Is Divorce Mediation Right For You?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediationThese days, couples can get divorced through various ways. Some of these ways are litigation, collaborative or mediation. But how do you conclude what is the right method for you? Divorce mediation is a method of procuring a divorce when a neutral and unbiased third party, selected by both the spouses can facilitate discussions to address and resolve various issues related to a divorce. But mediation is not binding unless it is mutually agreed by both the parties.

Check out some of the common principles through which divorce mediation can be conducted to resolve issues:

Private

A mediation process engages only those stakeholders whose presence is needed to reach an agreement. The stakeholders typically include the spouses, a financial neutral or a coach if required and the mediator, agreed by both sides. The records or notes exchanged in the mediation process can never be used in future court proceedings if the mediation does not work out for whatever reasons since they are public records. In a majority of cases, mediators tend to destroy the mediation notes and records after the process is completed for this particular reason.

Voluntary

It could be made mandatory for both the parties to attend an initial meeting if a judge orders so. However, follow up participation is voluntary in nature. The court cannot impose a resolution on either spouse. Plus, all resolutions that are arrived at should be voluntary and mutually agreed upon.

Confidential

Strict confidentiality should be maintained for all mediation sessions and are restricted to only those professionals that are approved by both the spouses as mentioned above. In case a party requests for any kind of access to mediation information, both the parties should put their signatures allowing so. Both sides should also be willing to the fact that secrecy should be maintained due to some compelling reasons or it is beneficial to do so.

Decision-making should be done in an informed way

Both the parties should have the essential information required to make informed decisions with respect to the resolution of their conflicts.

Whether divorce mediation will work for you or not depends on your unique situation. It may work out for those couples who want to divorce by embracing a cost-effective procedure and need to maintain a harmonious relationship even after their divorce is finalized so that they can co-parent their kids successfully. But there could be a scenario when one of the spouses may disagree to mediate. In such scenarios, opting for litigated or collaborative divorce can be a better alternative.

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

Symptoms Your Kids Are Being Affected By Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county custody mediation; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce triggers both kids as well as adults to make several adjustments and face tough challenges. However, there is a difference in how each child responds to their parent’s divorce. While a majority of them will handle these challenges with maturity and sensibility and grow up into well-adjusted adults, there are some kids who go through behavioral and emotional difficulties when their parents go through a divorce. And though there are differences in the long-term reaction in a child to the divorce of their parents, many kids may go through emotional distress and emotions like conflicts, confusion, guilt, fury, anxiety, and sadness in the short-term. Such emotions pop up when there is a question of loyalty towards their parents and a strong desire to spend more time with their absent parent.

When you notice the following symptoms of distress with your child, you need to take appropriate action such as taking them to a therapist so that they can overcome their emotional problems related to the divorce.

Drastic change in academic performance

Do you find your kid is showing dismal performance in the tests? Is he losing interest in his school activities? This could be a telltale sign that he is emotionally disturbed.

Refuses to spend time with his/her parent

When there is no issue of child abuse in a family and yet a kid shows an unwillingness to spend their time with the parent, it can be a symptom that the kid feels the requirement of taking sides. A child should not feel that they are forcefully put in a situation where they have to select one parent over their other.

Increase in certain type of physical complaints

When you find them complaining about their physical conditions such as stomach aches or headaches quite often, it may mean that they are going through a tough time to come up with the divorce of their parents.  Allergy, stomachaches, and headaches are some of the most common symptoms that your kid is going through an emotional distress.

Prolonged and significant change in the behavior

You have always known that your child to be extremely polite bit you may find them being inconsiderate all of a sudden when your divorce case is going on. Your outgoing, gregarious and talkative kid can express less interest in social activities and friends.

Does not show keenness to engage in family, school, athletic or social activities

This is another important symptom that your children are clinically depressed as a result of your divorce from your spouse.

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

How To Choose The Best Divorce Mediator

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorney in orange county; California Divorce MediationSelecting the best divorce mediator should be the first important agreement that should be made jointly by the divorcing spouses right at the start of their divorce mediation process. Thus, it is one of the most crucial decisions for both the spouses to make during the course of their divorce.  Several factors should be taken into account while selecting the best Orange County divorce mediator. Read on to know some of the essential qualities in a mediator you and your estranged spouse should look for prior to taking the final call.

1. Should be educated in mediation as well as dispute resolution
Make sure that the divorce mediator you are choosing has the essential education for resolving disputes and mediation training. When a person is pursuing yearly training on mediation and is educated in resolving disputes, they can serve your purpose well while the negotiation process is on.

