emotions. Make sure you have enough finances to take care of the needs of your children. If you want to be truly responsible for providing for your children, you need to be emotionally strong as well. During divorce cases, custody can be awarded to the other parent if you’re not emotionally or financially stable.

Often, it’s difficult to say how children are going to react when their parents stay apart from each other. Teenagers have the right to choose whom they want to stay with but for younger children they are expected to stay with the parent who can provide for them. Divorce is a more permanent solution to separation and should be considered carefully before proceeding with it.

Being responsive to the needs of your children

Your children’s needs should be the top priority because under no circumstance can they become victims of your own personal fight. If you’re counting on a divorce and don’t want to re-consider your decision, then it’s best that you try staying separately first. Legal separation can help you decide if you really want a divorce or not. Also, it will help you understand your children’s psyche when they live separately from one parent.


Whether you get a legal separation or a divorce is completely your choice but a lot will depend on how your kids react to each of them. Divorces may affect them negatively and in such cases a legal separation is the preferred option. In other cases a divorce may be the best option.

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

4 Myths About Divorce in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediators in Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsMost of the people who are going through a divorce are gripped by a plethora of misconceived notions about the various legal aspects of the litigation. One of the primary reasons for such disbelief is an inadequate understanding of your state laws. Here we are sharing with you some of the common myths regarding divorce in California.

Myth #1:  Committing adultery means you will lose everything

Considering the fact that California is a no-fault state, an individual is not required to prove that his/her spouse’s infidelity is to be blamed for the separation, the courts in the state do not accept infidelity as an influential factor in deciding the property division, custody or visitation-related settlements. In other words, being unfaithful to your partner will not mean that you will end up losing all your assets, and even your kids in a divorce.  Also if the reverse is true, it will be a waste of time to try and prove in the court of law that you partner has committed adultery, since it will not really affect the outcome of the litigation.

Myth #2:  The spouse who has the mortgage in their name gets to keep the house

Regardless of whether the house is in your name or your spouse’s, if both of you have been financially contributing towards the mortgage payments during the marriage, the house will be considered as marital property eligible for equal distribution in the event of a divorce. Similarly, if there is any other possession that you own, and was maintained by a financial contribution from your spouse as well, the item will be considered a marital asset and will be liable to division in a divorce.

Myth #3:  A spouse can deny his or her partner divorce

Although, until a few decades back a partner could disagree with their spouse’s divorce petition and drag on a loveless marriage for years on end, the same is not the case anymore. Being a no-fault state, California allows an individual to obtain a divorce, regardless of whether his or her spouse accepts it or not. It is a legal way of saying that a person does not need to stay in a marriage if he or she does not want to.

Myth #4:  You are required to get a divorce attorney

One of the most common of all myths surrounding a divorce is that you must retain a lawyer to battle your case against your spouse. Despite the fact that this is absolutely untrue and you can fight your divorce by yourself, it is advisable to consult a legal professional or use a divorce mediator if you and your spouse are amicable.

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

Smart Tips To Save Money On Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediator; California Divorce MediatorsMost divorces today are not only excessively time-consuming, but also financially devastating for both the parties involved. From the rising costs of counseling to the exorbitant per-hour rates of legal professionals, a divorce has become one of the most expensive legal affairs in the country. A typical divorce proceeding can cost you up to several thousand dollars and leave you with a huge gaping hole in your pocket. However, by having a solid plan and using your wisdom, you can spare yourself the additional stress of witnessing an empty bank account. Let us have a look at a few smart tips that can effectively help you curb your ruthless expenditure on your divorce litigation.

Avoid excessive communication with your lawyer

Your attorney will charge you for every hour that you spend with him. Every time you contact your lawyer for a trivial issue or question, you will be losing more money. The idea here is to limit your communication with the lawyer, and ensure that you prepare a list of questions that you wish to ask your lawyer in the next meeting. Instead of calling him up or dropping a mail every time a doubt pops up in your mind, you must wait until you have multiple points of a discussion with him. Also, try and keep all the relevant documents organized and within easy access, to avoid dropping in at your attorney’s office to resolve the issue of missing paperwork. 

Try divorce mediation

Mediation is a cost effective and less time consuming way of obtaining a divorce, than a full blown court trial. If you and your spouse still have some level of amiability in your relationship and are ready to resolve the conflict with a mutual agreement, you can seek the legal counsel of a neutral third party known as a mediator to help you achieve a peaceful separation. Such uncontested divorce not only helps you find resolutions that are suitable for both the parties, but also minimizes the extra expenditure that might otherwise go into a lengthy court trial. 

Avoid battling over assets that you do not really need 

More often than not, in our ego and resentment for our ex spouse, we tend to fight over silly issues that do not even matter much to us. It is natural to fight for a piece of asset or property, just so that it does not go to your spouse who desperately wants to keep it. However, before wasting thousands of dollars over the ownership of assets that you really don’t care about, you must try and figure out whether this mindless expenditure is even worth it or not.

Most importantly, you must contest your divorce with an open and practical bent of mind, since after the storm subsides, you will be faced with the harsh reality of trying to start a new life with the little resources you are left with after an expensive divorce.

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

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

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

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