The Effect of Divorce on Immigration Status

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Riverside divorce lawyers; California Divorce MediatorsSo, you are not from the U.S. but getting divorced? It could be a big problem because it could affect your immigration status unless you are already an U.S. citizen.

There are many questions which people ask during a divorce. One important question is the question of green card and immigration status. If you are in the process of getting your green card but are also getting divorced, what then? Will your application be rejected?

Divorce effect on conditional permanent residence

You receive a conditional permanent residence when, the time of admission, you have been married for not more than two years. If you want to attain permanent residency, then you have to apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the second year of your immigration admission. If, at the time of application, you are still married then you will become a permanent resident. But if your marriage fails then you can be liable for deportation.

Immigration applications after a divorce

There are strong laws that govern the status of an immigrant during a divorce proceeding. If you or your spouse are both immigrants, then you need to first get permanent residential status before you can get married on U.S. soil. If one of you is a U.S. citizen, then it becomes easier for the other to become a permanent resident.  In the case of a divorce, if you are still an immigrant when you filed for your divorce, chances are your residency status will be terminated and you will be sent back to your home country. But if you are separated and not yet divorced then the situation is not that grim. Because you are still legally married to one another, the court will strongly consider this fact.

Staying in the U.S. after a divorce

In case you choose not to withdraw your immigration application, you can be granted conditional residency. But it all depends on which state you are in and what the state laws say. The conditional residency is possible through a waiver.

If your marriage was based on good faith, you might not get that green card you applied for but you might get a conditional residency. For getting a green you must have stayed in the U.S. for a certain amount of time or have married an U.S. citizen. Situations are not always bad. It depends partly on your luck and partly on state laws.

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

Property Rights for Unmarried Couples

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediatorsIt is easier for unmarried couples to separate or breakup mutually rather than go through a divorce. If both the parties can agree on the division of their assets, there is no need to approach a court of law. At most, you may need to employ the professional help of a legal mediator.

If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement and have to go through a divorce procedure, here are some of the legal rules pertaining to property division that you need to be aware of:

  • Divorce laws governing married couples are not applicable to unmarried couples who are separating – Only those couples recognized under a legal marriage or registered as domestic partners get to divide their property following the family law available to married couples.
  • Each unmarried partner has right to their own property – If the unmarried partners have not signed a deed establishing joint ownership of the house or do not have joint accounts in the banks, each partner is the owner of their own property. All debts and assets remain with the original owner unless the partners have signed any agreement.
  • Partners have signed a written agreement – If written agreements have been signed, the partners will get shares as stated in the agreement even if they approach a court for a separation.
  • If everything is jointly owned – If the unmarried couple jointly own any property or assets or debts, everything gets divided 50 -50. An exception can be made if an agreement stating otherwise has been signed.

If a situation arises where you have to approach the court for a settlement on matters related to property, it would be considered similar to the dissolution of a business. The ordinary business section of the state’s civil court will settle the matter.

To avoid such confusing and difficult situations related to unmarried separation, unmarried partners are encouraged to prepare and sign a written ‘living together agreement’. The agreement should cover matters related to property, house, and other assets.

Written agreements are legally enforceable in all courts of law. A written document can, in most instances, do away with the need of going to the court. It makes the separation a lot less difficult.     

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

Protecting your Assets in Divorce without a Prenuptial Agreement

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Premarital agreement orange county; California Divorce MediatorsMost California and Orange county divorce cases have assets at the core of the fight between the two spouses. The importance of assets to each of the spouse is paramount since the word assets is used to describe all kinds of properties, personal, commercial, and even business stakes. The reason both spouses are willing to give their all in divorce cases is because they are looking to have the largest amount of assets for themselves.

Increasingly, spouses have started to get into pre-nuptial (premarital) agreements to make sure that their assets are protected from that dreaded day in divorce court. Some spouses however cannot agree on pre-marital agreements to have their assets protected. Here is a list of a few other options that such spouses can use to make sure their assets are protected despite not getting into a pre marital agreement.