2. He or she should be specialized in family mediation matters
You need to confirm that the practice area of the said mediator is solely dedicated towards family and divorce mediation. When you choose a proficient family mediator, they are highly skilled because of their domain knowledge in practicing divorce mediation. A good divorce mediator should have the necessary expertise and a specialized skill set with necessary knowledge to help you as well as the other party through divorce. When you choose a professional whose primary focus area is not divorce mediation, you may not get the kind of help you are expecting to resolve your divorce issues. You should directly query them to find out how much percentage do family and divorce mediation constitute out of their entire practice experience. Typically, this should be one hundred percent. But a majority percentage is a good sign too.

3. Trust factor is highly crucial
Select a divorce mediator that you can trust wholeheartedly. It is perhaps the most critical aspect to consider while selecting your divorce mediator. You should be able to trust them for guiding you through the entire process. After all, there could be a high degree of emotions while the mediation is going on. Plus, when there are kids in your marriage, greater considerations should be made while discussing their future. Hence, your divorce mediator should be a person with whose you can always be at ease both as a professional as well as an individual.

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

Tips to Keep Your Kids Out of Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorney; California Divorce MediatorsThere are many such instances when kids may find themselves trapped while their parents are getting divorced.  In majority cases, conflict precedes a divorce. When a couple is childless, they would simply divorce one another and may avoid seeing them again. However, things are different when they have children from their marriage.  In such a scenario, you may have to keep meeting your former spouse repeatedly as the spouses need to co-parent. The responsibility lies with both the parents to ensure that their co-parenting relationship does not create a stress in the kids’ lives. After all, they should not feel entangled in the midst of the conflict of their parents. The following tips will ensure that children are kept away from stressful and emotional situations.

Do not articulate your negative thoughts about the other parent in front of your kids

This is not a difficult task to accomplish. Whenever your children are with you, you should concentrate on them. Avoid being vocal about your negative thoughts on the spouse while interacting with your children. All that toxic stuff need to be compartmentalized. Simply keep them sealed and do not share them with your kids.

You should not expect your kids will not share secrets with their other parent

You should always give your ex-spouse the same kind of respect that he/she had before you divorced. While this may take some effort and acting, but you should always be courteous to the other parent for the welfare of your kids. This will, in turn, ensure that your offspring will also be respectful towards you.

Avoid discussing financial matters with your kids before or even after your divorce.

In case your divorce lawsuit seems to be an expensive affair, your kids need not know the details of it.  Moreover, if you are going through financial constraints after your divorce, you should not use your little ones to vent out your worries and apprehensions.  In case you are having financial issues while still being married, avoid discussing the matter with the kids. Do not say or discuss anything that will make your kids become concerned over your financial crisis.

You should not expect that your kids should take your side in the divorce

Do not treat your divorce as just a game where a scoreboard is being maintained and there are two teams. It is not a job of your children to act as your cheerleaders during the divorce.

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

What To Know About Uncontested Divorces

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsToday, many couples prefer to go through an uncontested divorce due to features like ease and promptness. Unlike contested divorce that may go through a longer process of several hearings in the court before the divorce can be granted.

Why uncontested divorce may get rejected sometimes?

However, though uncontested divorce is mostly preferred as compared to long and bitter legal battles, it will be surprising for you to note that a large number of applications made for uncontested divorces get rejected every year. The key reason for the rejection is the fact that a majority of such applications do not satisfy the concerned authorities that the couple has agreed on all the important issues.

The key point of the legal process is to ensure that all the issues are amicably resolved as per the state’s law and both the partners get a just share of the assets as well as the liabilities.

It is natural that the spouses will have thorough knowledge about their domestic and financial arrangements. That is the reason for the family law experts to stress on the point that both the spouses should meet and resolve all the issues amicably. However, if there is lack of agreement on any of the crucial issues, it is impossible for the uncontested divorce to succeed. The judge will then issue a date for the case of contested divorce of the same couple.

Merits of uncontested divorce

A big benefit associated with an uncontested marriage is that it can save both time as well as money. There are many such scenarios when an uncontested divorce is faster and costs less than all other forms. The key savings that the petitioner enjoys is the legal fees that are a major cause of expenses in the case as there is no reason to hinder or delay the proceedings, the entire process can be completed with two to three months.