Make Sure You Keep Your Funds Separate

This step is fairly simple and will allow you to escape lots of complexities in your divorce case moving ahead. If you have separate funds that belong exclusively to you, and were in your possession before you got married, make sure you keep the money that you had prior to your marriage in an individual account. This will allow it to be easily distinguished from the joint assets.

Separate Your Separate Property

One of the most important things in the assets category tends to be property. Property is often the most valuable of all assets and therefore will be fought over with the most commitment by the spouses. The best way to make sure that you protect the property that you have had in your possession even before the marriage is to keep it separate from your joint property with your spouse. This is trickier than handling separate funds.

If you have separate property that belonged to you even before you got married, the best way to keep it away from your divorce proceedings is to manage all its expenses from money from your pre marriage wealth exclusively. Any use of mutual funds to pay off the properties recurring expenses could drag what should have been your exclusive property into your Orange County divorce proceedings.

Making A Trust To Protect Assets

One of the easiest ways you and your spouses can protect their assets is by creating a trust before marriage. A trust will mean that there is a clear determination by the spouses to keep some parts of the property separate. When a trust ownership is involved in assets cases of divorces, judges will be more willing to accept that the spouses intended to keep certain aspects of the assets separate from the division.

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

Ending Same Sex Marriages And Domestic Partnerships in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

same sex divorce; California Divorce MediatorsPrior to June 27, 2015, there were only several states in the U.S. that allowed for same sex couples to get married. Now, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that same sex marriages are legal and recognized in all of the states, meaning that same sex couples now have equal rights to get married as all other Americans.  This is a huge development and advancement of rights for same sex couples and one that will likely lead to a wave of same sex couples entering into marriage over the next few years.

So what does that mean for existing domestic partnerships and for same sex married couples that seek to get divorced in the future in California?  Because although same sex couples will appreciate their right to get married and will value the institution of marriage perhaps more than heterosexual couples who have always taken their right to get married for granted, same sex couples have the same relationship issues and problems that everyone else has that can lead to the deterioration and end of relationships.  Inevitably, some same sex married couples will seek divorce, although no one knows what such rate of divorce will be for that segment of the population.

Also, those same sex couples that are part of a registered domestic partnership in California will now have the option of getting married and the length of their domestic partnership will be added to the length of the marriage for purposes of spousal support and division of assets, although the case law in California has not caught up to this situation quite yet, but undoubtedly will.

Furthermore, domestic partners and married same sex couples will now be under the jurisdiction of the California Family Code and case law just like heterosexual married couples are, which will apply to them when they seek to terminate their partnership or marriage.  In other words, if parties look to end their registered domestic partnership or same sex marriage, they are in for much the same process as traditional divorce cases and involve most of the same issues, especially if same sex couples decide to legally adopt a child, as follows:

  • Child custody
  • Child visitation
  • Spousal support
  • Division of assets and property

It is a new world for same sex couples as they embrace their new rights and the final wall of inequality has been broken down.  It will also lead to a new world for divorce and family in California and the other states.  But in the end, it is important to recognize that we are all the same and we all have our faults and problems, which can ultimately lead to divorce.  Same sex couples will not be immune to marital problems or to divorce any more than heterosexual couples, because a successful marriage is hard work for everyone.

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

Making Your Divorce Mediation Checklist

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

orange county divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsThere are several factors that play a part to determine the failure or success of Orange County divorce mediation. The levels of trust between the couple, the willingness to negotiate, the case’s complexity, and the level of contention are just a few of these. There are two parts to divorce mediation – one can be described as the work of the Orange County divorce mediator while the other is the work of the two spouses. One of the most important thing spouses need to do, to make their mediation successful, is to come to mediation prepared and having thought about important aspects.

It is advisable to make a divorce mediation checklist prior to the start of mediation so that you have your goals and the list of issues that you want to address in mediation, listed in order of importance to you.  Here are some of the issues that you will likely address as part of your checklist.