Another main benefit in the case of an uncontested marriage is related to the relationship shared by the spouses after their divorce. There are many such divorced couples who hold grudges against one another and are bitter against their ex. Many a times, such hard feelings may trigger other cases in the court even after the divorce comes through  for what they feel are injustices made against them with respect to the divorce settlements. However, in the case of an uncontested divorce, the couples part in an amicable manner according to agreed agreements on child custody, division of properties among others. So, there are fewer chances of such legal battles after the divorce.

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

8 Signs You Should Skip Mediation and Retain A Divorce Lawyer

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediationThere are many couples who want to legally separate or divorce from one another via mediation instead of opting for a litigation. These couples do not want to have animosity with their partners post the divorce. In such scenarios, experienced Orange County divorce mediators may be the people to contact. However, all couples may not be ideal for going through the mediation process. Check out those 8 signs that indicate that perhaps your marriage is not appropriate for divorce mediation.

1. Even if you do not win everything you would love to see your partner lose
In case your partner is hell bent in making your life worse by insisting that you cannot go on a holiday with the children while it is convenient, or disagrees to every suggestion you come up with just because they want to spoil your well-intended plans, the other party is not a good candidate to go for a mediation.

2. There is no intention to settle issues through mediation
Mediation can be a lengthy process that may work against a spouse. After all, a mediator cannot force both the parties to do something. There are a few unscrupulous folks who often use the process to avoid paying support. If your ex is such a person, it is better to approach the court first and then try out mediation at a later stage.

3. When a person is in a hurry
As mentioned above, mediation may not be a speedy process. So, if a couple is in a hurry to resolve matters quickly, then mediation is not recommended.

4. When the estranged couple has had a violent and stressed relationship

When the couple had an abusive relationship during their married life, they are not eligible candidates for mediation. In such cases, both parties may never see eye to eye on most matters, making things even worse.

5. Spouses are unable to advocate for them self
There are cases where one spouse appears as the dominating and aggressive while the other party is meek and submissive. Thus, the latter may not be in able to advocate for himself or herself even though there are many issues that should be discussed in the best interests of their kids.

6. A party may not wish to be good with the other party even though the latter feels otherwise
The success of a mediation process depends on both the parties wishing one another well even if they are not on the best of terms with one another. They need to compromise at times and understand the perspective of each other. If they are not willing to listen to one another, mediation may not work out.

7. One party is not ready to see the other’s viewpoint
Although a spouse may be open-minded about several things, they may still feel that their version is the only real version. It is particularly true at this crucial juncture of their life. When both the parties are not ready to accept both their versions can co-exist, mediation may not be an ideal process for them.

8. One party is affluent and just want to dwindle their money
There are some people who joke that having too much money is not an ideal state to be in while undergoing a divorce. A lawyer can give false hopes that if they approach a court, the judge may take their side.

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

3 Tips on Effective Co-Parenting After Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County Divorce Mediators; 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 custody and parenting schedule with your ex-spouse 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 Orange County divorce mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Dealing With Divorce Involving A Special Needs Child

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

child custody mediation Orange County; California Divorce MediationWhen you have a kid with special needs, there could be special issues in your divorce. Hence, when you visit your divorce lawyer, you should describe the facts to him or her clearly and accurately as it will be a different divorce altogether.

Implication of divorces involving special needs children 

If it is a divorce pertaining to special-needs then your lawyer may require specialized understanding, specialized details, external experts and a distinct discovery process. When you do not furnish all the requirements to the lawyer or not procure all the information that will be needed for your divorce since you are unaware of the requirements, there can be severe repercussions for your child or your entire family.

Questions your lawyer may ask you

How can the needs of a special child affect the co-parenting and custodial arrangements that are being contemplated? After all, a standard parenting plan can be quite inadequate. How much amount the other parent should pay for the support of such a child? Do the parents know how long the support should be paid since the child may not be self-supporting ever? Does the spouse need to purchase additional life insurance in such circumstances? If so, then how much and for what duration? How does your lawyer ascertain whether there are special requirements in reality or not when one of the parties say there are while the other parent goes on claiming that the kid is just doing fine.

Your divorce lawyer may conduct a fact-finding exercise while conducting the first interview for you. In fact, it can be a different exercise altogether as compared to the way they deal with their other divorce clients.