·         The Children in the Marriage

Children are often considered the most important issue in a divorce mediation. Before a couple decides to part ways, the children in the family are likely to have spent their time under co-parenting by both the parents. This however cannot be the case after divorce. Spouses need to, before they come to an Orange County divorce mediation, deliberate on the amount of time they can give their child, the timings that will be feasible for them and their own activity time table. These are important matters to consider, since during a divorce, the most affected people after the spouses are their children. All through the process, make sure you are there for them to support and calm their fears.

·         Debts

This is never a topic that couples love talking about. Yet, it is one of the most important assets (or liability) that needs to be divided between the spouses much like the rest of the assets. Before coming to mediation, it is best for you to have a private one on one conversation with your spouse to avoid any surprises that might await him/her in the mediation process.

·         Real Estate

We have talked about children being the most important assets, but real estate is one asset that comes a very close second. These are often the largest chunk of the monetary materials and hence are the most hotly contested aspect of a divorce. Any property that has been created in between the time the marriage lasted can be regarded as joint property. This aspect is likely to involve all kinds of homes, lands, etc., including the one you currently live in making this one of the most important aspects to think about pre mediation.

·         Business

People who own business are likely to derive their source of income from them. Business, if jointly run or made/ significantly enhanced during the marriage, would have to be divided between the two parties. This might not work out too well for a business’ profitability and hence you need to talk about this aspect with your spouse before your mediation date to make sure your financial interests are protected.

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

Why Peaceful Divorce Mediation Works Well

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce is one of the hardest fought cases between the people, since it involves not only assets and children, but it also involves lots of emotions each of which can take a toll on  spouses. The process of divorce can be divided into two broad categories legally, i.e. divorce through mediation and divorce through litigation. On the more practical side of things, this can also be divided as peaceful divorce mediation and bitter divorce litigation proceedings.

Orange County divorce mediation is becoming a more common methods for couple to get divorced. The primary reason for this is the emotional and procedural benefits that such a method gives to spouses. Peace is one word that is important when associated with a process as emotionally sapping and bitter as divorce.

Here are a few reasons why peaceful Orange County divorce mediation is what you want to consider.

·         Peace will nurture the parental relationships

One of the things that hurt a child most is seeing their parents fight it out against each other. In the process of divorce litigation, this is one of the norms. More often than not, spouses will be logger heads against each other, will bad mouthed one another in the process, among other things. This will not harness but destroy their relationship with their children. The bitterness created from such ruckuses is hard to get away from. In the case of Orange County divorce mediation, however, the tables are likely to be turned. The fact that the process is based on cooperation means that even when getting divorce the parents will have a sense of cordiality and cooperation between them.

·         You can get what you want without fuss

Divorce mediation is all about the cooperation, communication and coordination that go on between the spouses. The role of the mediators is simply one to try and facilitate the proceedings and not dictate them. As opposed to bitter litigations, a mediator will not give you any order that both the spouses have to follow. The mediation agreement is all about spouses and how much they are willing to work towards a peaceful resolution. The cooperative nature of the divorce means that mediation will allow you to agree upon what is best for you and what you want.

·         Peace also comes with a variety

No one size fits everyone. This is one of the most famous statements that have come to define the world.  Everyone in the world is different and the fact of them being different means that they are all in need of something that is made specifically for them instead of being treated generally. While litigation has set court procedures that cannot be truly modified, it is mediation that allows such spouses the chance to make the most of the flexibility of options.

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

Debunking Divorce Mediation Myths

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce mediators Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsEver since the rise of the process of divorce mediation and its subsequent popularity among couples wanting to end their marriage, a few myths surrounding the phenomenon have also come into being. The leading myth that is attached to divorce mediation is regarding certain types of couples not being able to get the best out of divorce mediation in a way that other couples can. This, however, is nothing but a myth and has no real substance in reality. All kinds of couples can try divorce mediation and be able to get a cooperative, coordinated, and communicated divorce for themselves.

Here is a list of a four of the leading candidates that have been said to be at a disadvantage in regards to divorce mediation and their myths debunked.

People That Have Assets

There is a common myth that people that have assets should avoid Orange County divorce mediation, since the mediation process is unlikely to work efficiently in cases where assets are involved. In reality though, the facts are quite the contrary.

In reality for couples that have significant amount of assets, divorce mediation is likely to be a better option than litigation. Litigation proceedings are long, time-consuming and costly, which will need the spouses to utilize their assets to finance the case. In divorce mediation, however, both the spouses will be able to save tens of thousands of dollars in terms of litigation costs and still be able to amicably agree on the division of assets without an ill feeling involved.

People with Children

Living with divorce parents is unlikely to be an easy experience for the child, yet what is more damaging for such a child is having to see his/her parents fight it out in court and for the divorce to become a long drawn out process. While the myth is that divorce mediation is not effective when children are involved, the reality once again is different. .

Mediation is the best way for parents to end their marriage if children are involved, since mediation allows for amicable, hassle free resolution of issues and disputes.

People that have hired a Lawyer

It is believed that people who have already filed paperwork for divorce in courts and hired an attorney cannot try their hands at divorce mediation. This, however, is not true.

Divorce mediation can be used at any stage by the spouses as long as they are willing to contribute to the resolution of the dispute. The fact that you have hired a lawyer will affect the mediation in no way. If you want, you may ask your lawyer to represent you in the mediation or even keep him/her by your side for help.

People who want to do it themselves

Increasingly, people are trying to save on costs and want to do things on their own. While there have been rumors that mediation is not for people who want to do it themselves, such rumors are baseless.

Divorce mediation is a process that allows the people to be able to represent themselves and even decide the solution among them.

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

The Best Interest of the Child and Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation; California Divorce MediatorsThere are many reasons that make mediated divorce better than litigated divorce. One of the leading reasons is the fact that more often than not, divorce mediation has a number of ground rules set up between the spouses to help steer the process in the correct direction. These ground rules help the couples focus on the long term solutions instead of short term victories throughout the process. There can be a lot of ground rules, which may include having less amount of direct accusations, no use of foul language or derogatory remarks or maintaining the best interest of the child.

The Best Interest of the Child

This is one of the most commonly used phrases in the divorce world, especially in family law and child custody cases. Yet, do you know what this phrase really means? When you look at the legal side of things, this is a rather complex area of law, since it includes entitlements, parental rights, child visitation, custodial parent residency, etc. The family courts in California use the principle of child’s best interest in deciding a variety of cases and mediators also keep it at the top of their agenda in divorce mediations.

Yet before we talk about it more, let’s take a brief look at the standard of this best interest rule that needs to be considered before any decision is taken:

  • The type of contact that exists between the parents
  • Any history of child abuse either emotional, physical or mental
  • The levels of child safety, welfare and health
  • Any history of drug, alcohol or substance abuse by either parent
  • Criminal record of the parents

Mediated Divorce

While these legal definitions do form the basis of the concept, but it is important to realize that Orange County divorce mediators and spouses are not bounded by these legal definitions. For parents who take part in divorce mediations, the parents can look at the existing child-parent relation through the best interest canvas, but it is by no means mandatory.

In divorce and custody mediation, the standard of the child’s best interest is not only depends upon the legal considerations, it also includes ethical and moral considerations. More often than not, each child is different from the other; hence, divorce mediations allow the parents to mutually determine what’s best for the child considering his/her individual case.

According to recent studies on children, the child best flourishes in environments where their surroundings are peaceful and full of harmony. The key to harvesting the child’s best growth in addition to looking for his/her best interest is to have effective and frequent communications with them as well as keeping them away from the spousal bitterness of a divorce.

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

How to Tell Your Children About Your Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange-County-divorce-mediation-attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsNo matter how old they are when you and your significant other decide to part ways, your children will still be greatly affected by the divorce. It will be up to you and your partner to see to it that they handle the news well. Don’t bombard them with the news when they least expect it, but explain to them why both of you have taken this decision.