Some of the questions they may ask you are as follows:

  • Has there been a formal diagnosis?
  • Do both the parties agree with that diagnosis?
  • Who made such a diagnosis?
  • What kind of testing has been done and by whom?
  • Does your kid have an IEP?
  • Do any special financial requirements exist?
  • Is your child’s condition treatable, curable or is it a terminal one?
  • Does the state or a private insurance company reimburse additional and special expenses?
  • Are these expenses non-recurring, recurring or ongoing?
  • What is the daily schedule of your child?
  • Do you think any such expenses will occur in future that is not being incurred now?
  • Are there expenses related to the child’s medications?
  • Does your kid have problems with transitioning between two different environments?
  • Are there any special dietary requirements?
  • Does one of the parents need to undergo excess time commitment or any kind of special training as compared to the other parent?
  • Is your kid with special needs affecting the other kids in the family who do not have special needs?

Depending on the severity of the child’s special needs, there may be a need for adult child support beyond them reaching the age of majority (age 18), so it is important to address this issue in the divorce judgment that may include having the child formally assessed as to abilities to work and live on their own before the child turns 18.

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

Why Do Some Parents Not Want To Pay For Child Support?

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Top Orange County divorce mediators; California divorce mediatorsA major aim of a professional mediator is to guide and assist the parents to keep the best interests of their kids in mind. A significant decision, which affects the kinds involved in the divorce, is the amount of money to be paid as child support to the parent who gets their custody from the court. How this amount gets calculated may vary from state to state and depend on the total number of kids of the marriage.

Goal of a mediator

The key goal of a mediator is to make sure that the final child custody amount to be paid is agreed upon by both the parents. The trick to arrive at this agreement is to ensure that the parent held accountable for the child support payment gets a proper buy-in in the course of the decision-making process.

Reasons for not paying for child support

A common reason why many people do not pay the stipulated child support money is that they are not convinced that the amount they should be paying will help in supporting their kids. Another key reason for refusing to pay is many people find it difficult to digest when a lawyer or the judge tells them to pay for child support and determine the amount and frequency.

Many are under the misconception that disputes related to child support are only restricted to divorces with high conflict. However, in reality, that is incorrect. Even while the two parties are having an amicable divorce, issues related to child support can be a big headache. A parent may feel it highly frustrating to hand over their hard earned money to the former spouse and yet enjoy no authority over the exact allocation of that money. When there is uncertainty about how the funds will be exactly spent, it will be difficult to feel inspired enough to pay the amount for child support and also paying it regularly.

The key issue mostly originates when a spouse does not have an adequate say in the exact amount of child support. If lawyers, judges or other stakeholders go about making such decisions, the said spouse may not be fully convinced always. On the other hand, if the person concerned is given some say to shape up the decision, they would definitely be more willing to adhere to such a plan of child support. When a payer gets privileges related the kind of child support payment they need to pay and how the money will be used, they are motivated and try to pay the agreed upon payment for child support. Thus, it is crucial for the couple to set up an initial agreement and make sure that it works out successfully.

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

Understanding The Types of Child Custody in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsIn the State of California, couples who are on the path of divorce are advised to read up about all the rights that apply to them so they do not get the short end of the stick. Even unmarried parents have legal rights that cannot be stripped away from them.

Joint legal custody

According to California’s Family Code, parents that have joint legal custody of their children need to ‘share’ the responsibilities of ensuring the well being of the children. Share is the critical term here. You don’t need to share details about everything, but you will need to share details of critical parts of the child’s life such as medical, dental, and education records unless specified otherwise by a court.

Under joint legal custody, a parent cannot do things such as infringing on other’s custodial time, taking the child and moving away, or seeking therapy for the child without the knowledge and consent of the other parent. If a parent violates joint legal custody, then a court could strip some of the parent’s rights away depending on the nature of the violation.

Sole physical custody

The parent whop does not have sole physical or legal custody of a child still possesses the right to access records about the child in question. The parent will also have ‘reasonable visitation’ rights. Sole custody does not deprive noncustodial parents of all their rights, and they have the right to ask courts to strictly define visitation times and schedules. However, the sole custodian will have the exclusive legal authority to make decisions about a child’s education, welfare, and health. The noncustodial parent has the right to challenge these decisions in court and have it overturned if a court determines that it is against a child’s best interests.

What about child preference?

After the California Family Code 3042 was implemented in January 2012, child preference is now more important than ever before. A child’s preference will be taken into account by a court as will factors such as maturity, parental influence, social conditioning, financial health, and other factors that affect a child’s well-being. If a child is sufficiently mature and meets all the relevant criterion, a court will be obliged to respect the wishes of the child. Children who are or above the age of 14 are allowed to attend and address the court regarding their preferences.

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