Even though your children may already know that something’s up, most probably, they are too afraid to admit. For this one time, you and your partner will have to band together and break the news gently to them, and here’s how you should do it:

1.     Do It Together

When you break the news to your children, you should do it together. Parents that do it alone because they can’t stand their ex, confuse their child even more, as they will be hearing two different versions from two different perspectives. Therefore, both of you need to sit together to decide on a story to tell your child. Try to agree on a story to tell them that doesn’t end with your father or mother is bad.

2.     Do Not Blame Your Partner

Your partner and you may not see eye to eye anymore, but the doesn’t give you grounds to mock your ex in front of your child. Your child doesn’t need any more drama in their life, as this is a sensitive time for them. If your children are young, they will be more impressionable, which means they may blame themselves for your divorce. This is something that you need to avoid doing at all costs and anytime, you well up with anger, think of your children to help you cool down and regain your exposure.

3.     Use Simple Language

Young children don’t want you to provide them with a complex reason such as “Your father cheated on me.” You want to explain to them about what is exactly going to happen after the two of you get divorced. You start by telling them that one of you is going to get an apartment, which they will come and visit. However, this conversation needs to happen after both of you have decided on the days and times each will get to spend time with your child.

4.     Do Not Delve Into the Details

You will have to stay organized during this time, as you don’t want your child to come across anything that they shouldn’t be seeing. Moreover, you will have to take certain precautions when discussing your divorce proceedings. You don’t want your child to witness both of you discussing matters that rile each other up. So, choose a time, place, and day to talk about this, away from home.

Children are the glue that keeps a family together and you want to keep that glue intact by being careful in how you both address each other in their presence.

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

Same Sex Divorce and Domestic Partnership Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation lawyers; California Divorce MediatorsSame sex divorce and dissolution of domestic partnership mediation can help your partner and you end your marriage or domestic partnership on amicable terms. If things aren’t working out between the two of you, both of you can seek a divorce mediator. However, before you do, you should know that same sex marriage is not legal in every state and the laws to grant a divorce are different from straight couples. Following are some differences that same sex couples should know:

1.     Location of Marriage

Same sex couples that married in a state that legalized same sex marriage, but live in a state that has yet to, need to file in the state that recognized their union in order to get a divorce. Additionally, the same sex couples need to be a resident of the state that they are filing.  For instance, California, which allows same sex couples to get married, requires them to live there for six months.

2.     Living in Two Different States

Same sex couples that no longer live with each other, but are separated and living in different states will come across certain challenges. For instance, you live in Ohio where same sex marriage is recognized while your partner moved to Iowa that doesn’t recognize the union. For all medical decisions, your ex in Iowa will be in-charge of making medical decisions. Even if Iowa doesn’t recognize the union, it recognizes medical decisions.

3.     You Cannot Remarry, Unless Divorced

Same sex couples need to take extra care when moving on to the next relationship, especially if they haven’t filed for divorce. If they become married again, they will face a bigamy charge. You will have to get a divorce in the state you got married, before moving on.

4.     Laws Are Always Changing

Laws change constantly, which means that the laws of a particular state that doesn’t allow same sex marriages can change as well. If they do change while the same sex couple is still living there, they will get all the rights of a married couple. This means that both of you will now be eligible for divorce.

5.     Child Custody Problems

If you and your partner adopted a child together, you will not be treated any differently in the court of law than other married couples. The proceedings of who gets custody of the child are the same for them as they are for everyone else. Just as every other soon to be divorced couple, you and your partner will have to sit down with a divorce mediator to decide who gets custody on what days.

6.     Pre-Nuptial Agreement

Although most straight couples may seek a pre-nuptial agreement, if they have anything to lose if a divorce occurs, most same sex couples do not. Since same sex marriages are fairly new, most of them do not have a pre-nuptial agreement.

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